Maybe the initial illuminating moment came when I learned that Tom Hayden, the anti-Vietnam war activist, had removed the Obama bumper sticker from his car. All I know is that I can hardly stand reading the Huffington Post these days. The stuff coming out of "progressive" mouths is all too often on a par with Glenn Beck's abusive rants--both sides (right and left wingers) playing thousand-pound national football with the President as the ball--meaning, kick kick kick, until you bust his dick. This truly makes me sick. (It's meant to be the rhyme from hell.) I think the straw that broke this camel's back was an horrendously ugly and smearing essay Christian Parenti wrote last week, which was published on the Huffington Post after Obama's Afghanistan speech. In what follows, I have compressed into a single, loathsome paragraph his most outrageous statements:
"Like Lyndon Johnson who escalated in Vietnam, Obama lives in mortal fear of being called a wimp by Republicans. To look strong in front of swing voters he will sacrifice the lives of hundreds of US soldiers; allow many more to be horribly maimed; waste a minimum of $30 billion in public money; and in the process kill many thousands of Afghan civilians. It is political theater nothing else. The real purpose of these 300,000 [sic] soldiers is to make Obama look tough as he heads toward the next US presidential election. In short, he used Afghanistan to show that we [sic] was not the soft, meek, scared, pussified, little Democrat portrayed in GOP spin. There is nothing else to Obama's Afghan strategy. Victory in Afghanistan is reelection in 2012. Whatever the outcome, Obama has made it clear: he is willing to kill to get reelected."
Just get me out of here, folks, fast, or I may do something none of us will like--and it won't be standing tiptoe on a misty mountaintop. More likely, I will need to wash my mouth out with soap when I am done. Or else, allow me to use Andrew Sullivan as my personal Listerine instead. Yesterday he wrote on his blog that he is reading Thomas Merton's translations of Chuang Tzu, and offered up this neat little story reminding him, he says, of Obama's governing style, and helping him to understand better how Obama approaches things:
"When we wear out our minds stubbornly clinging to our partial view of things, refusing to see a deeper agreement between this and its complementary opposite, we have what is called "three in the morning".
What is this three in the morning?
A monkey trainer went to his monkeys and told them:
"As regards your chestnuts: you're going to have three cups in the morning and four in the afternoon."
At this they all became angry. So he said: "All right, in that case I will give you four in the morning and three in the afternoon." This time they were satisfied.
The two arrangements were the same in that the number of chestnuts did not change. But in one case the animals were displeased and in the other they were satisfied. The keeper had been willing to change his personal arrrangement in order to meet objective conditions. He lost nothing by it!
The truly wise man, considering both sides of the question without partiality, sees them both in the light of Tao.
This is called following two courses at once."
So, if you're not a liberal anymore, then what are you? a friend asked me. The answer is I'm a Taoist, even though there isn't a political party yet that goes by that name. And now I can add that I'm also "three in the morning"--which means, in considering both sides of a question, I'm willing to follow two different courses at once. And I'm really glad to have a president who is brave enough and willing to do exactly that, too.