Every passing day reveals the toxic side-effects of the Obama presidency more clearly. The activist liberal left has largely either gone silent or cast itself in the role of apologist for power.
Let’s look at two sad examples. First, the war in Afghanistan. The other day, the New York Times reported that the antiwar movement plans a nationwide campaign this fall against the administration’s escalation of the war in what we’re now calling AfPak. Among the challenges facing the campaign, aside from the usual public indifference when it’s mostly other people being killed, is that “many liberals continue to support Mr. Obama, or at least are hesitant about openly criticizing him,” in the words of the reporter, James Dao.
Armed with a magnifying glass, Dao spied some signs of a growing disenchantment among liberals with their Pentagon- and Wall Street-friendly president. But such disenchantment has its limits, at least for now. Ilyse Hogue, a mouthpiece for MoveOn.org, disclosed that “There is not the passion around Afghanistan that we saw around Iraq. But there are questions.” How’s that for boldness? Questions.
Robert Greenwald, most famous for his anti-Wal-Mart movie, is now doing a documentary called Rethink Afghanistan, which is being released serially on YouTube and the like. Greenwald says his approach is “less incendiary” than the Wal-Mart film. “We lost funding from liberals who didn’t want to criticize Obama,” says Greenwald. “It’s been lonely out there.” Well-off liberals are entirely comfortable blasting Wal-Mart, which is vulgar and largely Republican. But don’t be too bold in criticizing—I mean questioning—our president, who is an elegant Democrat.
And then there’s health care. The Internet and the liberal weeklies are full of defenses of ObamaCare against the slurs of the right. Now there’s no denying that some of those slurs are truly demented concoctions. And there’s no doubt that Obama’s harshest critics on the right are racists, xenophobes, and mouth-breathing reactionaries who move their lips when they read. No doubt. They’re now the major source of Keith Olbermann’s nightly material.
But you’d be hard pressed to find a liberal who could actually explain the substance of the health care proposals, or even tries to. They’re presumed to be good, just because they come from “our” guy and they’re wrapped in expansive rhetoric that effectively disguises their corporate-friendly content.
And the quality of much of the opposition has only deepened the liberals’ defensive ardor. A few weeks ago, I heard someone I love and respect, an otherwise sophisticated and thoughtful person, say that “we” have to support the scheme just because “they” oppose it. Professional journalists, who should know how to scrutinize the content, typically do little better. So we’re condemned to dueling caricatures, and our health care system will continue to suck enormously.