Why This Year I’m Not Making the Same Mistake as Carmela Soprano. I’m Divorcing the President by Admitting that I Was Duped and then Not Voting for Him a Second Time.
It’s an embarrassing fact that I don’t like to write about much: In 2008 I supported and voted for Barack Obama. At the time I had only spent 2 years outside of the progressive bubble of my undergraduate experience — enough time for the BigFoot of the Real World to deliver a few right kicks to the ass but not enough for me to surrender and accept the conservative understanding of human nature. I fancied myself a centrist and a Hitchens-style “contrarian” capable of “rising above the ideologues of both sides” and just dealing with what was actually true and what policies would work. (Yes, Andrew Sullivan was too much of an influence at the time and his Atlantic cover story sold me on the Obama myth…)
And so the president fit right into this paradigm. He was the one who would save “centrist liberalism” and transcend the liberals vs. conservative culture war that the boomers remained focused on fighting to the bitter end. (I’ve obviously had a few more rightward kicks — what Irving Kristol called being “mugged by reality” — in the four years since then.)
In 2008 I blogged angrily at my tiny blogger diary about how horrible it was for John McCain and Sarah Palin to bring up Bill Ayers to try and smear Obama as a radical. At the time I thought how unfair it would be if attempts were made to try and paint me as a Marxist, assuming I wholly agreed with all of my mentors when I was actually trying to avoid their mistakes. All the “Obama is a secret communist duping you” arguments from conservatives seemed like the same old routine of “redbaiting” the pragmatists for just wanting to do something that works. (And I know that’s how my Democrat friends and family hear it today when I try and summarize the facts of Stanley Kurtz’s Radical-in-Chief for them.)
Sure, Obama might have had to schmooze with some crazy hard-left people to rise up through Chicago politics — but he was just doing that to pragmatically reach the point where he could do some good. It made sense to tack to the left in Chicago. But now that he was at the presidential stage he would be the president of everyone and would bridge the gap between the reasonable people in both parties — unlike John McCain, who revealed with his Sarah Palin pick that he was actually beholden to the caveman-wing of the GOP. Surely when he became president his administration would in no way be friendly to hateful, anti-American, and anti-Israel dictators.
That was Carmela Soprano style-thinking. During the campaign I — and every other do-gooder liberal who fell for Obama’s Alinskyite deception — rationalized away and obscured the pervasive evil throughout Barack Obama’s background.
There’s a word that nobody likes to use any more.