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5-10% better; or, how I learned to shut up and love the Unity Pony

Mandos's picture

I suspect many didn't and won't believe me when I say that, as the primaries unfolded, I was hoping for Hillary Clinton. And I said it then too. I had various reasons, some of which were different from the usual ones. Now people will believe me even less, given that I'm writing a belated Personal Conversion Diary. Because, you see, I was wrong about quite a few things then.

Back then, and during the general, for instance, I remember discussions around here about whether Obama was 1% better than the alternative, or 0.0001% better, with a number of prominent Correnteans voting for 0.0001%. But at the moment, given everything, I would rate him at 5-10%. That there is a stimulus package alone is enough for me to say this. Does anyone doubt that a McCain package would have even less (effective) stimulus? Oh, it may not be enough, and indeed it may not alone save the US economy by any stretch of the imagination. But add to that the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the repeal of the Mexico City Policy, and so on, and, well, you have made an improvement to a large number of people's lives relative to what their condition would have been without these things.

If he could Save The Economy, I'd put him at 25-50% better, but without that, 5-10% better. But 1% and 0.0001% is just, well, being ornery for it's own sake.

This leads to the other thing on my mind, the Unity Pony. Now, for me, well, I view politics as kind of like war. So the Unity meme just rubs me the wrong way. But, ironically, this whole stimulus-bipartisanship debacle has led me to rethink that. I thought that the margin of victory of Obama would be much closer than it was---if he won at all. (ETA based on comments: I am talking about the election victory here. I am saying that the recent stimulus debacle made me reconsider the context of the general election victory, but not in the way some might expect.) But it was not very close. And I give the Unity Pony some credit for that. The media is clearly in love with memes like that. To get past the media filter to keep the (R) party looking sufficiently weak, the Unity Pony was necessary.

I used to think that if Clinton had won the primary, she could have taken the Presidency as easily as Obama. But it's now less clear to me that Clinton could have done this, because it would have been harder to adopt the Unity Pony. So this was clever on Obama's part. And if this were so, then the 5-10% improvement that he represents is owed to the Unity Pony.

Finally, it turns out that it is probably important that he follow through with the Unity Pony. And he has. It has to be very clear and obvious that the (R) party is repudiating the Unity Pony, before a (D) presidency can.

And, from the Big Dog via *gasp* the Great Orange Satan:

Their embed is not quite there yet, so here's a link.

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vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Whether he's better than McCain and by how much remains to be seen... to the extent it could ever be known.

But the Unity Pony meme was and is a stinker, and among the most promising developments in the Obama administration is the increasing hinting that he's coming to realize that.

Now, there are two big risk factors:

1. He won't really budge from his characteristic, chilled-out Kumbaya state
2. He doesn't really want to be that progressive.

As Somerby has pointed out, there has been precious little high-quality analysis of the stimulus bill, but it is substantially weakened by the emphasis on tax cuts, which is the direct result -- methinks -- of him wasting two years and a silver tongue that could have closed the deal on true progressive reform.

How good or bad is he or will he be -- I dunno. It's early yet, and he's so damned inscrutable.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

...he could have used the silver tongue to promote progressive reform, gotten turned into a black Denis Kucinich, and ...

But we might at that point have had Hillary Clinton has as the Democratic candidate for reals.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

But, ironically, this whole stimulus-bipartisanship debacle has led me to rethink that. I thought that the margin of victory of Obama would be much closer than it was---if he won at all. But it was not very close.

I chalk this up as a rather naive view of where our politics currently stands. How could the margin have been any closer? This thing was sure to pass the House. But, how could it have gotten any closer in the Senate? You seem to have come into this thinking that any of the Democrats would break from this which just seems absurd to me. This was not an impressive win, at all. Democrats got a majority in both the House and the Senate.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Why can't Obama be judged on his own merit? He's the effing president now and it doesn't matter how bad everyone else would have been. Why can't everybody get over the election comparisons and judge Obama for what he and he alone is in a position to do?

Didn't they do exit polls on Hillary v McCain? You should be able to provide us with that to back up your claim that Hillary would not have won?

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

More like speculation. After all, that world did not come to exist.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

Why can't Obama be judged on his own merit? He's the effing president now and it doesn't matter how bad everyone else would have been. Why can't everybody get over the election comparisons and judge Obama for what he and he alone is in a position to do?

All politics is comparative. You only get better or worse. In a representative system, the benchmark for representatives is other representatives, for policy, alternative policies.

Submitted by lambert on

"Events, dear boy, events."

I believe it -- I think Hillary would have been able to leverage Lehmann much better than Obama did (advocating HOLC back in February, for example). But we can't really know, because exit polls can't tell us what would have happened in an alternative future where Hillary ran. The Village hated her, and, for example, there might have been an October surprise for her, that there wasn't with Obama.

But here we are now, and, as gq says, Obama's President. I'm not saying "get over it," but I am saying lessons learned are, by definition, in the past. Shoving Obama left is a big project.