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Pragmatism Isn't Always Bad - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
Pragmatism Isn't Always Bad
I am increasingly dismayed by what I'm reading on the progressive interweb, including the postings of good friends of mine. I dislike Joe Lieberman as much as the next lefty. And I'm not a huge fan of the Clintons, either. But what we need right now in this country is a way to get some serious work done without the usual gridlock. If that requires playing Abraham Lincoln for a time, I'm alright with that. I'd rather see the Obama Presidency build a foundation for long-term change than watch its potential evaporate in the heat of ideological acrimony.

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tpratt From: tpratt Date: November 19th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Maybe I'm an Obamabot, maybe not. Seems to me that if Franken wins his race in Minnesota and Georgia elects another Democrat, that would make Lieberman #60.

Also, it's kind of sad that it's considered disappointing NOT to go the route of retribution, division, partisanship. Wow, what a change THAT would be, to go tit-for-tat and get some getback instead of playing with the endgame in mind.

It seems to me that Obama and his staff know what they're doing a whole lot better than those who write about what they SHOULD be doing - if the Presidential race was any indicator, anyway.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 19th, 2008 02:06 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I agree, though I have very close friends -- see below -- who take the opposite tack. I think he deserves a chance. And I think he was never a progressive to begin with, at least in the sense that Berkeley types desired.
masoo From: masoo Date: November 19th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
As you will expect, I call horseshit on this. Lieberman fucked over the Democrats, which is enough on its own. Kissing his ass as the Democrats did today is an early sign that the New Era isn't going to be different enough from the old era. People didn't vote for Barack Obama because they wanted the same old shit represented by the likes of Joe Lieberman. They wanted Change with a capital C ... Obama campaigned on it. Ideological acrimony or not, what happened today is a slap in the face to progressive Democrats, and a terrible sign from someone who only a couple of weeks ago offered hope. (Ob. disclaimer: I am not a Democrat.)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 19th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Well, my friend, you have a point. But I don't live in the Bay Area now and have a different sense of what is possible politically. And I'm going to call double horseshit on progressives, Democrats or not, who have started trashing Obama even before he enters the White House. Besides, change means different things to different people. I know people who would regard an increase in political civility a major change for the better. But if it makes people feel better to give up hope in November, they are welcome to indulge themselves.
From: ext_129711 Date: November 19th, 2008 01:56 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Greenwald

You might read Glenn Greenwald's take on "gridlock."

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/11/18/bipartisanship/

He basically argues, pretty convincingly, that it's a total myth. On every major piece of legislation that the Bush administration has passed, the Democrats have been there lockstep with him (the bailout, FISA, the war, etc., etc.). Democrats have actually been the bipartisan party, while the Republicans have normally given the big middle finger to any sort of compromise.

Cultural gridlock is probably more of a reality than actual political gridlock, don't you think?

I think part of the frustration is the fact that the netroots have worked their ASSES off to get Democrats elected, and feel like they're not being paid back. Plus, Lieberman does not help himself, given how utterly unlikeable he is. I mean, he is truly despicable.

And isn't the worst type of villain the traitor? I think our culture's ideas about loyalty are at play here. I think blind loyalty is basically irrational, but we still put a high premium on it. Lieberman was disloyal to his party, and now Democrats are returning his disloyalty with loyalty.

I hope Obama's doing the right thing, and I agree with the above commenter that, yes, his foresight has been incredible. I hope it's the right decision, for Obama's sake.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 19th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Greenwald

I can understand the argument, though I don't agree with it. The main thing that has me riled up is the rapidity with which progressives are turning on Obama. He was always a centrist. He ran a centrist campaign. He invoked Lincoln all the time. What the hell were they expecting?
From: ext_129711 Date: November 19th, 2008 02:13 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Greenwald

A centrist perhaps, but the reason he was vaulted into frontrunner status, ahead of Clinton (who is probably more of a centrist, no?) was because he voiced opposition to the Iraq War, while other Democrats were quietly complicit. That is why, from the beginning, he was more associated with progressivism, and, gasp, liberalism, than he was with centrism. And I think that perception helped to get him elected, whether it's true or not, since for many people he was that centrist, but for so many progressives was only playing a centrist in order to get elected.

I, for one, hope his chameleon-esque abilities do not compromise what I still see as an essentially liberal person who politically pragmatic. Unlike the Clintons, he has always struck me as someone who believes in something.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 20th, 2008 01:32 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Greenwald

"An essentially liberal person who is politically pragmatic" is a good assessment, I think. My sense is that Obama is in some ways further left than most progressives, but in others much further right. I wrote a column before the election for Bad Subjects suggesting that we might learn from his example and rethink the sort of progressive politics we advocate.
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