It is better to be wrong and strong than right and weak.
William Jefferson Clinton
Everyone already knew that congressional Democrats were a craven bunch. Even before 2006. Democrats re-taking both houses merely confirmed details of feckless confusion; an objective congressional observer today can really only shrug and repeat ‘I told you so.’
The magnitude of Obama’s obsessive compulsion to flinch before political forces dedicated to his (and by extension, our) political execution is unexpected. From Putin to Bibi to Mitch McConnell to the Fox apparant, he has caved in measures large and small. Not just once. And like the proverbial weakling with low self esteem, Obama vents his anger and shame on those he can – his liberal and progressive base, and the independents who took a chance and ‘hoped.’
Readers can recall the Stiftung remained highly dubious that a 46 year old with two years in the Senate and no managerial experience at all has sufficient gravitas for this historical moment. Or put another way, he has not experienced enough national-level political combat to justify the absurdly high expectations pushed upon him, and which he passively aggressively courted. Hence, our moniker, ‘Boy King’ at the time.
For a brief moment we retired the nick name. Now, it seems insufficient.
Obama the man is the epitome so far of one who mistakes reading or talking about something with actually knowing or internalizing the experience of something. This we believe lies at the heart of Obama’s foolish jump start of the Movement’s unjustifiable resurgence. He does not ‘get’ active, real world nihilism.
Having spent decades in the bowels of the Movement we are not part of ‘Obama’s liberal Left [sic] base.’ Nor are we wonks on health care policy. But we do know this: (i) the Movement savors flinching; and (ii) independents and others watching both the Movement and Obama will have another gut check on who is the stronger actor. That meta-political snapshot of strength will be the far more enduring and powerful emergent political truth than the technicalities of this bill or that one.
Obama demonstrates that he lacks the necessary internal strength to deal with the Movement, let alone assert a separate positive agenda. Democrats and the clueless commentariat in 2009 who remain willfully stupid deserve the political annihilation the Movement plans for them. Imagine, after Newt in Congress and 8 years of the Warlord, Alter can say this August that it’s all an eye opener. ‘It’s amazing’ to them — I think those were Alter’s words — that the Movement disdains liberal democracy.
One can not engage in serious politics in the 21st Century with such people. The Movement plays for keeps. The Democrats just play. What remains unclear to us is whether the netroots writ large can rebuild a new Democratic Party from within fast enough. Or whether the whole rotten edifice needs toppling in favor of something new, unfettered with ghosts of mediocracies past.
The Stiftung’s major interest is first preserving and then strengthening liberal democracy, knowing that the Movement only may be coaxed into mere participation at best, but does so with no fealty and a hunger to bring it all down. We do not carry here an ideological axe to grind on the current menu list of hot button issues. Our politics are perhaps best be described as classically liberal.
To all of our detriment America doesn’t have a genuine ‘Left’ anymore (the word is our Emmanuel Goldstein as faux boogeyman). We leave reconstitution of a vibrant and healthy Left up to others. They have our best wishes. We worry whether Obama’s weakness also will not bring down at least portions of the progressive movement vested in him. A week is a lifetime and all that. Still we hope they are self aware enough to know that they must jettison him when necessary despite the complicated emotions. Keep eyes on the prize.
All of us can’t afford the Movement’s return to actual power (as opposed to Obama’s incredible gift now of letting the Movement govern by negative implication). We close by asking ourselves for the umpteenth time under the breath, ‘Why are Democrats so stupid?’