Mike the Mad Biologist

I don’t mean to get all Bob Somerby on you, but Frank Rich’s Sunday op-ed is ridiculous. Obama isn’t acquiescing to Republican demands because he’s suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or some other deep-seated psychological malady. That’s clearly overthinking the problem.

It’s far more basic than that–Obama’s gall can be divided into three parts:

1) He really believes that the country needs to be less partisan, and become more bipartisan. Without this, the country will be suffer. He would rather negotiate with the lunatic than be partisan.

2) He is a Rockefeller Republican. That is, he likes a lot of the Republican program, especially economically, but with some of the harsh edges planed off, and with some of the really crazy extremist shit left out.

3) He is neither interested nor very knowledgeable about economics–kind of a problem given the current state of affairs.

It should be pretty clear to regular readers of this blog that I consider these to be completely daffy views, but I’m not the president, so, like it or not, we have to deal with them.

Treating Obama’s politcal dysfunction as psychological, or, for that matter, structural (i.e., a lack of power), is that ignores a very obvious hypothesis: much of what the Republicans are proposing doesn’t really bother him.

If he were bothered by unemployment, he would have fought harder for a bigger stimulus package. He never wanted to anger the banksters–hell, he plays golf with them at Martha’s Vineyard. He touted himself as a constitutional scholar, even as he has granted himself the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without any judicial process. On social issues, he has never been especially gay-friendy or gay-comfortable (contrast that with Hillary Clinton, fifteen years his senior, who includes among her most trusted aides a lesbian). Of course he’s not going to push hard for DADT. He’s undermining the Democratic position on the Bush tax cuts, even though it’s popular, because he doesn’t like it (terror at being accused of ‘raising taxes’, even as he talks about the need for deficit reduction, is also a driver here). On environmental issues, let’s not forget that four days before the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, he equated environmentalists with global warming denialists. He didn’t have to do that.

On any number of issues, he has never truly threatened the use of the veto. Since being elected, he has never campaigned hard or bargained hard for Democratic positions. This isn’t psychological, it’s because he’s not very bothered by the outcome. Compare his unwillingness to fight for rank-and-file Democrats with his willingness, at times, to fight against them when they called him on something (as rarely as that happens).

Look, if Obama were white, it would be obvious that he is a moderate Republican. Mind you, he’s not as bad as the typical Republican who is bugshit insane.

But ersatz psychoanalysis only obscures that Obama is, at heart, a Republican, albeit a moderate one. Democrats, including elected ones, need to recognize that a Republican, not a Democrat, is in the White House. They must realize that, vis a vis the presidency, they are an opposition party and act accordingly.

Comments

  1. #1 fj
    December 6, 2010

    I had a nasty feeling when he was elected that he would end up fucking up badly for a variety of reasons (the extreme hyping to the point of near messiah he got, Republican fuckery, etc)… and turns out, unfortunately I was right.

    Ugh, it’s sad when the only positive thing you can say about the current Democratic party is “at least they aren’t Republicans”. At this point, if Obama turns around and declares he’s a creationist, I might actually not be so surprised… ;_;

  2. #2 Carlos
    December 6, 2010

    Obama is a Romney Republican.

    I’m looking forward to Romney being the GOP front-runner in 2012. It should be interesting hearing him explain to the teabaggers why he invented Obamacare.

  3. #3 JThompson
    December 6, 2010

    2) He is a Rockefeller Republican. That is, he likes a lot of the Republican program, especially economically, but with some of the harsh edges planed off, and with some of the really crazy extremist shit left out.

    I wish he were a Rockefeller Republican. RRs were at least willing to compromise with the left. He’s pretty much pushed neoconservative policies while sighing and claiming he’s compromising for the good of all. He’s pushing the discourse so far to the right anything to the left of the real definition of fascism will be called socialism. And it appears that’s exactly what he wants to do. That or he’s just that stupid.

    Had we gotten McCain we’d be getting the exact same president, only the Republicans would actually be to blame.

  4. #4 bobh
    December 6, 2010

    I agree, when I see a free (not mentally ill) person acting in some way my assumption is its because they want to act that way.

    “he has granted himself the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without any judicial process”. Can you provide a reference for that? Such decisions would be contained in a presidential finding, which are very highly classified. I was unaware such a finding had been leaked.

  5. #5 Rob Monkey
    December 6, 2010

    Bobh, go here. It’s not like he’s just randomly assassinating people, but this is still unethical and AFAIK, illegal.

    “Look, if Obama were white, it would be obvious that he is a moderate Republican”

    It’s sad how much that line describes the current state of things. On the upside, it’s quotable as hell.

  6. #6 jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj
    December 6, 2010

    Overanalyzing Obama’s Pysche

    *cough*

  7. #7 bobh
    December 6, 2010

    I agree, when I see a free (not mentally ill) person acting in some way my assumption is its because they want to act that way.

    “he has granted himself the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without any judicial process”. Can you provide a reference for that? Such decisions would be contained in a presidential finding, which are very highly classified. I was unaware such a finding had been leaked.

  8. #8 herp n. derpington
    December 6, 2010

    PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE PYSCHE

  9. #9 Dunc
    December 7, 2010

    Democrats, including elected ones, need to recognize that a Republican, not a Democrat, is in the White House. They must realize that, vis a vis the presidency, they are an opposition party and act accordingly.

    The elected ones are mostly Republicans too.

  10. #10 Barry De Man
    December 8, 2010

    “…both The New York Times and The Washington Post confirm that the Obama White House has now expressly authorized the CIA to kill al-Alwaki no matter where he is found, no matter his distance from a battlefield….”

  11. #11 scathew
    December 9, 2010

    Very well said.

  12. #12 SocraticGadfly
    December 12, 2010

    Don’t blame me. I saw through him back in 2007. Voted Green again, though there’s no way I could ever become a registered party member.