Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Glenn Greenwald Wrong on Obama & the Left

Glenn Greenwald is probably the best political bloggers on the internet but he's way off base on the matter of liberal disappointment about the administration Barack Obama has been assembling:
"I've been genuinely mystified by the disappointment and surprise being expressed by many liberals over the fact that Obama's most significant appointments thus far are composed of pure Beltway establishment figures drawn from the center-right of the Democratic Party and, probably once he names his Defense Secretary and CIA Director, even from the Bush administration--but not from the Left."
A good rule of thumb in dealing with politicians is "never expect anything from a pig but a grunt" but Greenwald has grossly overstated the degree to which Obama could have been expected to do what he has, in fact, done. For my part, I knew exactly what Obama was and I've found many of his appointments, to date, to be outright shocking. You don't ride a wave of progressive, anti-conservative sentiment into the White House then totally snub those who elected you while putting into high positions those whom they had just rejected. Obama won by defeating those people. You don't campaign on the illegitimacy of the Iraq war then appoint all hawks. You don't campaign on hope and change then try to recreate a hopelessly bad administration of the past. Anyone who wanted Clinton 2 had their candidate. She lost, and managed, in the process, to remind us why Bill Clinton was such a write-off.

After he'd pounded her into submission at the polls, Obama offered the expected polite, conciliatory remarks toward Hillary Clinton but those who suggested she'd be receiving a high position in his administration after waging such a needlessly ugly and protracted campaign seemed off their collective rockers. Obama said Clinton would be on anyone's short list for VP but everyone recognized that as the words of a gracious victor, and the behind-the-scenes reporting confirmed she'd never even been seriously considered for that post. Nor should she have been. The single biggest item that had allowed him to crush her in the primaries was that she was wrong on War-On-Terror-related policy and now, Obama offers to make her Secretary of State? Greenwald isn't being honest when he suggests this is predictable.

And Clinton is only one example. Through most of his other appointments, Obama is going out of his way to throw shit in the face of those who elected him and giving them nothing more for their efforts than the stinky mess to clean. The Big Three automakers are currently seeking a government bailout. What sort of moral authority does Obama have to chide them for bad decisions and being "resistant to change" if he's doing this?

Greenwald persists:
"It's difficult to understand what basis progressives think they have for demanding greater inclusion in his cabinet and other high-level appointments, and it's even more difficult to understand the basis for the disappointment and surprise being expressed over the fact that center-right Democrats and Republicans are welcomed in his inner circle, but--as The Nation's Chris Hayes put it--'not a single, solitary, actual dyed-in-the-wool progressive has, as far as I can tell, even been mentioned for a position in the new administration.'"
On what basis? How about the assumption that the President they just elected isn't a complete idiot? Hayes, in the piece Greenwald quotes, answered that in the next few sentence:
"Remember this [the left] is the movement that was right about Iraq, right about wage stagnation and inequality, right about financial deregulation, right about global warming and right about health care. And I don't just mean in that in a sectarian way. I mean to say that the emerging establishment consensus on all of these issues came from the left.... And yet, no one who comes from the part of American political and intellectual life that has given birth to all of these ideas is anywhere to be found within miles of the Obama cabinet thus far. WTF?"
This isn't just a matter of picking people who have been defeated by voters and who are offensive to those who elected Obama; this is a matter of putting into positions of power those who were completely wrong about the central issues of our time. Obama is going out of his way to do this. As I've noted more than once, we've already done "stupid" when it comes to the executive branch. It didn't work out so well for us.

Obama hasn't yet been sworn in and he's already looking like a failed president.


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