Friday, December 19, 2008

Obama to His "Base" -- " You"

Even Mike Madden, writing in, agrees: that’s what Obama meant when he invited the rightwing evangelist Rick Warren to deliver the “invocation” at his inauguration. But Madden and others exaggerate the point: this latest “f…ck you,” targeted at the more vulnerable parts of his base – at gays, of course, but also at high-minded liberal proponents of tolerance, and at women and men devoted to safeguarding and enhancing reproductive rights -- is, like everything else Obama has done, an unprincipled strategic calculation. He didn’t invite a white supremacist cleric or an anti-immigrant nativist. He didn’t invite an anti-Semite. That wouldn’t have scored him any points. Neither, of course, did he invite the kind of cleric who regularly sides with the angels: for example, by opposing Israeli Apartheid and international lawlessness. That wouldn’t have helped him either. Instead, Obama did what the Clintons would have done if they saw a percentage in it. And why not? Liberals are stuck with him now, and they’re undemanding enough that he can easily make amends. What harm can there be, therefore, in dissing gays now and then or in making nice to “pro-lifers”? If that’s what it takes to win away hoards of pious ignoramuses who regularly vote with the oligarachs of the GOP, then so be it.

Why is anyone surprised? With almost every one of his appointments – Steven Chu at Energy and, now, Hilda Solis at Labor excepted – Obama has been saying “f…ck you” to literally everyone who saw this Rorschach candidate as an agent of (undefined) “change.” It’s turned out that he’s not even a candidate of cosmetic change, of plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,as I thought he would be. He hasn’t even, for the most part, appointed New Model Clintonites. Instead, he’s given us what we would have had had Hillary won – except that Hillary herself ended up with a slightly less elevated position. If that’s not saying “f…ck you” to the people who voted for him, then what is!

What the invitation of that repellent preacher reveals is not anything new about Obama; that he is center-right Clintonite pol, intent on “reaching across the aisle” (edging rightward), has been evident from the beginning. What it reveals, or rather what the reaction to it reveals, is how painful it will be for Obamamaniacs when they finally can’t help but come down from their Obama high.

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