Tuesday, July 8, 2008

NY Times’ Bob Herbert Grieves Over “Obama’s Lurches to the Right”

Photo credits: AP

The past week or so has been a time of awakening for Obama supporters, and I’m trying to shake off the impulse to say - nay, to scream - “I told you so!” Still, I feel at least a trace of compassion for the disillusionment of the hordes of computer-savvy youth who were so swept up in Obamania they would not have moved aside if a 16-wheeler had threatened to plough through their ranks.

But for middle-aged adults, especially among the punditry, I’m having trouble finding sympathy. Yesterday in the NY Times it was Frank Rich grieving for the Obama he thought he knew and this morning on the same op-ed page, it’s Bob Herbert, who throughout the primary resorted to every devious trick in the trade to trash Hillary Clinton for the sake of his haloed Obama.

Like Rich, Herbert has obviously entered the early stages of grief. He begins his lament: ‘“In one of the numbers from ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ Tevye sings, with a mixture of emotions: ‘We haven’t got the man ... we had when we began.”’

Sorrowfully our man at the Times continues:

“Back in January when Barack Obama pulled off his stunning win in the Iowa caucuses, and people were lining up in the cold and snow for hours just to get a glimpse of him, there was a wide and growing belief — encouraged to the max by the candidate — that something new in American politics had arrived.

Get that, dear readers, “a wide and growing belief…that something new in American politics had arrived.” We are forced to ask Mr. Herbert’s age, I mean, after all.

Needless to say Herbert continues his sad reminiscence:

‘“His {Obama’s} brilliant, nationally televised victory speech in Des Moines sent a shiver of hope through much of the electorate. ‘The time has come for a president who will be honest about the choices and the challenges we face,’ said Senator Obama, ‘who will listen to you and learn from you, even when we disagree, who won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know.”’

(Don’t forget, Mr. Herbert, that shiver even went up Chris Matthews’ leg.)

The travail goes on:

“Only an idiot would think or hope that a politician going through the crucible of a presidential campaign could hold fast to every position, steer clear of the stumbling blocks of nuance and never make a mistake. But Barack Obama went out of his way to create the impression that he was a new kind of political leader — more honest, less cynical and less relentlessly calculating than most.”

Did you get that, Katalusis readers? “Barack Obama went out of his way to create the impression that he was a new kind of political leader – more honest, less cynical and less relentlessly calculating than most.”

I guess it must have been the evident purity emanating from Barack Obama that justified the Left’s borrowing from the Right all that sexism and misogyny to throw at Hillary Clinton to repeatedly try to force her out of the race. You can just hear the good old boys chortling, “That’ll teach those uppity women like Alice Palmer and Hillary Clinton once and for all to “sit down, shut up, and get with the program.”

But back to Herbert’s op-ed; he thinks it would have been okay, if Obama had deceived voters only a tad here and there:

“One issue or another might not have made much difference. Tacking toward the center in a general election is as common as kissing babies in a campaign, and lord knows the Democrats need to expand their coalition.

“But Senator Obama is not just tacking gently toward the center. He’s lurching right when it suits him, and he’s zigging with the kind of reckless abandon that’s guaranteed to cause disillusion, if not whiplash.”

Barack Obama, “lurching toward the right when it suits him.” Can you beat that?

If you’d like to read the rest of Herbert’s column, go here. But don’t forget to take your Kleenex.


  1. Hello Virginia. I'm with you. I also find it difficult to drum up sympathy for Obama supporters who thought he was anything more than a typical politician, specifically those who spewed such vitriol and hatred toward Hillary during the primary campaign. Actually, I zip over to HuffPo because I find it amusing to watch them eat their young on that blog. Alas, it will only become more obvious as time wears on that Obama is a true Chicago politician. He is the ultimate ringmaster.

  2. Well said, Crazy Dreamer, thanks for stopping by. Hope you'll keep in touch.

  3. Bob Herbert is the lurcher. Watch with care. He did the same thing during the campaign versus Hillary. He worries whenever he sees Barack under attack and when his friends worry. When Barack deals with things and moves on, Herbert moves back into the cheering section. So by following Herbert's line one buys into a take that has little understanding of what drives Barack and little appreciation for his stance.

  4. I agree with you to a point, Stephen. I don't think Bob Herbert is an emotionally mature columnist as indicated by a few of his outrageouly sexist tirades against Hillary Clinton.