Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Obama's not all bad

To be clear, I thought I ought to say that I don't think everything Obama does is bad. I know this blog can read like that. He has made a number of good moves that were not sure things, such as appointing several good people in the Justice Department and making Mitchell the Middle East envoy.

But I don't need to spend my space saying that it's a good thing, for example, that Obama has pledged to close Guantanamo. You already knew that, and it was the least we could have expected. What's more important, I think, is looking at the bad things he is doing, such as leaving all sorts of caveats in his Guantanamo/torture policy.

I think part of the reason there's been so little questioning of Obama in the traditional media since Nov 4th -- in terms of whether he is doing what he pledged to do back in the primary season -- is that most Democrats aren't criticizing him from the left on many issues at all. And the traditional media don't do much of that questioning themselves. It's been Paul Krugman, Jon Stewart, Glenn Greenwald, The Nation and various smaller publications and individuals who have been the most substantive and effective critics.

Of course Obama is not all bad. But it is never too early to start questioning the bad -- in fact, on so many things, it is now far too late. The 'other side' -- pick your industry or right wing cause -- is not "waiting to see" how the Obama Administration turns out. They're lobbying for what they want, right now. We have to do that, too.

When Obama trial-ballooned the pro-torture John Brennan for CIA director or Director of National Intelligence, it was Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan and other bloggers who shot it down. MoveOn was nowhere to be seen. It was a perfect example of what has proven true over and over again: sitting back and waiting for Obama to bring salvation, and then lobbying Congress to pass that salvation, if it comes, is just not going to work on most issues with such a centrist president.


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