Isn’t it remarkable that Obama’s supporters, after all this time, cannot come up with a serious argument for why he should be president, other than (a) the other guy’s awful and scary and (b) we have to throw the Republicans out (or, at best, he’ll hire better advisors)?
Isn’t it remarkable that they cannot make an even slightly persuasive case for what we can expect him actually to do as president?
Of course, when one says things like this, there is a consistent response from these people: “Do de do de do… I can’t hear you… I’ve got my fingers in my ears… La di dah di dah.” I expect their reaction to this post will be the same. “Good lord, there he goes again, beating this dead horse. This guy is a broken record, one of these dead-end obsessives.”
This reaction takes a few different forms, but they all amount to a refusal to discuss. Not that they won’t talk about those issues – many will… from the economy to nuclear proliferation to whatever. As long as we’re not talking politics. As soon as the conversation moves to the election and the Precious… inquiry and open dialogue stops. The only allowable form of discourse – and the only permissible emotional affect – is outrage at the Republicans, especially Sarah Palin.
One variant: “Oh, you just hate him.” Meaning: “You’re not rational on this subject, so we can’t talk about it.” For some, this has the subtext of: “You’re a racist!” For others, simple perplexity at how anyone can find him un-wonderful.
Another variant: “Oh, you’re just bitter that Hillary lost. You were in love with her. Get over it – after all, she did.” Meaning: “You’re not ready to come out of your room… so we can’t talk.”
And another: “Sarah Palin??? John McCain??? What is there to talk about?”
What you absolutely never hear, though is: “I am enthusiastic about the prospect of an Obama presidency because he will do X, Y or Z on the economy…” or “His healthcare proposal is based on the smartest analysis I’ve heard about how to tackle this problem – let me tell you why…” or “His ideas for how to approach a complex, globalizing economy and geopolitical arena are unique, in A, B and C ways…” or anything even remotely like that.
Press them for a single respect in which he has shown actual substantive and innovative thinking and leadership… or for a coherent policy frame that makes sense of his FISA vote, his D.C. gun control statement, his position on the death penalty, his Harry and Louse ads and on and on… and they resort to one of the responses above. It’s all horserace, all GOP-directed schadenfreude, all Palin snark, all ohmygod apocalysm about a possible McCain win, all the time.
Don’t get me wrong. Obama is going to win. The American people are going to throw these Repubums out. We are going to recreate the political conditions of 1932… whether or not we have an FDR to fill that role.
But wouldn’t you think that, given the foregone conclusion we face... and given the pressing urgency of making the right decisions about economic policy -- with material consequences for all our lives, including those of these interlocutors – wouldn’t you think that other conversations would be happening? Is it just too scary these days to think? Are we down to nothing but repeating “hope” and “change”?