The schizophrenic Obama

Is the president selling out the working man, or waging class warfare on behalf of the proletariat? Because surely he can't be doing both at the same time?

Published March 31, 2009 10:45AM (EDT)

Judging by a hefty percentage of reader comments on Monday, President Obama's bleak analysis of Chrysler and G.M.'s prospects for survival is seen by many Salon readers as a betrayal of the unionized autoworker and further proof that the White House may have changed occupants, but still pledges undying fealty to Wall Street.

Excuse me if I skip work tomorrow to see my doctor for whiplash. After all, just last week, I spent a fair amount of my time wading through right-wing attacks on the president that accused him of not only leading the country down the road to "socialism" and "economic Marxism" but also of a nefarious plan to sabotage the U.S. dollar. So I can't get it straight -- does Obama swear fealty to Ayn Rand or Vladimir Lenin? Because it can't be both, right? I know Obama's an accomplished politician, but come on!

I am sorely tempted to argue that anyone who can inspire such fear and loathing from both the extreme right and left has got to be doing something right. Certainly, I always feel an extra bit of pride when the same blog post has readers accusing me of being a capitalist stooge or a deluded Marxist revolutionary. Life is full of contradictions! Don't fear them -- embrace them! But there's a false equivalency at work here. I'd be the first to admit that I think the most paranoid fears of the right can only be the result of alien abduction brain-washings, while the growing clamor on the left has yet to be proven conclusively wrong. Watching the folks at National Review's the Corner try to convince themselves that Obama's use of a teleprompter proves that he is "dumb" really makes one wonder whether conservatives have a future in this country. The theory that Goldman Sachs is pulling Obama's puppet strings -- well, the best I can say is the jury is still out.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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