Why Huff Post Should Lay Off P-BO*

Last week on Huffington Post, I saw an article seriously questioning Barack Obama. They may have published other such missives before, but this was the first one I had seen. The Robert Scheer column expressed a few beefs with Obama’s selections for his team to get us out of the economic crisis.

Scheer wrote, “Maybe Ralph Nader was right in predicting that the same Wall Street hustlers would have a lock on our government no matter which major party won the election… how else is one to respond to Obama’s picking the very folks who helped get us into this financial mess to now lead us out of it?”

Reading that quote, I felt a little vindicated. I’m one of the 750,000 people who voted for Nader, and one of the things that earned him my vote was that he was against the bailout. And he didn’t just come out against it; he offered what sounded to me like reasonable alternative solutions. He’d been thinking about this for a long time, having predicted the housing crisis eight years ago when members of Congress laughed at him.

On opening night of the Democratic National Convention, not having realized the significance of the date and still unsure who I would vote for, I attended a benefit concert for The Living Theatre. Sitting there, I felt not so alone in my doubts about the Democratic Party. Hearing “This Land is My Land” performed by Eisa Davis and Colman Domingo of Broadway’s Passing Strange made me teary, and the performances of Nellie McKay and Justin Bond that followed blew me away. The evening was fundamentally political – The Living Theatre has been the epitome of political statement for 60 years – but it was very different from politics as usual. For that one night, surrounded by fellow outsiders, I felt part of a beautiful, happy revolution having our very own convention in NYC.

Another questioning article appeared on Huffington Post a few days ago, about how Obama’s small donor base image is a myth, as revealed by a new study conducted by the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute. I had just discussed this very thing with a friend who insisted that 80% of his donations were from small donors and how important that was. Nothing I said to my friend could convince him otherwise, although the information was out there to be found if one was looking.

I find it curious that Huffington Post is only now starting to feature more prominently probing analytical stories about Obama. Why didn’t they scrutinize or report objectively throughout the election season? It seemed to me they suffered from “the bandwagon effect”, that notion among certain crowds that you absolutely must adulate Obama and loathe Sarah Palin, and anything less made you a traitor.

I’m in the comfortable position of not feeling terribly upset by anything Obama does now, because he disappointed me early on. During the campaign, I heard him offer standard-issue Democratic positions, and at times I thought he even came across rather Republican. I never saw the cool progressive change guy many of my friends seemed to see. What I saw was more of a Centrist, someone in the middle leaning liberal or conservative depending on the issue, like Bill Clinton or Rudy Giuliani.

Obama was not my choice when it came time to pull the lever, but I don’t think the people who helped elect him should be so quick to criticize him now, before he even takes the oath of office. He seems to be letting himself be guided by pragmatism, and I think Huff Post ought to give him a chance to do the job they seemed pretty partial to seeing him get.

Nader recently wrote, “While the liberal intelligentsia was swooning over Obama during his presidential campaign, I counseled ‘prepare to be disappointed.’ His record as an Illinois state and U.S. Senator, together with the many progressive and long overdue courses of action he opposed during his campaign, rendered such a prediction unfortunate but obvious.

“Now this same intelligentsia is beginning to howl over Obama’s transition team and early choices to run his Administration.”

I’m starting to get a funny feeling that by the time P-BO disappoints everyone else, I might be left liking him again, in the minority again.

– Hope Dascher

* P for President(-elect), BO for Barack Obama, a term of endearment


UPDATE: This week a little flurry of columns appeared on Huffington Post to criticize Obama with some pretty harsh words from a source that mostly championed him just weeks ago.

Beyond the Bailout State by Steve Fraser
“A suffocating political and intellectual provincialism has captured the new administration in embryo. Instead of embracing a sense of adventurousness, a readiness to break with the past so enthusiastically promoted during the campaign, Obama seems overcome with inhibitions and fears.”

Obama’s Uninspiring Nation by Lionel Beehner
“Still, Obama’s familiar-looking team of national security fixer-uppers does not inspire confidence. Nor do his vague answers to detailed questions on specific policies… Obama seems to think he can wish away the world’s evils with his eloquence and charm.”

Obama’s Windfall Taxes Shift: First Broken Promise
“The Obama team’s decision to drop the idea of forcing oil and natural gas companies to pay a tax on their windfall profits has caused a firestorm among liberals and small business coalitions.”


  1. Mara van N. Said,

    December 7, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

    Yes, why indeed. While I’m not a fan of the Huffington Post at all, considering the fact that they have actual visitors who read what they’re writing, I agree: it is interesting to see that they’re becoming critical of Obama. It might be a sign of a new trend, although I hope it won’t be since I’m getting a bit tired of trying to keep up with them.
    I guess it’s like having a new lover. He’s been wooing us since for ever, now that we finally have him and can see him up close, he isn’t as sexy as we thought he’d be. Where it’ll go from here…
    Of course a factor could also be that there are no other puppies left to kick. Bush is gradually and almost painfully limping out of sight, Palin is back in the kitchen (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and McCain is hiding his tears in someone’s neck.

    I’m curious to see how this will develop.

    (And I think you should let the poor cat at the bottom out of it’s cage a little more often…)

  2. Ron Sims Said,

    December 23, 2008 @ 6:00 am

    I have to admit I have resisted any real dialogue about politics since Bush has been in office. I felt like a hypocrite discussing failed political policies and this train wreck of a war while I drive in my car, have health insurance, and yes sometimes eat at McDonald’s. As I read about our Greek brothers and sisters taking to the streets and protesting a police shooting of a youth, I can’t help but feel as Americans we have become desensitized, apathetic, and generally overwhelmed. I consider myself educated, but I must admit that I have no real understanding of what our government is doing much less how to keep them accountable. I feel that “We the people..” have allowed the very Orwellian style government we have so feared to become a reality. The American government has become effective in keeping the American people fat and lazy. Some of us took to the streets to protest the passage of Prop. 8. I wonder brothers and sisters did you? It directly effects my life and I did not. I have become so busy trying to earn a meager existence that I feel simply too tired to do anything else. I was pissed at Nader for the Democratic loss from the last election and I truly feel that while expanding the number of parties will be a good idea, it currently comes at too high a political cost. A vote for Nader in the political climate we found ourselves in is not just simply intellectual masturbation, it had the paradoxical effect of voting for more of the political status quo. All true political change comes when the people take to the streets and demand change. We were not given a 5 day 40 hour work week or child labor laws..we demanded them..and sometimes lives were lost. I feel hesitant to expand the political party system when we do not hold the two we have accountable. How much information can we be saturated with before we loose the ability to care. My brothers and sisters I am outraged, but I try to help those around me, and try not to self destruct. I am concerned about my ability to connect and feel happiness and I drag myself to work clutching a Starbucks. I’m glad Obama won almost to the point I don’t care about the huge sociaist government takeover of private markets that is now happening.

  3. Monica Haddock Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 9:02 am

    Preferred Customer – Warning: Sleep has still been denied me, even after a liberal dose of the Home Shopping Network, and I never have had a knack for condensing my thoughts the way Campbell’s does soup. So brace yourself for chronic “intellectual masturbation”. If it’s any consolation though, my cerebrum is probably hairy now.
    With dissenters finding asylum at the Athens Polytechnic (not to mention more petrol bombs) and the Mayor of Thessaloniki getting pied in the face by yuletide anarchists, my lurid fantasy – of George W. sitting in a dunking booth above a $130 barrel of crude oil, wearing a three-piece suit with the slacks substituted by stars & stripes boxer shorts – seems to be on the verge of realization at the world fair. Too bad it was Iraqi journalists and not US citizens who took initiative and hurled the first shoe toward the bulls-eye. I couldn’t agree with you more about our Greek siblings putting us to shame.
    Although I was relieved that the funds for the $17 billion bailout of General Motors and Chrysler will be diverted from the $700 billion TARP, the dubious legality of this makes you wonder if “the Constitution is just a piece of paper” after all. If the federal government is going to socialize our banking system and the auto industry, then why not health care? Now, I was just as giddy as the next progressive when Obama won the election, but find myself more disillusioned than ever after his cabinet appointments. The same-ole, same-ole Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense and the corporate cheerleader/Clinton administration relic, Tim Geithner, aside: what on Capitol Hill possessed him to nominate Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State? Yes, she is a feminist icon to be reckoned with (too “dictator for life” to tickle my fancy though), but disregarding the animosity during the democratic primaries, should the seamstress of foreign policy really be the type who makes mountains out of molehills? Bullet dodging, action-packed thriller commercials worthy of none other than Steven Spielberg out of peaceful, diplomatic journeys to Bosnia with her underage daughter and a handful of entertainers in tow? Her rightful position is health secretary, but I would’ve settled for anyone, hell even Billy Beer Carter, over the nefarious Tom Daschle: a K Street health care “policy adviser” (gee what a clever euphemism for lobbyist). So much for expelling special interests from Washington!
    The US is no longer an authentic democracy. It’s undeniable that its actions are no longer representative of the people and that two, often identical, parties aren’t accommodating enough. Obviously the Electoral College needs to be revamped (if not eliminated), candidates would cater more to their constituents instead of wealthy patrons through government subsidy of each campaign (limited to a specific amount of course), ad infinitum. Such reform implies an unflinching national grassroots movement. The chance of that occurring in spite of the political vacuum and pervasive apathy seems almost as fat as our general population is. Which is why, to me, “ethical realism” is the marriage of self-interest and social responsibility. Like, when I saw Eric Clapton live! @ Konigsplatz – once the throne of Nazi power and now the administrator of psychedelia – beer was naturally omnipresent. At first, when absorbing the cost – six whole euros – I was shocked and appalled at the heinous price gouging that I had thought only Exxon Mobil was capable of. Then, my righteous indignation was stifled a hair bit with a two-euro refund, conditional upon me being so kind as to return the cup. Consequently, there wasn’t a single piece of litter in sight after the encore of “Layla”. A petty example perhaps, but activism might become trendy again if people could just be lured outside of what Betty Friedan once hailed their “comfortable concentration camps” with some type of incentive. Especially if we are to compete with the daunting infrastructure of the status quo. Prop 8 passed not for lack of sympathy with the gay and lesbian community, but because of the left’s naivete and the nasty trifecta struck by the Catholic, Protestant, and Mormon churches. But with a four-point margin of defeat, I’m confident that it will be overturned.
    With everything said though, I find myself just as hypocritical as you or the so-called laissez faire economy that pulls an ideological 180, yelling uncle! uncle! (or rather – big brother! big brother!), at the slightest hint of business failure. As a wannabe author, I often wonder if I write out of Rilke-like necessity or as a justification for being socially inconsequential. In becoming a blond Roquentin of sorts (“I receive nothing, I give nothing…”) disenfranchised from politics, I’m guilty of just shrugging my shoulders, not economic boycotts or mixing Molotov cocktails. In order to become involved, there has to be some tangible benefit… a sense of accomplishment. Because frankly, every available channel just seems like an exercise in futility. What I want for myself and America, I guess, is a reconciliation between conviction and a penchant for venti chai lattes. Compromise would appear inevitable, sigh.
    There! I’ve said my peace. Sorry to inundate you with all of my rambling. It’s just that reading the blog entries excited me and I was so glad to hear that you ignored your disgust long enough to come out of political hibernation with a keynote address – that’s all. Someday I too will take to the streets and protest. And yes, over Jack Daniels if necessary.

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