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Friday, February 29, 2008

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For now Obama has fallen into a dangerous pattern of capitulation that he cannot reconcile with his growing popularity as an agent of change.

So what happens when the expectations of change that Obama's raising bump up against the reality that he's not really going to change things? Do the millions of people now charged up with Obama-mania all go home and weep silently under the covers? Or will there be a backlash, and, if so, what form will that take?

I'm all for raised expections, so much that I'm even willing to take false expectations, if they're all that's available. Mind you, I'm not voting for the guy myself, I'm just wondering what good can be done with all the excitement he's generating now and the disappointment he will generate in the future.

Well, there's change and there's "change". Obama will no doubt provide plenty of "change", and I don't doubt that will be more than enough for those who've signed up to his newsletter now.

SteveB, "So what happens when the expectations of change that Obama's raising bump up against the reality that he's not really going to change things? Do the millions of people now charged up with Obama-mania all go home and weep silently under the covers? Or will there be a backlash, and, if so, what form will that take?"

Most likely his supporters will chant the lib/prog mantra, "Well, at least he's not Bush! Surely, comrades, you do not want Bush back?" Then they'll blame the complaints on Nader and other elitists who don't care what "Americans" think or want or need (see Jon Schwarz's recent post on who the real Americans are). Then they'll come up with a war -- BO already is polishing up the rhetoric for that -- and you totally *can't* criticize the President in this time of danger and crisis for the whole nation.

Suppose it's January 2010 and there are still a hundred thousand troops in Iraq. How will the millions of people who voted for Obama react to that? Duncan's describing pretty accurately what we can expect from the Dem-party hacks who populate Daily Kos, but what percentage of the population do those people represent? In particular, I'm thinking of the millions of young people who haven't yet formed any strong party loyalties, but are inspired by Obama because they expect him to do some very specific things - like get us the hell out of Iraq. The response if we're still there a year after Obama's inauguration is going to span the range from what Duncan is describing to something much more angry and militant.

That's why, even though I buy all of what Matt Gonzalez is saying about Obama, I'm not indifferent to the outcome of this election (and I'm not saying either of you are). Obama raises expectations and I see that as a good thing - people should expect all troops out of Iraq in a year, and should be pissed off if (when?) that doesn't happen. Mr. "Hundred Years in Iraq" kills all those expectations at the outset, and that's a lousy environment in which to organize.

John, I'd like to think that people will be angry and militant if we're still in Iraq in 2010, whoever is President. I'm not sure I'm not indifferent to the outcome of the election, because none of the candidates give me any hope, so all I can do is wait and see. Maybe whoever is elected will surprise me; I do hope so.

I would expect that if we get a Dem in the White House, and he or she fails to deliver the change he or she has promised, we'll get a Republican Congress in 2010 -- just as we got in 1994, thanks to Clinton/Gore's pushing NAFTA through, and a change like the one we got in 2006, thanks to Bush's callousness and brutality to America. It'll take more than a vote to make real change happen, though. I'd expect people to retreat into apathy once more after new politicians fail to improve things, but what with this very unpopular war and a growing anger, that might not happen. If I have any hope, it's not in any candidate, but in other people. Will there be a movement worth joining? I hope so, but if so it will be probably be despite Obama or Clinton, just as the movements of the 60s were despite Kennedy.

"people should expect all troops out of Iraq in a year,and should be pissed off if (when?) that doesn't happen"

naive people should expect all troops out of Iraq in a year, and may be pissed off when that doesn't happen, if they're not distracted by other shiny new baubles.

corrected that for you. if you look at the Iraq section of his own web site, it's clear we're going to remain in Iraq, murdering Iraqis and stealing their oil even if Obama's prez. bank on it. he's on board with the whole smash and grab program for Iraq.

I think that an important factor will be access. Bill Clinton was pretty good at keeping his betrayed constituencies pacified by stroking their leaders. Invite them to the White House, be nice to them, and they'll go back and tell the angry masses, "It's not his fault, he didn't do it, he is really on our side, and you're being too hard on him! Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?" I knew some people around here who got involved in the Human Rights Campaign, at upper levels, late in Clinton's tenure, and were *furious* when Gore didn't take the White House: they were really looking forward to the access they felt they had a right to. Louder, more pissed-off ThanksRalphers would be hard to find.

Duncan: Yep, that anesthetic/cooptation effect is (in a tiny little nutshell) why I feel that Democrats can be so much worse than Republicans in the long run.

SteveB: I agree that people should expect all troops out of Iraq, though they're not going to get it no matter who's elected, and that's not even what Obama's promising—he's only talking about combat brigades, and he's talking about leaving behind troops to protect the (city-sized) embassy, troops to fight "al-Qaeda", etc. We'll see what happens if Obama's elected and fulfills his actual promises, as opposed to the promises people may think he's made. I expect the main response will be, "See? He did what he said, and got troops out of Iraq! Do you think a Republican would have done anywhere near as much?"

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