A Message to Steve Hildebrand
"This is not a time for the left wing of our Party to draw conclusions about the Cabinet and White House appointments that President-Elect Obama is making. Some believe the appointments generally aren't progressive enough. Having worked with former Senator Obama for the last two years, I can tell you, that isn't the way he thinks and it's not likely the way he will lead. The problems I mentioned above and the many I didn't, suggest that our president surround himself with the most qualified people to address these challenges. After all, he was elected to be the president of all the people - not just those on the left."This is the punch-line to a Huffington Post rant by Obama aide Steve Hildebrand. It is extremely difficult to know where to start with this piece of self-serving hectoring.
In the first place, Hildebrand is peddling the myth that somehow Obama's fund raising departed from previous patterns in a significant way. In fact, instead of in myth, the percentage of donations to the Obama change machine from the 'little guys' was virtually the same as the number of small donors to the Bush war machine in 2004. You can find support that factoid here. The Republicans were correct when they complained that Obama reneged on his commitment to public financing.
In the second place, while it is correct that Obama won with a large margin of the popular vote, he did so by promising change and if, as every indication would lead us to believe, he is filling the administration with the same old, tired personnel, well ... you're damned right we ought to complain. What matters is not a 'make nice' way of dealing in Washington. What matters is that Obama actually change policy - in international affairs and in the domestic economy. While I have never held out much hope that he would do that, the Obama campaign held out precisely that hope. It hardly seems credible for the true believers to now complain when voters and activists actually push Obama to make good on his rhetoric.
We judge people by their records and we should. I have not one iota of faith that Hillary Clinton will advocate anything other than a center right foreign policy. I have not one iota of faith that Larry Summers will be any less enamored of unfettered markets than he always has been. You could go on down the list of Obama's appointments. What evidence does Hildebrand offer that any of these retreads have become born-again? None.
In the third place, the problem with Hildebrand an other self-proclaimed liberal democrats is that they don't get it. The Republicans play to win. You can bet your ass that had McCain won he'd be ramping up to renew our commitment to war and market fundamentalism. The reason I advocate leftist politics and policies is that I think they actually might generate better outcomes for "all the people." If Hildebrand's sanctimony is vaguely representative of the views of this administration you can kiss "change" goodbye. And that is the surest way to 'de-energize' all those new voters who Hildebrand invokes in his piece.
My message to Steve Hildebrand? Shut up and listen. Stop being self-satisfied. Don't treat those who supported your candidate like idiots. And, if you think the criticism you're complaining about is harsh, get ready for a rocky ride. Obama raised expectations he'd better be prepared to meet them.