I've been mostly staying away from politics the last few months, trying to take advantage of this little bubble I'm lucky enough to have. I ran 25 miles this week, I'm eating well, not drinking much at all, feeling good. Blogging is like going to therapy, and one isn't inclined toward such things in good times. But this morning, after running and lifting, making an elaborate breakfast, and welcoming back baseball after a terribly long four day All Star break, I saw this, posted by one of those many people I used to hate Bush with. There's clearly a demand for the brand of establishment cheese Slate serves. I never visit the site but surely it's aimed at a very smart bunch who get the ins, the outs, the realpolitik, the nitty gritty? So smart.
But how willfully stupid do you have to be to write an article in praise of Obama's race record without mentioning a single Obama race-related political act, or fact, while instead using a political speech as your source material, and taking it at face value? Obama has succeeded on the race question, we are told, because of the words he says about race. The end. That's your fucking analysis. Eat it up, Obamapologists.
I almost want to track down the details right now and post some links showing Obama's record on the drug war, immigration, incarceration rates, killing of brown people overseas, employment rates, etc., to demonstrate that Obama's record shows no improvement or attempted improvement of "black Americans" -- some things have gotten better, most have gotten worse, though none of that is related to good or bad presidential intentions, as such things are not real -- but right away the Obamapologist (the ones I know, anyway) will scurry over to the lesser evilism corner of the apologetics room or some other area where research has no bearing as the discussion turns to religion. They do not want a fact-based Obama/Bush comparison. Intentions become paramount because they're (seemingly) unfalsifiable.
So let me offer a(nother) parable in response to the lesser evilist notion that Obama is doing pretty much the best job anyone can do given the conditions in which Obama finds himself, what with the rethuglicans making him do bad things and the some people not getting it or whatever.
Let's say there's a ten year-old boy on your street who gets abused once a day, every day, by various local thugs. They use a taser-like electrical gadget that only has one burst a day, there's only one of them, and there's no other way to hurt the kid. So, if you, a well-intentioned neighbor, give him his daily shock, nobody else will. You can keep the thugs away by badly hurting a kid you have no reason to believe is a threat to anyone. What do you do? The first thought, it seems, should be, "is there any other way?" Can I, maybe, destroy the thing? If that's too dangerous, can I find some neighbors who will back me up, some strength in numbers? Can I find a way to help the kid avoid shocks in the future, a different way to school perhaps? The last thing that should come to mind is "how can I do precisely the same thing, but with good intentions?" Because good intentions don't take the pain away. And I would then be the source of pain. I would then be, by any standard that makes sense, every bit as wrong as the thugs, who have their own moralistic justifications for causing pain, their own self-perceived good intentions.