Saturday, December 18, 2010

Barack Obama's Lost Principles

By Lawrence Davidson
December 18, 2010

When President Obama ran for the presidency, his rhetoric was distinctly progressive. He is a very good orator and a superior debater and so we can be forgiven for taking the rhetoric seriously.

Read on.


Robert Cook said...

I suggest Obama's progressive principles were hardly principles--deeply felt convictions, hard-wired into his intellectual and emotional being--but pleasant-sounding ideals for him to espouse, so long as no real fight or risk was required. His abandonment of his purported principles began before he won the White House, just months before that election, when he voted in favor of the revised FISA bill. He had vowed never to vote for this bill--which gives the government greater prerogative to electronically eavesdrop on us without obtaining warrants first--if it provided retroactive legal protections to the telecoms for their part in Bush's illegal eavesdropping program. It still retained those protections when it came up for a vote, and he voted for it anyway, assisting in its successful passage into law.

I had not been overwhelmingly taken with him, but this was when I decided I could not vote for him, and thus I cast my vote for Ralph Nader for a third time in four elections. A man known for such stirringly idealistic rhetoric who could so readily abandon a "principled stand" before even winning the White House could not be counted on to ever stand on principle. So far, he hasn't.

Obama is ambitious and this above all guides him. Being human, he still sees himself as virtuous and principled, so I'm sure he justifies to himself his many betrayals of purported principles and probably does not even see his own hypocrisy or opportunism.

Obama once said he would rather serve only one term yet accomplish some good than offer "more of the same" and serve two terms. As in so much else he has said, these were hollow words, and his apparent inability to actually fight and be willing to make enemies dooms him to failure from the outset, and so he has been.

mnvil said...

As this stage of his presidency is fair to conclude that Obama is like any othe politician whose only aim is to acomodate himself to the prevailing political environment, where values and priciples are shamelessly casted away in order to advance the agenda of the powerful interests as a requisite to the personal.

As sadly as it is to recognize, the fact is tha many a great deal got duped by the soaring rethoric of Obama the Candidate.

rosemerry said...

If Obama served one term and did something good it would be great! Imagine if he took all the troops from Af-Pak, Iraq etc, closed lots of bases, stopped supporting Israel by vetoes of criticism (I know the "security" funding would continue); introduced a real health system, helped public education, stopped pandering to the richest and the bankers... it would be worth leaving after four years of actually helping the US people. He would probably even be reelected if he survived that!

Morton Kurzweil said...

Great presidents, FDR, Truman, Lincoln and Washington, were not subject to 'groupthink'.
Obama led as an attorney. He taught constitutional law as an attorney, and held his deepest beliefs as an attorney.
He is committed to arbitration, to mediation and the legal hypocrisy that any argument, any opinion, any belief or principal, has equal rights in a debate.
The result is that any and every position becomes fodder for political advantage regardless of the truth underlying the position.
This keeps the lawyer neutral as he promotes the worst crimes against humanity.

M Lucky Gold said...

I'm a Canadian, looking at US politics from the outside in.

We learn a lot about US politics up here, there is lots of it on our news, we get all US news, and of course we have the web.

The sense I'm getting is that some US progressives assume there is more time left to find a perfect progressive president to represent their ideals than there actually is.

To my understanding, GW Bush already took away the necessary human rights that will protect progressives in the wake of a Tea-Party-Style, Second-Amendment-flavoured, democratically-elected fascist government.

Left-leaning intellectuals have a history of dismissing right-wing leaders and parties as clowns, and then getting thrown in prisons and gas ovens because they could never believe that so many could be so moved by such blatant stupidity.

So, while some may find it satisfying--in an intellectually-masturbatory way--to parse the Democratic president's shortcomings, I hope there are many more who will actively work towards Obama's reelection.

The United States has created many of the world's most tragic circumstances—the deaths of millions of people are the direct result of wars and illegal invasions conducted by the US.

If Obama stays on, the next illegal US invasion of another nation will be held off until after he goes.

On the other hand, if progressives cannot be bothered to support him because they want to 'send him a message', they want him to be less of a lawyer, they want him to wave his magic wand and make it all PERFECT, the Tea Party will take over the US government and its armies.

Robert Cook -- what risk do YOU take voting for Nader, someone you know is going to lose?

You do not actually have a three-party system in the States, so why flush your progressive vote down the drain?

What good are YOUR principles (or, rather, 'deeply felt convictions') when they will likely lead to a Republican takeover of your government and the resultant erosion of human rights in your own country and around the world?

Boo hoo, you cry, mnvil, we got duped by Obama!

Wake up!!

You weren't electing a Christ, you were electing a politician. OMG--does that shock you?

So you're going to just take your vote and go home?

And Morton, to link Obama the lawyer to the worst crimes against humanity is hyperbolic, at best.

Do you have time before 2012 to build perfection in a party and candidate, the Christ of your anointing who magically does your most idealistic bidding?


You don't.

Support Obama, if not for you, then for the rest of us in the world.

We can't take more Republicans.

They're a cruel, greedy, loyal lot.

Please fight them.