A Condemnation of Barack Obama Preceded by a Defense:
The wet kiss before the cold slap: Every day, the Rude Pundit receives an assload of spam about what a loser/traitor/general fuckwad Barack Obama allegedly is. In the few he's actually read (they are pretty subject-line explanatory), it goes something like this: "Boy, you were so fuckin' stupid, you fuckin' idiot, thinking that Obama was gonna be all liberal and shit and, hey, look at this issue, 'cause it shows how he ain't liberal at all." Since Obama is the Democratic nominee, and that isn't gonna change barring the emergence of a video showing the Illinois Senator in a three-way with Pat Robertson and Terri Schiavo, the Rude Pundit takes these to be pro-McCain voter suppression screeds. Whether or not that's the authors' intents, they are doing the work of the Republicans.

And most of it is bullshit for people who weren't paying attention during the primaries. Anyone who actually listened to Obama and read about his positions knew that he was, at best, slightly to the left of moderate (in today's right-warped political belief continuum). Those who believed he was a liberal savior were actually just reacting to the right wing's portrayal of him as "the mostest liberalest Senator" or some such shit, as in "Well, hell, if Bill O'Reilly says he's the mostest liberalest, then he's the candidate for me." We on the left often make this mistake: to see ourselves only as reflected in the conservative nutzoid mirror.

(It's the same reason so many on the left romanticize the Clinton presidency. Jesus, back in 1996, when Clinton had triangulated himself to near-Reagan levels of corporate lackey-ism, the only reason the Rude Pundit voted at all was because of Supreme Court appointees.)

So if you paid attention, you knew that Barack Obama loved the death penalty. You knew that he was pro-gun. You knew that he loved him some faith-based programs (and, if it's any comfort, the Family Research Council and other conservative and evangelical groups are pissed that Obama won't let churches discriminate in hiring for the programs). Most of this is no-brainer shit in the political realm. Did you really want Obama to have to defend no death penalty for child rapists? Pick your battles, motherfuckers, and pick 'em well.

Like this one: Barack Obama's reversal of his position on the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was a craven, cowardly bullshit move that ought to haunt him with the left (and libertarian right) for the rest of the campaign. By voting for the bill yesterday (including voting for cloture), Obama made a mistake that is the political equivalent of Hillary Clinton's Iraq war vote. (They are not morally equivalent, since the dead would probably rather be alive and spied on.) And while there's no telling how Clinton would have voted had she been the nominee, just as there's no way to know how Obama would have voted on the war had he been in the Senate in 2002, the New York Senator was unencumbered and able to take the moral high ground and voted against the bill.

It wouldn't be so bad if Obama hadn't made an absolutely definitive statement about opposing any bill that contained immunity from civil lawsuits for telecommunications companies. But the bill did contain it. And he still voted for it. So he joined with other enabling Democrats to be like beaten dogs to their President-owner, hoping that Bush would praise them and pet them, even briefly. A proud, proud moment.

So now we know: Barack Obama believes that corporations that agree to break the law at the President's urging are not complicit, which means that if the President breaks the law, the law should be changed so that, retroactively, the President can't be prosecuted for the crime. He believes that anyone can be subject to surveillance at the whim of the President at any time with the only oversight being over the techniques of the surveillance ("No, guys, c'mon, you can't just put cameras all over the country. Oh, wait, sure, go ahead, you crazy terror fighters"). He believes that, even if the FISA court actually has the 'nads to say no, the government can continue its surveillance while it appeals the ruling. And on and on.

This thing is, Obama campaign, that we on the left need some red meat, too. It's easier to forgive the ludicrous merging of church and state that is funding the faith-based initiative if, say, you stand up for another part of the Constitution. So, yeah, Obama deserves all the heat he's getting in Left Blogsylvania and elsewhere. Does he think that Republicans won't call him a pussy on terrorism now?

Ultimately, many of us who support Obama do so even if we know his flaws, even if our stomachs churn when he acts like another politician desperate to get elected. That's because, like Michael Moore pointed out, his movement is more important than he is. If he's bringing legions of new voters to the party, then that means big ass gains in Congress. It's a way of transitioning away from the enormous damage done to our America this century. It's gonna take time, probably a few presidents, to heal ourselves. This ain't about forgiving Obama or giving him a pass. If a President Obama does nothing else but get us out of Iraq, even if it takes more than 16 months, then that's a running start.

Maybe the only way to achieve some ideals is to give up our idealism.