During the Democratic primaries, bloggers at the Huffington Post were unrelentingly anti-Clinton and pro-Obama -- which they usually equated with being pro-progressive and anti-conservative. Today, the blog has suddenly become pro-Clinton, pro-Obama, and pro-center. In other words, Huffington Post appears to move with popular political currents, which makes it look unprincipled and opportunistic, much like the rest of the "corporate media." I assume Huffington Post qualifies as "corporate media" after securing a multi-million dollar investment.
Yesterday, I surveyed some of the early progressive responses to Obama's national security team. While AlterNet and The Nation maintained their skepticism of and opposition toward Clinton and centrist foreign policy, the Huffington Post has apparently modulated its tone. Most of yesterday's entries on the preeminent blog praise Obama's centrist appointments as being "astute" and even progressive.
If you have followed the Huffington Post even casually over the last year, its recent praise of Clinton and equating of centrist and moderate politics with brilliance should stand out as a noticeable departure from much of the commentary the blog has featured. By raising these contradictions, I am not simply "having fun," as Obama accused a journalist of doing at yesterday's press conference. Instead, I hope to remind progressives why they should never abdicate their critical role in society.
During the past year, most progressives seemed unable to offer any critical insight regarding the candidates that did not extend beyond a predictable pattern of condemning and demonizing Clinton and McCain while giving the highest praise to Obama. Uncritical "analysis," however, does not advance progressive politics.
Furthermore, now that Obama has signaled that he will indeed "govern in prose," progressives risk appearing unprincipled if they do not rethink their prior opinions. Rather than moving forward by offering ideas on policy, the Left is waging a battle over the appropriateness of Obama's personnel decisions. This discussion, however, is simply a proxy for a broader, much delayed debate over Obama's ideology. The Left has finally discovered that Obama is a moderate and a politician -- like the most of the Democratic Party leadership. Now, leftists are trying to decide what to do with the fact that the most progressive presidential candidate in U.S. history is actually a moderate. While some progressives claim Obama misled them, other commentators rightfully argue that progressives allowed their own wild expectations to cloud their evaluation of him.
If progressives had realized or admitted that they were "compromising" and accepting a moderate politician (which is probably the "best scenario" for a presidential election) months ago, a debate over ideology could have already taken place. Furthermore, an earlier search for the truth about the candidates could have spared the party a potentially fatal rift between Clinton and Obama supporters. Clinton supporters were reasonably upset by the constant and damaging portrayals of her as a neconconservative in Democratic attire. Clinton's effort to repair those divisions have earned her the very Cabinet post that now angers some progressives and makes a mockery of their exhausting (as opposed to exhaustive) portrayals of her as a bloodthirsty hawk.
Below, I have posted additional analysis from the Huffington Post that supplements my discussion of these issues from yesterday. This blog post provides additional praise for Clinton and other members of the foreign policy team. This type of analysis rarely appeared on Huffington Post prior to the election.
As we all saw on the morning of December 1, President-elect Barack Obama has clearly assembled a compelling national security team. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has the potential to be a highly effective and respected global diplomat. As secretary of defense, Robert Gates will provide excellent judgment and continuity, along with valuable political cover to a new Democratic commander-in-chief.But perhaps the most astute choice is General James L. Jones, the former commandant of the Marine Corps and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe, as national security adviser. It may prove to be one of the most critical decisions of his presidency.
[Editor: "Continuity" is not "change."]
Related Reading on Dissenting Justice:
*Governing In Prose: Obama's Cabinet Picks Defy Campaign Narrative That Emphasized "Hope," "Change," and "Washington-Outsider" StatusThe "Left" Responds to Obama's "Centrist" Foreign Policy Team
*Back Down Memory Lane: A Review of Anti-Clinton Rhetoric by "Progressives" on Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and AlterNet
*Late (But Thoughtful) AP Article on Irony of Clinton as Secretary of State