The Responsibilities Of The Man

« June 2009 »

Memo to Barack Obama: TAKE A DIVE.

One of the biggest problems with the conservative world going completely feces-flinging apenuts over the election of Barack Obama is that it makes it really difficult to focus on the shit Obama is doing wrong. And he is! He's doing all KINDS of things wrong. They're just not funny things. Some horrible racist aide sending out a horrible racist e-mail and then flubbing the apology? That's funny.

But if the crazy people weren't tearing out what little hair they have left over Obama bowing to Muslims, bringing about the end of capitalism by bailing out a car company, and not immediately carpet-bombing Iran, it's all too easy to forget about Barack Obama's biggest flaw. It's a flaw that was apparent during the campaign, that we all knew or should have known would come back to bite us on the ass during the administration. Barack Obama is part of the system, is beholden to the system, and is interested in the continuation of the system.

It was probably unavoidable. No real outsider, nobody really and truly hostile to the elements of American society that desperately need changing, would actually win the election. Sure we could all harbor our secret hopes that Obama actually was the "dangerous liberal" his opponents made him out to be, but it's never gonna happen. Obama believes in the system, and his instinct is, and continues to be, to save the system first and change it later.

It's true of the financial system. He continued the Bush bank bailouts, repairing the symptoms of a deeply flawed system. Only now is he starting to turn his eye toward financial regulation. And given the way his health care initiative, which started out center-right, has been watered down by Republican and Blue Dog obstructionism? Don't get your hopes up that Wall Street will get reigned in anytime soon.

And it's true of his detainee policy, where he has actively fought to defend and protect some of the worst abuses in American history, hoping we'll be satisfied with his promise that he won't continue them. The institutions must be protected at all costs, and only then can we work on minor, subtle tweaks to their behavior, like a kinder, gentler, indefinite detention.

And nowhere was this more true than with last week's DOMA controversy. The Defense of Marriage act is one of the purest examples of how fucked up the system is in recent memory. It was passed September, 2006, right before midterm elections, in an attempt to take the "gay marriage" wedge issue away from conservatives through traditional Clintonian triangulation. It's a shitty, shitty law, and it's one of the Democrats' biggest mistakes - throwing a loyal constituency under the bus in order to placate and shut up their opponents, who never, ever, feel placated and shut up.*

DOMA's being challenged in court, and Obama's Department of Justice** is defending the law. Now, I understand the argument that the government, as an institution, is obligated to defend its actions when challenged. But I don't agree with it. The government fucks up all the time. Obama has, in fact, publicly stated that DOMA was a fuckup, and that he wants it repealed. If we all agree it was a mistake, what's the point of doing your damndest to keep a court from declaring it a mistake? Plus, a court ruling against DOMA might actually have some weight down the road the next time Congress wants to pass a stupid law, unlike repealing one stupid law.

And then, not only does the Obama DOJ defend the gay marriage act, they do it by citing precedent. Specifically, laws against incestuous and underage marriage. And again, maybe it's a constitutional argument - that if the government can regulate marriage in those areas, it can legally regulate marriage in this one. But correct doesn't mean right, and it doesn't mean necessary.

After decades and decades of the Santorums of the world calling gay people dog-fuckers and child-fuckers, you know what's not going to earn you any sympathy? Essentially saying that "we don't think you're child-fuckers and dog-fuckers. We're just saying we can treat you the same way as child-fuckers and dog-fuckers if we want to." Just take a dive, already. Take a few dives. Not everything the government did under Bill Clinton and Dubya is worth saving. Let it crumble, and either build something new in the rubble, or just let it lie there as an abject lesson. But that won't happen, because being The Man brings with it certain responsibilities. Responsibilities that go "beyond" right and wrong.

*To this day, by the way, the media calls this a "Sister Souljah" moment, and acts like every liberal needs a bunch of them to keep their supporters in line. This ignores the fact that Bill Clinton's actual "Sister Souljah" moment was one of the most shameful and embarassing acts of political theater in his entire presidency.

**Which, in another case of protecting the system, never got the post-Bush purge it so desperately deserved.