No Secret Here: I’m Voting for Obama

Facebook friend Dave H. used the acronym “LMO” in a political comment earlier today. After I asked about it, he clarified: LMO stands for “Lord Messiah Obama.”

Ack. My reply went on for a bit as I explored how I felt about Obama, and other things. I’m reprinting it here because … well, I wanted the clarification to get a larger airing:

Re: Lord Messiah Obama

I don’t think Obama sees himself that way. I don’t think thoughtful people see him that way.

I continue to believe that much of the flack Obama gets, including from you, Dave, is the result of a deliberately-created, absolutely relentless, absolutely merciless ad campaign, that viewers/listeners unconsciously buy into. “Obama = Bad” is in the air like a dominant religion, and some of us breathe it in without thinking about it.

Dave, your own laser focus on the rights of smokers is a tell-tale for me in just how rational and objective you’re able to be when it comes to your own self-interest. I like you as a Facebook friend, mainly because you say some really interesting things at times, but also because you make me think, even in your political opposition.

But … you have your limitations and blind spots. Your rabid opposition to Obama is one of them.

Hey, I dislike George W. Bush with enduring passion, but even in that, I have occasionally said some nice things about him. I’m reading a biography about him even as I write this, and I do find certain things to admire in him. I even feel sorry for him in some large ways. (Doesn’t mean I don’t think he will eventually be seen as the president who callously, stupidly kneecapped the country in a desperately important historic moment, forcing the nation into a probably-unstoppable decline.)

It’s when I see someone who casts a disliked political figure in pure terms as 100 percent evil, as you seem to do with Obama, that I start to see the limitations of the hated figure as less significant, and the limitations of the hater as the more revealed in that moment.

I think your dislike, pegged to one or two issues, is less than accurate in a context that includes a sea of other issues – in many of which Obama has performed admirably.

I also think the “As if there’s any real difference between them,” as you say here and have repeatedly suggested elsewhere, is short-sighted analysis of a much more complex situation. It’s easy to throw up your hands and say that the two boys you see fighting in the schoolyard are equally to blame, but in reality, it really can sometimes be that one of them is an unrepentant bully and the other a much-picked-on victim pushed to the limit of his patience.

I have felt, and often said, that we have ONE political party in the United States. This was much in evidence during the Bush years, when the Democratic party lost their balls and went along with everything Bush said and did and thus deserved a full half of the blame for Iraq and other issues.

But in the fanatical, merciless, foam-spitting opposition to Obama which has entered American politics from the Right, I see I was mistaken.

I still think Obama will win another 4 years. I think it’s a GOOD thing (relatively speaking). Reading about Romney, I can’t imagine a worse, more disconnected man to occupy the White House.

Romney is Gumby, rendered by an Etch-a-Sketch, and possessed of an unconscious sense of entitlement bred into him by a lifetime of wealth and privilege. I doubt if the man knows what a gallon of milk costs – but I’ll bet he knows to the dollar the price of a decent yacht.

Yet even aside from our desperate need to have ANYONE BUT ROMNEY in the White House, I think Obama is a good man doing the best he can in a situation probably more difficult than any modern president has faced. He not only has the usual domestic and international problems to deal with – including a Bush-caused economic situation that could have become another Great Depression – he has this rabid, fanatical and PUBLIC hate constantly boiling up around him. This is not something that developed as his presidency proceeded, as Nixon faced (and richly deserved, from his own words and actions), but something that appeared from his first moment in office.

The poison that firehoses out of FOX News and company, swallowed whole by the dimwitted thralls of the Tea Party, is often breathtaking. I feel like I’m living in a different country at times, an over-the-top fictional universe that has, somewhere in it, a Sylvester Stallone/Judge Dredd figure roaring through the streets on an armored motorcycle and hunting liberals. It’s just that crazy.

The crazier part is that this over-the-top fiction has rabid fans, glued to the story and convinced it’s all 100 percent believable: That Obama is Hitler II, a nation-destroying socialist, a subversive Black Peril communist, a Manchurian-candidate Muslim, a plotter without equal in history, who sits up nights figuring how better to destroy the United States and our American way of life. He’s plotting to take away our guns!

Ming the Merciless was a more believable villain, and with more real-world basis, and yet people take the story seriously, and hang on its every malignant, manufactured detail, repeating and expanding it.

I have never been a big fan of federal government. I hated the Nixon-Vietnam years with a passion, but was bemused to find that hate to be a pale thing when Bush got into office. Bush’s mean-spirited, vacant-headed presidency managed to make Nixon look like a heroic, brilliant, open-minded moderate.

Yet here I am, amazed to discover that it’s possible to go one step farther, to draw a line so far out in Bugfuck Crazy Land that I would find myself on the same side of the line as the federal government, find myself defending it as if we were lifelong allies and friends.

My feelings about government have not really changed. But I know crazy when I see it – in this case dangerous crazy, ENGINEERED crazy, crazy with a hunger for profit and power, crazy from so far up in the stratosphere of billion-dollar-wealth that it couldn’t detect individual human beings with a powerful telescope.

A thousand times more, I would MUCH rather side with Obama in this moment, and government with all its flaws, than with this level of literal insanity.

With Obama in the White House rather than Romney-FOX-Koch Inc., I stand the chance of being thought human. Rather than, indefinitely into the future, a convenient – or inconvenient and thus disposable – THING.



Since I know it’s going to come up, there’s this: A Long List of President Obama’s Accomplishments, With Citations

Beta Culture: Being Grownups on Planet Earth
Catholic Church Flexing Muscle in U.S. Hospitals
Wait … What? —Take 2
Beta Culture: A Third Approach to Gender Equality
  • didgen

    Thank you!

  • ‘Tis Himself

    The thing I find most amazing about all the right-wing hate towards Obama is that he’s not that far removed from them. He’s a center-right politician. Twenty or thirty years ago he’d have been a moderate “Rockefeller Republican.”

    I get quite annoyed by Tea Baggers who call Obama a socialist. It’s quite obvious they don’t know anything about socialism other than Rush Limbaugh says it’s a bad thing.

    The GOP has done a good job of convincing the media it’s the party of the people because of its support from the white working class. The Republican hold on this group is real, but it is completely about culture. For several reasons the party base has decided that culture is more important to them than economics and so align with the GOP on cultural grounds, even though many of them must realize the party does not represent them economically. But they accept the deal and it permits the plutocrats to call the economic shots.

    But Republicans’ crossover appeal is limited. Throw in their toadies in Washington and the right-wing media and the picture gets weird. They look like a bunch of grim Puritans and it’s plain all the leadership really cares about is cutting rich people’s taxes.

    Think back to the GOP primaries. Romney’s Bain experience was a plus then. He was attacked on “vulture capitalism” grounds by Perry and Gingrich. But those attacks hurt Perry and Gingrich, not Romney. The base and party leadership rallied around him. It wasn’t so much support of Romney but punishment for Gingrich and Perry for resorting to “left-wing” attacks. But now the Bain controversy is hurting Romney so it would appear large numbers of Americans are taking the issue seriously. Bain indulged in outsourcing and that’s something that effects many Americans, none of them for the better.

    But the Republican leadership doesn’t see this because the party has no moderate faction anymore. The GOP today is an amalgamation of plutocrats and the people who service their cars. The moderate wing has disappeared. If it had some moderates, one of them might have issued warnings that Romney carried some downsides. This is ironic since Romney is the moderate of those who sought the nomination. But in terms of economic ideology, he’s the least moderate of all of them. And people are beginning to notice.

    • Leo

      “even though many of them must realize the party does not represent them economically”

      Hmmm…I’m not so sure about “many;” maybe “some.” I think the GOP can also be very good about messaging egos. In other words, manipulation. One way in which I see the GOP successfully keep people down is by making them feel lifted up. They’ll tell those working class white people that they are hard workers who have integrity and other nice-sounding adjectives while blacks, latinos, union workers, and anyone who demands a little more respect in society are lazy parasites feeding off the system.

      What I can’t quite explain is how the GOP manages to convince people that billionaire CEO’s actually earn the money they have. Because one of the other messages I hear is that hard work pays off (makes one rich). So how can they send both that message and the message that white working class ppl are hard workers? Is there some disconnect here? Or are the white working class feeling like they’re just harder workers than blacks, latinos, etc, but not hard enough workers to be rich?

    • left0ver1under

      Calling Obama a “socialist” is laughable. In the traditional definition of the word, I doubt the US has any socialists. Obama is further to the right politically than Angela Merkel in Germany, and she’s a conservative.

      It’s a massive understatement to say the US’s perception of the political map is skewed. The US-centred “square” map is out of touch with how the rest of the world sees the political spectrum. The “D” and “R” on the linked image depict the average position of the two US parties compared to the world view of politics:

  • Bachalon

    You know, I’ve always wondered where the “Liberals consider Obama the Messiah” thing comes from. I vote for Obama; a few people, friends and family, voted for him as well. All of us did so with some reservations. One of my mother’s friends was at his speech in Chicago.

    So far as I can tell, the only people who seem to think of Obama as some sort of quasi-religious figure are those on the political right, and even then it’s a straw man about their opponents.

    • Midnight Rambler

      That’s what I used to think too, but then I encountered the horde of self-described “progressives”* who are deeply upset that Obama didn’t completely change every facet of politics in the US, didn’t unilaterally shut down Guantanamo, didn’t eliminate DADT and end both wars on day 1, didn’t override the Senate, and didn’t give them a magic unicorn, ergo he’s exactly the same as Bush. Apparently they did expect Obama to sweep into office and perform miracles. Glenn Greenwald is their prophet, but you can occasionally find some popping up at Dispatches when Ed (rightly) criticizes Obama over civil liberties.

      * The rise of this group is the main reason I no longer call myself a progressive even though my politics haven’t changed, and internally consider myself one; the word has just become too associated with idiots.

      • Improbable Joe

        Ummm… no, and you’re silly.

      • Leo

        “But you can occasionally find some popping up at Dispatches when Ed (rightly) criticizes Obama over civil liberties.”

        I don’t even understand what you’re saying. Are you saying some pop up to defend Obama at Dispatches???

      • Bachalon

        I don’t see how viewing Obama critically means that there was ever any sort too high hopes pinned on him. I have quite a few problems with him myself (and tend to agree with Ed Brayton on most issues), so I understand where PZ et al are coming from. I’ve felt a good bit of disappointment about a lot of non-accomplishments, that being said, I know he was working with an obstructionist congress and expecting him to do everything is unrealistic.

        • Midnight Rambler

          There’s viewing Obama critically, and then there’s saying that because he hasn’t accomplished the impossible or been the magic progressive he never promised to be, he’s no different from W. It’s the latter group that I was referring to, who seemed to have thought Obama was going to be the Messiah.

  • w00dview

    @ Bachalon

    Agreed. If anything, the one politician that does seem to be treated as a messiah like figure is Ron Paul. Paulites are seriously cult like in their defense of the guy and it honestly creeps me out. Compared to Paul, even Obama’s most hardcore supporters seem fairly milquetoast.

    Also, it is always funny when Paulites smugly announce that liberals were so foolish to believe Obama about hope and change whilst they get all starry eyed about Paul’s rhetoric about small government and liberty. Pot kettle much?

    • Hank Fox

      Ha — bullseye! Another Facebooker, whom Dave H. describes as “he knows what he’s talking about” and who is chiming in on the discussion that inspired this piece, has a large Ron Paul banner on his FB home page.

      BTW, Dave has informed me he’s preparing a rebuttal to my no-doubt ill-conceived support of Obama.

      • w00dview

        Sounds interesting, do you plan on showing the rebuttal here or will you continue the discussion in private? I’m fine either way, I just find the Obama hate a very interesting part of American politics.

        • Hank Fox

          I might post it here. I probably don’t want to rebut the rebuttal — I just don’t have the time — but I might give him equal time just to see what people think of his piece.

          • Hittman

            I can’t speak for Hank, but I’ve said what I have to say and I think he has too. Endless rebuttals won’t accomplish anything worthwhile, but I’m happy to continue the discussion both here and over there for as long as it stays interesting.

  • magistramarla

    Hank, I love the way you write, and you just eloquently expressed exactly the way I’m feeling about politics lately.

  • Hittman

    Hank, here’s my response.


    Dave Hitt

  • ‘Tis Himself

    I read Hitt’s rebuttal. When he repeats the lie about Obama being a liberal messiah then I knew that nothing he had to say was worthwhile. But I did read his screed. He gets all upset because Congress raised the federal tax on cigarettes (a fact he ascribes to Obama) and Obama didn’t veto it. As the French would say, “quelle horror!” He then repeats the “LMO” lie several more times.

    In short, he doesn’t have anything to say other than “I hate Obama and I lie about liberals.”

    • Hittman

      Tis, I knew you had nothing worthwhile to say long before this, from past conversations.

      Have a great day.

      • ‘Tis Himself

        So you admit you LIED about the LMO canard.

        What is it with you conservatives that you have to lie about liberals. Never mind, both of us know the answer to that one. Truth has a liberal bias.

        • Hittman

          This is why I’ve written you off, you dishonest idiot. You’re a lying scumbag incapable of having a discussion without putting words in your opponent’s mouth.

          Hell, you’re even stupid enough to think I’m a conservative.

          Have a good day.

  • smrnda

    I’d agree that Ron Paul’s fans view their man much more as a messianic figure than any supporter of Obama. About any person who likes Obama, if you went down a list of Obama’s opinions or actions, would probably agree with a lot of them but would probably disagree in others, citing reasons for either case. Most Obama supporters probably formed their political opinions before Obama became president, and supported him because he happened to seem to agree with many of their already-held beliefs.

    Ron Paul supporters support Ron Paul 100%, and rather than offer realistic, pragmatic explanations for why his positions are better just resort to a “Ron Paul is RIGHT FREEDOM LIBERTY TYRANNY NO!” shriek-fest. Every opinion of Ron Paul is right, and all would instantly lead us to a Utopia if put into practice. No two, thinking people should ever agree in every single way. It also seems that people who support Ron Paul less than 100% can find themselves anathema pretty quickly.

    Also, I think Ron Paul might be up there with Jesus for having his name occupy the most bumper stickers.

    Obama-hate is impervious to logic. No lack of evidence can ever change the mind of someone so convinced that a conspiracy exists and the idea that Obama can both be an evil secularist and be hell-bent on bringing Sharia law to the US – two claims that totally cancel out – show that logic isn’t going to work on the anti-Obama crowd.

    • Hittman

      Ron Paul fans can be every bit as dogmatic and messianic as far-left Obama fanboys, but most of them can tell you why IF you’ll listen. (And yes, there is plenty of dissent in his ranks as well.) The principle that it’s wrong for the government to initiate force is the primary core of Libertarian thought, but both the right and the left LOVE force because they can’t function without it. So they spend a lot of effort painting RP specifically and libertarians in general as anarchist nut jobs. And dumb people buy it.

      My dislike of Obama is the result of logic, and it’s not even complex logic. To pick just a few issues: It’s logical to oppose state sponsored assassination. It’s logical to oppose escalating the War on Some Drugs. It’s logical to oppose the continuation of the Patriot Act. I’ve yet to see any logical argument in favor of any of those things. Yet, when they’re brought up, far lefties just go into a dream state where they imagine anyone opposing their Mighty Hero must be part of the nutter crowed still screaming about birth certificates and Shiria law, which makes it easy for them to dismiss unpleasant realities.

      • Bachalon

        Putting on my “Mr. Actually” hat here…

        Actually libertarians are just fine with force, but they don’t call it that or even acknowledge that force and violence are being used – in their case economic violence. They have a problem with preemptive action, calling it “aggression.”

        There was actually a thread about that on pharyngula a while back. Worth a read as there were several libertarians there. I can’t get the html to work right but it was entitled “Laugh at the Libertarian.”

        I’m from Texas; trust me, you don’t want to deal with most people calling themselves “libertarians.”

        • Hank Fox

          My first experience with Libertarians was the ones who lived in my little mountain town near the wilderness.

          Once I found out they thought ALL land should be owned by somebody, and that if people wanted parks and wilderness and wildlife they should be willing to pay the market rate for having it, that was pretty much the end of any discussions.

          • smrnda

            Okay, so you’ve touched on the foreign policy issues where Obama behaves just like a Republican. I don’t know one single Obama supporter who thinks that the war on drugs is a good thing or detaining people without charge is right and fair. You’ve cherry picked a few libertarian ideas that most people will agree with. Nobody is going to give a reason why those things are great since there aren’t any.

            My problem with libertarianism is that it seems to believe that private sources of power – can never be oppressive. I believe that all forms of power need to be checked, be they employers, parents, police officers, politicians or CEOs. I mean, Ron Paul clearly does not agree with any sort of workplace safety regulations, he opposes the Americans with disabilities act (which I’m dependent on since I’m disabled) and opposes pretty much any form of state aid to anyone. If his argument is that property rights are absolute and sacred, then I’d like to know why so many white people own so much of the property over here.

            I’ve learned enough about history to know that back in a more libertarian age, work was 12 hours a day in dangerous conditions, employers could force sexual favors out of female workers, and if you were disabled or injured you found a nice corner to die in, pregnant women gave birth on the job in coal mines. Persuading me that government should in no way intervene in ‘the market’ or the workplace would be like convincing me that battery acid is good to drink.

            The real goal of libertarianism is to return us to feudalism, where wealthy white property owners will be our lords and masters. Please, I’ve heard anything you’re going to say before from dozens of Ron Paul supporters. I had a guy tell me ‘consumer protection laws are STUPID.” I asked him why I, as a consumer, should choose not to be protected. If you say that consumer protection laws aren’t doing the job, that doesn’t mean getting rid of them is the right thing to do. If my bike isn’t running, fixing it or getting a new one would make sense, not throwing it away and walking.

            And something I like to ask libertarians – if your tax money shouldn’t go to fund my education, roads, or health care, why should my tax money go to protect your property rights? In the end, individuals cannot function except on a pretty primitive level without some degree of government programs existing.

  • fwtbc

    This piece seems just as relevant, if not more so today than it was four years ago.

    I really have to wonder just how fucking evil the republican party has to get before people stop voting for them.

    I toast those who try and enjoy their meal, even if the chicken is a little burnt and kinda dry.

    The rest of you can enjoy your shit and broken glass. This year, I think they even added ebola.

  • Jeroen Metselaar

    The idea that Obama would be left-wing and socialist makes me laugh, but not in a funny way.

    By international standards the US does not have any main stream socialism. The democrats are at best liberal right wing. The current republicans are far-right oligarchists.

    The two party system left the US politically starved for left-wing viewpoints. Where are the centralist christian democrats, the left liberals, labour, classic socialists, modern socialists etc.. etc..

    • StevoR

      Joe McCarthy got ‘em back inthe 1950′s, never came back..

  • Ray Moscow

    Hank, you’re a better and more patient man than I. When I see someone using a term like ‘Lord Messiah Obama’, I figure I’m dealing with someone with the critical skills of a turnip, and I treat him/her accordingly.

  • MarkNS

    “Bush’s mean-spirited short-bus presidency” Was it really necessary to use “short bus” as a pejorative? My daughter, who has cerebral palsy, took the “short bus” to school because it was the only transportation that could handle her 250lb power wheelchair. Thanks to the “short bus” she graduated high school and went on to university.
    How do you think “short bus” jokes and dismissive “short bus” comments like yours make her feel? Why don’t you just go ahead and call Bush a “retard” or a “fag” while you’re at it?

    My daughter’s an atheist and becoming a bit of an activist. She reads FTB somewhat regularly due to my FB shares. I won’t be sharing this article.

    I generally like your writing and often find it brimming with compassion and empathy but, your “short bus” comment today hit a little too close to home.

    • Hank Fox

      MarkNS, you’re right on all counts. The term was inappropriate, mean and insensitive.

      I’m fixing it in the post, and I hope all who read here, including your daughter, know the offense was unintentional.

      I often describe myself as a “well-meaning doofus” — some days the “well-meaning” is ascendant, some days it’s the doofus.

      Thank you for the correction.

      • MarkNS

        Thanks Hank,

        Exactly the right response. Spoken like a gentleman.
        I know I came across fairly harsh but the “short bus” thing is something I hear a lot and the disabled are disenfranchised enough without language exacerbating the problem.


        • StevoR

          Well done Hank Fox. Respect.

  • Allan

    Well said Hank.

  • left0ver1under

    Voting for Obama can be likened to being on a slippery downward slope where things get gradually worse.

    Voting for Romney can be likened to driving off a cliff, in “Thelma and Louise” style.

    The only reason to vote for Obama is that the alternative is worse. That’s the biggest problem with the US, only two political parties. When you have only two, it’s as bad as having only one because there is always a majority in whichever part of the US government – president, senate, house.

    In most stable democracies, there are at least three parties and quite often minority governments. (A minority government is one where the largest party has less than 50% of the power, it doesn’t mean the leader is a minority.) When there are mulitple parties, coalitions are necessary to accomplish anything, which means parties must listen to each other and their constituents instead of those bribing them…I mean, lobbyists. Minority governments mean consensus and what’s best for all, not “gridlock”.

    The lack of options and the ease with which the rich can influence politics is one of the main reasons the US is fading as a nation. I am so glad I’m not an American.

    • gworroll

      We need to junk first past the post voting.

      Right now, anyone to the left is going to at least be severely tempted to vote for Obama, to avoid a Romney presidency. Even if there’s an amazing third party liberal candidate. People on the right will vote Romney to avoid Obama, no matter how good the third party conservatives are. The few times we’ve had a third party make a big showing in an election, a good case can be made that said candidate handed the election to the major party most opposite him.

      Instant runoff voting, or some variation on it, would essentially let us vote for the best candidate as our first choice, and set a “backup” vote in. I might vote for, say, the Green candidate up top, with Obama as my second choice. My friend Mike might vote for Ron Paul, and then Romney as his second. Our first choice doesn’t get a majority, our vote is automatically counted as being for our second choice. And then third, and so on until some candidate has over 50% of the vote.

      Short of a telepathic orb or something that can be independently verified as reliable by anyone, it’s probably the best way to fix the American two party system. Many “lesser evil” voters, meaning most of us, would at least give third parties a closer look. We could vote for the best, and still hedge our bets with the lesser evil.

      I don’t have much hope of an amendment to implement this getting through Congress- TPTB can easily concentrate their efforts at stopping it. A state initiated Constitutional Convention is provided for in Article 5, and might decentralize the process too much to be easily countered, but with several states having strong theocratic leanings, that idea terrifies me. Maybe we’d fix the party system, but what would get broken in the process?

      • left0ver1under

        One system that works is proportional voting. People do vote for candidates, but seats are allotted amongst parties by percentage.

        Parties automatically get the seats where their candidates get more than 50% of the votes. But when the vote is split, seats are assingned by who got the most, or where a party is a close second. Seats are redistributed to ensure each party gets the right number of seats based on percentage. Yes, even candidates who finish third or fourth could be appointed over those with more votes, but it ensures that each party gets its share of power, and the voters are represented.

        Two of the most egregious examples of “first past the post” are New Brunswick in 1987 and the 1996 US presidential election. The Liberals in New Brunswick won all 58 seats yet got only 60% of the vote. And Clinton won the 1996 election with 47 million votes out of 196 million eligible voters, less than 25% of those who could have voted.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    George Bush managed to prosecute & convict three major “malefactors of greath wealth”: Ken Lay (& some of his accomplices), Allen Stafford, and Bernie Madoff.

    Obama’s score in that regard: zero.

    Bush even locked up a few minor criminals against humanity in the Abu Ghraib scandal. Not Obama.

    Obama, some say, got us “out” (50K uniformed troops & xK mercenaries somehow don’t count) of Iraq – by following the Bush-Cheney plan to the letter. As promised, he continues to screw the pooch in Afghanistan/Pakistan – big time.

    I’m going to vote for the murdering lying inept corrupt son of a bitch, but only because his opponent is worse and I live in a too-close-to-call state. Instant run-off voting can’t get here soon enough!