Monday, December 6, 2010


Frank Rich's column yesterday viewing President Obama as a victim of Stockholm Syndrome (where the captive victim identifies with their captor/guard/oppressor) sparked a lot of conversation among folks I know, including my oldest son, who sent me a link to it with his wife's observation that race plays a part as well.

As my son commented, he had

"been using battered wife syndrome to explain Obama's self negotiating (if I act nicer, he won't hit me next time), but Stockholm Syndrome is a better explanation.  Also, [my son's wife] thinks (and I agree) that there is likely a racial component influencing Obama's willingness to ignore his captors' abuse."

I've been using the battered wife syndrome to explain some Democrats' responses to rightwing Republicans in general over the past many years, and unfortunately Obama's recent behavior has seemed to reflect that same syndrome, or as Frank Rich and my son say more accurately Stockholm Syndrome.

His giving in to the completely illogical and ridiculous demand from the Republicans that the wealthiest among us should get continuing tax breaks while the rest of us, including the least wealthy, have to sacrifice because of the debt and deficit, is a major disappointment [and yes I know he didn't have the votes in the Senate to override the Republicans refusal to even consider letting the taxes on the wealthiest go back to what they were before Bush/Cheney started two wars without any taxes to pay for them but instead cut taxes for the rich!]. As is his freeze on wages for federal workers (excluding the military) but not on profits from corporations that pay no taxes and in fact often get tax refunds while raking in profits larger than any in the history of humankind! [See my last post of Bernie Sanders' great speech on that subject.]

The strategy of trying to placate the right has never worked in our history, but sadly, Obama and some Democratic Senators and Representatives have yet to learn that lesson.

As I wrote back to my son Miles, Obama's "negotiating [his] mixed-race background in mostly white and then mostly brown and then mostly black worlds (or at least scenes and circumstances) has diluted his core beliefs into negotiable bargains for barter [it would seem], but as [my old friend Hubert Selby Jr.] used to say whenever I got involved in a new relationship, 'There are no bargains Michael. You think you're only going to have to pay 98 cents, but it turns out to be your right leg!'"

Only in this case, it's the collective right leg (financial security) of the poor and working non-wealthy majority of us going to give even MORE to the wealthiest among us that the rightwing Republicans have always been in the service of, and too-many right-leaning or easily-manipulated-by-the-right Democrats as well. I hate to add Obama to that latter group but it's beginning to seem illogical and unreasonable not to.


AlamedaTom said...

Lal, I can't get into all this fancy smantchy analysis, and I wish things were different, but they are not. I've seen scores of fictional presentations where the weakling stands up to the bully and somehow wins out in the end. But in real life, I see the person who for whatever reason is weaker get into a playground fight and get his ass kicked every dang time. Would it make us all feel warm and fuzzy if Obama "stood up," had his bluff called, and tax cuts were not extended for anyone? The poor get hurt even worse and unemployment does not get extended. This brings me to the crux: in all of history a time ultimately arrives where violent revolution is the only thing that will really make a difference. Until then corporate america will rule us all under its terms, not ours. We have no real power other than to get our asses kicked by the bullies, which might make us feel like important martyrs, but in reality only empowers the evil overlords.

~ Willy

Lally said...

I hear you Tom. But in my experience the bullies do sometimes back down when stood up to. And whether the Republicans would have gone ahead and let unemployment benefits run out is debatable, though my point somewhere up there or in the following posts and many previous ones is that even if they did it would not necessarily be to the Dems advantage because the Repubs have such sway over the media in terms of framing the arguments and spinning the results of political policies and actions. Like the famous one that most people think Obama and the Dems raised taxes when they put through one of the biggest tax cuts for everyone but the wealthy in modern history. As for the analyses (Frank Rich's and mine and etc.) it's pretty provocative, in fact I believe that's what the prez was responding to in his latest press conference (on the 7th, not the one embedded in this blog a few posts after this one) where he referred to "The New York Times editorial page" not being something most "Americans" out there in the rest of the country pay much attention to (and then he added neither do they pay attention to The Wall Street Journal's editoiral page) I think it was Rich's editorial that was getting to him (and I also think he's wrong, that those two editorial pages have a bigger influence indirectly on the "public discourse" than he gives them credit for.