I have an observation on Corrente's ongoing argument re "Category Error" -- and its repeated use as a club with which to beat Paul Krugman.
Lambert and Vastleft are arguing that it's a major mistake for progressive commenters to attribute either good intentions or weak leadership to The Precious -- because, in Vastleft's words, "Obama operates like a conservative because he is a conservative." They argue that he's not a weak leader but a strong, effective one -- because he's accomplishing very thoroughly what (they say) he always intended to accomplish.
There is some merit and utility in this argument -- insofar as it underlines how deluded the Obots, the Netroots and the misogynist fanboy punditocracy on MSNBC and what Anglachel calls the Stevensonian wing of the Democratic Party were about him. They gave this tablua rasa a free pass to the nomination because he served as their mirror, without regard to most of what he was actually proposing. For that act of protracted irresponsibility and fecklessness, the judgment of history is already in on them, and it is not kind. To paraphrase Somerby's trope on Iraq, the working class and the middle class of America look up from their places in the soon-to-be-closed-down unemployment lines at the likes of Dowd, Marcos, Booman, Avarosis, Olbermann, Rich, Donna and their ilk in devastating accusation.
However, it's another thing entirely to propose that the whole thing was some vast and extraordinarily effective kabuki in which The Precious was actually Sauron and was skillfully orchestrating all of these conspirators -- from Wall St. to Ms. magazine to MoveOn to the insurance companies, etc., etc. One really has to believe in the power of theater to think that entire sectors of the economy are expressing batshit-crazy outrage at him in public while chortling together with him in private -- because he is, after all, so skillfully carrying their water.
And even if you believe that, how does this account for the patent lack of political success of this strategy? Are we really supposed to believe that Obama, Axelrod et al. wanted collapsing poll numbers? That they wanted to be seen universally as wearing 'kick me' signs? If this guy is supposed to be such a clever, successful, right-wing political leader, how come he's already a lame duck? Are we supposed to believe that this, too, is part of the clever, "successful" plan?
This, to me, reveals the vulnerability of strictly ideological arguments. They ignore the kinds of institutional, cultural and political dimensions that, say, Anglachel describes so well (and that I find in Krugman, for all his self-proclaimed wonkiness). Pure ideology isn't psychologically acute, and that lack of acuity creates errors that are, well, a bit categorical.
To me, the facts certainly demonstrate that Barack Obama was never a liberal. To the degree he has anything that could remotely be called an ideology or world view, it is, as Anglachel has been arguing of late, the ideology of a "Herbert Hoover progressive" (nice). But the overwhelming preponderance of the facts also show that he is a total non-leader, a cipher, a man whose entire life has been a journey not of self-knowledge but of self-obliteration, an odyssey of opacity. He is Chauncey Gardner, Jimmy Carter II, Zelig. He has always wanted to be President, but he's never actually wanted to do anything specific -- which is tantamount to saying that he never wanted to do anything. All be, no do.
And one more observation: As disappointed as all of us white, feminist, Hillary-admiring types are in this turn of events, I expect it's not a patch on the kind of disappointment that's infecting black America right now. It's not just that the United States needed an FDR and wound up with Calvin Coolidge (or, fine, Herbert Hoover)... but after our country's tragic racial history, for all that agony to have achieved its putative culmination in this, dare I say, black hole... well, that's beyond cruel.