Posted by: Jim | July 3, 2008

Paging Mr. Gorbachev

Tough times call for tough people, and no one in recent history had the spine of our erstwhile nemesis: Mikhail Gorbachev.

Gorbachev saw what needed to happen. He saw what was right. And he did that thing. In 1998, he introduced glastnost, which re-granted the freedoms bestowed by nature, those of speech and movement. He released political prisoners, allowed the press to begin criticizing the government. It was just what the country needed.

The next year the Berlin Wall came down.  Freedom reigned. The year after that the Soviet Union collapsed and Gorbachev was blamed.

He was willing to do the right thing, even if he commit political suicide by doing it.  He is exactly who we need in the US today. We need a man who is willing to submit to the will of the people, and in so doing draw the ire of the government that suckled him.  The clarity is crystalline: the current government has no desire to bend to the people’s desires.

Barack Obama is already showing signs of tipping toward his cronies. Today he is saying he may be willing to fudge on his hard-line 16-month Iraq draw down, if analysis says that is expedient.

This has been my chief concern with Obama, but it’s hard to believe how easy it was for him to turn his back on the left. And it is so humorous to watch him attempting to embrace the non-existent moderates. There  used to be people in the middle, but where are they now?  We’re over here, Mr. O, and you just abandoned us.

I don’t mind a man who changes his mind–it is sometimes a sign of wisdom. But this just political capitulation. He is General Petain. We will be Vichy.



  1. The right has done an incredible job of framing those who are basically moderates in favour of the rule of law applying equally to everybody, man, woman, corporation and President alike, as being “the far left” – I read this term of abuse all the time from right-wing commenters and also from right-wing opinion-formers, – “the fringe” “the radical left” “the far left” etc. It has slowly stuck.

    There are very few people in the US who would qualify as “the far left” – I am from the UK, and I know first-hand what is called “the hard left” in my country looks like, feels like, and its program. Ideologically, Barack Obama would run as a right-wing candidate in the UK (up until 1997, that is), as the Conservatives were the party of the corporations. Now Labour has taken on that burden and in the UK those on the left now have nowhere to go.

    To put this in perspective, mirroring the FISA debate (or non-debate), the Tories have emerged as defenders of civil liberties, albeit at a late date, and voices are opposing the surveillance state as counter to notions of small-government and the privacy of the citizenry. Are they now “to the left” of Labour? No. They are just conscientous in applying their political principles to the issues.

    This is the difference in UK conservativism and US-style Republicanism. Can anybody articulate clearly how the “conservativism” of the Bush GOP rests upon principles of small-government (“should be able to drown it in a bathtub”) and fiscal restraint? There is no evidence to be seen – only that the Republicans embrace massive increases in Presidential power and massive increases in spending on the military. The gloss is what? Tax cuts (that only help the super-rich), Social Security theft (sorry, reform – well, that never flew), and, oh yes, an end to class-action lawsuits because they penalise hard-working corporations for their wrongdoing.

    That Obama HAS to embrace all this crap in some form is not surprising. Democratic candidates are continually obliged to “prove” they are patriotic and “tough” on National Security and not “beholden to liberal elites” (somehow, Obama, despite being half-black and from a poor background and self-made, Obama is from ‘the elite’ and ‘elitist’ – Not like Rush Limbaugh in his giant house

    or all those other good ole boy Republicans who, of course, live on Main Street like Joe Blow… come on!)

    The problem is, now is the time for Obama to take on these long-standing, decades old, media narratives and consign the Republican brand to history’s trashcan. Instead, as Jim rightly deplores, he is moving “to the center” – one that doesn’t exist anywhere outside the paeans of Beltway scribblers and talking heads.

    Not that this bothers me! (Apologies for comment length!)

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