Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Bradley Steinbacher 1994-2008 | Seattle May Build Jail with Ea... »

Friday, July 11, 2008

Yup, Still a Liberal!

posted by on July 11 at 17:06 PM

I’ve been watching all this hubbub about Obama “lurching” to the center with some amusement. Sure, I was bummed about some recent developments (FISA, notably, though I would’ve been more vexed had the vote been even vaguely close), but overall this is much ado about nothing.

Remember, kids, according to Obama’s basketball-coach brother in law, Obama’s signature move is to “fake right and veer left.”

The supposed issues:

1) FISA. (Let’s get this one out of the way.) Yep, Obama voted for an expansion of the government’s spying powers, along with an immunity provision that he had once vowed to filibuster. Lame. That said, he voted to narrow the legislation on each of the three immunity-related amendments (Dodd’s to strike Title II [“Protections for Electronic Communication Service Providers”], Specter’s to “limit retroactive immunity for providing assistance to the United States to instances in which a Federal court determines the assistance was provided in connection with an intelligence activity that was constitutional,” and Bingaman’s to “stay pending cases against certain telecommunications companies and provide that such companies may not seek retroactive immunity until 90 days after the date the final report of the Inspectors General on the President’s Surveillance Program is submitted to Congress”), all of which failed decisively. On the telecom immunity portion of the bill, at least, Obama’s votes weren’t so much a flip-flop as a resigned capitulation. And the legislation itself passed 69-28, so let’s not pretend Obama’s vote would have made a difference either way.

2) Campaign finance. You know, I don’t much care that Obama opted out. It’s really our responsibility as voters (and as taxpayers—only 7.3% checked the box for the public campaign financing system in 2006) to demand a public financing system that’s attractive to candidates. The campaign finance system is meant to be a carrot (you spend less than X, and we’ll help you do it), not a stick. We can’t operate the system if it’s based on virtue and shaming—the decision to opt in can and should be based on rational self-interest.

3) Reproductive rights and abstinence education. I understand why people are freaking out about Obama’s recent comments (to an evangelical magazine) on this issue, but there’s just very little reason to worry. Obama is a cosponsor of a Senate bill with the key phrase “life or health of the mother,” which is understood to encompass mental health. And he’s taken plenty of shit throughout his career for supporting medically accurate sex education (with noncoercive information about the abstinence option) at all grade levels. The fact is, a president is not a legislator. A president does, however, appoint Supreme Court justices. And Obama should and will nominate people (like these contenders) who are litmus-ready on choice. McCain would do precisely the opposite.

4) Child rapists and Heller. OK, I’m fiercely pro-gun control and anti-death penalty. Particularly in the case of child rape, you don’t want to disincentivize reporting of the crime—and parents don’t necessarily want to be responsible for sending a family friend or relative to the gallows, even if this person raped their kid. But we really need to take everything Obama says about recent Supreme Court decisions with a gigantic spoonful of salt. Duh, Obama doesn’t want to get people riled up by saying child rapists should get off easy, but again, this is really a question about what sort of thinkers he would nominate to the Supreme Court. And he would almost certainly nominate liberals who will vote exactly as the liberal justices voted on these two cases.

5) Faith-based initiatives. Yes! This is exactly the sort of centrist move on a fringe issue that could help peel away some religious voters without causing any real harm. The Christian Science Monitor did a good job of explaining how Obama’s vision diverges from Bush’s.

6) Hedging on the Iraq Timetable. Thank goodness. I always thought Obama had a sensible approach to withdrawal, and I strongly appreciate that he has retained close ties to Samantha (“Monster Remark”) Power and her intense drive to prevent genocide in Iraq. And this doesn’t really qualify as a flip-flop. Obama has always given strong signals that the pace of withdrawal would take account of circumstances on the ground (“as careful getting out as we were careless getting in”). He should not be sworn in with the public believing he is obligated to get all troops out by 2009, and he’s making smart moves to avoid that now.

On all the serious issues in this campaign, Obama has not slipped an inch. He’s sticking with his tax proposals, he hasn’t futzed with his environmental platform, he’s still for repealing DOMA, he’s still for universal health care, he still mocks the notion of a gas tax holiday, he’s still for reproductive rights and equal pay for equal work. I like that he’s capable of generating “Obama Lurches to the Center” headlines by making minor tweaks on fringe issues and saying unexpected things about Supreme Court decisions. Obama is proving himself the ideal stealth liberal. The bloom has not faded.

And let us daily remind ourselves, the enemy is John McCain.

RSS icon Comments


Thank you.

Posted by pox | July 11, 2008 5:20 PM

Right on the money honey!

Posted by irl | July 11, 2008 5:20 PM

You are wonderful, Annie. Thanks.

It's great to be able to point to something cohesive like this-- some of my progressive friends are being sent links.

Posted by V | July 11, 2008 5:23 PM

What #'s 1, 2, and 3 said.

Posted by monkey | July 11, 2008 5:27 PM


We'd rather not moderate your comments, but off-topic, gratuitously inflammatory, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate remarks may be removed, and repeat offenders may be banned from commenting. We never censor comments based on ideology. Thanks to all who add to the conversation on Slog.

Posted by Erica | July 11, 2008 5:35 PM

Thanks for talking me down off the ledge.

Posted by damnqueerfuck | July 11, 2008 5:35 PM

I love you. Thank you.

Posted by iloveslogandwine | July 11, 2008 5:50 PM

I am still a liberal but I will not vote for Obama. I don't want to spend the next 4 years making excuses for Obama and why I voted for him. I truly believed in him and now he has shown me that he is no different then George Bush.

As for FISA, everything pointed to the legislation passing. Your right, his vote would not have counted so why sell your soul to the devil for nothing. He should have stood strong and made a statement with his vote but he wasn't going to back down and support Bush. Biden, Dodd and even Hillary voted against it.

I am heart broken and frustrated and I would rather not vote then vote for someone that sells out his base. Had be been just another politician I probably wouldn't care as much. Hell had it be Hillary, first I wouldn't have been surprised and I probably wouldn't have cared because she never said she was anything other then what she was. Obama on the other hand sold me on the idea that he was new, different, wasn't going to play politics etc etc. Sure I was naive to believe that, but never again.

Posted by Alex | July 11, 2008 5:53 PM

I always wondered what kind of comments get deleted... and thanks to #5, now I know.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | July 11, 2008 5:58 PM

Not John McCain. Check.

Liberal. Nope.

Posted by umvue | July 11, 2008 5:59 PM

I agree with you on 2-6, but for me FISA is too symbolic of everything wrong about the Bush presidency. It's left me my confidence in Obama's desire to be honest and open shaken, especially since it will directly enable his administration to behave Bush-like.

Posted by DJSauvage | July 11, 2008 6:03 PM

"I am still a liberal but I will not vote for Obama. I don't want to spend the next 4 years making excuses for Obama and why I voted for him."

Well, I've spent the past 8 years bewildered under this current administration, and I'm exhausted from that. While I've supported Obama from the beginning, I've never had these wild dreams of him changing everything under the sun. I see Obama as a start, but not the beginning and the end. All I do know is that I cannot sit through another 4 or 8 year term of a Republican administration.

Posted by hal | July 11, 2008 6:14 PM

Great post. Thank you, Annie.

Posted by Hernandez | July 11, 2008 6:34 PM

Gail Collins in the NYT also has a great column on this. In particular:

Here’s a helpful story: Once upon a time, there was a woman searching for a guy who was ready to commit. One day, she met an attractive young man.

“My name is Chuck,” he said, grinning an infectious grin. “I’m planning to devote my entire life to saving endangered wildlife in the Antarctic. In five weeks I leave for the South Pole, where I will live alone in a tent, trying to convince the penguins that I am part of their flock. In the meantime, would you like to go out?”

“I have just met the man I’m going to marry,” she told her friends. She had been betrayed by poor listening skills, which skipped right over the South Pole and the tent. Of course, after five weeks of heavy dating, Chuck flew away and was never heard from again.

Posted by hal | July 11, 2008 6:36 PM

@8: You're one of those hipper-than-thou dolts who spent the 2000 campaign lecturing us that Bush and Gore were exactly alike in a as condescending as possible fashion.

Let me guess, you like to use "Republicrat" and "Demopublican" frequently under the mistaken impression that it makes you clever?

No one's falling for your fatalist do-nothing attitude this time, asshole. Go concern troll somewhere else.

Posted by ru shur | July 11, 2008 6:37 PM

Re FISA. Given the lopsided vote, Obama could have just as easily voted no on principle. Then again with all these powers to spy, maybe once he's president, he'll use it on the repugs. Teh irony. It's so delicious.

Posted by Don't you think he looks tired | July 11, 2008 6:48 PM

I'm really not freaked out about the faith based initiatives thing. He laid out all manner of safeguards that would past Constitutional muster even in the 9th Circuit. I'm particularly pleased with the thought of millions of fundies pissed off that mosques and Hindu temples would receive funding for secular social programs, or one of their churches losing a grant for proselytizing. That would be pretty awesome.

Posted by Gitai | July 11, 2008 6:55 PM

Yeah, it really sucks when your fucking messiah turns out to be just as much of a spineless, pandering asshole as the next guy. But hey, that's politics for you. Don't worry too much though, unless you're on the board of a major corporation your vote won't matter in the slightest.

Posted by reality | July 11, 2008 7:25 PM

Well said....

We need to move past our FISA tears now and work to make sure Bush is undergoing impeachment when he leaves office.

Under law, no President who is being impeached can issue any pardons.

Looks like Pelosi might give us some justice after all......

Posted by justin | July 11, 2008 7:39 PM

I'm not happy about FISA, but look at his record. He's shown that in a controversial vote where it's not even close, he'll vote strategically. See the present votes on abortion, for example.

Posted by Mike of Renton | July 11, 2008 7:46 PM

Well said. Too bad it's buried in 5pm Friday slog instead of 1pm Wednesday slog.

Posted by Anon | July 11, 2008 8:24 PM


have fun following those you vote for off a cliff for, dunno, ever.

Posted by J Loomnor | July 11, 2008 8:40 PM

This reminds me of the guy who refuses to accept his buyer's remorse for the lemon he picked up off some car lot and instead thinks "yeah, the air conditioning doesn't blow ice cold like the salesman said it would but heck, I live in Seattle and who cares, man? and besides, it's green and I dig green and it's certainly not silver! which I hate!"

Hilarious. Rationalization X Repression = Obama Nervosa

Posted by Bob | July 11, 2008 9:51 PM

This is awesome.

You know, I used to spend a lot of time trolling on right-wing blogs. Like, a lot of time. And you know what I didn't see happen during 2004? Like, not once? I never saw a Republican take the initiative to criticize Bush. If I challenged them, they'd sometimes admit Bush's economic policies were "not what we'd like to see," or something, but they never wrote a single post -- much less one fucking post after another, a la ECB -- talking about all the things they wished Bush had done differently or was doing wrong or had lied about or changed his mind about or whatever.

Liberals do this shit because they think self-flagellation gives them the moral high ground. You fuckers need to wake up and smell the rotting bodies in Iraq. And Afghanistan. And New Orleans. And the Midwest. And Lebanon.

Obama is our candidate for 2008. At this juncture, he is the only hope for beating McCain and the Republican party in the race for the White House. That's the situation. Obama will not spend the next four months campaigning to his base: he'll spend it trying to recruit swing voters, which means he'll be campaigning to the right.

Any shit you talk about Obama at this juncture only serves the interests of the Republicans.

Posted by Judah | July 11, 2008 10:55 PM

@24 - Exactly. And Annie, exactly, too. Dead-enders? You are very sad, but worse, you scare the crap out of me.

Seriously, @8, @18, @23, and others, what do you think your refusal to vote accomplishes? I really want to know. Two scenarios are possible in this election: 1) Obama wins and 2) McCain wins. That's it. There's no other option.

If Obama wins, you'll get to be intolerably smug for four years, pointing out every single thing he does that isn't perfectly aligned with YOUR exact politics or feelings, while carefully ignoring or subtly deriding (and undermining) all of the good things he does. If McCain wins, what do you get? Do you feel satisfaction as he stacks the Supreme Court with people who will enshrine some of your worst fears into the Constitution? Do you feel moral while thousands continue to die in useless wars?

You admit that had Obama voted our way on FISA it would have been purely symbolic, yet you think it's acceptable to punish us--not him, but all of us, everyone in the WHOLE FUCKING WORLD--for his failure to make this symbolic gesture by subjecting us to President McCain as if there's no difference between the two men. Sorry, but that's just insane.

Seriously, how could you? What you are proposing is the complete opposite of moral. You should be ashamed. Not voting is not an act of protest, it's an act of terrifying stupidity and extreme short-sightedness.

Posted by Anthony Hecht | July 11, 2008 11:13 PM

Annie, your links seem to be messed up.

Posted by idaho | July 11, 2008 11:43 PM

"Sports Illustrated reports that Barack Obama's campaign is in talks to sponsor a race car in NASCAR's premier series next month."

Awright....also, there's rumor he's going to do the big meet up with BillDawg at NASCAR in Arkansas.

The Bubba vote is ours!

Smooth dude.

Posted by PC | July 12, 2008 12:00 AM

THANK YOU! Finally someone tells it like it is.

Posted by Sirkowski | July 12, 2008 12:36 AM

Oh most of will vote for Obama, we aren't suicide voters for chrissakes, but to somehow believe we can't criticize him for selling out the true believers and rub the noses of the Obamaniacs in their own shit is absurd. It isn't quite so binary as some of you simpletons want to believe, it's like the old Vietnam War era bumpersticker: "My Country Right or Wrong" just replace "Country" with "Obama" and you folks are just as ridiculous.

The defensiveness and handwringing over criticisms of Obama selling out says more about you folks than those of us who actually believe principles matter. It isn't just about beating McCain to some of us who care about such concepts. By the way, the bodies will keep rotting as one of the more emotional Obamaniacs sobbed, if Obama wins. If you truly believe otherwise you're in for a sad surprise.

Posted by Bob | July 12, 2008 12:51 AM

See the present votes on abortion, for example.

Fuck. You.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 12, 2008 12:57 AM

Yeah, Obama lost me too. And don't pretned for one goddamned second that Obama couldn't have LEAD on FISA and turned the tide. He caved and by not being a leader on one of the most important votes he has faced, he has lost my vote and I will not apologize to a single one of you bitches for it.

If McCain wins, then it is OBAMA's fault- not the few of us left who refuse to vote for someone who helps to ship away our rights.


Posted by Johnny | July 12, 2008 3:19 AM


If McCain wins, it's your fault. You and every other half hearted unamerican fuckwit will have no one to blame but yourselves, and the only right you'll have left will be to whine and complain on the internet for the next four years.

get bent.

Posted by Bryce Beamish | July 12, 2008 6:00 AM

I bet if you were standing next to Johnny and asked him what FISA stands for, he wouldn't know.

But go ahead. Punish your country for your own twisted sense of what is right, formed after the internet has told you what is important. Or, calm down before November and realize that Obama has been solid on major liberal issues. Single-issue voters are idiots, whether it's abortion or immunity.

Obviously, Bob, not everyone who dogs Obama like a right-wing pundit is still ready to vote for him afterwards-- it's all in their perspective. Most American voters are not so nuanced.

Posted by eyeroll | July 12, 2008 7:51 AM

@ 29: we aren't bitching about people criticizing O. We're bitching about the assholes who say, "fuck it! I'm not voting, so THERE!" We need those assholes to vote! After 2000 & 2004, do we really want to fuck around?

Again, n one said you can't criticize. Criticize all you want, just please get over yourselves on 11/4 and VOTE. (not for McCain!)

Posted by Mike in MO | July 12, 2008 8:39 AM

One more reason Johnny is being naive and silly in denying Obama his vote for not magically leading 20 other Democrats to censure Bush and oppose foreign wiretapping: the campaign to paint Obama as weak on defense. Really, you want him to go announce that he doesn't support a popular bipartisan effort to update FISA in the throes of his GE campaign? That's not what is done during the general. Is this your first election?

Maybe once we elect Obama he'll have the freedom to support unpopular legislation that may make him seem like he's "weakening America". But you may never know. Go back and read the original post again, including his preferred amendments.

Posted by Nik | July 12, 2008 8:52 AM

We won't support ball-less NO-Bama and will re-defeat him in November!!!

Posted by clintonsarmy | July 12, 2008 10:00 AM

It's depressing that people are even still using the "Obamaniacs" label.

Speaking as a former Clinton supporter, there are millions and millions and millions of us who are not in any way rabid, Obama-can-do-no-wrong supporters, but who are none the less committed to electing a strong, articulate, visionary Democrat over an adulterous, pandering, psychopathic fossil Republican.

Posted by Big Sven | July 12, 2008 11:07 AM

This comment thread is a perfect example of why Obama will not win in November and why Liberals as a whole are incapable of holding power for very long. Conservatives speak with one voice, through the Republican party. Liberals speak with many voices (as many as there are issues to get behind) and they just CANNOT work together.

Even if Obama wins this time, he won't be re-elected, because he'll have to compromise to get things done, and that's just too much of a betrayal for his splintered base.

Posted by Brandon J. | July 12, 2008 3:25 PM

I have had it with this debate. The reality is that Obama has said all along that he wants to move past partisan boundaries. It was pretty clear with the "we aren't red states and blue states" rhetoric and the talk about compromise and listening to the opposition, that Obama's M.O. was never going to be to run as a lefty. It just wasn't. The man has been saying he would appoint a "team of rivals" cabinet for months, people. That means *gasp* conservatives too. It seems that liberals took this as a promise that he would frog-march conservatives over to the left. WRONG.
I get the anger over FISA, and if that is the one issue that is going to drive you over the edge, fine. I think most of the purists would have found something to piss them off before November anyway. But faith-based initiatives? The guy has been talking about them for YEARS (check out the Call to Renewal speech he gave in 2006, it's on his website). Obama, Clinton, and Edwards all said in an interview in January of this year in the WP that they supported some form of faith-based initiatives.
As far as Iraq goes, yeah he sad he would "refine" his policy based on what he learns from the commanders on the ground. What else is the point of meeting with the commanders on the ground? To not listen or take anything into consideration? Isn't that what we have been screaming at GWB for doing? Obama said refine, but he also said he is committed to withdrawal.
And to all of the PUMAs who spent the primaries criticizing Obama as a pie-in-the-sky McGovern clone, and his supporters as "Obamabots": FUCK YOU. There were plenty of his supporters who knew all along that Obama was about crossing the aisle and moving past partisanship. It's what we liked about him (and what we didn't like about Clinton). I remember getting blasted by you idiots for being "duped" by a craaazy liberal when I said he was a moderate. Now you're blasting others by saying they've been duped by a closet neocon. The reality is that you'll cling to whatever narrative suits your rabid hatred of Obama.
I never thought he was some political messiah coming to save us, I just thought he was a candidate who was capable of inspiring people to get involved and who was darn good at making a case. I knew I wouldn't agree with him on every issue, but I also respected his intellect and his approach. I've NEVER had a candidate I agreed with completely, or who didn't waffle on some issue. Heck, even Kucinich flipped from saying abortion was murder to saying he was pro-choice when he decided to run for President.

Posted by Trina | July 12, 2008 11:58 PM

"Change we can believe in" - Yeah we believe you'll change whatever you say or promise you spineless mofo.

Posted by Odrama | July 13, 2008 7:07 AM

Yeah, just keep parroting those GOP talking points "Odrama", you braindead moron.

So far it's been "Obama: the crazy Marxist liberal" and "Obama: the spineless flip-flopper". I expect by next week it will be "Obama: he secretly HATES black people" (Fox seems to be leaning this way). I suppose the PUMAS are quite comfortable keeping up with the kitchen sink strategy. Get used to it, since that's all McCain has going for him.

Posted by Trina | July 13, 2008 4:45 PM

I forget, was McCain/Bush 08 going to Triple the federal budget deficit, triple the trade deficit and quadruple the number of wounded and dead Americans in the Middle East - or was that some other candidacy?

Obama ain't gonna do any of those things.


Now: get over it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 13, 2008 11:08 PM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.