Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice…

We have seen, for example, that after nearly thirty years of bipartisan government-bashing, even in the wake of massive catastrophes like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the notion of public obligation to provide for the citizenry’s well-being is steadily being wiped out of public consciousness. (And, by the way, those precocious NGO engineers are energetically instrumental in doing a lot of the wiping.) And it’s crucially important for those who identify with the left to recognize that there is no designated moment at which the crisis becomes intolerable and “the People” either “wake up” or “rise.” That is simply not the way politics works. Absent concerted, organized intervention, it could go on indefinitely, with all kinds of inventive scapegoating available to stigmatize the previous rounds of losers and provide desperate reassurances to the next. And that would be a political situation and social order likely to grow ever uglier and more dangerous. –Where Obamaism Seems to be Going, Adolph Reed, Jr.

Obama has seemed to me, from the very start, as a Liberal’s Liberal. At one level he’s inspiring, if for no other reason than the fact that he’s an African American man seemingly doing the impossible. I’ll vote for he for that reason alone.

On the other hand, he’s gone from vague to right-of-center faster than anyone would have predicted. One reading might suggest that he tried to look progressive to beat Senator Clinton, and is not trying to look like Senator Clinton in order to beat Senator McCain.

That seems logical to me and it makes me angry. I think this is what I hear in Reed’s rant against fake progressive politics. What we don’t know, yet, is just how deep Obamma’s pragmatism runs or in what vein. I just don’t believe he’s an empty opportunist, although he is clearly ambitious.

Phil Ochs saw this sort of opportunism in the Liberals who opposed the war only in so far and it could get them elected. They were certainly responsible for keeping the Vietnam War alive years longer than public sentiment and common sense would dictate.

On the other hand, I won’t believe he has truly progressive intentions until, say, he get’s elected and changes his mind in favor of a single-payer plan. I won’t believe his progressive intentions until he outlines an true green jobs program. The list could go on forever.

The point is that I will vote for Obama, even if I suspect that he’s more liberal than left, because I think it’s less risky than voting for McCain/Bush. McCain is never going to shut down those bases in Iraq, no matter what public sentiment says; he’ll Hoover away as the economy goes down in flames.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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