A long, long time ago liberals pretended to care about the deaths of foreigners at the hands of the U.S. military, with chants of “Bush lied, people died” dominating protests — since hilariously appropriated by right-wing reactionaries — and Daily Kos diarists penning morally righteous denunciations of the American empire. Then something changed: Barack Obama was elected.
Since that fateful day, while the Democratic rank-and-file say they oppose Obama’s wars, it doesn’t appear to be a pressing concern to the quasi-professional online activist set, which spends more time documenting the antics of (and shouting fascism! in response to) Sarah Palin and her painfully ignorant groupies than opposing the president’s escalation in Afghanistan or his undeclared war in Pakistan. In this respect, donkey partisans are merely following the example of their erstwhile anti-war leaders, who seamlessly segued from campaign promises to bring the troops home in 2006 to appropriating ever more funds for the imperial adventures they once claimed to have vehemently opposed.
Proving that partisans on both ends of the spectrum are incapable of being parodied, progressive activists attending “Netroots Nation” this weekend — a conference where upper-middle class liberal bloggers come to learn how to become “a media star” by following the “tools and techniques used by professional actors to create star presence” (taught by a “media trainer to performers and successful progressive candidates”, which sounds a tad redundant) and to be flattered by Democratic politicians hungry for campaign donations — gave Obama’s presidency a 95% approval rating, according to a poll (pdf) conducted there.
This comes despite Obama’s apparent disavowal of a single-payer healthcare system, a top priority of the Democratic base, his aforementioned imperial escalations, and his denial of habeas corpus to those accused of acts of terrorism. Obama does, however, typically speak in complete, coherent sentences, which to the average liberal is more than enough to “restore America’s standing in the world.”
Digging deeper into the poll of Netroots conference attendees, one sees that
but one brave soul just 1 percent (which comes out to about two people) declared ending the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan their top priority (who let Cindy Sheehan in?). This lagged behind other liberal priorities, such as: “Working to elect progressive candidates in the 2010 elections”; “Working to enact President Obama’s agenda generally”; and of course, “Countering right-wing attacks on Obama and his agenda.”
As historian David Beito writes of the would-be power brokers of the liberal blogosphere, “If the antiwar movement ever makes a comeback, it won’t be because of them.”
The top priority of the Netroots crowd? “Passing comprehensive health care reform”, which — while I understand the status quo is a catastrophic mess — seems a tad curious in light of the president’s promise to cut health care costs by but a meager 2 percent and his refusal to back what many progressive activists believe to be the answer to our corrupt corporatist system. It also strikes me as indefensibly nationalistic since — and hear me out — putting healthcare reform ahead of dismantling the warfare state implicitly signals that one values cutting their health care bill by a few percentage points more than stopping their government from using their tax dollars to kill and maim poor foreigners. Call me crazy, but I say any professed liberal humanitarian should abide by the rule, “first, do no harm” — meaning, at the very least, stop killing people.
I’d also suggest dismantling the domestic police state should take precedence, still I suppose America’s record number of incarcerated do get some form of free government healthcare.
Meanwhile, though liberal activists may no longer be all that concerned about taxpayer-funded murder in far-off lands, CNN reports an almost poetic coincidence: “President Obama will take a brief hiatus from his health care push on Monday and turn his focus to the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan.”