This latest politicization of President Obama’s speech that he gave to school children this morning was way over-the-top. It is the latest round of extreme partisanship being carried out by elements within the Republican Party, led by right-wing radio pundits and being promoted and propagated by the mass corporate media.
They mobilized people to call schools and administrators to cancel the address – or organized a boycott of schools or kept their children out of school for the day. This was ridiculous. The flap they caused was outrageous and clearly unacceptable.
And that certain schools, districts, principals and teachers have bowed to these extremists is also outrageous and unacceptable.opted out of the address. The La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board held a contentious meeting on a holiday – Labor Day – to deliberate a compromise over the non-issue.
This politicization of a talk to school kids by an American President is particularly hard for progressives to stomach and is deeply troubling.
Yet, progressives in this country are increasingly being placed in a quandary. A political quandary that finds us uninspired by what President Obama has actually accomplished. It’s even more than that – the lack of inspiration for many progressives is a down right disenchantment with Obama.
But events rush at us, and progressives are being pushed into a sharpening political dilemma. A dilemma of historic proportions.
For while many folks in the progressive camp have become disenchanted with President Barack Obama – it just so happens that the guy that many of us voted for is now under a huge attack by the right-wing, and he’s under attack for the very things that we voted for and that were represented by him and his candidacy.
This places us firmly on the proverbial horns of a dilemma. Even though we’re disenchanted with Obama, how can we stand by and allow him to be attacked and then isolated by the right wing? For also under attack are many of the things that we stand for and believe in.
This outrageous display of extremism over the President’s address demonstrates with breath-taking clarity the deepening political chasm in this country.
For coming on top of the disruptions and gun displays at town hall meetings that were held across the country, this extremism throws in sharp relief the widening polarization and yes, even civil conflict, taking place in our society. These are much more than simply opening salvos of just another chapter in the “cultural war.”
This historical moment – the moment that the right-wing is able to command the terms of each and every issue, coming after the damage of ‘the guns of August’ – reflects this current civil conflict. This type of social confrontation engulfs every American progressive, even those who didn’t vote for Obama.
Recent polls show that Obama has lost support among Democrats and young people. The pollster John Zogby reports that his latest –
Zogby Interactive poll of 4,518 likely voters (conducted from Aug. 28-31) found 48% disapprove of Obama’s job performance, and 42% approve. …
In a similar interactive poll done six weeks ago, 88% of Democrats approved of Obama’s job performance. That percentage is now down to 75%, a significant drop of 13 points. Meanwhile, there is only slight change among Republicans and Independents.
Obama has lost even more support among 18-29-year-old voters, whose approval fell by 18 points over that time.
Other polls are not so drastic, but most agree that Obama’s figures have fallen.
The blogosphere is full of disgruntled progressives, upset for good, solid reasons. Obama’s continuation and broadening of the war in Afghanistan is particularly difficult to swallow for anti-war progressives, with more troops probably on the horizon as the American-supported Hamid Karzai appears to have won by fraud in the recent presidential election.
There are many other reasons progressives have become disenchanted with Obama.
As a candidate, Barack Obama electrified the nation. He garnered early left and progressive support by being the anti-war candidate. His pledges of health care reform, of governmental transparency, and reining in the abuses of the Bush administration resonated in liberal and democratic circles. Many progressives worked on his campaign, donated to the record funds he amassed, or at least participated in the Primaries and General Election of 2008.
But now, after seven months of an administration seemingly pandering to the right and the GOP, many of his supporters who are not dyed-in-the-wool Democratic Party activists and who come from progressive groundings, have found that the luster of their American Idol has greatly diminished.
On the eve of President Obama’s address about health care, he appears to have abandoned the public option. For many progressives, this is why they voted for him. There still seems to be an overabundance of secrecy in government and many of Bush’s abuses haven’t been discontinued or investigated; there’s fear of a White House too cozy with bankers and banks; there’s environmental policies that are sobering, there are gay rights activists upset – the list goes on.
This is a particularly frustrating, angering, and exasperating moment for the disenchanted progressive, the progressive who has become disenchanted with the tempo and actual accomplishments of a president who promised much during an earth-shaking campaign but who doesn’t have much to show to the progressive community for its support.
Yet just as our frustration and disgust with Obama has us reaching for the the Tums, our last summer month of quiet was turned into accounts of the disruptions, gun-toters, unruly behavior and even violence at town hall meetings held by Congressional reps across the country. The anger, the lies, the deception and manipulation, the ignorance – and the potential for even darker action – has us getting pissed off even more at the right.
And now this latest issue with Obama’s school speech. It infuriated us.
What now is clear with this – is that the right is intentionally politicizing every issue, every minor misstep by the Obama administration. The right caused Van Jones, an environmental advisor, to resign a few days ago. He had initially been called a “czar” – a green-jobs czar. But he had signed too many petitions and had called Republicans too many bad words to remain.
And the corporate media is giving this politicization and its hard Right initiators all the attention they want. Controversy and conflict sells. This is clear. The mass media is controlled by corporate owners who need this controversy because it fits their profit-driven agenda. But not all controversy is treasured by the mass media. Just contrast how the press has played up to the town hall disruptors and gun-toters – really just handfuls of people – with how the corporate media ignored thousands of demonstrators who opposed the Iraq war.
From Congress to the street, the Right is on the move against Obama. Progressives, disenchanted or not, cannot stand idly by. And we won’t.
Part II will address the racism of the right-wing campaign, what progressives can do, and why this is important for Ocean Beach.