August 31, 2009


WASHINGTON - AUGUST 19:  U.S. President Barack Obama poses for photgraphs with NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson during an event honoring Johnson, the 2008 Sprint Cup Champion, at the White House August 19, 2009 in Washington, DC. NASCAR drivers Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. also attended the ceremony.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This WH photo-op snuck right past me the week-before-last while I was away. It features Obama honoring NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, the 2008 Sprint Cup Champion, at the White House.

Given how NASCAR was a Bush/Rove favorite and how much the organization is synonymous with the Southern white conservative male, I can’t see how an image like this — highlighting Obama’s pervasive tendency to curry favor with his philosophical and ideological antagonists — could serve as anything else right now but a red flag waved in the face of good liberals.

What specifically reminded me of the image was this comment at which drew a lot of attention from others in the discussion thread of Life After the Death of the Public Option. A guy named Peter wrote…

This is what happens when you start out with a posture of bipartisanship and compromise. The public option WAS a compromise. Now the compromise has been compromised.
Obama should have started out demanding a single-payer system. He would have gotten the exact same hysterical reaction from the same foaming-at-the-mouth elements of our beloved democracy, but then he could have retreated to a public option, and that would have been considered a compromise.
This should be an object lesson for liberals. Don’t start your negotiations with an apparent willingness to compromise, because your opponents will not respect it, and you will only end up retreating that much farther from your original vision.
I’ve been nothing but tolerant of the outreach agenda since Obama came into office. With the right wing having dedicated August to
demonizing reform and sabotaging public health care meetings with members of Congress, however, I can’t help looking at a picture like this without feeling I’ve been run over.

(image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. August 19, 2009)

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Michael Shaw
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