barbara is experiencing cognitive dissonance, writ large.
Predictably, Republicans are sniping every hour of every day, boring new holes in Barack Obama’s body and body of work.
Less predictable, and even more disturbing, is the passel of progressives who are doing the same thing. Bloggers and commenters, mostly. A few columnists and commentators. And some just plain folks.
My afore-mentioned dissonance is rooted in my own growing concern about Obama’s decisions and actions (OMG, my third-choice candidate is not perfect), even as I am becoming increasingly snarly about the pitchfork attitude and tone of some liberals. If one were to read a compilation of derogatory comments about PBO and those with whom he has surrounded himself, I say you’d have a tough time IDing the source by party.
The smuggery is getting on my nerves.
I’m not well positioned to smug back. For starters, I’m not the brightest bulb in the pack about the intricacies of political maneuvering. I don’t fully understand how the game is played. (Does anyone?) And, to be fair, I know far less about issues than some of Obama’s detractors. So I do pay attention to what they’re saying. And I’m learning things, to the extent I can trust opinions perpetually presented in pissy prose.
There’s a fine line that separates civil discourse and constructive criticism from sniping and undermining. I’d be hard pressed to map that, but I know it when I see it. My tolerance for poo-flinging is reaching an unprecedented low-mark.
Here’s my current working theory about all of this. We spent eight years building up a wildly outspoken snark machine concerning the egregious misdeeds of GWB and company. We had to, went the reasoning, because the media were not doing their job. Most weren’t. Sometimes, we snarked reflexively. As time passed, snark became the default and civil discourse fell by the wayside. And yes, along with sticks and stones, words do immeasurable harm sometimes.
I dunno about you, but I have been changed, likely forever, by the eight years as hostage of Bush and the Republics. My cynicism has grown by epic proportions. (It is possible you may have noted that here at FDL, ahem.)
The growing number of blogs provided a place for us to vent our beleaguered spleens, either as posters or commenters or both. It became my habit to check in with a few of my favorite blogs several times a day, followed by forays to the likes of the NYTimes, WaPo, Salon, and yeah, even Faux News, etc.
Then, along came the most unlikely of candidates and, ultimately, our new POTUS. He speaks eloquently. He made a boatload of promises that even I knew would be difficult to keep. Even if he had the full backing of his party, which he doesn’t. There’s the matter of the fractious, barely Democratic Blue Dogs Americans voted into office in the interest of pandering to, well, to everyone. And good luck with that. You get what you vote for if you don’t vet your candidates thoroughly.
I don’t know from personal experience whether Barack Obama knows his butt from his elbow. But I have known all along the way that he’s definitely smarter about politics than I am, and likely smarter than the majority of his most outspoken critics. Critics who, for the most part, sit on their elbows much of the day, pounding out merciless attacks on pretty much anything that crosses their line of sight or can be heard.
I did my share of pounding during the Reign of Bush. More recently, about Alaska’s peculiar snow queen. And about Norm. Yup, mea culpa. And chances are good that won’t stop. So yeah, I’m a hypocrite.
Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that Barack Obama is off-limits to us self-appointed know-it-alls (or, in my case, know-barely-enoughs). I am, however, remembering all kinds of fervent pledges to him from the people who elected him: “We’ve got your back, Obama!” That began to wither on November 5 and pretty much petered out as he left the dais on inauguration day.
Obama was in the crosshairs of his own party from the get-go. Admittedly, it didn’t help when he tapped Rahm Emanuel (arguably the most contentious, controversial, spiteful Dem in the pack) to be his chief advisor.
I do understand that it could be dangerous to let the leash play out too far, whatever that means. To “allow” the administration to do its thing, to see how it rolls. Who decides when to reel ‘em back in? And what should that look like? When do watch dogs need to become pit pulls? Or do they?
That’s my issue, I guess. Some progressives came off the blocks as pit bulls last fall and ramped up the rhetoric as the months passed. I’m all for accountability. But there are ways and there are ways. I realize that for some, civil discourse rankles. Sounds to them like backing down, making nice, playing dead. I don’t think that’s true. And I absolutely believe that perpetual attack mode undermines all of us. It’s not productive. Is, in fact, counter-productive.
Enough. Rip away. Or not. But please do it nicely.