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Fanship undertow

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday November 13, 2008 07:36 PM

Small-boat sailors know that they should always stay well clear of large vessels. There's a very dangerous suction that a container ship, or a tanker, creates, as its enormous hull shoves through the water -- a suction that can draw a small craft right up against the behemoth's hull, with predictably unpleasant consequences.

There is a similar phenomenon in politics. It's one of the reasons I disapprove of voting -- much less working -- for Democrats. The well-meaning pwog, in his or her little coracle or catboat, ventures out into the harbor. He falls into the suction of a mighty steel-hulled commercial ship, like the SS Obama. He is drawn closer, and closer. He collides with its cold, unyielding adamantine sides. His fragile craft is smashed, and he is pulled under, and drowned -- drowned intellectually, and politically. Things that would have had him baying at the moon, if Bush had done them, he now finds excuses for -- when a Democrat does them.

I call it Fanship Undertow.

I've seen it time and time again. There's a lot of it going around just now. An occasional correspondent of mine -- let's call her Sadie -- recently wrote:

Rahm's an interesting choice- I know that there's some concern about him being a partisan figure but he's (in my view) not facilitating a partisan role. His main objective is to keep the ship in order and his experience in the Clinton administration would indicate that he knows how to navigate the waters (so to speak). Even more importantly he's ultimately pushing Obama's agenda....
Classic. This young woman would have been quite ready to agree that Rahm Emanuel was the Abomination of Desolation -- until Obama picked him.

But she has given her heart to Obama. And a heart once given is not easily taken back. So the Fanship Undertow has gripped her. Her good, well-meaning heart has been drawn under. Will she survive? I hope so. How long can she hold her breath?

Two things strike me about her ingenious, hopeful email:

1) She has become a Crackpot Realist. All of a sudden this youthful insurgent has come to value order -- experience -- knowing how to "navigate the waters."

2) She is still delirious with giddy, utterly unfounded hope. Rahm will "push Obama's agenda." From what we know about Rahm -- and we know a lot -- does he seem like the sort of guy who would push anybody's agenda but his own?

Comments (1)


What I find more irksome and telling about your friend's comment -- and it's one I've heard elsewhere, many a time -- is her suggestion that the perceived problem with Emanuel is that he's a "rabid partisan," not that he's a hard-core DLC'er. Then, to top it off, comes her suggestion that the saving grace of Obama is his ability to work across the great divide, as if the the principal flaw of our imperial plutocracy is the absence of ruling class consensus.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Thursday November 13, 2008 07:36 PM.

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