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Clap, or Tinker Bell dies!

By Michael J. Smith on Wednesday July 30, 2008 05:27 PM

From The Nation:
Change We Can Believe In
An Open Letter to Barack Obama

Add your name to this Open Letter calling on Barack Obama to stand firm on the principles he so compellingly articulated in the primary campaign.

Dear Senator Obama,

We write to congratulate you on the tremendous achievements of your campaign for the presidency of the United States.

Your candidacy has inspired a wave of political enthusiasm like nothing seen in this country for decades. In your speeches, you have sketched out a vision of a better future--in which the United States sheds its warlike stance around the globe....

Since your historic victory in the primary, there have been troubling signs that you are moving away from the core commitments shared by many who have supported your campaign....

Stand firm on the principles you have so compellingly articulated, and you may succeed in bringing this country the change you've encouraged us to believe is possible.

This letter is signed by a number of quite literate individuals -- we'll get to that in a minute -- so it's baffling to hear them say that Obama has "articulated", "compellingly" or otherwise, any "principles" at all.

Of course he's done nothing of the kind. He's repeated ad nauseam a lot of empty comfort-food buzzwords and catchphrases. He's presented himself, accurately no doubt, as a person very much like the people who want to believe in him -- intelligent, thoughtful, well-educated, and fit.

But really, no one can fairly accuse him of flip-flopping. He never actually committed himself to anything. His language was always vague, hedged, and noncommittal, with all its airy earnestness. His recent shifts of tone and emphasis may be a disappointment to his admirers -- but they have only themselves to blame. The new boyfriend suddenly isn't calling as often -- and his voice is not nearly so warm -- and he gets off the phone so quickly. Didn't he say he loved me? I thought he did. But now that you mention it....

* * * * *

Then there are the signatories to this act of quasi-literary fellatio. Unsurprising names, mostly:

  • Jodie Evans (co-founder, CODEPINK: Women for Peace);
  • Tom Hayden;
  • Richard Parker (president, Americans for Democratic Action);
  • Katha Pollitt;
  • David Sirota;
  • Matt Stoller;
  • Jonathan Tasini;
  • Katrina vanden Heuvel;
  • Howard Zinn.
But then, down near the bottom -- I could weep: Gore Vidal. Surely, surely, if anybody could have been counted on to laugh this beggarly sad-sack kick-me whingery right out of the room, it ought to have been Vidal?

They must have called him in the middle of the night, and not read him the text.

Comments (4)


Obama is the fitting standard bearer for an age in which "hard-hitting investigative journalism" = Carnegie Foundation-sponsored
"inspiring" docudramas on dusky Grameen Bank microloan success stories (take a walk on the wildside of FrontlineWorld programming). It is Clintonism perfected, owing to Barack's hue. If you examine the archives, from the very beginning Obama was quite clear that his nouveau approach to politrix was all about recognizing the mutual humanity of right-wing populist cranks and liberal-centrist tweedy NGO-ites and splitting the difference between them (in terms of image-crafting) in the lofty name of "restoring civil discourse." Well, where does that get you? Defending "good wars" that honor principles "we can all agree on" (routing "intolerant" madrassa-goers in the Hindu Kush) and "welfare reform" that restores the "proper balance" between "opportunity and responsibility" (I can just hear the Man from Hope's sugary, unctuous drawl). It's nothing new, just another gratuitous nail in the coffin of long-deceased New Dealism, studded with the conceit that more than 15 years after the collapse of state socialism and the messy schemes of Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz the U.S. remains the "indispensable power."

Michael Hureaux:

Hunger is a terrible thing. People who are so convinced that they're on the side of the angels who wake up one morning and find that,despite all their intrepid effort, the game is the same but the name is changed. Could they be the partyline believers they always said the marxists were? Oh, yes, and their little delusion swam up and bit them in the fat part. When that happens, there's nothing else to do but write flowery letters and sign your name to them, if for no other reason then to preserve form.

Five bucks to anyone willing to smack each signer with a fish. Ten bucks to anyone who smacks Pollit first.

Whoa, good call, Ms. X.

Actually, I'd prefer to do them like the Three Stooges – line them all up, and slap them all at once with one big swipe of my arm.

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The previous post in this blog was Let's hear it for the Silver Age.

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