Day By Day

Friday, December 04, 2009

Obie Loses Gary

Obama's decision to commit more troops to Afghanistan was the last straw for Gary Wills. He writes in the New York Review [of Books] Blog:

I did not think he would lose me so soon—sooner than Bill Clinton did. Like many people, I was deeply invested in the success of our first African-American president. I had written op-ed pieces and articles to support him in The New York Times and The New York Review of Books. My wife and I had maxed out in donations for him. Our children had been ardent for his cause.

Others I respect have given up on him before now. I can see why. His backtracking on the treatment of torture (and photographs of torture), his hesitations to give up on rendition, on detentions, on military commissions, and on signing statements, are disheartening continuations of George W. Bush’s heritage.


If we had wanted Bush’s wars, and contractors, and corruption, we could have voted for John McCain. At least we would have seen our foe facing us, not felt him at our back, as now we do.


I cannot vote for any Republican. But Obama will not get another penny from me, or another word of praise, after this betrayal.
Read the whole thing here.

Wills is a wonderful writer and a smart guy but he has always been something of a fantasist and moralist, combing through American history for great heroes [Kennedy, Lincoln] to praise and great villains to excoriate [Nixon, Bush]. Obama was the latest in his pantheon of heroes, but unlike the others who are safely in their graves and therefore subject to radical reinterpretation, our fine young president is still living and acting and inevitably disappointing those moral absolutists like Wills who would hold him to an inhuman standard.

I don't much care for Obama, but my sense is that if he has lost the support of people like Gary Wills he must be doing something right. Maybe he is starting to learn how to be a responsible president -- for the country's sake I hope so.