Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Quote of the Day
"This is not to say that Obama couldn't have demonstrated more leadership. It's a fair criticism to argue that he too often allows his opponents to seize the initiative, and he hasn't been forceful enough in articulating his own vision. That's disappointing, but it's not betrayal -- it's not evidence that Obama is some kind of conservative mole, destroying what remains of liberal America from within. And it should not be confused with the notion that had he been more explicitly radical he would have achieved more -- that's simply not guaranteed at all.
-- Salon's Andrew Leonard in a well-thought-out column on Paul Krugman and the Disillusioned Left
One of the interesting things about the referenced article is that in it Krugman comes right out and says that he doesn't doubt Barack Obama's liberal beliefs. Contrast that with, once again, Glenn Greenwald, who can't stop writing about how naive it is for anyone to assume that Obama actually wants to see a progressive outcome from his policies.
One of my favorite things about Krugman is that, agree with his politics or not, he's both a brilliant and compassionate man; he's smart enough to give you a good argument for progressive policy and you truly believe that his reason for being liberal is that he feels that someone of conscience has no other choice. I respect this about him and always have. When I shrug off the often shrill and selfish criticism of Greenwald -- and it is selfish in the sense that, like it or not, it risks the greater good in the pursuit of perfection that he seems to demand on his personal pet issues -- it's because I don't feel that there's any real sense of conscience behind it. I've actually come around on the idea that Greenwald isn't simply interested in getting people to pay attention to him -- although I do believe he enjoys being able to think of himself a thorn in the side of the world -- and I now accept that he genuinely seeks to adhere to a very strict laundry list of political issues because he considers those issues important above all. The problem is, and always has been, that he'll sacrifice everything else -- burn down the whole village if he has to -- just to get his way on them. He believes that it's worth the short-term loss to go all Nader on the Democratic party if it means a sea change in American politics. From a logical perspective, this might be true. But once again, the difference between Krugman and Greenwald is one of conscience -- and anyone who's watching what Republican and Tea Party policy is doing right now in Wisconsin or Michigan, or federally with Paul Ryan's disastrous budget plan, can see that the choice of who leads the country and makes the laws in America isn't one made between equals.
It's easy to say that a sacrifice needs to be made to ostensibly teach a political party a lesson when you're not living in the country -- which Greenwald isn't, by the way -- that will look fundamentally different, and monumentally worse, in short order should the party that benefits from your act of insurrection come to power.
Glenn Greenwald isn't the one who would be doing the sacrificing here. The whole debate for him is strictly academic. And that's the problem.