Thursday, March 13, 2008


Speaking of Hillary, has this Hillary-happy UR-blog degenerated into self-parody, or what?

Surely the knee-jerking against Obama–whose (so-far meaningless) "success" becomes a stand-in for all that is wrong in American electoral politics and policies, in certain progressive corners–needs to be more careful to qualify itself. Otherwise there is little to distinguish Norm's sort of consistent posting from over-identification of the most boring sort. The stubborn leftist's position of proud impotence, of meaningless "dissent" already wedded to the polemical/sovereign take-all framework is neither endearing nor productive. There is good reason to feel revulsion at any seeming consensus among the five ruling news organizations, now apparently united against Hillary (one could speculate as to exactly why, beside objective sexism, this is so–for one thing she represents something old not new, but anyway). Of course in Norm's case it is more about Obama's use of religion, or specifically, of religious language or a religious register. Perhaps if he studied a bit of history, that of black leaders in America, or of liberation theology, (not to mention that every major positive political step in the United States has been accompanied by some benign and deeply progressive form of messianic hope), Norm wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Obama simply for being capable, indeed exceptionally gifted in that register. Not only is Obama's sense of the spiritual exceptionally progressive and extremely mobilizing (in a democracy whose great majority of citizens remain self-identifying as religious), but it is also pointedly hospitable and open to that second-largest, usually-ignored majority who are atheist (cf. Richard Dawkins). That by itself is immensely significant.

Now Hillary may seem more secular, on the surface, but in trust isn't she more likely to pander to anyone at all? Indeed her basic modus operandi remains that of cynical opportunism and desperate smear rather than the genuine risk of integrity, that work of going through in order to transform something for the better. The Abrahamic being embedded in everything from our daily language to the history of our concepts, of law and justice and everything else, it would seem wise to prefer to see someone embrace its better history for the purposes of positive transformation than pretend such bedrock currents do not exist at all while, in Clinton's case, simultaneously embracing policies that merely bolster without comment the blind ideological faith of neoliberalism/fundamentalism capitalism.

The bottom line would seem to be this: Such revulsion, to be at all meaningful in a good way, must consider the situation in terms of power and become pragmatically mature, in this case surely that means qualifying, maybe even tempering or withholding one's public criticisms until their potential effect can be a positive.

I've heard it said before, and agree still: from a USian leftist perspective Hillary Clinton with her first-rate legal mind would make a very decent Supreme Court Justice, where she could have a long and indeed coherent and honest career, unconcerned for the trivialities and compromise and smearing temptations/vendettas of the election cycle.

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