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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Economist: Obama Better Watch Out -- Medea Benjamin Is Pissed!

Posted By on Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 5:29 AM

Medea Benjamin, kingmaker
  • Medea Benjamin, kingmaker

The British, it seems, know San Franciscans better than we know ourselves. Wanna make a miniseries out of Tales of the City? Hire a British director and star. Wanna know where to tool around in town? Read the Telegraph. Wanna gauge the political power of local figures? Read The Economist. Well, two out of three ain't bad.

The Economist still qualifies as one of the world's great magazines (other than its antediluvian practice of not affixing bylines to articles). So it was with a mild sense of shock that I read a column in the most recent edition  by "Lexington" (names verboten, nicknames okay) titled "Betrayed By Obama." The columnist predicted potential rough times ahead for the president, thanks to ill feelings from the likes of The Nation, Mother Jones, and the Bay Area's own Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink.

I will let that last one sink in for a moment. What follows is an open letter to The Economist:
SIR --

While I am an admirer of Lexington's work, I feel his latest column was a big swing and a miss. I am using a baseball metaphor because this is America. And in America, regardless of where you stand on their ideals, convictions, or sanity, people like Medea Benjamin are not part of the national discourse.

Benjamin has managed to get herself thrown out of a number of high-profile political speeches in the past six years -- if you Google her name and "interrupted," you'll find no fewer than  2,700 links. But you know what Benjamin hasn't been able to interrupt? The war in Iraq.

Notwithstanding Benjamin's work helping sick and starving people and advocating for fair trade, for journalists to quote her regarding ending the war in Iraq as if she stands at the head of a viable movement is simply irresponsible. When she's recorded in the Bay Guardian as stating "Don't put your hopes in Barack Obama in getting us out of Iraq. Put your hopes in the people," the logical question is "What people? Surely they're not your people." When she's quoted in the Economist complaining that Obama hasn't addressed Israel's incursion into Gaza, one can only wonder if Benjamin will pressure this president as effectively as she pressured the last one about his foreign policy.

In short, to say that Obama's constituency is "fraying around the edges" because of the rumblings of Benjamin, Mother Jones, The Nation, et al. is laughable. Obama did not win the presidency because of support from folks like this. He won in spite of it.

Your Pal,

Joe Eskenazi

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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