a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

I agree — let’s all be more skeptical

Posted by Thomas Nephew on April 13th, 2008

Sound advice for Obama supporters — in a barely friendly, clenched-teeth, … oh, what the heck, fairly hostile sort of way — from Obama-skeptic Kate Harding (at “Shakesville”). With the refrain “Obama is not a f*@%ing progressive,” Harding rehearses a well-researched list of many of the Obama negatives I’ve noted myself,* concluding

Obama has feet of clay, just like every other politician in history. Quit trying to pretend he doesn’t and start figuring out how to help reinforce them. Be realistic about who this candidate is, to whom he’s beholden, and how much he can reasonably accomplish, so you don’t end up under your bed sucking your thumb when the shit starts to fly.

For my part, this Kool-Aid Kultist welcomes — nay, applauds — Obama-skepticism (really) and even ninety-thousand word obscenity-laced posts devoted to it (not really). I merely hope for a correspondingly skeptical post about Senator Clinton by the Shakesville team in the near future. Someone I know called Obama the “new Teflon candidate” today — nothing sticks. But I wonder — is there an example of some industrial substance that got approved simply because everyone thought someone else would ban it?

Ms. Harding says her goal is simply to explore “Obama the myth vs. Obama the man” — but cannot forebear to note she voted for Clinton mainly (and merely) because Clinton knows how to fight the slime machine propaganda the GOP will throw at either candidate, and Obama allegedly doesn’t. In the key rhetorical move of the post, she wisely concedes Clinton is no “f*@%ing” progressive either — and wisely places that concession very, very early in her long, long march through Obama’s shortcomings.

But if that’s the case, progressivism isn’t this critic’s sine qua non, either, nor is skepticism per se. Instead we essentially have one intrapartisan’s demand that opposing intrapartisans step back, take a good look at their candidate, and find him wanting in characteristics … that she apparently doesn’t require of her preferred candidate either.

I looked at Ms. Harding’s post via Jeff Fecke (“Blog of The Moderate Left”), an Obama supporter and sometime Shakesville contributor who endorses Ms. Harding’s post more generously. His post actually was a genuine call for skepticism about either candidate, and for pushing them the right way towards the right goals:

By all means, recognize that both candidates have failings, and push them to correct them, especially if they are the candidate you support. But make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons, and with the right goals in mind. If we push Obama or Clinton to the left, they will move to the left. But if we push them to the right — if we attack them as elitist, soft, emotional, out-of-touch — if we do that, they will move to the right. And that is not the direction we want them to go.

But push them. Push them. Push them.

Amen to that.

* E.g., here, here, here, and here. My principal Clinton-skepticism post is here.
EDITS, 4/13: “mainly/merely” and “allegedly” clauses and additional “e.g.” links added.

One Response to “I agree — let’s all be more skeptical”

  1. mick Says:

    Golly but this all sounds familiar….

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