"Glenn Beck Counts For More At the Obama White House" Than the Progressive Movement

by: David Sirota

Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 09:00


Needless to say that when you wake up one morning and find yourself the subject of the lead editorial in the largest conservative publication on the planet, it is a bit jarring. However, I flag today's Wall Street Journal topline editorial today not because it is about Van Jones and me, but because it makes a genuinely important point for the progressive movement.

After citing my earlier post about how the firing of Jones "will inevitably create a chilling effect on the aspirations of other movement progressives," the Journal says this:

Mr. Sirota is speaking for many on the movement left who believe they helped to elect Mr. Obama and therefore deserve seats at the inner table of power. They are increasingly frustrated because they are discovering that Mr. Obama will happily employ "movement progressives," but only so long as their real views and motivations aren't widely known or understood. How bitter it must be to discover that the Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck, who drove the debate about Mr. Jones, counts for more at this White House than Mr. Sirota.

Bitter? Not quite. Unsurprised is a better word, really. As I had been incessantly writing before and after the presidential election (and indeed, for years before Obama ever announced as a candidate for president), Barack Obama has ties to the progressive movement, but he is an inherently cautious - and, at times, frightened - politician. He is first and foremost desperate to appease his opposition, even if his opposition is political terrorists who can never be appeased. And that's especially true as the progressive movement refuses to "make him do it" - that is, refuses to put real, organized and even unfriendly pressure on him to deliver.

The Journal is absolutely, and unfortunately, correct - right now, today's White House officials answer more to Glenn Beck, Blue Dogs and Republicans than it does to progressive members of Congress and the progressive base of the Democratic Party that got them into the White House in the first place. You can see that in the negotiations over health care and climate change. You can see that in the plans to escalate the war in Afghanistan at the urging of people like Karl Rove, and the refusal to stop Wall Street bailouts and push real Wall Street reform. You can see that even in who the president opts to give exclusive interviews to. You can, in short, see it everywhere.

Progressives don't just "believe" they deserve a seat at the table - we actually do deserve that seat, not just because we worked to elect this president, but because our stance on major issues like the public option, climate change, Wall Street reform and the war are the majoritarian positions in America. That's not speculation - polls show that's an empirical fact.

But we won't get that seat at the table unless we demand it. That means the Washington-based progressive groups have to stop kissing the White House's ass and selling out their grassroots membership. It means rank-and-file Obama supporters have to stop framing legitimate progressive pressure on Obama as some sort of disloyal desire to see Mitt Romney elected President in 2012.

It means, as I said in my last newspaper column, that we have to start thinking and acting like a real movement, and not just like sycophantic political partisans. If we do that, we'll get that seat at the table - and more importantly, we'll get the legislative results Obama originally promised, but now hesitates to champion.

This is going to take real work - and it's not going to be psychologically easy. As a personal example, my email box has been flooded with the worst kind of threatening hate mail today and over the last few days, as the conservative hate machine is keyed up by the Wall Street Journal's editorial and the CNN appearances I made this week. And I'm sure that's emblematic of the larger blowback all progressives are feeling right now as we work in communities across the country.

But that's to be expected. We are fighting for real change, and if there is one lesson from history, it is that exactly the people we are confronting today - the right-wingers, corporatists, Establishmentarians, and status quo devotees - will do everything they can to intimidate us. We can stand down or stand up - and it's long past time for the latter.

David Sirota :: "Glenn Beck Counts For More At the Obama White House" Than the Progressive Movement

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One swallow doesn't make a summer (0.00 / 0)
That's all there is to say about that WSJ column. They just gor the one point that David highlighted right, but, as usual, draw all the wrong conclusions from it:

No President is responsible for all of the views of his appointees, but the rise and fall of Mr. Jones is one more warning that Mr. Obama can't succeed on his current course of governing from the left. He is running into political trouble not because his own message is unclear, or because his opposition is better organized. Mr. Obama is falling in the polls because last year he didn't tell the American people that the "change" they were asked to believe in included trillions of dollars in new spending, deferring to the most liberal Members of Congress, a government takeover of health care, and appointees with the views of Van Jones.

Ridiculous, isn't it? This shows that using a quote from the unashamedly right wing WSJ opinion pages, that are riddled with distortions and outright falsifications, is a two edged sword, at best. Better to ingore the nonsense published there.


Yes, it is long past time we stood up to the powerful. (4.00 / 1)
The problem is that when push comes to shove, far too many on the left allow themselves to be governed by fear -- be it of electoral defeat if we up and leave the Democratic Party, or of looking like wild-eyed delusional kooks if we dare ask certain uncomfortable questions about major disasters.



Agree and disagree (4.00 / 3)
The problem is not solely the left wing of the Democratic Party. It is the mainstream Democratic Party members, too. They are almost Bush-like in their ability to deny self-reflection and therefore, are always on the prowl for someone else to blame for their electoral losses.

The modern Democratic Party is little more than a facade. A blue veil draped over the same plutocrats that are hidden beneath the red veil of the GOP.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
even a stopped clock is right twice a day - (4.00 / 4)
This WSJ editorial falls unfortunately is very correct and so is Sirota's post.

I fear that this:

... "Washington-based progressive groups have to stop kissing the White House's ass and selling out their grassroots membership. It means rank-and-file Obama supporters have to stop framing legitimate progressive pressure on Obama as some sort of disloyal desire to see Mitt Romney elected President in 2012."

is already happening.  In Albuquerque, NM there are a couple of meetings that progressive Dems go to - one of them occurs on the 1st Thursday of the month.  Last week at this meeting I already got a sense that the cave in was starting.  One of the progressive bloggers suggested that this was all we could get and we should take it and that Obama was doing about all he can.  A Dem politician and member of the State Senate said that essentially what was coming out wasn't a bad bill.  How anybody could make such a statement is beyond me because we have no clue what will be in the final bill.

I really believe we are fast approaching the "end game" on this mess and that our only option is to kill this bill.  To do so I'm not sure we can trust the liberal Dems in the House to hold the line - the pressure put on them will be massive.  We need a 2 pronged approach.  Besides the lack of a public option we need to fight the mandate.  Wonder if we can get the liberal Dems in the House to kill the mandate that will require the poor and middle class to buy what will most certainly be junk insurance?  This mandate will be widely hated and devastating for the Democratic Party in the long run.  People will remember that it was the Democrats that forced them to pay monthly tributes to Insurance Companies for nothing and will rightly punish us for it.  So, if we can kill the mandate we can force lots of hands to play their cards.


correction - (4.00 / 1)
I was trying to be cute too early in the morning - strike the subject line and nonsense about the WSJ, my first sentence should have read:
  Sirota's post is correct - I fear that this:

[ Parent ]
What is "junk insurance"? (0.00 / 0)
And how do you know this will be the case.  Do you mean worse than the average person with employer-based insurance has now?  It doesn't appear to me that this is the case in Massachusetts (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2009/09/the_situation_in_the_bay_state.php#more?ref=fpblg) but I don't know enough.  I'm not saying you're wrong, but I want to know why you believe this/what you're talking about.

[ Parent ]
have a read at Firedoglake (4.00 / 3)
For a picture of junk insurance and how the Baucus bill fits that definition see:
  http://firedoglake.com/2009/09...

Re: Massachusetts - I've been trying to find out what's happening there and it seems to be at best a mixed bag.  I hear people claiming wondrous things and haven't found any evidence yet.  All I can see is that the state is cutting it back quickly, its costing more than they planned, and it hasn't contained costs. This plus the fact that they started off with only 10% uninsured while my state, New Mexico, has 25% uninsured makes me wonder if its relevant to the US at all.  Frankly from what I can see the Mass plan is unsustainable in the long run.

I really believe that junk insurance is were we are headed.  Obama is a wus and will sign anything and cost is the driver here not policy so when you remove cost containment (i.e. kill the public option) there really isn't anywhere it can go but downhill.  


[ Parent ]
If good insurance is becoming more expensive at this rate... (4.00 / 1)
...people will be pressed into junk insurance, and I see every plan that comes with high out of pocket payments that could bankrupt people as junk. And employers are already backing out of high quality plans because they become too costly for them. Looks like Massachusetts is a good example for a policy with out a general public option having no leverage to keep the premiums affordable. A 12% raise from one year to another is unsustainable even in the short run.

[ Parent ]
Link (0.00 / 0)
Here's the link to the TPM post re Massachusetts plan I failed to properly link above.  Sorry.

[ Parent ]
You know you've hit a nerve (4.00 / 2)
when the MSM describes you as "bitter" and "angry."  

Versailles treats complex social issues as petty personal disputes writ large: kinda like a soap opera, but with even less histrionic skill.  

You're the mean, headstrong nephew who shows up and demands a share of the family business from Big Daddy Obama, while Glen Beck, his conniving competitor seeks to exploit the family fissure to his own advantage.  All that's missing is the ingenue.      

Of course its damning with faint praise, but that's all the MSM does in its attempt to foment popular cynicism and disenchantment with the political process.  Congratulations!  Now they think you matter.        


Unless you are a right winger (0.00 / 0)
then its bad news when you are called "bitter" and "clinging".


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Well duh, (4.00 / 1)
of course he gets to play the bad guy.

The bigger point is that he's in the script.  


[ Parent ]
Wish that more felt your passion for this fight... (4.00 / 2)
It is a fight we have to have. I agree with you David, but the road ahead seems hard with so many bought and paid for congress critters that are corporate owned whores.

My congressperson, Emmanuel Cleaver from Kansas City is on the right side of this. Missouri Senators both have questionable corporate influences, especially Kit Bond, but I don't trust McCaskill much either.

But heck, David, the progressive movement is speaking for upwards of 2/3 of Americans on most of our key issues. And health insurance reform is just an issue that is drawing the press.

I think pitchforks need to be in the mix soon, because after putting up with 8 years of Cheney/Bush, I expected to feel good after helping elect Obama, but I am still upset all of the time, disappointed weekly at least, and do not feel any power to stop the corporate ownership of our political system. If the Democrats cannot come together for health insurance reform, what can they do?

I will NOT vote for any of these bad players ever again. Either be for the people who vote you in, or I/we vote the incumbent out every freaking 2/4/6 years.

And Obama, well jeez, such a talented young man willing to go down in history as a total corporate controlled weak president for the people of the USA. Sad, isn't it?


I and me (4.00 / 4)
David, your sentence:

I flag today's Wall Street Journal topline editorial today not because it is about Van Jones and I

should be Van Jones and me.

The way you can remember this is to take the other person out of the sentence. You wouldn't say "because it is about I." You would say "because it is about me." It is the same whether Van Jones is in the sentence with you or not.

Now if you said "Van Jones and I went to the store," "I" would be correct. Just as you would say "I went to the store," not "me went to the store." Just take the other person out and see how it sounds in each case.

I tell you this because I like you and you write and talk for a living.

Okay, now I can go back to reading your post and the WSJ.

PS. I am listening to you at this moment on AM760.


Congratulations David! (4.00 / 4)
Whenever the supreme lying rag singles someone out for special denigration because of their work, you KNOW you're on the leading edge, and nearer to the top of your game than all others. Keep this WSJ article for future referance when you are feeling that your chosen occupation is so very difficult and disheartining that it has gotten you down. From now foward, there will always have been a time when you were at the peak of all truth tellers. Again, congratulations.

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

As a hardcore progressive I disagree completely (0.00 / 0)
What I want and what we probably need are not as important as what we can get without damaging our future political power.

This is not a country of liberals.  It is not a country of conservatives.

It is a country of independents and we on the edges can do very little except damage our our party.

The fringe wing nuts are destroying the name of the Republican party.

The very underrepresented left is doing almost nothing to destroy our party.  We need to keep it that way.

In 20-30 years given intelligent, moderate progressive movement our position should strengthen by 5-10% giving us a chance to make possible a true progressive agenda.

This is NOT the time to make a stand.  This is the time to strengthen our image and country through long-term moderate decisions while we have power.

We NEED to maintain control of the middle until that middle looks a lot more progressive.

I want more progressiveism.  Everyone here does.  We deserve it.  The country needs it.  But that is not politically viable.  Win Congress again in 2010.  Win the Presidency again in 2012.  Shift a little more, but just slightly.

Hillary 2016 shift again.  Hillary 2020 shift some more.

Short term wins are not long term successes.


"strengthen our images" as weakling you don't get anything accomplished? (4.00 / 3)
Or what? Right now, it looks like most of the population doesn't believe progressives can really deliver improvements for the people. More of the same old same old lame compromises who only result in strengthening the business friendly status quo won't change that. You simply don't "maintain control of the middle" by just talking the talk, without walking the walk. Actions speak louder than words.

And then, the nation is in a dire recession, people suffer from the job losses and the rising healthcare costs, millions go bankrupt every year. There's nothing to be gained from waiting any longer, from being careful. Quite to the contrary, people will lose confidence in the seriousness of progressives if they hesitate now. And if you're a progressive, you should know: "Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself"


[ Parent ]
Damn, always those typos, correction (0.00 / 0)
"strengthen our images" as weaklings who don't get anything accomplished?

[ Parent ]
"hardcore progressive"? In the rethuglican sense of the word, or what? (4.00 / 1)
Excuse me pls, but I'm a bit confused about your favorite website, as mentioned in your profile:

http://www.glennbeck.com  

WHAT THE EFF???


[ Parent ]
How does capitulating strengthen the movement? (4.00 / 7)
This is NOT the time to make a stand.  This is the time to strengthen our image and country through long-term moderate decisions while we have power.

Giving in is rarely seen as strength.  

Perhaps you can enlighten us as to how abicating power builds political strength?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Well you got one thing right (4.00 / 9)
"the fringe wing nuts are destroying the name of the Republican party."

As for the rest ...

Tell you what, we've got decades worth of dry powder in the back, you can stand guard over that.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Another NINT (4.00 / 3)
Now Is Not the Time Democrat.

[ Parent ]
20 years waiting = 400,000+ avoidable deaths (4.00 / 1)
Enough said. That's why people should stand up and fight. To think a second world country like ours lets money interests determine who lives and dies based on their greedy profit motive is profoundly obscene. It cannot stand.

[ Parent ]
Oh and another thought (0.00 / 0)
If the pro-lifers can picket with huge signs that show dead fetuses, surely we can picket health insurance companies with huge signs showing people who were killed by health insurance companies, as well as huge signs showing the corporate staff of these same companies and how much money they made killing people.

[ Parent ]
Another Awful Distraction (0.00 / 0)
The right and Fox went after Jones, I think, largely to create a second, race-tinged distraction from the health care program  that Obama might pronounce himself on.

His press conference on the issue was famously overwhelmed by the comment he made about Henry Louis Gates. All to remind Americans that this guy is a --shock! choke! -- Negro that you cannot trust with important matters like your health care. I'm sure Jones took one for the team so the issue would blow over faster, and without the prolonged horror that say Gates had to endure in the press for his race--in which in the end he was labeled the racist.

This will hurt the environmental program, doubtless, but it does seem crucial that it not be permitted to recur. Otherwise, sticks and stones are no longer the only way to break bones.


Thom Hartman today. (4.00 / 2)
He said his name, the names of the families of 911 were all on the same petition Van Jones signed.  Hartmann also said that Beck glommed on and was not the perp of smear.  If you drill deep enough, it leads right to Exxon.  

critical point (4.00 / 2)
Thanks for saying this:

Progressives don't just "believe" they deserve a seat at the table - we actually do deserve that seat, not just because we worked to elect this president, but because our stance on major issues like the public option, climate change, Wall Street reform and the war are the majoritarian positions in America. That's not speculation - polls show that's an empirical fact.

All I want is for Congress and the President to do their jobs to represent the interests of the people and to provide a vigorous check and balance on one another. (Well, okay, I want the rest of the government and all of my state and local politicians to do their jobs, too. :-)

Is that so much to ask for?

They call me Clem, Clem Guttata. Come visit wild, wonderful West Virginia Blue


Strange (4.00 / 1)
I seem to agree with you quite completely today.

http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsme...

Also, my take on that "radical" 911truth request:

http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsme...


Timid, or simply not a progressive? (4.00 / 1)
You wrote:

"Barack Obama has ties to the progressive movement, but he is an inherently cautious -- and, at times, frightened -- politician."

I was thinking about how intelligent and centered, and to some extent, wise his remarks were to questions from students I watched excerpts of on CNN, and wondered why that kind of character could be an actor who pretended to be a progressive during the campaign and now revealed himself to be a neoliberal DLC conventional corporatist as he seems to be now - the opinion of him I have held for many months?

I wonder if he is frightened and timid, or just showing his true colors now.  It's hard to believe he could be so timid and frightened to do back deals with PhRMA, be so aggressive in his ramping up the war in Afghanistan, continuing Cheney et al's trampling of the Constitution, and VOLUNTARILY appointing an economic team in bed with Wall St. and Mr. DLC, Rahm Emmanuel as his chief of staff last November.  Call me cynical, but I don't buy the timid explanation.  He may have held progressive beliefs at one stage in his life, but it appears he has abandoned them for corporatist establishment cozying up to the powers-that-be "principles."

Someone convince me that I'm wrong about this.
     


Runaway train (0.00 / 0)
The political scene is a shamble, and there's no clear progressive action which promises any change at all. Every things must be fixed first before anything can be fixed at all. There are no plans that visibly will halt the death march. No progressive party or joint action with specific political agenda that has in the slightest the possibility of political gain. No progressive leader moving the progressive public along its desired path.

Now, after the financial community quietly and secretly has taken over government, and congress is bought and paid for, or intimidated into submission, the political scene is a runway train towards fascism. The will of the people will NOT BE DONE.

We watch the victories of the extreme right, the bankers, the insurance companies, and we fail to see that they are a cohesive group protecting and forwarding their common interests.

Yet, with as you say, David, we're entitled to a seat at the table

...because our stance on major issues like the public option, climate change, Wall Street reform and the war are the majoritarian positions in America.

You prescribe that

...Washington-based progressive groups have to stop kissing the White House's ass and selling out their grassroots membership. It means rank-and-file Obama supporters have to stop framing legitimate progressive pressure on Obama

Now that you are acknowledged by the WSJ as a leading progressive voice, why don't you take the helm and run the plan, and/or bring together people like Von Jones, and get a real movement going, instead of leaving it for others, while you sit as a spectator?

Last April the financial community created the Financial Stability Board, which resides inside the Bank for International Settlements. When you read their self appointed mission, you can see our sovereign economic powers turned over to a yet further remote group of controllers. With this last stroke of world financial controls by the money power, heavily represented by Goldman Sachs acolyte, we can expect the work ahead has become a hundred-fold more difficult, and in a few years, impossible, except to sprout an underground society, running parallel with the "official" one.

I've seen this gross failure on the part of the progressives for the last 40 years, and seems no one is learning the lessons. I will be dead in a few years, but I dread what my children will have to face in view of such indolent breed of progressive leaders, who talk lots, but move little or nothing.

Where is the zeal and eye-glared dedication and, yes, fanaticism on the heart and faces of progressives who have yet a greater mandate to be zealous about their mission? So far, this whole process looks like an entertaining college exercise of debates, with no stakes, and no real interest.

Stop the letters to your congressmen; they always answer back with boilerplate statements of their positions, without ever changing on important issues. Groom a well selected team to run out of each state that will support and forward the progressive agenda, and will not compromise on the rights of the people, in favor of protecting the bankers, insurance companies, and super-corporation.

A National Progressive Alliance, is the only viable solution.

http://www.openleft.com/diary/...


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