Monday, July 26, 2010

Don't Look Back

In the famous documentary Don't Look Back, there is a scene in which Bob Dylan tries to demolish the pretensions of a Time magazine reporter.  The reporter, who wants to prove how smart and well-informed he is, learns from Dylan that he actually knows nothing, and that his magazine has no idea what the truth is.   There is another scene in which Bob Dylan meets a middle-aged English lady with her awkward teen-aged sons in tow, who makes no effort to be hip or smart, but simply gushes at how delighted she is to meet Bob Dylan, how wonderful she thinks he is, and how much she appreciates him being in town to give a concert.   In contrast to his eagerness to put down the Time Magazine reporter, Dylan is completely taken aback, and has no snappy retort for her.   

I have thought about these scenes in formulating the tone for this blog.  Though I am inclined by nature to be a cynical smart-aleck, I have tried to adopt a persona here that is closer to the gushing English lady than the wise guy reporter.  I treat the Obama administration in some ways like a client, even though it is not a client.  That means I consider it my job to present evidence and arguments helpful to my client's position.  I try not to be snarky (except that I can't help letting a satiric or even a slightly negative tone seep in sometimes when discussing the administration's opponents), because snarkiness just encourages more snarkiness, whereas  I think positive expressions of admiration can be more disarming, even to those who do not share your admiration.

It's very easy to criticize or second guess.  People don't even feel the need to know what they are talking about or to show they can implement a better idea, before they offer criticism. My goal here is to be supportive of the Obama administration, not because they are perfect, but because they already have to contend with more than enough criticism from all sides.  If I were to meet the president again (I shook his hand as a candidate but did not get a chance to talk to him), I don't think I would ask him when we are closing Guantanamo or why we couldn't get stricter financial regulations.  I would just tell him that I support him 100%.

I was explaining to someone this weekend at Netroots Nation that my blog acts as something of  a cheerleader for the Obama administration,  His response: "So you drank the Kool-Aid?"  I guess I must have.  I don't think everyone should bow down unquestioningly before Our Leader.  But I do think the administration could use a little more unqualified support, and that is what I personally try to provide.  There are scary forces on the right that take advantage of any and all signs of discontent.  I have no wish to empower those forces. 

I was pleased by the way to learn that the straw poll taken at Netroots Nation this weekend gave the president an 84% approval rating.  Considering that the Netroots show a high level of snarkiness, and have not shied away from criticizing the administration since it came to power, this level of support is reassuring. With mid-term elections coming up, this is a good time to remain positive and supportive.


  1. Joe, thank you for your post. I have come to believe that the general political divisiveness currently pervading our system would create a nearly impossible obstacle for any president, no matter what. As a nation, we seem to have forgotten that the competition ends at the conclusion of the election, that we can go back to being "fellow Americans," embracing our president just because he's ours. Instead, it appears that some would prefer to emasculate our nation by maintaining an attack on our Highest Officer throughout his term. This behavior is good only for the flame throwers, while it undermines national capacity and is traitorous against us all.

  2. Bravo! Great post. My hope is that those leaning left and those leaning right put your ideas to work on an ongoing basis. May your's and my memories be enduring so that we avoid sounding lopsided 2,4,8, 12 yewars from now.