Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Norman Solomon, what has happened to thee?

From Commondreams.org:

"Yet we’re in great need of willingness to acknowledge contradictory truths, to sort through them as a means of finding the best progressive strategies for the here and now. While some attacks on Obama from the left are overheated, overly ideological and mechanistic, there’s scant basis for denying the reality that his campaign and his positions are way too cozy with corporate power. Meanwhile, his embrace of escalating the war in Afghanistan reflects acceptance rather than rejection of what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism.”

To some, who evidently see voting as an act of moral witness rather than pragmatic choice (even in a general election), forces such as corporate power or militarism are binary — like a toggle switch — either totally on or totally off. This outlook says: either we reject entirely or we’re complicit.

Such analysis tends to see Obama as just a little bit slower on the march to the same disasters that John McCain would lead us to. That analysis takes a long view — but fails to see the profound importance of the crossroads right in front of us, where either Obama or McCain will be propelled into the White House.

Any progressive who watched the “faith” forum that Obama and McCain participated in on Aug. 16 would have good reasons to be negative when assessing some of Obama’s answers. But McCain’s responses were vastly more jingoistic, militaristic, fanatical and pro-corporate, while also making clear his enthusiasm for the worst of the current Supreme Court justices.

In an odd and ironic way, progressives who are unequivocal Obama boosters and unequivocal Obama bashers embrace similar concepts of limited alternatives in electoral work. They seem to rule out candidly critical support of a candidate — viewing such an option as either a betrayal of the candidate or a betrayal of principles.

But supporting one candidate — clearly preferable to the Republican — should not require a lack of candor about the preferred candidate’s defects. And progressive interests are not advanced by claiming, against the evidence, that it doesn’t really matter which candidate wins."

In other words, yes, Obama is a sellout, but you should shut up and support him anyways, because he's not as bad as McCain.
Pragmatism and the real world dictate that if you do that it should be based on Realpolitik, on a somewhat cynical understanding of the realities of power, not on a capitulation to it.

And this part of the article, I have to say, is some of the worst writing I've come across, rivaling times when it's been two in the morning, I haven't been sober, and I've started blogging on this site....which happens occasionally.

I don't think that anyone on the left has said that it makes no difference who wins. Here Solomon is engaging in the same sort of non-nuanced thinking that he's accusing Obama opponents on the left of engaging in. It also strengthens his argument about the left through creating a straw man that can easily be reacted to with rage and knocked down. Because if the point of all of the progressive and left commentary on Obama is something else than equivocating him with McCain it's evidence of the very nuance that Solomon denies exists. If it doesn't, which it doesn't then it prompts the question of just what are people getting at with critiquing Obama, which is a question that everyone should be honestly asking.

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