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What is today's political "center"?

vastleft's picture

Los Angeles Times: "Obama is shifting toward the center."

"I've been struck by the speed and decisiveness of his move to the center," said Will Marshall, president of the centrist Progressive Policy Institute.

"Centrist Progressive Policy Institute"! So much for naming things what they are.

Just like today's centrist was yesterday's rabid hawk.

I guess a Liberal supports nine or ten Amendments of the Bill of Rights, a Conservative supports one, and a Centrist supports five.

Second Amendment, check! I wonder what the other four are that Obama supports....

And my what breakneck speed Obama took from throwing virtually every progressive constituency under the bus over the last two years to suddenly finding himself in the oh-so-reasonable mushy middle that ever-so-moderately caves in to the extreme right on everything!

There's a decisive politician for ya!

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amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

didn't Stoller mention him?

the center is whatever the GOP and big money wants done.

Submitted by hipparchia on

that was a treaure. i'm glad you fixed the link so i could visit it again.

VASTLEFT: I’ll spare you the hassle of listening to me. I’m a baby boomer atheist who wants universal healthcare and a presidency that repudiates the greed-is-good Reagan-Bush-Bush Revolution. You don’t want to hear any of that shit, do you?

you and your wife and frenchdoc wouldn't be interested in a menage a quatre by any chance, would you?

FrenchDoc's picture
Submitted by FrenchDoc on

Besides I owe Hipparchia for the damage to her eyeballs!... Is that what PB 2.0 is going to be?? Fun fun fun!

Submitted by hipparchia on

and we're all going to move to france for the health care... and the food... and... [i can see i'm going to have to expand my vocabulary beyond etouffe, merde, and menage a _____]

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

He didn't moderate his previous political stands; he abandoned them (e.g., Iraq, NAFTA, public financing, etc.). FISA is beyond a "political" stand: it's the safeguarding of our very Constitution, our democracy (or what's left of it).

Again, the man has no other principle other than to accrue as much power for himself as possible. That's it. To elect any politician without core principles, let alone one who is solely guided by ruthless ambition, is scary enough. To elect president that person considering the times we're in and the tremendous levels of power he will have--executive power plus top-down control of the DNC plus a bought and paid for Congress--is downright terrifying. Power corrupts...

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

I started laughing.

True, he hasn't really taken a political stand since it requires staying true to its fundamental principle when push comes to shove, but I thought it better than writing that this empty suit only has platitudes and lines to read off a teleprompter.

Submitted by jawbone on

I'd been to one of his rallies. This was last January, and we agreed to disagree and not talk about it for the duration of the primary.

Welladay, today we chatted and he said he's very disappointed in his choice and has buyer's remorse big time. He's written and called about Obama throwing public financing under the bus, his telco immunity reversal and trashing of the 4th Amendment, and, after beginning to look into his actual history, was appalled to find he's just a Chicago pol--who trashed his political mentor.

And it's still June! Two more months before the convention and lots of time for people to learn about Obama. However, we both agreed that at this point it appears the MCM and talking heads are not going out of their way to educate the public.

I gave him some other things to check out....

He told the Obama campaign that since Obama chose to not accept public financing, he would not be making any contributions to his campaign. He also told them he was very upset about this pretty clear abandonment of a promise to whomever his Republican opponent would have been and to the public. He is galled that talking heads keep saying this isn't any big deal: For him, it's a promis broken and and indication of a person who will not keep his word.

My, oh my. Getting to know Obama is not to love him, at least for this person who voted for him in the primary.

Submitted by lambert on

0. "June"

1. RFK was assassinated in June.

2. Obama is the next RFK.

3. Why are you calling for Obama's assassination?

Three strokes.

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by jawbone on

Will Marshall is one of the founders of the New Democrat movement, which aims to steer the US Democratic Party toward a more centrist orientation. Since its founding in 1989, he has been president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council.

He recently served on the board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, an organization chaired by Joe Lieberman and John McCain designed to build bipartisan support for the invasion of Iraq. Marshall also signed, at the outset of the war, a letter issued by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) expressing support for the invasion. Marshall signed a similar letter sent to President Bush put out by the Social Democrats USA on Feb. 25, 2003, just before the invasion. The SDUSA letter urged Bush to commit to "maintaining substantial U.S. military forces in Iraq for as long as may be required to ensure a stable, representative regime is in place and functioning."

Submitted by jawbone on

I was looking at monkeyfister's garder photos, decided to check his blog, and found a link to this, uh, gem of corporate America. Ties in nicely with Obama throwing our civil liberties under the bus. (It's some kind of Hogwart's bus, bcz it's ever expanding underneath and looks perfectly normal on the road!)

Scroll down for his gardening post. I have got to try to honey bee lure.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

And for federal general elections, that mean has shifted well to the right.

Progressives seem puzzled as to why the Democratic Party would select someone so far away from their ideals as a nominee. The reason is not all that complicated; the rightward side of the median is what voters have made clear they want, in no uncertain terms since the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts were passed in the 60’s.

Here’s what they’ve said:

1968 – No to the liberal Hubert Humphrey
1972 – No (emphatically) to the liberal/progressive George McGovern
1976 – Yes (barely) to the centrist Jimmy Carter
1980 – On second thought, no more Carter (not conservative enough)
1984 – No (emphatically) to the liberal Walter Mondale
1988 – No (emphatically) to the liberal/centrist Michael Dukakis
1992 – Yes to the conservative/centrist Bill Clinton
1996 – Yes again to the conservative/centrist Bill Clinton
2000 – Not quite yes to the liberal/centrist Al Gore
2004 – No to the liberal/centrist John Kerry

Therefore, and not all that surprisingly:

2008 – Democrats decide to nominate a conservative/centrist.
(Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fit this description.)

The “center” is not where progressives want it to be, and all the poll data showing support for progressive issues means nothing if it doesn’t translate into Electoral College votes. The Democratic Party has steadily moved rightward since Southern Democrats defected to the Republicans, because they have had to in order to stay relevant. The only way they can win the White House and hold the Congress is with rightward policies and conservative candidates. Repeatedly running to the Left and losing is not rational behavior.

The blame for this rests squarely on me and other progressives who have failed at communicating clearly the benefits of progressive policies. Until we get better at explaining why progressivism is the correct path, the American people will continue to select a government that is right-leaning.

If you’re a progressive looking for someone to blame for where the American electorate is today, I suggest you start by looking in the mirror; that's what I do every day. The plain fact is that we – all of us – have not done enough.

Submitted by hipparchia on

stuff i remember about the losing candidates:

1968 – Hubert Humphrey [interesting times]
1972 – McGovern [crazy man for vp]
1980 – Carter [killer rabbit]
1984 – Mondale [girl for vp]
1988 – Dukakis [soft on crime]
2000 – Gore [liar liar, pants on fire]
2004 – Kerry [swift boat]

a generalized theme seems to be: the liberal gets painted as wimpy/sissy/silly and loses. somehow, voting for a sissy makes you a sissy, and we all know that american men can't abide being sissies.

it's not conclusive, but this article and these exit polls show men voting in droves for republicans when the opposing democrat can be made out as a wimp.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

But that will be exactly the problem as I see it. There's always an excuse about how the other side was unfair and used mean words and besides that they have all the money and they own the media and the media people are so mean too and they're all of them just so, so awful.

And men! Aren't they just the worst? If only men would be just like women, we could all be girlfriends! Oh, happy day.

Problem being that the electorate (including very large percentages of women; in 2004, married mothers voted for Bush over Kerry, 56%-42%), seems to love the Republicans and conservative Democrats for what they say, or maybe the way they say it, and never mind the actual effects of their policies; they do keep getting elected, don't they, in spite of the fact that there are more women voters than men?

My point in the comment above being that the only winners for the Democratic Party in the last 10 elections have been two men who were definitely centrists with leanings to the conservative side of the Party. Give or take close-but-no-cigar Al Gore and John Kerry, the electorate as a whole clearly prefers a more conservative government and has for 40 years. If the Democrats want to win for a change with the current environment, they will have to field more conservative candidates. That's what they've done.

I understand all about the Big Lie, and the power of money and the media. After 40 years, though, I see them now as nothing more than convenient excuses for the Left to use to rationalize our failures, a form of denial more comfortable than examining our own shortcomings in message and approach. If we're right about government and at least as smart as a Republican, we should be winning. That we are not says more about us than it does about them, or about the electorate - or about men. We are the ones who have failed.

Remember this article you cited previously? In pursuing the desired outcome, who had to change their ways first? Who had to examine their own behavior patterns and challenge themselves to do things differently? Where does change always have to begin?

If progressives want to effect progressive change for the country, we had better figure out a better way than what we've been doing. Going along as we have been, we're getting our butts kicked.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

They are conservative, but when questioned about their beliefs, they are actually liberal.

I know proud Bush supporters who don't agree with a damn thing he has done.

All this tells us is that the American electorate bought into the marketing of the conservative movement, nothing more.

Also, I seem to recall that Clinton ran in 1992 as a liberal who wanted to allow gays in the military and raise taxes(how much he was helped by Perot is still up for debate).

When I see your list of Dems who lost, I see people who were seen as compromisers and equivicators, i.e. "LOSERS", which is why they don't win elections. It has nothing to do with their political beliefs, but in how they present themselves. Clinton, though, running as a liberal, also exuded the personality of a junkyard dog, who would attack his enemies when provoked. Kerry and Gore got provoked, and went wind surfing.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

majority-supported policies that are Democratic--universal healthcare and economy and practical domestic stuff -- instead of pretending to be "centrists" and Republicans.

They come off as weak when they don't. Obama comes off as weak and spineless because he has no concrete core beliefs that match the majority of the electorate--or even any that don't.

Clinton didn't push for tiny changes in healthcare or attack others who wanted a different approach but still wanted more healthcare --he pushed for universal clearly and forcefully no matter what they said -- it showed he believed in things enough not to water them down or to cave in and/or emulate the GOP.

Submitted by gob on

If the American electorate has been seeing "us" anything like the way I'm seeing the commenters at Pandagon (that Mandos and FlipYrWhig so valiantly engaged with), it's no wonder we haven't persuaded them of much.

Since the media have been gleefully and successfully playing up the view that "liberals" are snobs for forty years now, it seems it behooves us to address the problem seriously and directly. Listening to the people who disagree with us and really, actually, entertaining the idea that they are not idiots or baby-eating racists and sexists is probably a good starting point. This suggestion isn't directed at anybody here (other than myself); in fact you all have provided a haven of civilized discourse.

Hmmmmmmmm. This is a lot of what I thought Obama was about when I still thought he was about anything except himself. Weird.

Submitted by gob on

the left in general. If we lose elections because we are perceived by voters in general as arrogant and out of touch, it's our (the left, not Correntians) responsibility to do something about it.

I included the link because it seems like a stunningly obvious example of people refusing to listen to other people, then complaining about how stupid they are for not accepting their opinion.

I think we, the left, should examine ourselves for this tendency, if we want to win elections. I think one of Hillary Clinton's strengths is that she never, as far as I've seen, shows disdain for people who disagree with her, even when she's fighting strongly for her views. One of Obama's weaknesses is that he lets his contempt for segments of the voting population show.

FrenchDoc's picture
Submitted by FrenchDoc on

I hadn't been to Pandagon in a very long time but geez, these comments are awful.

How did I ever think I had a lot in common with these folks. Good grief.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Coming from a female, and fellow alleged feminist, just makes me want to cry, FrenchDoc.

Obama is more qualified in terms of actual length of public service than Governor Backwater Clenis was when he was inagurated.

Both have fewer years playing tea party with wives of heads of state as a 3am emergency event.

First they invoke the Clenis, and throw in Backwater(read ignorant hick) to boot(never mind they are comparing Clinton full time executive experience with Obama's part time legislature, but wev).

Also, equating the requirements and expectations for president from 92 and 2008.

And then denigrating the real work the Senator Clinton did as First Lady of Arkansas and the US.

And they wonder why I can't support Obama.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

It's not where a Democratic candidate stands in some perceived political continuum that is a predictor of political failure - it's how far he or she moves to get votes.

That theory explains both BIO's observations and poll results on liberal issues like universal health care.