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Friday, December 17, 2010

Ishmael Reed on the President and the "Professional Left"

The President is being hammered by Progressives for his compromise with the Republicans.  Some have even suggested that he should be challenged in a primary.  What world are these people living in?   Their naivete will guarantee Karl Rove's permanent Republican majority to become a permanent reality.  Things are bad enough as they are.  With Obama we have a chance to overturn the "Reagan Revolution" to build on the 2008 victory, as opposed to the governance of  the "Atlas Shrug" and Tea Party crowds.  The Tea Party success in the last election should have served as a "call to arms," figuratively speaking, to prepare for 2012.  Instead, the President is being vilified not just from the Tea Party but from his own base.

When in response to a question in which a reporter from the Wall Street Journal who raised the issue about his base accusing him having no spine, the President was clear that being "purist" is not amenable to governing.  As he said, holding such a position would mean "nothing would get done."  It is distasteful that the Bush tax cuts for America's richest were extended.  That was a bad decision on the President's part.   What would have been a worse decision on his part would have been to allow the Republicans in the Senate to block all legislation.  To turn an extension of unemployment benefits to the next Congress would be irresponsible.  To have allowed everyone's taxes to go up on January 1 would be calamitous.  Not only would every American be angry at the tax hike, they would blame it on the President.  He has to govern.  He is confronted by Republicans who are using every tactic in their power to defeat the President.   Moreover, a tax hike that is not agreed to, is likely to destabilize an already bad economy.  Simply for these intransigent Republicans, the worse things are the better for their politics. 

A major part of the problem is that the progressive mentality is a movement mentality -- an ideological orientation -- that is not always conducive to governing.  The President is in a different position.  He has to govern.  As the nation's leading politician, he must be a pragmatist. He is not a dictator.   Nor are Democrats committed to "a line." 

As evidenced by the health care reform debate, many Democrats are very conservative.  The Republicans on the other hand, are either ideologues or irrelevant.   Republicans who are not hardliners have been either marginalized in the Congress or defeated by Tea Party challengers.  This is the context in which the President make his judgments and run the government.

Ishmael Reed challenges the understanding of Progressives when it comes to having a Black man negotiating the political terrain.  RGN

What Progressives Don’t Understand About Obama

NOT all of my white teachers viewed me as a discipline problem. To the annoyance of my fellow students, one teacher selected me regularly to lead assembly programs. A high school teacher insisted that I learn about the theater. She was an America-firster who supplied me with right-wing pamphlets and magazines that I’d read at breakfast and she didn’t seem bothered by my returning them with some of the pages stuck together with syrup.

But most of them did see me as an annoyance, and gave me the grades to prove it.

I’ve been thinking recently of all those D’s for deportment on my report cards. I thought of them, for instance, when I read a response to an essay I had written about Mark Twain that appeared in “A New Literary History of America.” One of the country’s leading critics, who writes for a prominent progressive blog, called the essay “rowdy,” which I interpreted to mean “lack of deportment.” Perhaps this was because I cited “Huckleberry Finn” to show that some white women managed household slaves, a departure from the revisionist theory that sees Scarlett O’Hara as some kind of feminist martyr.

I thought of them when I pointed out to a leading progressive that the Tea Party included neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers — and he called me a “bully.” He believes that the Tea Party is a grass-roots uprising against Wall Street, a curious reading since the movement gained its impetus from a rant against the president delivered by a television personality on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

The full article