The Corner

Riots as Protests Again

Those are all good points, Andy. There is tremendous continuity between Obama’s past and the current administration. Of course, that’s one of the themes of the book.  Obama has been running the same “inside/outside” game he perfected in Chicago, coordinating with some of his old organizer buddies and their groups, who run many of the grassroots campaigns for his policies.

But my book is also very careful to separate what I think I can say with some documentary reliability, what I think I can argue as an educated conjecture, given a large body of supporting evidence, and what I must leave for the reader to decide.

For a while, the Internet was buzzing with a bogus story that said I was claiming Obama is rooting for the rioters in England. I just don’t think I have enough evidence to decide that matter with any certainty. So how can I claim it?

What I was really saying in my original post, as opposed to the bogus interpretation that started flying around the Internet, was that, given his lifelong background in community organizing, Obama probably still looks at civil disorders as expressions of the political yearnings of the powerless, much like Livingstone. This was the worldview Obama drank in with such passion, and I doubt he could completely drop that intellectual prism, even if he wanted to.

But that’s not to say Obama is certainly and actually rooting for the riots right now, even if you can make a case that he could be. This is just too complicated and unknown a situation for me to go beyond the thought that Obama’s old organizing worldview is likely still active when he looks over at England.

What’s happening in Britain now cuts several different ways. Some on the left may see it as an opportunity to discredit austerity as a policy. But Obama’s advisors may also be worried that events in England only demonstrate how much trouble we’ll be in if we don’t cut spending now, while there’s still time. And this whole drama contributes to a sense that the world is spinning out of Obama’s control. Under these circumstances, I did not, and cannot, say exactly what Obama is rooting for. If you, as a thoughtful reader, want to draw such conclusions, you are more than welcome to do so, and it’s an honor to me. But I am committed to remaining clear and cautious about what I can say with some reasonable assurance.

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