Sensible and Cynical Progressives

Sensible progressives will vote for Obama. Cynical progressives may vote for McCain. The later remind me of the famous ancient Greek Cynic Diogenes, who, according to The Cynic’s Sanctuary, “reportedly took up residence in a tub to demonstrate his freedom from material wants. This cranky street-philosopher would introduce himself by saying, ‘I am Diogenes the dog. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy and bite scoundrels.’ He’d use a lantern by daylight, explaining that he was searching for an honest man. Even Alexander the Great didn’t escape unscathed. When the young conqueror found Diogenes sitting in the marketplace and asked how he could help him, the old philosopher replied that ‘you can step out of my sunlight’.”

Wikipedia defines American progressivism as evolving “to become a movement with close ties to the political left-wing, and contemporary progressives continue to embrace concepts such as environmentalism and social justice. Social progressivism, which states that societal practices ought to be adjusted as society evolves, form the ideological basis for many American progressives.”

If you identify yourself as a progressive and plan to vote for McCain, whether it’s because you are a Hillary Clinton PUMA or someone who is disgusted because Obama hasn’t lived up to your hopes and expectations, I suggest you read the seminal article in the latest issue of “The Nation, “Progressives in the Obama Moment” by Robert L. Borosage & Katrina vanden Heuvel.

The authors begin what they hope will be an ongoing discussion about how progressives can assure that their agenda is advanced: “the forbidding conditions and the constricted consensus make it vital that progressives think clearly and act independently in forging a strategy over the next months.”

Not uncritical of Obama, they note:

Many on the left were dismayed as the Obama campaign trotted out advisers from a Democratic bench that had championed the toxic Rubinomics brew of corporate trade and financial deregulation.

But they remind us that:

These concerns should not distract us from the central reality: this election features a stark ideological contrast. Although marketed as a trustworthy maverick, McCain accurately describes himself as a “foot soldier in the Reagan revolution” and attests that “on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I’ve been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.” He is committed to the full Bush catastrophe: continued war in Iraq, more tax cuts for the wealthiest, more corporate trade deals, more deregulation, more hostility toward labor, more conservative social policies and reactionary judges. Indeed, he’s Bush on steroids.

Online respect, rules and convention keep me from over-quoting this article. Therefore I urge people to read it because it lays out strategy and tactics for progressives to shift their cynical pessimism into constructive efforts to counteract the pressure Obama is likely to be under to compromise his progressive ideals.

Obama is the only chance we have for four years to undo the imperial rule of George W. Bush and the repackaged Bush in POW pajamas. This is from “Why I Will Not Vote for John McCain” by a pilot who was shot down and spent eight years as a POW:

I’m disappointed to see John represent himself politically in ways that are not accurate. He is not a moderate Republican. On some issues he is a maverick. But his voting record is far to the right. I fear for his nominations to our Supreme Court, and the consequent continuing loss of individual freedoms, especially regarding moral and religious issues. John is not a religious person, but he has taken every opportunity to ally himself with some really obnoxious and crazy fundamentalist ministers lately. I was also disappointed to see him cozy up to Bush because I know he hates that man. He disingenuously and famously put his arm around the guy, even after Bush had intensely disrespected him with lies and slander. So on these and many other instances, I don’t see that John is the “straight talk express” he markets himself to be.

It is true Obama isn’t the Platonic ideal of a heroic and progressive change agent like another Greek, Pelopidas, as this from Dan Balz’s Washington Post column, points out:

The decision to pick Biden rather than someone who reinforced the change message at the heart of Obama’s candidacy no doubt disillusioned some of Obama’s grassroots supporters, but it said something about the Illinois senator that while obvious is not often remarked upon. His will to win is overpowering. The choice of Biden was a hard-headed, cold-blooded calculation that he may need a Biden to win and will certainly benefit from a Biden in governing, if he become president. It was the action of a politician, not a crusader.

The second sign that Obama may be turning into a more conventional politician is his newly apparent appetite to take on McCain. When he launched his bid for the nomination, he often said he was prepared to return fire from his opponents but that he preferred to keep the tone civil and respectful. He resisted, in his own words, knee-capping his opponents.

Some would prefer that we still had Obama the crusader rather than the politician Obama running. But that Obama was showing every sign of losing.

The name of the game is winning first, and then endeavoring to make the changes that must be made.


  1. sherry

    Jeff you make a good point. Very good point in fact.
    Still can’t bring myself to vote for “the One” but it is sure to be a long 10 weeks.
    Obama is losing altitude and the convention should give him some bounce. No bounce with Biden, which I really thought would be helpful. Probably not popular to say, but I actually like Biden. Reminds me of a guy I dated years ago and still admire. Heck of a guy. Biden isn’t polished always. If he thinks it, he says it. Something to be said for honesty.
    If Biden were at the top of the ticket, I would vote for him in a heartbeat over JSM.
    The dems took the weakest guy in their arsenal, just like 2004 and they wonder why they keep losing

  2. CheckerboardStrangler

    I’m just sayin W.W.J.C.D.

    (What Would James Carville Do?)
    After all he IS the anti-Rove, and we’d better not forget that we are up against Karl Rove.
    And even if we’re not going to use Carville, at least we should remember that this down and dirty fighter DOES HAVE two Democratic wins under his belt.
    And again, please remember that all of this is coming from a would be Republican. I might not be completely behind Obama but to me he is looking better than McCain and will continue to look better for quite some time unless he eats a live baby on national television or something.
    It’s time to bring the thirty year Bush Clinton Dynasty to a close.

    Jeff H in Occupied TX

  3. colocritic

    “If Biden were at the top of the ticket, I would vote for him in a heartbeat over JSM.

    Sherry, I’m glad to hear you say you really like Biden, I do, too, He’s a really handsome, honest and very appealing guy! Isn’t he alone enough to help sway you to the democratic ticket? As vice president he certainly would not trample on our constitution the way Cheney has. IMHO, Cheney definitely is a war criminal and should be held accountable to the people of our nation.

    I think Biden is an excellent choice and will go out for Obama and win the votes in the places that have hesitated to back Obama. He is the type of guy that people really like and trust, an admirable quality after the liars that have tried to pour their garbage down our throats the last almost eight years now! I can’t wait to see the backside of all of them exiting after the democrats win the


  4. sherry

    Biden would make a great president. Actually, I would have voted dem with anyone but Obama at the top of the ticket.
    WJC was correct, BHO has the sense of a Chicago thug.

  5. D-TOx...

    D-TOx… The one thing I fear is that Mr. Obama would indeed set the world on fire. The turmoil in the Georgia area and the various ‘Stans around there could very swiftly turn into a huge storm of conflict. There are so many ways this could escalate into bio & atomic free for all. Mr. Obama has already had his ego expanded into unreal dimensions , thanks to the other O. I do not have any animosity towards the man , but with the crazy quilt of the Caspian Sea area , with all these different ethnic groups all at each others throats since before written history plus tons of NBC materials not too secured or indexed , it would just be one incident away from hell on earth and I don’t think team O’biden bin Bamo have the right crew to out manouver the Russians or the other blocks in that part of the world. This area could get really hot very fast!

  6. griff

    Not to mention the fact that Brzezinski is famously anti-Russian. He was instrumental in creating al-quaida in the first place. He hates Russia like no other and is still very much an Obama adviser.

    I have said it before and I’ll say it again – Bush is setting the table for the next President – and the menu doesn’t look all that appealing.

  7. akhajawall

    Dear American Citizens and the mass media of U.S.A.

    As a concerned disabled American Veteran and American citizen, I consider it my duty and responsibility to bring following critical characteristics of so called Maverick McCain to you for proving me wrong or right.

    “The citizens of the United States of America have the ultimate responsibility to elect the ” Right Candidate with the right temperament” to lead our nation’ to address our nations present and future moral, democratic, economic, educational, health care, energy, military, and foundational soul of our nation.

    In my firm professional opinion that the media should help the common voter to explore and discuss following attributes of Hon. Senator McCain.

    1. Does he have a calm, cool, and collected ” temper ” [ Presidential Temperament ]?
    2. Does he have a sound and sustained “Judgment and Caliber”?
    3. Does he have a reveal a presidential “Thought-fullness and togetherness” of purpose and positions?
    4. Does he lot or little “ex-poser and exploitation” around Washington”?
    5. Does he poses enough ” Vigor, wisdom and Vision ” for our Great-grand Nation?
    6. Does he poses foreign policy exploit-es based on ” American Values, Virtuous, Vastness”?
    7. Does his campaign talk. slogans and ads are based of facts and free of fiction, deception, seduction, and attacks?

    If your answer to the above questions is yes then recommend and vote for him.

    But in my professional. political, and personal opinion that vote is against the common interests majority of American people, against the world humanity, continuation of status qua and possibly dangerous world order.

    Long live U.S.A and its democratic people and their common sense.

    COL.. A.M. Khajawall [Ret] MD., Colonel, USAR / MC Combat Stress Control[Ret], Disabled American Veteran and Iraq Freedom team.

  8. sherry

    Hal, the problem isn’t the progressives. The people who were supporting Hill were largely Reagan democrats, centrists and independents.
    Progressives will support Obama.

  9. AveryMoore

    Nice to see a page where everyone on it agrees on the basics.

    On Hillary’s ascendency?

    A ‘Goldwater Republican’ turns Liberal? You think so?

    Does no one else remember Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign and his urgings to nuke China, if they get in the way?

    In good conscience Hillary supported that? Uh uhn.

    Hillary never passed or attempted to pass the Progressive sniff test. In an age where a surprising number of people have learned to penetrate staged presentation, image manipulation and sector pandering, that was all she brought to bargain with. That and the usual Democratic Marketing-Is-Everything dogma – We Only Need The Big States To Win!

    Idiocy. She even boasted about it: WE don’t need you little states! Poof! Be gone!

    And thus she lost. And with it further diminished a reputation for balance and honesty already tanking in public opinion polls on the House and Senate steam bath.

    And what a repudiation it was. Think about it. A parade of White Hope Male Heroes went forth to seize the prize, and left standing were exactly two people. One female and one not white.

    The Democratic brass, but they never do, should have gotten the message that there was an historic earthquake. Their agenda had been repudiated and thumped. Adding injury to insult who won? The-I’m-Everything-You-Want- (except specifics)-Girl? Nope.

    The delegates aimed the message over Hillary’s head and clearly said “Up Yours!” This one’s ours to choose and we don’t want your losing divisive snobby agenda in the way..

    Has Obama changed course? Or compromised to quell a Praetorian Guard revolt in the upper ranks? I’d vote that the same clowns as ever are doing their utmost to exert as much control as possible. Obama isn’t a monarch with a monarch’s prerogatives he is a prized combatant. Because he must he will follow doctrines he has no way to influence let alone change.

    As to the Other Guy? Are we crazy to forget who gets in while the Democrats bicker and smear each other over who was the more perfect candidate?

    Let’s change that job description so people can wake up!

    “Wanted: bright, willing-to-learn, attentive, responsible, no BS, no blame-shifting, no flip-flopping, detail-oriented, calm, thorough, decisive, impossible to distract, person with an excellent memory

    to accept the burden and responsibilities of an


    Now, color me chicken, but I think all of us would be terrified to put a memory-challenged, blame-dodging, would-you-like-to-see-the-wife’s-chest, macho septuagenarian in charge of keeping planes from crashing into each other – ‘where did I send NY Heavy 1203, or was that last week?’

    Tell me, why would anyone, not hallucinating, dream of giving the same guy earth’s toughest job, because his opponent wasn’t Hillary? Folks that’s beyond spitefulness it’s pathological insanity.

    Any answers out there? Pls advise.

  10. Cosmic Surfer

    Sherry, I believe you to be correct in much of your assessment of the Hillaryites promoting McCain over Obama…up to a point. There are those who jump into the fray for other reasons as well…those who never were FOR Hillary but are in it to create divisiveness.
    1. some of whom are pro-McCain, never voting or supporting Clinton, and are purposely in it to agitate. Quite often they can be found blogging to agitate but have no real discourse as to why they were “for Hillary”.
    2. Some who are just negative about everything;
    3. Some who are (yes, I am going to use that feared term that is danced around) clearly racist
    4. Some who use this or any negative response to siphon off the emotional turmoil they may always be in.

    Whatever the reason, this on-going debate and focus on Hillary is exactly what the Republicans need to help them build their fight. If they can keep the Democrats fighting each other, they can slip in the back door. Hillary lost, get over it. Like a petulant child who needs time out, we MUST stop feeding the whining and the baiting and break the co-dependency.
    To extinguish a behavior, one quits giving it power.
    WE the PEOPLE, regardless if we wanted Clinton, Edwards, Richardson, Biden, Kucinich, or any of the rest MUST NEVER forget for what we are fighting.

    Do we want our country to continue on the road we are on? The one that has destroyed our collective soul, lost its moral compass – stolen our rights, shredded the Constitution; run us into the biggest debt this country has ever seen then sold it to China; given oil corporations control over the energy policy; destroyed the military and stripped them of their rights to a voice, their health, their ability to support their families and to be treated for injuries sustained by this illegal action in IRAQ, while building a HUGE private corporate owned mercenary force that also is charged with feeding and housing what is left of our military in substandard buildings, bad food and bad equipment while using slave labor to do so;?
    Do we want a continuation of the Administration that put us into an illegal war that was planned before Bush was crowned King by a stacked court and a manipulated election system controlled by his brother and friends? A continuation of a White House that is responsible for killing and maiming hundreds of thousands Iraqi citizens, displacing millions more? An Administration that has destroyed our reputation in the world and made us a rogue nation, assured the loss or millions of jobs and set the economy in a tailspin? Who gutted the FDA, FEMA, EPA, Medicare, SCHIP; who stacked the Supreme Court with ultra-conservatives? An administration that has lied, cheated, raped and robbed this country? AND a Cabal of power hungry GREEDY old men (and a few women) who still has their inside people working to GET McCAIN ELECTED and who 3ill STOP at NOTHING to get it done since he IS the chosen carrier of their evil torch and was chosen after his loss in 2004
    Look at the timeline and watch the changes in McCain’s positions. From Torture to Tax Cuts….Look at the time line and look when it started….

    WE The People are the ones charged with correcting the course and changing the current state of the state.
    Do we want more of the neo-con madness and a continuation of the bleed out or do want to try to turn this country around and keep it from careening off the abyss?

    If we cannot vote FOR OBAMA then VOTE AGAINST McCAIN
    But whatever we do, make sure we understand that we are watching this country die and we are the ones who can put it back towards healing or can pull it off life-support.

  11. JudyB

    Kahajawall said it all! BRAVO!
    Both Hal and Col.Kahajawall put forth thought provoking articles and I for one, am a lot more than just a little grateful. Keep up the good job….both of you.

    “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy
    impairs the security of all.” JFK

  12. colocritic

    “Folks that’s beyond spitefulness it’s pathological insanity.”

    Avrey, how right you are!! It is beyond my comprehension why these Hillary supporters can’t see beyond their own disappointment and realize that voting for McPow is the very worst thing they could do. What about your family, your neighbors and friends, your country? Keep in mind who you are putting in harm’s way voting for this antique, who can’t remember anything creature! It scares me to death this incapable man might actually get the chance to run/ruin our country!

    My only hope is these and all people wake up and realize their selfish error and vote for Obama.

    Maybe the debates will show the vast differences and how they differ in their ability to think and respond on their feet. Certainly Obama is far superior to McPow intellectually and the ability to express himself. I’m waiting for the “senior moment” in the debates that really shows the stark contrast.


  13. Hal Brown

    Many great comments here. I don’t want to single out anyone for kudos at the risk of leaving someone out. Thanks to colocritic for alerting me to the latest nickname for McCain. I googled McPow and see it is listed 3,800 times which means it is starting to take off.

  14. JerryG

    Why are we afraid to challenge McCain on his POW experience and claims? Why aren’t we willing to look beneath the veneer? Why are we swallowing hook, line and sinker the “war-hero” image/persona? The swift boating of Kerry was a campaign built fundamentality on falsehoods and distortions. However, there is a plethora of de-classified information as well as independent correspdonces and testamonials that legitimately challenge the fact that McCain was tortured or mistreated. Apparently, quite the contrary seems to be true! Equally abundant are documented facts of his so-called “celebrity” status among his captors!

    Lying about and distorting one’s experiences as a POW in order to gain political favor and empathy from the public is as equally insightful to a man’s character as any of the polticial, social and economic idealogical differences that distinguish him from his opponent.

  15. sherry

    If you challenge McCain on the POW issue, I guarantee the GOP will be so galvanized against BHO. BHO already looks like a lightweight and to attack McCain on his military experience when BHO has none? Bad move.
    Remember how we hated it when they did that to JK? It was shameful
    I would like to think we are better than that.
    Let’s talk issues.

  16. sherry

    The fact is, I do not believe Obama to be remotely qualified to be POTUS. Four short years ago he was a state senator. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire there. Didn’t exactly set the world on fire in the US Senate in the year before he decided to run for POTUS. Even Biden was quoted as saying he isn’t ready. He is not ready kids. I am not voting for him because he is a democrat and we are desperate not to have a GOP. I get it. I am sick about it, but I have to vote my conscience.
    We will have a dem congress and hopefully between now and January they will grow a spine.
    We can only hope.

  17. CheckerboardStrangler

    Sherry, and all, what makes anyone think the GOP will be LESS “galvanized” if the POW issue is NOT investigated?
    Do we somehow think that the GOP will go easy on BHO if we tread lightly?
    Nope, they will interpret it as WEAKNESS, which is what they do every election cycle.
    Sorry, but nothing is off the table.
    Win, or pack up and go home, and remember this is coming from someone who would rather be voting Republican, if there was someone Republican worth voting for.

    Jeff H in Occupied TX

  18. Hal Brown

    On the POW issue, I think there is a way it can be handled without diminishing the heroism of McCain by noting that anybody that puts themselves in harm’s way is a hero, by carefully emphasizing what General Clark said about just being a POW isn’t a qualification for being president.

    As for Hillary supporters like Sherry not voting for Obama, I think the brilliant Nora Ephron put it very well:

    My other favorite thing about Hillary’s speech is that she wrapped herself up in Seneca Falls, and my God Harriet Tubman, even Harriet Tubman, and yet somehow she never once referred to Roe vs. Wade. She never once mentioned choice. She never once said the truth, which is that any Hillary supporter who doesn’t understand that this issue alone is the reason to vote for Obama has no business pretending to be a Democrat. I realize that sounds as if I’m admonishing her, but I caught the admonishment bug last night and this blog is an attempt to shake it off.

    The admonishment bug Ehpron refers to has to do with the following:

    My favorite part of Hillary Clinton’s speech last night was when she admonished her followers not to put their affection for her over the issues. When she reminded them that what’s at stake is far more crucial than their loyalty to her.

    Where any of her followers could have gotten the idea doesn’t seem to have crossed her mind. The fish stinks from the head down. read her HuffPo column


    At least tonight she moved that Obama be selected by acclamation in the spirit of unity.

    It’s official (or will be tomorrow night). He’s the candidate.

  19. CheckerboardStrangler

    Exactly…what Clark said…the man might be a hero for his distinguished service to his country, but that doesn’t automatically qualify him as Presidential timber.
    It qualifies him as a military hero.
    There are lots of heroes who distinguished themselves before, during and after their military service in many ways that uniquely qualify them for the presidency.
    Having the guts and stamina to make it through a POW camp means that you have the guts and stamina.

    Having the leadership qualities that carry several thousand lives with you safe and sound through several dozen terrible battles probably qualifies you better as a presidential candidate if one insists on using that criteria.

    Has Senator McCain’s military service record listed any large number of lives saved due to his heroic actions?
    Are there any in his company who might disagree with the assessments?

    Watch it, we’re treading into Swift Boat territory, aren’t we gentlemen??

    Are we going to step back and let them use their outrage in the IOKIYAR* option, do we excercise the nuclear option, do we say “all options are on the table” or do both sides agree to acknowledge the “mutually assured destruction” inherent within?

    Do we play fair as long as they play fair or do we use their time tested “pre-emptive” strategy?
    Are we in this to win?

    I’m not advocating anything, just throwing it all out there to see what sticks to the wall!

    *(IOKIYAR=It’s OK If You Are Republican)

    Jeff H in Occupied TX