Opinion | Obama’s Curious Cautiousness – By Charles M. Blow – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Matt Slocum/Associated Press

“Barack Obama continues his rather strange mission to confront and correct young liberal activists. It is an odd post-presidential note: A man who is beloved and admired on the left is using his cultural currency as a corrective against those who are on a quest for change.

Wednesday morning on Peter Hamby’s Snapchat show, “Good Luck America,” Obama said this:

“If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it’s not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan like ‘Defund the police,’ but, you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done.”

It was not the first time Obama had taken aim at these young activists. Last year he also took a swipe at wokeness and “call-out culture,” saying, among other things: “If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.”

That speech got him an amen from Ann Coulter, who tweeted: “Good for Obama. (Not sarcastic!)”

These chastisements by Obama delineate the difference between the politician and the activist.”

I’m afraid this is one Charles Blow’s worst columns ever. I quit it early, and went to the comments, and found my response in the top comment, which I endorse:

Socrates
Verona, N.J.Dec. 3

If you want progressive change, and the majority does, you have to be message smartly….not recklessly. America has a self-destructive conservative, regressive streak that requires surgical precision to combat. America also has the best right-wing industrial propaganda complex in the world. Because of these two factors, political messaging and words are critical. The words ‘defund the police’ were a catastrophic choice that helped sink the progressive cause. If people had just stuck to the words ‘police reform’, which is what most Americans want, Democrats would have had a much stronger election result nationwide. The word ‘socialism’ and the use of it by some Democrats was also catastrophic to the Democratic cause. It’s a word that few Americans understand, that is frequently misused, that most Americans are triggered and frightened by and that America’s political right has successfully scared Americans with since the McCarthy era. Republicans built a large part of their 2020 campaign strategy successfully pillorying ‘socialism’ and ‘defund the police’. Democrats need to choose their words better and outmaneuver the right’s industrial propaganda campaign. And incremental success is a world better than progressive perfectionism that tends to result in things like Donald Trump’s 2016 election thanks to the catastrophic progressive votes cast for Jill Stein. Obama’s right. Stay a little to the left, and avoid right-wing catastrophe, and make slow, steady progress.

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