If you have "no place to go," come here!

The Viral Candidate

shystee's picture

Matt Compton
crystallizes something I have been thinking about for days:

These are all examples of how the Obama campaign is doing something new: leveraging technology and community organizing to reach people one on one. It is avoiding the traditional and even nontraditional filters -- the conventional media, the leaders of the blogosphere, and the Party establishment -- to speak directly to voters.

One thing that is missing from this analysis, however, is the virulence of the Obama meme. All candidates are using web-based social network technology as a vehicle for their message, but the Obama meme is showing superior potency.

From another key article on the subject by Matt Stoller (via Digby):

As author Seth Godin, who analyzes consumer trends, explains it, "The key assumption in the analysis of typical field organizers is this: one persuaded equals 1.1 or perhaps 1.5 votes. In other words, the multiplier is very small. That's why you need to run lots of ads and do lots of direct mail. It's not very efficient, it's very expensive, but you can really pile it on. The idea is that if you hit someone ten or twenty or a thousand times, sooner or later you'll get some conversion.

Obama and [Ron] Paul do different math. They assume a multiplier of three or even six. Which means that creating (and living) a story that turns people evangelical is far more efficient than hewing to the middle of the road. They assume that if they can create a passionate, raving fan, they'll be able to translate that into a virus, an idea that spreads and scales over time. When that happens, they end up stoking the fire instead of lighting a lot of matches over and over again."

Sound familiar? Like every single Obamabot troll that has graced our comments recently. Ironically, the story that Obama uses to "turn people evangelical" is in fact "hewing to the middle of the road".

Once it has circumvented the institutional (new and old) filters, the Obama meme virus is cleverly designed to circumvent any personal filters the potential host may posess. By appealing to every conceivable tribal identity, and making very sure not to offend those tribal sensibilities, the Obama meme slips right through those personal defenses as well.

Did you vote for George W. Bush? That's OK, Obama believes in reaching across the aisle to Republicans. Does your faith play a central role in your life? That's OK, Obama is a Committed Christian. Did you have a good time in the 80's? That's OK too, Obama thinks Reagan ushered in a new era of confidence and dynamism....

What the Obama meme is not designed to do, however, is attach itself to the Identity Receptors of traditionally Democratic tribes. No one can accuse the Obama campaign of "pandering" to the GLBT community, reproductive rights groups, environmental groups, internet activists, etc...

There is one simple reason for this, if you think about it strategically: all these people are almost guaranteed to vote for the Democratic candidate in November anyway. So why waste time trying to win them over?

In fact, what the Obama campaign is treating as obstacles and calling "special interests" (like Unions for example), used to be called "core constituencies" for the Democratic party. In Old School campaigning the candidate would have to win these groups over, often by negotiating with the groups' leadership who would, in return, "deliver" the groups' votes.

I'm not saying the Old School way is the ideal political system, not in the least. The pattern I've observed in my lifetime (yes even in the Clinton 90's wonder years) is that the Interest Groups' leadership would get rewarded and the membership would get sold down the river. As hard as these groups worked to get Dems elected, the Party rarely rewarded them with substantial policy that addressed their concerns. Unless, of course, the Special Interest Group represented Megacorporations with Megadollars and uberlobbyists who made damn sure THEY got what they wanted.

The Obama campaign is using a New School strategy, but there is no guarantee at all that it won't have the same Old School results. Some of Obama's biggest donors are Wall Street investment houses and his economic advisors reek of libertarian tendencies (see Subprime Obama).

What worries me is that the Obama campaign refuses to even engage the progressive blogosphere (or other progressive groups) to discuss exactly what policies he will actually pursue if elected. As Barack Obama noticed during his first, and pretty much final, foray into the fever swamps we talk back, we ask questions, and we don't show deference to our leaders. We don't readily accept the Unity Pony [and Cult of Personality - something for another post] virus so we're a waste of time. There are (apparently) plenty of willing hosts out there.

No votes yet


Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

That's who Obama honestly reminds me of. Benny Hinn, a televangelist, not only convinces people to give him their hard earned money but also that God has healed them of their sickness through his touch. Benny Hinn + IT = Obamania (The man even tried ring tones!).

Benny Hinn:

Submitted by lambert on

... because he intends to govern right.

The idea that Obama is running right to govern left sounds like a clever plan, but I don't think it stands up to scrutiny.

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


I belive you may be correct. Simplest explanation and all. The Obama phenom is beginning to disturb me for all kinds of reasons. And all these kids talking about optimism as though it's a substitute for a real agenda and the bare knuckles to just get it done.

I've stayed out of it and talked up Edwards up to this point. The calculation I'm trying to make now is: is it time to actively support Clinton? What will Edwards do if he stays in until the convention? I just don't know. But I think I reached a turning point with Obama this evening.

And I was disappointed by the SOTU response from Sebelius. I wanted a strong statement supporting the agenda. I wanted to take it to Bush on Iraq, FISA, and the economy. Instead we got some vague terror/veterans rhetoric with nary even a mention of the word Iraq and absolutely nothing about those telecom companies. And then the Obama language at the end. He's going to Kan. tomorrow, so I'm wondering if she's on his VP short list.

I thought Bush's speech was pretty weak and the party passed on a real opportunity tonite.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Two names:
Condaleeza Rice
Clarence Thomas

Both were lauded as being a revolutionary step for African Americans, and they were. But they did nothing for the party that supports African American interests, or for African Americans themselves for that matter.

For a person who wants people to be colorblind, his supporters sure aren't able to look at his record for guidance.

Submitted by lambert on

Was Obama leaping to his feet the way Lieberman used to?

[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


It's been building for a while, because I've been paying close attention to both Obama and HRC, trying to decide who to support if Edwards happens to drop out. It's partly the fact that I got such a strong sense he had a surrogate giving a tepid Dem response in the middle of this FISA thing. Partly his own statement after the speech "Americans want someone who can actually get people together and pass health care reform" (or something close to that). I thought he was dogwhistling Hillary-haters. It would slide right under the radar of the younger elements of the OFB. I know it's perfectly legitimate tactic in a primary. But . . . most of the Hillary-haters also happen to be my sworn ideological enemies. Not democrats. People who would just as soon make me a slave as look at me. It's an emotional response as much as anything.

Submitted by lambert on

Hillary's my second because with all her faults, I know where I am with her.

[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

Was Obama leaping to his feet the way Lieberman used to?

Are you kidding? he was sitting next to Ted Kennedy all night. They never left each others side. Don't ya see what is going on here - the Kennedy endorsement and appearance together at SOTU also defangs the whole shifting right with the ghost of Ronnie Reagan business that you've been screaming and yelling about all week. Its kinda hard to make the case the guy is some kind of stealth Lieberman while hes out on the town with Ted Kennedy.

can you think of anything the Ronnie Reagan revolution hated more than Bill Clinton? I can... Ted Kennedy.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

At least we have a history with her. I had such high hopes for Obama when this all started, tho. I'm still hoping for all the start to line up for Edwards. I'm just scared that if the HRC's lead gets really narrow late in the game, it's going to be too late to do anything at that point. So, wondering if it's better to just go ahead and start trying to peel the Obama folks that I know away and sending them toward her.

and, OMG! I can't believe I forgot to mention this. Was watching the speech on NBC, and there was some chit chat about promptness. I swear I heard Williams say "he [Bush]likes the trains on schedule." I fell out laughing. I'm still not sure I really heard him say that.292

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I meant "hoping for all the stars to line up for Edwards."

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Wanted to drop this for Lambert, whose German is infinitely better than my own (of course the average goldfish knows more German than I do, but still)--comment from somebody at Atrios who twitched out on a particular word. Dunno if it was from SOTU or commentary afterwards, but anyway:

protective overwatch? theres no protective overwatch in german. theres only schutzhaft. that means u go to prison for not bein killed mafia - so for your own protection. furthermore theres gleichschaltung. that is a phrase by hitler. that means that all media is copying the phrases from the ministry of propaganda. literaly it means "switch to equal" (=same)

thought this was interesting. "Media copying the phrases from the Ministry of Propaganda" this not what we have had lo these past 7 miserable years?

btw for those who remember our "old friend" in the media John Solomon, he's been hired away from WaPo to run the WaMoonieTimes. This causes the phrase "witness protection program" to leap into my head for some reason.

Submitted by lambert on

Not, alas, a lower case teddy, but that's where I am now. Sigh.

Anyhow, not sure what to do about that. What do you think?

Heck, I've been wrong before. You said it was hard to make the case, but you didn't say there was no case.

And Ted's last major legislative accomplishment was that triumph of bipartisanship, NCLB, wasn't it? So that means I'm not totally confident in Teddy's ability to distinguish sociopathic Republicans from normal people.

I forgot to say: I was doing some meth with the OFB over at Big Orange... And Ted's endorsement isn't one of their talking points. So, not aimed at 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

schutzhaft means protective custody.


Submitted by lambert on


It's from Richard Evan's wonderful, scholarly book on the Nazis. The Nazis would come into town and, say, destroy the local stamp collecting society and incorporate it into the party. Rather like the megachurches. Or malls. So it's not merely the media repeating the same propaganda. It's every institution. Eesh. Unity. Eesh. Oh, my head hurts now. That makes the OFB as Schwärmerei so not accidental. Ouch, that hurts. Oh, and it explains FISA too. Oww....

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

Submitted by lambert on

I can't afford to lose a monitor right now, so I didn't watch or listen to the thing...

[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 in, lose the real estate because you're watching video, or losing the monitor by throwing a gin and tonic through it? :-P

That I was going on about earlier.

Him sitting with Ted Kennedy like Farmer said makes her response to the speech even worse and Obama's (I think) dogwhistle to Hillary-haters just excruciating.

I watched her response again just now. Even worse than that I realized first time I saw it. Opens with the "oh our politics are so partisan" frame and then she says I'm not here to offer a partisan response (pause) I'm here to offer an American response." WTF?? Ponies for everyone!!!

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

they would show remarks from HRC and Obama again so I could watch what he said again. And, I missed her remarks completely. But, no such luck. After they replayed the response, they cut to an interview with Mitt.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

I've heard so far:

But it is not just that Obama reminds them of Kennedy, it is also that the Clintons remind them of Lyndon Johnson. And if there is anything that the Kennedys don't like, it's a bunch of hillbillies in the White House, which is being kept in trust until a competent Kennedy can be groomed to take it back for its rightful owners. Until that time Obama will do.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Sorry Shystee, no disrespect to you intended but that Jon Swift item quoted manages to commit disrespect on the Kennedys (all of them), Clintons, Johnson and Obama all at once.

Something about that formulation I do not find helpful.

Tell ya what, every Obama speech I hear--and somehow he manages to come up with a new one for every important occasion, hint hint Sen. Edwards--I find myself more impressed. If that puts me in the category of OFB so be it.

Mind you I am not quite fallen over the edge into culthood yet; my innate agnosticism prevents. But the guy is very damn good at what he does, to whit inspiring, and we would be misguided to disregard the importance of this ability.

I don't know who writes his speeches but am fairly sure it is not Theodore Sorensen on account of I am fairly sure that he is dead.

Submitted by lambert on

What Genius:

When Hillary Clinton pointed out that it took Lyndon Johnson to get the Civil Rights bill passed, she was not only insulting Martin Luther King but also JFK, who did all the hard work of asking southern Democrats very politely to please vote for the Civil Rights bill, which they might have done some time in future as soon as they looked into their consciences and realized it was the right thing to do. Then Kennedy died and Johnson stepped in, rudely cajoling people and threatening to show them his scar unless they voted for it. Is that the kind of politics we want in America? Of course, if Kennedy had lived he also would have awakened one day and realized, unlike Johnson, that all of his advisers were not the best and the brightest but were really a bunch of dopes and he would have stood up to them and got us out of Vietnam.

You're on fire tonight, Shystee!

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

J.S. is a keen observer, for sure.

Now, bobble-heads on Matthews showing Obama's entrance, talking about how HRC is nowhere to be seen. Talking about the symbolism of him and Ted coming in, being the "center of gravity" of the Senate, setting Obama up as a sort of "shadow President" . . . . changing of the guard. . ."While Hillary is nowhere to be seen."

Pretty disgusting stuff.

I smell a fix, but can't tell whether the Senators are really keeping HRC on the fringe, or whether the MSM just decided they wouldn't point the cameras at her.

Submitted by lambert on

He gives a great speech, no question. But I keep asking, hope for what? Belief for what? Inspiration for what? None of these emotions are good in themselves, surely?

And the unity schtick gets in the way of all that, because when you get specific, you get conflict, and that's divisive, and divisive is bad.

Unless the unity is gleichschaltung, of course. Then it's good. It's real good.

[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

Guess I better go over there and read that whole thing.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

but so what? I'm tending towards Clinton as my reluctant second choice, because, actually, she seems more to the left than Obama. And Obama's economic advisers, btw, are very right wing. Lot of things I don't like about Clinton, but as Lambert says, I feel I know where I stand with her.

As for Obama, I believe in taking people at their word, and what Obama's telling me is that consensus and bipartisanship is the most important thing to him. That's not what the US needs right now.

And I happen to think that while Clinton will be reasonably centrist, she won't let bygones be bygones on a lot of the illegal things that happened.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Lambert wrote: Heck, I’ve been wrong before. You said it was hard to make the case, but you didn’t say there was no case.

And Ted’s last major legislative accomplishment was that triumph of bipartisanship, NCLB, wasn’t it? So that means I’m not totally confident in Teddy’s ability to distinguish sociopathic Republicans from normal people.

Well, ok, fair nuff... but are you confident in all of Hillary Clinton's legislative accomplishments? How about Edwards? Neither of their legislative records is exactly pristine either. How about Bill Clinton and Al Gore who gave us the awful 1996 telecom bill, etc...? Could go on and on with this kind of purity testing for a while. What's left after your done with it all? The good, the bad, and the ugly and so on. But that isn't the point i'm making here.

The Kennedy endorse is showbiz at this point too... just as the reference to Ronnie Reagans changing the trajectory was showbiz (was referring to a radical change in the trajectory of the man shot from the political cannon). Neither of these symbolic moves actually involve any actual legislative policy issues at all. Not yet anyway. It's all show biz so far. So they (the Reagan to Kennedy trajectory) neutralize each other symbolically to some extent. I'd say the the Kennedy edorse more than neutralizes it ... it trumps the Reagan citation stunt.

And of course I'd rather see Obama waltzing around with a live Ted Kennedy than rolling around in the stinking rotting yuck of Reaganism. But, whatever... To the wingnuts an endorse from Kennedy looks like an endorsement from Karl Marx and the Boston Strangler ... so obviously Obama doesn't give a fuck -- isn't afraid -- of what the wingnuts might think in that case. If he was he wouldn't be standing on stage with Karl Marx and the Boston Strangler.

If you want to destroy the Reagan - morning in America myth - then destroy it! I said this yesterday. Destroy the fucking thing once and for all. That way guys like Obama won't want to go near it. If you think Obama is using the Reagan myth as part of his unity toolset (or any other wingnut tools)...... destroy the bad tool itself. I think you are wasting your time trying to incessantly beat up Obama for using some old wingnut tool in his big Obama Pony Show Variety Extravaganza when it would be more effective to break the dangerous tool itself... so he wouldn't want to pick it up in the first place. To hot to handle. To much damaged goods. Does that make sense?

And it would be easy to do... there are way to many similarities between the Reagan/Bush years and the Bush/Cheney years - from bad economic and tax policy to bad foreign policy....and all that constitutes... and lies, lies lies! More lies between those two maladministartions than you can ever exhaust. A legacy of LIES. You'd do more to help destroy the conservative movement props by going after that reagan/bush-bush/cheney conservative legacy of lies and bad policy than you will going after only Obama for picking up the wrong props on occasion. The whole Unity thing is just a bag of props. It ain't the bag you need to worry about...or even (i don't think at this point) the guy carrying the bag... its the bad things in the bag.

I tried to explain to leah a while back how i think this Obama campaign thing works (its a lot like Shystee is describing above, appealing to all tribes) Its like a big sponge that absorbs eveything around it. Doesn't matter what it is. It just sucks it in and then wrings it out into its own basin. Even the whole unity thing (Bloomberg's Lobotomy '08 pitch) was absorbed into the sponge:
[Obama speech]: Listen, listen; Everyone, I stole that Bloomberg dudes fancy fucking spoil-sport billionaire Unity bong right out from under his splendid blue-blood nabob nose and now I'm breathing my own homegrown Bubblelicious Hawaiian Obamamama curly weed from the hot glowing bowl of that shifty market data media playboys purloined plumbing! [cheers]

I own that rich money bitch Bloomberg and his unity pitch and I don't intend to give it up and if I have to turn myself into a fucking millworker's son or screw a fat chick in a beret while playing a HarMonica and standing on the back of a choo-choo train called the Screwball Express or skewer live squirrels onto a handcrank spit rotisserie at a godamned fucking woodchuck country revival well by God and Gipper and Grover Norquist and my dead pitch black African daddy I'll fucking do it! But, people, I'll need your help! It takes a village people! It takes a godamned village to raise a nation! Obama Nation! Obama Nation! Obama Nation! [ecstatic cheering, and elated chanting: O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!]
And now its absorbed Reagan... and The Camelot Thing, and who knows what next?... Its the Oborg - it assimilates its enemies and makes them its own. It's new slogan is "Yes We Can" - remember, the Pointer Sister's song circa 1981 "Yes We Can Can". I went and pulled my old copy of that album and Obama was right there on the cover with the Pointer Sisters. The Oborg has even assimilated old Pointer Sister album covers!

I was hoping Edwards would be the guy. But I don't think its going to work out that way at this point. Otherwise... it basically doesn't matter to me if its Hillary or Obama. At this point I think it's more important to take apart the conservative movement's old retread ideologies (because that is what the Repubs are going to run on as always). And there is another factor to watch out for in all this i think, and that is Afghanistan. If the war shifts back to Afghanistan this summer (and I think it will for political reasons) the Dems are going to have to deal with that. John McBush and his valet de chambre Joe Lieberman are going to be running around the country yelling, "terror terror terror" and "we got the madman Osama cornered in a cave west of Gujranwala! Right near where Mr Obama went to school in the madrassa! And only the manly - you can't send a woman (Hillary) in to do a mans job - war hero John McBush can capture the Evil One dead or alive - and cut taxes too! ... and if you aren't with us you are against us - and helping the terrorists get away with your childrens money!" I can hear it all even now.

So. At this point, I have a hard time getting too worked up about the whole Unity Circus Pony Show or Obama (afterall, he isn't Robert Ley) and that includes a bunch of screeching college kids at Daily Kos chanting "yes we can", and The Magician Obama reaching into the magic phonebooth and pulling out Ted Kennedy for its first big live hat-trick. It could be a lot worse than that... i think. Thats why everyone needs to sneak into the freakshow trailer some night and drown Gover Norquist in his bathtub. So he doesn't get to do his act at the Unity Circus.

Wow. After reading all that above over again i think its probably safe to say that its a good thing i'm not an ambulance driver or anything like that. But, what the hell, make of it what you will.

* Also, Gene'O they did show Hillary on TV (MSNBC anyway) at SOTU. Guite a few times actually. And she didn't look to happy. But, would you be happy having to listen to George W. Bush while Tedddy and Barack shared a box of popcorn and a cotton candy a couple rows away. Its like a night out at the


Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

As much as I hate the Cult of Personality that Obama is cultivating, I'm not sure that I can cheer on Hillary either.

Hillary's strategy these last few months hasn't been to apologize for her past (see Iraq war vote) or even deny it. Instead, her strategy has been to blur the differences between her and Barack. Essentially she's saying that she is no worse than he is, but it has the interesting dynamic of her attacking him for her own weaknesses (in another era, we'd call this Rovian).

I assume most folk here are Edwards supporters, trying to come to grips with which of the other two would suck less than the other one. Being reasonable people, it's probably worth reflecting on the fact that Hillary's strategy is aimed exactly at people like us. In one ear we're hearing Hillary say that she's no worse than Obama, and in the other ear we're hearing Obama spout right-wing rhetoric and his supporters behaving like religious fanatics.

So people like us are pretty ripe for the picking when it comes to Hillary's strategy. For my part, every time I start thinking about making Hillary my number 2, I can't get past the people she's surrounded herself with. Mark Penn the union buster as her administration's Karl Rove. Her whole stable of advisors and future cabinet members is equally appaling. On Iraq, they were all those fuckhead "liberal hawks" who threw us under the bus. While we rightfully mock Obama's lies about lobbyists in his administration, Hillary's administration would be complely run by and for lobbyists.

On a personal level, I rather like Hillary. Watch this video clip of her getting booed in Seattle (about as liberal as you can get) giving a speech about healthcare in 1994.

Every boo from that crowd makes me want to like her more. On a personal level, I like Hillary. I think at one point in time she was the real deal. Watching the same person in that youtube clip evolve into the corporate candidate, who says "lobbyists are people too", and being the #1 recipient of healthcare contributions, is really sad to me. Watching that brave crusader from 1994 surround herself by Mark Fucking Penn, "liberal hawks," etc. really makes me view herh life as some sort of Shakespearean tragedy about the debasement of ones own morals or principles for political expediency.

Obama will be a disappointment. We all see the warning flags about his right-wing rhetoric. We all hate the quasi-religious behavior of his supporters. He will govern from the center or center-right and we can see it a mile away.

So we recognize that Obama is not a cleam break like he claims, or like his supporters believe. He talks shit about lobbyists and then hires them in his campaign. It pisses people like us off, but Hillary is way worse on that point. She refuses to even spout the necessary anti-lobbyist red-meat for a Democratic Primary (on other issues, it is Obama that is guilty of this behavior).

OK, so let's wrap up this rambling post. To summarize:

1) Edwards is the only Democrat worth a shit this time around.
2) Obama sucks
3) Hillary sucks
4) People like us are susceptible to Hillary's strategy.

For my own part, I'm not even sure I can pick a number 2. I'd love it if the Hillary was the same Hillary from that youtube clip, getting booed in liberal Seattle while talking about Healthcare. But she's not that person anymore. And Barack Obama is Joe Lieberman, we all recognize that too. Once the Edwards joins the Howard Dean campaign in history, I really won't be enthusiastic about whoever the nominee is. I eventually warmed up to John Kerry for the general election, and I just ended up feeling dumb for having done so.

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

Although I'll vote for whoever wins the DINOcrat nomination over an Apocalypse-loving Imperial Republican, that doesn't mean I'll support any of them.

And helpful. What would be helpful would be for the Democrats to realize the best thing that the majority of voters in this country could do it shout none of the above from the rooftops. Then maybe we might be able to organize and take it back.

Obama or Hillary will be Bu$h lite and Company owned.

The destruction will continue. Have more kool-aid, kids. Chaos is still the plan.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

intranets's picture
Submitted by intranets on

I agree with you 100%.

And it will be Obama and Hillary and McCain, maybe even Lieberman if we wish real hard.

My theory on the only reason Romney and Huckanut are still around is that if it was just two, McCain and Paul, the GOP voters would get their none of the above choice. Where is the Dems choice (d).

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

With every speech, I like Obama even less.

The line that stuck out for me in his acceptance speech in S.C. was him blatantly echoing the kneecapping ad he had to take off the air after one day because everyone realized it was too nasty, even for The Sainted One to get away with.

Everything else sounded to these ears not like statesmanship, but like statesmanship by-products -- non-nutritive filler that resembles statesmanship enough that the crippled modern FDA of politics allows it to be treated like the real thing.

Submitted by lambert on

It's more a "the weasel I know..."-type thing. If I didn't think Obama would have me eating dogfood in a heartbeat to get another tenth of a percent of the youth who've bought the right wing frame on Social Security I'd be a lot less concerned.

Also, when I see--as I keep repeating---Kristol, Brooks, Sullivan, and Broder all going for Obama, I sense the big wienie coming. Big time. Nothing those guys for can be right. At a minimum, it's all about evading accountbability for them. At a maximum.... Let's just say I'd love to stop failing to be cynical enough. But it seems unlikely.

And I see what you mean about destroying what the sponge is going to soak up instead of trying to destroy the sponge. The only problem is that after 5 years of daily labor, and actually making some real headway, the sponge comes along and absorbs what's left faster than we could possibly mop it up. The Soros check just isn't enough, nor is the check from the Hillary campaign.

I'm thinking, really, it's like the run-up to Iraq, where all we could do is document the trainwreck. So, the Unity Pony is part of that. This time, when the Clusterfuck happens, at least we'll have the words ready to hand. That was the point of the youthful folly posts awhile back. Get the record straight now.

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

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

the farmer offers this sage bit of wisdom (and no, i am not being sarcastic- the farmer knows shit from shinola):

Thats why everyone needs to sneak into the freakshow trailer some night and drown Gover Norquist in his bathtub.

That would be a nice trick if you could do it.

Alas, once assimilated, the Norquist lobotomizing geneset integrated into the viral genome. Big government is Bad, unless of course it is part of the Iron Triangle that protects this racket. You are going to have DINOcrats oozing this zombie meme.

Part of this is pure survival selection in Washington. Anybody remember anthrax, and what geometrically shaped government office building has maintained the Ames strain? Even though, of course, Uncle Sugar Has No Bioweapons. If Hilbama eliminated that aspect of Big Guvmint, (s)he would rapidly suffer the same consequence the previous King of Obamalot did.

A lone, single bullet, that magically enters from three or more directions at once, with no reliable witnesses, and a scapegoat who stops breathing shortly thereafter.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Isn't shaming the likes of Obama out of burnishing the Reagan legend -- and all the evil done in its shiny name to date and in the future -- about the best we could possibly expect to accomplish as lowly bloggers?

If I didn’t think Obama would have me eating dogfood in a heartbeat to get another tenth of a percent of the youth who’ve bought the right wing frame on Social Security I’d be a lot less concerned.

You know, sometimes I have to wonder if you guys enjoy making stuff up. Heck, he's got a 100% rating from the Alliance for Retired Americans - same as Hillary and Edwards, AFAIK.

Look, I'm nearly as left-wing as they come. I'm atheist. The vast majority of those (flawed, yes) online candidate selectors rung up Dennis Frickin' Kucinich as the best fit for me. Reagan sucks, Norquist should be drowned in his own bathtub, etc etc. I'm on board with all that. But, if my state's primary was today, I'd vote for Obama without hesitation.

Why? Because he knows how to talk to independent voters. Those are the people who he needs in order to win the general. So he said Reagan fundamentally changed the direction of America... guess what: he did. Yeah, it was a terrible direction - but Obama never said it was a good direction, only that Reagan managed to dramatically alter the course of this country. I wish he wouldn't have said it because, yeah, it undermines the effort to correct Reagan's legacy to where it should be, but it's true, and it'll appeal to a lot of centrists who for some incomprehensible reason only remember Reagan's charisma and not his policy.

Besides, don't we want a fundamental change in the direction of America? I know I do.

Look, the loyal 20%ers are never going to vote for any Democrat, and I don't think anybody expects them to. But one third of this country has no party affiliation. Until those people buy in to liberal ideas (I mean, they already do, they just seem to be stuck in a right-wing frame), complaining that someone is trying to appeal to the middle sounds like a lot of pointless whining to me.

He's a bonafied liberal, for crissakes. 100% rating from AU, 100% from CTJ, so on and so forth.

Reagan's ability to reach into the middle has given us a dreadful legacy of 30 years of broken economic policy, attacks on civil liberties, and an 8 year presidency where "centrist" was called "liberal". Maybe Obama can reach into the middle and "flip the script" and give us a modern golden age of liberalism. Maybe not, but when you actually look at his legislative record and stated policy positions, I come to a hopeful conclusion. Apparently you guys (non-gender-specific) don't.

... I find partisan politics painfully boring. I'm not a "loyal Democrat" - I'm a staunch liberal. Now, practically speaking because of (a) our broken system, and (b) the utter horror that is the Republican Party, that means I pretty much vote party line Democrat, but I have no "party loyalty". The letter next to someone's name on the ballot means nothing to me.

So maybe that's my problem here. I'm not interested in "beating" the "enemy" - I'm interested in furthering liberal public policy in America, because I believe that liberal public policy is best for America. And that means talking to and with people who aren't "loyal Democrats".

Submitted by lambert on

The problem comes when you start getting concrete with who, exactly, you're going to start furthering liberal public policy with. John Yoo? Probably not. With the AEI? Probably not. With their funders? Probably not. Who, then?

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

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... to successfully bettering the country than we are.

All you have to do is look at comments here or at Lambert's sig to know that we're pragmatists at heart. But pragmatist doesn't mean we have to STFU when our candidates are screwing up.

Screwing up, I say? Yes, screwing up. Obama does not have to lose the frame wars to win the election. It's friendly fire, and it's as unnecessary as it is regrettable.

Please see exhibits A-D:

Exhibit C most directly addresses the question of how necessary this accommodation is, but we're painting a rather large mural to make sense of this -- we think -- important topic, and it embraces essential subthemes like those explored in shystee's pincer post and his Overton Window post:

Don't have the time? Fine. But if you're looking to judge us here, judge us on our efforts, not on the assumption that only you put the good of your fellow man and woman first.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I didn't address the money quote in your comment: "they just seem to be stuck in a right-wing frame."

Wouldn't getting them unstuck be a pretty swell idea?

Putting aside the debate over whether he was "praising" Reagan, he was absolutely bronzing his frame:

Well, I think that, keep in mind Ronald Reagan came in during the 1980s, at a time when, I think, Democrats still dominated Congress, when the view was that we were going to solve our problems, oftentimes, by expanding government programs, and he challenged many of those ideas.

Is that going to get anyone unstuck from that framing?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Brian self-diagnoses his problem, and Obama’s:

So maybe that’s my problem here. I’m not interested in “beating” the “enemy” - I’m interested in furthering liberal public policy in America, because I believe that liberal public policy is best for America. And that means talking to and with people who aren’t “loyal Democrats”.

That is a problem, because the only way to further liberal public policy (let’s throw in progressive policy there too, shall we?) is by beating the enemy. The interests that have gotten themselves well-entrenched over the last 40 years are not going to give up power without a fight. They have spent decades of their lives and billions upon billions of their dollars to beat down liberal progressive policies, and they will continue to try to beat them with all of the power and guile they can muster.

Anything less than an all-out assault against those interests will fail. Claiming otherwise is naïve at best and disingenuous at worst. That it is still difficult to know which of those attributes applies to Obama is troubling; that they appear to be the only ones that apply is why I voted for Edwards.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

that many of us around Obama's own age (i'm 43) are the most skeptical of his bs, and that he's skipping over us on purpose too. It reinforces to me that he doesn't even buy what he's selling, especially when combined with the overtly religious and GOP speak, and the purposely vague policy rhetoric that makes it seem like he was born yesterday and that's supposed to be a good thing (while at the same time, he's wrapping himself in the DC establisment as some affirmation that he really is qualified since those people think so).

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Politics is more like paintball than chess; if I decide to sneak up behind and shoot you in the ass, well, not nice but too bad, it’s your junk trunk that is now Day-Glo orange not mine.

Didn't care actually for the Jesse Jackson comments, Bill could do better, other ways of saying the same thing or, better still, say nothing and move on. That Obama turned it back on him is just more of the same, you shot me in the butt, here's one to the groin. None of this is even close to what either Obama or Clinton OR EDWARDS will face in the general so to my mind it’s just a toughening up exercise.

Failing to shake Clinto's hand at the SOTU was a big mistake, winners always shake hands with the loser, and smile real big. Hiding from a woman behind a fat old white man did not enhance Barak's street cred.

So long as Bill doesn't start talking about how Obama better be careful letting Teddy drive him over narrow bridges, I say he's still inbounds.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

and he never ever threw us gays under the bus (he was the first, actually to welcome us!) or even got as religious as Obama is--he truly created a diverse (Rainbow) coalition, and won a bunch of states--all towards helping people and giving us all voices.

It was no insult--the media insults him every time they say Obama is the "first viable" one.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

So long as Bill doesn’t start talking about how Obama better be careful letting Teddy drive him over narrow bridges, I say he’s still inbounds.

Dunno if I agree altogether -- bothers me that Bill would take a shot at Ted Kennedy like that (tho I realized as I wrote this, not for a New York nanosecond would I put it past Big Dog if he thought it would get Clintons back in the White House). That particular argument, though, is ... ahem ... whiskey under the bridge, if you'll forgive me stealing one of Kix Brooks' best lines.

I note too that Barack Obama doesn't seem to care if his shtick sits well with grownups, as long as teens and early-20s enthusiasts flock to his vagula, blandula rhetoric.

I'm 48, which means I'm old enough to know better; but I'm young enough not to give a damn, and I don't trust Obama.

It's not the name; hell, anybody could be called Hussein, or Barack, or even Obama. It's not the complexion; anybody can be cafe-au-lait, from one of the most beautiful women in the world (Halle Berry) to one of the most gorgeous men I've ever laid eyes on (Shemar Moore).

It's the shtick. It's the ... "ooh, shiny" quality of all that vague, nebulous "change" he talks about -- it's just the same old "all hat, no cattle" BS we've heard for the last seven years IMNVHO, and I am not buying.

Not that Hillary's impressed me a hell of a lot; I'm old, and I grew up poor -- didn't know it then, but looking back on it now I damn sure recognize the signs; the difference between my childhood and real gritty poverty was, we had love at home. Sometimes that love was tough enough to say, no, you can't have a pony; sometimes, that love was tough enough to paddle your fanny for skipping out on a promise. Mostly, though, that love was about teaching you how to behave and what you should expect from other people who knew how to behave, and being proud when you got ahead.

I don't get that vibe off Obama.
There's nothing underneath the shiny.
He reminds me of Romney, or W.
It's all beautiful smiles and crafted speechifications.
There's nothing there you can hang onto, nothing there you can count on, no guarantee, no warranty. Caveat voter -- the eggs in that basket may look farm-fresh, but ... crack 'em downwind.

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

And we can move on to ripping whatever jerk the Republicans put up, more satisfying.

With Obama I am somewhat hoisted on my own petard. When he started out his speech at the ’04 convention I made all the kiddies come and watch with the admonition that they should remember this moment because we could well be watching the first black President – I was that impressed. Now when I argue he’s not right they delight in throwing back at me that they are only supporting him based on my original enthusiasm. People wonder why parents strangle their children.

More than anything Obama reminds me of a used car salesman, the sly kind; always talking about the chrome and the paint job. The Republicans, to be clear, are all car thieves, so there’s that for a difference.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Oh farmer, you're so divisive

I am? Not exactly sure what ya mean but... I guess I am. In any case.. I'm just sort of ambivalent about a lot of this Dem playoff between Obama and Hillary. Including the rabid fans in the stands. I wanted Edwards to win. So now I kind of feel the way someone in Cleveland might feel watching the Giants and the Patriots play for the championship - my team isn't in the big game (short of some miraculous turn of events) - so i'm more worried about how we're going to beat Pittsburgh next season. Or waiting around to see which winner of the Dem playoff it is that has to beat the Washington Wingnuts in the Scary Bowl in November.

Farmer, Isn’t shaming the likes of Obama out of burnishing the Reagan legend — and all the evil done in its shiny name to date and in the future — about the best we could possibly expect to accomplish as lowly bloggers?

I think bloggers could accomplish more than that. And, I also don't think Obama was burnishing the Reagan "legend and all the evil done in its shiny name," - I think he was burnishing the Reagan show biz stategy (granted, even though it was nothing more than a quacksalve medicine show) of appealing to people who don't usually participate in politics as well as people who straddle the fence as well as just generally stirring things up and flipping over tables and so on. Remarking on Reagan's ability to at least get people to come out to the ball park. I guess a similar compare here would be Howard Dean's comments in 2003 about reaching out to guys with gun racks and confed flag stickers on the windows of their trucks. Remember that one? This stuff:

"I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks," the former Vermont governor said in an interview published Saturday in the Des Moines Register. "We can't beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats." [...] "White folks in the South who drive pickup trucks with Confederate flag decals on the back ought to be voting with us, and not [Republicans], because their kids don't have health insurance either, and their kids need better schools too."

Remember all the hooting and howling and bellowing all of that excited at the time? As if Howard Dean were somehow suggesting that if elected he'd move the White House to Richmond Virginia, yank a Confederate battle hanky up a pole, and appoint himself a six year term.

I guess I think there is a little of that kind of overreaction thing going on here with regards to Obama's Reagan burnishing comment. And at some point the shaming hes getting for it might begin to more resemble a stoning after too long. I think that is what nezua limón xol means when he says this: "i guess it just feels as if you guys are on a crusade lately. it feels as if its become a bit…lopsided?"

meanwhile: Rudy can go back home and spend the rest of his days playing gin rummy with Alfonse D'Amato.


Submitted by lambert on

... with OFB talking points.

Being "divisive" is bad, bad, bad! Divisive people hate the unity pony!

I know about the lopsided thing. I was in "three good candidates mode there, for awile. Then Atrios caught the Social Security dogwhistle, and I went out on the Big Orange threads with the Oborg and started doing meth and it all spiralled out of control....

It's more a furious effort, in both senses, to feel like I have a handle on the game.

I think Avedon said it best. Think Tony Blair after Thatcher. That didn't work out so well.

[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 gotta write down one of these days my Essay in Praise of Divisiveness. "Unity" is (as others have pointed out before me, goddess knows) a very nice thing for Rodney King to praise and "can't we all get along" is indeed a worthy sentiment. But "get along" does not fucking mean "Unity" because all that means is Everybody Has To Do What I Say Dammit And Go On Record As Claiming They Like The Taste.

Which not only isn't gonna happen this side of the grave, but it shouldn't. You would think that members of a party that has been on the receiving end of BushCo's version of "please show unity by agreeing with me at all times or I will put your ass in Gitmo and eat your children" would have figured this out.

Wingnuts are fond of saying "If Bush was really as bad as you LIEberals keep claiming you all would have been rounded up and shot by now." All that ever said to me was, if Bush has softened us up to the point where comments like that constitute reasoned discourse, what is going to be considered reasonable by his successors in the way of "enforcing unity"?

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Being “divisive” is bad, bad, bad! Divisive people hate the unity pony!

Ohhhh, i get it now. And, yes, i know a little about the OFB tantrums and so on from looking at some of the Tangerine Spleen diaries... but mostly stay out of the hallways in that asylum.

I think Avedon said it best. Think Tony Blair after Thatcher.

oh, you mean Bill Clinton? :-)


Whenever you hear someone saying something like, "He's a professional lawyer/politician/writer/editor and he knows what his words will mean to people," you can assume they don't know what they're talking about. You ask the best wordsmith you have ever met whether they have ever said or written something they thought was clear and then had a whole bunch of people misconstrue it, they can all tell you about the disaster that ensued that time some innocent remark they made exploded into some Really Big Deal, destroyed friendships, created fissures in the landscape. I once plunged all of fandom into war that way.


Submitted by lambert on

because I've made the same argument against Obama, Harvard-trained lawyer.

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

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

and I think Bringiton's right too.

Obama sure as hell looked more like a President awhile back than he does now. Where he stands now looks familiar to those of us who watched Howard Dean and John Edwards in '04: passionate men still young, giving every appearance of being on a mission to change the world for the better with their own two hands -- but unlike the Constitutional professor, in 2004 both Dr. Howard Dean and Senator John Edwards already had a track record of fighting corporations and winning; had a track record of making themselves acquainted with issues and doing their best to affect those issues for the greater good of the American people; had a track record that didn't include voting "present."

Bringiton: if the Republicans are car thieves, does that make the Libertarians chop-shop operators?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... the more I see his calculated disrespect of people like me (personally, and in terms of objectives).

The personal:
* Lifelong Democrats
* Baby Boomers
* Rationalists
* Secularists
* People with memories
* People who are angry at Bush and his forebears

The objectives:
* Fighting the Conservative Movement
* Convincing others to say "never again" to all that's happened on Bush's watch
* Having the criminality of the Bushies fully exposed and punished
* Having Bush's incursions on the Constitution fully reversed
* Making the Democratic Party become more progressive, more popular, and more successful -- and not a marginal party with one charismatic triangulator (i.e., not a replay of 1994, when the Reaganites re-revolted because Clinton's third way didn't kill or even tame the beast)

The Reagan thing is but one of countless examples, but his "W.O.R.M." moment on Stephanopoulos's show isn't just "burnishing the Reagan show biz stategy."

He is building a fucking monument to the most cherished and valuable Republican meme, that Democrats are the party of taxes and bloat. You'd have to work pretty hard to structure a better picture for Middle America of why Reagan Republicanism is a better brand than the damned Democrat Party:

Well, I think that, keep in mind Ronald Reagan came in during the 1980s, at a time when, I think, Democrats still dominated Congress, when the view was that we were going to solve our problems, oftentimes, by expanding government programs, and he challenged many of those ideas.

I understand this recoiling from all-Obama-disappointment-all-the-time, but that's what I'm experiencing watching this campaign, and that's what I, for one, am writing.

Obamism has turned into a religion, and that religion is teaching precepts that we progressives know to be wrong (and a zillion endorsements from Democrats I genuinely like don't change that fact, just like I don't think their Jesus is the son of God, no matter how many times they say "God bless America").

How much disempowering shit do progressives have to eat to put a relatively benign guy in the White House?

In my opinion, not nearly as much as he's feeding us. Even though he's feeding us that shit with friendly cooing and "here comes the airplane" talk, we need to grab that hand and tell him, as best our little voices can, to put some decent food on that spoon before we're going to take another bite.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Really swell of you to reinforce that I am now right about having been so wrong. Just the ego boost I needed.

Libertarians, chop-shops, who knows. My little analogies are snack food, never intended to be stretched out to a full meal.

Submitted by lambert on

... is that repeat, repeat, repeat works.


It may be that resistance is due to cognitive dissonance. If so, we'd better amp it all up before the views get set in concrete for the next decade or so.

Another way, too, of looking at this is that Corrente has... I don't want to say led the charge, but I think it's fair to say we've been in the forefront of asking people to look very carefully at the man, at least in the blogosphere. And we've had several comments (and remember, only a tiny minority of readers comment) that Corrente was a breath of fresh air.

So, we need to keep working that policy pincer (not the electoral pincer). The OFB will never understand, but readers will appreciate.

Of course, there's the "Great courage, of course" aspect to all this, as in the Yes, Minister YouTube I played awhile back.

5:55 "Something in your eye?" "Just a gleam....

[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

Vastleft writes:

The Reagan thing is but one of countless examples, but his “W.O.R.M.” moment on Stephanopoulos’s show isn’t just “burnishing the Reagan show biz stategy.”

He is building a fucking monument to the most cherished and valuable Republican meme, that Democrats are the party of taxes and bloat. You’d have to work pretty hard to structure a better picture for Middle America of why Reagan Republicanism is a better brand than the damned Democrat Party:

[Obama on Reagan:]

Well, I think that, keep in mind Ronald Reagan came in during the 1980s, at a time when, I think, Democrats still dominated Congress, when the view was that we were going to solve our problems, oftentimes, by expanding government programs, and he challenged many of those ideas.

The thing is, he is correct. That is exactly what happened. Although I think (i'm not positive though) when Reagan came to power the Senate was controlled by Republicans, the House by Dems. Reagan did challenge those ideas... that was the entire architecture, the entire modus operandi, of the New Right; to challenge those ideas that Dems were "going to solve our problems... by expanding government programs". Granted, Reagan's challenge was nothing but a swindle, a snake oil sales pitch from a smiling Hollywood con man. But it nevertheless was what happened. And, ultimately, was one of the largest expansions of government spending in history too boot. So much for that oftentime challenge.

I don't think Obama is building any monument to that. He is simply stating a historical fact. It's political science.

Now, what I don't like... what I think Obama is doing... is that he appears to be attempting to build a monument to himself... upon that foundational architecture (that blueprint / that business plan) that the New Right/Reagan Revolution also built back in the late 70's and early 80's. And I think that is bothersome because that foundation the Reagan architects built was essentially premised upon a swindle (including the notion it could be all things to everyone).

Its as if Obama were saying now: "hey, the New Right built an entire movement upon a fanciful marketing ploy...why can't I?" And that makes me cringe. And that is why people like you react as well... because you know it was all foundationally a lot of bullshit. And I understand that too. And it bothers me. And Obamas incessant references tothat particular old plan is what drives some people crazy.

Back in 1981 guys like Richard Viguerie, Paul Weyrich, John Lofton, and other architects and assorted nuts of the New Right/Reagan Revolution gave interviews to Howard Phillips.. and these interviews were published in 1983 by the Conservative Caucus in a book called the New Right at Harvard (by Howard Phillips).

Within appears an interview with Viguerie in 1981... Viguerie says:

The well-known anti-Communist, Dr. Fred Schwarz, was asked a question once by Phyllis Schafly: "Dr. Schwarz, what do you think is the single strongest asset that the Communists have in their battle for the world?" Before Dr. Schwarz could speak, she answered her own question. She felt that the Communists' greatest strength was that they were totally convinced they were the wave of the future. Every Communist worth his salt believes that Communism will prevail, that it will be the dominant force, that it will rule the world within a certain time-frame. This is an attitude that the New Right brings to the political scene. We believe in ourselves. We believe we can prevail.

Yes we can!
"Change, we can believe in!" (as opposed to change we can count on)

Sound familiar?

Schafly here is simply aping the mutterings of Jeane Kirkpatrick at the time but its interesting to watch her getting all wet in the panties over the prospect that the New Right might one day be just like the dreaded commies! We want the world and we want it now! (which is what you'll also hear from the OFB)

The interview continues [Viguerie] :

The Left, on the contrary, is confused and disillusioned. They are searching for ideas. But it is conservatives who hold the new ideas, people like Jack Kemp with his supply-side economics. Whether you agree with it or not, you must admit it has captured the imagination of the country. People are arguing about conservative ideas, about proposals like the enterprise zones, which would reduce taxes in big-city areas hit hard by unemployment.

Sound familiar? This is the wellspring from which flows Obama's comments about Reagan's Republican party being "the party of ideas". Its origins track back to the New Right policy shops and mailers and interviews back in the late 70's and early 80s. Even the early Neo-Con version of Moynihan who was influenced by all this - at Harvard back then - repeated this stuff.

Harvard. Where Barack Obama went to school.

What you will also find in this book are hosannas to the Left's ability to organize and netowrk and "shift gears". Again, Viguerie (1981):

As I said before, there isn't much new about the New Right. Maybe we just learned how the Left did it and were good copiers. They had single issues; we copied that. They had their tax-free foundations; now we have ours. They had their political PACs; so have we. And so on. Just about everything that they have used to achieve political success in the last thirty or forty years has been duplicated by us. And, like the Japanese, many times we've made a better copy than the original.

That's The New Right at Harvard talking, 1981. Ya see, the Obama juggernaught is making new copies of old copies of old copies. And sponging up anything else in its path along the way to add to the copier machine. And so on. That is why you are hearing all this throwback talk about Reagan and why you are arguing online with an OFB that believe it can prevail... and is convinced it is the wave of the future. It's right out of the old playbooks.

You are battling an new monster. Copied many times over from old stuff.

You are right vastleft, its is an onion, peel the layers away and you'll reveal old layers. What happens to the onion once its chopped up and cooked and served to the table is something else. You can fight with the chef (obama) or the cooks (the OFB)... thats ok with me... or you can notify the customers about where the onion came from. And thats what I'm doing here. Just telling you where the onion came from.


vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

My only addendum would be to expand on the significance of Obama regularly choosing (as you note) the Reagan frame: Dems=tax and spend, hawkishnesh (add 100,000 troops, get tough on Pakistan), social security needs "reform," tax cuts are what the economy needs, more nuke plants, get religion, stop that hippie bickering, and the plain implication that the truth part of truth and reconciliation is off the table.

Indeed, that shows it's just about him. He's riding on Reagan's happy-talk coattails, not making coattails for his own party.

Now, what do you call someone ostensibly on our side who stretches our opponent's coattails? Would turncoat be too strong a word? Perhaps, but scrutinizing and criticizing such actions seems like a pretty smart idea if there's a decent chance it's his coattails we may be relying on.

Submitted by lambert on

Or low information voter?

For people on the electoral side, the only cost is the cost to reach them; trivial by the side of a "mandate" (for the person, note well).

For people on the policy pincer, that matters a lot, because the cost comes in policy compromise. I can well imagine some sort of two-tier Social Security system with privatization only for the generation that bought the snake oil, for example being traded away. (Just like there's a two-tier system for the Real ID.)

When I asked this question of the OFB when I was doing meth over at Big Orange, they went nuts and said it was stupid, because of course the mandate was most important. That told me I was onto something. Stuck pig squeals, and all.

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

... and I don't think I've got the time to address each and every interesting comment, unfortunately. I'll do the best I can.

Does any member of the OFB recall which party won the 2006 election?

One that policy wise has been completely spineless and ineffective, unfortunately.

OK. Now to the good stuff. First, if anybody took my earlier post(s) to imply that I thought they were not committed to a liberal/progressive agenda, I apologize; that was not my intent. I think that what's going on is not a difference in policy goals, but a difference in perception about how to accomplish those goals.

I, too, want to crush the conservative movement. Generally speaking, the world would be a vastly better place if conservatism went the way of the dodo. But that's not the goal of an election. The goal of an election is to get a progressive/liberal candidate into office, hopefully to move us further down the long and winding road towards that future free of conservatism.

Now, that doesn't mean campaign as a right-winger and govern as a left-winger. But it does mean that there is a large "middle" of the electorate that you have to be able to reach in greater number than the guy on the other side.

(Edited in, so this may not flow well) I don't disagree about the importance of shifting the Overton window. If we can get the frame shifted to a liberal POV, it'll be a lot easier to get people to realize that most Americans support liberal ideas. However, I don't think that's the job of a candidate running for office. I think that's a job for politicians in office, think tanks, and blogs. I hammer on this stuff continually on my blog. It'd be nice if a candidate can shift the discussion, or at least no make things worse (and in some ways Obama has been less than helpful here), but I think for a viable candidate, winning has to be goal 1. I'm not saying "lie", nor am I saying "reach out for hard-core Republicans", but I am saying that there is a middle portion of the electorate that you need to be able to communicate with.

It's like the farmer said - what Obama said about Reagan is true. But he didn't praise Reaganite policy, only his ability to reach out to the middle and win their overwhelming support. Yes, it's unfortunate that nearly 30 years later the vast majority of America hasn't figured out how swindled they were, but that doesn't change the fact that even if you ignore the policy specifics Reagan was a transformative force on American politics. And acknowledging that will appeal to a lot of independent voters.

That's not to say I think it was a good play by Obama. I don't. Mostly because it opens him to attacks from the left for "praising Reagan", like he's gotten hit with here.

I also feel the "all glitter no gold" charge is way overcooked. Yes, he speaks in glittering generalities, but again - if you wonk-out in speeches you sound like John Kerry (dull, droning, and boring), and we all know that Dubya had no business winning in '04. But the substance is there. Lambert noted this recently, but Lessig officially endorsed Obama because of his technology policy positions a few months ago. You don't have to do a lot of digging on Obama's website to find much more fleshed out positions.

Look, no candidate is perfect. Kucinich was great policy-wise, but then he does goofy stuff like his "Department of Peace" and "I believe in aliens". Edwards - great on labor, not so great on same-sex marriage. Life is full of compromises. For me, Obama is the best choice for a number of reasons, foibles aside. Yeah, as an atheist I wish he'd tone down the God talk - but he's got a 100% rating from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (and he's not saying nutty stuff like "we should amend the Constitution to be in line with the Bible"). I think the Reagan comments were a tactical misstep during a primary. I certainly wish the Borg would assimilate more of John Edward's language. But I like Obama a hell of a lot more than Hillary (who I'll still vote for in the general if she wins the nomination, because I like her a hell of a lot more than the GOP candidates).

I just think the anti-Obama sentiment here has grown to the level of "unhinged derangement" with all the ranting about the "OFB" and "Unity Ponies", which is unfortunate. Otherwise, I love this blog. I think it has a strong voice.

This post is probably a rambling mess now, and I just don't feel like going back and editing it further. Needless to say, I'm right there with you guys when it comes to the goal. I just think we have disagreements about who plays what role to help get us there.

This page detailing election method simulations might help demonstrate my point. The graphs there show by color which candidate will win an election when the consensus of the electorate is at each individual point on the plane. IOW, in a two-candidate election, with plurality voting, you draw a line between the positions of the two candidates, and whichever side of the line the electorate collectively falls on will win the election. If a candidate is too far "left" or "right", the line will shift over from one side of the "average" to the other, and the other candidate will win.

Ideally, to win an election you want "your guy" to be just a smidge closer to the middle than the other guy.

Given that the Overton window is pushed so ridiculously to the right, if you have a candidate perceived as "too liberal" you won't win. Bush "won" in 2000 (and to some extent in '04) because he was perceived to be something he wasn't. That's how Reagan did his thing too.

So winning an election is, unfortunately, a terrible arena to be trying to shift the Overton window. You're already trying to convince voters that you are closer to their positions than the other guy. If they've got a fucked-up understanding of their own positions, telling them so is unlikely to end well. It's a delicate dance to get as far away from the middle as you can, without going too far. (Obama could probably do a better job of pushing left than he is, but...)

I think it's everybody else's job to shift the window. Not an active candidate. Once in office, a politician is much more able to help shift the window.

Again, I'm not suggesting ceding the language to the right. Just that it's not so easy for a candidate to shift the window without risking losing the election.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Is a big fucking problem, Brian. Given the choice of excusing it or shaming it, I choose the latter.

Running as Republican Lite is not just unnecessary with the GOP brand in tatters, it's stupid. It forces our candidates into being flip-flopping equivocators instead of representing something that the American people are more than ready for.

Submitted by lambert on

Why does the policy pincer need to wait on the electoral pincer? That's what the distinction between "running for office" and "in office" boils down to, much as I enjoyed Brian's comments (no time to respond in detail).

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