An open letter to Glenn Greenwald
I’m posting the following on correntewire.com, as an open letter to you, on the twin assumptions that our readers’ comments may further illuminate this topic and that you receive far too much e-mail for me to expect a response.
According to the storyline that drives many advocacy groups and Democratic activists - a storyline often reflected in comments on [Daily Kos] - we are up against a sharply partisan, radically conservative, take-no-prisoners Republican party. They have beaten us twice by energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion and discipline to their agenda. In order to beat them, it is necessary for Democrats to get some backbone, give as good as they get, brook no compromise, drive out Democrats who are interested in 'appeasing' the right wing, and enforce a more clearly progressive agenda. The country, finally knowing what we stand for and seeing a sharp contrast, will rally to our side and thereby usher in a new progressive era.
I think this perspective misreads the American people.
— Barack Obama, September 30, 2005 (explaining away the decision by some Senate Democrats to vote in favor of John Roberts)
Glenn, the signs that Obama was anything but a committed progressive reformer have been there for all to see, but a group blindness somehow developed in the blogosphere and comparable real-world circles — wishful thinking that can perhaps best be described as the "Forer Effect," where Obama mastered the art of saying something for everyone (and, ultimately, nothing at all).
Some of us have become personae non grata by noticing again and again how far from a tonic for what ails Bush-afflicted America Barack Obama really is. One of the great, undertold stories of this campaign is the complete meltdown of the left blogosphere, where virtually no intelligent intra-party debate remained possible because major forums like Daily Kos and Democratic Underground — and practically every A-list blog’s comments threads — turned into echo chambers for Clinton hate and Obama infallibility. Nearly every leading blog put its thumb on the scale for Obama, willing into reality the idea that this equivalating fellow with minutes' worth of experience in the Senate was an ideal standard-bearer for progressive values – despite rhetoric that gave ground to the radical right with every syllable, and despite throwing Democratic constituencies under the bus at every turn.
I can understand why Obama may have had a special appeal to you (not that you were entirely uncritical of him), as his “post-partisan” frame superficially resembled your fight against Manichean reductionism. I appreciate your taking a stand for nuance — the progressive’s old, complicated, and noble friend. Post-partisanship, though, is the pretense of nuance, especially when it whitewashes the crimes of deeply corrupt opposition.
Finally, I don't mean to suggest that Hillary Clinton is a paragon of progressive reform, either. In my opinion, she did — as she put it — find her voice in the course of the campaign. But that’s beside the point. When the progressive blogosphere gave infinite, automatic credit to Obama regardless of his positions, statements, and actions, the opportunity for progressive reform being the coin of the realm in this contest went out the window. What a different race we would have had if Democrats had held both candidates' feet to the fire to commit to restoring Constitutional government!
Anyway, I thank you for your spot-on and courageous posts about Obama this week.
UPDATE: The purpose of this open letter.
UPDATE #2: Glenn's response, and my follow-up.