Andrea Hildebran

Loving Obama, and keeping my head

Filed By Andrea Hildebran | January 07, 2008 5:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, election campaigns, GLBT, McClurkin, Presidential, Right wing

I replayed the Obama acceptance speech from Iowa yesterday and felt the excitement all over again. A progressive, someone of my generation being buoyed by a massive wave of support. Volunteers. Millions of dollars. Massive rallies. Dazzling press. Votes.

Barack Obama has the wind underneath his sails and it's a beautiful thing to watch. But the doubt in my mind from early on in his campaign still remains: Does he really think he will transcend partisan divisions in an atmosphere of murderous right wing hardball? Related to this. The 'big tables' he promises to convene on the pressing issues might be naive after 8 years of industries and theocrats running absolutely amok.

That is the problem: talking too much about finding "middle ground" with people who are willing to exploit and harm the interests of everyday people. When you start by saying you'd rather appease them than fight they simply pull as hard from your middle position to the extreme as possible. And they are well-payed and better resourced to do it better than the average folks who are supposed to counterbalance them at that table.

Obama has faith in those "big tables", but I'm not so sure.

He asked the GLBT community to sit at a 'big table' with Donnie McClurkin last fall. How did that go?

Well, a gay-bashing performer got a world stage to tell us to stop existing, and the end result, according to the New York Times, was a signal to black evangelical voters that "race and religion are more important than Mr. Obama's support for gay rights." For me, the timid opening prayer to a half-full stadium by a white gay preacher did not even begin to undo the damage of McClurkin's message.

He would never have invited an avowedly white racist group to perform for a white audience. We would not have appreciated his respectfulness in listening to their points of view and it would not have helped to have a lone African American give a peace blessing before the festivities began. No.

His response to the GLBT community over that controversy is still up on his website. We are asked to listen and "to confront a difficult fact: There are good, decent, moral people in this country who do not yet embrace their gay brothers and sisters as full members of our shared community." He claims to want to assert his pro-gay position boldly, and the "listen to what they say in return."

Here's a difficult fact I need to know Mr. Obama can confront: At some point, beyond the rhetoric of unity and overtures to the entrenched one has to eventually draw a line and be willing to bear the brunt of the well-funded right-wing rage.

The polarization Obama wishes to transcend in this country has not emerged simply because of the combative style of Newt Gingrich or Karl Rove. It is based on fundamentally divergent interests: people on the one side who want to bankrupt us for their fortunes or millennial fantasies and people on the other side who believe people are not dispensable and that the environment is not industry's waste bin. What would be the compromise point between the ex-gay ministries and the GLBT community? Between insurance companies that give bonuses for denied claims and those whose life hangs on an "approved" or "declined" stamp.

Is there solution that would give us both a bit of what we want? I fear not. And I fear four very hard years of being out-maneuvered by anti-gay groups and coal companies willing to fight as dirty as they always have.

Don't get me wrong. I'll be thrilled to vote for any of the top three Democratic potential candidates and all of them surely have different flaws. Hillary might be less likely to underestimate how corporate or religious right interests aim at nothing less than crushing the rest of us. She'd just sell us out outright when she felt she had to, a la Don't Ask Don't Tell. We hated that, but what I like is that Clinton a) took direct responsibility for it and b) after acknowledging it upfront as a tactical mistake they are coming back to fix it.

Watching Obama basking in this historic victory is deeply moving. I hear the bandwagon gaining and I'm so tempted to get on but I'm not there yet. A friend wrote "Barack inspires my imagination, Hillary inspires my confidence." We need both, but if I'm forced to choose between them, I'm have to say I want the one whose seen the bared teeth of the far right, who will not underestimate them, will make peace where it can be made and fight to the bitter end when that is the only course of conscience. Obama's insistence on conciliation makes me question whether he is the one.

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dday at Hullabaloo makes a similar point:

If the Democrats want to let the Bush tax cuts expire for those making $200,000 or more, and the Republicans don't want any expiration, is the bipartisan position letting the tax cuts expire for those making (infinity-$200,000)/2?

To which Digby responded:

Actually, that's not it at all. "Partisan bickering" means the Democrats proposing to let the Bush tax cuts expire. Period. You see, it's divisive for Democrats to even hint that the Republicans have been on the wrong track. We need to move on from that kind of partisan ugliness and "get something done" which is actually get nothing done.

What the Bloomberg discussions and the calls for bipartisanship are all about is to narrow the range of options for the Democratic nominee.

We have to remember, it's "partisan bickering" when the progressive side of whatever policy position asks for what it wants; it's "seeking a compromise" when the regressive side of whatever policy position gets what it wants.

It was this way on the war, impeachment, the tax structure, the ENDA split, emissions standards, etc. etc. etc.

Interesting post. I have similar misgivings about Barack - his message of rising above partisanship (to triangulate, I guess) just ends up looking like more of the same.

I think we've had enough of corporate-sponsored politicians selling out the poor and disenfranchised in both parties. I have no faith whatsoever that Hillary is anything more than that since her time as a politician has consistently demonstrated precisely the opposite.

No, Obama is not perfect, but at least I can believe in what he says because he puts himself and his beliefs out there and he doesn't run away from the hard questions the way Hillary has consistently throughout this campaign. It may not be everything I could possibly hope for in a candidate, but, given what we've got to choose from, it's enough for me to know who I'm supporting and voting for.

One state. A bunch of cold white people, as Jon Stewart said on the Daily Show. I don't see why everyone is getting all worked up about.

I want to be inspired.

I want to be moved.

I want to be impressed.

But I'm not.

"No, Obama is not perfect, but at least I can believe in what he says."

Maybe. And I have no doubt that he believes in what he says, but saying and doing are two different things and on that count his voting record bothers me: All those "present" votes. He claims they were strategic but it does come off as sidestepping any issuye he doesn't want to face head on. And then there's the McClurkin incident and his response which fell flat. And then there's his positions on nuclear energy and willingness to strike (again) given "actionable intelligence" and his "universal" health care plan that's actually not universal.

At this point they're all starting to sound alike to me. Hillary feels like a step backward; Edwards seems spineless at times; I think Richardson is done.

It's gonna be a loooong time to November.

This was a pretty good piece.

"Is this a great country or what? Voters actually decide things!

And what the Democratic and independent voters said in New Hampshire is that they want the conversation about their choice for the presidency to begin, not end.

Hillary Clinton has won the primary.

There will be no immediate coronation of Sen. Barack Obama. Hillary lives, to say the least. So, by the way, does former Sen. John Edwards."

I'm kinda glad to see Hillary win. Obama coasted through the debates Saturday night. bIt's good they all have to keep at it. Makes things interesting