The politics of defeating the health care bill, continued

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Dec 16, 2009 at 13:44


Yesterday, I argued that if progressive organizations and members were able to successfully defeat the health care bill, the main short-term political ramification would be a much tougher road for progressive and Progressive candidates in congressional primaries in 2010.  This conclusion is based on the White House's demonstrated willingness to play hardball against Progressives / progressives, and the ongoing support that the White House--and its policies--have among the Democratic and liberal rank and file.  

The support I am referring to looks like this:


And this:


If Progressives and progressives were to defeat the health care bill, it would provide an opening for the White House--which has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to enter into primaries--to outflank progressive and Progressive candidates in primaries with more right-wing candidates.  With the backing of the White House, those more right-wing candidates could argue against progressive and Progressive candidates who opposed the health care bill, and as a result win the liberal, Democratic rank and file that still overwhelmingly supports both the bill and the White House.

Such a maneuver would bring an end to the political environment where Progressives can still gain seats, even if Democrats as a whole are set to lose dozens of seats.  Suddenly, Progressives / progressives would be in electoral peril against more right-wing Democrats in primaries.

This is a seriously f*cked up situation for progressive groups and candidates who have legitimate concerns about the effects of the Senate health care bill.  They seem to be trapped, and the White House knows it.  Take, for example, anonymous White House sources on Howard Dean, who yesterday came out in opposition to the Senate health care bill:

Mika Brzezinski: I won't name names, but I heard it from several people in the Administration:  Howard Dean, very not pleased, with Dr. Dean speaking out about health care reform and this plan.

Savannah Guthrie:  Yeah, very irritated.  Yes, isn't it fascinating they don't seem to be too angry at Lieberman, they're reserving their fervor for Howard Dean, but actually, one senior official who I talked to this morning paid the highest insult which was to call him irrelevant to the entire health care debate.

Cornered progressives in Congress, such as Senator Russ Feingold, are starting to vent their frustration:

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), among the most vocal supporters of the public option, said it would be unfair to blame Lieberman for its apparent demise. Feingold said that responsibility ultimately rests with President Barack Obama and he could have insisted on a higher standard for the legislation.

"This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don't think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth," said Feingold. "I think they could have been higher. I certainly think a stronger bill would have been better in every respect."

Rep. Anthony Weiner piles on:

"Snowe? Stupak? Lieberman? Who left these people in charge? It's time for the President to get his hands dirty. Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise. We need the President to stand up for the values our party shares. We must stop letting the tail wag the dog of this debate."

As Adam Green argued to Matthew Yglesias yesterday, there were quite a few ways that President Obama and the White House could have played hardball with conservative Democrats on the health care bill.  Instead, what we are getting is hardball against Progressives to cave against the likes of Lieberman and his ilk.  We should not have expected anything less from a White House where Rahm Emanuel has so much power, given that he has long been the enforcer of the will of moderate and conservative Democrats in Congress.

The White House has enormous potential leverage against either progressive or conservative Democrats in Congress.  Far more often than not, they have chosen to use that leverage against progressives, but not against conservatives.  This puts progressive organizations that seek to block moves by the White House in the almost impossible position of having to out-organize the Obama administration among the self-identified liberal and Democratic rank and file.

As one of the leading left-wing critics of the Obama administration's transition appointments in November and December of 2008, I am intimately familiar with the isolation that such opposition can create.  If I had a solution for it, I would have implemented it by now.  However, as I said yesterday, the only solution I can think of right now is to sit out the remaining health care fight, not attack the progressives who are trying to defeat the health care bill, "hang out in the tall grass for a while" and look ahead to future fights.  I know that is pretty dissatisfying, but it is the best I can think of right now.

Chris Bowers :: The politics of defeating the health care bill, continued

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Well, you didn't buy me with that worst case scenario, Chris (4.00 / 3)
Dems organisations, even those effing centrist ones, only have limited resources. And they'll need all of them to defend against the rthuglicans. Just look at your House ballot prediction, its plus effing ZERO point four. Soon it will go negative, especially if they can't deliver a haelthcare bill that makes sense to the voters. So, imho, a failure would hurt the centrists as much as the progressives. They simply won't be in a position of strength where they can afford to engage in trench warfare along inner party lines!

A failure would hurt both centrists and progressives (4.00 / 1)
Whereas passage pretty much only hurts centrists.

[ Parent ]
Ok, makes sense. But we're not only out to hurt centrists! (4.00 / 1)
Come on, shouldn't some ethical considerations also apply? Letting a bad bill pass just because it damages centrists more than us? D'oh.

Btw, totally OT, but can't you hire someone to answer your email? Hmm.


[ Parent ]
Oi! (4.00 / 2)
Of course it doesn't matter whether the bill is any good or not, only how it affects the political maneuvering.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
If you want to have a chance in other fights (4.00 / 2)
If this is the only fight that matters to you, then go for it.

If losing this fight doesn't bother you, then go for it.

We are going to lose this one either way.  I would at least like to have a chance at some fights down the road.


[ Parent ]
this fight is over (4.00 / 2)
My point was a matter of method.  When partisan impact trumps substance, the resulting alienation results in NOT having a chance at some fights down the road.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
Given what Pelosi said about waiting for the Senate (0.00 / 0)
before taking up legislation, the question seems moot.  

[ Parent ]
Rahm's reason is the same (0.00 / 0)
He wants to have a chance to win future fights so he's keeping phrma and Aetna happy, keeping their money from Repub campaigns.  Looks like we should keep our powder dry, like he does, always waiting for a future fight.

[ Parent ]
Why is Rahm a Democrat? (4.00 / 1)

 That's not a rhetorical question. If Rahm's biggest priorities are keeping pharma happy, why on earth isn't he a Republican, where he WOULDN'T have to deal with these pesky liberals cramping his style?  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
Republicans wouldn't vote for a former ballet dancer! (4.00 / 1)
I guess that's all that's behind his party choice.
:D

[ Parent ]
Identity politics (4.00 / 1)
He's a Jew and he's from Chicago.  Also, he's a social liberal.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
In what way is he a social liberal? (4.00 / 3)

 I don't recall him cracking down too hard on Stupak.

 

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
don't you remember his backing of maine's 'no on 1'? (4.00 / 1)


[ Parent ]
ask Ralph Nader (4.00 / 1)
or Chris Hedges

If he can fit into either party, then there is something rotten in DC.


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


[ Parent ]
What about the millions of Americans who will go on suffering? (0.00 / 0)
Seems an awfully high price for us to pay for what amounts to bad political gaming.

[ Parent ]
What proof do you have (4.00 / 2)
that the insurance companies can be trusted? Because I'm not seeing it.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
That is (0.00 / 0)
A failure of the bill engineered by progressives wold hurt both progressives and centrists, whereas pretty much every other scenario would hurt pretty much only centrists.

[ Parent ]
You think so? (4.00 / 6)

  I'm just thinking out loud here, but I'm not convinced that progressives will be hurt all that much if they sink this empty shell of a "reform" bill.

  Who votes in primaries, particularly in congressional primaries where incumbents are running? Essentially the hardcore Democrats, the politically aware ones -- who tend to be the most informed ones.

 And the most informed Democrats are the ones likeliest to oppose this crap sandwich of a health-care bill. The great mass of the Democratic base might still favor this bill in the abstract, but most of them don't vote in primaries, and most of them don't really know yet just how weak and compromised this bill is.

 There's also the matter of organization -- is it really all that easy to throw together a credible campaign for a challenger against an entrenched progressive Democrat in a solidly blue district?  Is the primary voter base (the informed voters, for the most part) really all that predisposed to vote for an unknown right-winger over the incumbent progressive?

  Your argument is well-reasoned, but I'm not really convinced by it yet. It's TOUGH to unseat an incumbent in a primary -- as we all know.

 

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
I'm not convinced (4.00 / 1)
The right-wing Democrats will say "My opponent voted against health care reform" and that will be that.  Even in a lower turnout, higher information primary, that could still work.

There's also the compelling argument that, at the end of the day, even without PO/Medicare the bill subsidizes health insurance for the uninsured.  There's no getting around that.


[ Parent ]
Response (4.00 / 5)

 "I voted against mandates."

 "I voted against this giveaway to the insurance industry."

 I can't imagine those arguments wouldn't work in a low-turnout, high-info-voter primary in a strongly progressive district.

 

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
I tend to have a low opinion of voter awareness (4.00 / 1)
that I think is supported by the fact that large majorities of Democrats are still enthusiastic both about this bill and about Obama.

But I hope you're right.


[ Parent ]
the polls were taken before the public option was dropped (4.00 / 4)
and before Howard Dean spoke out.  The polls are as they are because the progressive opposition hasn't spoken out.  Like killing your parents then asking for mercy because you're an orphan.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
Large majorities of Democrats... (4.00 / 4)

 ...don't vote in primaries.

 And Obama won't be on the ballot, which lowers the bot percentage at the polls.

 I think our progressives will be all right. As long as they don't let their guard down.  

 

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
not quite accurate (4.00 / 2)
The bill subsidizes health insurance for a FEW of the uninsured.

The rest will be forced to pay for jacked-up corporate insurance whether they can afford it or not.  The reason why most people are uninsured is that we can't afford it, and this doesn't change.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
Aren't there subsidies...? (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
If you're poor enough (4.00 / 2)
but like with so much of our safety net, the qualifications don't work for the working poor.  Look at how many people are getting foreclosed, up to their ears in credit card debt.  So many families don't have an extra $10,000 laying around for this.  People are on the edge.  The mandate pushes them over the edge.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
over the precipice (0.00 / 0)
That's where Obama said we are--on the precipice.

[ Parent ]
Doesn't the bill mandate that only a certain percentage of income can be out-of-pocket? (0.00 / 0)
Though I can't remember if that was before the subsidies or after...

Also, the penalty is fairly low, I think - some $95 a year or so?


[ Parent ]
Yes, but it's frighteningly high (4.00 / 1)
$3,867 under the Senate bill for families between 134 and 200% of the poverty level (133% and under get Medicaid).  See http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.... . With a subsidized premium of about $1000, a family of three with an income of as little as $25,000 could end up paying as much as $5,000 (20% of their income) on health care.  Granted this is a worst case scenario.  The subsidies will help some people, but hardly eliminate extreme health care costs and their associated terror.

Another good source is http://www.urban.org/publicati... .


[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
they will say my opponent stabbed the President in the back.  They will try to turn the race into a referendum on Obama.

That is not a fight I would want right now.


[ Parent ]
Stabbed (4.00 / 4)
Looks like Obama and Rahm are the ones stabbing us in the back.  There's 17% real unemployment, he reappoints Bernanke, wants to gut social security and Medicare and this ... weakens Medicare, downgrades existing insurance of millions, shoves crap insurance down the throats of millions who can't afford it and jacks up the profits of that bunch of pirates wearing the insurance skull-and-crossbones.

[ Parent ]
I don't disagree (0.00 / 0)
but it is a tough argument to win in a Democratic Primary with Obama's popularity over 80% among Democrats.

[ Parent ]
It won't hurt progressives (4.00 / 8)
unless it's a popular bill. Which this is not.

What does hurt progressives is a demonstrable lack of spine. You know this. If progressives spike health care, it will both enhance progressive power and increase progressive electability.

Progressives will get pilloried by the DC beltway press. What else is new?


[ Parent ]
I don't get this Chris (4.00 / 1)
You were previously willing to drop the fight out of moral concern for how a bill would affect Americans even without a public option. Now your calculation to drop the fight is coldly political.  It will "pretty much only" hurt centrists.  Contained in "pretty much" is all the Americans forced to by junk insurance or who'll have their employer insurance degraded.  I'm not saying you have to fight the bill, but you can't have it both ways.

[ Parent ]
At this point. . . (4.00 / 13)
after all that has happened, after reading Greenwald, after hearing Feingold's comments, after hearing the White House attack Howard Dean while continuing to coddle Lieberman, I'm fairly convinced this entire thing has been a charade from day one. A gutted bill is the bill Obama really wanted. Lieberman is essentially doing what the White House wants him to do. To paraphrase The Godfather, "Tataglia's a pimp. . . it was Barzini all along."

Obama has virtually guaranteed himself lame duck status for the next 3 years and ultimately a one-termer status. Frankly, that doesn't bother me anymore. After countless betrayals by this bait & switch con artist, I am officially no longer an Obama critic, but in full opposition to him.


My god, man!!! (4.00 / 10)
With the backing of the White House, those more right-wing candidates could argue against progressive and Progressive candidates who opposed the health care bill, and as a result win the liberal, Democratic rank and file that still overwhelmingly supports both the bill and the White House.

They could argue against you!

This puts progressive organizations that seek to block moves by the White House in the almost impossible position of having to out-organize the Obama administration among the self-identified liberal and Democratic rank and file.

Progressives would have to out-organize somebody!

Don't you see where you're going?  There is NEVER going to be a point where more right-wing candidates supported by the White House won't be attacking progressives.

The next debacle will be over jobs (create jobs through tax breaks and gutting OSHA and FMLA, I see it coming a mile away), same cast of characters, same dynamics, unless progressives do something different than line up for the slaughter and then at the end, "My goodness, we were betrayed!"  And it'll be back to the high grass.

If you want to be a progressive leader, you're going to have to LEAD!  That means fight.  That means at least trying to out-organize the White House.  Yes, they've got money, they've got media.  They always have money and media.  What were you thinking, that progressivism would sneak in the back door?

I wish that we could run the Full Court Press in 2010, but we are small, I am nobody, we do not have the things we would need to do so.  As you know.  You, on the other hand, have been looked upon as a leader.  You are very smart.  But right now, I get the impression that you are freaked out by the corner you have gotten yourself into.

One point about the Full Court Press, by the way, is that while it calls for filing candidates in 435 districts, it does not call for all-out campaigns once filed.  The Press candidates have considerable flexibility in how they play the actual campaign.  We are not your enemy.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


Going over some of the posts here between you two... (4.00 / 1)
It sure looks as though he considers you one.  Not that he has any reason to.

[ Parent ]
Chris has been walking a tightrope ... (4.00 / 1)
... while I am safe on the ground.  No hard feelings.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
But Obama WON'T let this bill die (4.00 / 10)
Because he simply can't afford it, politically. And he will do whatever it takes to get it passed, in ANY form--including one that's more progressive than its current form, if that's what it takes. And if it's progressives who threaten to kill it--and are dead serious about it, and have the votes--it will be progressives that he will try to win over, by pressuring ConservaDems. And he will do so by telling Reid to threaten them with an end run, via reconciliation or killing the filibuster, which will force them to cave, because they don't want to be humiliated and marginalized by such maneuvers. Which will make the bill more progressive, and passable with 60 votes, obviating the need to actually use reconciliation or kill the filibuster.

Do progressives not know how to play hardball?

1 - Progressives promise to kill the bill if it's not made more progressive (and mean it).

2 - Obama, realizing the disasterous political consequences of not passing HCR, and knowing that he can't pass it without making it more progressive, tells Reid to pressure ConservaDems to make the bill progressive enough to get progressives to support it.

3 - Reid threatens to use reconciliation or kill the filibuster, to pass a more progressive bill, if ConservaDems won't vote for it through normal procedures.

4 - ConservaDems, fearing being humiliated and marginalized, and the prospect of a too-progressive bill being passed, cave and decide to vote for a more progressive bill.

5 - A more progressive (but still far from perfect) bill is passed, with 60 votes, obviating the need to use reconciliation or kill the filibuster. Progressives are happy, Obama avoids a disaster, and ConservaDems, while steaming, at least avoid humiliation.

It really comes down to who wants their version of HCR passed more badly, as opposed to ANY version of HCR, and are willing to go down trying to make it happen. I.e. a game of political chicken. I'm guessing that Obama, Reid & ConservaDems want ANY bill passed more than they want THEIR version of the bill passed, and that it's the exact opposite for progressives. They just have to back that up with action.

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


Good points, Kovie! Yeah, why shouldn't progresives blackmalil Obama, too? (4.00 / 3)
Imho there is a chance he can be pressed into supporting reconcilation (which would result in a more progressive bill). Once it becomes clear that the bill can't be passed in 2009, this becomes moree likely. So, delay is the right tactic now for progressives!

And largely ignored by the media, Snator Burris is still making a stand for a more progressive bill. Obama needs his vote, just like he needs Lieberman. So, folks, pls show some love for Senator Burris, and vote "thrilled" or intrigued" in this NBC poll:
http://www.nbcchicago.com/news...
Some positive comments to that story would be good, too, of course. Let's encourage the rebel Senator to remain steadfastly commited to a more progressive bill! The situation can only improve.


[ Parent ]
Burris has nothing to lose (4.00 / 7)

  He can filibuster this turkey, every bit as much as Lieberman.

  And I do believe the best pressure points should be in the Senate -- that will protect the House progressives from right-wing challenges. The bill needs to clear BOTH chambers, after all. And Burris and others like Bernie Sanders have nothing to lose by filibustering.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
I called Burris's office today (4.00 / 2)
And asked his staffer to tell him to stay strong in his opposition to this turkey. I also called Durbin's office and told his staff what I think of his coddling Lieberman, who isn't even a Democrat (which Durbin'ss staffer reluctantly acknowledged).

[ Parent ]
We need more than one or two "no" votes for this to work (4.00 / 2)
Obama & Reid can make up for Burris with Snowe, and perhaps Sanders with Collins or even Voinovich. In fact, if only a couple of progressives promise to vote against this bill, it could actually lead to an even worse bill being passed, in order to get the votes of enough Repubs to get to 60. So for this to work, there need to be enough progressives promising to vote no that no amount of watering down could get enough Repubs on board to make up the difference. This has to be a coordinated and SERIOUS threat, for it to work.

Unfortunately, one progressive != one ConservaDem in today's political climate.

But 5 or 6 progressives > 5 or 6 ConservaDems.

It's all about critical mass and genuine resolve.

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


[ Parent ]
Maybe the WH can make up for that. But that would be very risky! (4.00 / 1)
Don't forget, the bill has to pass the house, too. And it's already so horrible that any further compromise would erode the Dem support. And the rethuglicans Reps can't step in because they would be killed by the teabaggers!

No, really, I don't think Obama can simply replace Dems with rethuglicans. The polarisation prohibits this. "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold... "!


[ Parent ]
funny that Stupak has dropped off the screen (4.00 / 1)
But there is plenty more shit to hit the fan when he starts his Lieberman act -- assuming something slithers out of the Senate.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
House math (4.00 / 1)
220-215 recorded vote

219-216 without Joe Cao

218-217 without Raul Grijalva

216-217 without Wexler and Abercrombie

211-222 without the Stupak Amendment

Why would the Rs let this pass with their votes?


[ Parent ]
That's WITH the Stupak amendment (4.00 / 2)
Once it's taken out--and it will be--there will be many more Dem votes. I think his amendment was always a political ploy, not by anti-abortion Dems, but by Obama & the Dem leadership as a way to "win" progressives over by "fighting" to get it "taken off" the final bill. It's sort of like setting your neighbor's house on fire and then playing the hero by putting it out.

There won't be any crossover R votes in the house (except maybe Cao), but they won't need any. Obama will offer holdout progressives a deal: the Stupak amendment gets taken off, in exchange for your voting for this POS bill.

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


[ Parent ]
With Medicare buy-in out, Obama can get Snowe (4.00 / 1)
maybe Collins, but Collins is uncertain.  Voinovich or anyone else is probably too much of a stretch.

So we just need a third liberal to defeat this.  Burris, Sanders, and... Brown?


[ Parent ]
Um, Boxer, Gillibrand, Merkley, Feingold (4.00 / 2)
There are, in theory, enough liberals to kill this. The real question is whether they have the nerve, principle and organizational skills to pull it off. Any bluff would be called. This has to be a real threat.

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

[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's what I meant (0.00 / 0)
Which liberals would want to do it and have the nerve and skills to do it?

[ Parent ]
Franken (4.00 / 2)


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


[ Parent ]
Can't believe I missed such an obvious one (4.00 / 1)
This is what happens when Repubs petulantly block a senator's being seated. Thanks, Norm.

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

[ Parent ]
He's a bit of a newbie for such a thing (0.00 / 0)
given the "clubby" atmosphere that appears to be the norm in the senate. He also has to think about folks back home, though. I'm a transplanted Minnesotan, but it is clear that we appreciate fighters. Let's not forget however...

...how Al came to be in such a tight race. He upset the established Democratic Party "leaders" in this state and they hit him for it in the primaries and endorsements. It was not Norm Coleman that raised the pseudo-issue of Franken's older comedy writing about sex and such. It was the established Democrats. They undercut him. Big time.

Paul Wellstone got by because he fought like the dickens, and knew how to pat the other Dems on the head and make with the Minnesota Nice when he had too. Franken has rougher edges. I like that about him, but not everyone agrees.


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


[ Parent ]
exactly (4.00 / 9)
But Obama WON'T let this bill die
Because he simply can't afford it, politically. And he will do whatever it takes to get it passed, in ANY form--including one that's more progressive than its current form, if that's what it takes. And if it's progressives who threaten to kill it--and are dead serious about it, and have the votes--it will be progressives that he will try to win over, by pressuring ConservaDems. And he will do so by telling Reid to threaten them with an end run, via reconciliation or killing the filibuster, which will force them to cave, because they don't want to be humiliated and marginalized by such maneuvers. Which will make the bill more progressive, and passable with 60 votes, obviating the need to actually use reconciliation or kill the filibuster.

yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes

did lieberman vote no? no, he just threatened

you can threaten too progressives


[ Parent ]
Speaking from Nevada... (4.00 / 5)
Reid NEEDS a bill passed... And not just any bill, but a good bill. When the public option was last polled, it won 54-39 support here (in October). Reid, OTOH, is in a bind next year... But he won't be if Democrats simply turn out and vote. So this is the key, the road to Reid's reelection runs through us. We need to keep reminding him of this, since from what I've seen here and who I've talked to (those "in the know" and close to Planet Reid), he wants a good bill passed and did really want the public option.

We need to convince him that we're far more valuable to his political future than "Traitor Joe" Loserman.

Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.


[ Parent ]
My cynical (0.00 / 0)
view of the reports over the last week is that they were leaked to show Reid "fighting" for the PO and being overuled by the White House.


[ Parent ]
But no one believes (4.00 / 1)
the threat.

It is all well and good to talk about threatening but if no one believes you will act on it, then the threat is meaningless.

I think Chris shows pretty well why those threats were never taken very seriously on political grounds.  I also have doubts on substantive grounds as well.

My God do we miss Ted Kennedy.  I am struck over the last few days by the real vacuum in leadership on the left that people trust.  


[ Parent ]
Hillary Clinton, too (4.00 / 1)
I kind of expected her to stick around and help push HCR through from the Senate.

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


[ Parent ]
The narrative becomes very simple: (4.00 / 4)
Progressives/Labor torpedoed healthcare over cadillac healthcare plans for unions and abortion on demand.

Lieberman, Lincoln, Nelson, Landrieu, Baucus, Conrad, Stupak none of them will get blamed.  Their opposition and recalcitrance is buried deep in the process while progressive no votes will be the last voices heard.

As Chris makes clear, opposition to the compromised healthcare bill will be the rationale used to destroy progressive candidates.

You're already seeing massive backpedaling on core democratic commitments in NJ despite the fact that machine democrats laid down and threw the race to Chris Christie. The machine lived to fight another day, Corzine who usually has pretty strong progressive/reform instincts is now out of politics all together.

We progressives may need to learn that lesson.  Perhaps we lie down, throw the bill and come back with our own primary challenges in targeted districts.  

However, we still haven't broken the frame that states progressives are pie in the sky, dreamy eyed "others" of varying shades and hues, not real hard working Americans.  

Until we do that, (and get some strategic chops and negotiating skills) we will keep losing.  


You mean (4.00 / 1)
Choice, not "abortion on demand".  No abortion in the third trimester.  Hasn't been for over 30 years.

Insurance companies not paying for birth control.

Making people on the edge pay $8K a head for lousy insurance.  Insurance they7 can't afford.

Using tax payer dollars to bail out Pharma and the insurance companies. When "we in" comes from insurance, the rest of us lose.

Keeping current insurance instead of taxing it to death.

Saving the current service levels on Medicare.

This is a winning proposition,not a losing one.


[ Parent ]
I think northcountry was using the rhetoric of M$M that will be (4.00 / 2)
used during the campaign. Your more truthful narrative is what we'll be talking about here while we moan that the media is a right wing enterprise.



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


[ Parent ]
yadda yadda yadda (4.00 / 2)
Papa Obama has a talk with his daughter Malia about health care.

Malia:

Daddy, I've been reading about health care on the web. How do we get ours?

Papa:

Well, Honey, the government taxes the people. And because Daddy works for the government we get our health care paid for by them.

Malia:

Does it work for everyone like that?

Papa:

Well, uh, we're working on it.

Malia:

And I read in school how, in America, over eight million kids like me don't even have health care insurance. How come?

Papa:

Oh, that's because of the evil Republicans, Honey. Remember when we invited Mr. Lieberman for dinner the other night and he explained all about them? But we are going to change all that...

Malia:

When?

Papa:

Well, someday for sure

And please note:

Here are the 11 Senators who have received over one million dollars from the insurance industry:

McCain, John (R-AZ) $2,919,753
Obama, Barack (D) $2,492,352
Dodd, Chris (D-CT) $2,292,096
Clinton, Hillary (D-NY) $1,894,715
Kerry, John (D-MA) $1,396,617
Santorum, Rick (R-PA) $1,267,850
Nelson, Ben (D-NE) $1,258,299
Baucus, Max (D-MT) $1,191,163
Schumer, Charles E (D-NY) $1,130,500
Specter, Arlen (D-PA) $1,066,755
Lieberman, Joe (I-CT) $1,037,652

Please note for the record:

Only two of them are currently Republicans. Or three if you count Lieberman

Finally, remember this?:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness"

george:

Well, that has now been changed to:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all wealthy, white, anglo-saxon and mostly Protestant men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Fed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and exclusive access to the bankers on Wall Street. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among said men, deriving their, uh, just powers from the consent of the Bilderberg Group. That whenever any other form of government [like democracy] becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of said men to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new crony capitalist government, laying its foundation on such principles as the accummulation of wealth and power and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their own exclusive understanding of what constitutes justice and happiness for...them."


I'm still… (4.00 / 4)
...in the kill the bill camp. Yes, Rahm Emanuel and the centrists seem to be holding the cards, but it's hard for me to believe that the midterm backlash will go against progressives when it feels like the general public is turning on President Obama for lack of forcefulness on this issue. Progressive policies are the antithesis of that (no matter how it looks in the mainstream media), and if we're really fed up with the ConservaDem rank-and-file, we might as well start building the organizational resources and moxie to work against them in earnest. It's about the long haul.

"This ain't for the underground. This here is for the sun." -Saul Williams

I sttill don't get this (0.00 / 0)
Why do you think the general public is turning Obama due to lack of forcefulness on health care?

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Because it's not a secret… (4.00 / 2)
...that this bill stinks and/or is nothing to get excited about...because months ago various polls made it quite clear that a robust public option was very popular...because insurance companies are generally perceived as dishonest gougers...because their crony, Sen. Lieberman, has been allowed to get in the way...(cue the theme to The Wizard Of Oz)...because, because, because, because, becauuuussse...  

"This ain't for the underground. This here is for the sun." -Saul Williams

[ Parent ]
Maybe (4.00 / 1)
tru blu talks to real people in real life?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Your snapshot is out of date (4.00 / 1)
What happens when low and middle-income people discover that they are going to be forced to buy insurance they can't afford (which is why they're uninsured already) and don't qualify for the subsidies?

Sometimes you have to explore the dynamics and intersect a moment you know is approaching.  Sometimes you have to campaign.  The poll numbers are in part a reflection of leaders such as yourself having supported the bill.  They didn't fall out of the sky.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


Bloodbath (4.00 / 4)
At this point, we seem headed for a House bloodbath when it comes to Blue Dogs and Conservadems.  The last two times a party lost the House popular vote and maintained control of the House were 1996 and 1942.  It just doesn't happen often.

A narrow edge of 0.4% translates to a loss of 30 seats or more, 35 if the Obama vengeance plan is put into action.  The more Dogs that politically die, the better.  Those scumbags put us in this spot.  Rahm may be mean enough to pull this off but it is quite possible that distance from Obama and Rahm and their stupid conservadem policies will be an asset come 2010.

Liberals have only heard the party line.  If more of them hear the truth, things won't look so great for the Obama bots and Rahm.  Obama may well be the biggest disappointment in US Presidential history.  I thought he'd be a big improvement on W but it is modest indeed at this point.

I see people moving away from Obama pretty regularly.  He's not helping enough people and he's helping too many corporations and too many Wall Street leaches.  He is no longer the big stick he could have been just a sorry arm twisting conniver who dismantles liberals and throws them under the bus.


I'm confused (4.00 / 6)
If killing the bill is bad strategy for progressives now, what was the whole point of that strategy of threatening to kill the bill without a public option? Nobody was ever willing to kill it all along? What on earth do we need more progressives for in congress, then? Why should electing more progressives (or maintaining the current number) be a bigger priority than salvaging the collective credibility of progressives in general? Maybe it's worth being "outflanked" on the right in 2010 for the sake of finally providing some inspiration to someone in this frightened flock of sheep we like to call a movement? Will our movement seriously fare better in 2010 after the most demoralizing HCR defeat imaginable?

Ask yourself (4.00 / 3)
what is the point of threatening a strike when you're not really prepared to walk out?  Sometimes it pays off.  I was part of a union that worked for 11 months without a contract.  Everyone knew the workers didn't really want a strike, having gone through one three years before, but the company could not be 100% sure that the leadership wouldn't pull one anyone though it would have been nuts to do so.  We couldn't walk, but we were strong enough that the company couldn't make us fold either.  At the end of the day, their contracts with customers started to hurt and they were forced to withdraw some of their concessionary demands.

It simply isn't true that one is prepared to carry through on every threat one makes.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
but you had done it before (4.00 / 1)
that's what gave you credibility.

has the left ever actually killed a bill because their demands weren't met? i can't think of any examples but my memory is pretty spotty.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.


[ Parent ]
Some truth to that (0.00 / 0)
But it's hard to pull off when you want something more than they do.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Rahm isn't the President. (4.00 / 2)
The cossacks work for the Czar.

I don't buy the primaries argument (4.00 / 1)
I agree Rahm and the WH will find any number of ways to screw progressives, but I don't think primary challenges are one of them. More likely would be their own version of your plan for some of the BDs -- have (quietly help) them lose to a GOPer and retake the seat two years later with a more palatable Dem.

Primary challenges are too overt and resource intensive. Obama is the head of the Democratic party. Primaries against sitting Dems would play as a purge. It would create a huge Village frenzy that would be detrimental to Obama.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


They have already interfered in numerous primary challenges (4.00 / 3)
In 2008, Obama endorsed Blue Dog John Barrow over progressive challenger Regina Thomas.

Progressive who voted against Afghanistan funding were threatened with primary challengers.  At least one has received one.

The White House has entered primary campaigns, always in favor of incumbents, in Colorado, Pennsylvania and New York.

Rahm interfered with numerous primary campaigns in 2006, when he headed the DCCC.

The threat to progressives in primary fights--and there are several right now--is very real if they oppose this bill.


[ Parent ]
Progressive is as progressive does (4.00 / 2)
The threat to progressives in primary fights--and there are several right now--is very real if they oppose this bill.

The threat to progressives is very real if they DON'T oppose this bill.

The threat to progressives is very real if they move to France.

Remember the days when we talked about how the majority of the American people support progressive principles, we argued that this was a center-left country, not a center-right one?

But if you're sitting in the high grass, you're not mobilizing that majoritarian progressivism.  And then the polls will reflect those who are mobilizing.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
If the progressives had enough backbone, they would welcome the challenge (4.00 / 5)
And hit right back at Obama and Emanuel. Frankly, they should have publicly, loudly, angrily, and repeatedly denounced Obama for his backstabbing deal with Tauzin/Big Pharma, and demanded an apology.

But since they didn't, they can do so now, and do it 10 times as loudly if ObamaCo scrounges up a primary challenger.

To quote the former President, "Bring it on".

I would LOVE it if the whole country became acutely aware of the fact that a) Obama is a liar and b) Obama is a back-stabber, who does not have their best interests in his heart and mind.

This only seems difficult to you because you assume - probably correctly - the the progressives have no spine, and won't throw Obama under the bus.

From where I sit, it seems to me that their choice is either to throw Obama under the bus, or the US of A - including their own constituents. If they're so spineless that they'll bow down before Obama, then their 'progressiveness' will be a mediocre thing, even if they retain their seats.

Who needs such wimps? Whether or not they retain their seats, they will not rein in the President and his corporatist buddies in the Congress.

A war between progressive Democrats and the White House would also be a fantastic teaching opportunity for the public, provided that the progressives screamed bloody murder loud enough. Loud enough, that is, so that their constituents know who is on their side, and who is not.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Two separate issues (0.00 / 0)
The WH supporting incumbents against challengers is an entirely separate issue from recruiting challengers to primary incumbents. The former, while discouraging from a progressive change standpoint, is within the realm of accepted behavior for a party leader (setting whether it should be accepted behavior aside). The later would be noteworthy, and a party leader overtly recruiting and supporting primaries against multiple incumbents would be and should be a huge story. I'd be very surprised if that happened ... unless Obama really doesn't care about being re-elected. Declaring infra-party civil war would be a novel re-election strategy.

...Adding, threats against members opposing this bill will be much less effective if the progressive members could hold together in unity. The WH could perhaps get away with primary retribution against a few, but not against fifty. However a unity opposition must have a salable and reasonable rationale, offering a doable solution that appears constructive toward positive result. Doubt it will happen, but...

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


[ Parent ]
Not 'opposing health care.' It's protecting the House as an equal body (4.00 / 1)
Chris, I just want to add the overarching issue here is not progressive power vs centrist power, or a good vs. bad health care bill. In my view, the primary rationale for the House progressive caucus to oppose this bill is to reinstate the House as a co-equal chamber. The people's House. The body that enacted measures the people support. The Senate has reduced the House to a ratifying body. Take it or leave it. The House should not allow that to stand.

If they oppose simply because they didn't get their pet toy, they'll lose and look bad doing it. If they do it on principle, standing up for the institution, standing up for the people's House as a co-equal chamber, they have a fighting chance. Hell, under that rationale for opposition maybe even some of the old bulls might join them.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


[ Parent ]
I don't buy it (4.00 / 9)
but for the opposite reason. I think they will primary progressives whenever and wherever they can, regardless of how this vote goes.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Why do you think so? (0.00 / 0)
All out war could help the Republicans take back Congress.  That's not in their interest.  And, need I say it, but our threats to primary them may also have something to do with their willingness to attack us.

All out war probably doesn't suit either side's interest at this point.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
Patrick Henry: (4.00 / 2)
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun!  

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
For the "good" of the "sport" (4.00 / 2)
The D party isn't interested in winning.  If they actually won, there'd be too many unemployed troops that would have to go find productive work.

The D party is interested in its continued relevance as a player in the game, which comes from playing the appropriate part in the ever-changing neoliberal media narratives, which in turn comes from working to strengthen the position of those rich enough to own neoliberal media organs, who in general are interested in harvesting the assets of the middle class.

They do thank you for subtly feeding the neoliberal media's line that third parties don't exist, don't work, aren't effective, etc.


[ Parent ]
Hmm... (0.00 / 0)
The problem with thinking of politics as a game is that it ignores the fact that we are dealing with real issues with real consequences for real people.  We're the ones left out of the equation, because when activists think is terms of games and scoring points, they lose touch with what goes on in the streets.  People are suffering and dying in this country by the thousands every year, and they don't have to -- shouldn't have to -- but it's all just a vague abstract that doesn't hit home.

[ Parent ]
I don't think they are that smart. (4.00 / 3)
I think they think "we know best, we can't let those dirty fucking hippies ruin everything." They  hate us more than they hate Republicans.  

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
They may hate us (0.00 / 0)
but they need us.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
That's what I'm saying! (4.00 / 1)
They need us, but they are too stupid to know it.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Rahm Emmanuel isn't waiting for us to kill the bill (4.00 / 7)
He's already helping George Ivey run a primary against netroots favorite Donna Edwards (who could use some donations right about now).

Rahm isn't just going to wait and see what we do on healthcare. He's already planning to replace progressives as with machine DINOs like Ivey, no matter what we do. We might as well try to kill the bill if avoiding such behavior on his part is your main reason for progressives laying down on HCR.  


Its not about Rahm waiting for the health care vote (0.00 / 0)
Its about his primary candidates having a much greater chance of success depending on how we act on the health care vote.

[ Parent ]
Maybe I'm missing something (4.00 / 5)
but isn't it only fanatics (i.e. high information voters) who venture out into the heat of August to vote in a primary? Doesn't that help our side?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
No (4.00 / 2)
If you think that the majority of people who vote in primaries are among the 15-25% of Dems who oppose this bill, you are sorely mistaken.

[ Parent ]
Well, but how about the people who do the grassroots work? (4.00 / 3)
And who provide a steady flow of small scale donations?  

[ Parent ]
And what would be the effect on your estimate if the shy progressives in Congress made a stink about what a lousy bill it is? (4.00 / 2)
Heck, it they wanted to generate headlines, for sure, they could strike - take a day off of their Congressional duties, make some protest signs, and walk up and down the street with them.

I can just picture Conyers carrying a sign "Obamacare is a piece of crud, and I ain't voting for it". I doubt the lame stream media could ignore that sight.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
History is written by the victors (0.00 / 0)
Heh, you don't seriously think the neoliberal media is going to give populists a fair shake, do you?  The Tea Parties only got the favorable coverage they did because they were corporate-backed.  Now that they're not a corporate tool in the debate or a show of force comparable to J.P. Morgan's half a million men to support his 1930s threat of a coup d'etat, you don't hear about them much anymore.

[ Parent ]
Fortune favors the bold (4.00 / 4)
Progressives and populists won't win the day if they're wimps. And if they're bold and win, they can make sure that the history books are accurate.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Certainly true (0.00 / 0)
I'm certainly not calling for meekness here, but a strike is hardly bold.  Members fail to show up for business all the time.  :)

The challenge is how to meaningfully and informatively protest without fitting into the mainstream train of thought that protesters are hippies and hippies ought to be punched.  D partisans aren't any more open than R partisans to having their identity politics or political identity challenged...


[ Parent ]
Do they strike in unison, and take to the streets? (0.00 / 0)
Futhermore, do they take the gloves off, and tell the public how Obama played the whole healthcare fiasco?

If a bloc of even 6 Congress critters have done so, say since 1950, I've never heard of it. But if you have, please enlighten us.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Yes but (4.00 / 2)
how old are those 15-25% figures? It's a fluid situation and I think the Lieberman meltdown, and Howard Dean pulling his support, has to have an effect.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Uh, wouldn't voting for THE CRAP drive th progressive base away? (4.00 / 5)
Imho this other side of the medal shouldn't be ignored. Wouldn't the hardcore base of the progressive lawmakers be totally turned of if they support this horrible center/right perversity of a bill? Wouldn't they get into a position like  the idiot Deeds if they did that?

[ Parent ]
They can always go indie. (4.00 / 1)
Their best chance in that situation is to say that the party forced their hand (which it did), say that's why they left the party (which it would be), and bootstrap their incumbency into a powerful enough indie candidacy.

[ Parent ]
Well, exactly. But since the discussion is about progressive DEMS... (4.00 / 1)
...it's obvious that this development isn't helpful for them. Really, maybe thy should care much more about the danger from the left, from independent progressives, than about attacks from the center. Many of our own commenters here have voiced sympathy for third party alternatives, and this is the progressive base here! Progressive Dems certainly won't be able to win those voters back by keeping a low profile!

[ Parent ]
In short (0.00 / 0)
he is trying to marginalize the left, and he is using Obama's popularity within the party to do it.

[ Parent ]
But Obama's popularity (4.00 / 5)
has a shelf life. It's not good forever.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
This week's call from the DCCC (4.00 / 4)
The call that came this week, asking for money that will be matched 2-3 times, started out with the rep telling me the call would (might?) be recorded. She listed many of my state's congresspeople, guessing which was mine, I suppose, but she even threw in my Republican Rep along with the Democrats.

In the two previous calls when I refused to donate, I cited the House and Senate public campaign finance bills, and said I was only donating to supporters of that bill. This time I decided to be more circumspect - maybe they are looking for ideas on how to attract donors! - and I said I wouldn't give money to DCCC who would support Melissa Bean and her vote against financial regulation reform.  


[ Parent ]
Chris - you're right (4.00 / 2)
And so is Kovie.

This is a big game of chicken.  But the left will be the losers if the bill actually dies.  There may still be a few gains to be had by threatening to kill the bill if they are serious threats - but it's hard to threaten seriously when your analysis is factored into it.

Unfortunately you have to keep emotion out of it.  I didn't have any great faith in Obama.  He was my Senator and his corporatist proclivities were clear to me by shortly after his election to the Senate.  But I saw no clearly superior alternative, unlike the PUMAs who believed they saw that in Hillary.  So I supported him, giving myself a 10% chance that his community-organizer days actually meant something to his present.

Therefore, I have a little less shock of betrayal than many others do.  Something like this was always in the cards.

Greenwald is absolutely right.  This is what Obama wanted.  It's not nothing, but it's not much.  I don't believe it's worse than nothing.  It's peanuts.  And progressives were played.  I still don't understand that game.  It's not clear that Obama won anything more than he could have had without doing it.

I don't necessarily buy the analysis that allowing this to pass will kill the Democrats.  It may kill some blue-doggers, and that's not so bad.  But clearly Obama has taken this into account and is prepared to live with the results, thinking he can.  If the economy improves, he may get away with it.

Unfortunately, I agree with you.  The best we can do at this point is let things unfold, keep our powder partially dry, and look for new battlefields on which to engage the Wall St. corporatists.  There will be many such opportunities.  But taking out our "revenge" on Obama will only bring us Republicans.  Our threats are probably idle, no matter how loud they are.  We shouldn't throw away all that's been built just because we took on something we weren't strong enough to defeat.

At root, the problem is one of power.  The netroots have some power but we have none at all in the red regions of the country.  If we did, then the Republicans would not have been able to maintain a united front around their truculent defense of the indefensible.

The next iteration of the Netroots has to work on penetrating this stone wall.

Let us not minimize the value of what we did have this year.  We kept the issue of health care alive for a year.  The country now is in a much better position to understand why the insurance companies and Big Pharma need to be fought and they won't be fooled again by nice-sounding phrases from the next Obama.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


This game (4.00 / 2)
was already played in 2007 in retrospect, when none of the three major candidates endorsed single payer.

I have said this before but I don't think people get it: the Democratic Party is defined in New Hampshire in Iowa. When there was no political push back on single payer then, and when none of the three candidates were punished for rejecting single payer, this result in many ways became baked in.


[ Parent ]
Actually (4.00 / 1)
The Democratic Party is defined pretty much purely in Iowa while the Republican Party is mostly defined in New Hampshire.

Look at the history.  Carter (1976), Carter (1980), Mondale, Gore, Kerry and Obama came out of Iowa.  Dukakis finished third in Iowa and won New Hampshire.  Iowa did not count, by Versailles proclamation, in 1992.  Bill Clinton, however, did not win NH either.  

Iowa Democratic voters were deluding themselves by thinking they couldn't vote for Hillary Clinton because they wanted an inconclusive result.  They shut the door, as Iowa always does, on the other 307 million Americans as soon as their little party was over.

Iowa Republicans went for Ford (1976) but not for Reagan (1980), George H.W. Bush (1988, 1992 IIRC),barely for Dole, for W, for Huckabee.  It was NH who picked Reagan, Bush I (twice), Dole, and McCain )2008).  Like Iowa Dems they had one conspicuous time they were ignored: W in 2000.

Just a suggestion.  Hold Iowa and New Hampshire on the same day.  We will get a smaller field but it won't be all over in most cases.


[ Parent ]
Some of these (0.00 / 0)
fights you mention went beyond Iowa and New Hampshire, but together they winnow the field.  In 2008 there was no one left standing after New Hampshire with a chance who was for single payer.

The '08 calendar was a bit of an improvement in giving importance to SC and Nevada.  But as long as states keep front loading the process, it will be hard for someone to emerge after Iowa/New Hampshire.


[ Parent ]
I came to it differently... (4.00 / 2)
But ultimately, I came to a similar solution. Honestly, I ended up supporting Hillary in the primary mainly because I at least knew what we'd be getting with her... And she did have a better health care plan IMHO (even if it was nowhere nearly as good as Kucinich's single-payer). I had initially been intrigued by Obama, but the domestic policies didn't impress me and the homophobia controversy (started by the Donnie McClurkin scandal) ultimately turned me away in the primary.

However in the general, I was no "PUMA" and I immediately threw my support to Obama in June. Why? He was better than McCain, and I wanted a Democrat in 1600 Pennsylvania. I had no illusions that he'd be a progressive champion, and I guess that is what's now keeping me from becoming totally disillusioned with it all.

What we really need to focus on is not just more Democrats, but truly better Democrats. I sometimes get frustrated with my Senator when he lets himself get "trick-rolled" by Holy Joe, but I always remember that we progressives hold the ultimate "trump card" with Reid's relection next year. I was also frustrated when my Congresswoman (part of the Class of 2008) started going the Blue Dog away, but after all our barking she dropped that crap and ultimately supported the Medicare+5 public option (which unfortunately didn't make it in the House).

Whatever happens with the health care bill this year, we need to keep focusing on a long-term strategy to make the Democratic Party more progressive and make our political system more people-powered.

Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.


[ Parent ]
Not so different as all that, Andrew (0.00 / 0)
Up until a week before our Illinois primary, I thought I'd go for Hillary.  As it was, I described my decision as 51-49.

As far as mandates go, it's interesting to remember that one of the negatives about Obama from Krugman and the like concerned the fact that he was LESS committed to mandates than was Hillary.

Of course, that has come to be a much more important issue in the wake of the economic meltdown.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
The D party can't become more progressive (4.00 / 1)
If it does, it loses its legitimacy in the media, in the minds of its rich donors... they'll bail, claim the party is in league with the Greens or something, and support the corporatist New Democrats or something.

The Tea Parties were an astroturf movement to show that money can increase the local density of crazies with guns.  Now that they've picked up their own narrative and don't have corporations feeding them anymore... where are they?


[ Parent ]
Astroturf or not, they are real (4.00 / 1)
and something to really worry about.  Talking to their neighbors and building infrastructure and hanging out at the rifle range.

Astroturf or not, they are real.  When they say keep the government out of my life, defend Medicare, and I look at how the Democrats are more obsessed with the budget than actual healthcare, AND THE MANDATE, part of my heart goes with them.

Maybe we could be the six-packers.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
I was for Edwards (0.00 / 0)
because I thought he was the only one who wasn't bought into the free trade nonsense.

The key to better Democrats is winning Iowa and New Hampshire.  They are small, and you can have an impact there if you work far enough in advance with relatively little money.

But if you don't stop establishment Democrats there, you are fighting an uphill battle.

Alas, the next real opening may be 2016...


[ Parent ]
Desperate times (4.00 / 3)
Chris, you're an amazing analyst, but I think you need to step back a bit.  This country is in a crisis.  It isn't 1994 or 1948 or any other normal year.  This may be our last chance to save ourselves, and all our political efforts have to be focused on passing truly effective legislation as soon as possible, on financial reform, reindustrialization, and global warming more urgently than health care.  We need to break this dysfunctional system, starting with killing the filibuster, which may or may not be enough to get the substantive stuff passed (I'm thinking by 2016 at the latest).  Whatever makes that easier, we do.  I happen to think that killing this bill, or at least pushing it to crisis, would help with that, but that's the prize we have to aim at.

FWIW, I'm a lifelong "pragmatic" progressive activist, who has always worked within the Democratic party, and campaigned for Obama.  There comes a time when the normal approaches just aren't enough.


If you want to break this dysfunctional system (0.00 / 0)
Then you need to prioritize process over policy.  For example, I believe we need expanded voter registration and I am willing to appeal to nativists/racists by agreeing to a national ID card so long as it is a) completely government-funded and b) doubles as automatic voter registration, even if that means throwing illegal immigrants "under the bus".

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Killing the filibuster will just hasten our demise. (0.00 / 0)
When, not if, the GOP returns to power it will gladly take advantage of not having to overcome nonexistent filibuster threats from Democrats to ram even more disastrous legislation through.  Let's not allow laziness for the sake of convenience cloud our judgment.  Process is only the means through which policy is made.  Don't confuse the two.

[ Parent ]
alternative suggestion (4.00 / 5)
....the only solution I can think of right now is to sit out the remaining health care fight, not attack the progressives who are trying to defeat the health care bill, "hang out in the tall grass for a while" and look ahead to future fights.  I know that is pretty dissatisfying, but it is the best I can think of right now.

this was supposed to be part of a fight for universal healthcare. there are more ways to continue to fight for that goal than to take a position on any particular bill or election.

so, my suggestion....

why not spend the time making the case for whatever policy solution you think congress and the administration should be doing now. flesh it out, describe why and how it would work. compare whatever bills are passed with your policy solution. draw the distinctions between what we get and what you think we should be getting

in other words, if your choice is to sit this one out, spend the time make the case for what you think a progressive vision looks like.  give people something to inspire them for the next battle.

just my 2 cents.

(disclaimer to speed readers: i didn't mention any particular policy and that was on purpose, please don't make my comment about that - chris's vision is his own.)


Now that I'm thinking about it more... (0.00 / 0)
You (and kovie!) may be right about not killing the bill. As much as I hate what I'm looking at right now, I can't give up yet on wanting to fix it. And if I have to be a pain in the @ss to my Senator to get him to realize I'm trying to HELP him, so be it. Either we need to "storm the Bastille", take back the gun that Rahmbo gave to Loserman, and get Reid to stick with a public option... Or at least demand that the individual mandate be removed from the bill.

I'd much rather see a public option and a complete bill, but I'll still take a few reforms with no "forced HMO buy-in at gunpoint" over this sh*t sandwich that Senator Aetna (R-CT) is trying to force us to eat.

Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.


but the mandate is locked in (4.00 / 2)
No getting around that.  Only way to get rid of the mandate is to start over.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
Really? No amendment can be offered? (0.00 / 0)


Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.

[ Parent ]
You can offer all sorts of amendments (4.00 / 1)
... but the reality is that the mandate is locked in.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
How do you oppose (0.00 / 0)
a President who is very popular in the party without becoming marginalized?  

If Afghanistan didn't hurt his ratings in the party, I seriously doubt HCR will.

I honestly don't think it is possible to really effectively oppose him at this point from the left.  All you can do is lay down markers to show you opposed the bill to insulate yourself from complaints down the road.

It is like the Welfare Reform debate all over again.



Go Dark (0.00 / 0)
You've mentioned "sitting this one out". Is there a way we could "go dark" on this? I was just wondering what the reaction would be if you and FDL and KOS and Americablog and whoever else you could pull in chose to just stop all commentary on this til the gruesome but inevitable conclusion.

Part of the driving force out there seems to be "stick it to the left". Well, what if we just stop. Let them take FULL credit. Let them wonder what the response is going to be. NO words of approval. No disapproval. Nothing.

Stop the "send an email to your congressman" efforts, don't waste money on ads. None of it will make a difference. Jane and Chris made that point in one of the workshops at Netroots Nation - when things reach this point, no amount of activism will change a vote.

They are going to pass this travesty, because, the reality is that no one has the guts to do the right thing. Sherrod Brown is on board. Etc. Whatever "regrets" are expressed, they will pass this thing and run around trying to garner applause.

Talk about everything else, as usual. Just not HCR. The die is already cast - we can't stop it or fix it.

I can't quite express this, but what I'm going for a kind of "shunning".

BTW, I do think it's possible to "shun" Lieberman. He feeds on attention. I think we should write about everyone but him. He should get no credit, good or bad, for anything. He doesn't exist. He is a void.


I think we should go the opposite (0.00 / 0)
If Lieberman feeds on attention, then we should stalk him.  Follow him around everywhere.  Run a blog where every detail of his daily life is written down.  Which way does he go to work?  Where does he live?  What restaurants does he like to eat in?  Which stall did he use in the restroom?  Did he wash his hands?  With soap?

Make him paranoid that people are out to get him on a personal level.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


[ Parent ]
I agree with your suggestion (4.00 / 1)
but suggest it's not about guts.  I'm not going to slam Sherrod Brown.  He's simply made the calculation that this war can not be won at this time, not for any lack of effort on his part.  He certainly fought the good fight.  

He's in a much different camp than Lieberman or Lincoln.  

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
Right - I'm not slamming Sherrod either (4.00 / 1)
I meant that he's already given in. There will be no fixing  it in committee, or adoption of the stronger house bill or any other mechanism. Here's where the white house's muscle will be evident: they took a pass on the PO, but they will get their crap legislation before the State of the Union.

Although, I'm disappointed in Sherrod. Coz the thing with our progressive leaders is: Failure is ALWAYS and option.


[ Parent ]
Let me make an analogy (0.00 / 0)
from sports.

If a football powerhouse like Florida or Ohio State plays a game against Podunk State and Podunk loses 17-16 in the last seconds, would you say "Podunk always finds a way to lose" or would you say "Podunk fought one hell of a fight"?

The fact is that without Obama's odious deals we probably don't come this close.  What the results of an all-in crusade for the Public Option would have been is hard to know.  The battle was over when no effective counter was made to the outrageous claims of the Republicans on the Public Option.

Obama's bipartisan stance meant we were always fighting with our hands tied behind our back.  HE wasn't attacking full-steam.  Whatever counter-attack there could have been HAD to come from us.  And we weren't strong enough to provide it.  If we were running the show, the Republicans would have had to be playing defense, not launching this tea-party nonsense.  We have little presence in the red states.  And we need it.  Net-roots has to expand beyond its current base if it is to become a dominant force.

I don't know when the next time will be, but we sure as hell know what to avoid.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
I think your analogy is flawed (4.00 / 1)
Coz this ain't a game of any kind, and their are almost no rule, restrictions or limits on how this effort could be waged, other than those that are self-imposed.

Sherrod Brown deserves "non-hatred" for trying, not kudos for failing. He gave up. In that, he's no worse than all the others who gave up, but he's not better either. I appreciate the value of good intentions but a smile doesn't pay my electric bill.

You say the counter-attacks HAD to come from us. WRONG.
We are volunteers (bless us). HE gets paid to wage these battles. It's his job.


[ Parent ]
Shouldn't the phrase "moderate Democrat " be avoided (4.00 / 1)
on Openleft and the use of the word "centrist" or "establishment" be substituted in its place?

"Moderate Democrat" and "Moderate Republican language marginalizes all others as "not-moderate"...or extremists.


Establishment ok, centrist, no (4.00 / 2)
"Centrist" is as bad as "moderate".

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
question (4.00 / 4)
However, as I said yesterday, the only solution I can think of right now is to sit out the remaining health care fight, not attack the progressives who are trying to defeat the health care bill, "hang out in the tall grass for a while" and look ahead to future fights.

if we lose this, what makes you think we will have any influence at all on future fights? isn't this the one that stirs the most passion in D voters? if they don't listen here, where will they? climate? wall street? war?

isn't it more likely that if we will be forced to "keep our powder dry" in the next fight too, hoping we would influence the the next-next-fight?


Impeccably argued with one exception (4.00 / 3)
The logic in Mr. Bower's post is impeccable despite the calamitous and frustrating (that's really too weak a term) implications, with one clear exception in my judgment.

That flaw is the (implicit) view that by withholding their fire, progressives can avoid heavy White House interventions in various primary fights.  I see no evidence to support the view that Rahm, et al, require such a "provocation" to push right-wing incumbents and challengers against progressives in primaries.

At some point we must conclude the parsimonious explanation of the events we have witnessed is that the administration, including President Obama, are conservative Democrats on health care. They do not want an expansive public option.  They do not want to constrain the profits of big insurance companies and medical providers.  They do not want to upset their corporate paymasters. It's not that they were backed into a corner by perfidus Democrats/corporate lackeys and are reaching for the best possible bad option. It's that they are that type of Democrat and are working mightily to ensure the worst possible option (from the progressive point of view).

Now, a variety of implications arise from this conclusion, if sound, and they are not all of the "screw the party and go Nader-style" variety. But they do put another gloss on the arguments for lying low lest we provoke them into adopting conservative Democratic positions and ramping up support for conservative Democrats in primaries.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


You assime that Rahm wants to continue this fight and to (4.00 / 2)
punish progressives everywhere he can.  That's a battle he can't win and he won't try unless he thinks he can get away with it.

I believe that Obama would have wanted true health care reform if he thought there was any way he could have had it. In his earlier days, he even said he was for single-payer.

His whole strategy was predicated on making a deal with Big Insurance and Big Pharma.  And he never deviated from it.  If he reneged on those deals, their opposition would have sunk the whole effort.  The marriage was not one made in heaven.  There was constant back-stabbing and sniping the whole time.  They used the TeaBaggers, Obama used US.

The fight will go on.  But it doesn't have to be, and should not be, at this point, IMHO, open and total war.  It's a long way to 2012.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
Fair enough (0.00 / 0)
I did not really address the question of what should we do and I agree that open war is not necessarily the best option.

All I did was share my view that these events, and in the case of Rahm many earlier events, lend weight to the view that the administration did not really want anything resembling progressive health care reform. They wanted reform. They wanted more people covered. They wanted to prevent some of the worst practices of insurance companies. I don't really doubt that. But it seems increasingly clear that they wanted what from my point view was very modest, marginal reform from the beginning, perhaps to forestall momentum toward more sweeping reform. The grand bargain you reference can be read as evidence for that judgment. It is pretty good evidence for that.  It is possible, though, that as you say it was necessary to preempt ruinous opposition from Big Pharma, etc. I have only an opinion and no Delphic readings.  

One path is to recruit the opponents of reform to help implement the smallest possible reforms. Another path is leveraging populist and progressive anger against those who benefit from the injustice of the status quo to implement, or try to implement, the maximum possible reforms. It seems clear to me which choice the administration made. I believe it will prove to be politically toxic, as the counsel of conservaDems has proven to be time and again.

I am more inclined to think - and it's no more than an educated opinion - that by demagoguing the fat cats and the insurance companies and Big Pharma, etc., it would have been possible to ram through more meaningful reform, especially if they were to have kept reconciliation on the table and played hard ball with the moderate Dems and Joe "Benedict Arnold" Lieberman.  Instead, the evidence indicates they have shown great deference to corporate interests, the ConservaDems, "moderate" GOPers, and Lieberman and sold out or hammered more progressive individuals.

Rahm was sold as that hammer, one who could help implement the President's agenda. I think that is true; he is and that is what he does, pretty well. The problem is what that fact says about President Obama's agenda.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


[ Parent ]
I don't disagree with anything you say here. (0.00 / 0)


sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Can't win? (4.00 / 1)
The lesson from primary efforts is that a win is great but even a loss pushes the incumbent to vote to avoid future primaries.  Unless we counter by primarying the Dogs and conservadems, Rahm has already won.  The only issue is the size of his victory.

[ Parent ]
I can understand Chris' point (0.00 / 0)
But my counter question is can progressives band together enough to get the mandate stripped out and then pass what is an OK ( but ultimately toothless) bill?  Without the mandate, I'm good with what is left.  Surely if Leiberman can single-handedly get the PO removed, a few progressive sneators can kill the mandate.

Gives Obama/Dems a victory, doesn't give pharma too big a handout, doesn't give republicans much to rail against, and won't kill us al in 2010.

Is there a way we can do that?  If so, how do we start?


After some thought, Chris... (4.00 / 3)
...I understand your opinion, but disagree with it on a key point.

I personally think that if they're going to both declare the Senate version of the health care bill just plain wonderful while preventing it from having any real value to citizens, then regardless of what we do or don't do, anybody considered Progressive will be taken out by any means available.

We won't be allowed to hide in the tall grass, Chris - it'll be their intention to set it on fire at every opportunity.

And why will they do this?

In Catch-22, Yossarian's superior officers, Colonels Cathcart and Korn, offer him an honorable discharge not if he leaves quietly, but if he'll publicly approve of them and their murderous policy of all-but-endless bombing missions.  

They can't afford to just defeat us - they'll want us to say we like it.



Again, no (0.00 / 0)
Both sides need each other to some extent.  It is in neither's interest to launch an internecine war.  Why can't they afford to just defeat us?  It makes no sense.  Sure they rub our nose in the dirt a little - who can stand to look at Traitor Joe, the Odious Toad, without getting ill -, but you don't think OUR side also likes to talk smack when we win?  Get REAL!

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
You don't get it... (4.00 / 2)
They don't want merely to win - they want to control us, or at least neutralize us, to the fullest extent possible.  They have minimal to no desire to work with us, to meet us halfway.

And at the end of the day, they can afford to lose elections, in their mind - as long as they maintain control of what's left.  They can wait things out, and try again, with what they perceive to be minimal ill effects to both them and those that back them.  They prefer to have people they can control - Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, for example - to people that they can't, such as Dean.  Control trumps electoral victory if Progressives might get a piece of the former as a result of the latter.

And they don't care if increasing numbers of the American people can't handle the suffering that results from their activities much longer.


[ Parent ]
Oh, I get it all right (0.00 / 0)
I just don't agree with it.  The one thing these bastards want is to win elections.  Stop being Chicken Little.  The sky is not falling.

There will be some internecine skirmishes, some started by their side and some started by our side.  Surely you notice, it's one of the main things we talk about here.  "Primary their asses", ever heard it?

But yeah, I'm trying to AVOID throwing gasoline on the fire at this point.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
We have to ask ourselves: will this bill move us forward or backward? (0.00 / 0)
I was thinking about the Medicare prescription drug legislation of 2003 and how most Democrats voted against it, but the few that voted for it were denounced by the left as centrist sell-outs.

That legislation provided government subsidies for prescription drugs for Medicare recipients for the first time, so ostensibly it was a step forward, right?  But the left opposed it because it was a step backwards ideologically (the benefit was only available through private plans, so it transferred power from the government to the private industry) and financially (it undermined Medicare's finances).  In so opposing it, they would have denied prescription drug coverage, however subpar, for millions of seniors.

Now we have to look directly at the fact that, at least at face value, this bill, even with no PO and Medicare buy-in, still would subsidize health insurance for millions of people who won't, don't, and/or can't get it right now, as well as enact some badly needed reforms.  At the same time, by locking in a captive market it's a huge piece of corporate welfare.

So, on balance, does this move us forward or backward?  I'm very conflicted on the answer to that question right now.  I loathe so much about the bill, but at the end of the day I can't deny the possibility that this bill could make life easier for so many people.  We just have to try and figure out if those near-term gains would result in bigger setbacks further down the road.


Let's see if I get this straight. (0.00 / 0)
I was trying to make sense of this entry and decided to look up any information that could help me do it.  I found the following analysis.

don't stand in the way of the obama white house's terrible health care legislation becoz we are not powerful enough to change it and the obama white house will take away our power ... to not change things ... by backing non-progressive candidates ... which they already do. Basically, the only way that the rahmbama team will tolerate progressives is if we have no power, so let's lay down our swords so that they don't take any power away from us.

Does this about sum it up?  Not exactly what I call good strategy.


That sums it up about as well as this sums up the opposite viewpoint: (0.00 / 0)


sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
That "sums it up" as well as this sums up the opposite viewpoint (0.00 / 0)
"Obama is just as bad as any Republican, no, worse, because he's a wolf in sheep's clothing who LIED to us so we don't care who gets elected and nothing is more important than punishing the Democrats, who I'm SO mad at."

Caricature much?

I would also point out that one of the main points made on the site you reference, all through 2008, was that Hillary Clinton was far superior to Obama because of her greater committment to and understanding of Health Care Reform, as witnessed by the fact that she supported mandates while Obama did not.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
Chris - you should be ashamed!!!! (4.00 / 4)
I actually tried to read this article but when I hit this I knew Chris wasn't serious:
If Progressives and progressives were to defeat the health care bill, it would provide an opening for the White House--which has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to enter into primaries--to outflank progressive and Progressive candidates in primaries with more right-wing candidates.

I can't even respond to this - so we shouldn't oppose this sack of shit bill because big bad daddy Obama will punish us?  Chris you really should be ashamed of yourself.


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