Obama’s Reagan Worship

I know I have to deal with the thread in the previous post, and I’ll get to it — but I’ve been traveling and dealing with other things, including some physical/medical issues for both me and one of my cats (different issues, haha), so that will have to wait. In the meantime, though, I have to point to Digby’s short post on why Obama adopting the Reagan beatification nonsense is a, umm, bad idea. Reagan was a bad guy with a genial tone and pretty smile who deliberately appealed to racists and bigots. Obama is either incredibly naive, or as cynical a manipulator as certain other candidates are accused of being. (I sort of hope it’s the latter, actually, because if it’s the former and he wins, he won’t know what will have hit him when the wingnuts and their squawking allies in the media have their way with him.)

What I don’t get is why he keeps using conservative phrases and adopting hot button conservative issues like social security when it’s so unnecessary. If the people are there, then why keep using this tired old crap to appeal to the middle? I understand that he doesn’t want to run as a traditional liberal and that’s fine. I don’t think he should. But people also don’t need that stale stuff about love-ins and “entrepreneurship” or “fixing social security” or dissing “trial lawyers” or they’d vote for Rudy McRomney. They want something new. Give it to them.

If he wants to change the trajectory as Reagan did then he should take a page from his political strategy instead of his rhetoric, stop praising him and bury conservatism instead.

This comment in the thread attached to the Digby post was also very good:

This exactly the kumbaya crap that so many progressives like Krugman, (and me) find either naive or as calculatingily triangulated as anything Clinton is accused of. [Medley ed: with Clinton, it's "cynical triangulation", with Obama it's "transcendent bipartisanship"... ooohhh-kay.] You want people of different views to come together and unite? Have you observed the Republican party and its noise machine for the last generation? Have they ever showed any inclination to coming together in good faith and compromising to solve problems? Are Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Grover Norquist, the Club for Growth, the heath insurance industry going to change course because Obama smiles at them? Any real progressive reform is going to require, well, the Demoocrats to emulate a lot of Republican tactics (absent the lies and dishonesty). It will mean increasing our majorities in Congress (as well as replacing as many Bush Dogs as possible with real Democrats), having them stand together in the trenches to pass progressive legislation, and a president that will use his bully pulpit as relentlessly as, well, Boy George. Bipartisanship (or its many eupehmisms bandied about by the Obama-bots) basically amounts to rolling over for the Republicans. Basically, Democrats need to go to the matresses, where Republicans have lived for a generation, not hold hands around the campfire.

As for Obama’s Reagan remarks, they are offensive on so many levels. Let’s pick this level–they are buying into and solidyfying the Republican falsification of history and beatification of Saint Ronnie. This is not an academic debate, it matters in real world terms. For crissake, when Obama talks about the country being ready to be led in a different direction after the “excesses” of the’60s and ’70s, he is talking about–and belittling–our agenda: the civil rights movement, feminism, the anti-Vietnam movement, environmentalism, one man-one vote reapportionment, Nixon being justly chased from office for subverting the federal government. [Medley ed: Indeed! WHAT EXCESSES??] And yes, Regan used those “exceses” by pushing back against them, both explicitly and by dog whistle, by inciting and exploiting people’s fears and prejudices, like all good Republicans for the last generation. Lavishing praise on this, or pointing to it as something to emulate, is not the language of a progressive or a Democrat in my book.

If Obama wanted to tie into some troubling excesses that the nation might be ready to right, he might do a little more talking about how the Bush-Cheney years have subverted both the letter and spirit of 200+ years of American constitutionalism and how it is required to reverse their evil work. But might not play well with David Broder or Joe Klein, or the many Republican votes Obama thinks he is going to attract (I have news for him–he ain’t).

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