The Enthusiasm Gap

Stop being so fucking cute. It's distracting.A recurring theme of our recent blathering has been disappointment: Not that Barack Obama isn’t living up to our impossibly high standards (we’ve expressed serious reservations for more than a year), but that we’re finding it increasingly difficult to get excited about anything he does. Symbolically and substantively, it’s one misfire after another.

Yes, we know he’s not John McCain, and we’re grateful for that. Just as the Nobel committee is grateful he’s not George W. Bush. But relief will only take you so far.

We didn’t sign up for that. We signed up for what we hoped would be a refreshing generational change in American politics. Although Sarah Palin quickly disabused us of that fantasy.

Still: Has it really come to this? Is the best we can say about Obama that he’s not one of them?

We’re looking for some help here. What have we overlooked? What about Obama truly represents a force for good, and not just a coffeebreak from evil? What remains to keep us from retreating into comfy cynicism?

And no, Bo doesn’t count.


If I were a conservative, I’d be pretty happy about now. The way American politics seems to work is this: the GOP gets into office every few years and just trashes the country with unnecessary wars and unaffordable tax cuts for the wealthy. The debt skyrockets and the day that the great society social safety net has to be dismantled for lack of funds draws nearer. Then the Democrats ride a wave of discontent into office promising change, and the best they can muster is to just not make things any worse while in the process pissing off an electorate that was hoping for real action. And then we have another GOP victory and the ratcheting process is repeated.

@Serolf Divad:
Judging by the rage I’ve seen on the RW boards, they’re in no position to capitalize, yet.

They’re too busy fighting themselves that there is no organized block or anyone to take the reigns. Huckabee’s poorly done commutations of violent criminals has killed his chances among the fanatical. Mittens is a Mormoni. No one is pure enough to lead the botards to the city on the hill… and pillage it.

Despite what Palin supporters dream, Sarah is just doing a US American tradition of separating fools from their money while cashing in on her X minutes of fame.

I could have told people during the primary that Obama was a right of center centrist. it was obvious. he said it over and over. he demonstrated it by touring with homophobes and pandering to wingnuts.
but everyone was so busy projecting the didnt hear. I supported Hillary in the primary and I still think she would have been on balance a more left leaning president. if only marginally. one thing for sure, she would have led on health care reform where the O has not.
I am also aware that Obama has the added benefit of a fawning press, which is no small thing, where they would have been in lynch mode for Hillary.
the problem is that Obama has not taken advantage of that to do any real good for the people that elected him. I keep hoping.

“a coffee break from evil”. that could have legs.

@Capt Howdy:
I have to disagree on a three points:
Hillary leading on HCR wouldn’t have gone as far as the other’s one. Too much history of her last attempt would have bogged her and her team down.

Hillary’s foreign policy would be a bit harder than O’s (a matter of degree, really.)

It would have been a more battered Demrat party that squeaked by on election day and the put the Demrats in a more difficult position vs the GOP.

This of course is not to say you don’t have valid points.

@Capt Howdy: I agree about Obama. He’s not remotely left-wing. Hils is much more the classic Democrat. Which is why I agree with Manchu about her prospects.

But this behavior of Barry’s is what we saw – and freaked out about – during the primary. He has done a lot in his time.

dont disagree with any of that. but on the foreign policy part he seems to be absorbing all of the things that separated them during the primary. and I dont think its just because she is SoS but because he said what he needed to say to get elected.
and yes, she would have been crucified just like her husband was and for many of the same reasons. they are more classic dems plus they are “hicks” that the villagers never thought deserved to be where they are.
the difference though I think is that she is much tougher and smarter than Bill. always was.

I like this comment on the O from another blog:

Obama to me is an amalgam of JFK’s glamour, George H. W. Bush’s vacuity, Jimmy Carter’s ineptness, and Richard Nixon’s secretiveness and duplicity–unappealing even before any consideration of his decisons to continue George W. Bush’s wars and policies.

I guess we should be grateful he does not as yet seem to have Bubbas pud problems.

maybe putting gay marriage to a vote in NY is not such a bad idea after all:

According to a Marist College survey released Wednesday, 51 percent of people questioned said they favor legalizing gay marriage, with 42 percent opposed.

He’s still clean and articulate, right?

What about Obama truly represents a force for good, and not just a coffeebreak from evil?

Looks good in a suit? Penmanship?

From Ken Silverstein (worth reading his short post in full):

The fundamental policy problem in Afghanistan is that there is no achievable mission at this point.

Sorry nojo, I can’t help you on this one. I’ve been crushingly disappointed by Hopey’s anti-Hope actions for the last several months. I forget what pushed me over, but as soon as it became clear that the campaign promises were just empty campaign promises, I lost the tiny spark of “maybe” he had previously kindled. Politicians are politicians: they lie to get what they want, and then lie some more when you catch them in their lies. He’s doing a lot of the things in his power to make sure that the dewey-eyed masses that volleyed him into office not only don’t vote for him again, but don’t ever vote again at all. That, to me, is the real tragedy.


Can speak from a teleprompter without fucking it up? Really reaching here…

How the Afghan Escalation Was Sold:

“When Gen. Stanley McChrystal decided to launch a sweeping review of Afghanistan strategy, he reached out to a small, but influential, group of national security wonks.

“McChrystal’s “strategic assessment group” included Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and his wife, Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War; Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations; Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Andrew “Abu Muqawama” Exum of the Center for a New American Security; and Jeremy Shapiro of the Brookings Institution.

” . . . The military — like corporate America — likes to bring in consultants for an outside view. [ ] But as our friend Laura Rozen observed, it was also a way to win the hearts and minds of an important constituency: The foreign-policy pundits and op-ed writers who would help sell the new strategy to the public.”

Also: Military recently spent about $330 million upgrading Bagram and Kandahar Airfields. You don’t spend that much if you’re planning to leave anytime soon.

Finally: Cost of moving fuel to Afghanistan and then to forward operating units? $45-300 per gallon and a 17.5 percent annual increase in casualties as convoys are hit.

@al2o3cr: OK, he has brought attention to the question of food quality and security and the sustainability of industrial agriculture…Oh. No. That’s Michelle.

Is it ok to look back in wistful Hope™ and wish Michelle had been the candidate? Will you allow me a few moments of delusion that things would be significantly better if that had been the case?

@redmanlaw: One wonders, now that They have us all focused on Afghanistan, what kind of shenanigans They are committing in Iraq.

Pickle Surprise

chucha tu madre what did these people do before youtube

Im trying to imagine how its possible that I had never seen that website before. if there was ever a website made for me . . .

Today, I interviewed an interesting Afghani M.P.H. student — a female MPH student and an MD — who learned medicine during the Soviet occupation, practiced medicine through the civil war and watched in horror during the Taliban as she was one of few female doctors, which were allowed to practice medicine with women only. She had need for specialists, who were all men, and by the time she got help via passing notes, essentially, in a bureaucratic fascist maze, from the senior male doctors, many of her patients died. Need a gyno? Forget about it, and many women died from postpartum hemorrhages.

She worked with NGOs where she was able to learn, in secret, how to use a computer (since women could not get an education). She survived Taliban rule and then came to the US to learn about public health, so that she can make a dent in the atrocious maternal mortality rate — 1,600:100,000 compared to 8:100,000 in the US.

I admire her courage. I am in awe of her. May God help her and everyone else there.

I don’t know how this strategically fits. And I don’t know whether an escalation will help or hurt. But I know for damned sure that we’re not building the CIVILIAN infrastructure needed for the Afghanis to stand on their own.

She told me that this is the best support that they need, and warned her countrypersons that the foreign aid will eventually end. I feel like we’re forgetting civil society and the needs of the people, and instead, we’re simply focusing on a military objective.

I want to hear more from Afghanistan’s people themselves. I want to hear about what we’re doing regarding health and education. About schools. About hospitals with sterile medical equipment. About jobs. That’s what’s being lost in the din about escalation.

incredible. a friend I used to have at Disney was married to an Afghan man and had amazing stories to tell about the time she spent there. we seriously cant imagine what women have to deal with there.

I want to hear about what we’re doing regarding health and education. About schools. About hospitals with sterile medical equipment. About jobs.

last night I was watching Maddow and she produced a chart supposedly from the Joint Chiefs (I think) that seemed to suggest they are at least considering some of the things you mention. Maddow basically uses the chart to ridicule it but I thought it was at least a tiny bit hopeful in that are at least considering something besides killing them.

@rptrcub: @Capt Howdy: I think that’s what we’re sending Nabeesco to do.

@Mistress Cynica:
is that a unit of BlackWater?

some of Sandys stories were not about women. from what she said Afghanistan is like another planet in many ways. for one thing I was shocked to learn that it is not only common but totally acceptable and even considered upscale for a man to have one or more “little boys” to tend to his needs. she had pictures of some of them. unbelievable. even more unbelievable is what happens to them when they are to old to be cute any more.
another stunner was about public sanitation. she said that there were “areas” and we are talking about cities not middle of no where, where people, men actually, would hike their jalabas and take a dump. right in the middle of everything. and then just walk away. no muss no fuss no wiping.
anyway. her stories convinced me that as curious as I might be I dont think I ever really want to visit this country.

So, in summary: Beyond the things we would expect any Dem preznit to accomplish (less-atrocious judicial appointments and such), and beyond the very welcome fact he’s Not Bush and Not McCain, there’s nothing in particular to recommend Obama?

Well, he’s been lucky in his opponents before, and it looks like he’ll be lucky again. But I won’t be surprised if Shepard Fairey sits out the next round.

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