The Spitting/Splitting Moment: When Obama lost the New Dealers
by Bruce Webb
There is a great deal of chatter these days about how Obama lost ‘Progressives’, what Robert Gibbs derisively called the ‘Professional Left’ or the ‘Left of the Left’, and as an example you could read this from Peter Daou How a handful of liberal bloggers are bringing down the Obama presidency and the following key graph:
With each passing day, I’m beginning to realize that the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher*.
Virtually all the liberal bloggers who have taken a critical stance toward the administration have one thing in common: they place principle above party. Their complaints are exactly the same complaints they lodged against the Bush administration. Contrary to the straw man posed by Obama supporters, they aren’t complaining about pie in the sky wishes but about tangible acts and omissions, from Gitmo to Afghanistan to the environment to gay rights to secrecy and executive power.
But a couple of things stand out here. First this is an awfully self-referential list, Digby aside it is pretty much the core of the Purity Party who were never on-board the Obama bandwagon to start with. Again Digby partially aside, these people are the modern descendants of the New Left which formed itself explicitly against the Old Liberals and organized itself around topics and principles pretty peripheral to the New Dealers and New Frontier types, anti-colonialism, the Green movement, gay rights all would have been acknowledged as important in principle, but not central. In particular you could be a straight down the line ADA Liberal without endorsing extreme environmentalism or Liberation Theology or marriage equality, there was nothing odd about a midwestern urban Catholic union worker liberal who rejected them all. That is the co-option of Progressive/New Left/Purity Party term of the term ‘liberal’ in the way Daou explicitly does here is to me off the mark, most of these people don’t meet the classic definition of ‘Liberal’ to start with.
But there is I think no doubt that Obama came into office with both New Dealers and New Democrats in his corner even as the Progressives Hamsher et al were already leery, and that we can identify what I am calling the Spitting (sic) moment that split the former two groups and mostly left the first group on the outside. And while the realities of politics today may never have allowed Obama to satisfy the FirePups entirely, the choice to alienate the New Dealers was freely made in the summer of 2009, Obama had a chance to reform the New Deal Coalition and even to drag Progressives along with him (as FDR did in the thirties,) but frankly he blew it, and badly. And the decision point was—-? To be discussed under the fold.
First the preliminary actionbuy cheap inflatables Batman Challenge. In the immediate wake of the 2008 election House Democrats made an immense move, they outsted John Dingell as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Chairman and replaced him with Henry Waxman, the latter being thought better able to shape and put through the Obama environmental and energy policies, an area in which Dingell, diehard supporter of Detroit and its auto industry, had been a drag for decades. In return Dingell got thrown a big juicy bone, he retained ownership of his signature issue, one he had introduced legislation on for fifty plus years, and continuing a legacy his father had begun even earlier, Universal Health Care. Specifically he was tasked with being lead author of a bill to be considered by all three committees with jurisdiction: Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor. And in due course what would be known informally as the Tri-Committee Bill and by number HR3200 was introduced to all three Committees on July 14th House Tri-Committee Healthcare Reform Bill Introduced Today
In the meantime the Senate HELP Committee at first under the daily leadership of Dingell’s comrade in arms Ted Kennedy (who had spent almost as many decades pushing health care as Dingell and who in the previous Congress(es) had introduced what was known as Kennedy Dingell: Medicare for All) and then after Kennedy’s health slipped under the leadership of his number two at HELP Chris Dodd worked away to put forth their own version Affordable Health Choices Act.
Before the end of the month HR3200 had been passed through the House Tri-Committees, although with some modifications to satisfy Blue Dogs on Energy and Commerce and AHCA had been approved by Senate HELP though watered down at the insistence of Senate moderates with the following end result:
House Tri-Committee: Ten year addition to budget $1.082 trillion. Total coverage non-elderly: 94%. Coverage for legal non-elderly: 97%
Senate HELP: Ten year addition to deficit: $597 billion. Total coverage non-elderly 88%. Coverage for legal non-elderly 90%.
Now in comparing the two bills a few things stuck out. One although the bills were clearly the work product of Dingell on the House side and Kennedy on the Senate side neither final product had much resemblance to the previous Congress’s Kennedy-Dingell Medicare for All, instead both bills met Obama’s campaign promise that if Americans liked what they had, they could keep it, which meant preserving the role for private insurers in the system. Two each bill included a robust public option, also part of Obama’s platform. Three each already came pre-compromised with the moderates in both parties, particularly Senate HELP. And four, and most important, the HELP Bill was missing huge chunks. Where the Tri-Committees were able to work across jurisdictional lines, each presumedly taking the lead on the section under the jurisdiction of each of the three, Senate HELP did not have jurisdiction over either the Medicare or revenue components, both under the jurisdiction of Senate Finance. Which brings us to the decision point:
Senate Finance Committee Baucus bucked. Instead of merging the appropriate pieces of the Tri-Committee and HELP Bills and then appending his version of the Medicare and funding parts, he simply asserted ownership of the entire bill. Nope he would just scrap EVERYTHING and craft his own version from scratch. What is more he would do this NOT under regular Committee order where the Senate Finance Sub-Committee on Health Care and its Chairman Rockefeller would have a major voice, but instead form a working group that would move direct to a final deal on his terms. In effect he spit right in the face of both Dingell and Kennedy, tough shit that they had spent a combined 100 years on this and that Kennedy was clearly in his last months of life, this was going to be the Baucus Bill or maybe the Baucus-Grassley Bill. And with a third mouthful he spat right in the face of Rockefeller and by extension all Democratic progressives and liberals, this bill would be shaped by what was originally a Gang of Seven that included four Republicans and then when Hatch dropped out by a Gang of Six evenly split between the parties and expressly sidelining anyone to left of center. Instead HCR would be shaped by two Conservadems, one moderate Dem, two Conservative Republicans, and one moderate Dem. I discussed the make-up of the Gang of Six in this post from July 29, 2009 Was it a Gang of Seven. Note that it doesn’t just flout the concept of majority rule, and ignores the ideological makeup of the Democratic caucus, it systematically excludes the interests of large and/or coastal and/or urban States.
It was a straight out power grab by Baucus. And out of some bizarre desire for Senate Comity above all things (Reid) or an equally bizarre belief in accomplishing some mythical, mystical Post-Partisanship (Obama) the Majority Leader of the Senate and the President of the U.S. simply turned over the keys to the HCR car to a guy representing less than 1/3rd of 1% of the American population. Which if it had worked would have been okay, although you can bet the final product would have been a lot crappier from a liberal perspective than either HR3200 or Senate HELP, but it didn’t, instead the Committee deadlocked for almost half a year forcing first Baucus and then Reid to produce their own versions just in time to get bogged down by the Christmas Holidays. What had been at the introduction of the Tri-Committee Bill and Senate HELP a one month process to be finished prior to the August 2009 recess instead dragged into the next year and with it sucked all of the enthusiasm out of the New Deal faction of the Democratic Party. A group who had spent much of that late Summer and Fall defending the Obama Administration against the Purity Party Progressives, surely in the end he wouldn’t just sell us out!
But Obama did. And along the way showed additional contempt for Liberals by agreeing to a Catfood Commission almost as loaded to the center-right and right as the Gang of Six, and seemingly devoted to tearing away the centerpiece of the New Deal in the name of Social Security ‘Reform’ and ‘Fiscal Responsibility’. The only thing lacking was a ‘No Dogs, Irishmen or New Dealers’ sign on the South Lawn. How do you get the New Dealers back on board? How do you close the Enthusiasm Gap among those who were among your biggest boosters and defenders during the HCR fiasco? How about stop pissing on FDR’s grave and telling us you are just watering the flowers?
Answer: You dont’ do either of those things and as a result you hand power to the ‘Baggers and worse.
…I doubt it.
How do you close the entusiasim gap…? How about stop playing the vicitm, and growing a pair for starters. (Though I like your metaphor much better.)
Bravo, a thousand times bravo Bruce, and thanks for reminding us who sold us out and how.
I want to be an Obama supporter, I really do, and I am clinging to the belief that he has just been taking bad advice from Rahmbo and Summers and Orszag who are after all left or leaving
But Man! He is just making it hard. If he installs a CEO type as Chief of Staff just to show Big Business that there are no hard feelings I’ll probably just give up entirely.
Obama doesn’t want to close the enthusiasm gap just yet. It is imperative that he lose at least one house of Congress in 2010 so that he will finally have an excuse for not accomplishing anything he promised his base. Right now, he should be able to get anything he wants by simply following Bush’s lead and wielding presidential power like the big giant club it is.
That’s why he and Biden are out there calling their base a bunch of whiners. They’re worried that the base isn’t discouraged enough to secure a Republican majority in one of the houses of Congress, so they’re pitching in themselves to actively piss off the base.
Obama’s tactics won’t work with me. I’ve found my enthusiasm again, and it will culminate with voting the bum out in 2012 along with all the Democrats at the Federal level. The sooner we get rid of the farce of a two party system, the better.
FYI — I predicted during primary season that Obama had put Social Security on the table back then, so I wasn’t surprised that he made it official. One reason to vote Obama out as soon as possible is that only a Democratic president can succeed in gutting Social Security.
The original New Left signature issues were the Vietam war, racism, and poverty, and insofar as they were peripheral to the New Deal, so much the worse for the New Deal.
“Purity Party” epithets reflect the sad degeneration of liberalism, under the brow-beating of bromides from the White House.
I think it is the American Prospect did an interesting piece on how the hippie/progressive “New Dems” walked away from the white union Dems in the 1970s and have never completely healed the coalition.
Some Ohio political chatterers thought that if Kerry’s east cost staff had known how to talk to Ohio blue collar Dems the outcome of the 2004 election would have been different.
Progressives have no sense of the practical, moderate Dems are too practical and have no visions, and no one seems to be able to herd the cats, although Clinton had some success.
Y’all–This President is considerably better than his predecessor in various areas. But, he carried on Bush 43’s wars and even enlarged the Afghan conflict against everyone’s expectations. Lump the TARP. Guantanamo, AfPak, Iraq and various Homeland Security issues together and you get a continuation of many of 43’s greatest, and most questionable, hits. You can lay this off to his various advisors, especially Summers and Geithner in dealing with the economy and Rahm in regard to the defeat of the Public Option. But, what Progressives find offensive would be acceptable to “moderates” in both parties and deficit hawks if he were only white.
Meanwhile, his base has to face the fact that even a flawed Democratic President is better than no Democratic President. If you think that only a Democrat can “reform” Social Security, think again. The possibility that a demoralized Democratic opposition under a Republican administration and Congress will be unable to withstand a Republican attack on SS is very real. I never give up. I’ll vote for him to preserve the opportunity to keep the current balance on the Court or even move up a notch. People who rely on enthusiasm to bring them to the polls don’t get it. It ain’t about us wonderful, high-minded Progressives. It’s the Country, stupid. You have to have worked for a Republican President to understand how truly, terribly, really, badly messed up they can make things for ordinary people. Of whom I am one.
The President lost may liberals and Progressives on Health Care just as Bruce says. He’s absolutely right. But, now, people have to suck it up and hump their rucks. In politics, he who wins is the last man standing. Which Progressives can be if they keep their heads and keep on voting. Nancy Ortiz
Wait until the NAIC gets finished defining what “expenses” fall under the MLR rules. You might want to get some toilet paper for the crap that will fall on FDR’s gave!
Hey Max anything missing from this list:
“from Gitmo to Afghanistan to the environment to gay rights to secrecy and executive power.”
How about any fucking committment to economic justice. During the HCR battle the Purity Party folk were openly advocating a ‘Kill the Bill’ policy in the interest familiar to the New Left schtick to ‘Heighten the Contradictions’. Like all middle class self-style revolutionaries the FirePups and like minded folk are perfectly happy to throw the actual working class under the bus while they talking grandly of Vanguard Proletarianism. And shit it is not like they are shy about lobbing verbal grenades the other ways and in arrogating to themselves the ability to determine who is a ‘true liberal’.
And while the New Left may have had a theoretical commitment to racism and poverty they did fuck-all to actually improve the conditions for people of color or people in poverty, those advances mostly came through the efforts of the Old Left and the New Deal Coalition working the corridors and not the barricades.
Well I don’t give up either. Not easily. But as to the following:
The possibility that a demoralized Democratic opposition under a Republican administration and Congress will be unable to withstand a Republican attack on SS is very real.
That is a pretty good depiction of the political state of play in 2005. The blockage of the Bush Roadtrip with the “There is no Crisis” campaign had a lot more to do with activists on the outside than actual Congressional activity. Social Security has little to fear with a Republican Congress, the game plan all along has been to get people like Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emmanuel to convince Democrats that the only sensible way to address Social Security is to cut its neck only a little bit and only let it bleed so much out on the floor. There are lots of reasons to hold your nose and vote Democrat and always have been, that is why I am a Yellow Dog, but we can’t count on officeholders to protect SS, that pressure has to come from the outside and it doesn’t matter much in this very, very narrow case who is in nominal control.
Selling FDR and Teddy Kennedy out is a very small thing.
Bush:Prescription Drug; Obama:Mandate private insurance. Samo Samo. Good for big money.
Assassination, the best tool of the militarist!!!
Phoney pin prick “cuts” to the bloated military industrial complex. A novel for a Quadrennial Defense [of war profits] Review (QDR) that looks like agitprop written by Tom Clancy.
Pandering to Petraeus and Mc Chrystal (both of whom should have been court martialed), presiding over assassins in Nevada killing from drones. Not plasting them for rehashing ‘heart and minds’ just like Vietnam, including the corruption and separation from any popularity among the provinces.
The young Soldiers and Marines killed and maimed. The units’ readiness trashed (just to show they were not needed, anyway).
LBJ:Vietnam; Obama:Afghanistan (plus phony withdrawal from Iraq).
Gitmo, state secrets act to protect the important strategy of assassinating an American citizen who is alleged a traitor.
Who is the traitor to which ideals?
O Tempores O Mores!
And I would have to distinguish between why Obama lost liberals and why he lost progressives. He lost progressives because he didn’t pursue the pure policy program they expected (though why they translated ‘vision’ to ‘revolution’ is beyond me). He lost liberals because he made it clear that he simply didn’t care if they were at the table or not. What he did, or allowed to have done, to John Dingell and Ted Kennedy at the end of July 2009 was a profound insult to everyone who still clung to the ideals of the New Deal and the Great Society. Practically every move he made last year was a bow in the direction of Market fetishism and Big Government is the Problem thinking. He took Universal Health Care, practically synonymous with the left agenda, locked it behind a door with ‘No Lefties Allowed’ and let it be pummeled into a shadow of what it could have been. In July of 2009 the issue was whether we would have a strong Public Option sharing Medicare rates or a weak PO competing directly against the private insurers and whether we should even wait until Jan 2012 to start the exchanges. By the time we got done Post-Partisaning the poor beast there was no PO and the exchanges were put off until 2014. Was this a better product by keeping Liberals out of the negotiating room? Hell no. I’ll take it on a half a loaf basis but I sure as hell didn’t like the process.
Bruce, I don’t know if I’m a liberal or a progressive; or mabye a progressive liberal. How does one distinguish between the two? And am I correct in assuming that New Democrats are anti-union and nothing more? Hope I’m not being OT.
I think you are right about this. My occasional complaints about the health care bill notwithstanding.
It is hard to be politically savvy watching them cut up the baby.
The alternative narrative is that Dingell and Kennedy worked on would have eventually fallen just short and nothing would have been passed. We’ll never know for sure, but considering that the so-called New Dealers pretty much uniformly voted for the final passage of the enacted laws, it isn’t such a stretch to imagine that they didn’t believe they could “re-Baucus” the process using their votes. So is it suggested here that not having enough votes to enact what they would have preferred, they are now mad at Obama for recognizing that fact and getting something done anyway? Seems childish.
Wiki says that Baucus, in addition to having a very active love life, received approx. $4 million in campaign contributions from health care providers and health insurance companies in the 8 or so years preceeding the HCR effort in the Senate. So, he was AHIP’s man in the Senate when the bill came up.
Bought and paid for is one thing. Flaunting it and getting away with it is another. A particularly nasty aspect of the story was the constant delays engineering by Grassley and Baucus to insure that Teddy Kennedy would have as little active role in the process as possible. Sure enough, when Senator Kennedy died, things moved somewhat faster. But, Progressives and liberals took away from this process a new understanding of how loud money talks in the Senate.
I don’t know what the WH could have done to control Baucus or get the process back in the hands of the HELP committee, but I didn’t see them do anything along that line. Maybe it was a naive and ultimately destructive attempt at bipartisanship, but what Reid needed to do was get in there and bang heads and he didn’t. He might have if the President had gotten involved. But, the President apparently didn’t understand how ruthless these guys were. Now he does, I expect. But, it’s too late. NancyO
The “east cost staff” was more the “volvo-and-chardonnay” Dems, a little too Ivy league to talk to the Youngstown steel workers.
I think there were a couple of wings of new Dems, but I can buy your analysis.
Reading politics today there is a lot of stuff about “no Democratic message.” How fast hope can fade.
How about stop pissing on FDR’s grave and telling us you are just watering the flowers?
Jeepers Bruce! That’s your message to “O”?
If this is Webb’s thinking consider the way the rest of the country feels toward the Dems.
We could get a wacky outcome. Call it the “Webb Index”.
These terms, “liberal,” “progressive,” “left,” are bandied about so much as to have become quite vague. A friend of mine likes to refer to “the tweaker left” – people hung up on tiny issues and tiny details, or some version of the politically correct police, rather than the big picture and the long view. She abhors liberals because of their tendency to go that way, their middle class sensibilities, and their distaste for unions and the working class. (Her views) I, too, am at a loss as to what to call myself, and when people attempt to label me, I object.
That said, I agree that allowing Baucus, the man who denied a place at the table to advocates for a strong PO, not to mention single-payer advocates, to become the roadblock was a critical misstep. What Baucus probably knew, and leaders ignored, was that those advocates could have contributed to a better outcome. The result was that those advocates quite rightly felt excluded and ignored and had little investment in the ultimate outcome. (Even Republicans are repeatedly offered seats at the table!) I tried very hard to continue supporting reform, but when the PO went, I gave up on calling it that. Sure, it’s something. Hard to tell what. It doesn’t go far enough in too many ways to list here.
In the end, part of “the base” concluded that there had been no intention of what they would call Real Reform, and began to suspect that was the case on other issues as well. Obama’s choice of economic advisers, his scaled back “Stimulus” that featured too much non-stimulus, his continuation of Wall St. bailouts while letting Main St. twist in the wind, his continuation of secrecy and his splitting hairs to define a difference, all reinforced that perception.
Yesterday he talked about what we need, what he wants to fight for, and all I could think was, “So when do you start FIGHTING?” Why not use that campaign mode voice to rally the people, to make the case for what we (I’m assuming he wants some of the same) want, to make a call to our “better angels,” to call out the obstructionists over policies they once supported or even co-wrote?
We need a leader. I don’t see one.
When Grassley stood up at a rally and talked about pulling the plug on Grandma that should have done it.
And yet, his Catfood Commission is comprised of people whose views range from lip service to SS all the way to Simpson – AND, other than “promising” he’ll “save” SS, he makes no attempt to dispel the misinformation spewing forth on a regular basis. He even contributes to it with his “crisis” talk. He may understand how ruthless they are, but he doesn’t seem to understand yet how to do defense much less fight back. Does anyone believe that an apology from Simpson is worth more than the air expended to speak it?
No it is not OT. But not something to tackle from an iPhone.
“I’m beginning to realize that the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher*.”
Let’s see, that’s five people with a total media reach to the public that probably doesn’t match the NYT Week In Review which is only published on Sunday. Gibbs is a fool if he thinks that he can put the blame for any poor showing at the polls in November on the proggressives. There is no left wing. There is only a meager group of populists who earn for a President and Congress that actually seems to have the best interests of the mass of the population at heart. Obama will be remembered as the Great Conciliator who delivered spam after promising flank steak.
What’s childish is your analysis in light of the final outcome which drew no R votes at all. Reid could have told Baucus to stay within bs Committees jurisdiction and cut a deal through the normal Committee process that would have brought the Health Sub-Committee and Rockefeller in and reminded R’s that in the end they could not prevent the Committee moving the bill just as Senate HELP did, with or without their input. At that point Reid could have taken the HELP plus SFC composite to the floor.
Well it is not just Obama, but the balance of the Democratic caucus who has been very disappointing and I do not know if I am a liberal, progressive or something else. I share Bruce’s consternation about the Catfood Commission, I guess I feel like the BFD (after our vp’s statement it will always be the BFD to me)is worse than nothing–it used up all the political capital and did precious little to get a handle on health care costs and gettimng real reform has been put off for another generation, I guess I think the bailouts of Wall Street were necessary, but caving to those interests on FinReg was not–and thank you Senator Feingold for your principled viewpoint which caused the bill to get watered down even more, More than anything else, the Democrats simply kicked the average person in this country under the bus to pursue their pet projects, principles or interest groups. When Obama took office he should have known that he faced a crisis–it may not have been the one he wanted, but it was the one that helped get him and large majorities of his party elected and if you want to be president then you better be prepared to deal with the unwanted crisis. Obama did not lead sufficiently, his party did not stand behind behind him sufficiently and we are now faced with the prospect of out right lunatics trying to run the country as a result. His bashing of the left for his and his party’s problems is absurd. he has only himself to blame. If he would have fought for the average people of this country and if his party had stood behimnd him GOP obstructionism would have lead to even greater Democratic majorities in the Congress rather than a GOP takeover.
Oh, I think there’s a left wing. It has given up on the Dems. That’s all. And as a result, it receives little media attention (even those bloggers’ attention) other than on Democracy NOW.
As for populism, had he promised spam in every skillet – and delivered – who knows? Maybe he’d have bipartisan support.
Cont. At that point he had 60 D votes and could have gone to end stage negotiations playing Presidents Nelson and Snowe against each other for the final vote needed. (Which he ended up doing 5 mos later). He then could have forced it through allowing the House to do the same sending the whole thing to Conference where the rules limit changes to those areas where the Bills differ, which were in consequential in those parts of the Tri-Committee Bill commensurate with Kennedy-Dodd HELP. The idea that the process benefitted by being tuned over to fricking Mike Enzi for the month of August is nonsense. (Enzi publically demanded that Obama, Reid and Pelosi pre-commit to whatever came out of the Gang of Six, scrEw democracy.
“If he would have fought for the average people of this country and if his party had stood behimnd him GOP obstructionism would have lead to even greater Democratic majorities in the Congress rather than a GOP takeover.”
I hate to be the one to tell you, but “If he would have fought for the average people of this country,” then there would have been no GOP obstruction.
In the President’s defense, it is very hard just working in the Exec Branch, let alone being the President. It’s possible that O would have done better to make amends with Bill Clinton right off the bat. Why? Because as wrong as Clinton was to trust Rubin and Greespan on the economy, he understood the importance of jobs creation. O picked the wrong guys to rely on regarding the economy, as it turned out. Big mistake, but both Summers and Geithner were Rubin/GS disciples and Bill did great following Rubin’s advice. On the face of it, it should have worked.
Problem is that this is the end game that GS started in motion. They’ve picked up their chips and run laughing all the way to the bank. The govt. picked up the tab. And, no matter what you say, the President in the subsequent “sauve qui peut” period after such a disaster is gonna get it in the ear. But, he seems to accept that result. I don’t and the people out there who can’t find a job to save their economic lives don’t either.
It would be bad if the President’s party took a beating in November. But, that’s not the point. The point is jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Not too late, but I’d be out there kissing up to anyone, Professional Left and all the rest too, to help me find a way to get the economy going. Listening is a good habit when you’re the boss. He should listen. And, then get busy and do the damn job he was elected to do.
If he would have fought for the average people of this country and if his party had stood behimnd him GOP obstructionism would have lead to even greater Democratic majorities in the Congress rather than a GOP takeover.
…except the lunatics only care about two things:
Fear of change. They want their Medicare and SS, but they don’t want healthcare for everyone – too much change. They want jobs and stable real estate, but they want it by magic – because govt involvement is too much change. They want to be able to send their kids to college, but they don’t want banks out of student loans. They were tired and frustrated with Bush – but they didn’t want some obviously “different” new President.
What Glenn Beck and his ilk tell them is happening. Daisies could be sprouting all over the country and money, steaks, and cupcakes raining from above, and if Glenn Beck labeled it an evil conspiracy, or Sarah Palin said it was an attempt at mass exterminations, these people would not be happy.
I know you intend that to be snarky, but I agree with you. By compromising and appeasing the right, Obama and the Democrats gave the GOP the opening it needed to just say no. If Obama had said we needed 1.5 trillion for stimulus or the economy will limp along for years and it all has to be for infastructure with no tax breaks and if his own party had stood behind him, the GOP would not have had the courage to defeat it.
Yep the “We want him to fail” folk cut him a break early.
Jeez Jimi are you just dialing it in? Republicans put on the full stops Day One. Look at the routine appointments they blocked for months only to approve them with 90 vote margins. Ya think we are blind?
Jimi, don’t go there. Just don’t. If you haven’t noticed, the GOP is in revolt, open and defiant revolt, against the way the federal political process works. They have just plain obstructed every single cloture vote, even on bills they liked, just to stop the Senate from functioning as it should. There is absolutely no way to get around it when McConnell and Boehner brag about what they are doing.
Their object is to force a Constitutional crisis through obstruction in the Senate. I’ll give ’em credit for resolve, crazy though it be. When Sen. DeMint (R,SC) has had a hold on every bill that has come up for a vote since Inauguration Day, it is impossible to pretend otherwise. You just can’t say they mean any other result but to stop the Senate in its tracks. Now, they’re proud of that fact, so don’t try to make it anything less than what it is.
Look, I am a Southerner and I know what my people look like when they’re getting ready to fire on Fort Sumter. It’s back to the future, Jimi, with DeMint at the Citadel instead of PGT Beauregard. This has about as much to do with what ordinary people want as Nuclear Winter. You’ve got better sense than this, J. Get real. Nancy Ortiz
Jimi–It is difficult to ignore the racism inherent in depictions of the President as a voodoo priest or the Joker in white face. I stand on my personal experience of witnessing the Civil Rights movement’s efforts in the South and my fellow Southerners’ response to them in saying this. I have not heard and seen such things as routinely pass for humor from some in the GOP and its more radical elements since 1964. To regard this President’s policies as socialist, Marxist, or Fascist is absurd. There is something very wrong and sick about this and the fact that the MSM reports these statements without comment.
That wouldn’t have happened back in the days of Birmingham and the Selma March.
Were you there? I was and this passive acceptance of hate speech in politics is a sign of moral and intellectual bankruptcy in the corporate media. I will certainly do whatever Bruce and Dan tell me to do by way of retracting what I said. But, it is what I see now and what I must protest against here, if nowhere else. Nancy Ortiz
Let’s see…. since 1980 there have been two Democrats elected President. The first was impeached, as well as slandered and defamed. The second has been met with a long list of contradictory accusations and an opposition in lockstep against him.
To reference my comment below, more seriously, the change Republicans seem to fear most is loss of their own power. For the leadership, the reason is obvious. For the “rank and file” (dare I call them THAT?) it’s about having to cope with forces and ideas that are unfamiliar and therefore threatening… to the point where hypocrisy just doesn’t matter.
You might have something there, if you define average as those who watch what is his name…… Beck.
My analysis is, short of an Enabling Act, all policy has to make it through the gate of the Senate, which is by original design a conservative institution.
Obama was supposed to be the salesman. If the agenda was pure, and the math added up, the GOP would have had no leg to stand on, and the Republican Party would have collapsed, leading to the next twenty years of Democrat control.
The Democrats were always hiding what the true intention was, and Obama couldn’t sell it. Before the election they ran as moderates and toward the center, and the media machine helped do all the lieing. The Democrats needed Republican votes strictly for cover, but they mis-calculated the real support they had, and Obama made a few couple errors that turned out to be major errors.
1.) He should have given an overwhelming force in Afghansistan or pulled out completely. The half assed approached was bound to come back bite him from both sides
2.) He made fun of Conservatives and Independents that typically voted Republican on a regular basis who disagreed with him on a couple of small things, but voted for him in attempt to turn a new leaf, and could have been O.K. with the agenda. It is one thing to prove your point using statistics and common sense thinking, but when you rub it someones face, and make them feel small for even disagreeing, they will disagree with you even if you are correct.
People would have taken Mickey Mouse over a Republican in 2008, and Conservatives hate McCain. When it is all said and done, Obama biggest mistake will go down as…….he believed his own hype.
Now that the damage is done, Obama needs complete Republican control to blame all this on, but I doubt that will work, because Democrats scared to silent majority, and now they are paying attention.
Jimi, leave them alone in their anger, anxiety, remorse, and confusion over how it could have happened. They’ll never understand that it was their policies behind the failure.
For a short while they thought they were main stream america, and then after humoring them, main stream america took charge. And, that’s how it should be.
CoRev–Do yourself a favor and don’t join Jimi in his recent rants. The Democrats and some of their liberal/Progressive supporters never saw themselves as “mainstream.” But, they won an election by a good margin fair and square in a coalition of many groups. You can’t take that away from them. Now, a new election comes along and we’ll need to wait and see what happens. If the R’s win a majority, then the times they are a changing and more changes await. It ain’t just Bobby Dylan. People learn and times are bad. There is more to all of this than people can discuss just on a blog. I am not giving up and neither are you. So, time will tell. NancyO
he was elected by a majority. that doesn’t stop the losers from playing the racist card where it wins them votes.
and playing the “commie” card seems to work with you.
Jimi, leave them alone
CoRev from your lips to God’s ear. Because neither you nor Jimi has left anything but smarmy bullshit talking points on anything related to Obama since the election. Other than wasting our time what the eff is your point?
Your ability to out do your self at hyperbolic ideological bullshit is amazing. Why don’t you list all the GOP agenda items that is aimed at improving the lives of working people. Don’t talk in the usual GOP vague generalities. Be specific and try real hard not to include all those economic policies that benefit the truly wealthy directly and are thereby expected to eventually trickle down to working Americans. Unless you count the maid and the nanny I don’t see who but the wealthy benefit from the GOP economic game plan.
I’ll second that motion. I’m still waiting on CoRev to list all the many ways in which the Republican plan for America is going to actually benefit working Americans. He talks only in generalities and I would guess that he is fully aware that the Republican leadership is ideologically bankrupt. The GOP can only point to what Obama and the Democratically controlled Congress have done. That is less than I would have hoped, but CoRev and his ilk are in denial regarding the fact that Bush et al drove the economy into its current state over the past eight years of kissing the butts of their wealthy backers. Sure I’d like to see the Dems make more of an issue out of the obfuscation efforts of the Republicans, but the Republicans have nothing to offer but another eight years of Bush league government. We’re screwed one way or another. The question is which political group is at least going to use some Vaseline?
Folks, your concerns are what drive the Tea Party movement. Admittedly, there is a different foundation for those feelings, but they are just as intense on both sides. The big difference is that the Tea Partiers have been moved to organizing and political activism.
Maybe now you can understand why well over 1 in 4 voters support the Tea Party movement. Join us in throwing the bums out!
When I was young and dumb I was a hawk on Vietnam.
Yes!!! We Should have killed ethm all!
The result would have been very different.
Burn down the place and kill em all if they won’t become good little followers of Glenn Beck, and our pawns their corrupt lords and masters.
I was not a blood thristy mass murderer at the time, at least I was not thinking, young and dumb.
What are you?
A pox on all their houses. May they all stand Judgement.
The TP’ers are taking the blue pill.
See my response to jimi………………….
“Burn down the place and kill em all if they won’t become good little followers of Glenn Beck, and our pawns their corrupt lords and masters.”
“Sow to the ploughing guns
Seed of your splendid sons.
Let your heroic slain
Richly manure the plain.
What will the harvest be?
Unborn of Unborn will see….”
Robert Service “Don’t Cheer”.
Absolutely correct from my view. The most charitable I can be is that Obama is an incredibly naive politician and horrible negotiator. But I usually don’t believe that’s true. How could a naive politician get elected president? Instead, I think it’s more likely that Obama and most of the democratic establishment are getting the policies they want.
One of these things doesn’t fit. Or shouldn’t:
1) 2nd Amendment Absolutist
2) Excercising the right to open carry by appearing in public with guns and dressed in camo
3) Abject fear of a black man in a uniform carrying a stick. Two years ago. In a mostly black precinct in Milwaukee
Did I miss the Whites Only Clause in the 2nd? The Tea Party is driven by fear. While married male Christian gun owner fear. ‘They’ want to erect victory monuments at Ground Zero, ‘They want to impose Shari’ia Law, ‘They’ are intent on a national campaign of election intimidation against whites, ‘They’ want to threaten traditional marriage between a man and a wife, ‘They’ want to take away your guns that are your only defense against those threats, ‘They’ want to eliminate all expressions of support for Christianity while exalting ‘peace-loving’ Islam. ‘They’, ‘They’, ‘They’. Cause as we all know the most persecuted minority in the US is the white Christian male. Just ask them.
Look instead of flying that ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag maybe the Tea Party should just show their true colors by waving ‘Old Yellow-Stained Glory’ and form themselves into Pissy-Pantsed Brigades.
I do not know if you are checking back, but IMHO both the teapartiers and the Beck watchers represent a fairly small minority of everyday people and Beck will say anything to make money and corporate interests are manipulating the teapartiers. The lack of spine and generally center right approach taken by Obama and the Democrats has not set up the sort of confrontation with the GOP which would allow the Democrats to say–we had solutions but the GOP said no. Instead the watered down legislation that the Dems got through despite universal GOP opposition is largely viewed as having failed to help the average person and allowed the GOP to say see socialism, taxing the rich, regulating business etc does not work.
i think the word “tragedy” once meant something like the inevitablity of a bad outcome.
you are right about the insane right. the tragic thing is that you can’t talk about them without playing into the fears of you they are selling to the otherwise moderate, if ill informed, masses.
i just wrote what i thought was a straightforward post about the arithmetic of SS. and out of the woodwork came all sorts of crazies who needed to have their concerns addressed… and even when the topic was restricted to the actual arithmetic, we find people who can’t get it.
there is something wrong with their brains, and they vote. and that is the fundamental problem of politics.
You fight the war with the army you have. If Howard Dean can’t get into the White House, then it does no good to get all misty about what would have happened if it had been Dean insteady of Rahm. The White House, in its rolling set of one-liners urging Democrats of all stripes to go to the polls, seems to recognize what it has done within the party (how could they miss it?), but also to recognize that they are the army we have.
The problem is, and has been for some time, that US politics favors clever one-liners over substance, and the right has been better at one-liners. If you aren’t someone who willingly reads Martin Wolf, then you aren’t someone who willingly learns about economic policy, and that’s most of us. The middle is where elections are generally won, and the middle is where any successful Democrat is going to make policy, because Democrats don’t have the gift of blarney. The GOP, with its superior skill at one-liners, seems to be able to win the middle while ignoring what voters in the middle actually want. So sad, but here we are.
I’ve made this point before, but I think it worth repeating, and certainly it is worth remebering, that being that when one notes that the concept of average intelligence has built into it that half the population is below that level political events begin to make more sense. Measurements of the American population indicate that as much as 35% of the population is reasonably above that mean point. The result being that the bulk of the population can be led around by their collective noses by the top 25% who are a good deal more intelligent than the bulk of the population. Add a large dose of money and control of the media and what have you? Our country, our society in the throws of turmoil and decline. I hope the greedy bastards will be happy with life as it may come to be. I’m sure that eventually the lower end of the chain will eventually come out of the ether and realized that they’d been sold a bill of goods, so to speak. Education, education, education. “When will the people be educated? When they have enough bread to eat. When the rich and the government stop bribing treacherouos pens and tongues to deceive them. When will this be? Never.” M. Robespierre. True then and becoming more so these days.
There are a number of Bush initiatives which, once underway, were going to prove ghastly and expensive, no matter whether continued or abandoned. Once you have TARP, calling it off may not be the best idea. Once you have Iraq, walking away may not only lead to chaos in Iraq, but to a loss of ability to do foreign policy because of questions of reliability in keeping commitments. I’m not saying that’s a good enough reason to have stayed in Iraq, but staying is not in the same league with invading in the first place.
There is another class of policies though, with health care the poster-child, in which trying not to cross the GOP simply made for much worse policy than we could have had, without a Bush-era legacy to force Obama’s hand. Not every Bush-era policy faced Obama with a practical dilemma. Gitmo should have been dealt with pronto. Problems with making it go away are mostly domestic political problems, so a spine was all that was needed.
“Obama advocates the Single Payer System” Not in his proposed legislation.
“Obama advocates Re-distribution of America’s Wealth outside of our own borders” You mean, he has a major-nation foreign policy? Wow, imagine. Just like Reagan and Nixon and Bush and Shrub. And Ike.
“Obama advocates the Nationalization of Banks” Not in any sense that makes sense. Fannie, Freddie and AIG were all grenades waiting to be stepped on, and none is formally a bank. When it came time to decide whether to nationalize or subisdize, Obama…followed the law established under his predecessor, and avoided nationalization of true banks, even though some outside the White House argued nationalization was the best and fairest option.
“OBama advocates the control energy resources (sic).” This isn’t actually clear enough to know what point is being made. What control? Whose control? The US already owns a great deal in the way of hydrocarbon resources, from long before Obama took office. Did he need to magically make those resources disappear in order to be a good guy? Or should he sell them all at once, driving down prices so we can promote oligarchy the way Russia did?
So much for math and policy. We can try again later. Not a very wonky thread.
Nonsense. Obstruction was all about keeping Democrats from having anything to show for their majority. Making arguments that assume the Republican Party that exists today is just trying to do what’s right is nothing more than slopping hogwash around. What a joke.
Funny, funny CoRev. Here we have a bunch of people talking about the policy failures of the Obama adminstration, and CoRev says we don’t understand that policy failure is behind Obama’s political weakness. Funny, funny CoRev. Like watching Adam Sandler’s “annoying man” routine, only with less intellectual content.
Now, as to CoRev and Jimi leaving the rest of the denizen’s here to talk among themselves, well it would certainly improve the intellectual climate. Ta-ta, boys. But sadly, I don’t believe CoRev means it. He’s here, after all, to disrupt the conversation, not contribute to it. It’s what his masters sent him here to do.
Just to point out the obvious – CoRev is admitting here to being a political operative, rather than just a guy expressing a view. He has saddled up with a political operation, and does the things he does in support of a political agenda, not truth, justice or ice cream. The fact that CoRev’s behavior is carefully patterned after that of political goons from his arrival here raised the question – is he mimicking the behavior that has drawn him in, or is he consciously adopting the techniques of the political bad guys who have intentionally corrupted US political discussion? Recently, CoRev has been lifting the curtain just a bit, and it seems his behavior is fully intentional. He wants to disrupt honest discussion. If you fear the other guy’s message, then just talk over him so nobody can hear it. That’s our CoRev.
mostly right, but “the middle” is “The middle” because it expresses the algebraic sum of the one liners. not because it has any “wisdom” of its own. the parties have consciously divided the population according to “what sells” and can be … with a stretch to fit… sold “related items.”
the Dems inherited the New Deal… and thats all it is to them. a reliable voting block. they don’t understand it any better than the Republicans… who inherited the anti-new deal because that’s where they crawled out from under the bridge and they managed to tack the racist south and the religious right and a few other emo groups to build a majority.
just don’t imagine that “the middle” actually means anything. i would look for the policy that counts between the lines. there aren’t many ideologists in congress, much less people who actually understand what they are doing. it’s all sales.
the dems are somewhat handicaped by having picked up the “liberal” vote… that is the womens libbers and the pro choicers and the gays and the people generally afraid that the right is going to tie their peepees to the bed post.
not saying there is anything wrong with any of these people… but they do have their natural political enemies.
not sure it was his own hype he believed. i think he actually believed his bi-partisan nation stuff.
huge mistake to “can’t we just get along” with folks trying to screw you.
KH enters stage left with his normal bleet: “He wants to disrupt honest discussion. If you fear the other guy’s message, then just talk over him so nobody can hear it.”
Jack, read what he has added to this thread, and show us if there is any value. A brief list is acceptable. 🙂
Dan, maybe not too wonky, but it may be very indicative of the emotions out there.
i don’t trust “intelligence” very much. too many bright harvard experts running around being really stupid about stuff i know something about. i’m not even sure the “less than average” are any more susceptible of being led by the nose. too many college graduates around who believe that what they learned as freshmen is “the truth.”
the sad fact is that “human intelligence” at its best is not sufficient to understand anything more complex than bonking a smaller animal on the head and eating it. where you have seen examples of high order intelligence you have been looking at the work product of rare.. .and probably narrow… genius spending a much longer time thinking about something than the average ph.d. if said genius came up with something the rest of us can “apply” wihtout understanding to get more of what we want, then we learn enough about it to use it and think ourselves almost as smart as the guy who gave it to us…. only we aren’t. but for by far the most of us, in the course of an average day, we don’t “think” at all. we just free associate…. mostly along verbal tracks laid down by others… who werent’ thinking either.
i don’t think you are right about CoRev. for one thing, he agrees with me about Social Security. that would not be the position of a political operative of the camp you think he represents.
there are other reasons why CoRev thinks the way he does. i sort of hint at them in my reply to Jack below. as for why he works so hard to convince the rest of us…. well, here we are.
The Tea Partiers do no have a coherent position on much of anything and most people would agree with some of their slogans–I agree with a bunch of their slogans. I put Beck and the Teapartiers in the same league as Father Coughlin during the 30’s. Caused a great deal of angst, but ultimately an historical footnote.
In fairness the original post was not math driven.
CoRev the reason that over 1 in 4 voters support the Tea Party is the same reason as why Bush had a 26% approval rating on his way out the door. While Tea Partiers are perfectly happy to front the ‘No True Scotsman’ defense in relation to past leaders and the current establishment, they always seem pretty happy to take direction from them in the here and now. Hence the total disconnect between disdain at ‘bail-outs’ and any attempts to rein in the Masters of Capitalism. “Why they bailed out the arch-criminals that destroyed America!!” and “They want to tax the creators of jobs our of existence!!” both seem to have the same resonance as if the Masters weren’t collecting at the cashier’s station either way.
You got to remember that the Tea Party got its first launch with Rick Santelli’s rant that brown and black people were just cheating white bond investors by walking away from their underwater mortgages. http://www.cnbc.com/id/29283701/Rick_Santelli_s_Shout_Heard_Round_the_World
It is why you hear so much more about CRA than CDOs in talk coming from the Right when it comes for assigning blame for the world-wide collapse in assets. Because the rule that governs Fox News and the Tea Party remains what it always has been from the dawn of the modern conservative movement: “Lick up and kick down.” aka “Thank you Sir! Can I have another!?”
Terry, if you do not want to see coherence or believe they have consistent positions, OK. I do however, think your views are representative of the ~25-55%: “I agree with a bunch of their slogans.”
Bruce said: “You got to remember that the Tea Party got its first launch with Rick Santelli’s rant that brown and black people were just cheating white bond investors by walking away from their underwater mortgages.”
When a liberal has little to argue they bring up RACE. The worst term used by Santelli was “losers”. Never any reference to race.
The right brings up CRA because the left denies it had an influence. Without CRA and the policies pushing it, the impacts of HOUSING CDOs would have been minimized.
As always, YMMV.
“they won an election by a good margin fair and square in a coalition of many groups. You can’t take that away from them.”
But they didn’t expose their true intentions, and they couldn’t, because if they did, then they wouldn’t have won, which in a sane world should eliminate all the whinning we are seeing from the left.
The most amazing thing happending on the left is, somehow it is everbody else fault, and everbody else is stupid, and everybody else is evil because the “non-mainstream” Progressive agenda was roundly rejected…it’s a real immature position to take….definetly not a pro-liberty position the left claims to support.
Who says the left denies CRA had an influence? The Wall St. Journal? The impact of CRA on the current housing crisis and default rates is nicely laid out for you here: Don’t Blame the Community Reinvestment Act | The American Prospect
nanute said: “Who says the left denies CRA had an influence?”
Answer is: Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Bruce, and several other AB commenters.
“By compromising and appeasing the right”
He did no such thing….but nice try!
Remember “I won”
Nice try. The effect of CRA relative to the overall problem is a minor, but not a significant part of the equation.
nanute, I guess we’re just going to disgree on this one. I believe it acted as the catalyst, and the policies pushing house purchases for the less economically viable were instrumental in the great number of today’s foreclosures.
The only or even the major causes? Perhaps not, but more than insignificant.
Since the CRA is aimed at neighborhoods traditionally underserved by bank lenders which also tended to be those inhabited by black and brown people you by blaming it admit it was about race after all. Plus most of the early bubble markets were not marked by lending to minorities, neither Vegas or Phonix having big black populations. I was a researcher for an RE Broker/Investor during the bubble and most of those Stated/Stated loans were going to wealthy white and Asian investors pretending to be owner occupiers. Predatory lending as such really only became dominant near the nd, it was the tail and not the dog.
Bruce, you are turning yourself into a pretzel to get to race. I think linking back to the 70s is either fourth or fifth degree relationship. Our discussion was about Santelli’s rant. Race was never a comment.
Are you a chemist?
Is the economy (body politic) a huge beaker filled with a solution and is it affected by throwing in a “catalyst”?
I do not think CRA was a catalyst, and I do not think there is an underlying O Chem, P Chem or thermodynamic process which no one figured out, until the solution either boils over or solidifies.
I do not agree that CRA went off track. It was meant to make home ownership available to people who otherwise might be “under served”. The CRA process of getting mortgages written that otherwise may not have been was moved to other demographics.
The idea became a con exercised by some to get uber high risk mortgages underwriting crazy RE pricing, in over served communities for over served demographics..
Long stretch to move it to bankrupting AIG.
Maybe racism is a catalyst after all. Just don’t know whose solution.
1 in 4. The same 25% diehards that thought W was great.
i think racism is there… but racism can operate without the person being aware of it. more than skin color it is “those others whose lazy ways cause my taxes to be raised.”
i personally don’t think the poor are any more virtuous than the rich… except by necessity which sometimes leads to heroic virtue that Very Bright Harvard Graduates never remotely approach…
but the ordinary ways a sane country might try to solve the poverty problem are always mangled by the “they are lazy and irresonsible and we have to root out fraud and abuse” psychology that is layered on any attempt. not entirely helped by the “poor babies” approach of some people who think they are generous and kind.
Jane miscalculated on health care. But she was far from maximalist, since she hinged her critique on the public option, in itself pretty small beer. Maximalist would have been single payer or nothing. Otherwise I agree with most of what I find on firedoglake.
SDS were the shock troops of the anti-war movement; they said what needed to be said first. They broke the ice for the mass peace demos that followed. They also helped put poverty on the front page with their activities from 60 to 66, approx (their social-dem phase). Re: civil rights and poverty, it was SNCC and NWRO that played a similar role.
The Old Left was basically dead as an agitational force; it piggybacked on popular sentiment. The liberals made the deals and compromises that were made possible by action in the streets. That’s the way it works.
You guys are talking about two totally different things. In the 70s the new Dems were the McGovernites, with respect to which there was a split in the labor movement. Meany and the craft unions on one side, the UAW and industrial unions on the other (broadly speaking). The later new dems, after 1980, were the DLC. The McGovern campaigns sucked in most of what had been the student left, leaving die-hard marxists whose social impact dwindled to zilch.