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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Obama is timid

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, June 20, 2006 permalink View blog reactions
I've often expressed my deep skepticism of the Obama 2008 chatter - most of which is driven by the pundit class. The reason I praise Obama is because he uses his very public pulpit as the Democratic golden child to push for unifying rhetoric - purple pllitics expressed as a desirable ideal. He used the keynote address at the DNC not to bash Bush, or the GOP, bu to speak of a vision for the future, one that the present-day GOP simply cannot articulate given that their fundaental assumption is that 49% of teh nation is a traitorous fifth column. I do believe that genesis of a true Purple movement will occur on the Left rather than the right, but for it to be successful it must reach out to the Right and filter out the conservatives from the Republicanists.

Obama serves an important role in this process, and should be praised for it. He has ideliasm and vision in spades, and the Left needs that desperately. However, what he lacks is ambition. Case in point:  

Matt Stoller at myDD points out how Obama's rhetoric and his votes are aimed at different crowds. He summarizes,

Obama likes to passive aggressively excuse his non-impact in the Senate by talking about how he's 98th in seniority. The problem is that the 98th in seniority argument is reasonable only if Obama rhetorically acknowledges that he can't get anything done when he's speaking. What he's doing, though, is playing to the crowd by criticizing those in Washington (as if that doesn't include him) for acting small while giving excuses to progressives as to why he himself must act small.

It is immportant to point out that a genuine critique of Obama is that he adopts the Progressive mantle when speaking to the base, but then is overly timid in promoting it via his vote.

An invalid critique of Obama is that he is a hyper-leftists with a secret moonbat agenda, soft on crime, hates babies, loves criminals, etc. That is the view taken by sites such as Obama Truth Squad which was launched by the Ryan campaign and run by a Republican hack, for the sole purpose of smearing Obama during the Senate run. Obama is not a leftist; if anything he is too centrist, which would be fine if he didn't adopt such Progressive rhetoric on policy.

If we are going to make use of Obama, we need to reward him for what he does right, and critique him for the true ways in which he is wrong.


I'd love to know what Obama's views on current western foreign policy is. Let's leave aside for a moment where the man stands regarding micro-domestic politics.

Does he believe that "terrorists" lurk around every corner and that many regimes around the world need stern warnings, or replacement, like Condoleeza does?

How wide is the spectrum of views on foreign affairs from conservatives, repubs, libs, democrats? I've seen plenty of easy-going liberals transform into jingoists in the face of "terrorist" fears played up by "conservative" war hawks.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.