Sunday, May 11, 2008

Carl Davidson: Obama as triangulator par excellence

There is the Obama you read, the Obama you hear, and the Obama who votes. Carl Davidson wasn't fooled by the multiple Obamas back in Jan 2007 when he wrote,
I'm from Chicago, too, and known Obama from the time he came to the New Party to get our endorsement for his first race ever. I've been in his home, and as an IL legislator, he's helped or community technology movement a number of times. He said all the right things to the ACORN and New Party folks, and we endorsed him, but I noticed too, that he seemed to measure every answer to questions put to him several tmes before coming out with it.

He spoke at our first antiwar rally. He spent most of his speech detailing all the wars in history he supported, then finally made a distinction between just wars and 'dumb' wars, and going into Iraq, which was still six months down the road then, was a 'dumb war,' and he flatly opposed it. Good, that put him on our side, and some of usorganized a fundraiser for him for his Senate race. But a friend of mine, and also an Obama campaigner, at that first rally, nudged me and asked, 'Who was that speech for? Certainly not this crowd.' Now we know.

After he visited Iraq when the war was on, he turned. Now we had to set aside whether it was right or wrong to invade, now we had to find the 'smart' path to victory, not Bush's 'dumb' path. Also, in dealing with Iran, we had to leave on the table bombing their nuclear sites. For this, a lot of the local antiwar activists started calling him 'Barack 'Obomb 'em'. He wasn't listening much to us anymore, but to folks much higher up in the DLC orbit. He had bigger plans.

To be fair, I read a recent speech he gave to laid-off workers from a plant closing out in Galesburg, IL, around globalization, corporate responsibility, the safety net, the third wave, and so on. It was very good. Save for not mentioning the war, I probably couldn't written a better one myself.

Giving the current crisis and developments in Congress, he may move back to our side on the war, and get as far as, say, Murtha's position. But right now he's not in the 'Out Now' camp, not as good as Murtha, and a triangulator par excellence. I've watched him do it up close. The press and his publicists put him in our camp, but if you look at his speeches and votes since his trip to Iraq, I think you'll find he has a way to go. Our peace groups here are sending a bunch of us to visit him soon, and get on his case. Perhaps he's still a work in progress, as Jesse Jackson says, but he still has a way to go to get back in my good graces, and those of many more of us here also.
Now Carl heads up Progressives for Obama.
Davidson muses about how he could not support John Kerry for president in 2004 because he was not progressive enough. But he is stoked for Obama.
Obama must have said something to Carl at that meeting with Carl's group. Given the multiple sides for Barack, it would be nice if Carl would explain the flip from Obomb 'em to Obama.

1 comment:

Carl Davidson said...

It's not hard to figure out.

My first choices were Kucinich and Richardson, who had better positions on the war than Obama.

But they bit the dust.

At the same time, after October 2007, Obama improved his position on the war, where he is now asserting he'll end it in 2009, and his working-class and youth audiences give him a standing ovation every time he does. Still, he clings to some poor ideas at the same time, but those are points for discussion and struggle as we go along.

I'm a pragmatist not only in philosophy, but also politics. Of those remaining, Obama is the best option, so I signed on to 'Progressives for Obama' and our web project

We don't claim Obama is a leftist or even a consistent progressive. He's really a high-road industrial policy capitalist and 'soft power' multipolar globalist, while Hillary is a garden variety corporate liberal capitalist and globalist and McCain is an unreconstructed neoliberal capitalist and US hegemonist.

Truth be told, Obama is the best candidate for productive capital (as opposed to speculative) and does the least harm to the working class. That how he can unite the left, progressives and moderates vs the right in a new majority coalition.

Good enough for me to encourage people to vote for him, and engage the electoral process independently, building our own organizations, rather than any of the existing parties, so as to have better choices further down the pike.

And yes, the less triangulating, and the more speaking authentically, the better he does--a good lesson there for all politicians, and the rest of us as well.