Saturday, August 6, 2011

David Sirota On Who Barack Obama Is

David Sirota published this opinion in Salon yesterday:
Considering this, and further considering Obama's early congressional majorities, it is silly to insist that the national political events during Obama's term represent a lack of presidential strength or will. And it's more than just silly -- it's a narcissistic form of wishful thinking coming primarily from liberals who desperately want to believe "their" president is with them.

Such apologism, of course, allows liberals to avoid the more painful truth that Obama is one of America's strongest presidents ever and is achieving exactly what he wants.

Obama isn't weak (he just isn't a liberal)

I think Sirota’s closer to being right than most progressive observers have been. While there’s certainly reason to suspect that some of Obama’s views have more to do with his own self-interest than they do with what he has learned over the years, he’s been pretty consistent in matters of policy. Ignore what the man says, because he’s a consummate liar. Just look at who he’s chosen as advisors, and what he’s done.

He chose economic advisors who believe in the same “free market” nonsense he learned to love at the University of Chicago. Not only did he surround himself with them at the White House, but he chose similarly-inclined knuckledraggers to be on his Deficit Commission.

He chose foreign policy advisors who believe in using military force to advance human rights, which is what he’s tried to do both in Afghanistan and Libya.

He chose a candidate for SecHHS who was obviously opposed to the idea of any form of government-provided health care. When that guy got into trouble, he nominated another one.

He chose an Attorney General who could be counted on to look the other way when he did whatever he wanted in the “war on terrorism”. He then chose one of George W. Bush's torture apologists as a foreign policy advisor. That’s worked out the way just about anyone could have predicted.

If you want to know how a new leader is going to rule, look at who he chooses for advisors. It’s usually a dead giveaway. That’s certainly been a tell with Obama. He has done what anyone would have predicted who knew who those people were and what they stood for.

This is who he is. He’s getting what he wants.

Why does this matter? Normally, I'd say that the motivations of someone who is doing something as wrong-headed as what Obama is doing to the country don't matter, the acts speak for themselves. But on the question of what to do about those actions, understanding the motivation helps to eliminate plans that clearly won't work. It clearly won't work to try to persuade Obama to change his mind, nor will it help to call his courage into question. Those aren't the issue here. The issue is that the man believes in what he's doing, at least in many policy areas. That means that the only way to change what the President does is to find ourselves another President.

Once that becomes clear, then the work of figuring out how to do that can begin in earnest.

Afterword: Earlier versions of these remarks appeared as a comment at Taylor Marsh's blog.


lawguy said...

I'd been reading around on the various blogs about Obama's motivations and wondering if it mattered or not. I think you're right. Once one accepts that he is for the most part getting just what he wants. However difficult the task there is only one answer: get rid of him.

Cujo359 said...

Unfortunately, that's the conclusion I've come to. Someone who is not one of us is not going to be persuaded to buck up and do the right thing. As far as Barack Obama is concerned, he is doing the right thing.