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Taibbi: Elizabeth Warren for President. In 2012.

Isn't it time to have a Democratic President? A long quote from Taibbi, but a good one. And I'm glad we're starting this discussion now instead of in 2010 or, heaven forfend, 2012:

I’m personally of the opinion that our main problem lay with the fact that the Democratic Party as currently constituted is more afraid of losing the financial support of Wall Street and the health insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry than it is of losing progressive voters. In fact, I think I’ve put that wrong, because it implies that the Democratic Party pushes the agenda of industry insiders out of fear. That is a misread of the situation, I think.

I think they prefer those people to their voters. I think they feel more comfortable with them. I heard a story recently from a Democratic Party operative who tells me that certain members of one of the president’s cabinet departments only got wind of how hard it is out there for ordinary people to pay their bills when they invited in a major corporation to give them a presentation about their financial outlook for the holiday season — and through that report found out that this company’s prospective customers were spending less because large numbers of them had been laid off, or had huge medical bills, or had maxed out their credit, and so on.

Letters from customers, survey answers and such, were read to the cabinet group. And they were shocked. This is how they find out about the economic reality of this country — accidentally, from a major campaign contributor! That’s how out of touch these people are.

On these financial issues, not just the issue of financial regulation on Wall Street but the larger issue of income distribution and what kind of country we want to be — the Democratic Party no longer has a policy that makes any sense. They do not seem to understand or even recognize that real wages in this country have not grown for most people for decades. Or if they do understand, they refuse to imagine any solutions that are not in some way a compromise with their major campaign contributors. They talk about closing tax loopholes and phony corporate addresses in the Caribbean as solutions to economic problems, policy initiatives as absurd and inconsequential as then-comic Al Franken’s fictional decision (in the novel Why Not Me?) to run on a campaign promise of “ending ATM fees.”*

This is all a long-winded way of saying that we have problems whose solutions involve taking on powerful interests, political challenges that will necessarily involve prolonged and hard-fought conflicts, but what we have in the Democratic Party is an organization dedicated to avoiding such conflicts and resolving issues in the manner of a corporate board, in closed meetings with the chief cardholders where things get hashed out to the satisfaction of everyone present.

The problem from the standpoint of the typical voter is that he is not terribly present in those discussions. When Rahm Emmanuel met with Billy Tauzin and Merck and Pfizer in the Roosevelt Room (how ironic!) of the White House earlier this summer to work out the details of exactly how much of a bite** the new health bill was going to take out of the pharmaceutical industry — the answer turned out to be none, and all the insane subsidies of big Pharma are going to remain in the final bill — were you there? Was anyone representing you there?

The Democrats feel safe in leaving you and me out of that room for two big reasons. One, our main electoral alternative is the party that put George W. Bush in office. Two, the last time significant quantities of Democrats decided to buck and send the party a message, they helped get George Bush elected by giving Ralph Nader the deciding votes of what turned out to be the tightest of elections. Or at least that’s the storyline that’s been popular since that incident. The Nader “debacle” forever closed the notion of third-party progressive challenges to mainstream Democrats, at least in the minds of the Democratic Party bigwigs, anyway.

It seems to me then that the only hope of getting any of these problems is to get ourselves a national candidate who on the one hand is a mainstream politician and on the other is willing to embrace the notion of an othis discussionpen protest against the Democratic Party doctrine. We need for someone who has some legitimacy with both the media and the Democratic Party constituents themselves to come out and publicly campaign to re-seize the Party from the Wall Street interests that have come to dominate it. We need someone who understands the finance stuff (which automatically reduces the pool of possible applicants to a small handful), will know the difference between real regulatory reform and a dog-and-pony show, and will not be likely to fill a cabinet with bankers from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

The question I have lately is, why not draft Elizabeth Warren to run for president? And I don’t mean in 2016, I mean in 2012.

NOTE * Notice how "economic rents" like ATM fees turn up everywhere, as soon as you start noticing them?

NOTE ** See above. And see this discussion to find the non-wonk word or phrase for "economic rent." Taibbi's choice: "bite." That's actually fun, since you can say "Banksters bite," which they do, and so forth.

UPDATE So, anyone want to move to Iowa now? Wampum's right about that.

No votes yet


jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

The bench for 2012 is not nonexistent.

And I don't think it would be a fool's errand to challenge Obama. I've been seeing polls that indicate people's dissatisfaction with Obama's favoring of the banking class, but they're not any more susceptible to the Republicans as a result.

The Republicans are still discredited. The circumstances are ripe for Obama to be challenged from the left.

Submitted by lambert on

What a concept! That's very acute.

Incidentally, Elizabeth Warren (or Marcy Kaptur... ) would eat any right wing populist's lunch. And I like the idea of a woman running from the left, if only because it would make so many "progressive" heads explode.

Pacific John's picture
Submitted by Pacific John on

would be a Latina running from the left. White limo liberals would be futher split, creating an opening for regular working class Dems to unseat the coup. Any erosion of Obama's latte vote translates into a landslide loss, and splitting the latte bloc shatters their fragile grasp of the controls.

Submitted by lambert on

Interesting context for Obama's Supreme Court choice, eh?

Double shot? Cinnamon?

Pacific John's picture
Submitted by Pacific John on

She has already coopted the latte psyche from her confirmation battle, and she has a moral core. She was a loyal HRC superdel to the end, and along with the other Latinas in Congress, was very reluctant to work with BHO. (IMO, that's why BHO nominated her, to neutralize her and other Hispanic potential opposition).

She also taps into the pre-activated Hillary base of SW Hispanics and working class everyone else.

This is just off the top of my head, but I bet it's enough to create chills in the WH political shop.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

Or along those lines, what about Raul Grijalva? Not a woman, I know, but still a hispanic, and a good liberal. He's also done a decent job taking charge of the Progressive Caucus since being named co-chair.

Submitted by lambert on

But I agree on the co-opting part. But emphasis Latina. I think it makes the most sense to nominate a woman, if it can possibly be done. Though if Weiner keeps up the form...

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

He could be Warren's VP.

But I think someone on the ticket would have to be a strong and vocal supporter of single-payer, since it's such a vital plank of real liberalism.

Maybe Warren/Weiner 2012? Is that too much 'W'?

Pacific John's picture
Submitted by Pacific John on a lot easier to take than the Pelosi/Obama coup.

If a credible candidate pops up, I feel safe in predicting the screwed voters, the Dem wing of the party, will be happy to create the worst experience the party elites have experienced. You do this sort of thing as a contingency in case the front runner experiences a crisis. I'm good with that.

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

she seems so direct and plain-spoken and sensible and sane. She doesn't have to let herself be clear—she simply is.

Apparently, Michael Moore beat Matt to the punch way back on 28 September in an interview with Naomi Klein:

And can I suggest a presidential ticket for 2016 or 2012 if Obama fails us? [Ohio Congresswoman] Marcy Kaptur and Elizabeth Warren.

Oh, sorry, I guess that's Warren as VP.

HeroesGetMade's picture
Submitted by HeroesGetMade on

was quite memorable. I never saw someone so gently nudge someone else into admitting a mistake, and the person dance so nimbly away from admission. I truly admire much of Moore's work and don't know of another person that does what he does even a fraction as well as he does it in the documentary realm. But ..... I sure wish he would stop slurping koolaid in public. He even had the temerity, as creator of Sicko no less, to endorse the wrong health reform bill:

2. Congress must join the civilized world and expand Medicare For All Americans. A single, nonprofit source must run a universal health care system that covers everyone. Medical bills are now the #1 cause of bankruptcies and evictions in this country. Medicare For All will end this misery. The bill to make this happen is called H.R. 3200. You must call AND write your members of Congress and demand its passage, no compromises allowed.

I cannot believe what this election has done to so many formerly sensible people.

Submitted by hipparchia on

that kool-aid has got both michael moore and paul krugman! two of our most popular and well-known cassandras, kidnapped.

we are doomed.

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

I'm with hipparchia and you on this. Until I just read that little endorsement by Michael Moore of HR 3200…well, I had no idea. When the heck is he going to come to his senses?

"Doomed" is the word.

HeroesGetMade's picture
Submitted by HeroesGetMade on

and has rather unpleasant implications, but we don't disagree. Reading the koolaid-slurping sections in that recent missive from MM made me feel rather hopeless, but there were other parts that I liked:

1. Declare a moratorium on all home evictions. Not one more family should be thrown out of their home. The banks must adjust their monthly mortgage payments to be in line with what people's homes are now truly worth -- and what they can afford. Also, it must be stated by law: If you lose your job, you cannot be tossed out of your home.

Remind me again who supported HOLC, Mike?

And these:

1. Take your money out of your bank if it took bailout money and place it in a locally-owned bank or, preferably, a credit union.

2. Get rid of all your credit cards but one -- the kind where you have to pay up at the end of the month or you lose your card.

3. Do not invest in the stock market. If you have any extra cash, put it away in a savings account or, if you can, pay down on your mortgage so you can own your home as soon as possible. You can also buy very safe government savings bonds or T-bills. Or just buy your mother some flowers.

Submitted by lambert on

The good Doctor Dean did a good deal of damage with the outright lie that HR3200 is Medicare for All; he gave license to other people to repeat it. No doubt this will form a large portion of the forthcoming and necessary progressive triumphalism. Hopefully, they'll be able to hold themselves back from it...

HenryFTP's picture
Submitted by HenryFTP on

I think that as usual all the denizens of Versailles got it completely wrong when they were having the vapors about Hillary not giving up even though Versailles had decided that Obama was the nominee. The campaign energized Democrats like nothing I've seen in a generation and, thanks largely to Hillary's astuteness, the fault lines in the Party revealed by the campaign didn't split the Party as they did in 1968. The Versaillais pretend that the primary campaign was all about a "personality clash" or Hillary's megalomania and ignore the inconvenient fact that Hillary's campaign took off when she sacked Mark Penn and started campaigning like a real Democrat -- she was offering red meat to Democrats that they hadn't tasted in a long, long time.

I don't think we should deceive ourselves -- the financial and corporate interests that have captured the Democratic Party won't meekly relinquish their grip over Congress even if we succeeded in electing Elizabeth Warren. Win or lose, we can succeed in changing the terms of reference of the national debate. It might even just get Barack Obama to start acting less like Chuck Percy and more like Hubert Humphrey.

Pacific John's picture
Submitted by Pacific John on

...but we can only expect an uphill battle with odds that heavily favor Obama. He will have all the same institutional support from the media, the party and most issues groups.

But you do this sort of thing not knowing the result, hoping that events turn for you and against the opposition. If you look at history, there is a significant chance Obama will have the sort of problem Carter did, a bad economy or a Gary Hart moment.

It is those potential external events that can overcome the kleptocrats we're trying to overthrow.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

Bring up Hillary Clinton and it's a return to the "She can't be trusted because we say so!" hysteria from last year. The fact that it's Taibbi of all people who now is proclaiming "We've been had!" is a bit much for me.

And as much as some want to think it's just particular to Hillary Clinton or the Clintons as a couple, it's not. It was fundamentally based on misogynistic bigotry, with only a side dash of CDS thrown in for fun. I don't see Clinton ever running again. Nor do I see her being allowed to be the nominee.

Maybe it's my loans getting to me or the fact I fear I might be unemployed soon, but I just don't see any Democrat coming to our rescue in 2012. Wall Street owns Washington. We need an all-out public revolt on a national level. I don't know what else will stop this fuckery.

Pacific John's picture
Submitted by Pacific John on

...but as I mentioned earlier, this is a game of circumstances and possibilities.

One thing you didn't mention is class. The over-riding elite disdain for the Clintons is because they are from, and have respect for, working class and lower working class voters. There's a lot of overlap between class and misogyny because women are disproportionately represented in struggling economic groups. Struggling single moms are just icky to the white frat boys (and wanna be's) in the party coup.

Because of the nature of these biases, Clinton has the same uphill battle as any legitimate representative of the bulk of the party, but she's the most talented we've seen.

If she runs again, it will be because major events break that way, and they could. It's the job of people who think like us to have contingency plans in place.

Submitted by lambert on

And it's also our job to keep the record straight. Also to hold the party elite accountable and/or foster alternatives.

Pacific John's picture
Submitted by Pacific John on

among the various pro-Hillary bloggers, and that is to write a cohesive telling of how we got here. I was reading one of the cess-blogs, and it's clear the fauxgressive propagandists will make stuff up to fill the void if we don't.

We need to articulate and source our political differences, as well as our our view of how Obama lacks traditional Dem legitimacy. I also think it's critical to define who the players are how their perspectives are unique. At the time when there was momentum to call people to the PUMA banner, I pointed out that that didn't actually enhance anyone's power, that everyone would then be defined by one or two pro-McCain clips from the convention. It is to our advantage to point out that there are various, long standing Democratic factions who are critical of Obama, and it's to the PUMAs' advantage to publish their own liberal manifesto.

selise's picture
Submitted by selise on

The over-riding elite disdain for the Clintons is because they are from, and have respect for, working class and lower working class voters.

not an elite, by a long shot, but i despise bill clinton and don't think i could EVER vote for hillary clinton unless she distanced herself from the policies of bill clinton. after george w. bush, i'd next like to see bill clinton on the dock at the hague. or better yet, in the usa.

probably it's just my lack of respect for the working class. couldn't have anything to do with stuff like bombing iraq on average every three days, or an illegal war based on lies, or global economic policies that killed millions (including 3 million alone in russia), or more mundane things like financial deregulation, welfare "reform," laying the foundation for the patriot act, media consolidation, and on and on....

news flash: there actually is a progressive critique of the clintons that is not based on distain for the working class or for that matter on obamamania (who, btw, i did not vote for in either the primary or the general election).

wake me up when the primary wars are over.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

doesn't mean that elite disdain overall for the Clintons, particularly in Washington, isn't based on class. The media's hatred certainly seems that way, see Taylor Branch's experience on Tim Russert or the coverage given the Clintons by Sally Quinn or Maureen Dowd or any of the other members of Versailles. Do you think any of those people give a shit about Bill Clinton's support for welfare reform, other than mostly cheering it on? See also a sample political cartoon, which often do reflect elite thinking, here. This is hardly the only one.

Indeed, I would argue that your post proves the very point. Bill Clinton was, at best, a centrist President and, at worst, a center right one. I think several people, including Ian Welsh, have referred to him as the best Republican president of their lifetime. Yet, the elite in Versailles hated him from the moment he was elected. Given that his policies, with some exceptions like the tax increase, were not substantially different than those of Republican presidents who have not gotten this treatment, something must drive their hatred, yes? And the lack of support of much of the Democratic leadership (the Whitewater investigation started before the 1994 change in control of Congress) also must be driven by something other than policy differences given the embrace of Obama by the same leadership even as he was running to Hillary Clinton's right on domestic issues.

This is not a case where Clinton is hated for his politics or policies, which are embraced by the Washington and New York elite. So something else must be driving it, yes?

Just as it's possible that both sides are right about Sarah Palin and the criticism of her - they are sexist, elitist snobs, she is awful. It's also possible that both sides are right about Bill Clinton - they are elitist, anti-working class snobs, he isn't a progressive or a liberal and had many awful policies. That an individual who might be among the elite doesn't share the overall elite motivation, doesn't mean a large section of the elite aren't motivated by anti-working class bias.

As for the primary, this dynamic has been going on way before 2008, where the Democratic Party and its elites are only too happy to throw working class voters under the bus. But the complete disdain shown for working class voters by many leading "progressives", e.g., that the working class weren't voting for Obama because he was black even though, outside of Southern states, there was no evidence that they would not support him in November or that their lack of support was any more driven by race than that of their richer white counterparts and ignoring the fact that, again, Obama ran to Clinton's right on domestic and economic issues (providing a reason other than racism why working class voters might support her), only reinforced the belief that many of us have - and that has been born out by Obama's and Congressional Democrats' economic policies - that the Democratic Party leadership prefers the rich to the poor. In that way, the primary was powerful primarily as a symbol of something that we can see in the policy shifts of the last 40 years. And it wasn't really about Clinton at all, it was in how working class voters were portrayed by "progressives". Something that I think was a pretty accurate predictor of what Obama would do for them. They aren't his base - by design of the party leadership, I'd say - and so he doesn't have to service them at all.

The shoe doesn't have to fit everyone, for it to still fit a lot of people and for a general statement about those people to be right.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

Hillary's campaign took off when she sacked Mark Penn and started campaigning like a real Democrat --

She should have canned Mark Penn way earlier. I'd say:

Hillary's campaign took off when she sacked Mark Penn and started campaigning like herself--

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Because Obama is killing liberalism.

Progressives (Pibbers) remind me a lot of the anti-abortion only christian Right. Its easy to claim you're "pro-life" or "moral" if all you have to do is vote against abortion and "the gays". It takes a bit more to part with your pennies to support better education, health care, anti-poverty/housing issues, etc. For Pibbers, to be like the "working man" all they have to do is drink PBR. To be liberal, pro-gay activities is all it takes. Sure its noble, but requires little personal sacrifice.

S Brennan's picture
Submitted by S Brennan on

I agree it's about time to run a Democrat for office and I like Elizabeth Warren a lot...but.

A ticket guys, a ticket, a solid ticket that covers areas of expertise,demographics & electoral maps. How about complementing domestic experience with Army Chief of Staff [Ret.], Shinseki, or if he hadn't suffered a stroke General [Ret] John Shalikashvili and Wesley Clark is till out there? We need more than just domestic expertise after what Bush's third term is done.

Put together a team that voters know about going in. Yes you can't "officially" name your cabinet, but you can state your strong preference and their willingness to serve. Now compare and contrast that with the Obama team.

coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on

You mean Biden won't get to inherit the Party after Obama?

I adore all of the suggestions (above) and might even rejoin the Party just to vote against the bastards "in power" right now.

Although personally I think Clinton/Warren has a lovely ring to it. (A little conventional wisdom, anyone?)

Violet Socks's picture
Submitted by Violet Socks on

She's not a politician. She's not going to run. That's why Taibbi suggested her. He gets to present himself as a non-sexist without running any risk whatsoever that the woman in question will actually run.

Submitted by lambert on

Yeah, I see your point. OTOH, the diagnosis of the state of the Democrats isn't so bad, yes? He sounds like he's been reading Anglachel. And if the outcome is the idea that the next actual Democratic nominee should be a woman (which makes a lot of sense to me) then I find it hard to be unhappy with the article.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I think many of the elite progressive media *need* a bogeyman. Use Nader to get rid of Gore to sell more copies to folks who want to read anti-bush screeds. Use Obama to knock off someone championing liberalism (whether or not Hillary would have hypothetically governed liberally, her rhetoric was definitely liberal and anti-conservative.) Taibbi and Bowers and the Nation folk don't strike me as stupid. I don't consider myself the sharpest pencil in the pack so if even *I* could see where Obama was headed, surely these folks did as well.

The Progressive Patriarchy relies on not ever delivering. Because them non-"creative" class folks might actually have a fair chance at displacing them. Taibbi is just part of the scam, IMO.

S Brennan's picture
Submitted by S Brennan on

Good point Violet Socks, it also gets him off the hook for selling the most right wing, corporately owned shill the Democrats ever offered up. Obama is Bush's third term.

Ian Welsh's picture
Submitted by Ian Welsh on

he is

Violet Socks's picture
Submitted by Violet Socks on

Taibbi's analysis of the present is fine, but the ass-covering about last year made me choke:

Barack Obama ran an incredible campaign last year, managing to turn himself into the stuff of political iconography — he captured and owned amorphous and happy concepts like “hope” and “change” through a brilliant 18-month run of painstakingly careful imageering, and through the force of his own remarkably genial and patient personality. He took a country which historically has always been divided powerfully by race and he managed to win a hotly-contested race with grace and class and in that sense advanced the cause of racial tolerance to an incalculable degree. He made the racist electoral strategies of Karl Rove and Mark Penn outdated. And he gets credit for restoring respect for the American presidency abroad.

Shorter Taibbi: sure, Obama hasn't turned out so hot, but nobody could have seen it coming! We were totally right last year to believe he was the Messiah! Also: Hillary was a racist!

Submitted by lambert on

Yeah, "nobody could have predicted." I'm not saying Taibbi's a Casssandra or a hippie. But on the spectrum that runs from always worth reading to never worth reading, IMMSHO he's on the "worth reading" side -- in 2010. I don't plan to forgive or forget the lessons of the 2008 primaries any time soon (that's why I think the Democrats should go the way of the Whigs), but... Well, hell has several circles, no? And Taibbi's not in the Ninth.

cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

We need for someone who has some legitimacy with both the media and the Democratic Party constituents themselves to come out and publicly campaign to re-seize the Party from the Wall Street interests that have come to dominate it.

As soon as a Democratic candidate comes out with a sincere pledge to whack Wall Street he/she would lose the media. The village media is part of the Washington establishment. That's how we ended up with Obama. He was establishment to the core.

Washington is completely walled off from the rest of the country as clearly illustrated by your story of the shocked cabinet officials.

The biggest joke of the whole health care fiasco was when Obama stated that he wanted to make employer provided health insurance the cornerstone of his health care policy. This at a time when people are losing their jobs and when employers are cutting back or eliminating health insurance. A close second was the automatic rejection of single-payer because it would be too much change.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

Ambush the gatherings of the national press club. Crash your opponents' town halls. Force yourself on-camera. Don't let them shut you up. Become a ubiquitous presence that they can't avoid.

If they try to bar you from fighting a front-line battle, then become a full-blown insurgent.