Check your optimism

Before progressives get swept up in Obama fervor -- again -- some sober reminders about promises and "name-calling"

Topics: Barack Obama, 2013 inauguration, LGBT, Liberals, Progressives, Rahm Emanuel,

Check your optimism

In an inaugural speech stringing together the most tried, true and poll-tested applause lines, none was as appropriate yet also dissonant as President Obama’s assertion that America should not “treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”

On the appropriate side of the ledger, that line could be seen as a justifiable riposte to an Angry Right-Wing Hate Machine that relies on – and makes its money from – the business of slur. Indeed, epithets like “socialist,” “fascist,” “Hitler,” “Magical Negro,” and “monkey” (among others) are now part of the conservative movement’s day-to-day vernacular in making its case against the current White House occupant, ginning up popular anger and raising money for the conservative media machine.

However, after a speech that resurrected the themes he ran on in 2008 by rhetorically celebrating a progressive agenda, the president’s rejoinder against “name calling” seems to contradict his own deportment, considering how often his administration employs such name calling to berate the progressive movement.

It was, for instance, Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who berated liberals as “fucking retarded” for daring to try to press congressional Democrats to back the health care promises Obama himself made.
It was Obama who deployed his official spokesman to tell reporters that liberals working to hold the president to his campaign promises “ought to be drug tested” because they are “crazy.”

You Might Also Like

It was Obama’s reelection campaign that sent out an email slamming Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman as a “political rookie” and hammering liberal health care activists as the “Firebagger Lefty blogosphere.”

It was a “Democrat close to Obama” who used an interview with Politico to castigate LGBT activists as “naive” for daring to push the president to support basic equality under the law.

It was an Obama adviser who denigrated liberals as the “internet left fringe” and who implored progressives “to take off their pajamas” just because they expected the president to actually advocate for the policies he promised to during his election campaign.

It was a “senior Obama adviser” who labeled those supporting a public health-care merely “the left of the left.”

It was an anonymous confidante of Obama’s national security adviser who slammed civil libertarians questioning the president’s extra-judicial drone war as “Cheeto-eating people in the basement working in their underwear.”

The list goes on and on – these are just a representative sample of a White House that often seems as eager to utilize obnoxious fact-free invective against progressives as the Angry Right-Wing Hate Machine. That invective may be a bit less harsh and offensive, but it is still exactly the kind of “name calling” the president deplored in his speech.

But, then, perhaps that is the real meaning of Obama’s applause line about “name calling”. Perhaps it was both a justifiable and easy-to-understand “fuck you” to the right and also a more subtle pledge to the millions of liberals and progressives who put him in the White House. Perhaps, in short, it was a president who has previously asked citizens to “hold me accountable” now pledging to strike a wholly different and more constructive posture toward those progressives who do just that.

That may be wishful thinking. But on an inauguration day that quadrennially begs us to feel some twinge of aspirational optimism, that should be least we can hope for from a man whose original vision was about far bigger hopes and dreams.

David Sirota

David Sirota is a senior writer for the International Business Times and the best-selling author of the books "Hostile Takeover," "The Uprising" and "Back to Our Future." E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at www.davidsirota.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>