From The Root, a very cool black-interest webzine, this essay by Sherrilyn Ifill is the smartest piece I’ve seen on what happened to the Obama presidency (though it badly loses steam at the very end).
Here’s the bottom line:
The legitimate anger and frustration of voters at the massive bank bailout, and the pressures of the economic crisis, understandably inspired populist activism. Progressives, exhausted from the campaign or still celebrating the Obama election, missed the opportunity to take advantage of populist outrage to build support for resistance to the rise of the unfettered corporate state. But the channeling of legitimate anger by town hall protesters and many Tea Party activists into an all-out challenge to the legitimacy of Obama as president has revealed the extent to which animosity toward Obama himself is what lies at the heart of these movements. The theory that this rise in anti-government activism is triggered by a concern for fiscal responsibility and the bloated deficit would carry more weight if these same concerned citizens had revealed their resistance to unfettered spending during the Bush administration’s run-up of a trillion-dollar deficit pursuing two wars and tax cuts for the wealthy.
It comes down to this, which seems obvious once you read it:
Republicans have shown themselves willing to dismantle the very apparatus of government to ensure Obama’s failure.
Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).