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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

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.

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 [Please enter a... (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.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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.

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.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (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.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (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.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (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.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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.

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.

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 [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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 [Please enter a... (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.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (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.

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