Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Kevin Drum writes about what he calls "The Great Emo-Prog vs. O-Bot Debate":
If you express anything short of absolute condemnation of everything the NSA has done, your Twitter feed quickly fills up with hysterical proclamations from the emo-progs that you're a right-wing shill, a government lackey, a useful idiot for the slave state, and an obvious fool. Conversely, if you criticize the NSA's surveillance programs, your Twitter feed quickly fills up with equally hysterical proclamations from the O-Bots that you hate Obama, you've always hated Obama, and you're probably a racist swine who's been waiting ever since 2009 for a chance to take down the nation's first black president.
He writes in response to an Atrios post, which says in part:
I try to avoid the emoprog-obot debates. I don't really get them really. It's just posing.
I don't agree that it's posing. I think people who've told us for years that drones are the worst thing in the world really believe it; I think people who seem to feel that way now about what the NSA is doing are also sincere.

I get it -- these seem to be the kinds of things we've despised Republicans for over the years (and LBJ for, to go further back). The excesses of the national security state are what defined being on the left for a lot of people as they developed political consciousness.

And as for the the other side, Kevin writes:
I'll confess that although the leftier-than-thou types have always been around, I've long been skeptical of the idea that Obama has a core group of supporters from 2008 who really do consider him The One, a shining beacon of light who can do no wrong. But I'm the one who was wrong. I don't know how many there are, but they're definitely out there.
I think that's a distorted portrait of Obama's most fervent defenders. Yes, it describes some -- but many of his defenders sincerely believe the Greenwald/Snowden narrative oversells the intrusive nature of what the NSA is doing.

Beyond that, there are people who see the Obama presidency as perpetually hamstrung and under assault by the right -- which it is. They look around the country and see voting rights and abortion rights and the social safety net under assault in every state controlled by Republicans -- and maybe Obama hasn't exactly made his presidency an oasis of progressivism, but they see that he's at least holding the line against the worst the Republicans would do if they had the chance. They're weighing NSA surveillance and drones against all that -- against the fact that we still have a health care law and Medicare hasn't been voucherized and gay people can serve openly in the military and President Romney didn't get to sign the Paul Ryan budget. I think that's why they're "O-bots."

In my initial response to the Greenwald/Snowden revelations, I guess I was one of them. I didn't want this presidency brought down or hamstrung further by the NSA story, especially given the unlikelihood of any actual changes to the surveillance regime.

I feel I have a foot in both camps now -- I'm angry about what the NSA is doing, but I still want to defend this presidency, if only because of the vile nature of its enemies. But I understand the fervor of both sides.


Now, you'd think this would be an intramural problem for lefties, liberals, and Democrats, right? But conservatives are reading this and saying, WAAAH! What about our suffering?

At National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke writes:
Welcome to my world, Kevin. Just so as you know, this rule goes also for Obamacare, the economy, foreign policy, firearms law, and absolutely every other area of public policy. I have been called a "racist" for so long now that I’m almost looking forward to a Hillary presidency so that I can be called a "sexist" instead.
Randy Hall of NewsBusters seconds this, in a post titled "Liberal Blogger Learns the Hard Way What It's Like to Be Conservative."

Hey, Charles and Randy, do you think we don't get attacked by your side when we defend the president, other Democrats, or any liberal or left ideas? That's the nature of politics. The right attacks us; we attack the right. We complain when it gets truly ugly (death threats, rape threats), but we don't whine about the very existence of angry opponents. So here are some tissues; wipe your noses and stop sniveling.


UPDATE: First link fixed.


Victor said...

"So here are some tissues; wipe your noses and stop sniveling."
I love you, Steve!

I'm with you. I have feet in both camps, too.
And I also have a lot of problems with his Presidency.

But, I also remember what he did when he had, at least in theory, a Democratic House and Senate.

And he's gotten a lot done since then, despite Republican obstruction that borders on Nihilism.
DADT, and DOMA ended.
We still have Obamacare.
We're on our way out of Afghanistan.

Superfluous Man said...

Whoa, that "Kevin Drum" link goes to elections in Maine. Fix please.

Philo Vaihinger said...

There actually are Democrats who support both drone - as opposed to boots on the ground - warfare (backing away from the whole thing would be better, of course) and the NSA programs.

Obama is not the only one.

And this though O is has said, reminding one of Carter speaking of communism, that America has an excessive fear of Muslim terrorism.

Others, of course, taking that thought further, would back away not only from military engagements in the lingering gwot but also from the eavesdropping begun as part of the anti-terror effort under GW.

Still, no matter how you cut it, Snowden, Assange, Manning, and even Greenwald belong in jail.

Especially Greenwald.

It's just too much to hear journos yelling all the time how special they are and how we have to trust them to get the balance right between national security and the need for transparency.

And so they have to be immune from prosecution when it is they, not the leaks, who broadcast secrets to all the world, including those from whom the secrets were being kept.

Snowden passed information to one man.

That man passed it to the world and to the enemy.

He belongs in prison more than Snowden does.

Steve M. said...

Link fixed -- sorry....

Jenny said...

I feel I have a foot in both camps now -- I'm angry about what the NSA is doing, but I still want to defend this presidency.

Are you angry at Senator Elizabeth Warren (who you have described as your dream presidential candidate) and lifelong liberal Al Franken for supporting the NSA pgm or do they get a free pass?