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Obama objections documentation thread

vastleft's picture

Imperfect PUMAs such as myself (i.e., Democrats/progressives who haven't signaled that it's likely or certain that they won't vote for Obama) are facing a lesser-of-two evils choice this November. Perhaps some or most in the "likely" camp will face that sooner or later.

Actually, I'll stop right there for a second and will explain my motives (which, along with my morality, keep getting called into question) behind this and similar inquiries.

My agenda:

  • Test my conclusion that Obama is the less-ruinous of this year's two terrible options. If my conclusion stands up to argument and documentation, I may be able to convince others to do as I'm doing, and we keep the less-evil option from the White House. If my conclusion doesn't stand up, I avoid making a mistake and others may as well. I reckon that compilations of relevant issues, facts, and opinions should prove interesting reading — regardless of whether your going-in position is the same as mine or the opposite.
  • Help shore up the quality of our commentary. Help ensure that everyone's, including my own, perceptions are reality-based. With more precision about what the grievances are and how well-supported they are, we empower ourselves to be better advocates -- our resolve to do what we think is right will be steeled, and our arguments will be bolstered. Finding other impressions less-supportable may lead us to adjust our conclusions and tactics. As I've said before, don't get mad... get documentation.
  • Continue to define what PUMA leverage might be used for.

So, here goes (and please feel to free recycle and annotate your thoughts from previous comments, as you see fit):

  • What are your key objections to Obama?
  • What is the basis for each objection? Specifically, is it...
    • Something he did*, he said, or condoned?
    • Something his campaign did, said, or condoned?
    • Something his surrogates (please define the connections) did, said, or condoned?
    • Something his supporters did, said, or condoned?

Here's a start...

Things Obama did:

  • Helped divide the party by leveraging Clinton hate. For example, he appeared on CBN (!) and bragged: "I think there is no doubt that she has higher negatives than any of the remaining democratic candidates.... I have no doubt that once the nomination contest is over, I will get the people who voted for her. Now the question is can she get the people who voted for me? And I think that describes sort of one of the choices that people have, just a practical choice, as they move forward." As ye sow, so shall ye reap.
  • Publicly disrespected Hillary: "likable enough," the middle-finger scratch.

Things Obama supporters did:

  • Rendered major Democrative/progressive community sites uninhabitable by Hillary supporters, with DailyKos and Democratic Underground perhaps the two biggest. Ditto in the comments threads in nearly every A-list blog. Even if you weren't officially banned, the swarming obnoxiousness was worse than greenhead season on Crane Beach. Despite frequently heard equivalations, Hillary supporters did not behave this way. Even Clinton-crazy C-list Corrente counts among its Senior Fellows two four Obama endorsers.


* Or didn't do, such as have more experience before he ran for president.

No votes yet


BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

to run down Obama's full list, but on one issue - Obama's failure to speak out about sexism, Shakesville happily does it for me today while noting Obama's hypocrisy over calling on McCain to defend Obama's wife from attacks. It also helpfully adds in that awful quote from Obama about not knowing who he was running against, Bill or Hillary (thus enforcing the sexist meme that wives are extensions of their husbands).

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Obama gets at least a "condone" on the sexism/misogyny.

There was far too much of it about, and all of it to his benefit, for him not to have noticed it... and not to have seen the need to make the Best Speech About Sexism Evah when it would have mattered.

One of my biggest questions is, does it stop at condone? The "periodic" quote does suggest a mood-swinging woman. But are there more and more blatantly sexist things that he said in the campaign, or should we set our disapproval at "why did he condone it"?

Gidget Commando's picture
Submitted by Gidget Commando on

surrounding the presumptive nominee scares me witless. I've seen fan pics portraying him in traiditionally holy imagery (all-but-literal halos, for example). The "lightworker" column by Mark Morford of the SF Chronicle a few weeks ago, suggesting that new age religious leaders see him as a figure capable of transforming humanity to a new plane or some such stuff. When Obots react to questions about anything less than glowing regarding their candidate, they attack the way religious zealots do--'you don't understand,' 'you're an agent of evil,' swarming and shaming like cult members.

The cult-like aspects of the O movement unnerve me. Anytime you conflate religious mania and politics it's dangerous. (See Bush, George W., and other examples too numerous to mention.)

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

The purpose of this thread, should people be interested and diligent enough, is to put some meat on the bones of these objections. For example, links that show the degree to which Obama, his campaign, his surrogates, and his supporters played a specific role in feeding these things, or to which they are accountable for condoning them. Time-permitting, I can put up a bunch of links that speak to this topic, and I heartily encourage others' contribution on this and other such themes as well.

Because if we're trying to use this leverage, it's not enough to speak the truth that the Obama "movement" reeks of both weak tea Kool-Aid, we need to build the case.

For those who say the ship has sailed, and you're focused on for 2010 or 2012, cementing the case should be no less valuable.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

He not only used what I would consider dogwhistles "claws come out", "periodically" tied to how Hillary was feeling, but the parts of the right-wing meme his campaign pushed and he reiterated were drawn from a long line of stereotypes about powerful women (liars, scheming, ambitious, etc.) and it came at the same time when Obama belittled her experience (I'll go find it, but he basically reduces her to nothing but Bill's wife and compares her to his own wife). Even the RFK smear and jokes about Obama needing a food tester if Clinton were his VP are tied to these stereotypes - Lady MacBeth, anyone?

A concrete example from an Obama campaign official. Many people noted Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s comments after NH in the race boating matter, but look at what he said - not only that Clinton didn't cry for Katrina (how would he know?) but that she cried in NH because of her "appearance." Not only was that not true, but it plays on a sexist idea that what women really care about are their looks.

I don't have time to put together a timeline, but starting in October, the Obama campaign began personally attacking Hillary and they often did so using words and images pulled straight from sexist stereotypes about strong women. Of course, the defense was that they were true about Hillary. Indeed, everyone knew it already. Of course, everyone did. The sexist GOP had been peddling these same things for 16 years.

And, now, of course, Michelle Obama is going to get the same crap and when the Democrats complain, they're going to get their silence in the face of the Hillary crap thrown back in their face. Which they deserve. But you know who doesn't deserve it? WOMEN. Because misogyny against one woman hurts all women. If the Obamas and the DNC didn't understand that before, I think they're about to learn it now.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

As your time permits, the more documentation, the more convincing.

Clearly segmenting the grievances based on whose fingerprints are on the offenses is IMHO essential (the candidate, the campaign, the how-connected-surrogates, and the supporters, and whether the sins were of commission or of failing to repudiate and stop the offenses). It's far too easy for people to say "that didn't happen," or "he, personally, didn't do it," and to slough off the issues that have got lifetime Democrats prepared to support McCain with their votes and non-votes.

Let's make it at least a little harder for them to ignore these very real and very persistent concerns.

BobbyK's picture
Submitted by BobbyK on

But what about his campaign conspiring to disenfranchise the voters of MI and FL? I don't have enough time to provide links at this time however.

I've never and I mean NEVER voted for a repub for anything during my 28 years of voting. I'm not gonna vote for mccain either, leaning toward leaving the p/vp lines blank.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I'm having a hard time supporting Obama because of FL and MI. Is McCain horrible? Yes. But is McCain more horrible than undermining the democratic process? I'm not sure. I don't think McCain is going to be as bad as people think, still not good, but not end of the world bad. On the heels of Bush v Gore and Ohio '04, I think Dem nomination '08 continues the erosion of fair elections. With all the voter ID laws coming up, Dems have lose the moral high ground.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... his (and I say "his," because it's too important to blame some functionary for it) refusal to support a re-vote. It would have made those voters whole, and it might have cost Hillary some votes, since Obama was the clear frontrunner by then.

It would have shown, y'know, leadership.

elixir's picture
Submitted by elixir on

assassination" scare put into stark contrast the racial smears of the Obama campaign. Hillary was struggling at best when the Obama campaign took a snipet from a video interview in which she referenced RFK's assassination in describing a timeline and smeared it as racist. Of course, Michelle had to come out and quel everyone's fears by saying they (she and Precious) were "safe." But a matter of days later John McCain frames his invitation to Obama for 10 town hall meeting debates with a reference to the town hall debates that JFK proposed to his contender before he was assassinated. Eek, I was searching for the smelling salts..but... not a peep.

Race baiting pigs.

I love this job!

Submitted by lambert on

Though I did check the queue and there's nothing there .... Maybe a cosmic ray took out one of the hamsters?

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Above I mentioned the screwiness of FL and MI as bad for democracy. But I also think that a vote for Obama is somewhat of a tacit approval of the way the media covered the election. We all complained and railed against the media for getting us into Iraq, but too many are silent on the media in this nomination process. An Obama election, to me, weakens our moral authority to challenge the media. That is also bad for democracy.

Submitted by lambert on

I didn't think I was naive going into this election, but maybe I was.

On the two measures that matter to me: The truthiness of the press, and the shoving the Overton Window left, I feel like we're worse off than before.

One big outcome is that it's OK, even kewl, to be out front about misogyny.

Another big outcome is that the working class, you know, sucks because they're racist.

This is not progressive. Heck, it's not even Centrist.

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Would a woman with Obama's resume have done so well? Simple question and one in which the Obama campaign has to answer for me. What if Obama were a mute and couldn't give oratory (which I find banal anyway)? Would he have been a convincing candidate?

Do we want to open the presidency up to people with Obama's resume? I don't mean to say Obama isn't accomplished--he is a Senator--but when you look at Obama's resume in absence of an individual, do you envision that resume as acceptable for the presidency?

Obama is an ambitious pol and will, at times, be just as sleazy as any other pol. I expect that and my comments thus far deal more with principles of democracy and the presidency. I think these are just as valid as objections to what Obama has said/approved/condoned. Democracy and the presidency are about more than individuals. They are institutions that should last the test of time. How does the current campaign fit into the institution's strength and longevity?

BobbyK's picture
Submitted by BobbyK on

Would a woman with Obama’s resume have done so well? Simple question and one in which the Obama campaign has to answer for me. What if Obama were a mute and couldn’t give oratory (which I find banal anyway)? Would he have been a convincing candidate?

At the risk of getting myself in extreme trouble-at what level would Obama's black supporters had supported him had he been a white male?
(short answer-Hillary would be our candidate at this moment)

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

at about 37%.

In 2004, John Edwards won the South Carolina primary, while getting 37% of the black vote (to Kerry's 34%, Sharpton's 17%, and Dean's 4%)

But the "maximum should probably be MUCH lower, because while Edwards, like Obama, was an "inexperienced" candidate whose claim to fame was his campaign speech ("Two Americas"), there are a number of key factors that maximized Edwards black support...

1) Edwards was born and raised in South Carolina, and that means some extra 'favorite son' votes
2) Edeards was running on a platform that centered on social and economic justice themes ("Two Americas"
3) Edwards main competition was John Kerry, who while a 'mainstream' liberal, wasn't seen as a champion of the African American community.

It should be noted that Howard Dean, was still in the race at the time, and was working the same "change in Washington" themes that Obama was, got only 4% of the black vote.

So, while 37% is a maximum, I'd say that if a white guy with Obama's resume and schtick had shown up in SC this year, he probably would have gotten no more than 10% of the black vote. The "white" Obama would have been running against Hillary Clinton -- who had a strong record of supporing issues and causes of importance to the black community -- and John Edwards, who had spent the last four years honing his "fighting for economic and social justice" message, going so far as to announce his candidacy in New Orleans to symbolize what his priorities were.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Imperfect PUMAs such as myself

Dear Britney.

You aren't an imperfect PUMA, anymore than your ass is an imperfect elbow.

and for anyone who thinks that Britney is serious here, let me explain what he is doing...

He's running the exact same "scam" that I would be running on Obama supporters if she was the nominee. I'd be asking them "what can she say that will make you support her?" I'd be asking "what is it you don't like about her."

Not because I cared, but because I wanted you to THINK I cared. I would want you to THINK that I was listening, and understood your concerns, and wasn't such a bad person after all.

I'd be very careful about not criticising Obama at all -- I'd let you -- no, I'd encourage you -- to vent about Clinton all you wanted to.

And, then, when I had your confidence, I'd sell you on the idea that Clinton is better than McCain.... and you'd buy it, because I've been LISTENING.

Britney is being a lot smarter than the average Obot -- but he's still selling you swampland...

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

when you stop trying to identify yourself as a PUMA, I'll start trusting your intentions. But you're not a PUMA, you're an Obama "supporter"*, and you're trying find ways to get others to get behind Obama.

* I put "supporter" in quotes because I think you've "settled" for Obama as the lesser of two evils -- in much the same way that I initially 'settled' on Clinton as the lesser of two evils month ago. But the fact that you aren't completely 'rah-rah' about Obama doesn't mean that you aren't trying to gain support for Obama with your techniques -- and if it wasn't for your fundamental dishonesty in trying to associate yourself with the PUMA movement, I might think that you were sincere.

But its that fundamental dishonesty concerning "PUMA" that makes you "Britney" in my book.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... in the PUMA spectrum?

I reject the calls for "party unity," but (as you note) I've "settled" on voting for Obama as the lesser-evil.

You have a purist idea of what a PUMA is, and I view it as a continuum. If I'm ever dishonest about where I stand, I expect you to bust me on it. But I'm not being dishonest in the least.

To me, the essential elements of being a PUMA are:

* Having clear eyes, a good memory, and a loud voice about the bullshit that went down in this campaign (from Obama, his campaign, his surrogates, and his supporters), and what it might mean for the future
* A revulsion toward glib Unity joinerism
* A healthy skepticism about Obama's supposed... progressivism, "new politics," character, etc.
* A commitment to holding Obama's feet to the fire when he fucks up, which is often

I don't believe that being a PUMA requires me not to vote for Obama. It requires me not to be a Kool-Aid drinker or an Obama apologist, which I most assuredly am not. I call for you and others to help sharpen our collective pencil about exactly how bad Obama is (and is not); can that not be a helpful thing for all non-truthy Democrats?

Because you disagree with my self-affiliation with that identity, you take it upon yourself to besmirch my morality and the honesty of my plainly stated means and ends.

I fondly remember "nuance," once the hallmark of progressive Democrats. I'm sure a smart fellow like yourself might be able to marshal some of that if you try.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

I don’t believe that being a PUMA requires me not to vote for Obama.

no one can prevent you from exercising your franchise in the way you see fit.

But not publicly supporting Obama is an intrinsic part of PUMA.

And your public support of Obama means that you are not PUMA.

Its really that simple, Britney.

add to that the fact that you are trying to 'bridge the gap' between PUMAs and the Obama campaign, and you're not merely "not a PUMA", you're engaged in some rather elegant rat-fucking.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Where do you find me being anything but transparent?

Do you have color-blindness that prevents you from reading the caption of my PUMA logo variant? Am I passing myself off as not planning to vote for Obama? Where? Am I pulling my punches on criticizing Obama? Where?

You can disagree with my agenda and my embrace of the PUMA term, and you can play the classy Maureen Dowd trick of feminizing me, but show where I'm being dishonest, or cut the crap.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

is dishonest.

Suggesting that you can "adapt" the PUMA symbol in a way that complete negates the meaning of PUMA is dishonest.

Seriously, Britney, just come up with your own acronym. Pehapes ROVE would work for you...


I'm sure that ROVEs like yourself would soon coalescen into a movement of its own...

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Riverdaughter, Paul. She was the original propogator of PUMA, and she says there is no set definition of it, so arguing over semantics, and "what PUMA really means" is pointless.

VL is unhappy that Obama is our nominee. He places different priorities than you on choosing who to vote for in the GE. He is a PUMA and will vote for Obama. You are a PUMA and will not vote for Obama. BFD. Neither you nor VL are the final arbiters of the definition of PUMA, I really wish you'd stop fighting each other about it, and turn you considerable skills and intellect toward someting else, pretty please?

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

He's called me immoral, a liar (and countless similar things), a "R.O.V.E.," and he's taken to referring to me with the name of an air-headed songstress.

I believe the most vicious thing I've done is posting a link to one of said songstress's videos. Why must I be so filled with hate!?

Also, shortly before this dust-up, I made a specific effort to leverage his justified anger with this primary process and its apparent result. What a Machiavellian Rovian I am!

As to riverdaughter/goldberry, I got mixed signals from reading her site.

There's this...

Now, onto the PUMA stuff. The concept has gone viral and many people are claiming it is a shoe or a gourd. They can claim whatever they like. It is like any other flavor of a new religion, not that it *is* a new religion. But that was not the original intent of PUMA. If you need to be reminded of what we intended when we created the concept, see the tab at the top of this page. In summary: we are 18 million voters who are being given the finger by the DNC and the Obama campaign at the same time they are expecting us to deliver our votes to them. We are telling the DNC and the Obama campaign that they have to earn our vote or they can not count on us in November. They need to honor Hillary’s voters, commit to our issues and allow us fair representation at the convention. If they don’t, we must follow our consciences in the voting booth. Obama is the weaker candidate, we didn’t choose him, he was chosen for us and we are saying, that’s not good enough for us.

That’s it. There is no committment to either shoe or gourd, Obama or McCain. It is up to the DNC and the Obama campaign to decide if they need our votes in November. If they do, they need to start demonstrating it. So far, they have not. And that is why PUMA is getting to be such a potent symbol. But for those of you who are reading more into it than that or are hoping for a miracle, there isn’t one. Your vote is your own. You give it to the person who deserves it and who has worked to gain your trust. Or no one at all. That is PUMA. It is both simple and powerful.

And, from earlier, there's this:

The action plan for PUMAs is:

1.) Dissociate yourself from the party. Tell them you will not be a party to its self destructive behavior.

2.) Reflect on your values. Read the credo at the top of this site and create at better one. Keep the language general and inclusive. Concentrate on universal truths and beliefs. Avoid wordsmithing.

3.) Stick together. We are powerful as a unit if we do not fall victim to the psychological warfare that is about to be directed at us. Turn off the media. Avoid conversations with trolls. Stand firm and do not yield.

4.) Remember that there is a better alternative. Hillary Clinton is the strongest candidate for the party and the nation. She has a lot of support out there. The nation will rally around her if we let them know we are not giving in. We must not let her concede one inch. Stand firm. Send her your good thoughts. Send her money. Do not give up.

5.) Spread the word.

As to the quote immediately above, I'm not sure if Hillary's subsequent decision to suspend her campaign and endorse Obama changes this equation, insofar as these points suggest a Hillary-or-bust brand of Democratness. Re: the newer post listed first, I think it's open to intepretation which lines to emphasize. Some speak to the elasticity of the PUMA concept, some to Obama not being "good enough."

If riverdaughter wants to vote me off the PUMA island, I'll give up the ghost and will cease to self-identify that way. To me, it's a point of pride and solidarity with those who hold a truthful view of this campaign and its meaning and side-effects. Perhaps she'll weigh in and bring closure to this little kerfuffle. Until then, I'll take the spirit of her more recent post as giving air-cover to those of us who are nuanced enough to both hold onto our anger at the various sins committed at Hillary's expense and to Obama's benefit and to chart our own path in the lesser-of-evils decision before us.

I hope we do get to closure, before I'm forced to reply to Paul with a Christina Aguilera video. Oh, the humanity!

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

I agree with you, I think he is overreacting about who calls themselves a PUMA.

Since the first post is more recent, I would say it is the operative definition of PUMA, so feel free to self identify.

I do agree with Paul, that since you have let everyone know there is nothing Obama could do, outside of torturing animals, to lose your vote, you have shot us in the foot in an attempt to get Clinton in at the convention(something I am still holding out for, and why I haven't changed my sig). But whether that means you should stop self identifying as PUMA, doesn't phase me. I think Paul is being over sensitive to who identifies as PUMA, but oh well.

OTOH, I actually like the ROVE acronym, since so many, like you, are disgusted by his campaign tactics(since they are Rovian), but are voting for him anyways, it seems quite apt. I don't know why he's calling you Britney(maybe someting do to with the "background music?").

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Thanks for the agreement, as far as it goes.

I'm curious... have you taken Hillary to task for her actions in support of Obama (endorsement, fundraising, etc.)? Should we now be calling her a ROVE? Do you feel she's "shot us in the foot"?

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Because she is doing what she had to do, to in fact remain a viable alternative, if in fact it should come to that(not that I have much Hope, but it's still there).

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

Submitted by gob on

is important for documenting what happened. But after chewing these things over for a while, I've concluded that for me it's irrelevant. What it comes down to is that my conscience won't allow me to vote for Obama, because of the wave of hatred he rode to the nomination.

I hope and believe that if my own preferred candidate had been nominated while her campaign, supporters, surrogates, and the press hurled daily blatantly hateful, gleeful, dehumanizing slurs and ridicule at her opponent and his supporters, my conscience would react the same way. If those slurs and ridicule had been racist, I'm dead sure my conscience would react that way.

The fact that the hatred was expressed in sexist terms, and played on people's guilt about race, is horrible, but my conscience is shocked enough without that.

The presidential campaign and my erstwhile party have turned into something that I simply can't participate in. Until this year I believed I was a thoroughgoing pragmatist and would always choose the lesser evil. But my conscience won't let me do that this time.

Beyond that, as a woman I'm doubly exiled from the process. The nominee and the party have demonstrated conclusively that I'm not a full member of the human race for them. I belong to a class of people who can be vilified without limit in the public forum. In the words of Jane Austen, Of such, one may almost say, that ‘the world is not their’s, nor the world’s law.’

A note on the pragmatics: I'm unconvinced by the arguments that we should wish for Obama's defeat because his administration is sure to be such a failure that it will lead to long-term Republican dominance. With all due respect to those who think about politics a lot more than I do, there's just no evidence that anyone can predict such things. If my inner pragmatist takes over by election day, I will certainly vote for Obama. To quote the great JA again (what's with me today?) a McCain presidency would be such certain immediate wretchedness, such uncertain future good.

If there is firm evidence for such predictions, I'd like to see it, just in case conscience sleeps in November.

I know my point of view doesn't speak directly to your agenda, VL. My agenda is to describe my current position in the hope that it will help others who are grappling with unprecedented inner conflicts about this.

willyjsimmons's picture
Submitted by willyjsimmons on

Hillary takes her ball and goes home...

gets called every name in the book and then some(a good old fashioned shunning most likely).

I'm inclined to give her the proverbial "pass" on that one.

The matrix would have surely imploded had she pressed any further.

For the record...

I'm against voting for Obama. "D" by his name be damned.

Semantics aside.