SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
“Grass-Roots Battle Tests The Obama Movement,” ran a headline in the Washington Post yesterday atop an article that looked at why health care reform has bogged down. The story examined the work of activist Jeremy Bird, who “became one of the people most responsible for validating Obama’s campaign ethos: that grass-roots support can power government and shape legislation.”
Wake up, people. There never was an Obama movement. There was merely a rhetorically gifted candidate who inspired a lot of people who should have known better (admittedly, it was easy to believe given the alternatives) and who foisted on to Obama their fondest hopes and desires, which were largely delusional. Now, Obama is disappointing them just as thoroughly as did Bill Clinton, the last candidate liberals stupidly fell in love with, and not just on healthcare but pretty much across the board.
Yes, Obama was the best candidate and yes, he may even accomplish something decent here and there over the next four years. But let’s not talk about an Obama movement, because that’s a fantasy.
What’s sad is how many liberal Obama supporters continue to believe and insist that he’s the real thing. One even hears progressives saying that health care reform would have worked out differently if only Tom Daschle had been confirmed as secretary of health and human services. Yes, Tom Daschle, the Democratic hack, industry advocate and tax cheat would have been able to get through health care reform, maybe even a single payer system.
And you thought the Republicans lived in fantasyland.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”