Campaigns/Elections

Obama: You Are Going to Be Very Disappointed

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While I only saw it as an attachment to an email by a stranger, my favorite Obama bumper sticker image was a picture of his face with the legend: "You are going to be very disappointed."

Here's an extended riff on that theme from the progressive left maverick Alexander Cockburn in the UK Independent. Excerpt:

Obama invokes change. Yet never has the dead hand of the past had a "reform" candidate so firmly by the windpipe. Is it possible to confront America's problems without talking about the arms budget? The Pentagon is spending more than at any point since the end of the Second World War. In "real dollars" – an optimistic concept these days – the $635bn (£400bn) appropriated in fiscal 2007 is 5 per cent above the previous all-time high, reached in 1952. Obama wants to enlarge the armed services by 90,000. He pledges to escalate the US war in Afghanistan; to attack Pakistan's territory if it obstructs any unilateral US mission to kill Osama bin Laden; and to wage a war against terror in a hundred countries, creating a new international intelligence and law enforcement "infrastructure" to take down terrorist networks. A fresh start? Where does this differ from Bush's commitment on 20 September 2001, to an ongoing "war on terror" against "every terrorist group of global reach" and "any nation that continues to harbour or support terrorism"?

Obama's liberal defenders comfort themselves with the thought that "he had to say that to get elected". He didn't. After eight years of Bush, Americans are receptive to reassessing America's imperial role……

Whatever drawdown of troops in Iraq that does take place in the event of Obama's victory will be a brief hiccup amid the blare and thunder of fresh "resolve". In the event of Obama's victory, the most immediate consequence overseas will most likely be brusque imperial reassertion. Already, Joe Biden, the shopworn poster boy for Israeli intransigence and Cold War hysteria, is yelping stridently about the new administration's "mettle" being tested in the first six months by the Russians and their surrogates…..

……In February, seeking a liberal profile in the primaries, Obama stood against warrantless wiretapping. His support for liberty did not survive for long. Five months later, he voted in favour and declared that "the ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool".

……………..

Obama's run has been the negation of almost every decent progressive principle, with scarcely a bleat of protest from the progressives seeking to hold him to account. The Michael Moores stay silent. Obama has crooked the knee to bankers and Wall Street, to the oil companies, the coal companies, the nuclear lobby, the big agricultural combines…….

So no, this is not an exciting or liberating moment in America's politics. If you want a memento of what could be exciting, go to the website of the Nader-Gonzalez campaign and read its platform on popular participation and initiative. Or read the portions of Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr's platform on foreign policy and constitutional rights. The standard these days for what the left finds tolerable is awfully low. The more the left holds its tongue, the lower the standard will go.

A similar argument applies for libertarians who are enthusiastic supporters of Obama–or McCain, for that matter.

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  1. Obama’s liberal defenders comfort themselves with the thought that “he had to say that to get elected”. He didn’t. After eight years of Bush, Americans are receptive to reassessing America’s imperial role…

    No, they aren’t. I’d imagine most Americans would not be cool with any world in which America didn’t rule the globe. It simply would not compute.

  2. The vast majority of Barack Obama’s voters don’t want Ralph Nader’s political program, Mr. Cockburn.

  3. He knows that, joe. The article is written from, and to, a left-progressive perspective.

  4. El,

    I think America would be happy with a world where the rest of the world liked us more, or at least gave us credit for not linking ourselves. We’d still rule the world, but gosh darn, people LIKE us! sometimes I think we are collectively the priviledged sons of hardscrabble achievers who were spared the rod.

  5. Brian Doherty,

    Obama’s liberal defenders comfort themselves with the thought that “he had to say that to get elected”.

    He seems to be eliding some differences.

  6. C’mon, BHO isn’t that bad.

    Sure, he’s got a plan seemingly ripped from the SovietUnion archives that specifically targets kids under 12 years old in order to get them to influence their parents’ political decisions. (Apparently wearing red scarves is optional).

    Little glassy-eyed agents of “change”.

    Please send that link to every parent you can find.

  7. Alexander Cockburn

    Well maybe Alexander ought to have that looked at

    /sorry

  8. OLS,

    Here outside of your bunker, having a kid draw a picuture to use as a campaign button is about as scary as giving him a Bruce Springsteen tee shirt.

  9. You have to understand how people lie to themselves. The same people who have no blood for oil bumber stickers will think any war Obama starts will be just fine and dandy. In the same way the feminist movement blew its moral credibility defending Bill Clinton, the anti-war movement will do the same with Obama. So will the defenders of privacy. Warrentless wiretaps won’t seem so bad when it is the chosen one who is doing them.

  10. Cthulhu? is that you? you can’t hide from me!

    collectively the priviledged sons of hardscrabble achievers who were spared the rod

    Wait, domo, tell me what that means. I think it’s relevant.

  11. John: you mean, like Republicans for the last eight years?

    As to the bumpersticker, correct. As Ted Rall points out people can invest Obama with their hopes because it’s not clear exactly what he stands for, other than change.

  12. Change, shmange. Left of center policies from the executive will be a “change” from the last 8 years, but hardly from modern governance as we know it. And much of what we don’t like about the world is impervious to being changed period, even by the so-called most powerful man in the world. Yeah, there’s gonna be a big come down to reality in some quarters. (Even if the non end of the world would be a welcome if unrecognized relief for certain others….)

  13. Whatever interest I had in Obama was basically lost when he voted in favor of the telecom bill.

    joe,

    The vast majority of Barack Obama’s voters don’t want Ralph Nader’s political program, Mr. Cockburn.

    If you put say five prominent, frequently discussed issues that both campaigns differ on (Slate X and Slate Y) before a sample of 1000 randomly selected, etc. Obama voters what percentage of them would be able to correctly identify which slate belongs to those campaigns?

  14. Obama is far more hawkish than McCain on Iran.

    yea but at least he doesnt rap about it.

  15. (Note to the innominate one: I wasn’t mocking you if that’s what it seemed like; I started that post several posts earlier!)

  16. I just think the US sometimes collectively acts like a spoiled rich kid who wants people to like us. Only people don’t like us because of our military might and influence (which was handed down to us by our predecessors). Instead they use us, promising friendship, to wage their own wars – but then defect when our usefulness is through.

  17. A lot of my friends who are going to be voting for Obama seem to think that he represents all the things they’ve always wanted (universal health care, more trains/public transit, better welfare policies for the poor, wealth redistribution, “economic justice,” peace, cheap green energy, etc.). The fact of the matter is that most people don’t look closely enough at the candidates to find out what they’re really about.

  18. The same people who have no blood for oil bumber stickers will think any war Obama starts will be just fine and dandy.

    That’s funny, because the spent the late 1990s shrieking at Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Richard Cohen over Operation Desert Fox and the Kosovo War.

    Cockburn is the only one who’s eliding differences.

    Seward,

    I don’t know what % is issues-oriented, and it would depend on which issues, but you raise a valid point; there are going to be a lot of people voting for this winning presidential candidate, as with every winning presidential candidate, who are more concerned with personality than policy.

    So perhaps my point would be better made as “The vast majority of issue-oriented Obama voters don’t want Ralph Nader’s political program.”

  19. ER, Cockburn is NOT the only one who’s eliding differences.

  20. joe,

    While a certain number of those who opposed the war in Iraq also opposed to those earlier efforts, I’d say more than a majority of the opponents to the war in Iraq didn’t really concern themselves too much with those earlier conflicts. Party affliation/ideology isn’t a terribly inaccurate predictor how one will come down with regard to the support of a war (or other policy decision) vis a vis the part of the individual in power.

  21. A friend of mine said back in 2004, that what had to happen in that eleciton or the next one was for the Democrats to take control of every branch of government. His theory was that if they didn’t, they would never buy into the war on terror until they were in charge. I think there is some real truth to that. The question I have is what happens then? History sometimes gives people what they want in spades. The Republicans want a real unrestrained war on terror. Well, with a Democrat in control of all the whitehouse and Congress and a compliant media, they may get just that, especially if there is another attack.

  22. joe sez “The vast majority of issue-oriented Obama voters don’t want Ralph Nader’s political program.”

    Fair enough, now care to speculate on what % of Obama’s support comes from the “issue-oriented”?

    AC is preaching to a rather small, and off key, choir.

    The real fun will be when the Dems are running the whole show – White House, Senate and House and the prog/left finds out how little influence it actually has. Carter came into office with a mandate for change too – anyone remember how that worked out?

  23. The Republicans weren’t totally wiped out in 1976 like they’re about to be this year. Carter didn’t have a mandate for anything winning with 1 or 2% of the popular vote and eeking out an EC victory.

  24. Joe,

    Only the lunatic fringe opposed those wars and a few Republicans who claimed it was like wag the dog. The Kosovo war had much less legal justification for it than Iraq. That is what is so funny about the people who object to the Iraq war for lack of an explicit UNSC Resolution. Do you think the Chinese and Russians are going to approve a Democratic President’s war? Any war Obama gets into will most likly be without UNSC approval and very unilateral. But I am not holding my breath to see many people screaming “stop this illegal war”, unless of course he pulls a Johnson and starts drafting college kids, then it will be a personal matter.

  25. FWIW I thought a real unrestrained WOT was the biggest risk of Hillary Clinton.

  26. With Obama there’s not much to go on, but with Hillary we had the example of Janet Reno and the FBI files, etc.

  27. fyodor – not a problem, even if you were, but I figured those posts were too close in time for yours to be a response to mine

  28. “With Obama there’s not much to go on, but with Hillary we had the example of Janet Reno and the FBI files, etc.”

    The biggest fear any President of either party has entering office is that there will be a big terrorist attack, like a CBNRI or an IND, on their watch. It is very sobering for everyone in a position of responsibility. Also, any Democrat will want to take the issue of terrorism off the table and not let the Republicans run right of him on the issue. If there is another attack, even the Democrats would have a hard time blaming it on the Republicans.

  29. “If there is another attack, even the Democrats would have a hard time blaming it on the Republicans.”

    I don’t know, the Republican fringe didn’t have any reservations about trying to pin 9/11 on Bill Clinton.

  30. I think Carter had a filabuster proof senate and got enough of what he wanted to screw everything up. He was tested but the people weren’t initially aware that his was the right response. Oh, wait…

  31. Yeah, and how many of the Democratic Senators were Dixiecrats in the late 70s? You can’t really compare.

  32. BDB, one well placed missile would have saved thousands of lives, but the lawyers wouldn’t sign off on it.

  33. Seward,

    I’d say more than a majority of the opponents to the war in Iraq didn’t really concern themselves too much with those earlier conflicts.

    I would agree. When I read the phrase “the No Blood for Oil contingent,” I think more of the people marching against the Kosovo War than the big majority of Americans who now think it was a bad idea to invade Iraq.

    John,

    Only the lunatic fringe opposed those wars and a few Republicans who claimed it was like wag the dog. It was that group, and not the majority of Americans who now oppose the Iraq War, that I took your reference to “the no blood for oil crowd” to mean.

    And I would expect to see those people screaming “stop this illegal war” if Barack Obama does something comparable to the Kosovo War.

  34. Yeah, and how many of the Democratic Senators were Dixiecrats in the late 70s? You can’t really compare.

    Actually, Carter’s worst opposition came from liberals like Ted Kennedy who fought tooth and nail every attempt he made to cut spending and balance the budget.

  35. BDB,

    The Sudanese offered Bin Ladin to the US in 90s and Clinton wouldn’t take him on advice of DOJ lawyers who didn’t think they could make a case. Clinton justice department official Jamie Gorelich wrote a memo in the mid 90s raising the information sharing barrier between law enforcement and intelligence higher than was required by law. The FBI and the CIA were not communicating and information that should have passed between them that would have “connected the dots” did not. That all happened under Clinton’s watch.

  36. the innonimate one,

    Clearly you’re smarter than I look!! 🙂

  37. shocked, I tell you

  38. “Actually, Carter’s worst opposition came from liberals like Ted Kennedy who fought tooth and nail every attempt he made to cut spending and balance the budget.”

    Carter de-regulated the airlines and energy industry and appointed Paul Volker to the FED. His problem domesticlly was that he was an arrogant ass who couldn’t help but blame the American people as opposed to a decade or more of terrible economic policy for the country’s economic woes. It didn’t help his popularity when he got up before the country and with all the earnestness of the worst Sunday School scold told the country to “live within their means” and that he hoped they were good enough for him to be their President. His act got old really quickly. But, he wasn’t a radical leftist economically while in office. IB is right. His biggest opposition came from the left in Congress. Kennedy ran against him for the nomination in 1980 and took it all the way to the convention.

  39. I think America would be happy with a world where the rest of the world liked us more…

    I know that’s a common sentiment among cosmopolitan Americans who live in cities and like to travel out of country. Not sure it’s a common attitude, though, in other demographic groups.

  40. “I think America would be happy with a world where the rest of the world liked us more…”

    I think the vast majority of Americans are totally self absorbed with what goes on here and could give a shit less what the rest of the world thinks. Even if they did, most Americans assume the rest of the world hates us no matter what we do.

  41. I share the sentiment of wanting to be liked but I’m realistic enough to realize that the Middle East will always hate us, Latin America will always use us as whipping boys, and Europe will always find something to bitch about, and Canadians will always find something to be smugly superior about.

    Our only real friends are in Israel, India (the Hindus, anyway) and sub-Sahara Africa. Those are the areas of the world that always like the United States (even during the Bush administration).

  42. I don’t pretend to speak for “most Americans” or “cosmopolitan Americans” or any other B.S. Kultur War tribe with that statement. YMMV.

  43. “I don’t pretend to speak for “most Americans” or “cosmopolitan Americans” or any other B.S. Kultur War tribe with that statement. YMMV.”

    Do you want a cookie for that?

  44. I’m sure the Coastal Elites think I should get a cookie, but the Real Americans out in the heartland probably disagree.

  45. A difference in world view that predicts political party?

    “I think America would be happy with a world where the rest of the world liked us more…”

    Democratic Party?

    I think the vast majority of Americans are totally self absorbed with what goes on here and could give a shit less what the rest of the world thinks. Even if they did, most Americans assume the rest of the world hates us no matter what we do.

    Republican Party?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  46. Brilliant. We’ve been you’re BFF forever, and not even a mention.

  47. Great Britain,

    Taken for granted again, the 51st state.

  48. “I think the vast majority of Americans are totally self absorbed with what goes on here and could give a shit less what the rest of the world thinks. Even if they did, most Americans assume the rest of the world hates us no matter what we do.

    Republican Party?”

    How many Americans REpublican or Democrat speak a foreign language? How many Americans have traveled very much or at all abroad? The American idea of foreign travel is the Mexican Rivera or Paris which is just Disneyland for rich people. Unless they are a recent immigrant and have real ties to another country or have lived abroad for their job, most Americans R or D have very little clue about the rest of the world. They just don’t care. We have our own sports, our own celbrities, and a country large enough to function as its own world.

    Even Americans who claim to be worldly and connected to the rest of the world, think that backbacking in Europe in college and occasionally watching the BBC makes them so. That is what is so funny about the whold “coastal elites” versus the rest of the country. Most of the coastal elites are bigger isolated rednecks than the rest of the country.

  49. Meanwhile….

    The U.S. Treasury Department is considering how to best provide financial assistance to facilitate a possible merger between General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC, a source familiar with the government’s thinking told Reuters on Monday.

    The Treasury Department is considering aid of at least $5 billion, which could include direct capital injections and government purchases of auto loans, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. A decision on the government aid could come as early as this week, the source said.

    The aid would likely be focused on GM and Chrysler and not on Ford Motor Co, which is better off than its U.S. rivals, the source said.

    GM has been lobbying the Bush administration for substantial help as it seeks to merge with Chrysler, which is owned by Cerberus Capital Management. Federal aid is considered a requirement for completing the deal, other sources have said.

    People briefed on the merger discussions have previously said GM would need a minimum of $5 billion to start restructuring Chrysler’s operations. The total amount needed could reach $10 billion, the sources have said.

    GM chief executive Rick Wagoner was in Washington last week to press for help after congressional allies, in an urgent plea, urged the Treasury to provide immediate and direct liquidity for Detroit.

    Terms of any assistance for GM were not immediately apparent, according to the source knowledgeable about the Treasury Department’s thinking. However, Treasury has taken equity stakes as part of its $250 billion capital injection program for several U.S. banks.

    -Reuters

    Those free-market conservatives currently barricaded in the Oval Office are doing their best to give Senator Obama’s socialist revolution a flying start.

  50. P Brooks,

    It is Labor Britian just take out Jaguar Layland and replace it with Chrysler Ford.

  51. John,

    Do you know which Senator’s name was on the airline deregulation bill?

    Ted Kennedy.

  52. John,

    I was really focused on the “want to like us” versus “assume they hate us” bit.

    But, whatever.

    FWIW, my grandfather, an Oklahoma rancher from a very small town traveled round the world several times. While I lived in NYC, I met many people who had never left Manhattan.

  53. “Most of the coastal elites are bigger isolated rednecks than the rest of the country.”

    So the coastal elites are the real Americans then, right? And those found in the small towns whatever whatever are the ones that eat arugula?
    I guess the McCain/Palin campaign has been using reverse psychology the whole time. Brilliant!

  54. Whoops, my bad.

    Teddy didn’t sponsor the bill, he chaired the hearings that led to the bill.

  55. joe, I think you confused airline deregulation with leaving a dead girl in the water deregulation.

  56. “FWIW, my grandfather, an Oklahoma rancher from a very small town traveled round the world several times. While I lived in NYC, I met many people who had never left Manhattan.”

    I have about 25 stories like that. I don’t there is anything wrong with Americans not caring about the rest of the world. I think it is healthy. If Americans were as obsessed with the rest of the world as the rest of the world is with America, we really would have an empire.

  57. That’s just lame.

  58. I do tend to think that Obama’s hawkishness is (sadly) sincere, and not “just to get elected.”

    But this is quite a howler: “After eight years of Bush, Americans are receptive to reassessing America’s imperial role……”

    No, (again sadly) they are not. The American people want exactly what Obama is promising them – a better executed, slightly less bloody imperialism. I don’t like that fact, but fact it is.

  59. joe

    Credit where credit is due. Much of the deregulation that Reagan got credit for (or blame, in the case of the S&Ls) was initiated in the Carter Administration. And Teddy K was responsible for getting a lot of through the Senate.

    Airlines and trucking turned out pretty damn good while, for any number of reasons, Congress really screwed up on the S&Ls and Reagan made the mistake of signing the thing.

  60. I dunno joe, that was rather funny. To me, anyway.

  61. Most of the coastal elites are bigger isolated rednecks than the rest of the country.

    I was following you right up to that last sentence. I might have gone along with, “as isolated as the rest of the country”, but how do you figure they are more isolated?

  62. LarryM,

    I think most people want to give the President the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy. Absent an attack on Americans abroad, like the Iranian hostages or an attack on the country, like 9-11, the public never demands action. Instead, they aquiess to action advocated by the President. It is not like anyone would have cared if Clinton hadn’t done anything about Kosovo or Bush hadn’t invaded Iraq. Now, people sure as hell would have cared if Bush hadn’t invaded Afghanistan but they had to be persuaded on Iraq. A President could totally step away from the world and be popular right up until the point the country is attack and then the President better kick ass and take names and not look in decisive or he will end up like Carter.

  63. “I was following you right up to that last sentence. I might have gone along with, “as isolated as the rest of the country”, but how do you figure they are more isolated?”

    Good point. They are not. That should be “just as” or “almost as”.

  64. What are Obama’s chances of getting a use-of-force resolution from a Democrat congress?

    Pretty good, I should think.

    Or Biden, succeeding Obama?

    Even better.

    McCain?

    Kind dicey….probably only under circumstances where even lame-duck Bush could get one.

    Sarah Palin?

    Not if Godzilla was attacking San Francisco!

  65. Andrew,

    Any of them would get one under the right circumstance. I don’t think the Congress would surrender the country if palin were President. But you did fill the Reason quota of having at least one moronic jackass comment about Palin on every thread. If only she could be as smart as Joe Biden.

    But you are correct that a President Obama is likly to get a rubber stamp on whatever adventurism he wants. That is something Reason doesn’t seem to concerned with.

  66. Sarah Palin?

    Not if Godzilla was attacking San Francisco!

    Because she wouldn’t ask for one if it was San Francisco?

    I mean, after all, it’s not like there are real Americans there.

  67. joe doesn’t understand he is not debating Republicans. When we explain to him how Obama will give legitimacy to foreign conflicts that would otherwise be opposed by the left, joe says “well the republicans do the same thing”.

    Ahh, I guess that when Obama invades Iran, the fact that Republicans are hypocrites too will negate all the damage and loss of life then! Great thinking joe!

    Look joe, I am voting for Obama… Its just unlike you, I see him as the lesser of two evils that needs to be watched very carefully, and not as the second coming of Christ.

  68. Cartman ’08!

  69. Look joe, I am voting for Obama… Its just unlike you, I see him as the lesser of two evils that needs to be watched very carefully, and not as the second coming of Christ.

    And despite that nuance, joe’s vote and your vote will be interpreted in exactly the same way.

  70. I was wrong to support Barr. Cartman. CARTMAN!

  71. Cartman ’08!

    Don’t we pretty much already have a President Cartman? His decisions are poorly thought out, without concern for how his plans might fail spectacularly, and as a result everyone thinks he’s an asshole.

    Bush is exactly the kind of guy who’d take your birthday money, get you arrested and sent to Miami with no way home except to take down the country of Peru.

    “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kenny”

  72. John

    I did not mean to contend that Palin (or McCain) would make a poor choice for President. I meant to revive that “divided government” logic which was so popular here before the 2006 elections.

    Of course ANY President would receive authorization to repel an invasion from Mars…but not every President could get authority to raid Pakistan.

  73. Most of the coastal elites are bigger isolated rednecks than the rest of the country.

    I was following you right up to that last sentence. I might have gone along with, “as isolated as the rest of the country”, but how do you figure they are more isolated?

    Hmm, the only way I could think of to try to justify that comment would be something like: “Someone in the middle of the country can easily watch television shows or read magazine articles about hip coastal elites of various types, but people on the coast can’t (and so who weren’t born in the middle of the country might be more ignorant about it).”

    I don’t think I’d actually go that far, though.

    And of course, even characterizing all non coastal elite rednecks as the same is unfair.
    I’ve certainly found my fellow Southerners more willing to eat offal and other unusual tasty bits of animals from foreign cuisines than even those raised in NYC or California, but the Upper Midwesterners I know tend to be strictly meat-and-potatoes types.

    FWIW, I do believe that Sen. McCain is significantly better on “the big agricultural combines” than Sen. Obama. And Sen. Obama could still turn out pretty decent on some issues; I’m just not expecting it, considering his rhetoric. It relies far too much on the “he’s smart, I’m smart, therefore he must really agree with me” syllogism that I hear too much.

  74. joe doesn’t understand he is not debating Republicans.

    I was debating John, numbnuts.

  75. And I didn’t write a word one way or the other about any of the subjects you attributed to me.

    I make my own arguments, Rex. They mean what they say. They’re not little jumping off points for your preprogrammed message of the day.

  76. “And I would expect to see those people screaming “stop this illegal war” if Barack Obama does something comparable to the Kosovo War.”

    I suspect Biden was thinking about this when he gave that speech about Obama being tested by a generated foreign policy crisis and Biden warning that what Obama does in response will not immediately appear to be the right one.

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