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Monday, May 16, 2011

The OTHER Obama Derangement Syndrome

May 16th, 2011
by F. Grey Parker

Let's face it. We are living through one of those not-so-great American Eras within which collectively confirmed delusion runs rampant. There are obvious examples. Some folks are allowing their fears to be exploited for a buck. Others are huddling together online and repeating untruths to feel better about themselves. There are also subtler and ultimately more dangerous forms of group-think undermining our progress. So it goes in a time of unrest.

I have grown used to the "birthers." In spite of the obvious events of the last few weeks, it is no real surprise that there are still outliers hawking theories of the President's "otherness." Like all fringe movements, truth gradually is picking off at their margins and we have already begun to see their numbers diminish. However, any student of human nature could have told you a year ago that there would remain a devoted core for whom no amount of evidential proof will ever be satisfactory.

I predicted the emergence of the "deathers," that wacky bunch who are now muttering in hushed tones that the death of Osama Bin Laden is hooey. "Don't believe it!" they cry. Some say he is alive and well. Some say he is a construct of the One World Government. Others seem truly convinced that he was killed years ago but frozen for later viewing. Heck, there is probably some loner in his mother's basement who would honestly argue that Bin Laden's real name is Steve and he's an actor from Cleveland.

This brand of creative paranoia is not new in America. There have always been flakes. There will always be loons. A nation in which the citizens are at the very least allowed to think freely will naturally produce some interesting perspectives. There have also always been and always will be professional frauds who thrive on exploiting these sorts of folks with more plausible deceits. This is where the willingness to dismiss complexity begins to become more dangerous. You can only fool some of the people all of the time when they really want to be fooled.

We've spent two years listening to the American Right call President Obama a "socialist" because he has suggested a return to tax policies Dwight D. Eisenhower would've laughed off as slavish to the monied elites. The President has been called a "racist" with a "deep seated hatred of white people" after appointing the least politically diverse administration in 23 years. We've watched a dumb, sub-literate Alaskan cheerleader become a star by accusing Obama of trying to kill our grandmothers and institute "death panels." These are all hallmarks of what the Left has justifiably called "Obama Derangement Syndrome." 

The thing is, these folks aren't the real threat. That's what unnerves me, lately. What really bothers me, and I mean really gets my goat, are the basically forward thinking, well educated and Progressive Americans who also wallow in self-indulgent and conspiratorial whining. It is smug. It serves no purpose but to excuse inaction and it is more dangerous.

This is about the other "Obama Derangement Syndrome." It is high time we address it.

Barack Obama's Presidency had barely begun when some on the Left started selling us the "betrayal meme." In March of 2009, Dave Lindorff famously excoriated the new President in a piece called "The Obama Betrayal." He was apoplectic over capitulation to Republicans regarding the 'Employee Free Choice Act.' He makes no mention of the fact that Progressives did not flood the congress and the White House with calls supporting the President's fight. He omits the huge and organized campaign enlisting our citizen-opponents which went a long way towards torpedoing the legislation. Why should we on the Left have been expected to do anything? Wasn't Obama supposed to single-handedly crush our foes?

After all, we elected him.

In December of 2009, Owen Fiss came out guns blazing in a Slate piece with the snappy and oh-so-original title, "Obama's Betrayal." In it, Fiss all but conflated Obama with George W. Bush for "not closing Gitmo." Just because calls and letters and e-mails swamped Washington opposing the potential closure at a ratio of roughly 10 to 1, it wasn't our fault. Right? Shouldn't Obama have simply used his magic pen? Or something?

After all, we elected him. What else were we supposed to do?

Throughout Obama's first two years, we the people who did elect him largely sat on our hands expecting to be saved. Perhaps we had become so inured to the imperial nature of the Presidency within the Bush years that we forgot that there are other requirements of citizenship between ballots. As we continued to do nothing and the opposition used slick, manipulative marketing to energize hundreds of thousand of idiots, the Washington Post asked "Is Obama Betraying The Left?" The New Statesman published "Obama: The Betrayal?" It goes on and on and on.

The "betrayal meme" is picking up steam again. This is frankly getting out of hand. Most recently, Cornel West, a great man whom I adore, has had a full blown freak-out. Chris Hedges is loving every minute of it. It's nifty copy. It's also representative of a dangerous and elitist abdication of citizen responsibility. It's becoming the bread and butter of the establishment Left to accuse President Obama of essentially not rescuing us while we wait like little children.

The President has had to attempt to stand his ground in a position of weakness the base helped create. When the rabble on the right was out-calling our Representatives at a ratio of four or five to one to oppose the AFA, where were we? When Tea Partiers were being duped by their masters into showing up by the busload, where were our counter-protests? By the way, much as I do love Colbert and Stewart, they can suck it on that count. Like Bill Maher said at the time, rallies should really "be about something."

Let's be even more clear. The Tea Party didn't "win" the 2010 election, kids. We gave it to them. A lot of self-righteous liberals, particularly the younger voters, decided not to show up. I guess they thought that would show Obama. If I had a dollar for every goop on the Left I heard excuse themselves from their civic duty last November by telling everyone within earshot that "there's no difference between the parties..."

Do they really believe this now? Do they believe that had the millions more registered Democrats than Republicans turned out we would be where we are today? Do they honestly think that we'd be fighting nearly one thousand anti-woman bills advancing in the States? Would they actually argue that from Wisconsin to Florida to Rhode Island we'd still be facing a coordinated effort to remove millions of likely progressive voters from the rolls before the next Presidential election? Lastly, do they truly believe that we would even be discussing Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) draconian Path To Poverty?

Ah, but wait. On that last count, the Republicans are suddenly on the ropes. All it took was less than 6 weeks of pushback by ordinary Americans. I think this illustrates pretty clearly how much we have not done as citizens since we elected this President.

I am not saying there isn't a lot to be disappointed about in the first Obama Administration. But we are complicit. A lot of folks knew that bad things were afoot when the Tea Party devolved town halls into shouting and shoving matches. But, again, too many of us expected someone else to do something about it.

We have two choices now. We can admit that the enemy has also been us. We can pick up the phone and actually call congress... frequently. We can go into the streets. We can engage. We can act. We can push forward just this way straight through the 2012 race. We can also avoid patting ourselves on the back after marching for, gosh, maybe 3 or 4 whole months this year after a decade of idle chatter.

Or, we can claim to have been "betrayed." We can tell ourselves that it is always someone else's fault. We can blame sinister forces. Then we can sit back and watch everything fall apart with self-declared impunity. We can view our decline through a lens which simultaneously confirms our sorrowful station and our philosophical superiority. We can tell ourselves we are powerless because of evil trickery.

After all, the second choice is no less rational than the outlook of the "birthers..." or the "deathers..." or the Fake-Moon-Landing People. And there are more and more folks every day trying to sell that to us. What's the worst that could happen if we buy it?


  1. You actually compare birthers with democratic voters who did there part? Pretty stupid.

  2. When are you going to admit that you r really a rethuglican? Im sick of your BS.

  3. It's true. This is one of the reasons we need to stop blaming those we send to Washington for snatching "defeat from the jaws of victory." LOL. Saw you quote that the other day. Thanks.

  4. Sure. yeah. its all our fault. R u 4 real?

    How can u blame voters for becoming not involved? I have a life. I do stuff. WTF? How much more am I supposed 2 do.

  5. Well, you clearly hit a nerve, Grey. I thank you. I have been saying this for months. Like the way you worked that Lincoln bit in.

    Dont listen to haters.

  6. Dane Paul StewartMay 17, 2011 at 3:12 AM

    This is a very accurate description of what has happened over the past 3 years.

    If you don't understand that then you are in a position to lose a lot because you are not understanding the forces that are actively working against you.

    I can't care about you if you won't care about yourself.

  7. Grey, I'm just not sure. President Obama most surely did not show any spine regarding the Bush tax cuts. Your points, however, are also correct. We'll see.

  8. @Cletis - The W Cuts cave was dreadful. To be fair, it was after the 2010 ballot.

  9. Well Grey, you hit that nail smack between the eyes. Well spoke, well spoke.

  10. Amen! It wasn't the Progressive elites who showed up in Wisconsin to push back against the forces of tyranny. It was the bread and butter, blue collar working folks of Wisconsin. For us being a Democrat isn't trendy - it's survival. And for those who don't have the time to fight for their democracy - it's not like laundry that you can postpone. Democracy requires patriotism.

    I'm not an Obama apologist - and what a Frank Luntz kind of castrating term - shame on any lefty that uses it. I'm a loyal supporter. I am more pleased with my vote today than when I cast it. President Obama has managed to stay three moves ahead of the rest of us while being handcuffed by Banksters extortion, MSM slander, real threats to himself and his family and Democrats who are as spineless as the Republicans say we are. God bless Obama if he's willing to stick with us till we grow up.

  11. @Steve--if you are so sick of his "bs," then why, pray tell, do you read it? Just curious... @AXL567--anyone who can't even be bothered to use the word "to" (because that extra keystroke just took waaaaaay too much time, apparently) is immediately, and unforgivably, lame.

    This is a beautifully written piece, Grey. Well done.

  12. This piece is one of the best clear toned analyses of the Liberal/Progressive "Obama Derangement Syndrome" that I have read. This is excellent.

  13. Additional comment that I can't let get away: This piece does raise a point which I do disagree with. And that is the critique of the purpose of the Jon Stewart/Steven Colbert rally in Washington, DC.

  14. YES! YESSSS! OMG, YESSSS. You pretty much said EVERYTHING I've been thinking the past few years now. It's why I'm getting up and getting OUT and going to rallies and townhalls. It's OUR job to show those we elect WHAT we want. We didn't do that and then we sit back and bitch and moan?

  15. Thank you for putting the truth out there. I've been thinking and saying this for a while and if we don't change the narrative now we will regret it. BTW POTUS said "Yes WE Can" not Yes I/he Can! Dems need our help with getting our message out there loud and clear! One other thing, POTUS asked for our help in his last speech and we have yet to get the message to Congress that we want infrastructure jobs right now, no cuts to entitlements and no more tax breaks to millionaires.