The Obama Defection: Former Supporters Lambaste The President

There were two American elections this past week that spoke to the power of incumbency. Despite corruption charges, the venerable Black Democrat Charles Rangel, now in his 80s, was re-elected to Congress by his Harlem constituency.

Orrin Hatch, a cranky conservative Republican beat back a challenge to his Senate seat from harder right Tea Partiers in Utah.

It takes a lot to unseat an American politician with seniority.

Barack Obama is hoping that he too will be returned to office despite all the money and conservative fervor trying to topple him. Never in history has so much lucre and political animus been targeted at one politician.

The Supreme Court’s ratification of key provisions of his health care ‘reform” will buttress his appeal, giving him some new bragging rights at a time when the economy remains depressed. Yet, even his former Economic Advisor Larry Summers says the economy will not rally enough to help him.

So, to try to change the media focus, he has increased global war making to burnish his image as a patriotic hardliner. The tougher sanctions he backed against Iran are soon in effect but ironically; they may lead to a backlash if oil prices rise, as they are likely to.

This race is not just a right-left battleground.  Obama is under fire from his own supporters for failures and perceived betrayals linked in large part to his foreign policy, not health care or advocacy for it sex marriage or immigration reform.

In some ways, this year’s contest echoes the way the anti-Vietnam war movement rallied against the then pro-war “liberal” Democrat Hubert Humphrey in 1968.

1968 is remembered as a year of surging protests the world over just like today. Activism was at a high point in America too, so when the Democrats chose a candidate stuck in a cold-war pro war stance, there was a rebellion against the party by its own faithful. There were protests in the streets at the Democratic Convention in Chicago and growing support for an electoral challenge by Bobby Kennedy.

Democrats were at war with each other even as the Republican candidate Richard Nixon claimed to have a plan to end the war. As we know, Nixon’s plan was an escalation but he won, only to be driven from office two years later.

While liberal advocacy groups like MoveOn and some environmental coalitions rally to Obama largely because the alternative is considered much worse, criticisms of his hawkishness, caution and centrism among progressives reaches a fever pitch. In fact, just this week he, reportedly, begged his supporters to send more money as donations fall off. He may be panicking.

Writes political scientist Michael Brenner,

Barack Obama received a blast last week from one of his former Harvard law professors who made the case that he “must be defeated.”

Roberto Unger’s argument boils down to a damning indictment spelling out charges that the President has betrayed the progressive cause and those who militated for his election. The alleged betrayal is all the more painful, Professor Unger says, because it reveals a man who never was what he claimed to be.

Deep down, he is a conventionally conservative person- not just a politician who bowed to electoral expediency. Moreover, he claims that Obama has nailed the lid on the coffin of the Democratic Party that has veered sharply away from its historical constituency and principles.”

Brenner himself, a hard-nosed pragmatist and analyst seems personally persuaded, writing,

How can one approve what he has done? How can one express approval of the man himself? Can one do so with a clear conscience? This question cannot be cavalierly cast aside as an exercise in vanity, as a naïve indulgence of misplaced moral purity.

It is true that the morality of individual action and ultimate ends always co-exists uneasily with standards of political ethics. But the two cannot always be reconciled. Is it unreasonable for someone to feel in his heart that he cannot tolerate pulling the Obama lever – that the act itself sullies and degrades who he is? That it could even hamper his future ability to carry on as a public person with a sense of integrity unimpaired? I personally do not find it unreasonable.

Maybe not unreasonable but is it realistic? Some on the left think so, believing that a conservative Romney Administration will make a clearer target than a waffling Obama one.

Others say, no, we must hold our nose and vote for him hold on to the White House as a brake against what will certainly be worse.

Blacks and Latinos are rallying behind Obama for cultural reasons a well as political ones.

At the same time, some more traditional Democrats are furious with what they see as his elitism, conservatism and wrong headedness.

Jimmy Carter has attacked the White House on human rights lapses for violating 10 of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as he wrote in a New York Times op-ed. He sees the Obama Administration as abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights. Instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends, Carter argues.

Many of his former supporters are disillusioned.  He has done little to even try to sustain their loyalty, having downsized and downplayed his “Organizing for America” initiative that was supposed to build grass roots support for his reform agenda.

He abandoned the outreach effort to build an outside force to focus on the compromise-ridden “inside game” of beltway politics.

The reservations by intellectuals are felt across the activist spectrum, among the Wall Street occupiers and anti-war activists. The anti-war groups and their supporters fear that because of set-backs on the economic front at home, he will escalate his role as “warrior in chief” and perhaps provoke a war with Iran to rally Americans to back his Administration because it is defending them against danger.

Do the majority of Americans care about these issues that are treated mostly uncritically in our media? No, says Daniel Drezner in Foreign Policy magazine:

The overwhelming majority of Americans do not give a flying …. about the rest of the world.

Really, they don’t. Take a look at  poll numbers about priorities for the 2012 presidential campaign, and try to find anything to do with international relations. There ain’t much. It’s almost all about the domestic economy.

So far, it’s mostly the hard right that hates Obama, but some on the left now have come to believe the worst as well.  Like those who want to deny Obama’s legitimacy by questioning his claims to being an American citizen, left-leaning investigative reporter Wayne Madsen argues that Obama was a long term CIA agent, an Indonesian, not a Kenyan, and deeply immeshed in covert activities and cover-ups starting with his own identity.

He spells out his theory in a book called “The Manufacturing of a President.” contending, “Obama’s birth certificate has never been the issue. The real issue, which affects his eligibility to serve as President of the United States, is his past and likely current Indonesian citizenship.

The reader will be taken through the labyrinth of covert CIA operations in Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and other regions. The real history of President Obama, his family, and the CIA quickly emerges as the reader wades into the murky waters of America’s covert foreign operation”

I am not sure we need such a complex plot when a much simpler one will do. Washington is run by unelected forces—in the financial system, the corporate world and the Military Industrial Media Complex.

That’s who Rules America. Politicians know it, and are increasingly dependent on their largesse.

Whoever wins, they will remain in power.

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at newsdissector.net. He is the director of the film Plunder: The Crime of our Time. His two latest books are Blogothon and Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street. He also hosts a program on Progressive Radio Network.com. This article first appeared on Press TV in Iran. I wonder how they will respond. Comments to dissector@mediachanel.org

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  • Gregory Wyrdmaven

    I don’t think the problem is Obama’s ex-supporters as much as I think the problem has been a dearth of support right out of the gate.  The idea that things haven’t changed as much as anticipated…and a LOT has been done because the GOP point to his radical, over-reaching agenda…and that this is all Obama’s fault.  That’s pretty ludicrous.  Obama is a rational, reasonable person and Congress and a significant percentage of the USA do not meet this definition.  The left hasn’t supported him because he hasn’t waved his black magic wand and made 100 years of big money and religious/racial/social intolerance go away.  Without support from the Democrats in Congress, he has had to scratch and claw to get anything done at all, so it is a wonderful thing that so much has been done.

    Bashing Obama may seem logical and rational to some, but it’s really the same as someone whistling while they tie their own noose.  If you can’t support Obama, who really does want to fix a lot of things, then who else can you support?  All the things listed in this article about the negative things loaded on to Obama…if he tried to do the opposite, what would happen?  The right already hates what he’s done so far to the point where many of them talk openly about armed insurrection if he is re-elected.  Without the political will in the country to get these things changed, how can Obama fix problems created by the former administration?

    Look at America right now.  Look at all the flag-waving.  We lost our minds after 9/11, invaded Afghanistan and Iraq for no good reason and what happens at major sporting events?  Our version of Nazi Rallies.  Military adventurism and glorification are rife.  Video games, TV, movies all glamorize the military and warfare and guns at a level not seen since the Soviet-scare 80s.  We have dealt with our shame by glorifying military service to the point where people have no idea why we are at war and have military bases all of the world (The US Navy…why is it a GLOBAL force at all?) but  those people just by default all our soldiers heroes and that they are fighting to keep us safe, etc.

    America is not ready for a foreign and domestic policy which addresses these issues.  We are not ready to change until we look at ourselves in the mirror and realize we need to change and move forward.  Any attempt by Obama to address these issues results in the right accusing Obama of bashing and apologizing for what they think is the greatest nation on earth and the left weep because he hasn’t made the USA a theme park where everybody is polite and keeps their religion and their ideologies to themselves.

    for crying out loud, FIAT LUX!

    • 64

      I had to read that three times to convince myself you were not being sarcastic. What planet are we on again? Is it the one where Obama is an evil dictator slashing at our rights one by one? Or the one where he’s a nice man who really wants to help us and make Amerika great? One of those places is where we are now, let me allow you to guess. 

      • We the Sheeple

        Yes, of course !!!!!
        Because we weren’t at one of those junctions already under Bush Junior – or so a bunch of GOP drones would have you believe.

      • JohnFrancisBittrich

        Reductionist dialectic. “Obama is either A or B”. It must be a really, really tough reality to live in.

    • Lifobryan

      Very well put …. and your assessment of our collective national fascistic-militarist-reactionary underpinnings seems spot on. The connection between our Sportball stadium culture and Nazi rallies is apt. Great metaphor, by the way! Mix in some fireworks, fighter jets & nationalist country ballads and every major athletic event becomes a steaming, stadium-shaped bowl of Armed Amerigasm. 

      That said, I just wish … I really do wish … I could believe Obama stands apart from this mentality. Sure, there is some token & incremental opposition to the far right here & there. But I think he sees himself primarily as an educated Centrist. Unfortunately, our desperate culture has shifted so far to the right, his Centrist ideology is historically well to the right of center. (And Obama has ordered more drone strikes than any other Nobel Peace Prize recipient).

  • You Fools

    Obama is an evil socialist, a liar, a Marxist, and he hates the middle class. He is an illegitimate president who was not born in US. He constantly tries to undermine the constitution and circumvent congress. Obama isn’t even his real name… Definitely one of the worst presidents we’ve ever had. It’s no wonder people are not supporting him as much. To put it lightly, he’s a domestic terrorist. And Mitt Romney is not good either. 

    I can’t wait to see the ignorance that comes from the few remaining supporters he still has. 

    Bring it on lemmings! 

    • JohnFrancisBittrich

      Evil? Very few people are truly evil. Socialist/Marxist? No, giving all of our money to private health care companies/banks/car companies etc. is pretty much the opposite of socialism. Not a great president? Noone can really deny that, but there has really never been a president who wasn’t a total asshole. Man, the quality of the posters on the forums here has been taking a real nosedive lately from being mainly comprised of open-minded-yet-skeptical free thinkers to paranoid delusional, hate-filled conspiracy mongers… It’s a shame, because for several years now disinfo has been literally one of two or three places on the entire internet where the comments section wasn’t COMPLETELY dominated by psychotic trolls and now I can hardly even read them anymore!

      • JohnFrancisBittrich

        and I am sorry but the whole birther controversy is straight-up racism. If he wasn’t a black guy with a funny name it never even would have been suggested as a possibility that he was somehow not American.

        • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

          Not entirely true.

          I was bitching about McCain’s place of birth problems and I heard others doing the same.

          I still think that it’s ridiculous that out of 300 million people we couldn’t find two to run for President that didn’t have some sort of nagging Birth Certificate issues.

          Admittedly, McCain’s issue was worse than Obama’s (and real) but it was brought up.

      • mannyfurious

        Well, there are still a lot of thoughtful posters on here. It’s still my favorite message board by far. But, yeah, any time something is posted about politics, the gremlins come out in full force, like for some reason, because there are a lot of “open-minded, free-thinkers” on these boards, that we’ll all just spontaneously agree with their batshit rantings.

      • Bruteloop

        You hit the nail right on the head. Tragic and annoying.

    • Lifobryan

      So, let me get this straight …. the guy who governs to the RIGHT of Reagan (except for a handful of social issues like gay & abortion rights) is a socialist? I’d call him many things: “a disappointment,” “in over his head,” and “tone deaf” to name a few. But a “socialist”? C’mon, even his corporate-friendly healthcare idea was originally hatched by Bob Dole and Mitt Romney, who based it on Nixon. 

      Obama & the Democrats are a center-right party. Romney & the Republicans are a far right party. There is no viable left wing in this country … much less a socialist in the oval office. 

      At this point, the only difference I see between our two right-wing options is this: with the Republicans, all of our money will be EFFICIENTLY sucked up by the wealthy & corporations. With the Democrats, all of our money will be LESS EFFICIENTLY sucked up by the wealthy & corporations. With the Democrats, we might get a few corrupt & meager crumbs out of the deal. With the Republicans, no crumbs. (Although, I hear they plan to “trickle down” onto us. Yum). 

      • rtb61

         At this stage the only things liberal progressives can try to do is give the right conservative president a hostile congress and senate. It makes absolutely no difference which one wins the reality is the US has had a conservative Republican President for 12 years and counting. As least progressive liberals are finally starting to protest Obama bullshit corporate agenda.

    • Andrew

      He’s claimed the Executive right to assassinate American citizens, and you damn him for “socialism.”  Meaning what, giving health care or food to poor people?

      Excuse me if I reject your definitions (and I use the word loosely) of good and evil.

  • Staying Alive

      If he was a good president the corporate elitists would have invested in getting him assassinated and replaced with another self serving puppet.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    I think the puppet of the left shares my views.
    I think the puppet on the right has my point of view.
    Hey wait a minute, there’s one guy holding up both puppets!

    Hope and Change!
    I’m luvin’ it!

  • Marklar_Prime

    Wake up and smell the fascism. Obama is a fascist war criminal psychopath. Bush was a fascist war criminal psychopath, Clinton was a a fascist war criminal psychopath, Daddy Bush was a fascist war criminal psychopath, Reagan was a fascist war criminal psychopath,… etc, etc, and etc again.

    Oh what’s the use. Nevermind, just go back to watching Dancing With the Stars while I quietly blow my brains out in the corner over here.

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