As readers of this blog probably already know, I have been a supporter of President Obama since he took office, but am also disappointed with many of the choices he has made in that time. He has been too passive in certain areas requiring progressive action (health care, drug “war”, immigration, climate change), and yet, too hawkish in other areas requiring the same action (GITMO & detainee issues, Afghanistan, civil liberties).
Of late, there has been rather heated debate amongst the punditocracy about how much Obama is to blame for the lack of a more progressive agenda. Greenwald over at Salon has been devastating in his attacks on Obama and on those in the media and blogosphere who have become apologists for him. While I agree in large part with Greenwald’s critiques of Obama, in particular when it comes to the detention and prosecution of detainees in the “war on terror”, his escalation in Afghanistan and his selling out of the public option in the health care debate, those critiques seem to be based on the idea that Obama campaigned as a much more progressive candidate than he really was (although, Greenwald may have been on to this from the beginning and I just do not remember him writing that).
I think many progressives, myself included, perceived Obama to be our representative when in fact, he was much more moderate and conservative. The way that his opponents characterized him during the campaign, his lofty rhetoric, and how he has been portrayed by the GOP and Fox News since taking office has helped create this perception that he is more left-leaning than he actually is. In addition, after eight years of Bush/Cheney, which were unquestionably dark times for progressives and wonder years for neocons, defense contractors and big corporations (like BP, who benefited from immense deregulation), to name a few, Obama seemed so much more progressive when juxtaposed to his predecessor.
But this does not belie Greenwald’s point that many on the left are in the tank for Obama and do not want to blame him for much of anything. My response is: Who can blame them? We all know what the years before Obama were like and the thought of working to bring him down, no matter what his flaws, at the risk of replacing him with someone like Sarah Palin (the HORROR!) is simply untenable. And in our current media climate, with Fox News only PRETENDING to be a news organization and encouraging perceptions about Obama being a Socialist, a Muslim, and a non-citizen, etc., and the likes of Sarah Palin attacking him via Facebook every chance she gets, it is understandable that some in the media would feel the need to defend Obama. I have never subscribed much to the “media bias” argument, but if there is one now in Obama’s favor, it is warranted when you consider the most viewed “news” network (Fox) is openly and aggressively doing what it can to make his presidency a failure.
I am glad Greenwald is around to call out the MSM, and more importantly, Obama, for their failures at doing their jobs in a way that benefits this country the most. I have briefly “defended” the MSM’s coverage (which, given my loathing for them, is not easy), and I will offer up a theory as to why Obama is proceeding as cautiously as he is in a post in the not-to-distant-future. But for now, I recommend reading what Greenwald has been writing, which you can get to in the links above.