Live Chat: Robert Scheer on the Election
Posted on Nov 4, 2010
Scheer: I’m the guy who debated Ralph Nader on the [ocean liner] cruise of the most important liberal publication for 144 years, The Nation magazine, and it’s on our site. I debated Ralph Nader a few years back on a cruise, saying he was wrong, Obama was going to be a great hope, things were going to change, the Democratic Party was the only party up … let me here and now apologize to Ralph Nader, and to Chris Hedges, who didn’t take that position. I think I vastly underestimated the deceptiveness and chicanery of the Democratic Party leadership. I think what Rahm Emanuel and these people around Obama—and I guess you have to blame Obama, he’s not some innocent—did to the economy, to the people here, is outrageous. And everybody talks about, well, there’ll be a good Supreme Court—even the Supreme Court appointees aren’t so flamingly wonderful. But the reality is that he threw in with the Wall Street bandits, and made them whole. They’re doing great. And he screwed the average person. And so—who are these people around him? How do they sleep at night? I don’t get it, frankly. And yes, to answer your question, I think Chris Hedges has been a prophet. He’s a prophetic voice, and unfortunately he’s been right—I would prefer that he’d been wrong, and things had worked out splendidly, but I see a big mess out there, and I see the Democratic leadership being up to its eyeballs in it. And I think the voters were right to punish him [Obama] this time. Right to punish him. Unfortunately, it would have been better if they’d punished him with some sort of progressive alternative. But really, as Chris Hedges points out in his current Truthdig article, it really doesn’t exist.
Anderson: OK. We have a follow-up question. …
Scheer: Let me ask you something, “voice off-camera.” You said you don’t agree; what is your position?
Anderson: I didn’t say I didn’t agree. I said I had my ideas.
Square, Site wide
Anderson: No, I will be the disembodied voice. I was thinking that …
Scheer: This is how Truthdig operates. This is our editor Kasia Anderson, one of our editors. And so we have disagreement. Our managing editor, Peter Scheer, most often disagrees with me on these; he’s much more sympathetic to Obama. So what is your position, Kasia? We have lively debates in the office, why not let people in on it?
Anderson: Well, this won’t be a debate, because my position is that I do think that he [Hedges] called this way ahead of time—at least two years ago. And I was reluctant, as you were, to believe that. But I’ve since realized the wisdom of his words, in terms of the right mobilizing and the sort of radical movement that’s popping up.
Scheer: Let me ask you a question, because I was challenged on—we also have this tape on our site—on GritTV by Laura Flanders, who I respect. And she said “You’re only taking this position because you’re a white male.” And, you know, “You don’t care about Supreme Court appointees, you don’t care about what the right wing is going to do to civil rights and to women’s rights,” and so forth. So, you’re a woman. What do you think? I mean, am I betraying … I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I mean … I argue … I gave a talk in New York last week, and I was booed by some women because I said, you know, choice [the right to choose whether to have an abortion] doesn’t trump everything else. Getting judges on the Supreme Court who will back Roe vs. Wade—all my life I’ve been told that’s the issue. No! People putting food on the table, people having jobs, people being able to clothe their kids, people being able to send their kids to school. When you have 44 million Americans living in poverty—that means a family of four living under $21,000—that’s the issue. That’s the issue! And I don’t think choice trumps everything else, and I don’t think the fact that this guy might give us a better Supreme Court appointee trumps everything else.
I think, you know, there’s a real issue here of whether people who call themselves liberals and progressive and Democrats really care about the ordinary people. And ordinary people in America are hurting now, big, big time. You know? And this guy—I’m really confused by Obama, because I watched his press conference; the guy is incredibly appealing, he has all the right moves, you know, he’s logical, he’s smart. I wonder, where is his soul? You know, where is his feeling? Is he in touch with this? Did he learn anything as a community organizer in Chicago—which was really a brief time in his life, you know. I mean, Honolulu doesn’t have that kind of visible poverty, but it does have poor people. And, you know, is he in touch at all with the reality of the American experience now, which is quite painful for many people? They’re scared.
Anderson: OK, we have two more questions from readers, so I don’t want to take up time …
Scheer: OK …
Anderson: … defending the feminist position on choice, right at this particular chat …
Scheer: I consider myself a feminist. I don’t want [the situation to be what it was before the ruling in] Roe vs. Wade. … I was alive when people died from coat-hanger abortions. I’m not trying to minimize that issue. I think it’s a basic human rights issue that women should have control of their bodies. I’m not dismissing it. What I am saying is that it cannot trump every other concern on the political landscape.
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