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Obama stump speech strategy of conciliation considered harmful

[Just cross-posted to Kos. How about a recommendation? And welcome, Eschatonians, Paul Krugman, Digby, Andrew Tobias, and Sadly, No readers. And Avedon, you know I do.]

[And readers, if you want others to read this post, you can use the Digg or Reddit buttons below to recommend it.]

* * *

ONE CURRENT PERMATHREAD on Big Orange is that Krugman and Obama are feuding or having a vendetta. Which, when you take a step back, is bizarre. That movement conservatives and Villagers like stone Bush enabler William Kristol, like David Brooks, Broderella, and Andrew Sullivan are all good with Obama isn't even mentioned in passing by Obama's fan base. And yet those same enthusiasts spend inordinate amounts of time vilifying Paul Krugman, a true progressive who was there for us from the earliest dark days of the Bush regime.

Curious. What's really happening?

Krugman doesn't have a problem with Obama; Krugman has a problem with what Obama believes about the relationship between politics and economics. Moreover, Krugman makes a case that Obamaphiles have yet to confront and refute. [There is considerable commentary from Obama supporters on this thread. Readers may judge whether Krugman's case is refuted, engaged, or even understood. --Lambert] But for those who came in late -- that is, those for whom Obama might be the very first political figure they've supported or with whom they've identified -- I need to set the table by summarizing the political economy of the last thirty years or so. (I'm trying to write like an economist here, and I'm not one, but I'll give it my best shot.)

It's conventional wisdom (says Krugman) among many economic schools, not just the left, that economics drives politics, and not the other way round. Economics is seen as more fundamental than politics, certainly more fundamental than electoral politics. Economic trends are deep tides, and political changes are mere waves, froth on the surface.

Yet if you look at the history of the last thirty or so years, it seems (says Krugman) that conventional wisdom has been stood on its head, and that politics drove economics.

And that is our history as we know it. Starting in the 1970s, at about the time of the Lewis Powell memo, an interlocking network of right wing billionaires and theocrats began to fund the institutions whose dominance we take for granted today: The American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, The Family Research Council, the Federalist Society, the Brookings Institute (over time), and on and on. During this period, College Republican operatives like Rove, Abramoff, and Gary Bauer became important figures in this network, as did the ex-Trotskyite neocons who broke away from the Scoop Jackson wing of the Democratic Party. The period was also marked by the steady retreat of the press from reporting, under twin pressures from the right "working the refs", as Eric Alterman put it, and winger billionaire owners slashing news coverage in favor of "entertainment," and by the steady advance of Rush Limbaugh on talk radio and, later, by Matt Drudge on the web. And if you got hooked into that network, you got the cradle-to-grave protection typical of socialism: You always had a job, whether as a "fellow" or "scholar" at the AEI, a shouting head on Crossfire, as a columnist, as a contractor, as a political appointee or staffer, or as a lobbyist, and so on and on and on. You always got funding. You were made. Just for the sake of having an easy label for this dense network of institutions, operatives, ideologues, and Republican Party figures, let's call it the Conservative Movement (instead of HRC's* Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, since it's not really a conspiracy, except possibly an emergent one. The billionaires don't -- except for Scaife during the Arkansas project, or Rupert Murdoch playing editor -- generally pick up the phone and give orders; rather, they manage the Conservative Movement like an investment portfolio of entertainment properties; some start-ups (Politico), some stars (FOX), some cash cows (Limbaugh), some dogs (American Spectator)). Slowly but surely, well funded and well organized Conservatives pushed their ideas from unthinkable, to radical, to acceptable, to sensible, to popular, and finally into policy, in a process described as The Overton Window. As surely and ruthlessly, progressive ideas were marginalized, and then silenced altogether. And spending what it took, the winger billionaires used the Conservative Movement to restructure politics, and having restructured politics, economics. To their economic benefit.

For these billionaires, the ROI of the Conservative Movement is absolutely spectacular. At the micro level, for example, if you want to create an aristocracy, then you want to eliminate any taxes on inherited wealth, despite what Warren Buffet or Bill Gates might say about the values entailed by that project. So, the Conservative Movement goes to work, develops and successfully propagates the "death tax" talking point (meme, frame) -- which they may even believe in, as if sincerity were the point -- and voila! Whoever thought that "family values" would translate to "feudal values" and dynastic wealth? At the macro level, their ROI has been spectacular as well. Real wages have been flat for a generation; unions have been disempowered; the powers of corporations greatly increased; government has become an agent for the corporations, rather than a protector of the people; the safety net has been shredded; and so on and on and on.

Blog_CBO_Income_Inequality_2007 The picture tells the story. The Conservative Movement succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the billionaires who invested in it. Despite the remarkable gains that we have made in productivity, they creamed most of it off.

Today, in 2007, the Conservative Movement is in runaway mode, like a reactor with no control rods or a car with no brakes. Ideologically, the Movement began as a drive to roll back the New Deal in reaction (see Peter Arno's wonderful New Yorker cartoon nearby) to the hated FDR**. But now, with no checks, the winger billionaires have begun to roll us farther back to the Darwinian conditions of 1890s Gilded Age, and, with the destruction of habeas corpus, roll us all the way back to the time, before the Magna Carta, when the king's word was law. Any limitation, any limitation at all, on the corporate powers that create the income streams from which the billionaires feed must be removed; hence the nonsensical idea that corporations, as fictive persons, have free speech; hence the aggrandizement of executive power, with huge and secret money flows to well-connected firms; hence the destruction of Constitutional government. (All this takes place against a background of looting and asset stripping on an imperial, Roman scale, of which the "subprime" "crisis" is but the latest of many examples.)arno

The bottom line (says Krugman): Politics drives economics, and not the other way round.

So, what kind of politics do we progressives need?

We come to Obama.

Here are the two money paragraphs from the almost always eloquent Obama's latest (and truly brilliant) stump speech. Time's Mark Halperin had it first:

[OBAMA] You know that we can’t afford four more years of the same divisive food fight in Washington that’s about scoring political points instead of solving problems; that’s about tearing your opponents down instead of lifting this country up. ...

It’s change that won’t just come from more anger at Washington or turning up the heat on Republicans. There’s no shortage of anger and bluster and bitter partisanship out there. We don’t need more heat. We need more light. I’ve learned in my life that you can stand firm in your principles while still reaching out to those who might not always agree with you. And although the Republican operatives in Washington might not be interested in hearing what we have to say, I think Republican and independent voters outside of Washington are. That’s the once-in-a-generation opportunity we have in this election.

I believe!

But. Not. I hope I've been able to persuade you, through a quick look at the political economy of the last 30 years, that what's going on in politics today is a little bit more complicated -- and much more important -- than a "divisive food fight." Indeed, the very phrase itself trivializes both the scale of the problem, and the efforts of those progressives who are fighting for solutions.

All progressives--and most Democrats--agree on the "once-in-a-generation" opportunity and the stakes. That's not the issue. The issue is: What kind of politics can turn the opportunity into permanent, progressive change? What kind of politics can drive economics? Because that's what it will take to achieve even universal health care. We're supposed to be from the reality-based community, and we're supposed to rely on the hard-won Enlightenment tools of evidence and reasoning, and here I think Obama's stump speech strategy comes up short. (I'll give my objections, and summarize, tendentiously but I hope not unfairly, the responses I've gotten from Obama's supporters to points I've made during a recent sojourn on Big Orange.)

Obama presents himself as post-partisan, but partisan politics are needed. The "food fight," obviously a partisan food fight, is purest Equivalation. The Democrats didn't break the world record for filibusters when they were in the minority; but the Republicans just did. And when the press covered the (very few) Democratic filibusters, they called them "filibusters." And when the press covers the (never-ending) Republican filibusters, the word "filibuster" gets magically transmuted into the "60 votes needed to pass." And last I checked, Democrats were allowing anybody to come to their election rallies, but Bush was screening his to make sure only Republicans attended. This is the Conservative Movement in action. Sure, there's a "food fight," but most of the food that's in the air is coming from one side of the cafeteria!

So why on earth would Obama think that "tearing down" the Conservative Movement and "lifting this country up" are opposites? They're the same! And we need the kind of politics that treats them that way. When the Swift Boat guys smeared Kerry, Kerry should have "torn them down." Beating Bush in 2004 sure would have "lifted up" the country! Back in the McCarthy era, Margaret Chase Smith "tore down" Joe McCarthy with her Declaration of Conscience, and that sure "lifted up" the country! Sam Ervin "tore down" Richard Nixon and got started impeaching him. That lifted up the country too--'til Gerald Ford let us down, anyway.

More importantly, we've given some idea, in the short history above, of how powerful, and how entrenched, the Conservative Movement has become in official Washington (the Village).*** If an election is held in 2008, and if an Democrat is elected, and is allowed to take office, and that Democrat is Obama, the Conservative Movement, and its billionaire funders, are not going to change their playbook. Why would they change what has worked out well for them? They will go right back and run the same plays that they ran when the last Democrat was elected (see Appendix I). The day that Obama touches a hair on the head of some Regent University grad who's rewriting the work of a NASA scientist on climate change from a Christianist perspective, the howls of outrage about "hatred," and "liberal fascism," and "authoritarianism of the left," and -- bless their hearts -- the separation of powers are going to begin, the howling is not going to let up, and the Conservative Movement and the press are going to amplify it until Obama either caves or figures out the state legislature in Springfield was Triple-A ball, not the show, grabs a bat, and gets their attention by administering an old-fashioned beat down. (Meanwhile, the Christianist will be all over the teebee, and if they pass, they'll get a book deal. You know the drill.)

Progressive policies -- this election, health insurance, above all -- will be vehemently opposed by the Conservative Movement and the winger billionaires because progressive policies are not in their economic interests. In fact, they've been working for 30 years against progressive policies, and have been well paid to do so. They won't change. Why would they? So, there's going to be a food fight. Don't we need the kind of politics that's going to win the fight, rather than deplore it?

So, what would the countervailing force to the Conservative Movement be? What kind of politics? Well, one answer would be party building. Use the 2008 mandate--assuming Obama doesn't destroy any mandate for policy by tacking, Sister Souljah style, to the (vanishing) center--to build stronger, more progressive party institutions. Use control over the legislature for -- this time -- real oversight, and destroy the Republican brand and cripple the Conservative Movement. All we need to do is show the truth! Enforce subpoenas, and destroy the Republican brand and cripple the Conservative Movement. Re-professionalize the Justice Department, and it follows as the night the day that plenty of Republican criminals are prosecuted, which destroys the Republican brand and cripples the Conservative Movement.

Tearing down the Conservative Movement is exactly the kind of politics that's needed to lift the country up!

Obama wants to "reach out," but that strategy has already been tried. Obama says he wants to "reach out" to Republicans. But Reid and Pelosi "reached out" to Republicans, and that strategy was a miserable failure.

Reid and Pelosi "reached out" to Republicans by taking impeachment off the table.

Reid and Pelosi "reached out" to Republicans by not using the power of the purse either to end the war or to curb executive power.

Read and Pelosi "reached out" to Republicans through FISA "reform" by trying to give Bush more power than even the Republicans tried to give him, when they were in the majority.

In fact, Reid and Pelosi "reached out" to Republicans by caving and capitulating to them on just about any issue you can name.

And what did we get? We got nothing. We didn't get the legislation, because the Republicans filibustered everything in sight. And we didn't get any oversight, because Reid and Pelosi were so busy "reaching out" that they didn't have time to enforce the subpeonas and ended up writing Sternly Worded Letters instead.

So, when Obama reaches out, how would that be any different from the reaching out that Reid and Pelosi already did? What the Obama fan base says is that, since we won't get to a filibuster-proof supermajority, a strategy of conciliation makes sense; they plan to pick off Republicans in onesies and twosies to pass needed legislation. Unfortunately, as we've seen, that's what Reid and Pelosi already tried, so why would we try it again? But, say the fans, Obama has a track record: Look at the Transparency in Government Act, where Obama teamed up with Republican Tom Coburn to pass legislation that put government spending programs on a searchable website for public access. No question that this is a good bill, but as proof of concept for a "reach out" strategy, it's weak (but, apparently, the best example available). For one thing, the bill is an obvious descendant of the work Gingrich (even a stopped clock) did with Thomas, which gave the public web access to legislation, so politically the bill was low-hanging fruit that could be sold in the classic Republican small government, anti-spending mode. No truly progressive policies will meet those conditions. More importantly, Obama's Transparency achievement, though real, is trivial--both in terms of policy outcomes and potential for conflict--seen relative to what's going to be needed to achieve universal health care (let alone clawing back income distribution to some sane, non-Gilded Age level). But wait, say the fans, you don't really understand; what Obama wants to do [at least now] is bring "Republican and independent voters outside of Washington" into the fold, and that will give us the leverage we need for real change. And if this were true, I would have expected to see enough calls from these Republican and independent voters to prevent children from dying because Bush vetoed S-CHIP, to take but one example of many. Ditto FISA (See Appendix II). Didn't happen. Na ga happen.

Here's another idea:

When you've got them by the balls, the heart and head soon follow. How about we try real oversight and a return to the rule of law in the form of criminal investigations, indictments, and jail time, instead of singing kumbaya? Combine that with a strong institutional presence in the form of a party you can actually mobilize, and you might get the Conservative Movement back in line. With a Democratic president, there'll be no pardons for them. Some operatives should do time, pour encourager les autres. That's the kind of politics we need.

Obama presents himself as unifying, but accountability is what's needed. Let's repeat that "reach out" paragraph:

I’ve learned in my life that you can stand firm in your principles while still reaching out to those who might not always agree with you.

Fine words butter no parsnips. What principles are we talking about, here? Off the top of my head:

1. The principle that everyone is equal before the law.

2. The principle that this nation does not torture.

3. The principle that there are three co-equal branches of government.

4. The principle that high government officials should not break the law with impunity.

5. The principle that elections are not stolen

6. The principle that war is not made on fake evidence

[To give but a few examples of how the Conservative Movement violated each principle: 1 Republican Justice Department uses criminal justice system to prosecute Democrats before elections. 2 Abu Ghraib; European gulags; Gitmo; destroyed CIA tapes. 3 Signing statements; Fourth Branch of government. 4 Scooter Libby. 5 Florida 2000; Ohio 2004. 6 Downing Street Memo (full text).]

Check that list, and start crossing off the Republicans whose actions show that they don't share those principles, and whose principles differ from all progressives, most Democrats, and most Americans, and by the time you're done, you'll have about as many Republicans as would fit in an elevator. A very small, dumbwaiter-sized elevator. In fact, when the elevator door opens, you might just end up "reaching out" to empty space.

This isn't just a matter of a "food fight," or "disagreements." These are not abstract agree-to-disagree issues. Violating these principles ought to entail criminal prosecution (destroyed CIA tapes, election theft), impeachment (signing statements), or whatever the remedy is for just plain evil (torture).

So at best, Obama is feeding us highflown, but vacuous rhetoric. At worst, he'll let the Conservative Movement operatives who drive the Bush administration get away clean, after committing criminal and impeachable offenses with impunity and no accountability of any kind. That's not the kind of politics we need to achieve a permanent progressive majority.

Obama presents himself as a change agent, but weakens the forces that bring about change. You can't win a mandate with a content-free platform, and conflict-free is content-free. And if there's no mandate for change, then there's no change.

So much of the advocacy for Obama highlights his attractive personality, his personal history, his rhetorical skills, and his negotiation skills. Atrios says it best:

Shorter Candidates

Obama: The system sucks, but I'm so awesome that it'll melt away before me.

Edwards: The system sucks, and we're gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.

Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.

We don't need the kind of politics that's about a single, charismatic figure. We need a mandate for progressive change. But when Obama focuses on "the big table," and "negotiation," and "reaching out," and the whole kumbaya thing, he weakens what Keynes calls the "animal spirits" of the very activists and social entrepreneurs that we need to build progressive institutions, and get progressive policies into the Overton Window and then enacted.

Universal health care is not going to come because Obama sits the players down around the big table and they suddenly, magically,**** "see the light" because of his mad negotiation skillz as an honest broker; it's not in their interest to see what we see, and so they won't. Universal health care may happen because of heat; if enough people can put heat on the corporations, and on their elected representatives, to make it happen. Confrontation increases voter turnout, and that can only be good for our side. And confrontation is heat, not light. Obama has it exactly backward.

And here I have to say that this passage--

... there’s no shortage of anger and bluster ...

--grotesquely trivializes the experience of any aware citizen under Bush's rule. Is it wrong to be "angry" that the Bush administration has turned us into a nation of torturers? Is it wrong to be "angry" that the Republicans took us to war under false pretenses? Is it "bluster" to say that Cheney's claim to be the Fourth Branch of government is absurd? Is it "bluster" to demand our Fourth Amendment rights back?

And who might these angry blusterers be?

Surely not those "principled" Republicans, since Obama wants to "reach out" to them. Surely not Reid and Pelosi; they've been nice as nice, going off to the slaughter like lambs. Surely not Rahm Emmanuel or Chuck Schumer! And surely not Kristol, Broder, Brooks, or Sullivan!

Could the angry blusterers be .... Progressives? Harshing the mellow with their demands for accountability and the restoration of Constitutional government?

Do we really need the kind of politics that tells us to lay back and enjoy it?

The country can't afford to wait for Obama to discover that his strategy of conciliation has failed. Do the math. Reid and Pelosi tried "reaching out" in 2007. Nothing will happen in 2008. Assuming Obama takes office in 2009, it will take his conciliatory strategy a year to fail, which it will, since he's doing the same thing Reid and Pelosi did while expecting a different result.

That brings us to 2010.

Can the country really hold out against a runaway Conservative Movement that long?

* * *

In short, I think Krugman is right, and Obama is wrong. Krugman doesn't have a problem with Obama, but with Obama's strategy. Krugman writes:

It’s actually Mr. Obama who’s being unrealistic here, believing that the insurance and drug industries — which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems — will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform. The fact is that there’s no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste.

As a result, drug and insurance companies — backed by the conservative movement as a whole — will be implacably opposed to any significant reforms. And what would Mr. Obama do then? “I’ll get on television and say Harry and Louise are lying,” he says. I’m sure the lobbyists are terrified.

As health care goes, so goes the rest of the progressive agenda. Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world.

Bingo.

Krugman doesn't have an Obama problem; Obama has a Krugman problem. Because Krugman is right.

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC As indicated by my sig, of course I'll vote for Obama in the general, and happily so. [UPDATE: This post is from December 2007, before Obama's primary campaign threw me, and those like me, under the bus, and convinced me that I had no place in the Democrat Party. The straw that broke my back was that Obama voted in favor of FISA [cough] reform, and hence against the rule of law and the Fourth Amendment.] That doesn't mean I won't stop pushing for the kind progressive politics I think the country needs. [UPDATE: "Progressive" is used here without irony; again, when the post was written, the casual smears and misogny of the so-called "progressive" movement had not yet become evident.

NOTE * All credit due to HRC for mainstreaming VRWC, and more importantly the very concept. It's a mystery to me why she hasn't tried to leverage her understanding for strategic purposes, rather than for narrow tactical goals during the Lewinsky matter (see Appendix I).

NOTE ** Jonah Goldberg's latest emission, Liberal Fascism, is but the latest, yet by no means the best, example of work in this genre.

NOTE *** Back in the day, the parties were a lot less "polarized" than they are today. Historically, the Democratic Party was a coalition, and racist Southern and very senior representatives played a strong part within it. Similarly, the Republican Party was also a coalition, with moderate Republicans, often from the Northeast (Margaret Chase Smith, who stood up to McCarthy) or the Midwest (Charles Percy). Because both parties were coalitions, shifting alliances between party factions ("bipartisanship") was the order of the day. However, when LBJ got civil rights legislation passed, the Republicans under Nixon countered with the Southern Strategy, and peeled off the racists. Similarly, the political environment squeezed out many moderate Republicans, as they were attacked from the right by the Conservative Movement, and from the left by Democrats. The result was that both parties became much more like disciplined parties than fractious coalitions, and so the era where factions within the parties could be played off against each other -- which, operationally, is what bipartisanship means and has always meant -- came to an end. Villagers like Broder or Russert would like to play "honest brokers" between the parties, but such honesty is not possible, because the Village is, institutionally, an almost wholly owned subsidiary of the Conservative Movement (with the exception of a few honorable individuals and some fresh progressive institutions). We must also notice and remember that when Broder and the Villagers wax nostalgic for the twin lost causes of Bipartisanship and Civility, they're privileging their own self-images as honest brokers and go-betweens over the cold reality that, pre-Southern Strategy, racism was at the institutional foundation of the Democratic Party of that day, so that's what they're nostalgic for. White columns, the ol' verandah, Rastus bearing a silver tray with the mint juleps or whatever the Fuck the village drank back then.

NOTE **** Conservative Andrew Sullivan's portrayal of Obama as a post-Boomer, unifying figure is a crude attempt to erase this history. Bareback Andy is sound on torture, credit where credit is due, but there's no other word for his Atlantic piece (well, other than "prolix") than "obfuscatory."

* * *

Appendix I: The Conservative Movement in the Clinton Years

When Clinton, a Democrat, took office, the Conservative Movement, in the person of Richard Mellon Scaife, funded the Arkansas Project disinformation campaign against Clinton through The American Prospect [!!] Spectator; the Conservative Movement provided legal services through the Federalist Society elves who manipulated Paula Jones; the Conservative Movement replaced the Special Prosecutor who wasn't getting results with one of their own, Kenneth Winston Starr; the Conservative Movement leveraged its new-found control over the press to print story after story of scandal after scandal, none of which panned out (Timesman Jeff Gerth's Whitewater reporting was especially egregious, but WaPo's "Steno Sue" Schmidt, who printed leak after leak from Starr's office, gave him a run for his money); and the Conservative Movement, after immense labor, finally managed to metastatize the scandal from baseless accusations of financial impropriety ("Whitewater") and crazed theories about murder ("Vince Foster") into the once-famous (and so-called^^) perjury trap with Monica Lewinsky, followed by the failed impeachment effort organized by Hastert, Gingrich, et al (most of whom -- strong "family values" men, one and all -- were guilty of adultery themselves).

The best way to view the Clinton era, then, is to see it as a slow-moving, media-fuelled coup, beginning with the winger-billionaire funded Arkansas Project, and culminating with the Conservative Movement's seizure of power through the theft of Florida 2000 and the famous "good for one time only" decision, Bush v. Gore.

Once again, the ROI that the winger billionaires got from the Conservative Movement's stellar work in staging the coup against Clinton were absolutely spectacular: Bush, once in office, immediately enacted massive tax cuts over a token and demoralized ("bipartisan") Democratic opposition, and the great bulk of the money went to the people who staged the coup. Surprise.

APPENDIX NOTE ^^ Perjury has to be material. There was never a showing that Clinton's affair with Monica was relevant to the Paula Jones case. Pure harassment, start to finish, and, in retrospect, a harbinger of the complete politicization of the criminal justice system and the courts under Bush. Interestingly, Clinton and Monica met when she, as a White House intern, brought him a pizza when he was working late in the White House on the night the Republicans under Gingrich shut down the government. Cute meet.

Appendix II: The Constitution

I think it's excellent that Obama, by all accounts, was a fine Constitutional law professor at a great school. And it encourages me that Obama gave excellent answers to the Boston Globe questionnaire on executive power.

All of which explains why I was disappointed that Obama failed to show up on the Senate floor to defend the Fourth Amendment, and the Constitution, when Dodd successfully filibustered FISA and prevented, at least for a time, retroactive immunity for the telcos and bulk-order warrants. (Let's not say "basket warrants" anymore, mkay?) As Kos is fond of pointing out, one way to be a leader is to, er, lead, not offer token statements of support from a safe distance. Lead, as opposed to going meta, and making speeches, however excellent, about leadership.

UPDATE Big Tent Democrat channels the shorter lambert:

I am on record that Obama's talk on change is pure nonsense. I am confident now that Mark Schmitt is right, that this is just a schtick. The problem is in politics, schticks matter and limit what you can do.

Bingo. Of course Obama's schtick limits him. That's why Brooks, Broder, Sullivan, and Kristol like it. They want progressives limited.

UPDATE What a holiday gift. My life is complete:

krugman

In fact:

UPDATE The post's title is a riff on a famous paper in computer science.

UPDATE Apparently, "once in a generation means "just once". Odd.

UPDATE For anybody who imagines that this is a hit piece, or that I'm unpersuadable, see here.

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Tinfoil Hat Boy's picture
Submitted by Tinfoil Hat Boy on

You know how I love grand unifying theories. This is an indispensable, important post.

Corrente is teh awsum. I am not worthy.

"A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

"A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Submitted by lambert on

Right now, the hour to hit ratio is like, 1 to 1. Well, not really. More like 1:10. Guess I'll have to go cross-post at Big Orange. But that can get so tiresome....

Oh, and this isn't the grand unifying theory. The unifying theory is what it really means to be "human resources."

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

The judges agree, a winner of a performance, well done. I’d have scored it a 10.0 except for the too-frequent backhands of the under-empowered Reid and Pelosi but that’s minor in view of the overall effort. Very well done, indeed.

The key to meaningful investigations will be a Democrat in the White House who is willing to turn loose a rebuilt DOJ and open up Executive archives going back to through Bush 41 – and that includes Bill Clinton’s. Will Obama or Edwards do that? Maybe. Will Hillary? Not as likely. Even truncated investigations and prosecutions would be welcome but it won’t happen under a Republican presidency, not the current one or any other.

The only reaching out by Democrats should be done with a big stick.

Submitted by goldberry (not verified) on

I don't think Lambert is dissing them for being unable to change the numbers. He is excoriating them for not putting up a spirited resistance. I think most of us would be much more forgiving of Pelosi and Reid if they had tried and failed. That would have been visible evidence of their opposition to the predators who have taken over the government. But they came on strong and then quickly backed off. High Broderism was partially to blame but so was their ingrained habit to capitulate too quickly.

BTW, I think this piece needs to be read by as many eyes as possible. We only have a few days to get people to stop and think about whether Obama represents the change they want to see or whether he will be a Liebermanesque neophyte at the mercy of savvy political operatives and Beltway Villagers tut-tutting him for not reaching around the Republicans.

Submitted by lambert on

I cross posted to Kos, but it sank after 100 comments or so. This version is considerably revised from tht one, but when I tried to repost, I got the dreaded "href" attribute not allowed on a error message, and I can't be debugging right now (especially when my parser tells me the HTML is good. Snarl).

But any links you can send this way would be appreciated (and good, I think, for any Iowans out there...)

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by goldberry (not verified) on

I know how these things scroll too quickly especially if they are unflattering critiques of Obama or Edwards. I had a diary today with a link but my writing didn't meet my standards so I deleted it. I've written diary another excerpting a couple of paragraphs and redirecting to the original post here. But I have to wait until tomorrow to publish it. My snark diaries get more attention but there's nothing funny about the prospect you have laid out.
There's still time. Anything can happen in the next few days and I *think* Obama may have peaked.

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

Bernhard suggests that as defined by Hilbama, progressives are well and truely fucked, because we have no creed substantially different than the Rethuglicans.

In fact, we do.

Progressives are people who believe in the public good over private gain.

Good post, Lambert. Now is the time to start trumpeting this loud and long. If we don't confront the crooks and the misled in all Parties, this nation will become just another dictatorship, run by and for neofeudal warlords.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

nic danger's picture
Submitted by nic danger on

I just recommended this over at Kos.Hope it can rise above the rabble and pure bullshit that is passing for rational thought and discussion there.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... the best and most important blog post I've read all year.

Sheer brilliance.

Sure, there’s a “food fight,” but most of the food that’s in the air is coming from one side of the cafeteria!

How can it be that this truth is not self-evident? What makes our species such suckers for equivalation? Are we just being played, or are we playing ourselves as well?

Submitted by the farmer (not verified) on

[Obama] We don’t need more heat. We need more light. I’ve learned in my life that you can stand firm in your principles while still reaching out to those who might not always agree with you.

Yeah, well, anyone who has ever been left snowblind on a frozen lake at high noon while the temperature tops out at less than zero might disagree.

Gimme a roaring fire, a bottle of Thermostat, and halflight shadows flickering off a pair of firm principles and i'll reach out to you too.

More hot blooded romance. Less cold blooded klieglight bullshit. pleeze.

(good post lambert)

*

Submitted by lambert on

I made more or less the same comment over at Kos.

Some Obamaphile accused me of wanting to build a Maginot Line, God knows why, and I responded that No, want something more like the Battle of Kursk.

Lots of heat at there, not so much light. And which'd you rather? Assuming you want to win, that is.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

the silence is a little deafening.

i bet you lost most of his supporters somewhere after the first page. obama has always been to me the Emotional's candidate. if your emotions guide your "politics" and you respond easily to rhetoric, obama is your (democratic) guy. if you don't think too hard about the problems we all face, and you like pretty words and a pretty face, and you like people who are 'feel good' speakers, obama is your guy. if you want to believe in a romantic narrative akin to that found on teevee movies and in pop literature, obama is your guy.

i had no idea he and krugman were 'fighting.' that diappoints me. it doesn't surprise me. of course krugman is right, i mean, the very premise is in troll territory here in the blogosphere. obama speaks as if there's something 'wrong' and in need of 'a fix' in social security. there is not. atrios has posted umpteen million times on this subject, rather conclusively (and almost single handedly) beating down every conservative "argument" to the contrary. he's one of a dozen excellent, actually educated in economics bloggers our side has produced these last few years to do so. that obama makes his claims that ss needs his luv is a Big Red Flag to me. it says "not ready for progressive prime time" and "panders to the village over muchly."

so obama isn't the one. lambert has hit one out of the park, demonstrating why blogs like his are teh best, as well as why obama will make a nice sec of education or veep, but not prez. obama supporters? you better speak up. this one could go viral, esp after your man takes a few beatings from the hillary machine at the polls. if there's one thing about the Village, it's that they lurv to kick a brother when he's down.

i bow in your direction, lb. sublime.

Submitted by lambert on

Really set off alarms bells in my head, too, CD. Atrios absolutely called this one.

I remember that fight. (And -- can't lay my hand on the quote -- the Kos Obamaphiles framed it as "Once, he says something on Social Security..." when he ran an ad on it in Iowa, for gawdsake.)

I figured it was David Axelrod talking, and it looked like a simultaneous dog whistle to the Serious folks in the village, and a subtle Fuck you Sister Souljah moment to progressives. So I've been looking for this fight for awhile...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by rootless-e (not verified) on

You missed the point of Obama's speech entirely. You write

Obama wants to “reach out,” but that strategy has already been tried. Obama says he wants to “reach out” to Republicans. But Reid and Pelosi “reached out” to Republicans, and that strategy was a miserable failure.

But you even quote Obama as saying:
And although the Republican operatives in Washington might not be interested in hearing what we have to say, I think Republican and independent voters outside of Washington are.

Reid and Pelos reached out to Republican operatives, but Obama wants to bypass them and go to their constituencies. He is specifically saying that members of the professional winger class are not open to discussion. Whether Obama is right or wrong, you missed his point by miles.

Submitted by lambert on

I did not "miss Obama's point"; over at Big Orange, several Obama supporters raised it, and I answer it here.

Please read the entire post, or search on "enough calls."

Seriously, don't you think that Pelosi and Reid already took that into account?

Don't you think that Reid and Pelosi were counting on Republican constituents to pressure those famous Moderate Republican operatives into doing the right thing?

Or do you think they were relying on the "big table" too, and that the only problem is that their mad negotiation skillz aren't as awesome as Obama's? (Granted, Reid and Pelosi aren't all that great, but this isn't some corporate re-org we're talking about, but defeating an entire corporate movement

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by rootless-e (not verified) on

Obama did not call for the strategy that you critique. He says specifically that the operatives in DC may not listen but their constituencies will, and you complain that he wants to reach out to the operatives. I don't see you address this fundamental misrepresentation of Obama's position at all. Instead you jump to a completely different argument - that the Republican and independent voters are not peeling off of Bush's coalition. In fact, your paragraph on this is makes no sense. You write:

But wait, say the fans, you don’t really understand; what Obama wants to do is bring “Republican and independent voters outside of Washington” into the fold, and that will give us the leverage we need for real change.

Correct. And then you immediately follow with
And if this were true, I would have expected to see enough calls from these Republican and independent voters to prevent children from dying because Bush vetoed S-CHIP, to take but one example of many. Ditto FISA (See Appendix II). Didn’t happen. Na ga happen.

So you say, Obama cannot be trying to appeal to Republican voters because the Republican voters are not joining the Democrats on key issues. What?

Submitted by SqueakyRat (not verified) on

So that's who's going to be sitting at the "big table"? Republican constituents? Give me a break. There's no one to negotiate with except the Repug "operatives," otherwise known as people who got elected by the Republican constituents who Obama imagines disagree with them about everything.

So what's supposed to happen? A crushing victory for a progressive candidate, all so that progressives get a chance to sit across the "big table" from the tools of massively funded special interests and the super-rich? Whoopee.

Submitted by rootless-e (not verified) on

I am not a big obama fan, but Democratic activists need to get over being keyword driven. Obama on the stump sounds a lot less conciliatory than Hillary and not much more conciliatory than Edwards. If you want a real progressive, support Kucinich. If you want a fighter in the Senate - support Dodd. The big three are all conciliatory but use different language. I think Hillary and Edwards schticks are harder to sell in the general. Hillary is traditional laundry list and Edwards is running on "bad rich people". I support the list and agree the rich are bad, but I don't think either of these is a winning pitch.

BTW: I like the addition problems - should cut down on trolls too.

Submitted by lambert on

I wrote the longest post in the history of the known world, and I'm keyword driven?!

You hurt me, rootless-e. You really hurt me.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by rootless-e (not verified) on

I think your summary of the winger offensive is accurate and well written. You just get Obama wrong. And, I'm not sure Obama is making the right pitch or even that he is as progressive as Edwards. But I think you are not responding the argument he has made.

Submitted by Michael Connolly (not verified) on

As a visiting "Eschatonian" I am delighted to read your outstanding summary of the polticial economy of the last 30 years - and your brief on the bogus "Obama v. Krugman foodfight" meme.

Watching all of this happen, year by year, since I graduated college in 1974, including the massive avoidance of any description of it outside of the Nation and a few lefty periodicals, has been truly depressing. Highly recommened. I'll be back.

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

Already posted at Glenzilla's

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

That's a liberal magazine, which has been improved by its editors' decisions to bring in young folks from the blogging world - Tapped is their blog.

I think you meant The American Spectator. I can't get to the post to make the edit.

Submitted by lambert on

or somebody (thanks) fixed it.

There's a link to the American Prospect, but that's o the Lewis Powell memo.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Ted (not verified) on

When Clinton, a Democrat, took office, the Conservative Movement, in the person of Richard Mellon Scaife, funded the Arkansas Project disinformation campaign against Clinton through The American Prospect;

Lambert, didn't you mean to write 'The American Spectator'? Leave the Prospect alone!! ;)

Otherwise excellent article and much enjoyed.

Submitted by lambert on

For some reason, I searched for that one and couldn't find it. Now it's fixed.

The American Prospect for a disinformation campaign? Now that would be foily....

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Bajsa (not verified) on

I have a lot of friends here in Sweden that want to better understand American politics. I will recommend this post to them as the place to get a fabulous understanding of where we are now and where we need to go.

Submitted by rootless-e (not verified) on

Don’t you think that Reid and Pelosi were counting on Republican constituents to pressure those famous Moderate Republican operatives into doing the right thing?

Absolutely - plus they thought, for some unknown reason - that the thugs would negotiate in good faith. But that is not what Obama is arguing. In fact, he specifically says that republican operatives may not be ready to listen us.

Submitted by central texan (not verified) on

As a stray Eschatonian, I wanted to say "Thank you" for a great summary. While reading through the Obama fan responses, the common theme seems to be that "you don't understand, Obama will bring about the enlightenment by reaching past Republican officeholders to those who voted for them with appeals to the common good". To me, this fails on several grounds.

[1] Does this strategy presume that appeals to reason and common good will, contrary to 30 years experience, overcome another God, gays, and guns campaign funded by the Bush tax cuts and those desperate to hang onto power?

[2] The Republican officeholders are quite capable of ignoring their constituents when it suits the needs of the party. The Iraq war is extremely unpopular but it has not moved any Republicans to repudiate the central theme of the party beyond a few, tepid, meaningless, gestures. These folks will only move when they think that they will lose an election and have to get their next job in the wingnut welfare wonderland.

[3]Which brings up the issue of what will pressure them? Do you really think that Schumer and Emmanuel are capable of finding and supporting candidates who are anything other than Republican-lite? They fought Dean tooth and nail over the 2006 strategy. Fortunately, they lost for the most part. If the electoral choice that Obama presents through the party is of a "real Republican"(tm)versus a tepid imitation one (like all of Rahm's Bush-supporting puppies) who will the remaining Republican voters back? The principle is supposed to be carrot and stick, not carrot and gumdrop. How many more Liebermans do you think we need?

Submitted by lambert on

Feel free to hang out here* and deal with Obama's fan base... I was planning to shovel some snow this afternoon...

NOTE * And by "feel free," I mean, "I'm begging you"....

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by central texan (not verified) on

As a stray Eschatonian, I wanted to say "Thank you" for a great summary. While reading through the Obama fan responses, the common theme seems to be that "you don't understand, Obama will bring about the enlightenment by reaching past Republican officeholders to those who voted for them with appeals to the common good". To me, this fails on several grounds.

[1] Does this strategy presume that appeals to reason and common good will, contrary to 30 years experience, overcome another God, gays, and guns campaign funded by the Bush tax cuts and those desperate to hang onto power?

[2] The Republican officeholders are quite capable of ignoring their constituents when it suits the needs of the party. The Iraq war is extremely unpopular but it has not moved any Republicans to repudiate the central theme of the party beyond a few, tepid, meaningless, gestures. These folks will only move when they think that they will lose an election and have to get their next job in the wingnut welfare wonderland.

[3]Which brings up the issue of what will pressure them? Do you really think that Schumer and Emmanuel are capable of finding and supporting candidates who are anything other than Republican-lite? They fought Dean tooth and nail over the 2006 strategy. Fortunately, they lost for the most part. If the electoral choice that Obama presents through the party is of a "real Republican"(tm)versus a tepid imitation one (like all of Rahm's Bush-supporting puppies) who will the remaining Republican voters back? The principle is supposed to be carrot and stick, not carrot and gumdrop. How many more Liebermans do you think we need?

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

is that he is not at all doing what he says he should do. Temporizing on Social Security is not appealing to Republican voters, it is attempting to conciliate republican operatives.

Submitted by lambert on

Light sabers are for the movies.

Heat is what we need.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by rootless-e (not verified) on

While reading through the Obama fan responses, the common theme seems to be that “you don’t understand, Obama will bring about the enlightenment by reaching past Republican officeholders to those who voted for them with appeals to the common good”.

Since I'm the only dissenter here and I'm neither an Obama fan nor do I make that argument, I'm puzzled by your response.

Have you considered that Obama's rhetorical strategy is not really about having a round of Kumbaya with right-wingers, but is actually a form of "working the refs" in its own right?

Submitted by lambert on

Sylvan:

Tendentious indeed; the blogosphere tends to be that way: purposeful. But neither unfair nor innaccurate.

But you're right, probably should have harvested that thread on Kos, where others made the point you are making. You write:

Have you considered that Obama’s rhetorical strategy is not really about having a round of Kumbaya with right-wingers, but is actually a form of “working the refs” in its own right?

Several responses:

1. I call believe in that rhetorical strategy The Phonebooth Theory. That is, once a candidate is elected, they will disappear into a phonebooth, lose the Clark Kent glasses and the suit, and then burst forth, garbed as Progressive Superman.

2. Some of the Big Orange commenters compared this to Bush's successful strategy in 2000: He ran as a compassionate conservative, then disappeared into a Conservative phonebooth, and emerged as the lunatic anybody who paid attention always knew that he was.

OK, say Obama's using The Phonebooth Theory, and running using Bush tactices, but from the left. Two questions:

a.) What does that say about Obama? Wouldn't you rather vote for a candidate who's honest about he's saying, rather than vote in the hope that a tricky rhetorical strategy is going to work?

b.) What makes you think Obama can get away with what Bush did? Bush had the whole Conservative Movement and the press behind him. Obama won't. Leading me to my final point:

If this is Obama's rhetorical strategy, then he cannot win a progressive mandate. You might get elected using tricky tactics like "working the refs," but you can't win a mandate for progressive policies that way, because you didn't run on them.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by rootless-e (not verified) on

.) What does that say about Obama? Wouldn’t you rather vote for a candidate who’s honest about he’s saying, rather than vote in the hope that a tricky rhetorical strategy is going to work?

Yes. That's why I support Kucinich. Obama is not unique in adopting a duplicitous rhetorical strategy. Hillary's explanations of her pro-war votes are, at best, evasive. Edwards populism is all attitude "rah rah fight" and low on specifics and his Iraq policy of leaving a brigage there to "protect the embassy" is also calculated split-the-difference.

Submitted by annagranfors (not verified) on

...of reading this piece, I began to recognize it--it's the piece I'd write if I "only had the time", or, more importantly, had any talent to write. (let alone the concision and ease with which Lambert is so excellent, here.)

I'm sending this to everyone I care about.

thanks so much, Lambert.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Rootless, the Obama fan behavior of which Lambert speaks is quite visible in the DailyKos crosspost of this (my meta-commentary here) and in the "permathread" on this topic in general.

Sylvan, working the refs means getting them to accept your aggressive behavior and to over-penalize the opponents'. Obama's approach is the direct opposite, pulling his punches and saying that the opponents are good at heart.

Submitted by annagranfors (not verified) on

"--bless their hearts--"? brilliant.

Submitted by lambert on

From Blue Gal.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

hobson's picture
Submitted by hobson on

I'm wondering how you reach past Republican operatives to Republican voters when you have the spectacles of Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 to deal with. Or the attempt in California to deform the electoral vote to Republican ends.

I have heard that Hillary is the candidate the right wants to run against the most. So then why ARE so many right wing commentators so complimentary towards O'bama? It's freaky to hear so many of them praising him.

Submitted by lambert on

It's like high school cliques, I think, Hobson.

Yeah, they hate Hillary, but it's the same circle of hatred they're already involved in, and they can making plenty of money shouting on the teebee about it, and writing Op-Eds, and raising money on from the Clinton haters, and all that.

But HRC's problem is, and has always been, that she's the annointed frontrunner, and frontrunners are almost always doomed to fail, structurally, even leaving aside the problems that HRC has.

So, they ignore Obama's soaring rhetoric, and listen to the dogwhistle -- a commenter above points out, brilliantly, that this is what the Social Security thing was all about -- and figure that he won't hold them accountable, that it's still going to be business as usual. Not the best deal for them, but a good deal. At least Obama's not a dirty fucking hippie.

And Edwards, of course, is out of the question, let alone Dodd or (shudder) Kucinich.

So there you are.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

Rich and textured. Much to mull over here.

I've been amazed at the vitriol expressed in comment threads by backers of of the big three Democratic front-runners towards the others. Most dispiriting has been how often all of them, for all three candidates, reach into the Republican bag of tricky, dickey, tropes (memes to you young'uns) and with what ferocity.

That kind of bile trivializes the entire debate, and yes, it's been true of the candidates' campaigns. For crying out loud, when Hillary's head guy accuses Obama and/or Edwards of politicizing Bhutto's assassination, we're all losers. And ditto when Obama, and even Edwards use those Republican memes on Hillary. And yes, I do understand that a lot of Democrats have bought into the smears, which never ceases to amaze me. And to be clear about where I stand today, I wish Hillary wasn't running, and I don't want her to win the nomination.

It ought also to be remembered that Bill Clinton entered office with a similar message of reaching out to Republicans. And no, I don't mean that Bill ran as Republican-lite, either. In 1992, he went straight at Reaganomics, calling it a "failed economic theory," and more important, faulting it for its unfairness, dividing Americans into big, big winners, and then the rest of us losers. He talked openly about raising taxes on the wealthy. But he made a conscious effort to mainstream a Democratic progressive platform by appealing to values that Republicans had spent two decades trying to co-opt, you know, like hard work and community.

Was there anyone better placed to be able to appeal to voter/citizens, than Bill Clinton, once he got into office, whose long, long State of the Union messages were continually reviled and made fun of by the usual Sunday gasbags, while the ratings, which often went up in the later part of the speeches, showed that regular Americans were fine with hearing their President talk about policy and ideas, and governance.

Lest you Obama supporters think that there was something about the Clintons that made them vulnerable, because they were crooked, had done bad things in Arkansas, and on and on, think again. And for the love of your country, read "The Hunting Of The President."

footless-e, I get what you're saying. And I agree that there is no doubt that Obama is to the left of Hillary. But Social Security is a perfect example of what Democrats are up against.

That program has something like seventy to eighty percent support among Americans. And yet the SCLM is obsessed with the notion that there is some dire crises just around the corner, and by extension, the whole notion of so-called "entitlements," which used to be known as the social safety net, and was based on an unwritten social compact that derived from the New Deal and was extended in the post-war years, under Kennedy and Johnson, will be un-affordable in the future. We can afford Iraq, but we can't afford universal health care. That's what the village elders are saying, and they'll continue to say it even if Obama becomes President.

I'm still open to Obama, although right now Edwards would be my choice, (though, like Lambert, I will vote for whomever is the Democratic nominee over any of the Republicans), but what I'm looking for is some indication in his speeches that he is willing to use his conception of a new kind of politics in support of something more specific than itself.

What about talking about the need for accountability in the face of the eight years of secrecy and stonewalling of the Bush administration and aiming that discussion at independents and liberal Republicans, who might just like some help in wresting their party from the clutches of the radical right? He needs to establish that his new politics are not incompatible with a full-throated critique of what's been going on in this country for the last seven years. I understand that he may be waiting for the general election, but I think that is a mistake.

I don't mind that he got Oprah's endorsement, but I did mind that their appearances together were so lacking in actual content. Oprah tends to treat voters like they are an audience, and Obama seemed to go along with that. I want voters to become citizens again

There's more to be said but I'll leave it at that for the time being.

Let me recommend to everyone an article by Mark Schmitt published in The American Prospect called "The Theory Of Change Primary."

It's quite a brilliant piece of work, which could lead some of you Obama doubters to feel better about him, and lest anyone who reads it might think that Mark isn't pro-partisan politics, perhaps you should first read another of his pieces, "Divide And Concur," which proclaims and explains the death of bipartisanship in Washington, with no tears shed.

Stellar work, Lambert.

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

I’ve been amazed at the vitriol expressed in comment threads by backers of one of the big three Democratic front-runners towards the others. Most dispiriting has been how often all of them, for all three candidates, reach into the Republican bag of tricky, dickey, tropes (memes to you young’uns) and with what ferocity.

Best or worst example of that is Kos himself giving credence to that idiotic waitress/tip confabulation.

And of course, the heartbreaking presence of the liberal blogs of so many "I really like Kucinich but he has no chance" lines over the last 10 months.

Submitted by The Raven (not verified) on

The two Presidential front-runners, right now, are both conservative Democrats, with Obama to the right of Clinton. Unless there's an upset, you apes are going to have a conservative Democratic presidency; not completely insane, like the W. Bush administration, but entirely in the hip-pocket of these New Aristocrats you describe. Perhaps half of the Democrats in Congress, and all of the Republicans are conservative as well. Which means...?

More food for corvids! Caw!

[To which the Raven's typist--hard to type with bird feet--humbly adds that we progressives had better start thinking about a conservative Democratic Presidency and a bipartisan conservative coalition in Congress, because there's a good chance that that is going to be the result of the next elections.]

Submitted by Tosh (not verified) on

Reading this treatise is like watching an unfolding trainwreck.You know everybody is gonna die and there ain't a damn thing you can do about it.

Accurate and depressing.

Submitted by lambert on

Tosh, I don't think it's depressing at all. I find knowing my enemy, and the ground, invigorating. I think we can fight and win; whether we will is another matter.

If I want to be depressed, I can always go read the great Arthur Silber. The guy is always right, but I always just want to hang myself when I'm done with one of his posts. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Tosh (not verified) on

Yea. I hear you on that.

Trouble is there's a shitload of people out there who just shrug their shoulders when confronted with the truth of the last 30 years.

Man, they don't have a clue. To them it's all a part of the Democrat/Republican scenery.

Cheers.

Submitted by oleeb (not verified) on

This sets out the argument for a Progressive led government better than any post or treatise, etc... that I've read in a long time. It also exposes Obama's naivete and foolishness. It is sad to think that the pursuit of power has so obviously tainted Obama's ability to understand what is at stake for our country. You have made the stakes very clear without vituperation or just hurling brickbats at Obama and the people who've been taken in by who he is vs what he's actually proposing to do.

Great job! I hope this post is read far and wide and that people finally understand that the pablum that both Obama AND Clinton are selling is the same capitulationist bullshit we've been enduring now for the past 30 years. Enough is e-fucking-nough! It is time to fight them with all we've got.

Why is it that we admire the people who fight for democracy and the rule of law all over the world except here at home where it is most important to us and for the world given our power?

Submitted by Jan Hamm (not verified) on

I've raised this question elsewhere but need to ask again to see if someone can give me an answer. You name a lot of what I refer to as the Right Wing Noise Machine:

"...an investment portfolio of entertainment properties; some start-ups (Politico), some stars (FOX), some cash cows (Limbaugh), some dogs (American Spectator)). Slowly but surely, well funded and well organized Conservatives pushed their ideas from unthinkable, to radical, to acceptable, to sensible, to popular, and finally into policy..."

To this list I'd add, of course, the Washington Times and the Weekly Standard, two publications that I understand benefitted from deep-pocket (conservative) backers.

My question is, did any of these print publications ever operate at a profit (i.e. people actually PAID to read their content)? Or were they just continuously funded by their sugar daddies, who managed to get their spokesmen on to the electronic media because "they'd been published" opinionators? You know, with little tag lines below their talking head, "name, publication".

I look at main stream newspapers and see businesses that struggle with the demands of the marketplace--all the news that fits depends on how much ad space was sold, and ad revenues depend on readership-- and I wonder if the Washington Times or the Weekly Standard ever dealt with those kind of market requirements.

Submitted by lambert on

I'm sure the Weekly Standard does not make a profit (no time for a link...), just like its frateral twin, the New Republic, needs a subsidy.

I don't know about the Washington Times, but I'm guessing that Moonie finances are, er, a little opaque.

In any case, I think that the real question is the ROI of the portfolio as a whole. Even if Kristol's little rag is losing money, it makes the rest of the portfolio so much, much better.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by lambert on

A link would be greatly appreciated, and to this post, since it's current.

Alternatively, if somebody can explain to me how to get a more detailed error message at Kos, I could try again to fix it. And you might consider forwarding the feedback to your developers that (a) an error on Preview, rather than Submit, would be a lot less frustrating, and (b) some context for the error would be very, very helpful. No line numbers needed, a chunk of context would be fine, so I can search the post. But this post is long and rich, I can't just rip the markup out, and besides, it parsed!

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by goldberry (not verified) on

Sometimes, it's just an annoying typo in a href or a missing backslash. If your links work here, they should work there. When I have that problem though, I use the editor link tool and put them back in from scratch. As much of a pain-in-the-ass it is, you're better off copying and pasting the whole thing over.
It will only take a few minutes.
I'd definitely rec it.
BTW, I just read the Mark Scmidtt(sp) piece and I think he is irrationally optimistic. Obama's missing Lieberman-Kyl vote and his pass on the MoveOn vote suggest that he is trying really hard not to offend someone(s). Obama is charismatic and intelligent but he wouldn't be where he is today without some substantial backing and assistance and not just from small donors. He's gotten a lot farther than Edwards did this election cycle. Now, why is that? Who is the hidden support system behind Obama?

Submitted by rjpjr (not verified) on

I firmly believe that all of the leading democratic candidates at heart support a progressive agenda and would work to promote one if elected. I also have no doubt that all of these candidates engage in political calculations designed to gain popular support in the hopes of advancing that agenda to the greatest extent possible. I see the major difference between the leading candidates to be primarily based on their differing approaches to the best political strategy for making that agenda a reality. I agree completely with Lambert about the inherent problems with Mr. Obama's strategy. I also, however, find it plausible that, as his supporter's claim, Obama's ultimate actions may be far different from the rhetoric he is using in this election. I do not, however, see that as being an argument in favor of Mr. Obama. I actually see that as a major liability. The politics of hope is far more about politics than it is about hope, and once people come to realize that, Mr. Obama's appeal will be greatly diminished. It will become obvious that he is guilty of the very things he has so harshly criticized others for. I have no problem with leaders who engage in political calculations in hopes of achieving a greater good, but when one makes it a central premise of their campaign to rail aganist such actions while at the same time engaging in them, they are setting themselves up for future charges of hypocrisy and making it easy for their opponents to undercut them. I doubt Obama will blindly adhere to the approach he is laying out right now once elected. I am sure his attitude will change quickly. What I have no idea about is what his strategy will then become. Mr. Obama is so busy trying to grab power for himself in the here and now that I doubt he has given any real consideration on how he hopes to truly exercise that power once he obtains it. That is why I don't believe he is ready to be President and why I will not support him in the primary.

The system is not going to melt away and it is not going to be destroyed anytime soon. With strong competent leadership and savvy political calculations we can enact policy shifts that will lay the ground work for transformative change. The greatest danger lies in our trying to reach for too much too soon. We have been on an eight year detour. We can't just snap our fingers and expect to be where we need to be. Our immediate goal simply needs to be to get back on the right track. Once we have done that we can worry about drastic overhauls of the entire system. Those won't be brought about overnight or with the election of one person, and those who are promising that it will are being both reckless and irresponsible. For eight years we have had a President who has tried to reshape the world in his own image. I am sure I would prefer a President whose was trying to do the same whose image of the world I find more agreeable, but I think what we real need right now is a President who isn't trying to reshape the entire world to begin with. Let's elect a leader who wants to govern, not to rule.

Submitted by lambert on

Upthread, the argument that Obama's supporters make -- and, in the current version of the stump speech, Obama himself -- is that Obama's not "reaching out" to lost cause Republican operatives, but instead reaching out to the putatively great mass of Republican voters who are really just looking for the right Democrat to vote for.

Now, maybe that's what Obama is saying as of December 27, when the stump speech was released to Time. But that's not what he said as of December 20, where he "reached out" to Republican operatives quite explicitly. Sinfonian, via the always acute Avedon:

But Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) settled the matter for me today, with his asinine statement that not only would he consider placing Republicans on his cabinet if elected, one of those Republicans might be California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Obama regularly says he would look to Republicans to fill out his cabinet if he was elected, but at a town hall event in Manchester, N.H., he was pushed to name names.

“It’s premature for me to start announcing my cabinet. I mean, I’m pretty confident. but I’m not all that confident. We still got a long way to go,” Obama said.

But then the GOP names started to flow.

Among those names: Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Kan.), and Schwarzenegger.

Serious question here: how many Republicans would countenance a Democrat on their cabinet if they became president? I'll tell you how many: zero.

Maybe somebody could ask Obama which of the Republicans he plans to put in his cabinet would be most helpful in advancing his progressive agenda? Because I'm telling you, Chuck Hagel would not be my first choice. Hey, I've got an idea! How about Ron Paul?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by terry in AZ (not verified) on

Thank you, Lambert. I've forwarded this post on to all my political mailing list. It deserves the widest of consideration.

MSimon's picture
Submitted by MSimon on

It should be a reactor with no control rods.

In American designs reactors with no coolant shut down. It is a safety feature.

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks, MSimon. I should have doublechecked our nuclear submarine permathread. It's just that, you know, "coolant" is such great-sounding word....

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

MSimon's picture
Submitted by MSimon on

I agree coolant parses better. It is just that I'm a former nuke and a stickler for details.

In any case the meaning is obvious.

===

As a former member of your side (and a Trot as a youth - probably explains my neo-con leanings) when I came upon this I thought for sure it was a parody.

And now after reading it I see you are serious.

My take on the best thing we can do for the poor (which I currently am) is to let the economy rip.

My son got a 4 year free ride at U Chicago courtesy of the Rockefellers. So it all trickles down eventually.

In any case we can probably agree that the short cut to ruining the power structure is ending the drug war and destroying the prison industrial complex. So I'd help with that despite my current neo-con status.

Something else to keep an eye on - Bussard Fusion. It could change everything. Destroy the oil powers and a lot of other good stuff.

It is being funded by the US Navy.

Check it out:

http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/2007...

*

BTW Obama is IMO Chicago Mob all the way.
Hillary is Arkansas Mob
Edwards is the legal mafia

I'd say the only honest Pol on your side is Kucinich and of course he has no chance.

I think Fred T is the only honest one on our side and of course he has no chance.

I hate theocon Huckster
Guiliani is NY mob
McCain is old and bat shit crazy
Romney is way too slick

How did we get such a rotten bunch. Who ever wins I predict we all will be disappointed.

Well good luck.

And as I said - where ever we agree I'm willing to co-operate.

Submitted by Sean Wright (ak... (not verified) on

The problem with your post, which I must agree channels Krugman admirably, is that it focuses almost entirely on denouncing Obama's rhetorical approach to promoting a progressive agenda and taking on entrenched conservative positions and does not bother to contrast it with the approaches of the other candidates.

What is it about Hillary Clinton's or John Edwards's approach that makes you believe that they will fight harder or be more effective in promoting progressive policies? I think the problem that a lot of Democrats are having with Obama is that his approach is to cerebral and that if he doesn't play on people's visceral anger (Edwards) or fear (Clinton) then he won't build up the movement behind him that is necessary to make real change. The thing that I think is so funny about that is that Obama is the one who draws the big crowds to hear him speak and Obama's the one who gets by far the most donations from small donors. Hillary's trying to get by on being an evasive front runner with the machine's backing and Edwards is getting by on getting the backing of liberal interest groups by making sure he checks the right box on every liberal issue.

Obama's organizing principle is that we don't have to beat the conservative establishment by being better than them at their divisive underhanded games. We can beat them by being better people.

To quote from "The Audacity of Hope":

"... [A] polarized electorate -- or one that easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate -- works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government. After all, a cynical electorate is a self-centered electorate.

"But for those of us who believe that government has a role to play in promoting opportunity and prosperity for all Americans a polarized electorate isn't good enough."

Now from his latest stump speech:

"In the end, the argument we are having between the candidates in the last seven days is not just about the meaning of change. It's about the meaning of hope. Some of my opponents appear scornful of the word; they think it speaks of naivete, passivity, and wishful thinking."

"But that's not what hope is. Hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the task before us or the roadblocks that stand in our path. Yes, the lobbyists will fight us. Yes, the Republican attack dogs will go after us in the general election. Yes, the problems of poverty and climate change and failing schools will resist easy repair. I know - I've been on the streets, I've been in the courts. I've watched legislation die because the powerful held sway and good intentions weren't fortified by political will, and I've watched a nation get mislead into war because no one had the judgment or the courage to ask the hard questions before we sent our troops to fight.

"But I also know this. I know that hope has been the guiding force behind the most improbable changes this country has ever made. In the face of tyranny, it's what led a band of colonists to rise up against an Empire. In the face of slavery, it's what fueled the resistance of the slave and the abolitionist, and what allowed a President to chart a treacherous course to ensure that the nation would not continue half slave and half free. In the face of war and Depression, it's what led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation. In the face of oppression, it's what led young men and women to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through the streets of Selma and Montgomery for freedom's cause. That's the power of hope - to imagine, and then work for, what had seemed impossible before."

I like Obama's message. I like his approach. If you and Paul Krugman are correct that anger and fear are stronger motivaters than Hope, then HRC or Edwards will win the nomination. If one of them wins, I'll get behind them, but I'm going to stick with hope for now.

MD's picture
Submitted by MD on

We're fighting Mitch McConnell and Grover Norquist and Dick Cheney and Pat Robertson. You don't beat these people by being a nice person.

What does Obama give people hope *for*? He's undeniably charismatic. When I hear John Edwards, I feel hope. I feel hope that someone as President will pick up the progressive stick that was used to beat back the robber barons 100 years ago. (When I see his voting record when he was in the Senate, or when I see him accept matching funds, some of that hope goes away. But, those are gripes for another day.)

As to the fight against slavery and Jim Crow, I don't think the motivating emotion there was hope. It certainly wasn't feel-good hope, of the sort Obama projects to some. It was righteous anger--the sort that Edwards projects to many when he speaks.

Submitted by lambert on

Sean:

The idea that this post is about appealing to "anger and fear" is, to put it politely, wildly off-base. It's a complete distortion of Krugman, and of this post, and distressingly similar to Malkin's ugly tactic of laying off every critique progressives make to Bush Derangement Syndrome. Believe me, I know how to appeal to anger and fear, and I generally do it at much shorter length, and with far fewer appeals to reason, than this post IMNSHO exhibits.

The kind of politics most appropriate to dealing with the Conservative Movement is the issue.

Obviously, I'm concerned that Obama's "schtick" is not adequate to that task and will, for the reasons stated, actually get in the way of achieving the changes needed.

As for not writing a "candidate diary" that compares them all... Well, I didn't write that post. My focus was on Obama. I'm not sure why that's a problem. Presumably the voters can do that for themselves. Voting is a very personal act.

UPDATE Oh, your copy and paste job from Obama's campaign book on the "polarized electorate" shows him at his awesomely eloquent best -- and channels Ron Brownstein (or possibly Brownstein is channelling Obama) -- but unfortunately for him and you, the content is empirically false. Confrontation increases voter turnout, and that's good for Democrats, and Democratic voters believe government can do good things, so the heat of confrontation is good for progressive goals. Sorry about that.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Sean Wright (ak... (not verified) on

First, as I pointed out before, and you do not address, if Obama's approach is insufficient to the task of confronting the conservatives, then why is he the one building a real movement? Why is he the one drawing the big crowds and why is he the one collecting small donations from hundreds of thousands of donors for a primary election?

Second, I didn't bother to click on the link you posted because I've already read about the study your referring to. However, Obama didn't say polarization leads to low voter turn out. He says it makes voters more self-centered. We had the highest turn out ever in 2004. How did that work out for the Democrats? The Republicans have been winning because they appeal to a slight majority of the public's narrow, selfish interests by keeping taxes low while they give the farm away to corporate interests. If people don't trust Democrats to spend their money wisely, the majority of them will end up voting Republican because they trust Republicans to let them keep more of their own money whether its in the country's best interest or not. Obama wants to use non-inflammatory rhetoric and principles of good government in order to persuade a solid majority of the country that he is not corrupt or a crazy leftwing ideologue or in the pocket of liberal interest groups in order to gain their trust so that he can implement policies that are in the best interest of this country and the vast majority of the people in it in the long run.

that lays it all out as clear as day. Hell yes, we have to be partisan. Trying to be conciliatory and 'above the fray' has just led to more of the same from the Bush Administration, which sees bipartisanship as 'both parties doing it my way.'

Partisanship means standing up for what we know to be right. If we don't have the strength of our convictions, we will be helpless against those who do - as we have been for the past 30 years.

It's time to call ourselves liberals and progressives, and be proud of it. You never see a conservative shy away from bragging about being conservative.

I was glad to see you at the AU conference, even though I didn't get to talk to you much. I have recommended you over at DKos. I also have a post up there (which I almost never do) and if you care to check it out, it's here.

Submitted by lambert on

I did fix coolant! And the thread on the Hampton was great; I assume you came from there to "the stupidest blog in the world" here.

However, let's try to keep on thread, and hold the fusion conversation 'til later, OK?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by pseudonymous in nc (not verified) on

Turkeys won't vote for Christmas. And for a progressive agenda, there's going to have to be some turkey on the menu. Obama's suggesting that the turkeys can come to the table and argue for ham or goose instead. That's not going to cut it.

MSimon's picture
Submitted by MSimon on

Rush Reid Letter were the terms.

Do you have the Hampton link?

If you want a guest post on the Fusion stuff I'd be glad to do a non-political post on it. No snide digs. Just the facts and the implications.

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

You and Krugman say politics is driving economics and yet you don't acknowledge that not just progressives but many of those Indy and Republican voters are fed up with conservative politics that have made almost everybody poorer and much less secure. Those are the people Obama is going to reach out to, not Mitch McConnell. He's going to take their voters and then he's going to make Republican politicians choose between those voters and their big money con backers. The economic trend isn't going to change anytime soon. If anything 2008 is probably going to be the year the whole harebrained debt based, regulation free, house of cards economy Republicans have given us since 1980 comes crashing down on everybody, even a lot of the top 1%.

It's gonna take as many Americans as we can get pulling together to work our way out of this mess. We'll be much better off with a president like Obama who is looking to build the largest coalition as he can than we will with Edwards or Hillary who think pissing off 50%-1 is the way to beat the fatcats. I want a whole lot of Indy and Republican voters admitting we were right all along not standing on the sidelines grumbling about politics as usual.

That's how FDR did it in 1932 and it's how Obama is doing it now. This isn't 2000 or 2004. It's time to quit fighting the last war.

Submitted by goldberry (not verified) on

Obama's approach resembles that of trying to court Republicans by trying to adopt some of their positions, like Social Security is in crisis. We used to accuse politicians who did this of being Republican Lite or "moving to the right". It's not a good strategy for a couple of reasons. For one thing, that's not where Americans are and true Republicans are not going to vote for you anyway. They're conservative Republicans for a reason.
Better to craft your message from *your* personal principles and ask for others to buy into them. It eliminates the need to pander and you're less likely to alienate your allies. Some of those policies might be liberal, some more moderate/conservative but at least they are the product of thought and personal conviction, not expediency.

Submitted by scudbucket (not verified) on

What principles are we talking about, here? Off the top of my head:
1. The principle that everyone is equal before the law.
2. The principle that this nation does not torture.
3. The principle that there are three co-equal branches of government.
4. The principle that high government officials should not break the law with impunity.
5. The principle that elections are not stolen
6. The principle that war is not made on fake evidence

(I would also add the principle that everyone ought to be nice to each other....)

These principles do not define progressives, they enjoy bipartisan support: all of my conservative friends would agree with each one. There is a myth that GOP voters actually support the policies GOP reps. have enacted. They don't. But they will still vote R on election day because the hate Ds even more than the scum currently representing them.

Submitted by lambert on

First, anonymous coward, let's dispose of the factual material in your comment. You argue that Obama is not reaching out to Mitch McConnell. Maybe yes, maybe no, but he is reaching out to Chuck Hagel. So much for this nonsense that Obama's appealing to Republican voters over the heads of Republican operatives.

Next, I want an enduring progressive majority, not 50% plus 1 -- a straw man if ever I set one on fire. Where did you get that from? Not this post.

And I think the way to get a majority is to stand up for our values, take on the Conservatives, and win with a real strong mandate.

Singing kumbaya is not going to cut it.

Not now, and especially not if things get a lot worse. If you've ever read any FDR you'd know Obama is no FDR:

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me--and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

That's FDR. That's a message that wins in hard times. Not crawfishing around with tricky uplifting rhetoric. Can you imagine Obama saying what FDR said? Or is he going to do like Harry and Nancy do, and bring his "Hello Kitty" pencil case to a gunfight?

NOTE You also write:
I want a whole lot of Indy and Republican voters admitting we were right all along

Well, sure, we all want that, but you know, if your mother had wheels, she'd be a teacart. Do the math. The Kool-Aid drinkers will never vote for us, regardless. So we're looking at 60/40 at most--still a mandate. And I think the best way to get closer to 60 than 50 not by trying to be liked, but by being strong for our values. And if this truly is a watershed year, that is the winning strategy.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by stivo (not verified) on

UPDATE The post’s title is a riff on a famous paper in computer science.

I knew it! And agree with you strongly. Obama's supporters need to ANSWER this critique or they can GOTO hell.

Why is verbal conciliation of the right at this point a good thing? Why don't Obama's actual words MATTER? Why are we supposed to ignore what he SAYS in favor of what his supporters think he MEANS?

I stood at Daley Plaza when Barack Obama made his great speech against the war. I supported his Senate candidacy financially. I wanted a good Senator, not a rock star presidential candidate backpedaling the progressivism he still tries to lay claim to. I wanted a Senator who would build upon that speech and argue vigorously for politics in the same vein, not one who backpedaled from it. Lieberman as mentor? Not what I thought I was voting for.

And then to hear him attack Clinton on triangulationism? As if that isn't exactly what he's doing. Sorry, I won't go there. One great speech and a few years spent in community organizing will only go so far, and frankly, in taking my support for granted I feel patronized by Mr. Obama. I want someone who will claw back as much of Reagan-Bushism as possible. That will require a fight. For all her flaws, I'm pretty sure Hillary Clinton knows that. I'm not sure what Obama knows anymore.

Confrontation increases voter turnout, and that’s good for Democrats, and Democratic voters believe government can do good things, so the heat of confrontation is good for progressive goals. Sorry about that.

Sorry? Why? You're absolutely right. As anyone who spent any time in Chicago in the last 25 years should know. During the Harold Washington confrontations of 25 years ago, where Obama cut his teeth, turnout was through the roof. Was that a bad thing? I don't think so.

Submitted by rda (not verified) on

Obama is plainly unacceptable, as he is functionally no better than a right-wing mole.

But his corruption is a reflection of the corruption of the Democratic Party as a whole. If John Edwards is the best the American "left" can offer, that speaks volumes to the totality of the fascist captivity of the United States. There is no possible justification for allowing a southern white man ever to attain power again.

Submitted by lambert on

Stivo:

Why is verbal conciliation of the right at this point a good thing? Why don’t Obama’s actual words MATTER? Why are we supposed to ignore what he SAYS in favor of what his supporters think he MEANS?

I agree (and I'm glad somebody got the joke in the title. Please feel free to propagate this in the CS community ;-)

Dealing with Obama's supporters, there's always this extra layer of interpretation about that he "really means" when he says stuff. That's exactly what they did when Obama put Social Security in play, after progressives worked so hard to defeat the conservatives on it. What we get is Oh, he "really" was appealing to the Beltway for coverage. Or, he "only" said it once (one series of ads, forsooth). If you say call Obama on appealing to Republicans operatives, you get, Oh, he's "really" appealing to Republican voters. And I just called that one out, so now it's going to be "really" something else. It's like they think that we're all so "meta" now, so accustomed to playing Kremlinology, that a clear consistent message isn't even appropriate.

At least in their messages on the campaign trail, now, I don't think Dodd is like that, or Edwards, or even, bless her heart, Hillary. HRC's got her bullet points, and they're not my bullet points, but by God she's got them and you know where you are with her. The Hillary trolls come after me because not to support her is to hate her, but they aren't all the time explaining what she "really" means.

Sheesh, I didn't realize how much that irritated me. Thanks.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by lambert on

Which "liberal interest groups" are you talking about, Sean? Unions?

Does Obama think that "in the pocket of liberal interest groups" is an example of rhetoric that is not inflammatory? Explain, please.

Does Obama think that "leftwing ideologues" is an example of rhetoric that is not inflammatory?

Which ideologue, exactly, did you have in mind? Presumably not Kristol, Sullivan, Broder, or Brooks, eh? Expound!

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Sean Wright (an... (not verified) on

What, do you think unions are conservative interest groups? Obama has been a staunch supporter of labor and unions, but in The Audacity of Hope he talks about how liberal interest groups, such as unions, give all of the Democratic contenders little "yes/no" checklists in order to determine which candidate to support and he talks about how most politicians learn that you have to go down and check all the right boxes for these groups in order to get anywhere, regardless if your view is to nuanced to be adequately expressed as yes/no. You can be supportive of unions and the rights to unionize without having to support every single political position that every single union takes.

I know this is an easy issue to demagogue and I respect your choice to demagogue it as a way to score an easy rhetorical victory. I like Obama because he avoids this sort of demagoguery in favor of a more nuanced approach. I realize that's not everyone's cup of tea.

Submitted by sTiVo (not verified) on

The trouble, Sean, with your argument is that right off the bat it surrenders the fight that we need:

Obama wants to use non-inflammatory rhetoric and principles of good government in order to persuade a solid majority of the country that he is not corrupt or a crazy leftwing ideologue or in the pocket of liberal interest groups

Let's see. Does one have to be a crazy ideologue to oppose the mockery that Bush has made of the Constitution? Does one have to be in the pocket of liberal interest groups to think that Social Security has no immediate crisis? And more importantly, does Obama think these things? Are you saying that once he gets in he will bring us those things that only crazy leftwing ideologues or liberal interest groups want? Pretty dishonest strategy if so. Or are you saying that only leftwing ideologues or liberal interest groups believe that Bush has shredded the constitution or that Social Security isn't in crisis?

This is rightwing rhetoric you're recycling here and I wonder if you even know it.

Submitted by lambert on

Sean:

You say Obama doesn't think unions are special interests. OK, I take you at your word, though Obama's campaign seems to disagree.

But OK, not unions. Whatever. So, now you can answer the question:

When you write about Obama not being in "In the pocket of liberal interest groups," which liberal interest groups do you mean?

Does Obama agree?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Sean Wright (an... (not verified) on

I have news for you, there is no monolithic entity out there called "unions".

You say: "But OK, not unions. Whatever." What the hell is that even in response to? Where did I say that individual unions are not examples of liberal interest groups.

In The Audacity of Hope, Obama says that he doesn't like the term "special interest groups" with its negative connotations because it casts to wide a net grabbing up oil companies and unions. He points out, however, that while he is a strong supporter of unions, and has fought hard on behalf of unions, he sometimes reaches different judgments about correct policy in a particular area than a particular union has reached.

Submitted by rootless-e (not verified) on

You can't look at Obama in isolation, without considering the rhetoric and actions of the other candidates. If Obama's flirtation with Arny makes you mad, what about Hillary's Colin Powell and Senator Lindsay remarks? If Obama's rhetoric is not militant enough for you, is Hillary's? All three of Edwards, Obama, and Hillary are revoltingly evasive on Iraq. Does that bother you?

Submitted by stivo (not verified) on

the idea that to support unions one must walk in lockstep with them on every issue.

Dennis Kucinich had fun with this strawman in one of the debates. Though as pro-union as anyone he had no trouble when asked this to name an incident where he took a stand different from the unions.

In reality, labor unions have no more power over their supporters to make them toe the line than any other group does. It's another rightwing point you're recycling.

Obama sometimes disagrees with them? Well, whoop-de-doo.

Submitted by Sean Wright (ak... (not verified) on

How many unions are backing Dennis Kucinich? How many union backed 527's are running ads in Iowa in favor of Dennis Kucinich?

Why did you choose Dennis Kucinich as an example rather than Edward or Clinton?

Submitted by amberglow (not verified) on

we need a fighter -- and Obama refuses to do so.

He absolutely refuses and that's wrong--we get nothing without fighting for it--it's the history of this country, and the history of every advance we've ever made.

Submitted by Sean Wright (ak... (not verified) on

I consider myself very liberal politically with a moderate temperament. That's why I am backing the mainstream candidate with the best progressive credentials, Barack Obama. Talk is cheap. Edwards is running as the most box-checky liberal because of his horrendous, conservative, legislative record. I've heard him called the Mitt Romney of the Democratic party and I think its apt. He's not nearly egregious as Romney but that's because the Democratic party isn't nearly as insane as the Republican party.

The idea that politics and economics are at least co-equals was familiar to those who did their graduate work before Reagan, back in the Galbraithian days when it was called Political Economy.

Subordinating politics to economics was the dubious achievement of Marxism and Milton Friedman's Chicago disciples.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

The second the votes were counted for the 110th Congress, the Chris Matthewses and Cokie Robertses pronounced shrill partisanship as public enemy #1 for the obvious reason that they love the status quo.

By ratifying this framing, even of you do somehow believe Obama is being crazy like a fox (hmm), he's doing us wrong.

Submitted by lambert on

Your own words, Sean:

Obama wants to use non-inflammatory rhetoric and principles of good government in order to persuade a solid majority of the country that he is not corrupt or a crazy leftwing ideologue or in the pocket of liberal interest groups...

Can we simplify this down a little, Sean? Before proceeding further? What are these "liberal interest groups"? You say they aren't unions. OK. I take you at your word.

When you say "liberal special interest groups," which interest groups do you mean?

Simple question. What's the answer, Sean? Just for the record.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Sean Wright (ak... (not verified) on

Recognize this: "You say: “But OK, not unions. Whatever.” What the hell is that even in response to? Where did I say that individual unions are not examples of liberal interest groups."

Did you even read my last response? I am not denying that unions (not a monolithic group btw) are liberal interest groups.

Liberal interest groups include:

Labor organizations such as unions as well as organizations interested in specific issues like the environment, racial justice, criminal justice, prison reform, various foreign policy issues, etc., etc. By calling them interest groups, I am not trying to belittle them and I'm not sure what your point is other than to play some kind of hot-button game of gotcha.

If this is supposed to be an object lesson about how effective harping on irrelevant keywords is as a way of framing the issue, then color me unimpressed.

If you want to rile up the people who are already on your side that is fairly effective. If you want to persuade people who might agree with you but are suspicious of Democrats in general, not so much.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

It really doesn't matter which Dem candidate gets nominated if they all buy into the Right-Wing-dictated ideological framework.

"Partisanship is the problem" is a central meme in the corporate media's self-interestedly distorted presentation of current political reality.

As Lambert points out, a dead giveaway that the Kumbaya meme is dishonest is the fact that the media feels it's a problem only when the Dems act partisan.

It's severely dissappointing to see ANY candidate buy into that.

This is about Electoral Politics vs. Ideological Politics. For too long all the energy of liberal activists has been focused exclusively on getting someone elected, no matter what the cost to ideology or policy.

At the same time, the Conservative movement has dominated the arena of Ideological Politics, forcing any GOP candidate, even Democratic ones, to kowtow to their policy priorities.

On the other hand, Liberal/Progressive activists have volunteered to sacrifice their policy priorities to the altar of "electability". A standard that is defined by the Village for the benefit of the Conservative movement and their Corporate funders.

According to the Village, "electability" means:

- having a good (but not overpriced) haircut

- working with, not ever ever against, Megacorporations (healthcare, defense, and any others)

- working with the Republicans

While Accordning to those of us who believe in Reality, the overwhelming majority of voters want:

- out of Iraq, now and completely

- universal healthcare, not mandatory "affordable" corporate insurance

- their right to privacy and a return to the rule of law as prescribed by the US constitution

- impeachment of the scoundrels in the current administration

The ultimate goal for all of us to the Left of Sean Hannity is the enactment of progressive policies. The Village will tell you that the way to get there is to make nice with Republicans and Corporations.

Reality will tell you that the Conservative policy accomplishments of the last 20-30 years were achieved EXACTLY because of their ruthless partisanship and their relentless assaults against any interest group that stood in their way.

Which one are you going to trust? Which one are the candidates going to trust?

P.S.: Mad props to Lambert. Respeck Teh Krugman!

Submitted by lambert on

You write that Obama is not "in the pocket of liberal special interest groups."

I ask, quite naturally, which groups you're talking about.

We agree that you're not talking about unions (although, as I said, the campaign might disagree).

So, fine. The unions aren't liberal special interest groups, and Obama's not in their pocket.

So which "liberal special interest groups" do you mean?

AARP?

Electronic Frontier Foundation?

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State?

Who?

If your object is to show a reasonable level of professionalism on Obama's behalf, being unable to answer simple questions isn't helping you, or your putative candidate.

On the other hand, "liberal special interest group" is clearly a right wing talking point, not a progressive one. I wonder why that would be?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

MD's picture
Submitted by MD on

and ill thought-out posts at DKos. But the tone here is getting a bit strident. "Please Represent Obama Effectively or Find Someone Who Can" is unnecessarily harsh and unproductive in getting answers to the important questions that are being discussed. And I say this as someone who shares your concerns about Obama, Lambert. I don't think Sean is being purposely obtuse; indeed, I think he's trying to answer your questions. If you think he's not, ignore him. If you think he is and is worth talking to, I think it's worth toning down the rhetoric.

Submitted by corinne (not verified) on

Catching up on my backlog of reading after Christmas. This post is a real work of art. Well done!

Submitted by Sean Wright (ak... (not verified) on

You ask: "Which “liberal interest groups” are you talking about, Sean? Unions?"

I respond: "Obama has been a staunch supporter of labor and unions, but in The Audacity of Hope he talks about how liberal interest groups, such as unions, give all of the Democratic contenders little “yes/no” checklists in order to determine which candidate to support and he talks about how most politicians learn that you have to go down and check all the right boxes for these groups in order to get anywhere, regardless if your view is to nuanced to be adequately expressed as yes/no."

You say: "You say Obama doesn’t think unions are special interests. OK, I take you at your word, though Obama’s campaign seems to disagree.

"But OK, not unions. Whatever."

So then I respond: "You say: 'But OK, not unions. Whatever.” What the hell is that even in response to? Where did I say that individual unions are not examples of liberal interest groups.'

Then you come back with: "Can we simplify this down a little, Sean? Before proceeding further? What are these “liberal interest groups”? You say they aren’t unions. OK. I take you at your word.

"When you say “liberal special interest groups,” which interest groups do you mean?

"Simple question. What’s the answer, Sean? Just for the record."

So of course I respond: "Recognize this: 'You say: 'But OK, not unions. Whatever.' What the hell is that even in response to? Where did I say that individual unions are not examples of liberal interest groups.'

"Did you even read my last response? I am not denying that unions (not a monolithic group btw) are liberal interest groups.

"Liberal interest groups include:

"Labor organizations such as unions as well as organizations interested in specific issues like the environment, racial justice, criminal justice, prison reform, various foreign policy issues, etc., etc. By calling them interest groups, I am not trying to belittle them and I’m not sure what your point is other than to play some kind of hot-button game of gotcha."

And now you come back with this: "So, fine. The unions aren’t liberal special interest groups, and Obama’s not in their pocket.

"So which “liberal special interest groups” do you mean?"

Either your not reading my posts, your reading comprehension is horrible, or your being intentionally obtuse to annoy me. I've answered your questions very specifically.

I don't think AARP is a liberal interest group because they are way to willing to make common cause with Republicans like they did on the God awful prescription drug benefit law, though they are an interest group and they do make common cause with liberals frequently.

I'm honestly not familiar enough with the "Electronic Frontier Foundation" to say whether they're a liberal interest group.

Yes, I would consider "Americans United for the Separation of Church and State" a liberal interest group.

Submitted by Mo (not verified) on

Goldberry, you are so right. “Better to craft your message from *your* personal principles and ask for others to buy into them. It eliminates the need to pander and you’re less likely to alienate your allies.” It’s the only way to look, sound, BE strong in your convictions, in your principles. That’s the biggest problem I’m having with figuring out whom to support… I can’t tell what any one of these pols truly believes. It’s all so much pandering.

And so much for holding hands across the aisle and singing kumbaya. Expecting Republican voters to “call out” their elected representatives is foolish, at best. Out here in the Heartland, you can’t even Mention a notion vaguely political (or, heaven forbid, progressive, let alone liberal) in “mixed company” (i.e. liberal and "conservative") without some “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom” channeling Rush: “Nanny State” “Tax and Spend” “Cut and Run” “They just want to pass laws and more laws!” OMG, where’s the barf bag when you need it? You wanna know my vote for the person who does the most damage to thoughtful discourse and the democratic process? Rush Limbaugh, hands down. When his craven, obesity- and drug-weakened heart finally gives out, those won’t be tears of sadness and grief in my eyes. And no, Bill O’Reilly, I’m not suggesting that anyone take the old goat out, heaven forbid that anyone create a martyr out of the ... um... windbag.

And off on another tangent, WE get labeled “Tax and Spend Democrats”, why, oh why, isn’t anyone calling them on being SPEND AND SPEND Republicans? They throw money down the industrial military complex rat hole like it’s materializing out of thin air and dis us for actually thinking we should attempt to pay for things up-front. Oh, oops, that would cut into the gigantic economic edge they have over us "po' folk".

And another tangent, how do the repuglicans seem to keep coming up with better sound bites (generally four words or less; alliteration preferred), making it so much easier for people to parrot “policy” lines?

But back to my original point, without a clear, concise message, how can any of them expect ANY of us to stand behind them?

Obama, hope is all well and good, in fact, hope is great, it’s a hell of a lot better than “terror terror terror, 9/11 9/11 9/11”. But it still doesn’t tell me: What do you stand for? What are you going to do? And if I have to have one of you flunkies telling me what you "really meant", well to heck with that. You aren’t so damned much smarter than the rest of us that your minions should need to interpret for us.

Submitted by lambert on

From Sean we get:

I don’t think AARP is a liberal interest group because they are way too willing to make common cause with Republicans like they did on the God awful prescription drug benefit law, though they are an interest group and they do make common cause with liberals frequently.

OK, excellent. A "liberal special interest group" is not willing to make "common cause" with Republicans on "godawful" laws. (Apparently, although being "divisive" is bad, and "unity" is good, there can be too much of a good thing. I'm glad that's sorted.)

Sounds to me like being a "liberal special interest group" is a pretty good thing to be, then.

But then why would it be bad for Obama to be "in the pocket" (Sean, back here) of "liberal special interest groups" if they want good things, and not godawful things?

Winger talking points like "liberal special interest group" sure get tricky, don't they? (As Mo realizes.)

I would have advised the Obama folks to have avoided using winger talking points, and tried using progressive ones, but as with the Social Security "crisis" fiasco, it's a little late for that.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Sean Wright (ak... (not verified) on

In the first paragraph I found this sentence:

"It's true that Obama didn't assert that there was some huge crisis."

Kind of puts the lie to your mischaracterization of his position doesn't it?

As good a post on what's going on in American politics and what's so very wrong about "bipartisanship" as I think a person could wish for.

This is totally wrong:

"That’s why I am backing the mainstream candidate with the best progressive credentials, Barack Obama."

Anyone who doesn't realise you are at *war* is not a "progressive" at all.

Submitted by rootless-e (not verified) on

The big three are all compromised, triangulating, guilty of servility to repug demands, and too conservative. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no reason to think any one of them is any worse or better than any of the others.

I'm not against Reaching Out (especialy to GOP voters rather than to the GOP politicians). I'm against Dumb Reaching Out. Maybe we shouldn't fall into a trap of rejecting Obama's 'dumb reaching out' by polarizing ourselves against the whole idea -- which Bill Clinton invented back in the 90s and did very well.

What matters imo is to do it by good sense and homework and creativity. Which Hillary seems to be doing, on the actual issues.

Bill Clinton 'reached out' to the other side by doing his homework and finding some solutions so brilliant that they really solved both sides' problems.

Here:
"to use your party's solutions to solve the other side's problems. Use your tools to fix their car." Clinton, Morris shows, adopted the longstanding conservative goal of welfare reform as a top item on the Democratic agenda, but developed progressive policies, including higher funding for child care and stronger financial support for working families, to pursue that goal."

Joe Klein:
But the philosophy was both successful and profound. It proposed the achievement of liberal ends through market-oriented conservative means. Welfare reform, which combined a work requirement with significant financial incentives for the working poor, was the best example of how the philosophy might work.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Being deferential to those who have gotten us into this fix and validating disempowering framing is a contraindication for readiness to restore Constitutional government, whereas being ambitious is not.

That isn't to say that I'm more optimistic about Hillary's likelihood to cure what ails us, but your point is nonetheless hard to swallow.

And do either Obama or Hillary ever speak this bluntly about the challenges we face?

Submitted by lambert on

Sean has, let's be nice, a concern about misrepresentation.

* * *

As for actual parsing of words, let's roll the tape. The transcript:

[OBAMA] You know, Senator Clinton says that she's concerned about Social Security but is not willing to say how she would solve the Social Security crisis

As for the background in political economy, I'm just going to fair use the whole Atrios post, in case people aren't familiar with the history here:

There Is No Crisis
I imagine some readers who haven't been hanging around these parts for all that long might have justifiably been puzzled at the reaction to Obama's decision to try to make dealing with Social Security his signature attack on Clinton. It's true that Obama didn't assert that there was some huge crisis. But the fact remains that he put the idea out there that Social Security had a "problem" which needs to be fixed and that any serious presidential candidate needs to address the issue in clear detail. [italics mine]

So what's the big deal?

Beating back George Bush's plan to kill social security was probably the first major victory for the broadly defined netroots movement. I say that not really knowing if things would have been different if blogs and the like didn't exist, but it seemed like a victory. And while we never got together in a dark smoky room to plot our strategy, it basically ended up being a two-pronged one. The first was to beat back against the "social security crisis" frame much beloved by every very serious pundit in Washington. The second was to beat back against the idea that since George Bush had a "plan" (which he never actually did in any form until very near the end of the whole debate) the Democrats needed to have a "plan" of their own. The first part of this is a perpetual game of whack a mole, necessary on just about every day the Washington Post is still publishing. And the second was a very necessary emergency tourniquet which needed to be applied very quickly.

Beating back the steady stream of misinformation about the nonexistent crisis was done throughout the blogs, on Media Matters, etc. And trying to stop the Democrats from coming up with their own crackpot plan was done through a combination of bloggers trying to explain repeatedly that people like social security, they don't want to change it, opposing changing it is a political winner, and most importantly that once the minority party proposes their own plan they've guaranteed that something will happen. And that something would have been very bad. In addition, Josh Marshall especially kept an eager eye out for any wavering Democrat in Congress who decided that his/her awesome social security plan must be unveiled to the grateful public in order to beat them back with phone calls and whatever bad press could be created.

Tt worked. Again, absent blogs it may have played out just like that anyway. Nancy Pelosi realized at some point that the "no plan" plan was indeed the best one, and she likely doesn't spend much of her time looking at my pictures of ponies. In any case, somehow George Bush's social security monster was driven back into its cave and it was done in just the way the liberal blogosphere and netroots more broadly orchestrated it to happen, in a very decentralized way of course. We're not members of any organized political party, remember.

So, anyway, having someone suggest that Social Security is a problem which needs to be dealt with by any serious candidate is like the bat signal for people like me. There is no problem with Social Security. None at all. Whatever broader fiscal time bombs exist have absolutely nothing to do with Social Security. Once you get Fred Hiatt and the gang opining about the need fix that Social Security problem, you've increased the likelihood of something very bad happening.

So, I would say that when I wrote of Obama's:

... Social Security “crisis” fiasco..

I was completely accurate, whether the quotes around the word crisis be literal (as in the transcript) or ironic (as in a so-called "crisis"). And "fiasco"? That too. Sean, please. Represent, OK?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

...than an apocalyptic Dominionist looking for the Second Coming.

Of course all of this is probably moot. One can only speculate what October Surprise Cheneyburton is already cooking up in their feverish minds...

But really, reach out to the conservatives?

Of the Bu$h "30%", perhaps 25% of the electorate supports him mindlessly because they feel he's the One, the Chosen of the Lord. Perhaps 0.01%, his real Base, support him because they've gotten filthy rich off of his policies. Maybe something close to 5% is smart enough to know he's nothing like God's favorite, supporting him because they thought he'd make them rich too, although like the other 25% they're the ones really caught holding the economic bag for him.

Both Hillary and Obama have their own versions of the Third Way, a bipartisan delusion. There's nobody for Hilbama to reach out to. There's no "there".

Krugman, and those of us that usually knock around the Corrente building, are quite aware of this.

But there's other flaws in the Third Way. We're supposed to compromise with people that want to scrap the Constitution for self-serving martial expediency in a war that only exists to improve their bottom line?

We're supposed to scrap concerns for the environment for the same reasons, at a time when we're living in the greatest mass extinction since the Mesozoic?

At a time when pollution has raised carbon levels in the atmosphere to unrecorded highs that are melting the poles and glaciers all over the world?

At a time when environmental degradation is spurring war all over the globe that will only increase as the sea levels rise and the deserts advance on lands not in danger of drowning?

We're supposed to compromise with the violently ignorant and the venal, with the bigoted and the fanatic, at the very time in history when most of America has awakened to their lies?

We should compromise and let them define our media, and regulate our discourse, and imprison those they deem a danger to their hegemony?

That's a really stupid idea. I don't even want to compromise with idiot DINOcrats that feel that way, much less the Republican crime syndicate. Don't expect me to quietly sit by and let Obama or Hillary or their sycophants dictate who I should or should not be polite to.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

MJS's picture
Submitted by MJS on

Why score a touchdown when you can hurry a long field goal on second down? The other side will love us!

++++

MSimon's picture
Submitted by MSimon on

I was born a Democrat. Became a Trot in my 20s. A Libertarian (card carrying) in my 40s. A Republican after 9/11 (you got your opinion, I got mine).

I have been around the political spectrum. I know all the arguments.

My current take. Democrats want the government to control your economic life. Republicans want the government to control your private life. I just want the government to leave me the fuck alone. Very unprogressive.

You guys keep thinking that with the right leaders or the right policies it will all get better. No way.

You do not understand the purpose of representative government. It is not about self rule. It is a safety valve so the worst discontents get aired and sometimes fixed in a way that is at least not bad for business. Because revolutions are really bad for business.

Your best bet is to take the worst abuse of the system (the drug gulags would be my pick) and focus on that. Forget the "progressive" agenda - you are not going to get that. You can, however, with great effort fix one problem - if you focus.

So who has anything to say about the drug gulags? Dennis and Ron.

The Democrats used to be the Party of Jefferson.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. -- Thomas Jefferson

I'd rather have the corporations competing (without government help) than have a government (with its power of the gun) in control. One is bad. The other worse.

There is no perfect government.

Or as Churchill said "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

Don't take us down the path of government control. What happens if government controls all health care and some government bureaucrat decided he doesn't like you? Fooked. There is no law that will prevent such occurances. Petty tyrants (scum) will always rise to the top. Better to have a situation where at least you can appeal to a different petty tyrant. Or buy one off (go to a different company) if you have the money.

American Democracy is bad. Progressive Cuba is worse. Don't trade bad for worse.

MSimon's picture
Submitted by MSimon on

Let us join forces to end the Damn Drug War.

Submitted by lambert on

Speaking for Corrente (and not for not-Obama) we're totally in agreement with you on that, MSimon. It's late, but if CD or Xenophon or several others are around, they would wax eloquent on this topic. It's not my area, so it's not the first thing that comes to my mind, but I agree.

Funny how whenever Our Betters define something as a war (at least after, say, 1972), there's a continual atmosphere of crisis, our liberties shrink, the usual suspects make a ton of money, and the rest of us get left a little worse off. And the war takes a long, long time to end, if indeed it ever does. Not to mention all the dead people. Eh? Smedley Butler would be proud.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

On what basis do you claim that those of us here "do not understand the purpose of representative government"?

If you've managed to support the deficit-exploding, wrong-country-attacking, corruption-oozing, environment-trashing, theocracy-embracing, Constitution-shredding Bush administration and likeminded Congress over the past seven years, you might want to find yourself a mirror.

Does "unitary executive" sound like representative Constitutional government? How about the Vice President lying about what branch of government he serves in? Unprecedented secrecy and stonewalling? Breaking the filibuster record in just one half of a new Congressional term? Politicizing the Department of Justice? Writing more unilateral, law-perverting signing statements in one presidency than all preceding presidencies combined? Manipulating voter rolls and stopping vote counts? Illegal wiretapping on citizens? Canceling habeas corpus after it's been a linchpin of civilized society since the 1300s?

How is it that you see a desire for America to re-establish the rule of law, to return to a sensible foreign policy, and to stop putting a thumb on the scale to further advantage the wealthiest and most powerful over the poor and middle class... how is it that you see that as a ticket to Havana?

Submitted by br930 (not verified) on

I've really enjoyed the analysis presented here. However, I'm not sure that it tells the whole story, or to be more specific, I think it still manages to miss the point slightly:

It's my impression that Obama is running with this non-confrontational approach precisely because it is (in the mind of his strategists) the most likely way he can succeed in getting elected. I mean, consider the alternative: Obama declares war on the Conservative Movement. He's mad as hell, and he isn't gonna take it anymore. He's an Angry Black Man. How well is that going to sell?

In my opinion, it wouldn't sell at all; it would be political suicide. His politics of inclusion are (to me, at any rate) a fairly transparent attempt to bring a constituency to the polls for him that makes a hell of a lot of sense. If you consider the political landscape as having already been partitioned to the nth degree, with certain kinds of people voting for certain sorts of positions, it's only logical. He's a new kind of candidate, and he needs a different approach to tap into a different constituency.

And I wouldn't despair, because in the event Obama does find himself in the big chair, he's in no way bound to the line he sold that got him there. Can we not think of leaders who were elected to power based on a particular platform, and once in charge they fine-tuned their approach until it hardly resembled the way they had described their outlook previously?

If I had to take issue with how you've presented things, it's as follows: Your contention is that Obama doesn't realize the veracity of Krugman's point of view. I have an alternative explanation: I suspect that Obama indeed does understand that reality, but is also smart enough to realize that taking that on head on will not get him elected. For better or worse, the act of getting elected and the act of getting things done once in power are pretty much separate things. I'm hoping Obama realizes this and is approaching the difference between the two to his full advantage

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

The reason why polls consistently show the popularity of Congress falling through the floor is that the public is angry.

Adopting and feeding the GOP/MSM meme about the evils of partisanship, as Admiral Ackbar would tell you, is a trap.

Submitted by lambert on

Here.

And where's the mandate to get progressive programs enacted if Obama doesn't run on a progressive platform -- and in fact, as we see from the Social Security "crisis" fiasco, runs away from it?

I'm sympathetic to the analysis. But.

UPDATE I forgot to say, VL, that it's deeply important to the Village that the public never been seen as angry, even if they are. Anger can lead to a breakdown in Civility, and, as we know, that could even lead to the ways of Our Betters being questioned, or even Broderella having to travel out to some coffee shop in real estate flatland and badger some Real American into saying that what the country needs is a teh Moderate, teh Centrist, and teh Bipartisan.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

you can say you understand Obama all you want, but you never got the point. you think "post partisan" means appeasement or something ridiculous like that. yet you never define "partisan"! and that's the problem.

Americans want to get past fighting that's about parties, sides, right & wrong. we've gone downhill doing that. what we need to fight about is real issues -- and how often does that actually happen? when is there a debate on the actual content of issues?

to be post-partisan is to not get distracted by the power politics of the Beltway and to focus on the issues themselves. the fervor for Obama, which seems to drive a lot of Dems absolutely nuts (as did the fervor for Dean, who, btw, has proven himself to be perhaps the smartest Democrat in the country as the head of the DNC), is because people see Obama not merely fighting, but fighting for actual causes. no one thinks we can elect him and suddenly everyone will join hands. that's the kumbayah bullshit. what we believe is that with a president who is focused on finding solutions to the problems, and not promoting an ideology, we can work (and fight) our way to solutions.

in short, people are sick of th way it's been done for the past 30-40 years. and you offer more of the same, just from the other side of the aisle.

no thanks. it's still busted even if you flip it over.

Submitted by Sean Wright (ak... (not verified) on

I think all of the issues about Obama's "rightwing talking points" are bogus. I think Paul Krugman and other liberal pundits are kneecapping Obama because they don't like his political strategy not his substantive political positions.

In fact, in his big Social Security takedown, Prof. Krugman didn't even address the advisability of raising the cap on the payroll tax. I personally thin raising the cap is a good idea. For one thing, raising the cap makes the payroll tax slightly less regressive. For another, our government has come to depend on the Social Security surplus to fund the rest of government. While the Social Security trust fund is will be solvent until at least 2042, the fund may be paying out more in benefits than it takes in in about 10 years. That will immediately have an impact on the deficit. I think raising the cap is a fair and progressive way of avoiding that. Obama's (and Edwards's to his credit) plan to raise the cap is a smart way to hoist the conservatives by their own petard. When was the last time you heard a conservative suggest we raise the cap on the payroll tax? Some right wing talking point. Krugman and you are fighting the last battle. We already fought off privatization and benefit cuts, now lets make the regressive payroll tax more progressive.

John Edwards has made basically the same proposal as Barack Obama with regard to keeping Social Security solvent. Why no editorials from Paul Krugman calling Edwards a sucker?

I found the following quotes from John Edwards on this website:

http://www.issues2000.org/2008/John_Edwa...

John Edwards on Social Security
2000 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)

Don't privatize; reduce benefits; nor raise retirement age

Q: There was a spirited exchange between Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama on whether to increase taxes on income levels for Social Security. Right now the cap, maximum, that is taxed is $97,500. Sen. Obama suggested it go up, that the wealthy can afford to pay more in order to keep Social Security robust. Sen. Clinton was not ready to do that, saying that there are middle-class people making more than $97,500. Does she have a point?

A: Well, she has a point. But the point doesn't go as far as it needs to go. The problem is that Sen. Clinton is not for privatizing, not for reducing benefits, not for raising the retirement age. I completely agree with all that. But she's made no proposal about what we're going to do. So what is her proposal? That she set up a bipartisan commission, and they'll solve the problem. The president of the US has to lead on these issues. I agree mostly with what Sen. Obama is saying. I do think we have to do something about the cap.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Nov 18, 2007

Buffer zone from $97K to $200K, then lift cap above $200K
Social Security caps at about $97,000 of income which means if you make $85,000, every dime of your income is taxed for Social Security. But if you make $100 million, then the first $97,000 is taxed and the rest is not. I think we have to do something about the cap. My difference with Senator Obama's [proposal to remove the cap] is, I do think there are people between $97,000, up to about $200,000, who, because of where they live, because of the cost of living where they live, are in fact in the middle class. And we don't want to raise taxes on those people. And so I would create a buffer zone between about $97,000 and $200,000.
Beyond that I would raise the cap. I'd lift the cap. But I think we have to have some really specific ideas about what we want to do. I don't agree with Sen. Obama exactly on what he's proposing, but at least he's proposing something. We're not legislators. We are running for the presidency. And voters deserve to hear the truth, and they deserve to hear specifics.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Nov 18, 2007

Raise cap with "protective zone" from $97K to $200K
EDWARDS: I think we have to be very careful to protect the middle class, so, specifically, what I would do as president is create a protective zone between $97,000 up to around $200,000 because there are a lot of firefighter couples, for example, that make $100,000 to $115,000 a year. We don't want to raise taxes on them. But I do believe that people who make $50 million or $100 million a year ought to be paying Social Security taxes on that income.
KUCINICH: Of course we ought to be raising the cap in order to protect Social Security. And in addition, we should be thinking about lowering the retirement age to 65. People's bodies break down.

DODD: You could do this by basically readjusting that tax so it doesn't have to affect everyone in society.

Q: But you'd raise the cap to $500,000?

DODD: You've got to raise it up, clearly, to do this.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

We can't grow our way out of Social Security crisis
Q: Can you grow your way out of the Social Security crisis?
A: No, sir, you cannot. You cannot solve this problem just by setting up a bipartisan commission. All of us are for that. You cannot solve this problem just by growing the economy. All of us are for that. But the American people deserve to hear the truth. They have heard so much politician double-talk on this issue. That's the reason young people don't believe Social Security's going to be there for them. Why would you possibly trust a bunch of politicians who say the same thing over and over--"We're going to grow our way out of this"--but nothing changes. The honest truth is there are hard choices to be made here. The choice I would make as president is on the cap. But I don't understand why somebody who makes $50 million a year pays Social Security tax on the first $97,000, and not all the rest, while somebody who makes $85,000 a year pays Social Security tax on every dime of their income.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

Social Security has lifted 13M seniors out of poverty
The truth is that ambitious goals, creative ideas, and practical solutions can make great progress against poverty. They already have. Amid the misery of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Today Social Security lifts 13 million seniors out of poverty.
Thirty years later our nation made more progress through the War on Poverty. Since Medicare's creation in 1965, poverty among the elderly has been reduced by nearly two-thirds. Medicaid provides healthcare for more than 52 million Americans. Head Start has improved the health and school readiness of more than 20 million children.

Source: Ending Poverty in America, by John Edwards, p.257-258 Apr 2, 2007

Maybe raise the cap from $90,000, or eliminate the cap
Q: What about for Americans, say, who are 50 and younger, the next generation? Could you establish something different for them?
A: I think there're multiple ways to do it. One example is, we now have a cap on the taxes that're paid. It's about $90,000 And does that cap make sense? Maybe not. If we're going to raise the cap or eliminate the cap, do we need to have a bubble for middle income families that earn over $90,000 a year? Maybe. I think there're tools available to us.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 "Meet the Candidates" series Feb 4, 2007

We have social contract to not raise retirement age
Q: In terms of Social Security, would you consider raising the age of eligibility?
A: This is the one area where it will require really serious bipartisan effort to get anything done. You know, this has been approached and approached and approached in the past. As president of the United States, I would bring together leaders on both sides and experts and try to put together something that would work on both Social Security and Medicare. But, yes, people are living longer. You know, this applies to my own father and yours; we still have a lot of people in this country who work very, very hard and, when they reach retirement age, they deserve to be able to retire. And I just think we can't ignore the fact that we have made a social contract with millions and millions of Americans, and we can't go out there and just yank it out from under them.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 "Meet the Candidates" series Feb 4, 2007

Submitted by lambert on

... and "putting the lie" retracted. Thanks. That really represents Obama well.

Oh, wait...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Sean Wright (ak... (not verified) on

You got me. I was in a hurry and I just thought it was worth pointing out that Atrios had acknowledged that Obama wasn't running around claiming the sky was falling in on Social Security. But you are correct. Atrios has basically been thumping the same tub on Obama as Paul Krugman and you. Now how about acknowledging the fact that the other candidates, with the exception of Sen. Clinton have all basically taken the same position as Obama? And why are you against raising the cap? What's progressive about saying that people who make over $97,500 a year can't afford to pay as large a payroll tax as people who make under $97,500 like Sen. Clinton claims.

Submitted by lambert on

(Was here)

And as far as all the copy-and-pasted policy positions from the various campaigns:

Context is all, here. This is not discussion about minor tweaks in Social Security policy. (Minor, that is, by the side of abolishing it entirely, which is what the Republicans want to do.)

The context is that Obama, in the course of the campaign, felt that he needed to differentiate himself from HRC (as I recall, he was being attacked on the whole kumbaya thing). And the way he chose to do that was to attack Hillary for having no plan to deal with the (non-existent) Social Security "crisis." He even ran an ad on it! That's what pinged radar all through the blogosphere, not just Atrios (or Krugman). I know I thought, "Here we go again!" as soon as I read the story, and I'm sure that many others thought the same thing.*

As far as "tub thumbing," that implies a couple of things to me: First, that there's some kind of coordinated effort here. Not so. Ludicrously not so. I'm an unpaid C-list blogger, and I don't coordinate with anybody. The blogosphere in any case, unlike the Mighty Wurlitzer of the right, isn't a top down organization. Our network is capable of evolving a coordinated message, but there isn't a blastfax machine anywhere sending out talking points.

Second, that we're somehow looking for something, anything, to take the man down, and one issue is as good as another; anything to get the rubes through the door. Not so. I was distressed when I saw that happen. My reaction was "Oh, nooooo..." The whole episode made me look at Obama a lot more closely, and I had many interactions with Obama's fan base on this issue and others. I came away with the feeling that Obama and his fan base either had no understanding of history or the Conservative Movement, or were unable to express it, which comes down to the same thing in practice. (If you don't name it, you can't claim it.) After I worked through those feelings, I wrote this post.

So, when hell freezes over and I'm getting a check from a campaign or a media outlet, you can call us tub thumpers, and not until then.

NOTE * My Soros check didn't arrive this month, so I'm just giving the narrative as I recall it, and not doing the linky goodness thing. In any case, the kind of politics that are needed to combat the Conservative Movement that are really at issue here.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Sean Wright (ak... (not verified) on

"Tub thumping" in no way applies coordination. I understand that the fact that you are more or less parrotting (or channelling) Paul Krugman in no way implies that you coordinated with him. I was just referring to the fact that your arguments are repetitive, dogmatic and based more on passion than reason notwithstanding the charts you cut and paste into your posts and the eminent economists you reference and "channel".

I think you and Paul Krugman are way too taken with John Edwards posturing and chest thumping. I don't know where you get the idea that bluster=willingness to fight. If bluster was so important in negotiation, then George Bush and Dick Cheney would be foreign policy geniuses. Right now Edwards is playing the fire breathing populist because that is his niche in the primaries and his only hope of becoming the nominee.

Submitted by Sean Wright (ak... (not verified) on

I am a big fan of Paul Krugman. I read Conscience of a Liberal a couple of months ago and really enjoyed. I read his column religiously and I went to see him speak at the 92nd Street Y. Where I part ways with Prof. Krugman is that he thinks he has a better read on the current political situation than Sen. Obama, thinks he knows better than Sen. Obama how to sell a progressive agenda and has decided to take it upon himself to try to enforce some party discipline. I've carefully read both of their arguments and I frankly think Sen. Obama has a better idea of what will work politically. I don't dislike Hillary or John, I just don't think either of them is as smart or gifted a politician as Obama and if you look at Senator Obama's track record as a community activist, academic, state legislator and U.S. Senator, he has the most progressive resume.

MSimon's picture
Submitted by MSimon on

It Appears the folks here are as ignorant of war as they are about politics.

Frontal assaults are suicide. You can look it up.

Suggested reading "Strategy" by B.H.L. Hart.

Try the indirect approach.

The sour taste re: all government and especially the Christomatics, ending the drug war will accomplish will be far more effective than a frontal progressive assault on the machine.

MSimon's picture
Submitted by MSimon on

A wise southerner once told me in my 20s - never go up against the machine. I'm 63 and just getting it.

So you have your list of grievances? Lucky you. Hope they keep you warm at night.

Now let's get down to reality. What is your plan for a campaign? How do you plan to get Republicans on side? Can you hold your fire for tactical advantage? Obama can and I give him lots of credit for that. Even though I would never vote for him. He puts many of his enemies to sleep by being nice. Smart. Very smart.

My plan is to focus on the drug war. It is a weakness. They don't spray the poppy in Afghanistan for fear of driving the farmers closer to the Taliban. Use it.

===

You know, this is not the first time I have tried to enlist "progressives" in the campaign against the drug war. Alliances have more power than purity. Progressives just don't get that. I do which is one of the reasons I'm here. For a while.

May I suggest "Strategy" by B.H.L. Hart?

===

BTW my suggestion about energy is another indirect approach. If we eliminate the need for oil we eliminate oil wars. Any takers on that one?

MSimon's picture
Submitted by MSimon on

I take it back what I said about not getting it.

Way more here get it than at most progressive sites I have had the honor to visit in the past.

I'm heartened.

Forget ideology. Solve problems. I'm down with that. OK. I'll shut up and let others have their say.

Submitted by xan (not verified) on

Both frontal charges. One worked, one didn't.

Do not go assuming that nobody here knows military history. My thang happens to be the Civil War but everybody has their own time period, and a general knowledge of others.

Believe me, I can't think of anybody here, either Senior Fellows or occasional posters or the vast majority of our readers/commenters, who don't agree with you 200% that the Drug War is among the most nitwitted, vicious, counterproductive, misguided policies this country ever undertook. it needs to be slowed, then halted, then reversed ASAP. We are with you on this.

But you are doing a Sherman at Kennesaw Mountain with your insistance that this must be made the Big Issue which will at the same time constitute a flank attack "on the machine" as you put it.

This really needs to be a separate post and discussion, okay? To get it back on track/topic I don't see anybody, even Edwards much as i support him, who is in a position to come out at this point and say we need to end the "drug war." That thing in Iraq right now has to come first.

A truce to recover the wounded and bury the dead for the moment, okay? :)

MD's picture
Submitted by MD on

Your point is addressed in the article. What those of us on the left fear is that it's *not* just a strategy. Unfortunately, there's no secret playbook we can see. We don't know whether he's talking up bipartisanship to appeal to the many Americans who believe the cynical MSM lies that fights in Washington accomplish nothing and bipartisanship is an end in itself; or whether he's talking up bipartisanship because he too thinks it's an end in itself.

What I want to know is to whom he finds himself nodding in agreement more often: David Broder or Molly Ivins. I wish I didn't fear it is the former.

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

Look at how Edwards folded in his debate with Cheney and his mainstream conventional voting record in the Senate and tell me that there is any reason to believe his sincerity or ability on his fight hard rhetoric. Hillary is the Mark Penn candidate. And who knows about Obama? He might not know either. If you care about sincerity and track record: Kucinich or Dodd are there - but the MSM has told the democrats that there are only three serious candidates and the democrats obediently agree.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Under the subject line "No mas," you serve up mucho más.

Americans want to get past fighting that’s about parties, sides, right & wrong. we’ve gone downhill doing that.

I call bullshit. The reason Americans soundly voted Republicans out of Congress in 2006 is that they want to fight against the Republican Party. The reason American are disappointed in the Democratic Congressional majority is that it doesn't fight against the Republican Party.

Read the indented Washington Monthly quote here. It vividly describes how today's Republicans operate. They will gleefully pursue policies that literally kill Americans, if it means growing or consolidating their power.

Your suggested response is to be Neville Chamberlain on steroids estrogen whatever Harry Reid is having.

What the fuck, seriously, what the fuck!?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Edwards didn't "fold" in his debate with Cheney.

He won on content but got creamed on style. He did appear rabitty next to Mr. Gravitas-Vader, but his feistiness this time around suggests he'll do much better if he gets another shot at the bigs.

Obama has folded before the nominee debates have even started, by promoting this "post-partisan" horseshit. Whether it is better if he's lying about it (i.e., the phonebooth theory) I'll leave up to you and your god. But propagating it is harmful, because it pushes the all-important truth part of "truth and reconciliation" even further away.

Submitted by rootless-e (not verified) on

Edwards didn’t “fold” in his debate with Cheney.

He won on content but got creamed on style. He did appear rabitty next to Mr. Gravitas-Vader, but his feistiness this time around suggests he’ll do much better if he gets another shot at the bigs.

He was polite and deferential and let Cheney and MSM set the agenda. He FOLDED.

Submitted by lambert on

Was this why Obama had breakfast with Bloomberg?

The breakfast part:

Just when the speculation seemed to simmer to silence, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has once again turned up the heat on the presidential hot stove.

The Independent mayor had a mystery breakfast meeting in Manhattan Friday morning with Democratic candidate Barack Obama, a move that could irk the Hillary Clinton campaign seeing as, after all, New York is her turf.

Bloomberg has repeatedly asserted he plans to complete his entire mayoral term and keep out of the presidential race, but he sure knows how to tease the masses.

Obama and Bloomberg met on a coffee date, scheduled because of their "mutual interest." The billionaire mayor and the Illinois senator chatted over eggs and potatoes early Friday at the New York Luncheonette on East 50th Street.

Or was Bloomberg having breakfast with Obama? The Bloomberg part:

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a potential independent candidate for president, has scheduled a meeting next week with a dozen leading Democrats and Republicans, who will join him in challenging the major-party contenders to spell out their plans for forming a "government of national unity" to end the gridlock in Washington.

The Village really will do anything to hang onto their power, won't they? And they'd just love it if Obama brought his "Hello Kitty" Pencil Case of Unity to this fight, wouldn't they?

Here's the key chart (via Digby):

FILIBUSTERS.small.prod_affiliate.91

See, when the Republicans filibuster everything, and Bush vetoes everything, that's called "gridlock," and the remedy is to make sure no Democrat wins the Presidency. That way, the rich keep getting richer, there's no universal health care, the Constitution can keep getting shredded, and nobody is held accountable! What's not to like?

But tell me again why I want "unity" with the people and the party who shredded the Constitution, and turned us into a nation of torturers?

So, Obama trolls, good morning. What does Obama think of this effort? Will he be the front man on Broder's effort, or not? Why or why not? Sure chimes in with his "unity" rhetoric, though. And tacking right on Social Security fits in this this; the Village eats that stuff with a spoon.

NOTE Oh, I love it that Wanker of the Day Emeritus Broder is the "staff writer" on this story. As if. He was right there on the verandah, helping cut the deal.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by sTiVo (not verified) on

Answering your question of last night, Sean:

Why did I choose Kucinich as an example about how weak your meme about "walking in lockstep with unions" was?

I guess you didn't see the debate where Kucinich batted this stupid thing out of the park. You're right, he doesn't have much union backing now, but that is beside my point. The point is that the meme is right-wing spew.

What about Clinton and Edwards? Fair enough. Clinton a lockstep supporter of unions? What a joke. You do remember NAFTA don't you? I support unions and if I don't vote for Clinton this will be why, although she now admits this was at least partially a mistake. I believe she understands now that unions need to be made stronger than they are now if we are to get the more balanced economy that I think we need.

Edwards has a lot of union support too. But he has opponents, some of whom note that he opposed repeal of North Carolina's right-to-work laws back in the nineties. He doesn't march in lockstep either.

Of course Obama is a general supporter of unions too, but only he of the major Democratic contenders has chosen to make an issue of their supposed abuse of campaign financing laws. Why say this? Nobody's listening now execpt the people on either side who care about this issue, it doesn't do anything for him, politically, in a direct way. But it does signal to those listening, the business lobbyists who will be on top of him like a ton of bricks, that he's flipflopped.

This is why I agree with Corrente that what the candidates says now DOES matter, and why I'm less than impressed with supporters who tell us what they REALLY mean.

But let's dig a bit deeper and try to analyze what you're really saying with "marching in lockstep"? I hear at least faint echoes of mid-twentieth century anti-union rhetoric. Why isn't "marching in lockstep" applied to Republican political positions - especially when Republicans since 2000 have been marching more in lockstep than my poor disorganized disunited Democratic party has ever coem close to managing to do.

Submitted by lambert on

And if anybody thinks Edwards had free rein in that debate, they don't understand a whole lot about how campaigns work.

It's also remarkable that the very people who are lauding Obama for his conciliatory rhetoric are trashing Edwards for the very same rhetorical approach.

I prefer to remember that -- after the campaign was done, and Edwards didn't have to be a good soldier anymore -- that he wanted to keep fighting to get the Ohio votes counted. That's a lot more significant than a debate performance.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by rootless-e (not verified) on

So what do you go on? Legislative record: weak. Campaign for VP: lame. Current rhetoric: ok but vague and to my mind, not particularly compelling. I can't really separate the big three on anything by different criteria for wishful thinking that they are running phonebooth campaigns.

Submitted by lambert on

Pincer
Like Shystee said:

Going back to the diagram, only the electoral arm of the Progressive pincer was deployed successfully in 2006 and this allowed "the enemy" to slip away on the other flank, as it were. In order to achieve the enactment of good policy - which I think is every Progressive's ultimate goal - a change in political power and a change in the policy debate must take place at the same time.

I used to think that the Green Party was the solution, but that was before I considered the possibility that a Progressive movement could change the public discourse enough to force progressive policy on politicians no matter what their party affiliation. This, coupled with a simultaneous Progressive grass-roots electoral focus, gives me hope.

It's exactly because this pincer strategy is beginning to work, however slowly and fitfully, that we get extreme, bizarre reactions like a "government of national unity." That monstrosity is, well, rather like the Kursk salient. Hopefully we can pinch it off.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by annagranfors (not verified) on

...how much your post's steady growth throughout the blogosphere (and elsewhere) has gladdened me. (well, no, actually, you probably can!)

this xmas season has been personally kinda low on hope, but your amazing piece has more than made up for it.

Submitted by kmblue (not verified) on

Fighting is the only option. Obama is being concilatory before a single vote has been cast. That's why he doesn't have my support.

Submitted by Steve Newcomb (not verified) on

Quite an excellent piece, Lambert. Obama and the LPT (League of Progressive Milquetoasts) certainly contrast with Edwards and several lesser poll-trailers. Edwards is smart to see it and even smarter to be yowling about it so clearly and plainly.

I take issue with your "[x] Any (D) in the general [election]". That's no smarter than the knee-jerkiest Limbaugh listener. Such mindless brand loyalty is deadly to the public interest.

For example, I am filled with loathing for Hillary. She is an earmark queen, a paid-for tool of the Military Industrial Complex, a power junkie, and there is ample evidence that she's unprincipled with respect to each and every one of the principles that you enumerate. I can easily imagine voting for at least a couple of Republicans (but not that Giuliani crook) over her, if she's the Dem choice. I believe there is no shit that she is unwilling to force the American people to eat, if only she might gain power thereby. That same criticism cannot stick to McCain, who at least draws the line at torture, nor to Huckabee, whose pastoral qualities as the governor of a benighted state have earned him so much abuse. Even though I'm not a Christian (at least not as that particular brand-name is has been understood since the earliest days of the Roman and Orthodox churches, when Gnosticism and any meaningful application of Jesus's message of gender-equality were both ruthlessly suppressed), I can respect anyone whose personal history demonstrates paid-up discipleship, over anyone whose life does not. It doesn't have to be discipleship to a brand, or to a person, but it has to be to *something other than self*. As Robert Heinlein succinctly put it, "An *honest* politician is one who *stays bought*."

I truly suspect that Reid and Pelosi are shills for the bad guys, and that you are too kind when you impute good intentions to them. They absolutely suck, and very badly indeed. They do a lot of partisan showboating, they have no strategy, they make less than no progress, and they don't adapt to losing by changing their approach. Such soi-disant liberals are the biggest problem in America today, precisely because they are *not* liberal. They fulfill the same role in the public arena that Alan Colmes plays on Sean Hannity's Fox "News" show: they mean to *appear* to be liberal, thus to portray those who seek to serve the public good as weak, ineffectual, misguided, cowardly, and even pitiable. America likes winners, and it forgives the swaggering of winners. America hates losers, and it generally does not forgive them for losing, regardless of their stated intentions. (That's what makes America itself so pitiable, these days. What a mess has been made by two generations of atrocious public education.)

Lambert, since you know so much, and since you rightly demand so much of our public servants, I can only wonder why are you so anonymous? If you encourage others to take self-endangering steps to protect the freedoms of all of us, why do you reserve your own identity? When called upon to demonstrate that your own discipleship (to anything other than yourself) is a paid-up account, what can be said? I feel certain that *much* can be said, so why be anonymous? Credibility is the real gold; cleverness and perspicacity, while valuable, are more like bank notes. When the going gets really tough, gold retains value, and paper doesn't.

Steve Newcomb

Submitted by Waspman (not verified) on

Steve,

I can't help but notice that your hatred of Hillary is way out of proportion to the reasons you offer to support said hate. Are you sure you haven't inadvertently bought into the Repug's hate machine smear of her? It's easy to do if you aren't careful.

I'm not in love with Hillary either, but I think that most of the Dems that dislike her do so way out of proportion to the facts of her record. Yes, she infuriated me when she signed Kyle-Lieberman; and the stuff you mention, but she's still way better than any of the Repugs.

Anyone of them would gladly force unlimited shit eating upon the American people, if only he might gain power thereby.

McCain's stance against torture is admirable? Jeez, man how low is your bar?

Huckabee was pastoral? Do you mean when he pardoned a serial rapist because the victim was related to Bill Clinton?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/12/04...

Funny that you ragged on the length of Sullivan's piece, considering that this is a pretty substantial blessay (thanks, Stephen Fry!) in-and-of itself. But what a blessay.

Fairly good thread, too. Surprisingly so. I think what attracts people to Obama's rhetoric is that he really is preaching the sort of politics that we all kind of want to see: honest debate over sensible policies between people who have the job because of a desire for public service that won't stop them from leaving when they're no longer needed.

Here's the problem. If only one party acts that way, it'll get creamed. Absolutely wiped out. You don't take a knife to a gunfight? This is like taking a whiffle bat. And that's what Obama's problem is: that as much as people want to transcend the influence of the conservative movement, it's still going to be there, chipping away at every high-minded ideal, until Obama's presidency (assuming he gets it) is more of a disappointment than Clinton's. And let's be honest. Policy-wise, Clinton was a gigantic disappointment.

I'm not sure the other Dem frontrunners are that much better, though I think Edwards has a point with his "Two Americas", and I think that Obama may wise up in a hurry were he to enter the general and have the CM's guns actually aimed at him... but this is still a problem.

MSimon's picture
Submitted by MSimon on

When they do work they are very expensive.

Some times you have no choice if you want to take the ground. Maneuver is cheaper.

The US in the Pacific applied that by bypassing (flanking) positions considered unnecessary to capture - minimizing the number of frontal assaults required.

BTW if well grounded in military (and social) history why do so many here advocate what amounts to a frontal assault re: politics.

I can tell you as a member of the VRWC that any totally progressive candidate is not going to win any election soon. Just as the Huckster if he gets the nomination will get wiped in the general (I'm working hard to defeat him before then - I'd like my side to at least have a chance).

Right now as corrupt as things are the deep corruption has not surfaced in a believable way for around 70% of the population (WAG). Defeating the Drug War would lift that rock like nothing else.

Submitted by Waspman (not verified) on

...you are really obsessed with the drug war issue (yawn), and you also mistakenly believe that tactics of warfare are directly analogous to tactics of a political campaign.

But your main problem is that you actually decided to become a Republican after 9/11 - and are therefore either an idiot, or deranged.

Everyone else has been to polite to say it, but I'm not: Shut the fuck up about drug war; you are off topic. And your creepy war strategy references are creepy and weird. Like you.

Submitted by kmblue (not verified) on

The Democrats have tried playing nice, as others have commented. It hasn't worked, and it will not work.
If we must lose, we should lose with all flags flying, and at least gain some respect in the process.
No more spinelessness. No more wimps.

Submitted by lambert on

... it's good enough for me.

Steve:

No doubt speculation is possible about why--in a long American tradition of polemic pamphleteering--I maintain my old-school nom de guerre, but I'm not sure it would be useful. The "gold" is in the content, not the byline. The content is my identity; le style, c'est l'homme. It's useful, or not.

As far as HRC, that's something of a permathread. (Such a permathread that HRC supporters, when all else fails, attribute lack of support to hatred.) I think she's preferable to any Republican I can name, including McCain, who talks a good game on torture, but, with the MCA, didn't deliver. As for Huckabee, pastoral is about the last word I'd think of applying to a televangelist. And I don't plan on voting for anyone who's running for President as a Christian(ist), as Huckabee quite explicitly is.

And as for "[x] Any (D) in the general," that's not a knee-jerk reaction, it's a considered position. You can't beat something with nothing, and you can't stop the runaway Conservative movement, let alone begin to dismantle it and decontaminate the country, without a countervailing, institutional force. For all its many, many flaws--and Harry and Nancy exemplify them--the Democratic Party is the only institutional option of sufficient scale.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by benmerc (not verified) on

concise, informative and right on target, excellent write...sent over by digby's current write on the waffling condescending Dem majority.
as far as the obama brouhaha...he is a type "centrist" in general terms, I do not know what is so difficult to understand about all that. What the man really thinks, I do not know, but he certainly believes his type-cast is what is needed to be elected, he appears comfortable in his role. that could lead one back to lambert's phone booth.

Submitted by Joe Scordato (not verified) on

Lambert

Great post - instant classic in my book. When I heard Obama's speech at the 2004 DNC, I thought he was destined to go all the way some day. But since then, I've been very disappointed in his performance in the Senate (not to mention his complete wimp-out on Lamont's campaign). Your post nails my concern about Obama's rhetoric in the primary campaign right on the head. You can reach out to moderates but still focus on the right target and explain what needs to be done. Obama hasn't done that. Now is not the time to let up on the cons who have so damaged the country - not if you're serious about repairing the damage. In the primaries, ex-Gore, my first choice is Dodd, followed by Edwards. Maybe one of them will be the nominee, maybe not. But when it comes to working for a change and voting in November, there's going to be a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. We've seen the core beliefs of both fields. Your tag line sums up that choice for progressives - probably not perfect, but closer to the goal.

I worked hard for the Democrats in 2004 and 2006. I speak as a member of my town's Democratic Town Committee. I'm not happy with the Congress' performance so far, but I'm still going to do what I can to get Jim Himes elected in CT-04 against Shays, and to get people like Charlie Brown elected and Chris Murphy and Patrick Murphy re-elected (plus others who's names I can't remember off the top of my head).

Submitted by markg8 (not verified) on

I'm the "anonymous coward" who wrote this is nonsense. Yes let's indeed talk about facts.

You argue that Obama is not reaching out to Mitch McConnell. Maybe yes, maybe no, but he is reaching out to Chuck Hagel.

Big difference between Chuck Hagel and Mitch McConnell wouldn't you say? The retiring Hagel has spoken out against Bush's Iraq war longer and more forcefully than Edwards, Hillary and a dozen other Dem senators.

Even FDR reached out to Republican Senator George Norris to help create the TVA. But he didn't just work with them on legislation where they could help the cause he put them in his cabinet. He appointed two interventionist Republican leaders, Henry L. Stimson and Frank Knox, as Secretaries of War and the Navy respectively to help him prepare the nation for war and to outflank the isolationists.

Bill Clinton himself appointed Cohen from Maine as his Secretary of Defense and brought that asshole Dick Morris and David Gergen in as advisors.

I'd have no problem if Obama named Hagel SecDef because Hagel is a bonafide war hero who knows a stupid war when he sees one and doesn't come from a state that's home to a lot of military boondoggle manufacturers.

Whether you like it or not you're not going wish away 40+ Republican senators and their obstructionism by saying mean things about them. I want to divide their party not unite it. Why wouldn't you want to reach out to Republicans on issues they agree with us on? Hagel sticks in their craw as much as Lieberman sticks in ours.

Next, I want an enduring progressive majority, not 50% plus 1 — a straw man if ever I set one on fire. Where did you get that from? Not this post.

And I think the way to get a majority is to stand up for our values, take on the Conservatives, and win with a real strong mandate.

I don't think you get to an enduring progressive majority by "sticking it to the man". Red meat is fun for the faithful on the primary campaign trail but it isn't gonna cut it in the general or in office. There's a whole lot of people who work for big corporations who may be as progressive as anybody else but in the end they just aren't gonna vote for the guy who says he's gonna fight corporate interests if they fear he's going to kill their car making or insurance adjuster job.

Obama OTH went to Detroit last summer and told the CEOs not what they wanted to hear but what they needed to hear. He told them they have to start engineering cleaner and more fuel efficient cars. If they do in return he's going to help them be more profitable and hire more Americans by cutting their healthcare costs with reform. When talking about healthcare reform he acknowledges that there's two to three million people who work in the healthcare and insurance industries that are going to have to be employed elsewhere. People like my ex girlfriend who spends her days working through a maze of insurance forms so the patients of the doctor she works for can get their medical bills paid. Do you ever hear Edwards expressing concern about these employees and their jobs? I don't and there's a whole lot of middle class people who work for those companies who only see him as threat to their livelihoods.

Look, in 2009 we have a great chance to elect a Dem president. That chance is greatly diminished if Edwards is the nominee because when he was unable to raise enough money he desperately took public financing. It's even worse with Hillary because she doesn't engender much enthusiasm with a lot of us on the left and has high negatives with Indies and Republicans who need to be peeled off to build that 60% mandate we all want. Obama has matched the money Hillary has raised, not by kowtowing to the big money interests Krugman and Edwards are afraid of and Hillary embraces but from half a million mostly small donors that Edwards and Hillary would kill for.

Come 2009 we should have bigger and better majorities in both the House and Senate. With a Dem president it won't take 60 votes in the Senate to pass progressive legislation because the Dem president won't be threatening to veto those bills. Any Republican who tries to filibuster as the economy continues to stagnate or sink will risk overwhelming outrage back home.

If you’ve ever read any FDR you’d know Obama is no FDR:

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

Interesting that you quote FDR from 1936, after his first term, just before he started overreaching (unconstitutionally trying to pack the court) and meeting real resistance. In 1938 he passed the minimum wage law but after that Taft and his coalition with conservative Southern Dems stopped FDR's domestic agenda cold. In 1940 unemployment was still 17%. If you're trying to make the point that tough talk wins the day try again.

That’s FDR. That’s a message that wins in hard times. Like I said that hubris didn't get jackshit done. The second term was his low water mark.

Can you imagine Obama saying what FDR said? Yeah I do, but without rallying
everybody who owns a jobshop or a roofing business against him. But then I'm trying to remain optimistic these days. I don't have a choice, I don't have a tenured position like Krugman.

NOTE You also write:
I want a whole lot of Indy and Republican voters admitting we were right all along

Well, sure, we all want that, but you know, if your mother had wheels, she’d be a teacart.

Lambert please leave my mother out of it. She died two years ago in the same crappy Advocate hospital my dad is currently dying in. A big part of the reason she died and he's dying is because the doctors and the hospital play by Medicare rules Hillary utterly failed to change and live in mortal fear of lawyers like Edwards.

Despite what you think you're learning from Edwards being a dick is no way to convince anybody to vote for your candidate.

Submitted by lambert on

... about your mother. As long-time readers here know, my own died two years ago as well.

Please replace the meaningless but offending cliche with "If ifs and buts were candy and buts, every day would be Christmas."

And good luck with your father.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Obama should be rejected if for no other reason than the corporate media are so brazenly pushing him in the hopes Democrats will pick yet another loser. There is NO, repeat NO, conceivable way Obama can win the general election, and the Republicans know it. The same is true with Hillary Clinton, but she's just slightly more electable than the junior senator from Illinois. She is still a loser, however, no matter the fact she is married to Bill.

I was never impressed with Obama from the time of his keynote speech in 2004. He was all media hype.

We don't need an American Idol as our nominee; we need somebody who recognizes the vast majority of the American people are being screwed over economically by the corporate/financial elites and isn't afraid to challenge them head-on. That person is John Edwards.

Wake up, Democrats.

Submitted by xan (not verified) on

Hate to say it kiddo but you have got this completely backwards. The use of "public financing" is the way the system is supposed to work. It should be those who eschew the Public Financing system who should be condemned because they are raising all that lovely, juicy, sweaty money from

(a) their own pockets, vis Romney. Thanks to our beloved Supreme Court upholding the Golden Rule ("he who has the gold makes the rules") this is legal, but what it really means is that we might as well sell all public offices to the highest bidder. The biggest spender doesn't always win but that's the way to bet.

or,

(b) The bundlers, the Pioneers, the corporate shills, the lobbyists, the classic Special Interest Groups we all know and mostly hate. That's GW Bush and it's Hillary. Now explain to me how anybody like that is going to sit down with the folks who handed them their money and say "Now I'm gonna regulate you to force you to act in the public interest and oh yeah, your profits are obscene and here's the new schedule of Maximum Executive Compensation."

Please recall this is not just "public financing," this is public MATCHING financing. Edwards renounced corporate donations, contributions from lobbyists etc, so he gets money the old fashioned way with $250 max contributions one by one. This is gonna make telling Cigna Insurance, with their $21 BILLION profit last year made by denying sick kids liver transplants until it started to bring them bad publicity, that the days of Gilded Age II have come to a screeching halt a lot easier.

I've been seeing this "Edwards is desperate is why he takes public financing" around and about and I want it to stop. Vote for him, don't vote for him, do what you like. But let's stop with this bit of poop-throwing.

MD's picture
Submitted by MD on

But the problem is that he may well run out of money if he does win the primary and will be beaten up until the convention. And no one knows whether 527s could compensate for this.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

But I haven't seen you make any significant case that says that playing nice with Republicans will butter the parsnips.

Is it lost on you that the last several years, including the bogus impeachment, are a massive fuck-you to Clinton's non-partisan accommodation?

Also, since Hagel is such a great progressive, why did he side with the GOP in 26 of the 30 major votes he participated in since the beginning of the 109th Congress?

Now, "bona fide war hero" used to mean something politically before the Swift Boat Veterans taught me otherwise. Let's be sure to make bipartisan love with those fellas, while we're at it.

And fer crissakes, you're going to demonize John Edwards for being a trial lawyer? How Republican of you. Yes, how dare someone make powerful interests worry that there might be repercussions for their criminal negligence. Even worse, if he reforms our health-care system, some people in health insurance companies might lose the all important job of telling people why they aren't eligible for benefits that they could get if they lived in any other industrialized country. He really is starting to sound as awful as That Roosevelt Man!

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... that so-and-so can't possibly win the election.

We've seen too much horserace politics these last few years to say who is or isn't going to have the wind (and media) at his/her back going into the election.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Given that you can't figure out from all that's written here that any preferences you're seeing for Edwards evolve from a knowledgeable and nuanced view of today's politics, rather than the rationalizations of some fanboy, this parting is one we'll somehow soldier-on through.

Submitted by Majorajam (not verified) on

...but pinning the colossal dysfunction of our political system, media and yes, entire culture, on Democrats being insufficiently partisan is about as asinine as anything I've ever come across. Worse, by incessantly attacking Obama, Krugman has de facto supported Clinton, a candidate who can be fairly described as the most equivocating, triangulating, special-interest-beholden, beltway establishment politician in the Democratic field (she's got nothing on the Republicans though).

Am I the only one that finds it odd that Krugman is railing against Obama for a small nuance of his health care plan when it is HRC taking donations by the boatload from insurance and drug companies, and who only put forward a plan in the first place when it became clear that she wouldn't be able to waltz through the primaries without them?? But yet Obama is the shady friend of William Kristol and David Brooks, (see: logical fallacies). To the author of this blog post, I am one Obamaphile who is more than happy to explain any questions he might have about my candidate and then some. Note that when I do, I will frame all my arguments in terms of the real world choices we have, (unfortunately, Russ Feingold is not running), and the real world political realities that a President confronts, rather than the abstraction and unfair innuendo of this blog post.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... when you described our system as in a state of "colossal dysfunction."

As Lambert has rather exhaustively established, the problems emanate from the Conservative Movement. Where does he say it originated with Democrats?

Still, one would be hard pressed to say that the Democrat-led 110th Congress has distinguished itself with its response to that dysfunction. And that is because it has been insufficiently bold and unified in fighting back against what that movement has wrought.

As to a loss of enthusiasm for Obama equalling a vote for Hillary, as Yoda said, "there is another" (among the big three), and there are also admirable dark horses like Dodd and Kucinich if you aren't put off by the odds.

Submitted by Majorajam (not verified) on

The implication is that Obama is unfit because of the Conservative Movement can and could have been countered by equal and opposite food flying from the left. That is essentially placing blame on both sides, one for doing the throwing, and one for not retaliating. To say that is a simplification is being more than a little generous.

Your example of our current Congress is a good example. Another would be the Clinton administration, its end to Big Government and Welfare as we know it. I think that Obama has made it clear that he would have an agenda far more liberal than the prior President Clinton and that success on such an agenda would require the kind of charisma and virtuosity that he possesses in spades.

As regards Krugman, if he were not supporting Clinton, then what would account for the exceptional degree of scrutiny he heaps on Obama against the deafening silence on the leading candidate and his main rival, when she is far more so the centrist/beltway politician in sheep's clothing? It could be argued that he is trying to help Edwards, but the polls suggest that if Clinton beats Obama in Iowa, then she might take New Hampshire and then neither Obama nor Edwards would likely be able to stop her. I like Edwards, but if he were going to make a dent he would've already. Krugman's not dim, to make an understatement. He knows the power of his column not just for persuasion but for framing the debate, (see today's Meet the Press), and he knows who the main beneficiary of all of it will be. Given his professed aim to further progressive ideals, that, to me, is more than a little curious.

Submitted by jello (not verified) on

first, i need disclosure. i'm not a regular on this site. which candidate is lambert supporting? is it for enron-enabler dodd; offshore hedge funder, DLC voting record edwards; or pure, but not viable kucinich? don't even get me started on hillary.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... if not your acuity.

I'm about the last guy who is going to make such a mistake.

Obama's position is the one that pretends that everything is all even-steven, that food has been flying all about the bitter and partisan room, when as Lambert observes it's pretty well unidirectional.

In his rush to groom himself as a chilled-out healer, Obama glossed over honest and empowering talk about what the disease is that needs curing. Now, you may fancy him the oncologist that we need right now (i.e., the phonebooth theory), but forgive us if we say "Doc, give it to me straight."

Submitted by lambert on

Things calmed down after awhile. See my demand for a retraction from Sean, and the retraction! Therefore, no trollery. But after dealing with the trolls on Kos, sometimess it's difficult to separate out the tendentious, but intellectually honest, from the trolls who will say anything. Sean is welcome back here at any time (if he's still reading this). Because we go after the Republican w-a-a-a-y harder than Obama!

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

MD's picture
Submitted by MD on

It has developed some real vices, the thoughtless trolls being one example. Too often it reminds me of the AM radio of the leftist blogosphere. (It has virtues, too, of course...)

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

(as long as the next fellow is Richard Dawkins), but I should note that Sean's last missive was rather dismally dismissive:

I was just referring to the fact that your arguments are repetitive, dogmatic and based more on passion than reason notwithstanding the charts you cut and paste into your posts and the eminent economists you reference and “channel”.

I think you and Paul Krugman are way too taken with John Edwards posturing and chest thumping.

A pretty broad and wildly swinging brush, IMHO.

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

Forgive me if I notice that you didn't respond to anything I've written, simply open up a new anti-Obama front. You might want to dirty your hands reading what I've written before you pass out the failing grade for acuity.

As that goes, of all the candidates, I'll concede that Kucinich is sufficiently progressive to reject any narrative that requires more centrism. Asserting that Dodd is somehow an answer because he has veered left in a primary after 30 some odd years of essentially not doing anything to stem Conservatism's destructive rise, as you'd have it, lacks some credibility. Clinton is likewise laughable on that count, which leaves Edwards. Edwards is Clinton's trojan horse, and unfortunately not more. Witness Bill Clinton's talking him up on a recent Charlie Rose (perhaps you doubt his acuity at reading the political tea leaves as well). And Kucinich is just another name for throwing your vote away.

I should ask, what does the miserable showing of these candidates that satisfy your requirements tell you about the likelihood of getting such an heir to FDR elected to President of this country? If you were all attuned to anything, you'd realize: plenty. The rhetoric will have to be turned on the right, but subtly and in turns. As it does, it will have to adopt the voice of reason as the hurdle in the media and culture is extremely high 25 years after Regan. Going great liberal guns will get you all of nowhere, though the scope for that will increase during 08's pending, and possibly very deep, recession.

That gets me back to Obama. Despite this person's objectionable (to your mind) rhetoric, his health care plan, voting record on foreign wars and lack of degree of ownership by special interests represent not a small step but a gigantic leap forward for this country. Ironically, the very rhetoric that you loath may be key to reversing many of the policies that the intransigent right has put in place, while your tearing him down for it might have the opposite effect.

In any case, that's more than enough substance for someone who can't be asked to read and respond.

Submitted by jello (not verified) on

As regards Krugman, if he were not supporting Clinton, then what would account for the exceptional degree of scrutiny he heaps on Obama

a degree of scrutiny that other candidates aren't held up to. see, obama is expected to be perfect. if he says the wrong thing, and even later recants for the terminology, as he has done with his social security characterization, that for some reason, still makes him the bad guy. nevermind all the conservative policies hillary and edwards have supported in the past. a slip of the tongue is unforgivable.

one theory is a number of pundits dislike obama because they remember his comment earlier in the year stating that "palestinians have suffered the most." but because it's politically incorrect to go public with their pro israel bias, they look for other superficial reasons to whack him for. "omg, he said "crisis"! it's reminiscent of the opposition howard dean received for simply saying "even-handed."

also inexplicably, obama, has been the favored whipping boy for a number of leading liberal bloggers. wonder if this partly explain why:

Hillary Clinton had just begun running for the White House, and her husband was already trying to help neutralize her critics on the left; when I arrived at the office, Clinton was meeting with about 20 influential bloggers, who were gnawing on barbecued chicken and enjoying their first-ever audience with a former president.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/magazi...

jerome armstrong in particular has been near rabid in his attacks against obama. putting out hit piece after hit piece against him. simultaneously arguing he isn't hard hitting enough to he's too cut throat. he's argued obama isn't progressive enough, then upon stumbling upon old questionaire obama answered, argued he's too liberal. he also peppers his attacks against obama with words like "vague discomfort" and "nagging doubts." words that if it had come from a conservative, i would have regarded as coded racism. it's really strange this constantly moving of goalposts for obama.

Submitted by lambert on

Anonymous coward enlightens the dull normals on what Obama "really means"

If you were all attuned to anything, you’d realize: plenty. The rhetoric will have to be turned on the right, but subtly and in turns. As it does, it will have to adopt the voice of reason

Well, forgive this particular dog for not being attuned to that whistle. I think the way to win a progressive mandate is to, er, campaign for a progressive mandate. I'm with MJS, who writes:

Why score a touchdown when you can hurry a long field goal on second down? The other side will love us!

I think all this subtley and parsing and deking around and general meta-ness from Obama's fan base is a sign of weakness, not of strength.

But if this truly is a once-in-a-generation chance for realignment, as Obama himself says, we don't have to play like we're weak any more. We don't have to play not to lose any more. We can play to win.

Harry and Nancy don't understand that, but I expect our Presidential candidates to get it.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by lambert on

Jello, you write:

... a number of pundits dislike obama ...

Oh? Kristol, Brooks, Sullivan, Broder, even George Will just today -- they're all lining up!

Sure, they're all Conservative Movement operatives (granted, Crazy Andy is an outlier), but they're all pundits, and they all like him.

I wonder why?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

lambert, did you disclose which candidate you are supporting? no comment about the clintons lobbying leading bloggers for support?

you are making the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" argument. this isn't always the case. just because the media hates the clintons doesn't mean the clintons have our best interests at heart.

Jello, you write:
… a number of pundits dislike obama …
Oh? Kristol, Brooks, Sullivan, Broder, even George Will just today — they’re all lining up!
Sure, they’re all Conservative Movement operatives (granted, Crazy Andy is an outlier), but they’re all pundits, and they all like him.
I wonder why?

i've made the same complaint when, earlier in the year, media was kissing hillary's ass. pundit after pundit praised her debate performance and campaign discipline. they annointed her as "inevitable" while they tagged obama as "inexperienced" despite his having held elective office for a longer period of time than either hillary or edwards.

avedon pointed out to me "they're [pundits] not kissing her ass, they're setting her up."

media is probably doing the same with obama. they will do this with whichever democrat becomes the nominee. set them up with praise, then turn around and cut 'em off at their knees. this is media's favorite sport. they did the same thing to howard dean.

Submitted by Majorajam (not verified) on

was my post. I didn't realize this blog defaulted to a default name even after you've posted. You guys might want to look into that.

jello, I think Krugman's scrutiny is curious because it doesn't add up given that he is not naive, that the primary effect of his stridence on Obama is to support Clinton, and that this beneficiary is clearly less acceptable to progressives of which he purports to be one. I for one am still waiting for a Krugmanphile to answer that riddle.

The type of press that Obama gets in the main though, to the significant extent that it is not welcoming, is highly unlikely to be personal. The press is looking to embarrass him because that's what they do to newcomers to the national political scene, and they had a great deal of success doing it to John Kerry and many other Democrats that turned out to make great punchlines. Undoubtedly there is plenty of racial, (and even anti-Muslim sentiment, despite the fact that he is not Muslim), at play as well, though it is hard to attribute that to individual pieces. And it is also the case that many pundits have their guy or gal and Obama is not them, which is a sufficiently reasonable motive for me.

All things considered, our culture is such that you have to show yourself to have fangs before the media will show you respect, and after you do, they will shine your shoes. As it happens, the media never made it out of junior high.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Ultimately, this discussion is not really a referendum on Obama or any specific candidate.

It's a referendum on framing. The Republicans, for reasons Lambert and many others in the blogosphere have articulated, have gained much of their power by controlling the frames through which American politics is popularly interpreted.

A question for you. In the construction "adopt the voice of reason," what is the definition of "reason"? I read it to mean "playing nice about the criminality and incompetence of the GOP and the dishonesty of its corporate / media enablers," but perhaps I'm reading you wrong. If you meant something altogether different, like "tell the truth about our country's historic turn away from Constitutional law, sane international policy, and honest reportage" then I apologize for my confusion.

In recent elections (and Congressional votes), Democrats have been so cowed into Republican framing, that it's hard to honestly say what happens when a Democratic nominee speaks the truth about our political predicament. One thing we do know, is that the Democrats were perceived as being the anti-war party in 2006, and they won a stunning victory.

Running on framing that pretends away the reality of the last seven years strikes some of us:

* dishonest
* disempowering (Democrats, unlike Republicans, get their feet held to the fire for campaign promises)
* worrisome (we have to wonder, does this guy really get it?)

Shying away from political fights has been an ignoble trait among much of the party in recent years, and it's creating real danger that the base is susceptible to third-party indie darlings, perhaps a Ron Paul or a Bloomberg or some Green Party dark horse, as well as "nice guys" and "mavericks" like Huckabee or McCain.

The rightwing's favorite meme is that the only way Democrats can win is to be Republicans. Right now the populace is serious turned against Republicans. We showed them how fucked up that conventional wisdom was in 2006, and I hope whoever the nominee is for '08 will show 'em again and more so.

Submitted by lambert on

... is how we allow users to leave comments without requiring them to get accounts, as many other blogs less open than Corrente do.

Thanks for your concern.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by markg8 (not verified) on

Xan it would be lovely if public financing actually worked but it doesn't. Unilaterally disarming in the face of Romney or any other Republican who undoubtably will be well financed is suicidal. I'm not looking for someone to fight the good fight. I want a winner.

Obama gets most of his money the same way Edwards does but from a lot more people making those little donations. Why do you think that is?

Edwards isn't going to be able to tell Signa or anybody else anything unless he gets elected with an overwhelming mandate from the electorate to get legislation passed. That isn't going to happen when the Republican nominee is trashing him for months on end when he doesn't have the money to respond.

vastleft join us in the 21st century. Republicans lost their majority last year. Bush is the most unpopular president since Nixon. Gingrich spent the last year making speeches and keeping his name in the papers only to discover that his groundswell of support was smaller than Tom Tancredo's. Henry Hyde is dead. Trent Lott is retiring. Tom Delay will probably be convicted before the next election. Rove only got a piddling $1.5 million (by village standards) book advance because he's over, washed up.

Bill Clinton's tormentors are gone or about as popular as a nurse with a hacking cough in a ward of immune system impaired patients. Their successors can't muster support for that kind of Clinton hatred against anyone but his wife.

I never said Hagel was progressive but if you want to play that game then you stick with Leiberman who for decades made hundreds of party line progressive votes.
On the Iraq war Hagel is one of few Republicans who sees reality. He's retiring so it's a moot point but if we had more Republicans like him in the Senate the occupation would be over by now.

If Edwards gets the nomination and Bob Perry and the rest of the Swiftboat financiers gin up TV ads all summer showing John's huge house and video of him interminably brushing his hair to contrast his populist rhetoric what would we fight that with? Clever blog posts few will ever see?

I'm not gonna demonize Edwards for being a trial lawyer but Repubs sure as hell will and it's all too easy to do. If any Dem gets elected and reforms our health-care system (they all will try), a few people in health insurance companies are gonna lose the all important job of telling people why they aren’t eligible for benefits that they could get if they lived in any other industrialized country. But let's face facts, even if every fatcat out there loses his corporate jet, French villa and golden parachute that's not gonna be enough. As satisfying as that is millions of other people who aren't robber barons like my ex girlfriend are gonna have to lose their jobs too if we're gonna overhaul the system. Pension and mutual funds millions are counting on for retirement that are invested in insurance, big pharma and the medical biz are gonna have to take a big hit too. It's going to be a huge undertaking, probably the biggest government and societal reform America has ever had and we're never gonna sell it with just tough talk aimed at the big bosses.

I see no evidence that Edwards takes these considerations into account with his newfound populist rhetoric but Obama does.

Lambert I appreciate the apology. You had no way of knowing. I'd say most of us here agree about 99% of the time. However the primaries turn out it I'll be glad when it's over. Arguing with fellow Democrats makes me as cranky as arguing with doctors.

MD's picture
Submitted by MD on

"Anonymous coward enlightens the dull normals on what Obama “really means”

'If you were all attuned to anything, you’d realize: plenty. The rhetoric will have to be turned on the right, but subtly and in turns. As it does, it will have to adopt the voice of reason'

Well, forgive this particular dog for not being attuned to that whistle. I think the way to win a progressive mandate is to, er, campaign for a progressive mandate. "

I think it's tough to say how best to campaign when one asks about such general themes (one can figure out that Hillary's laugh doesn't play--overall themes are tougher to gauge). Voters indicate in polls that they care deeply about progressive issues and then they turn around and vote for people who don't support these issues. I think there are competing strains in the minds of most voters--people don't like fighting in Washington because they (falsely) believe it's pointless, and they want things like health care reform and the rich to pay more in taxes. The mind of the mainstream voter is difficult to divine for anyone, including people like Frank Luntz.

I'm not even at that point yet. I want to know whether Obama (and Edwards, frankly) stand for the progressive, liberal views I hold.

Submitted by Majorajam (not verified) on

Or just those that conform to your trite narrative. So when Obama puts out a health care plan that represents effectively universal health care, which is to say health care sufficiently affordable for everyone who wants it to have it, and when he votes against wars in Iraq and speaks out against military action against Iran, or proposes lessening special interest influence, in particular the proclivity for former officials of the executive to become lobbyists, just fyi, these are words too, when they're not votes and action.

And if your position is that you don't like the tactics, the Obama camps version of generic meaningless bumper-sticker boilerplate, the "end partisan bickering" vs. "work for change", vs. whatever- then you'd probably better consider coming up with more than your own variety. Because this dog doesn't hear the we don't play to win play to lose and kick field goals on second down live free and die hard whistle. You should have to try harder. Perhaps you can tell me what candidates you feel have more progressive agendas and better tactics, (rhetoric and legislative strategy), for getting them enacted and why. And if during that you omit any discussion of Senator Clinton as Krugman has- you know, the one with the double digit lead in the national polls- you can further specify why you have singled out Obama for criticism. There must be some reason for all the superlatively caustic vitriol, other than the subconscious that is.

Submitted by Majorajam (not verified) on

However, I don't have any account on Real Climate, but when I post over there it comes up Majorajam without me having to type it. It's a convenience for users who probably aren't typically enamored with having their post show up under 'anonymous coward'. Forget I asked.

Submitted by jello (not verified) on

i remember in the last election cycle, in the run up to iowa caucus, kristol noting in a column this suggestion: "get used to saying president dean."

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... suggests a diminishment of the Conservative Movement that seems rather rose-colored to these eyes.

Yes, seven years of five-alarm fuck-ups has dampened their electoral brand a tad, but they still control the media and the Supreme Court.

And they still have the benefits of decades of mass brainwashing (government is bad, war is good, taxing the wealthiest people hurts the middle class, Republicans are stronger on defense and more authentic than Democrats, etc.), laws slanted to their advantage (how much of that will a resounding Democratic majority roll back and how quickly?), and they still have the billionaire-funded infrastructure that gave them the power to abuse and abuse and abuse.

As to the shock of the new, our (modified) capitalistic system is built on and for change. Almost overnight, airport security became a government branch. Almost overnight, our national economy became a war economy in WWII. Every other industrialized nation managed to pull off socialized health care. Is the good ol' USA too incompetent to pull off such a transition? Back in the 20th century, we knew how to put a man on the moon, and maybe just maybe we can replace our corrupt, broken healthcare system with something humane and well-managed.

Submitted by lambert on

Just like Kristol, Brooks, Sullivan, Broder, even George Will!

[rimshot. laughter]

No, but seriously, Obama's fan base gets into such a tangle of manipulative theorizing about all this.

I can't be concerned with modeling the behavior of individual wingers column by column; who has the time?

But as for Krugman, as I said in the original post, way up top: He's doesn't believe Obama's right in his views on political economy. So he calls Obama out. Very simple and clean, and above all not manipulative. Eh?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Majorajam (not verified) on

about your assessment of the success of the right in framing issues vastleft. No worries- I read Glenn Greenwald all the time. Even post over there.

I think it behooves the people of this blog first to realize that what Krugman has done is tear down the only real threat to a Clinton nomination. Being that this is the case, we should really be discussing the difference between the way these two candidates frame the issues. And in that context, pardon my asking, but where the &#*^! is the beef? Throwing Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader or any other fringe candidate in Obama's face alone is just plain fatuous. It doesn't speak to the choices we're making here.

That being said, I understand that these are the types of comparisons you are interested in, so I'm happy to oblige. Do I agree in broad terms with Krugman's characterization with the right wing? I do, indeed. They've made it so the conventional thinking- that wars are necessary to sustain our righteous empire, that Our Leader should be revered, that the military is to be revered when it's not being exploited for political purposes, etc.- is right wing. I disagree with Krugman that the way to counteract them is FDR. Lest it be forgotten that FDR was elected in the middle of the GREAT DEPRESSION. This is a slightly different political landscape to that which we are operating (though I fear the potential that this may change). The idea that we can have a candidate change smack up against the entirety of the right wing establishment and media successfully, is just plain wrong. IMO. And I think this is clearly evidenced by where your fringe candidates are- on their way out of the presidential race.

The right is indeed on the wane, but they are on the wane of their own hand. They've gone off the rocker and those hens are coming home to roost. Witness the shambles of their Presidential race. When the 25 year economy on which they've built their house of cards starts to change as it inevitably will, the conservative movement as we know it will be gone.

That's all for prognostications for me for one night. In the interim, the lesser of two evils, who I feel is a good man, is indeed our best choice for President.

Submitted by lambert on

No candidate is going to lobby me for support, because -- Fuck! -- they'll be able to imagine the attack ads.

As a corollary, HRC has not lobbied me for support (or, to my knowledge, any other Fellow of the Mighty Corrente building).

This is exactly how I want it.

My disclosure is my sig. Period. Why would you care? The post says what it says. Either it can be refuted, or not. Motive and personalities are not important.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by jello (not verified) on

ok, i read too quickly and missed this part:

My disclosure is my sig. Period. Why would you care? The post says what it says. Either it can be refuted, or not. Motive and personalities are not important.

have you been this critical of other candidates? or is obama your only whipping boy?

Submitted by Majorajam (not verified) on

Presumably you have a treatise he's authored on the subject at the ready. Indeed, very amusing. And still unanswered is why Krugman is blissfully unconcerned about Clinton's views on the political economy, or at least not sufficiently concerned to divine them from the standard vagaries of the stump speech.

Go play with your dog whistle on second down lambert. I'm through with you.

Submitted by jello (not verified) on

i didn't mean you specifically, lambert. i meant what do you think of the clintons courting leading bloggers with bribes like dinners and such?

which candidate did you say you are supporting?

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

And still unanswered is why Krugman is blissfully unconcerned about Clinton’s views on the political economy,

1. Clinton did not jump to the Republican beat that said "Social Security is in serious crisis and every serious candidate owes us a solution to this serious crisis". Obama did.

2. Clinton did not issue Village-pleasing statements about curbing the political power of "special interests" including unions.

3. Clinton did not propose a health care plan that let the young and healthy opt out, thereby eviscerating it. Oh and by the way:

So when Obama puts out a health care plan that represents effectively universal health care, which is to say health care sufficiently affordable for everyone who wants it to have it,

that's a very convenient definition, one I don't accept. Universal means universal. Allowing opt-out to those who don't think they'll get sick anytime soon is NOT universal health care - in universal health care the sick and the healthy all pay, on the chance that one day they'll get sick.

On these three issues, Krugman (and, fair disclosure), I, find Clinton the better choice.

There are of course other issues, where Clinton has been awful. Like, f'rinstance the Lieberman-Kyl amendment. Obama might have had a good line of attack there, but he was too busy to come and vote the other way. Or the famous vote of HRC, Edwards et. al on the 2002 Iraq war resolution when Obama, luckily for him,didn't have a vote, although he did give a dynamite speech about it. He might have an issue here, except that for the past three years he seems to have taken great pains to obscure any real differences he may have with Clinton on current issues of War and Peace. He makes general criticisms about triangulation, but aren't his stances on the domestic issues above classically a form of triangulation?

Look, I WANTED to be for Obama. But Obama's let me down, and it looks like if he could ever be elected, he'd wilt. Clinton may let us down too. For sure, the Clintons have done so before. But the one thing they've got going for them is that they fight. I never thought I'd be here, but here I am. Yes, at this point I prefer Clinton to Obama. I prefer Edwards to Obama. Obama hasn't given me enough on any issue to counterweigh these issues.

Those of us who take this stand consider these issues important. It doesn't seem to me that any of the Obama supporters here have countered them effectively. I think you're grasping at straws - since you now are reduced to the weak ploy of arguing that Krugman can't be objective because his arguments hurt only Obama.

But of course, the "reality-based community" has always said "the facts have a liberal bias". Obama took these positions. Krugman disagrees. Psychologizing about his intent is weak.

I'm no Clintonista. I've been disgusted with them going back to NAFTA. But the fact is Obama had a chance to be a real alternative to them. He blew it, electing instead to suck up to the Beltway crowd, not just on cosmetic issues but on issues of substance.

Submitted by lambert on

Jello asks:

Have you been this critical of other candidates?

Yes.

To clarify, I don't think I've ever had to set the table by covering thirty years of history, like I did on this post, but I've absolutely been as critical of other candidates, and caught heat for it, too. And, as I keep saying, the words are what they are. What does motivation matter?

Oh, and I don't accept your characterization that I've made Obama "a whipping boy." A doubly locution in the case of a black candidate, wouldn't you agree?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by nathan (not verified) on

After reading your strategy, what came to my mind as a comparison was the de-bathification of Iraq. Purge the evil-doers! Purify the government! As we now know, that didn't work very well. It just really pisses off a lot of people and makes them fight you every step of the way.

The thing is, conservatism is doing just fine discrediting itself. The verdict will come in the 2008 elections. Their divisiveness and petty partisanship will send them to the political wilderness. Seeing their utter failure, you are saying "hey progressives, lets be just as divisive and partisan! Lets cram it down half the country's throats how fucked up they were to vote for Bush!" Progressives need to be more self confident than that. We can beat conservatives without playing their stupid games. We are about to become the majority party again, so we need to start acting like we've already won. You want to keep fighting battles that are already over my friend (or are about to be).

Submitted by the farmer (not verified) on

Progressives need to be more self confident than that. We can beat conservatives without playing their stupid games.

then guys like Barak Obama need to stop jumping in front of podiums and blowing into dog whistles and bellowing about the so-called Social Security Crisis! and other mangy stuff like that....

if Obama wants bipartisanship maybe he should try it out with all those so called special interest groups who are on his side instead of pretending that him and Orin Hatch are gonna get married and breed a family of weird little bastards. Or sumpin' like that.

*

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

It worked so well for the Dems during the Bush years.

"Let's just go along with whatever Bush wants to do, and then the GOP will look bad when they screw everything up! And then we'll win by default!"

Sorry, Nathan, but what about accountability? What about justice?

Will anyone responsible for the bloodshed, death and financial ruin caused by the Republicans be punished at all?

Should they be allowed to just walk off into the sunset and their tax-sheltered assets, or better yet: let's let them hold on to positions of power and influence even after the Dems have won.

All for the paramount goal of being nice?

Something I've learned from the Bush years: if you want to kill and steal and get away with it the only way to go is to become the government.

This forgive and forget routine seems to play right into an elitist mindset: once you get to be a big enough fish, nobody can get to you and everyone will want to be your friend.

As for the little fish, well those are the people to whom things like the law and jail and bankruptcy and soldiering apply.

Consequences are for little fish.

The big fish will always make nice and help get each other out of trouble, no matter what their differences.

MSimon's picture
Submitted by MSimon on

For a party that is supposed to be the champions of the little guy the Democrats and the left in general have done very little about our government's policy of turning minority neighborhoods into war zones.

Of course I must admit that my side of the aisle (except for the libertarian faction) has done worse. Which gives the progressives/liberals/Democrats a leg up. I can't for the life of me figure out why it is not used as a hammer against my party.

I note a comment that says all this is a yawn. Some champion of the folks being sent to the American Gulag you are.

As to the war analogies. Simple. It is easier to win a point in politics or war where the opposition is weak.

MSimon's picture
Submitted by MSimon on

I don't object to trial lawyers. I should have been clearer.

I object to junk science trial lawyers.

There is a lot of that going around.

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

What you have to understand, Nathan, is that conservatism is way beyond any logical concept like discredit.

In fact, conservatives don't give credit to your discredit.

They're busy spinning their own realities. It doesn't matter if they wreck the economy, because they will always take what they want. It doesn't matter if they melt the poles, because whereever the beachfront property is, they will own it.

They have the guns (and the tasers), and own the people that enjoy using them. On the likes of you, because you are naive enough to believe in things like rational compromise. Your right to exist is only based on your willingness to follow Authority and consume.

What on earth leads you to believe the millions of the Faithful on their Crusade to make the Word of God the Law of the land give a rat's ass about your ideas of credit or discredit?

They want your soul, and if they can't own it, your life has no purpose in their eyes. Your freedom means nothing to them. Your rational thought is criminal terrorism.

Then there are their leaders, and their mouthpieces. Do you think the likes of Dick Cheney or David Addington or William bloody Kristol are going to reconcile themselves with progressive leadership? Do you remember how well Carter was able to govern with the entire CIA and D.o'D. undermining him? Do you remember the Iranian hostage crisis, that dissolved minutes after Ronald Reagan took the oath of office?

Conservatism "discredits" itself? Well, of course. Do you honestly think that makes any difference?

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

Submitted by lambert on

Pretty funny, Nathan. Just wrong.

See, in Iraq Saddam had set up a not completely malfunctioning single party state. If you fired all the Baathists, you had no government, because for years, anyone had to get a party card to work for the government. (And some would say that the Republican loons in the CPA fired the government as a gigantic Conservative Movement social engineering experiment, like Katrina, except bigger: After all, government is the enemy. And that concept certainly worked out well for them, at east in the sense that they were able to loot billions of dollars.)

However, in the United States, despite the best efforts of the Conservative Movement, we do not have a one party state. So your analogy is groundless.

In fact, when -- or, in Obama's case, if -- the next Democratic President gives all the Republican moles, Christianist cells, stay-behind operatives, Rovian saboteurs, and cronie the old heave-ho so they can spend more time with their families before the Conservative Movement gives them all jobs writing white papers or making Rush Limbaugh's buys for him, there will be plenty of actual professionals with the experience to actually make government work, and who want to do just that. So, no worries. But you're thinking. I like that.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by nathan (not verified) on

Lambert, the de-bathification analogy was not meant to be a perfect one but its cute you took me so seriously. The point is that you are calling for a LEGISLATIVE strategy that the dems should have followed while opposing a Bush Presidency when what we need from a president is an ELECTORAL strategy of coalition building.

You need to get out of the mindset of 2000-2007. Partisan rhetoric is not necessary to kicking out the Rove saboteurs. The election itself will do that. Thats what elections are, which is the beauty of democracy--when people fuck up, they get voted out.

If you think Obama *might* leave some of them in place, you are seriously dealing from a short deck. This is a guy who turned down lucrative corporate positions to be a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago and then be a civil rights lawyer. He is as liberal as they come. What you don't like is that his rhetoric is "conservative" in the old sense of the word--his strategy is to frame progressive ideas as common sense solutions to America's problems rather than the revolutionary overthrow of the system that many liberal activists would prefer (ok more hyperbole but do you see my point?). I live in a part of Red America, and I can tell you that Obama's approach is working and will work with moderate conservatives (yes, they exist despite what Kelley B said about them "wanting my soul") who are really disgusted by the Bush years. But these people will never go for a candidate that is preaching progressive revolution. Watch, if John Edwards gets the nomination, he will seriously change his rhetoric and you will all be very dissapointed.

My point is that Obama could be the Democratic Reagan, building a coalition that could really get shit done. Look at the rise of Huckabee and Paul. The conservative movement is crumbling. I will grant that Obama's strategy might not have worked ten years ago, but I think you should grant that times are changing and Obama's strategy just might be genius.

Submitted by lambert on

... and that adopting Village rhetoric doesn't cause real problems, then you must have been out of the country for the last several decades.

The argument keeps coming up over and over again.

And we keep answering it again and again.

You're feeding me The Phonebooth Theory.

You're explaining to me what Obama "really means," even if he doesn't really say it.

Call me simple-minded, but I think the way to win a progressive mandate is to run on a progressive platform. And you can't have that, and a message of "unity" with the Republicans, at the same time.

And call me "partisan," but I think if this vast groundswell of Moderate Republicans really existed, all these people just ready, just waiting, even eager to do the right thing, we would have already seen it long ago. Honestly, what does it take? Is Obama's personality really the tipping point? The good ones are going to switch parties anyhow, and that's already happened. The most we can hope for from the rest that they stay home. Hopefully, the Republicans will help them decide to do that by nominating somebody crazed.

You know, we once had a very progressive candidate from Illinois. He was very intelligent, very thoughtful, very cool, very much above the fray, all about light, not heat.

His name was Adlai Stevenson.

And he wasn't a winner.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by nathan (not verified) on

Lambert:
"You’re explaining to me what Obama “really means,” even if he doesn’t really say it."

Yes, he does say it. You just aren't listening. You listen to the part about bringing the country together and then race furiously to your laptop, so you don't have to hear how liberal his positions actually are. And by the way, its a Stump Speech, its supposed to be inspiring. Do you really think Edwards has a more substantive stump speech?

Lambert:
"Call me simple-minded, but I think the way to win a progressive mandate is to run on a progressive platform. And you can’t have that, and a message of “unity” with the Republicans, at the same time."

Its ridiculous to say this. There are several facts which you keep ignoring:

1. On the whole Obama has just as progressive a platform as any other major candidate. The only strikes against him are health care mandates and the social security "crisis"(which he would use to raise taxes on the rich, but nobody ever mentions that part). Thats all you've got. On the other hand, he has been bold in his foreign policy progressivism and on government transparency and lobbying reform. So its basically a wash.

2. Obama (and Hillary and Edwards)has a more progressive platform than any Democrat of the last 30 years. And you want to complain about it? I'd say its time to accept a good deal and start working on getting it done. Then we can start asking for more.

3. No democratic president has ever won using your strategy of partisan rhetoric, because unfortunately America is a pretty conservative country. So its kind of funny that you'd start denouncing other strategies as losers.

4. Regarding your comment on where the moderates have been all these years, did you sleep through the 2006 elections? Thats why the Dems won. See, the american people really don't follow politics that closely. So they've got a lag time between when the Republicans started fucking up the country and when they actually started to realize it. But 2006 showed that the tide is starting to turn, and it can become a tsunami if we are willing to nominate a candidate who has rhetoric that moderates can relate to (see my previous comment about common sense vs. revolution). Believe me, if I did not think that Obama was really a liberal at heart, I would not support him. But his personal history screams liberal. Its obvious if you are willing to look closely.

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