Here, Have a Place to Talk About That Other Obama Speech

You know. The one where he overthrew the capitalist system to give illegal immigrants federally subsided breast enhancements.

Oh, sorry, wrong universe. I mean, the one where he talked about health care.

Keep it mellow, don’t stab each other in the eyeballs, and remember that slapping down the “Obama = Socialist” card will get you laughed at or deleted as a troll.

I’ll post some thoughts in an update in a bit.


Shorter Barack Obama: Okay, kids, you’ve had your fun with the death panels and the socialism and the illegal immigrants. Now cut that shit out and let’s do this thing.

Which is I suspect most people wanted to hear from the man tonight. Obama does give off the vibe of the PE teacher who lets the kids horse around for the first five minutes of class but then lightly smacks them across the head to get them in line for calisthenics, and I get a sense that people respond to that. I also get a sense that people actually don’t mind listening to him discuss things at length, which is why addresses like this are really a good medium for him. People trust him to be able to hold a thought in his head.

As for what he outlined, I found it all reasonable, but then this isn’t a huge surprise, since Obama’s strategy here is “roll this sucker right down the middle of the road,” which is where I’m at on this. I’m perfectly good with keeping my current insurance and not having to worry about the company kicking my ass out if I get sick because I forgot to disclose I’m allergic to angora rabbits, I’m fine with insurance exchanges, and if it’s necessary I’m fine with some sort of public option for the poor bastards who can’t get insurance any other way. The one thing that twinged me was the “requiring coverage” thing, since I wonder how they’re going to enforce that with either the crazy compound types or (rather more relevantly) people like the Amish or Mennonites, who have religious objections to insurance. In the latter case, at least, there’s already been some discussion.

I do feel sorry for progressives who feel that Obama’s too eager to compromise on points they feel he doesn’t have to, but as noted before at a certain point I think it should have been obvious to everyone that Obama’s essentially centrist, and that his goal is to get the fundamental concept of universal coverage on the books now, and not worry about fiddly details that can be worried about later. I think Obama’s also aware that any GOP participation now on the legislation makes it harder for a potential future GOP majority to throw it out later. And so on.

To boil it down in sports terms, progressives want Obama to throw long bombs deep into enemy territory, and Obama’s content with a “three yards and a cloud of dust” strategy. My thought on it is: with past legislative victories, the dude’s made it clear he can put points on the board, so if I were on his team, I’d let him play the game how he wants to.

As for the Republicans, well, a handy tip: When the President of the United States is going out of his way to give you props in a joint address of Congress, having one of your number shout “you lie!” loud enough to get picked up on TV makes you look bad. Especially when, the president is in fact not lying about the thing he’s being accused of lying about (federal health care coverage for illegal immigrants). Which makes that particular representative (apparently Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina) look ignorant. I mean, really, Rep. Wilson; if you’re going to make an ass of yourself on the floor of the House, at least make an ass of yourself on a topic you’re accurate about.

On the other hand, Wilson’s just made himself into the dickhead poster boy of unthinking partisanship for the rest of the health care debate, and don’t think the people who want to get health care passed won’t exploit the hell out of it. So, you know. Well done, Rep. Wilson. Well done indeed.

And there you have it.

Also, the text of the speech.


That Obama Speech, or, Expunging the Stupid Use of Words

Wow, that was sure some socialist speech Obama gave yesterday, huh? I went to pick up Athena from school, and all the kids marched out of building, singing “The Internationale” and clutching copies of the children’s illustrated edition of Das Kapital, distributed by smiling members of Young People’s Socialist League. Truly, it’s a new day in America, comrades!

Alternately, Obama gave a pleasant, platitudinous and largely bland speech exhorting the kids to, you know, stay in school and study hard and respect their teachers, and everyone who got all wound up that the President of the United States would have the gall to address the nation’s school children when he’s a socialist now looks like a complete jackass.

To be sure, they looked like complete jackasses before the speech, but now that the man’s actually done the deed, people feel more comfortable saying so. One wonders why they felt they had to wait; perhaps they were expecting this least spontaneous of all recent presidents to have the head of Eugene Debs erupt from his collarbone, take control of his body, and snatch and bloodily consume members of the audience while howling about the Pullman Strike. It did not happen, unless the live television cameras of the liberal media were somehow able to mask the gory sight of Obama Possessed By Undead Eugene Debs feasting on the tender young bodies of our nation’s youth. WHICH THEY MIGHT HAVE.

Seriously now, how much longer do any of us have to pretend that the sort of people bleating about Our Socialist President aren’t, in fact, ignorant as chicken, or mad as hatters, or as madly ignorant as chicken hatters? I’ve already noted that we’re well past the point where anyone still barfing up the “Obama is a Socialist” meme deserves a “tool” sign over their head; I propose we go further and call them morons. Because, at this point, if you’re still calling the man a “socialist,” that’s what you are. Want to call Obama a Democrat? Well, that’s what he is. Want to call him a liberal? It’s not out of line to do so, although I suspect he’s closer to what we’d call moderate these days. Want to call him a progressive? Actual progressives will argue the point with you, but if you’re on the right, anything left of John McCain counts as progessive, so, fine.

Call Obama a socialist? You’re a fucking moron.

You know who don’t think Obama is a socialist? Socialists, that’s who. “We know, of course, that Obama is not a socialist, and that he is not a radical,” wrote Dave McReynolds, in the pages of The Socialist, which, if you don’t know, is the magazine of the Socialist Party USA, and McReynolds a two-time presidential candidate for that party. Yes, I know, it’s wacky to rely in this matter on the assessment of someone who is both a socialist and a Socialist, rather than, say, someone belonging to a tribe of political thinkers whose understanding of socialism is so screwed up that many of them apparently can’t tell the difference between socialism and fascism. But you know what, I think I’m going to do that anyway. Words actually mean things, and despite persistent attempts by many on the right to make it so, “socialism” does not mean either “any government activity that is not a tax cut or an attempt to kill swarthy people with weapons” or “whatever it is Obama happens to be doing at the moment.”

Now, I may not be able to do anything about anyone else tolerating the “Obama is a socialist” canard elsewhere, but I can do something about it here. So: Henceforth, anyone who comes around here blathering about how Obama is a socialist (or any of its various cognates) is signaling to me that they’re either ignorant or a troll. If it’s the former, I may give them a small bit of leeway to learn their terms; if it’s the latter, however, well then. They run the risk of what I do to trolls, which is that I delete them for trolling, and make fun of them while I do it.

This is not to say that one is no longer allowed to criticize Obama or his policies here — really, please do. Nor is it to say one can’t speak of (or criticize) socialism here. But playing the “Obama = socialist” card is your sign to me that in fact, you’re not serious, nor are you interested in the exchange of ideas — what you’re interested in doing is crapping out an idiotic talking point that has no basis in reality, because someone who is either ignorant or deceiving told you so, and you feel you must further spread the ignorance. And you know what? I don’t have time for that right now.

So, Obama opponents, either find a better and more accurate way here to voice your opposition to the president and his policies than diving for the “socialist” button, or run the risk of being expunged for being a moron, and having me laugh at you while I do it. I’m tired of it, here and everywhere else, but especially here. Please, Obama opponents, be smarter. The nation, its president, its people and its discourse, deserve better.

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