Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We love Sonia!--and other ruminations on a young presidency

After all the fervid Obama-blogging I did during election season, I deliberately laid off after Inauguration Day. I wanted to give him a 100-day break, like (haha!) everybody else was. Or was supposed to. Or something.

Like I said, haha. Nobody else did. I felt like he got maybe a 48-hour honeymoon period with the press, if that long.

Primarily for this reason, I extended my hands-off policy even longer, pausing only to criticize the president's rather uncharitable attitude towards freeing the weed. I was floored that Obama wasn't getting the "honeymoon" that other presidents have enjoyed (which they have historically used to "coast" for their first year or so). And then I realized, this is different; times are currently quite disastrous and all bets are off.

And then there is the fact that Barack Hussein Obama is habitually examined microscopically in a manner I can recall no other modern president perpetually and constantly inspected...with the exception of the post-Watergate Richard Nixon (who approved a criminal break-in and thus deserved to be closely-inspected). But Obama? Why is everyone so panicked and seemingly afraid he is going to screw the pooch?

Certainly, it seems obvious that the pooch was already royally screwed by Dubya, who seemed utterly free of any similar close inspection. But much of the microscopic-inspection that should have been directed at Dubya, is now directed at the successor who is attempting to clean up his considerable mess.

And so, I have now decided to jump in and reassert my support for the prez, which is not to say he can't do some serious pooch-screwing of his own, and I suppose he will at some point. All politicians do, after all. (Old bumper sticker: To err is human, to really screw things up takes a politician.) But so far, I am not teeth-gnashingly livid over anything he has done. Bill Clinton used to make me livid with his very predictable Bubba-routine, which I found just too close for comfort. (I had a Bubba-boss for part of that time, which made it significantly worse... familiarity breeds contempt!) As a feminist, I also greatly resented the fact that Slick Willie could not keep his hands to himself. (After hearing the story of Kathleen Willey, whom I found very credible, I would not defend Bill Clinton AT ALL.) By contrast, Obama shows no signs of Clintonian excesses, and in fact, comes off as downright ascetic in comparison--with his frequent sports and healthy diet--tobacco appears to be his only vice, which is a relief. (There is some argument about whether he is still smoking; I say, let the man have a vice, people!)

I am pissed off about Obama's whole Afghanistan adventure, however. The left, as a rule, has been far too easy on him about this, as Tom Hayden writes in AlterNet today. Peter Rothberg in THE NATION states that only 0.6% of military-oriented media coverage is about Afghanistan in particular (!) and most of the American public is pro-intervention in the region. (But if there was more detailed media coverage, would that change?) There was a "national day of action on Afghanistan" last Thursday, but MoveOn did not participate, and most people I know were not even aware of it.

Regarding Afghanistan, we need to keep the heat on.


One thing our new prez has done is... NOMINATE A WOMAN TO THE SUPREME COURT!!!! (((happy dance)))) Yes, this carries serious weight with me, folks. You bet it does!

And Sonia Sotomayor is making the GOP-baddies go crazy... tee hee! Politico reports:

President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court was the latest and most powerful blow in the president’s relentless courtship of Hispanic Americans, whose flight to the Democratic Party was central to his election.

Hispanic leaders across the country, many of whom attended the White House announcement, praised the appointment swiftly and in the strongest terms, and Republican leaders signaled an awareness of the political sensitivities by avoiding any suggestion of disrespect for the first Latina nominee to the nation’s highest court.

“The picture of an African-American president standing next to a Hispanic woman as his first choice for the Supreme Court — that picture is the worst nightmare for the Republican Party,” said Fernand Amandi, a Florida pollster whose firm, Bendixen Associates, surveyed Hispanic voters for Obama’s presidential campaign.

“The numbers, the symbolism and now the acts of the Democratic Party and this Democratic president underline and underscore the very bleak outlook for Republicans, where the…fastest growing demographics in the county are leaving them,” he said, noting that surveys earlier this decade suggested broad hunger among Hispanic voters for a court pick.
Jeanne Cummings reports that the right-wing is mobilizing, but confused and disoriented:

Conservative groups know they want to oppose Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor — but exactly how that campaign will be conducted is a major unanswered question that is splitting the Republican right.

The early fissure among opponents to Sotomayor, the New York federal appeals judge nominated by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, is over whether to push for a filibuster.

“The Republicans have got to take a stand on this one,” said Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and a proponent of a filibuster. “If they don’t, they can kiss their chances of ever getting back into power away,” he added.

Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, an anti-abortion rights activist, is urging members to block a Senate vote on Sotomayor.

“Do GOP leaders have the courage and integrity to filibuster an activist, pro-Roe[v. Wade] judge?” asked Terry, who argued that Democrats — including then-Sen. Obama — opened the door to such action after threatening to filibuster Justice Samuel Alito’s nomination in 2005.
And Holly gets right to the point over at Feministe:

Sotomayor grew up in the housing projects of the South Bronx, was raised by a single mother after the death of her father, is a diabetic, a Catholic, and is divorced with no children. Obama described her life as an “extraordinary journey,” talking about how she graduated at the top of her class from Princeton and then Yale Law School.

You might be wondering why I rattled off a laundry list of her life experiences, or what you might call identity categories. Two reasons: first, her career has been batted around for years by feuding Democrats and Republicans because she’s a woman of color. Once she made the short list for an Obama nomination, the rumors and sniping started up again. What, she doesn’t have any kids? Not only that, but some people think she’s fat. Or are even spuriously linking her weight to her diabetes.

Get ready for a whole season of this kind of thing as her nomination is challenged.
Also check out Jill's post at Feministe, as well as nojojojo's and Ampersand's posts at Alas, a Blog.

I am just so proud of Obama right now. And wonderful Sonia too, of course!


Dennis the Vizsla said...

Not to completely skip over all the weighty material, but that MAD Magazine cover is freakin' hilarious.

John Powers said...

I was moved by her remarks at the White House with the president. Her gratitude was general and specific. She talked about her mother not in terms of lack--she had to sometimes work two jobs to support her and her brother--but as her aspiration.

Privilege as something unearned is an important idea, still it gets tricky to talk about. Clearly graduating with honors from any college or university is an accomplishment earned. Yet Judge Sotomayor talked about the privileges in her life.

On topic, Judge Sotomayor's gracious remarks made me think she's a really together person.

Kind of off topic, there's often a sense in pointing out privilege that guilt is an appropriate feeling. The Wikipedia article on gratitude points to a difference between gratitude and indebtedness: "[I]ndebtedness motivates the recipient of the aid to avoid the person who has helped them, whereas gratitude motivates the recipient to seek out their benefactor and to improve their relationship with them."

Being oblivious to privilege is surely annoying, but gratitude opens possibilities to build relationships.

Sotomayor's brother is a surgeon. So two kids with a single mom in public housing made good. I can't help but think that the subtle difference between indebtedness and gratitude made all the difference. When the camera panned on Sonia's mother wiping away a tear it's not hard to tell where Judge Sotomayor learned that.

Ann oDyne said...

This man ticks So Many of the boxes, that we must admit enough is enough, and not expect him to be God & Ghandi in one.

Another excellent post Ms Daisy.

I loved MAD* mag from 1964 on.
*the usual gang of idiots*

CyberCelt said...

I agree that President Obama is being expected to perform in many ways other presidents did not. We did not do the first 100 days of GW Bush. He probably spent most of it at his ranch.

I am glad he is president and I know he will succeed.

mikeb302000 said...

I'm concerned about Afghanistan adn the back peddling on the torture questions. But, overall, I'm still hopeful.

Owen said...

Right on Daisy ! And I sure wish mr. chainey (sic) would shut up and disappear. he is perhaps the most cynical event ever in american politics, time he went back to quietly shooting other guests back at the ranch instead of taking pot-shots at the president...