Proud to Be an "Obamabot"
I have spent about 16 years discussing (arguing) politics on the Internet. In that time, I have been called a LOT of names.
Beginning in late 1995, I was recruited as a member of a group of Internet liberals called The Lying Socialist Weasels. The handle was given to us by a right winger named Brett Kottman. Some of you with photographic memories may remember Kottman; Al Franken handed Kottman his ass, exposing him as pretty much a congenital liar in his book, “Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.”
I've been a “Lying Socialist Weasel” for the past 16 years, despite the fact that I do not lie, I am not a socialist and I am certainly not a member of the rodent family, nor do I act like one. The name is IRONIC. Now, due to my exploits with this blog and on Twitter, I can apparently proudly sport another moniker that is wholly ironic to anyone who actually knows me; "Obamabot."
There’s an opinion piece in today’s “Politico” that, quite frankly, made my jaw drop. Apparently, there are only two factions in the progressive movement; “Obamabots” and the “Professional Left”. Apparently, we have all staked out our factions, and, irony of ironies, WE, the alleged “Obamabots” are apparently the subversives who are making things difficult for the progressive movement, according to this article.
Given that the progressive movement has been largely toothless since Obama was about 10, I find it hard to believe we could be blamed for ruining our electoral chances.
I am most certainly NOT “professional left.” I make almost NO MONEY on this blog; the ads pull in about $20 most months, which covers the cost of the blog, and sometimes, some kind readers leave a donation for me. (it's over in the right column, if you like what I write. It’s always appreciated.) I’ve been blogging for almost 12 years now, and I will always put the truth of what I write ahead of attempting to gain readers or followers. Real truth, not the truth that some progressives have conditioned themselves to believe.
Therefore, it seemed strange to me that some of my favorite people on Twitter, @angryblacklady, @shoq, @JeffersonObama, @Panthrgrlgail and @vdaze, all of whom largely think the way I do, could be characterized as something along the lines of “subversive” of the progressive cause in any way. As far as I can tell, all of us are typical progressives in every sense of the word, and the “professional lefties” they quoted in the article are not.
I won’t begin to speak for those folks, as they are all capable of doing so for themselves, but my feelings on Obama can be summed up simply by saying he’s done a hell of a job, given the roadblocks he;s been given. Has he been perfect? No, but his biggest fault, as I see it, is that he didn’t communicate with us enough the first year. But he pretty much fixed that during the health care debate.
What gets this “Obamabot” riled up isn’t criticism of Obama. I’ve seen some criticisms that were fair. But most of the criticisms are either blown way out of proportion or, frankly completely made up.
Example: For almost a year now, Obama’s been criticized for extending the Bush tax cuts for two years. That may sound like a fair criticism, but it’s not, because it always stops there. In return for the tax cut extension, he demanded and got a lot of benefits that kept public employees in their jobs, extended unemployment for a lot of people who would have lost it, and shored up funding for a number of programs designed to help the poor.
The “professional left” also tends to ignore the reality that the tax cuts would have expired for everyone, not just the rich. That would have meant higher taxes for those hit hardest by the Bush Recession, not just the rich. Does anyone in their right mind doubt that the new Republican majority would have swooped in to save the day on January 3, and extended the tax cuts, anyway, WITHOUT getting anything for them, and done so for a LOT longer than two years?
See, it’s an unfair criticism on its face. That is what I, as an “Obamabot” object to. As far as I can tell, all of us are regular people, not rich, who simply offer up an opinion. As someone who has been doing this a long time, I can assure you, we represent many more liberals than people like Jane Hamsher, Joan Walsh, Glenn Greenwald, Arianna Huffington and others like them. I’ve worked in union shops, and my father and both grandfathers and a couple of uncles were proud union people. I live with regular people; I’m not insulated from them. I am not someone who has seven figures in the bank and writes from his MacBook Pro from my house in the Hollywood Hills or a Manhattan highrise. I'm the people I advocate for.
Now about this article. I want to address some of the more, um, disturbing passages in this article, if I may.
The Obamabots are the ragtag digital cavalry riding to the president’s rescue, a cadre of decidedly amateur supporters, people far outside the Beltway and its norms, whose intense loyalty and passion at a moment of wide disaffection can be reminiscent of Sarah Palin’s core of backers.
First of all, we are not ragtag, and we’re not a cavalry, although I'm pretty sure most of us ARE decidedly amateur. I admit I'm not a professional journalist; I don't have the time to be one. But frankly, most of the "professional left" isn't, either. Frankly, I think we need more “amateurs” to speak up and say something.
Again, I won’t speak for the others, but MY “passion and loyalty” is to this country and its people first. If Hillary Clinton had been president, I predict we'd be seeing the same complaints coming from the same people, and I’d be defending her just as vociferously. And I am passionate because what we’re up against, politically speaking, is as close to evil as I have seen in my lifetime. I simply don’t understand how anyone can look at the current leadership of the Republican Party and think Obama or the Democrats are bad enough to smack them around. Politically speaking, it’s progressive suicide.
As a progressive, I understand that getting the most votes means you get to make policy and do things for the 99ers, and electoral success has to be our first order of business.
Some prominent liberals declined to talk to POLITICO about the Obamabots for fear of drawing their wrath. Greenwald, an early Obama dissenter because of the president’s refusal to investigate the Bush administration for war crimes, sees them as a symptom of a broader disease, a “cult of personality” some critics say surrounds Obama.
“Drawing our Wrath?” Really? What do they imagine we’ll do? I am completely unaware of any “Obamabot” who has ever personally threatened, or even personally attacked anyone on the “professional left.” And if you hold your opinions so close that someone attacking your opinions is roughly equivalent to attacking you or your family personally, I recommend a change in perspective.
The real problem is, the “professional left” hates it when anyone can poke holes in their opinions. And let's get real, folks; they're opinions, just like what we "Obamabots" write is opinion. They have no more autthority than we have; in fact, I'd submit they have less. They want to say whatever they want, and the rest of us are just supposed to accept it as fact without any criticism whatsoever. They can’t handle dissent. They are just as insular as the Right Wing Fart Machine; they only want to hear from drooling lapdogs, not those of us who think they’re off base.
I am not a victim of any “cult of personality” surrounding President Obama. In fact, the level and types of criticisms of Obama that Greenwald usually engages in seem to be more “cult-like” than anything I’ve seen from so-called “Obamabots.” It's certainly more "cult-like" than anything I write.
I, for one, am all about electoral success, and I’ve been saying the same things since about 2002, when I did an analysis of the 2000 election and discovered that it was the constant denigration of Al Gore by the left that made the election close enough for Bush and the Supreme Court to steal. Put simply, I’ve apparently been an “Obamabot” since before Obama even gave his rousing speech at the 2004 election. In reality, I’m just sick of losing elections.
By the way, Glenn, in case you read this; prosecuting Bush for war crimes isn’t as easy as you make it sound, and if you're as smart as you want us to think you are, you know this. And since the GOP keeps getting a large enough contingent in Congress to make it impossible to join the ICC, don’t you think it’d make sense to follow my lead and stop letting Republicans win elections?
Joan Walsh, editor in chief at Salon, said the divided personality of progressivism — the pro-left bloggers versus the Obamabot tweeters — hurts the progressive cause as a whole.
“I’ve become a conscientious objector in this war,” she wrote in an email to POLITICO. “It seems to me that the energy ‘progressives’ spend fighting other progressives over the administration’s every move could power a small city. And the rising tenor of personal abuse doesn’t help.”
I find the above to be laughable. The “personal abuse” she speaks of is pretty rare. In my case, it only comes occasionally after I have been spoken to with a level of condescension that is completely undeserved. They know nothing about me, and they make sure we all know everything about them. Do you know what happens when you ASSUME the person you're talking to knows less than you? Yeah. You do.
Who the hell ARE these “professional left” bloggers that makes them so much more of an authority on the poor, working classes and minorities than the poor, working class or minorities themselves, anyway? One of the most exasperating things about the “professional left,” or far left progressives in general, is their certainty that their alleged “immense education” makes them qualified to pass judgment on others. I HAVE two degrees, geniuses; it doesn't make me smarter than the auto worker about how he lives his life every day.
See, here’s the thing; MOST liberals are those people I list above; poor, working class and minorities. White, suburban or exurban upper-middle class liberals are a distinct minority among liberals, yet they speak about everyone else as if they have more authority than those actually living in this neocon-driven economy.. I have spent a lot of time in the inner cities, I have been a poor single parent for years. I have regular contact with people who work hard to make a meager living, and I know what it’s like to build a small business and live hand-to-mouth as you do so. (Again, donations welcome. :)) I have also worked quietly and in the background (for free) for Democratic political campaigns for almost 40 years, and I am well aware of why progressives keep losing. It’s because most of the loudest and most obnoxious ones are NOT actually Democrats, they have never actually worked with the "rabble" to try to elect a candidate, and they have no idea how politics itself actually works.
I will not be preached to by people with plenty of money, whose knowledge of politics is based on books they read while in college. Progressives don’t lose because we're split. We'll never work in lockstep like "they" do; we don’t have to. The reason we lose is because the vast majority of voters want to vote FOR something, and the loudest, most obnoxious progressives are always AGAINST everything.
Read the progressive blogs sometime, especially the ones run by the “professional left.” You’d think it was DEMOCRATS who were running the country into the ditch. You’d swear Obama was the second coming of George W Bush. You'd think there was less than a hair’s breadth of difference between the two parties.
All of the above are lies, of course, and the motivation is supposedly attempting to “hold (their) feet to the fire.” The problem is, no one on the left is holding Republicans’ feet to the fire, and they’re the ones doing major damage to this country. Not Democrats, REPUBLICANS. I don't care if progressives cheerlead for Obama if they don't feel it. But at the very least you have to go after the worst problem first. What the “professional left” does is roughly equivalent to laying mousetraps while the house is on fire. Yes, mice are normally a problem, but dontcha think the fire might be a little more important at the moment?
I despise what the “professional left” is doing to the discourse in this country. Most of their “criticisms” are unfounded, and they tend to dovetail with the right wing criticisms of Obama and the Democrats. It has nothing to do with Obama; it’s about getting progressives in a mindset to win elections.
If being an “Obamabot” will get Democrats elected and get Republicans out of the Congress, then I’ll be one proudly, dammit. We have to make sure right wingers stop winning elections. Without that, no other progress is possible.
So, how come we "Obamabots" get it, but the "professional left" don't?
Well, we all know about the corrupting influence of money? Maybe?