Sunday, January 10, 2010

Andrew Sullivan: Barack Obama locked in dirty war with the right

Andrew Sullivan

One quote really hit home for me last week. It is quite typical of a certain kind of paranoid conservative subculture; it reflects conspiracy theories, and it’s motivated by extreme antipathy to Barack Obama. Here’s the quote: “President Obama is leading an extreme, left-wing crusade to bankrupt America.”

If you spend much time reading far-right and so-called Tea Party blogs, you will be familiar with this theme. The idea is that Obama is a secret Muslim communist whose goal is to destroy US capitalism through fiscal collapse in order for the government to take over the remnants of a dying market economy. Or something like that. All future debt is Obama’s fault (even though the majority was inherited and the rest skewed by the recession). And this, the argument goes, is deliberate. The cited quote is given extra piquancy by using the term “crusade”, subtly invoking the theme of religious warfare in a Christian battle against a supposedly Muslim president.

Who uttered this quote? John McCain. Yes: John McCain. Why? He’s facing a tough primary challenge for his Senate seat this year from the far right, and this is the only way he thinks he can survive. And, as we know, McCain will say anything and do anything to maintain power. If you’re looking for his soul, try eBay.

Now take another extraordinary quote. This one came immediately after the Detroit underwear bomber near miss, and argued that Obama was deliberately allowing the US to be attacked by terrorists, and refusing to take the threat seriously as warfare, because accepting the existence of the terror threat “doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency: social transformation — the restructuring of American society”.

Here the idea is that Obama is so intent on socialism that he is really uninterested in combating terror. At some level, it’s an accusation of treason — of deliberately risking American lives for the pursuit of socialism. Again, this does seem a little extreme, given that Obama has kept George W Bush’s defence secretary, kept Bush’s timetable for Iraq withdrawal, drastically increased troops and overhauled strategy in Afghanistan and declared emphatically, last week, that “we are at war”, while ordering a thorough review of intelligence-gathering. So who was this radical, throwing rhetorical bombs at the president at a moment of an actual terror attack that might — I can dream, right? — have actually brought Americans of both parties together?...........

No comments: