Sunday, May 13, 2012

Measured Praise

It is an article of faith on the far right that Barack Obama's supporters have been head over heels over him for several years.    Illustrative is this exchange from January 21, 2009 between two of the three most popular talk show hosts in the nation, including one who still refers continually to Obama as "the Messiah":  

HANNITY:  It's gotten so bad. Did you notice they had the commemorative Obama thong? I mean — what do you make of the — you talk about a cult-like personality or you use the term messiah, the anointed one, he descended from the heavens at Invesco Field. What do you make of this Obama worship syndrome, Obama-mania?
LIMBAUGH:  Well, I don't — I — you know, it is cult like depending on the people you're talking about, but let's examine the drive-bye. The media.

As expected, some on the left found President Obama's expression of support this past week for same-sex marriage exhilarating.   Newsweek's Jonathan Rauch argued

Still, Obama has claimed for himself a place in gay history not unlike LBJ’s place in black history. He is the first U.S. president to put the federal government unequivocally on the side of full equality for gay Americans, and he will almost surely be the last Democratic president to have opposed full equality. For his party, for its liberal base, and possibly for the country, there is no going back. He has crossed the bridge from Selma.

Andrew Sullivan,  sometimes libertarian, generally supportive of  Obama, and married to his "partner," referred to the President Sunday on The Chris Matthews Show as a "father figure."  He explained (video below from Crooks and Liars) that he was moved to tears as he "watched our President tell me that I'm his equal....fully part of this family."  

Generally, however, the reaction among liberals/progressives (which periodically includes Sullivan), invariably favorable, was nonetheless sane, sober, restrained, and offered in perspective. Glenn Greenwald observed:

It should go without saying that none of this mitigates the many horrendous things Obama has done in other areas, nor does it mean he deserves re-election. But just as it’s intellectually corrupted to refuse to criticize him when he deserves it, the same is true of refusing to credit him when he deserves it. Today, he deserves credit. LGBT equality is one area — and it’s an important area for millions of Americans — where he has conducted himself commendably and deserves praise. That was true before today, but even more so now.

It might be telling that Sullivan, one of the most effusive in his praise of Obama,  is a registered Republican.    So is the conservative who, prior to Barack Obama's inauguration, gushed

There is an air of something big, something grand, something electric about to explode upon us. Barack Obama's visage is everywhere. His relaxed and reassuring - even beatific - smile is omnipresent. So are his irrepressibly cute girls and their together mom.

Unfortunately, that was not Mr. Etch-a-Sketch.     But it was, however, a genuine conservative- former Pennsylvania governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

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