Counting on Progressive Sycophancy: They're For It AND Against It...At the Same Time.

by: David Sirota

Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 16:04

An update to my earlier post today on the Obama administration breaking President Obama's crystal clear campaign promise to back drug importation legislation:

The Hill is now reporting that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says President Obama still supports drug importation legislation. However, Gibbs did not say Obama supports passing drug importation legislation on the Senate floor right now - at the same time another branch of the Obama administration (ie. his FDA appointee) is saying that the administration opposes importation and at the same time the Hill reports "The White House has not endorsed the Dorgan-Snowe-McCain measure."

This is becoming a nauseating pattern: Salon's Glenn Greenwald has documented the Obama administration's penchant for having the president say one thing, and then having administration officials say something very different - and often contrary. This has been most prevalent on the Afghanistan issue, which saw the President commit to begin a July 2011 exit strategy, and his national security officials take to TV to say that there would be no exit strategy in July 2011. Now it's happening on health care, too.

I would call this for-it-before-he-was-against-it, but that would be too straightforward. This is a new level of dissembling - I guess the administration is for it and against it at the same time. It's definitely a sort of cute, have-it-both-ways kind of thing - a way to play the wink-and-nod game whereby the public is told that the president is really bringing about "change" while the Washington Establishment is reassured that there's no real change in sight. And make no mistake about it: there's a formula to it.

The White House is banking on sycophancy - specifically banking on throwing progressives a rhetorical bone here and there and having progressives respond by citing that bone as justification to continue cultishly backing the president no matter what he does, no matter what campaign promises are broken, no matter how much flipping and flopping there is on core issues. People like Rahm Emanuel are 100 relying on progressives to be absolutely pathetically weak - to respond to news like this with more apologism and more "give the president a break!" propaganda. They are expecting the sycophants to simply shout everyone down by screaming, "Look! Look! You see! Even though his administration is doing exactly the opposite of what he is promising, President Obama isn't breaking any importation promise or Afghanistan exit strategy promise because he put out a throwaway line saying he's not breaking any promise!"

Obama's willingness to play this kind of game on a crystal clear promise is definitely a betrayal of what he campaigned on. But one thing it is not is genuine leadership.

David Sirota :: Counting on Progressive Sycophancy: They're For It AND Against It...At the Same Time.

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Um, Leave Obama Alone? (4.00 / 6)
I mean, he's still FOR the public option, so doesn't that make it ok that he hasn't actually pushed and fought for it?

My god, we're WAY too hard on our guys. Can't we just let the good be the friend of the perfect, or something, even if the good isn't so good and it's actually kind of sucky?

Geez, you can't have everything. Why are we being such purity trolls?


"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

WE will NOT leave Obama "alone!" (0.00 / 0)
He has reneged on his promises and thrown us under the bus.  We worked for him, contributed to him, and voted for him.  Now we see he is just another Bush! He's FINISHED in my book!!!

[ Parent ]
David - I read you often and (4.00 / 1)
you are so on point with respect to this 'coin logic'.  To put it simply President Obama and those around him believe 'us' to be dumb enough to believe 'it'.  They do have a point ... 'Bush' and we continue to give this Administration and their group an 'excuse pass' around every issue.  We will yell and scream for a day or so and then we just fall in line with well it is not like Bush ... but in the end it is really worse.  

As long as we have no intention of actually hurting them ... (4.00 / 5)
... they are going to keep doing this.

This applies to both the Obama apologists, and the "radicals" who want to yell and scream but have no tactic for dishing out actually punishment.

Thus Sarah Palin is the ultimate protector of Obama.

The Full Court Press is a modest tactic that would give us a stick to hit them with.  Otherwise, it's like that scene in Blazing Saddles where Cleavon Little puts a gun to his own head and threatens to shoot.

Full Court Press!

With all honest respect towards that plan... (0.00 / 0)
..but is it only me who becomes increasingly annoyed by you somewhat, hmm, sry, trolling every single thread with your hobby horse? I mean, is there still anybody left here who hasn't heard about FCP by now? How about stomping at some other blogs, too, raising interest in order for the idea to gain some traction?

[ Parent ]
no, not only you, there are others ... (4.00 / 1)
... like your friend MadScientist, who calls me a "malevolent parasite."

On the other hand, please note the 5 recommends that my comment above has gotten.

It is interesting that, with all the brouhaha Full Court Press set off -- and all the support -- there has been little criticism of the plan itself.  Yes, there are suggestions for a different set of principles.  Yes, some people place more importance on winning seats.  Yes, some people favor targeting the worst congresspersons.

But the essence of the plan is hardly criticized at all.  On the other hand, I get attacked, for being ill-mannered and a poor listener.  For being an unrealistic whiner (though not by name).  And my favorite, "malevolent parasite."

In any event, I thank you, Gray, for giving me an opening to continue this discussion.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
"an opening to continue this discussion" It's a bit useless, but welcome. (0.00 / 0)
If you were serious about your stuff, you would create a kind of business plan, setting goals for the necessary achievements to get this off the ground. You'll need a team, donors, resources, marketing, etc etc etc. And it's not likely you'll find that by simply linking to your diary here in every other comment.

Well, if simply dreaming about the idea is good enough for you, and you don't have serious ambitions, fine. But, excuse me pls, to me this looks a bit like intellectual masturbation. Sry, but that's my honest opinion.

[ Parent ]
"like your friend MadScientist"? That's news to me. (0.00 / 0)
I certainly wouldn't call him a friend, the very idea is abit ridiculous, imho. I don't even know his political stance. And he is only an occasional commenter here, not a regular, as far as I rememeber.

On the other hand, I'm not sure if I have any friends here at all. Even though I sometimes see support from others, on some issues, all in all I'm probably too contrarian to be popular. If I were here to find friends, I probably would phrase my comments in a much more populist way, and never leave the consensus line. But I hate one-sided polemic, and it's the discussion about facts and strategies that interest me, not how many approvals I get for my comments.

All in all, imho, if people are here to make friends, they should better join facebook.  

[ Parent ]
Also, pls note: "Time to post comments expired." (0.00 / 0)
This is a message at the comment thread of your FCP story now. No surprise, since you posted it about 14 days ago. Well, how about posting a follow up? The about 100 comments certainly deserve an answer, you should write about your conclusions from the input. And this would provide people with a fresh thread for their comments. Also, it sure would be a good idea to come up with some ideas about how to realize the whole thing. Building a team for spreading the idea, creating a charta and seriously organizing the efforts will become necessary.

Hmm, don't you agree that this would be vastly preferrable to hijacking yet another thread for discussing FCP? Sry, not to discourage you, and I know this sounds harsh, but activism means more than patting yourself on the shoulder because you had a great idea...

[ Parent ]
I've got a team now (0.00 / 0)
I've also got a plan.

Only one discussing FCP is you.

Side diaries don't get read.  If I could get front-paged, I would gladly do as you said.  But since Bowers has vowed not to allow that, that is not an option.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
I'm not discusing FCP. I'm discussing you. But congratulation... (0.00 / 0)
..for making the first step. Now, how about an update story introducing your team and the next move? Don't look for excuses, if people are really interested on your stuff, they'll find your diary even if its not on the frontpage. Don't forget, you can always link to it in comments.

And, btw, the excuse is lame because it was your unnecessary picking on Chris and the others which got you banned from the frontpage. However, no good activist has ever been discouraged by some minor setbacks. And there are lots of other blogs, too. Why not even create your own one? You'll need it anyhow, more sooner than later.

[ Parent ]
"no good activist has ever been discouraged by some minor setbacks." (4.00 / 1)
I don't know jeffroby much at all, but by your definition, he is proving to be a very good activist.

Until there's an official home for FCP, I'm guessing that some updates will appear at docudharma. That's a guess, but note that his FCP diary was front-paged there.

A lot of Dems are "locked and loaded" - they're just not sure where to shoot. When they are properly organized, undoing the lock and shooting will (hopefully) turn into an electoral turkey shoot.

The old "write your Congressman a letter" routine wasn't very effective, now, was it?

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Well, that's fine. All his constant complaining here... (0.00 / 0)
..made me believe that's all he ever does, insulting his hosts. Good to see that his activism goes beyond that. Dems certainly need every guy with a good idea and the power to realize it now. And good to hear that he has found another blog to run his stories. Looking at jeff's weird behaviour sometimes (imho he acts more like a teenage rebel than as a guy of 61 years) I suspect his stay here will end some not so far away day.

As for writing letters to Congressmen, I still think it makes an impact. Not one single letter, of course, it all depends on the numbers. Your mileage may vary...

[ Parent ]
no finer compliment (4.00 / 1)
imho he acts more like a teenage rebel than as a guy of 61 years

In the 60's, we teenage rebels got a lot done  If only the left had that spirit and energy today.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
way back when (4.00 / 7)
I just posted this over at FDL...

Here is Obama on the campaign trail addressing healthcare:


The pharmaceutical industry wrote into the prescription drug plan that Medicare could not negotiate with drug companies. And you know what the chairman of the committee, who pushed the law through went to work for the pharmaceutical industry making 2 million dollars a year.

Imagine that.

That's an example of the same old game playing in Washington. You know I don't want to learn how to play the game better, I want to put an end to the game playing.



But one thing I have to say, we are not going to make some of these changes unless we change how business is done in Washington. The reason that we can't negotiate prescription drugs under the Medicare prescription drug plan is because the drug companies specifically sought and obtained a provision in that bill that prevented us from doing it.



First, we'll take on the drug and insurance companies and hold them accountable for the prices they charge and the harm they cause... And then we'll tell the pharmaceutical companies, 'Thanks but no thanks for overpriced drugs'. Drugs that cost twice as much here as they do in Europe and Canada and Mexico. We'll let Medicare negotiate for lower prices. We'll stop drug companies from blocking generic drugs that are just as effective and far less expensive. We'll allow the safe reimportation of low-cost drugs from countries like Canada



I'm going to listen to everybody. We'll have the doctors and the nurses and the members of Congress and patient advocates. I'll have the insurance and drug companies at the table. They just won't be able to buy every chair. And we will... And I'll be at the table. I'll have the biggest chair, because I'm president. If people have other ideas and I don't assume that I've got every single idea. It can be improved and I want input. We're going to have to make some compromises.

But here's the thing. We're going to do all these negotiations on C-SPAN. The American people will be able to watch these negotiations so if they start seeing a member of Congress who is carrying the water for the drug companies instead of for their constituents and says, 'Oh, you no. we can't negotiate for the cheapest available price on drugs because the drug companies need these profits to invest in research and development', I'll say, 'OK, let me bring my health care expert in here'. And on TV, we'll ask my health care expert, 'What do you think about what the drug companies are saying?

I may need to borrow those quotes (0.00 / 0)
Good job.

[ Parent ]
On the bright side (0.00 / 0)
if there is one, is that if they can mimic us so well, at least they have a thorough knowledge of our message.


[ Parent ]
The Bio O's gig is about up (4.00 / 5)
Slowly its getting very clear the guy we elected ain't who we thought we were electing.  Frankly I don't think he will get away with it - he ain't Slick Willie and frankly we have seen it all before.  Things move faster today than they did 16 years ago when Clinton was doing a number on the Liberals, Progressives & Union Members in the Dem Party and there are too many ways to get information that aren't blessed and controlled by the power structure.

I've never seen the base of the Democratic Party so disgusted with its leaders.  There is a bill to pay being counted up and it may not be pretty for Obama and the Democratic cowards and crooks in the House and Senate.  Personally, I'm hoping that we will see lots of these creeps face a primary challenge and if that doesn't occur I hope the worst of them will get a liberal 3rd party candidate for us to vote for.  We will loose some seats but in the long run we will put the fear of god into the nasty bastards.  

Rahm's counting on it, and (4.00 / 3)
progressives will deliver. Liberals are useless.  I knew I read your posts for a reason, David.  

I was on to him (4.00 / 1)
Obama started his campaign attacking straw man "liberals."  A very bad sign.  He attacked the teacher's union in Iowa, mainly because they supported Hillary.  Another bad sign.  He supported the gay baiting Donnie McClurkin in South Carolina.  He praised Ronald Reagan in Nevada.  Praised Reagan.  He turned Martin Luther King into Stokely Carmichael.  Frankly, that was sacrilege in my book.

It all looked good and sounded sorta good if you did not look at the fine print.  My cardinal rule with politicians is do not, repeat not, listen to their speeches.  Read them very carefully.

He has performed above expectations sort of on health care, at expectations on everything else except Iraq/Afghanistan where I actually believed he was going to halve the Iraq contingent inside of a year and more. He reached my fear level on Social Security but is craftier than  Bush at dismantling it. Hah.  Of course, health care is getting worse and worse.

Yes, fans he is worse than Jimmy Carter.  Unemployment was not so bad under Carter, he avoided war, and he was ethically a fine person.  Worse than every Democratic President in the 20th century.  He's back to Cleveland, who sent in Federal troops to put down strikers and presided over a very similar economy.  Yup, one step removed from Buchanan.  That is an amazing descent.

Politically, we are back to 2004 and sinking fast and the pro-insurance, pro-corporate moves are just sinking things further under water.  Like Paul, I believe this is an opportunity that was handed to us , once in every 32 to 40 years and we just handed it away.  Back to the tie (no party control) of 1968-2008.  

Don't pick a President based on charm.. Don't pick a President based on marital faitfulness (that would eliminate FDR).  Don't pick a President based on how they speak or dress.  Pick one based on policy.  Pick one based on class.  I want a middle class or working class hero not an upper class, upper crusty type.  Hey, distrust prep school unless some great loss counter balances it.  Suffering may be good for the soul; it is definitely good in preparing a President.

And I admit it.  New Jersey was not up for grabs so I voted the straight Democratic ticket except for Obama.  I voted Green for President.  From where I sit now, it appears we had a "Democrat" running but no real Democrat was in the race.

May I suggest that David Sirota lead a public campaign to get Obama to apologize? (4.00 / 3)
The relative silence of the Left when it came out that Obama had stabbed us in the back with the Big Pharma/Tauzin deal was eye-opening, and very disempowering. If I was Obama, that would have sent a message to me that I can get away with anything.

Many people had written about "making him do it", but when Tauzin blabs and gives us amunition to "make him do it", apparently they can't connect those two dots. Or won't. That whole veal pen thing can be so constraining, ya know....

A public campaign to get Obama to apologize for his, errr, let's not call them "lies", let's call just call them "deliberately broken promises" (otherwise, you can't get invited on TV), would be the best way that I can think of, right now, to "make him do it".

I think Chris Hedges and Glen Greenwald would join you in a heartbeat, not to mention citizens who worked hard for an Obama win who are now suffering from despair.

What do you say, David Sirota? How about a joint statement by you, Hedges, Greenwald, etc., that us 'little people' can sign on to? If you do this, please include a secondary statement about the sycophantic 'veal pen'. Their kow-towing has enabled Obama to lie easily, thus embodening him.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

You really got it down (0.00 / 0)
This is how he does it and the way that I think he'll continue to do it  for the rest of his term.  He's able to play Washington and his base at the at the same time and its remarkable. For instance, Reagan was able to play both constituencies by endlessly promoting trickle down. Appease the establishment and the electorate.

Instead of inventing a new economic theory Obama has taken the easier but more bold route of saying two things at once and hoping that the barrage of information pummeling voters will confuse them into acquiescence. This has become more than Orwellian.


Keep up the good work, Sirota. (4.00 / 2)
Accountability is job one, still.

May I suggest that we lead a campaign ... (0.00 / 0)
... to get David Sirota to apologize for helping to foist this guy on us, helping to squelch the voices the tried to warn all of you?

Carolyn Kay

Carolyn Kay

What do you mean by "squelch the voices th(at) tried to warn all of you"? (4.00 / 1)
How does that work, exactly? Did David threaten to ban anybody who spoke ill of Obama during the campaign? Methinks you are exaggerating...

Also, I don't think OpenLeft pays him enough so that he can hire goons to go around the country and kneecap dissenters.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
I don't think this is meant to be taken literally, but... (0.00 / 0)
..more in the way of David using his frontpage power for going after the anti-Obama crowd. Well, I would like to check if this is fair, but, sadly, the lack of an archive here, plus the less than satisfying way the search engine works kept me from finding those old diaries...

[ Parent ]
He called us stupid racists ... (0.00 / 0)
... and tried to prove it with dubious numbers.

Rather than concede that we might have some valid points about the guy's lack of experience and duplicitous nature.

I doubt that David gets paid at all by Open Left.

Carolyn Kay

Carolyn Kay

[ Parent ]
That's how he got elected (0.00 / 0)
"Is it remotely possible that the months of extremely careful, cerebral, thoughtful deliberations produced complete ambiguity on this central point, or is it that Obama's plan is designed to be sufficiently ambiguous so that nobody knows what it actually entails and everyone can therefore be told that it means what they want it to mean?  And which is worse?" -- Greenwald

That's exactly how he got elected. He created a blank slate on which voters could write their dreams. Now that is he is president, the blank slate has turned into a blank check on which corporations can write their dreams.

He's a neoliberal. We got Rahm as a trusty sidekick. Summers and Geithner for the bailout. McCrystal for a bigger, better war. Healthcare that jacks insurance stock values through the roof and destroys price competition. The list grows longer by the day.

What do you do with a plan like that? It's even worse than the Orwell's 1984 "doublethink." We're talking triplethink, quadruplethink, all the way up to octothink.

It's a riddle, just like Pee-Wee said:

"The mind plays tricks on you. You play tricks back! It's like you're unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting..."  

It's just that Obama is a sociopath, (0.00 / 0)
(and a very good one), who didn't believe a word he said during the campaign.  He said everything he thought we wanted to hear, and we were just taken in by an expert.  The problem for him is that we will not do anything just to keep a Democrat, like we did with Slick Willie.  His luck has run out for him.  We might as well have a legitimate RePUKE in office, if we have to have one at all.  I'm not saying that I would vote for one, but I would NEVER again vote for a sociopathic Obama!

[ Parent ]

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