The politics of Obama's offshore drilling announcement

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:28

Here are the two main political implications of the Obama administration's announcement that it will expand offshore drilling:

  1. A compromise with Conservadems While Republicans have been particularly loud in their support for vastly expanded offshore drilling, this move is likely designed to win over mainly Democratic votes, not Republicans.  A quick survey of the areas that have been opened to offshore drilling reveals this:

    Toss in Alaska (Begich), which was also partially opened, and you are looking at Louisiana Landrieu, Florida (Bill Nelson), Virginia (Warner and Webb, North Carolina (Hagan) and South Carolina (Graham).  As the links embedded in their names show, they are all proponents of offshore drilling.  The coastal states with Senators opposed to offshore drilling will not receive any new drilling.  Graham is the only Republican.

    This is, effectively, home state pork for Conservadem Senators who are viewed as winnable votes on the energy bill.  Five of the original fifteen Conservadems are listed above (Webb and Graham are not Conservadems).  Of course, since the new offshore drilling policy will operate through the executive branch, there is no guarantee at all that the Obama administration will actually get an energy bill out of this deal.  Nonetheless, and leaving aside the political efficacy of this ploy, it is clearly a political move designed to make a bill more viable.

  2. Hippie-punching  Are green groups going to be unhappy about this? You bet they are, and the Obama administration isn't missing a chance to play that up.  From Obama's speech on the new offshore drilling policy today:

    Ultimately, we need to move beyond the tired debates between right and left, between business leaders and environmentalists, between those who would claim drilling is a cure all and those who would claim it has no place. Because this issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles over and over again.

    Rather than trying to placate green groups, President Obama is playing up how he is charting a unifying course of moderation in opposition to those groups.  Much like Blanche Lincoln, he protrays himself as an independent, nonpartisan voice standing up to environmental extremists on behalf of his constiuents.

As I wrote quite often during the health care fight, progressive groups can get as mad as they like when the Obama administration abandons them with policy moves like these.  However, since President Obama is more popular among the membership of those groups then even the leaders of those groups,  it is difficult for them to effectively fight back.  Politics is more a popularity contest than it is a battle of ideas or wills, and right now President Obama is easily the most popular person in politics among the Democratic and progressive rank and file.  The members of Congress, who can effectively push back against moves like these are those who are more popular amonng their constituents than President Obama.  The same goes for the green groups: their ideals, and their leaders, need to be more popular among their memberships than President Obama in order to effectively push back.

There are not many organizations like that right now (maybe Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth), and there might not be any progressive members of Congress for who whom that is true.  Until that changes, the Obama administration will continue to be able to make right-wing deals with Conservadems, and then do some hippie punching afterward, indefinitely.

Chris Bowers :: The politics of Obama's offshore drilling announcement

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We Need To Move Beyond The Tired Debates Between Life & Death, Good & Evil, Sanity & Madness (4.00 / 13)
It's one thing for the Dems to make Ralph Nader look right.

But this Godfather act makes the Repubicans look right.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Anybody spotting a trend? (4.00 / 9)
Obama on health care reform, appearing on FOX news:

Now, we can fix this in a way that is sensible, that is centrist. I have rejected a whole bunch of provisions that the left wanted that are - you know, they were very adamant about because I thought it would be too disruptive to the system

[ Parent ]
I wonder ... (4.00 / 2)
what the so called O-bots(at TGOS and Balloon-Juice) will say to these latest words .. Obama really is Third Way/DLC

[ Parent ]
That "this is the best (4.00 / 9)
we can do in the present environment."

What did I win?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
You won a slower move to the right. (0.00 / 0)
Pander at .5x speed.

Wondering if any one else would be better though.  And not shut the whole country down.

[ Parent ]
many unhappy (4.00 / 1)

Though you can certainly find defenders in the comments, the general tone is negative.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
The environment is one of the netroots core (4.00 / 1)
issues. Obama could, and has, screw the left on, say, trade, and it wouldn't cause even a ripple. Green issues are another story.  

[ Parent ]
Oh, give them five minutes. (4.00 / 3)
bwd will publish her next lovefest, and they'll be dancing in the streets.   If they don't fall into line and support "their" president, it will destroy his presidency.  

[ Parent ]
"NOT HOPEFUL IN NJ!" (0.00 / 0)
As one who NEVER voted for Nader, I would GLADLY vote for him the next time around, if there is no competition for Obama in the Democratic Primary.  I think Obama is a LIAR & a JOKE, and I will NEVER AGAIN SUPPORT HIM!!!!!!

[ Parent ]
Before or after they vote him in as (0.00 / 0)
prom queen or king of the snowflake ball?   Maybe we can just coronate him and take away the car keys red phone.    

[ Parent ]
the Simpsons prophesied all this (4.00 / 5)
"The politics of failure have failed. We need to make them work again!"

"tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!"

"Abortions for all."

[crowd boos]

"Very well, no abortions for anyone."

[crowd boos]

"Hmm... Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!"

[crowd cheers and waves miniature flags]

[ Parent ]
why does so remind me of Catch-22? (0.00 / 0)
It's like a reboot!

Course the whole political leadership could be characters in that sad book.

[ Parent ]
Another possible political implication (4.00 / 4)
is that it will hurt Democratic voter intensity, especially among young people. You can only punch hippies so often before a significant number decide to stay home in November. And no, hcr isn't going to save the day.

Speaking of, Leo Hindry discusses a poll of a union (which he doesn't name):

On representing the interests of working and middle class Americans, President Obama drew approval from only 28% of respondents.

On having a strong, aggressive jobs program to get people back to work, only 17% rated the President and his administration "excellent or good".

64% felt neither party was pushing a strong jobs program to get people back to work.

Only 40% agreed with the statement that last year's stimulus package had "created or saved millions of jobs", and by a margin of 89% to 10% they outright rejected the notion that the Recession is over, as the administration continues to contend.

Interesting ... (4.00 / 1)
So what he is saying .. and I think my reading was correct a while ago .. is that Dems will say Obama is doing a good job to pollsters .. but there is a lurking unhappiness underneath it all

[ Parent ]
Yes, I think that's right (4.00 / 1)
As the intensity gauges suggest. Many people I know who are cool to Obama would still answer yes to the "Do you approve of?" question. It's a relatively low bar. (Although, of course, there are a substantial number of Dems mad for Obama--mad in a way few Dems were for Clinton.)

Plus who knows who many people in that union aren't Dems?

[ Parent ]
That was DURING the campaign. (0.00 / 0)
The SMART ones know the truth, that he is only looking out for the corporations and himself.  He is NOT looking out for the low or middle class.  That is such a JOKE!  As one who was a PASSIONATE member of his base at one time, I am not a PASSIONATE Obama hater.  He has lied to us one time too many, and I for one will not take it, nor will I vote for the "lesser of two evils" again.  I would rather see these corporate Democrats learn a good lesson!

[ Parent ]
agreed (4.00 / 6)
This is only good politics if it gets a meaningful climate change bill passed before Nov. Otherwise, it's just a drag on voter intensity.

Moves like this don't get the record numbers who came out voting for Obama in '08 back to vote for a Democratic Congressperson in '10.

Either way, this is bad policy and should be criticized as such. On the policy merits it does nothing for energy independence and it is a step totally in the wrong direction for addressing global climate change.

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

[ Parent ]
re: climate change bill (4.00 / 7)
This is only good politics if it gets a meaningful climate change bill passed before Nov.

that won't happen. if something passes it will be another private industry giveaway.

[ Parent ]
And then the hippies will be blamed for ruining everything (0.00 / 0)
by not turning out.  I was a college activist in the '90s.  I vividly remember how much the Clinton years sucked.  And no amount of terror of GWB can make a Gen X-er excited about First Lady Tipper Gore.  

[ Parent ]
W said it best (4.00 / 2)
when he tried to say "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."  I'd have pulled the lever for Hillary if I had known we'd be getting a "Third Way" presidency anyway.  I look forward to mocking the inevitable legions of Obama supporters in 2012 who get fooled twice by his faux progressive rhetoric.

Actual impact (4.00 / 4)
On the politics, first, Chris is quite right that this is about hippie punching. It is also, however, about taking away a Republican argument. Drilling is, sadly, very popular, and if the Administration did not do this, Republicans would be hammering them during the campaign. Now, Dems can respond, "We already did it. What else you got?" And the answer is... nothing.

More important, look at the practical impact of this. One area off the coast of Virginia has a lease pending on it. Otherwise, the USGS will be doing studies to see if any other areas off the Atlantic Coast have oil potential, and this process will take at least a couple of years. If they find something, they'll put a lease up for auction and maybe someone will, after a few years, start drilling. But nobody really thinks these areas are likely to produce oil at anything close to current prices.

On the flip side, there already were plans in place to drill in Bristol Bay, off the coast of Alaska. This plan kills that deal.

So, very little (if any) additional drilling, a major drilling project in an environmentally sensitive area is killed, and Obama gets positive headlines for "allowing additional offshore drilling."

No, the answer is (4.00 / 11)

Seriously, at what point do we quit accepting the argument "Republicans made him do it?" If I'd wanted a Republican pull-toy in the White House I would've voted for one.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
I know there were about 350 comments to Bowers recent post (4.00 / 1)
on the progressive internet space ( and the victory of Obama's "messaging." I had a lot of difficulty understanding Bowers' analysis and its consequences. I congratulate Obama on his victorious messaging, but after that I guess I still want to fight for the same policies and changes that I have always thought were necessary. Pardon me but what exact difference does it make if Obama has x percent of the progressive base (as someone (who?) has defined that base or even "progressive"); whoever they are in that progressive base that Bowers' polls refer to ...they could be, well, wrong, mistaken, deceived or temporarily offbase. I cannot understand the import of these fluctuating polls in the fight for progressive change and progressive policy. I presume that it is not Bowers' intent, but i surely do not know what is, that because Obama has taken over much of the progressive internet space that we should stop fighting for peace, social justice, and against gross economic inequality,corporate control and environmental destruction. But intentional or not I feel there is certainly a hint of defeatism here ..."stop trying for Godsake...just elect a few more "better" Dems and everything will take care of itself."

Perhaps I am off-base but when I read in Bowers' post above: "As I wrote quite often during the health care fight, progressive groups can get as mad as they like when the Obama administration abandons them with policy moves like these.  However, since President Obama is more popular among the membership of those groups then even the leaders of those groups,  it is difficult for them to effectively fight back.  Politics is more a popularity contest than it is a battle of ideas or wills, and right now President Obama is easily the most popular person in politics among the Democratic and progressive rank and file."
It certainly seems to contain a message to forget fighting Obama, support him and whatever his policy is, because x percent of the progressive base supports Obama anyway.  

[ Parent ]
Not to reopen that discussion (4.00 / 1)
But that's not how I read it, or chose to read it if you prefer. What it said to me is: a wolf has yet again successfully disguised himself as a sheep and walked away with a large portion of the flock. How can we step up our game to stop this from continuing to happen in the future?

[ Parent ]
OK. (0.00 / 0)
I guess I still think we do pretty much the same things: discuss strategy, tactics, fight over policy, and demand our voices be heard (possibly to no avail),

[ Parent ]
You misunderstand (4.00 / 2)
Chris wasn't suggesting to stop fighting for what you believe in.  But you always want your activities to be reality based.  If Chris is correct, you are better off knowing it, regardless of what goals you have in mind.  It is much harder to achieve goals based on false assumptions.

[ Parent ]
I agree with what you say. (0.00 / 0)
As i said, I had difficulty with Bowers' piece.  

[ Parent ]
I also had a different reading. (0.00 / 0)
Yes, Obama is the most popular man in politics today, and as a result he is going to get his way a good bit of the time.

But have you never seen "The Revenge of the Nerds?" Tables can be turned.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
So why is complaining about the pathetic changes at dailyKOS wrong? (0.00 / 0)
If they stink now, shouldn't we say they stink? Whether that is because Obama has won the "message" war, or because Markos is an opportunistic party wannabee, the policy at dailyKOS stinks whatever the cause, I'm sorry I am being so obtuse. It doesn't make so much sense to me.

[ Parent ]
You sound like a "good little" (0.00 / 0)
"DNC Troll!"

[ Parent ]
I don't think you understood my point (4.00 / 1)
The practical effect, for the foreseeable future, of Obama's "plan to expand offshore drilling" is less drilling than was already planned. (The area in Virginia that was already planned is going forward, but the Bristol Bay project is killed. Any other projects are a long way off.) For this, he gets credit for punching hippies and "embraces" a popular but stupid Republican policy.

[ Parent ]
And it's good? (4.00 / 2)
I mean it's good short-term, but basically he's validating the RW talking point (the one that he jeered in the campaign).

So he embraces bad policy and long-term politics for short-term political gain.

Well, when you put it like that... WOOT!

[ Parent ]
I don't much like the talking point, however (4.00 / 1)
So he embraces bad policy and long-term politics for short-term political gain.

Well there is the not insignificant matter of killing the Bristol Bay development. That seems like good policy.

I'm also not sure you can call it a short-term political gain. If this helps the Democrats keep their Congressional majorities, that's at least medium term, and if those majorities allow them to enact policies that have good results, that becomes long term.

[ Parent ]
Arctic Circle (0.00 / 0)
However, it is my understanding that the North Alaska coast line has lots of oil and is very environmentally sensitive.  Is that incorrect?  Am I confusing the fight for on-land oil use in Alaska for off coast?

Hmmm...  now that I think of it, I probably am.  Off shore oil drilling in the Arctic Circle would be expensive and extra hard, with the freezing.  They'll need more global warming for that to be useful, I suspect.

Just continuing my tradition of typing while thinking....

[ Parent ]
re: respond (4.00 / 2)
Now, Dems can respond, "We already did it. What else you got?" And the answer is... nothing.

what are the chances the answer will be nothing? .01%? .001%?

no matter what the dems do, the republicats will not say 'this is a good move.' the shouting will be there.

[ Parent ]
another non-solution to our problems (4.00 / 3)
that "takes a Republican idea off the table" so they can't use it against the Democrats.

As with the health care bill, this is yet another case of passing a piece of legislation whose effects will be strategically delayed until after Obama's reelection campaign.

Actual drilling will most likely not begin for years, even if permits are issued immediately after passage of the bill. So Obama gets to take credit for the win, and the consequences will only begin to be felt by the time Obama is wrapping up his second term.

He's not Reagan. He's even better than Reagan. Reagan eventually aroused opposition because he was too ideological and moved too fast; Obama narcotizes the opposition and makes sure that the shit won't fall on him, 'cuz he'll be long gone when his policies actually take effect.

Except that it won't take the issue off of the table (4.00 / 2)
Red State's reaction.  

Michelle Malkin's.  

I'm sure I coudl find many more.

Good job placating the conservatives, O!!

[ Parent ]
I should also point out (4.00 / 4)
that the amount of oil thought to be accessible through offshore drilling is negligible:

at current consumption, the U.S. uses 8 billion barrels of oil per year; conventionally recoverable oil from offshore drilling is thought to be 18 billion barrels total ever-not per year

So, if we destroyed all our coastlines and sucked out every last drop of oil, we would get enough for a little over two years.

So not worth it.

But (4.00 / 1)
You are assuming that someone actually wants to drill that oil. They don't. There are far more profitable places to drill. At current prices, no one's drilling off the coast of South Carolina. Even if oil goes back to $150, nobody's going to drill there for a long, long time.

[ Parent ]
Obama's validating a right-wing talking point, (4.00 / 10)
popularizing a fake solution in the public's mind, and wasting time and money on a known boondoggle when we should be moving forward.

Palin said "Drill baby drill" and she was roundly mocked by Democrats. Now Obama is saying "Drill baby drill," albeit more eloquently, and he is praised by Democrats.

He's making offshore drilling bipartisan, which means that the next Republican--and yeah, there's going to be one sometime, sooner than you think--is going to be far to the right of that.

He's putting the immense popularity and political weight of his office behind a nonsensical, useless solution to a real problem. Now anyone who tries to argue that we need to get off oil will be met with "But the president said that offshore drilling can help meet our energy needs," which will eventually be distorted into "But the president said that we can meet all our energy needs by drilling offshore."

It's a huge step backwards.

[ Parent ]
You've identified the problem (4.00 / 7)
folks on the left face:

Palin said "Drill baby drill" and she was roundly mocked by Democrats. Now Obama is saying "Drill baby drill," albeit more eloquently, and he is praised by Democrats.

Or as Ioz has said:

I would like to revisit Sarah Palin for a moment. I want to concede that she is wrong about everything. But I also want to say, look, your schematic cultural objections to her winking style of pretended regular-guy-ism is no excuse for judging her to be a greater moron than Barack Obama, who is also wrong about everything. If there is one characteristic that this dude has demonstrated over and over again, it is that the world-view he has synthesized is fundamentally stupid and unsound. His Nobel speech proceeded more neatly from word to word than Sarah Palin's RNC convention barnburner, but as an expression of a thesis it was equally incoherent, and as a statement of principles it was a good deal more bloodthirsty.

That so many people on the left fail to see that Obama is, essentially, what they claim to oppose, is a huge part of the problem in terms of developing a strong - or at least stronger - left.  That there will now be people who defend "drill, baby, drill" because it will be couched in Obama's vacuous "on the one hand X, on the other Y, I choose the middle" bullshit only underscores our problem.  Anyone can call Palin an idiot (although I still maintain she isn't any dumber than McCain or Biden or a whole host of other "respectable" leaders), but when Obama does the same thing, he's still a freaking genius.  

I said earlier today that when I voted for Obama (only in the general and then, for reasons I won't get into, was almost instantly given cause to regret not voting Green), I knew I wasn't getting FDR, but I hoped I was getting Nixon.  I've been sorely disappointed.  

And I believe the term you're looking for is "ratchet effect".  Obama is a genius at this.

[ Parent ]
Wrong about everything (4.00 / 2)
I enjoyed that quote from Ioz you posted but I don't entirely agree.  Sure, Obama and Palin are usually wrong, but Obama's wrong solution to insolvent banks is to lend them all the taxpayer money they want, whereas Palin's would be to have a witch doctor hold a seance at the NY stock exchange and nuke Ecuador.  Obama's wrong solution to health care is to institute Mitt Romney's reform plan; Palin's solution would be privatizing the Navy and rounding up homosexuals.  And so on.

Obama's Nobel acceptancee speech was, indeed, foolish, but he has given many speeches that were well-reasoned and intelligent.  Too bad he doesn't want to try and govern as well as he speechifies.

[ Parent ]
Wrong is wrong (0.00 / 0)
While they may say it differently, Palin and Obama are, in fact, wrong in the same way a lot of the time: both put corporate interests above the interests of the American people and both believe in America as an imperial power (if anything, Obama has gone further here than Palin).  And in many ways the fact Obama sounds more reasonable while doing the bidding of our corporate masters makes him more dangerous than Palin.  Most people did not, in fact, take drill, baby, drill seriously beyond the far-right fringe.  Obama has managed to take that and make it national policy.

[ Parent ]
No room to maneuver (0.00 / 0)
He's making offshore drilling bipartisan
No, he isn't. Offshore drilling already has bipartisan popularity, both with the public and with members of Congress. If Obama staked out a (quite justified on the merits) position in opposition to drilling, he'd lend credence to those who claim he's an extremist.

Instead, he has instituted a policy that has no practical impact except to kill a drilling project in Alaska.

Now, if Obama proposes subsidizing offshore drilling, then I'll be very angry.

[ Parent ]
You make the point you're trying to refute (4.00 / 3)
"If Obama staked out a (quite justified on the merits) position in opposition to drilling, he'd lend credence to those who claim he's an extremist."

In other words, Obama has given into rw framing.  He won't oppose drilling because others will label this perfectly reasonable position as "extremist".  

BTW, it is not clear at all that this is a political winner even with a lot of GOP voters.  IIRC, George W. Bush backed off a similar plan, at least in part, because his brother was upset about it because it wasn't popular in Florida.  The Dems have been winning on green issues and even that isn't stopping Obama from siding with the GOP (in large part because he agrees with them, Obama voted for Cheney's Energy bill and generally has a less than great record on coal and other energy matters).

[ Parent ]
I thought he was sticking it to the South & Alaska (0.00 / 0)
The representatives from the Southeastern states, Texas, and Alaska have been most vociferous about 'drill, baby, drill.' But they want the oil rich offshore fields of the West Coast--so they are slamming him for not 'going far enough.' He's leaving them with rather slim pickings, except perhaps in the Gulf, but exempting most of the tourism-supported West coast of Florida. He is also exempting oil rich but environmentally fragile parts of Alaska.

He's not punching hippies so much, perhaps, as he is punching Sarah Palin, the Southern Republicans and Texas in the eye. As they have more than punched him and his administration. Plus he might get Landrieu on board for the energy plan.

I'm not sure I'm right, but it certainly looked as if he is telling the South and Alaska to put their money where their loud mouths are. 'You want people to live with polluted oceans' Okay--your people will be swimming in the muck. Then see how they support your elections.

Eleventy-dimension chess? (4.00 / 5)

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Caving before fighting pisses me off. (4.00 / 7)
This news literally ruined my morning.

What kills me is that rather than framing those conservadems as sticks in the mud, loyal to big oil, or anything of the sort, we just cave right away.

When we do that we have no chips. The conservatives can keep asking for more, but we had nothing to request in return.

The third way is just a slow drag to the right.  

We won the Battle. Now the Real Fight for Change Begins. Join and fight for progressive change.  

Caving first? (0.00 / 0)
That was my first thought as well.  However, I see this is just a plan, no executive order has been signed.  If Obama holds off on the executive order, than this is a good bargaining chip, as taking something away (which is how it would feel) always has more emotional power than giving something.

I have no idea if that is what is going to happen, but it is at least a possibility.

[ Parent ]
Everyone wants to blame Obama, but Senate dems are more to blame... (4.00 / 1)
Sherrod Brown... progressive hero... an enemy of climate change!

Wha... wha... wha.... what?

Yep!  He's worried about manufacturing jobs... Rockefeller, Levin, Stabenow, all people that should be on our side are not!

Before you accuse Obama of punching hippies, take a look at our own "progressive" heroes first and see what they are doing.  Compared to Senate progressives, Obama is Greenpeace activist.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

I heard OBAMA offer up the policy! (0.00 / 0)
Rep. Pallone is critizing it, much to his credit.  I would like to see him run against Obama in the Presidential Primary.  He would be excellent!  We need someone with a SPINE, not another Republican clone, like Obama!

[ Parent ]
This analysis is pretty much spot on. (0.00 / 0)
I don't like it, obviously.  But Christ is correct about the reasons and effects, not to mention the relative power of Obama vs. progressives at this point.

So our only way to affect this is basically low voter intensity... i.e. shut up and vote or shut up and stay home.

Christ? (4.00 / 2)
I like Bowers and all, but he's no Jesus!

[ Parent ]
Why shut up at all? (4.00 / 5)

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
YOU MUST BE DNC! (0.00 / 0)
I will NEVER "SHUT UP!"  I will fight and work for someone else!

[ Parent ]
This hippie punches back (4.00 / 8)

Hey, you just wrote a bumper sticker (4.00 / 2)

[ Parent ]
Awesome (0.00 / 0)
I'd definitely buy one of those!

[ Parent ]
This is Obama's position. Please read this staffer analysis (0.00 / 0)
Posted at Steve Benen's blog:

Obama preempts the other side's most resonant arguments, which forces them to come up with more and more extreme claims in order to differentiate themselves. In the end, he occupies the reasonable middle ground and his opponents are Palinized. [...] (I understand that the term "middle ground" is very slippery and dangerous here, but I basically use it to mean policies that, before the great crazy of 2009 had broad consensus support from large portions of both parties and the Broder/Friedman/Brooks axis.)
Finally, by announcing the drilling policy without seeking to extract concessions, the Administration makes clear that it is their policy and they are the centrist/flexible/pragmatic ones -- making it harder for Republicans to argue that they accomplished this or that they forced Obama to do it.

so, obama moves the center to the right (4.00 / 3)

[ Parent ]
If that's Obama's position I hate it even more (4.00 / 5)
In the end, he doesn't "occupy the reasonable middle ground" he occupies conservative terrain and so surpresses the progressive world-view as "not reasonable." Clinton did the same thing and it stunk back then too.  It's a cowardly ploy that rolls over my moral beliefs for a short-term "win."  Every time The Big Obstacle plays this game he does damage to the progressive movement.  

[ Parent ]
extreme claims (4.00 / 5)
"Obama preempts the other side's most resonant arguments, which forces them to come up with more and more extreme claims in order to differentiate themselves"

. . . which many voters end up believing, causing them to disrupt town halls or hold rallies against death panels or vote for a Republican in a solidly Democratic state like Massachusettes.  

If pre-empting the other side's arguments is such a great strategy, why don't Republicans ever do it?

[ Parent ]
So this is about the politics of appearing centrist (4.00 / 4)
It's not actually about good policy or doing the right thing in terms of policy.

This co-opt word is what Rahm Emanuel used to say before they came up with the word triangulation.  Cooptation is just the more primitive version of triangulation - the prequel.

I actually personally had Rahm Emanuel say this to me over an early 90's right wing bill which in essence was a form of political censorship bill.  He told me the the way to combat the bad Republican bill was to put forward the Democratic version of a censorship bill!

Mentally my mouth dropped open. I was so flabbergasted I didn't know what to say back then.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Brilliant Bowers! (4.00 / 4)
Way to fight bad policy. Throw up your arms and say "I give".

WoW, the fighting Progs continue to happily get rolled. Keep those WH invites coming though.

That was my take (see above). (0.00 / 0)
Others said they had a different take (also above). But to me the fact that others like you understand the post as I did indicates either the post is poorly written or else poorly conceived.

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure Webb and Warner aren't conservadems. (0.00 / 0)
but maybe I'm just using slightly different definitions.
Webb is supporting mountaintop coal mining. ugh
Warner keeps sounding like a Chamber of Commerce rep.

Deal for votes (0.00 / 0)
"this move is likely designed to win over mainly Democratic votes"

Okay, but is this move likely to win those votes?  Has Obama negotiated with these Democrats yet, or is this just another pointless pre-compromise?

HE'S LOSING HIS BASE! (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
During the primary I said that Obama would once elected (4.00 / 2)
ignore the netroots and progressives. He would ignore them personally and he would ignore or compromise the issues they thought were important.

He wasn't much of a progressive. Of the 3 major candidates, he, Edwards and Clinton, he was the least progressive in both ideas and attitudinal stance.

In his Daily Kos diary of 2005 he had already stiff armed the left and thought it generated a lot of noise for nothing.

He made it very clear that his preference is the middle between 2 poles and that he was not doing much to move the left pole left.  

Nevertheless for reasons having less to do with the actual content of his beliefs and more to do with the ccontribution to political history of choosing him personally, lots of voters in the primary chose to see and hear what they wanted to see and hear.

So even when a significant portion of the netroots supported him because he in his person was transformational, not his politics.   The netroots supported him and not Hillary Clinton because she carried the baggaage of having been the wife of a Democratic president who already had a history of governing in a way that sought to take the right's positions by co-opting them, aka known as triangulation. We now have very much the same kind of thrid way leader - even more so because he does so much of this willingly.

Other progressives were much more equally divided between the 2 candidates.  We forget how closely contended it was and that lots of her supporters were good Democrats who then decided to support the Democratic nominee.

But this long peroration is to bring up what I said repeatedly at the time.

Barack Obama had that part of the netroots in the palm of his hand.  They would have no ability to move him leftward because he felt he could safely ignore them. He was safe in term of his own political viability if not of course the viability of other Democrats who need to get elected - like Representatives and Senators.

Hillary Clinton did not have the netroots in the palm of her hand.  She needed those folks and if elected she would have kept needing them. She ironicially would have been much more subject to pressure from the netroots.  She could have been pushed further to the left and the progressive direction exactly because they were not in love with her.

Barack Obama is like a handsome lover who is taking his girlfriend for granted, because she adores him and thinks she has no place to go. and he agrees.

And that is our dilemna..  He is the Democratic president of the United States.  We certainly don't want a Republican president of the United States.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

I dunno… (0.00 / 0)
...I think Hillary would have had even more incentive to govern like a centrist, because if she'd won it would have been a triumph of Dem dynasty/militarist/corporate business-as-usual, which doesn't respect the left in any substantive way. We can honestly say that Obama actually pays lip service to leftie ideas, and it's also possible that there are now more populist/change-type issues on the table because Obama is president. Trouble is, even though we've always known he wasn't a true progressive, this constant triangulation in the name of "bipartisanship" or "middle ground" or whatever he's calling capitulation this week is extremely counterproductive for us. Whether it'll get him re-elected is still anybody's guess at this point.

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

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Hillary (4.00 / 1)
would not have sold us out on choice.

Montani semper liberi

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I've said this around here before… (0.00 / 0)
...but Obama's choice decision may be the thing that surprises me the most. The man has daughters, for chrissakes...

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

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Hillary is a WAR MONGER (4.00 / 1)
and just as bad.  Why does it have to be one or the other?  We have millions of fish in the sea!!!

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Hilary was the more progressive candidate (4.00 / 2)
1. She never would have hired Rahm

2. She is more progressive on economic issues as can be seen that even now this administration solutions for the foreclosure still don;t measure up to the progressiveness of her.

3. She actually believed in the public option and would have really fought for it..not pretended

4. She would have renegotiated NAFTA

5. She NEVER would have sold out abortion rights in the HIR fight

6 She always had a more fighting stance toward the Republicans than Obama.  She would not be pursuing bipartisanship at all costs.

7. She would only compormise if she had to...not because she wanted to.  She wouldn't always be precompromising upfront.

However this is alternative history at this point.  

He's our president....

But I too don;t know how hard anyone is going to work for him.  The people I feel the most sympathy for are the congressional candidates who are going to lose big to preserve his presidency.

And it was all so unnecessary.
He could have bootstrapped himself from one progressive win to another...This just did not have to be the trajectory.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

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What we agree on… (0.00 / 0) trajectory. It sooooo didn't have to go like this. The path was laid out for him, and he's sidestepped it at just about every turn.

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

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This is alternative history (0.00 / 0)
based on no evidence.  

What is the basis for believing that Clinton would have been so different (more progressive) from the overwhelming bulk of the Democratic caucus, which put up little to no fight over any of the things you mentioned.  

Ultimately, we were given a choice between two neoliberals.  But more importantly, we were encouraged to believe that this choice would be the difference between real change or not. Regardless of who you chose, that framing of the question is how we got snookered.

(None of this is a defense of Obama's choices - which can be criticized without fetishizing presidential candidates or imaging other worlds.)

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

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You mean "imagining" other worlds… (0.00 / 0)
...right? I don't like that word "neoliberal" (don't really know what it means; sounds argot-y or something), but yeah, you're absolutely right that we've hit the wall on the audacity of hope.  

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

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I've known her for decades (0.00 / 0)
I know she's more liberal than her husband. When it came to abortion rights, she was the go to person.  In 93 in the health care fight, she wanted to keep abortion for everyone including poor women in the reform bill.

The members of congress had to contend with a president who refused to support the progressive things they supported.  If they had someone who did they would have passed more progressive legislation.  The only real impediment to the public option was Barack Obama's calculated indifference to it.

And she was not a courter of bipartisanship for its own sake.  She made that very clear in the primary.

Obama's strategic mistake - whihc he is doing once again - is giving up concessions prematurely to the Republicans for the sake of votes they aren't going to give him.  and in any case you compromise AFTER you get their vote..NOT BEFORE

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

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When I see this… (0.00 / 0)
I know she's more liberal than her husband. When it came to abortion rights, she was the go to person.  In 93 in the health care fight, she wanted to keep abortion for everyone including poor women in the reform bill.

...I realize that as a New Yorker (in the metro area, no less) I naïvely take abortion rights for granted (or better, as a given) in a way that folks just don't elsewhere. I never believed Obama would go for that, and yes, I still think it was a good reason to hold up the healthcare bill, no matter what the polls say now. Now that it's done, though, I'm with Katha Pollitt on how pro-choicers can go forward:

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

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I admire Katha but this is pie in the sky (0.00 / 0)
She keeps having to rationalize her support for a man who has harmed one of the things she believes in most.

And the more probable trajectory is for women's reproductive rights to move backward under this president.  He's just added 250 million for abstinence only education, which they know doesn't work.  

They didn't add it to any of the programs Katha cited.

They are constantly placating the right and backhanding the left and the women's reproductive rights movement.

And even if those thiings were done, which they won't be, they do not begin to make up for the loss of reproductive rights which is the fundamental basis for women's freedom and equality and ability to participate fully in a democracy.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

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Someone else would call… (0.00 / 0)
...all progressivism "pie-in-the-sky", so what are we fighting for? Why do we even read and/or post on this blog? The way I see it, there's the protest, and then there's the day after the protest...the vote, and the day after the vote...

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

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I don't call progressive goals pie in the sky (0.00 / 0)
because they're progressive.  We have achieved many of them in the past by progressive Congresses and bold, progressive presidents....FDR, Truman, JFK and LBJ

We could achieve many of them now. If....If we had a boldly progressive president.  But we don't.

My pie in the sky reference was not to viability of progressive idea, I think they are very viable.  But rather to their reception and acceptance by this president, whose idea of boldness is to keep validating, accepting and acting on right wing ideas...Back in the 90's we called it Sistah Souljahing the base.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

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THEY BOTH STINK! (0.00 / 0)
We have other choices.  Hillary will NEVER win a General Election.

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spot on (0.00 / 0)
that was spot on! u got me thinking

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I don't really have much of a problem with this (0.00 / 0)
Offshore drilling is mostly irrelevant to long term climate change. Most long-term climate projections just assume that we burn up recoverable oil.

Coal, and topsoil loss, will the dominant future contributors to atmospheric CO2. Burning cheap and dirty coal, and topsoil destruction, could spell the death of much of Earth's biosphere. (For that matter, oil shale could kill us too, but that is not an off-shore resource.)

Oil is already a price-limited resource, and demand will go down as price goes up. Oil is an necessity for the next few decades, absent an economic collapse. (And by the way, don't root for an economic collapse, because that will probably just accelerate topsoil loss.)

We will need petroleum products for several decades just in order to build up the infrastructure of alternative energy to replace coal. Windmill parts are being driven down highway 80 right now in Nebraska on diesel trucks. Solar installers are driving to my house in a truck. Many of the parts of alternative energy technologies are fabricated from petroleum.

In several decades, hopefully we will have replaced much of our transportation infrastructure to use less petroleum. In the meantime, adding to the national debt by importing oil helps no one.

All that said, I would be really pissed off if this was happening off the coast of California, and I hope that there are no drilling platforms built within sight of the coast of the states that will be allowing this.

ec=-8.50 soc=-8.41   (3,967 Watts)

Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh ! (4.00 / 1)

Sounds like Obama's "re-structuring" plan (4.00 / 1)
for auto industries. Robert Reich says it best :

Having General Motors or Chrysler cut tens of thousands of jobs in order to be eligible for a government bailout reminds me of "saving" Vietnam by bombing it to smithereens. Aren't we giving these companies billions of taxpayer dollars to save jobs? If not, we're just transferring money from taxpayers to GM and Chrysler bondholders and shareholders.

"Hippie punching" is an apt term. Obama talks about the "need to move beyond the tired debates between right and left" when trying to push conservative/repug policies - charter schools, deficit commission, drilling etc.

By the way, another example of why dems can't govern. Yesterday's rethuglican policies  become today's dem policies. Examples - welfare reform, wall street de-regulation, charter schools, HIR , and the list goes on and on. Obama was on the mark when he called rethugs as the "party of ideas" during primaries  however crappy it is, although he said that to slight the Clintons.

What's the difference between Mitt Romney and Obama? (4.00 / 1)
Romney adopted all the Conservative GOP positions before he ran for President.  Obama didn't adopt them until after he ran for President and won.

Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!

your map reminded me (4.00 / 1)
of this map for the expected high speed rail lines.

That's it? (4.00 / 1)
Kind of a "whatever" response to this?

I really have to wonder what the goals of this blog are right now.  I used to come here because of the thought provoking commentary and because I found a lot of things I agreed with.  Now I feel like a stranger in a strange land when I read most of the front page posts.

I agree. (0.00 / 0)
We must have a Democratic Primary to replace Obama, and not with Hillary.  Obama has destroyed any chance of changing Bush's policies, and he has reinforced those policies, and made them worse in some cases.  I believe he is a sociopath who lies when it is convienent for him to do so.  He has gone back on almost all of his campaign promises, and made too many deals with the Devil.  He has to go.  We must work against his re-election, starting now.  Most of us worked with all of our might to elect him.  Now we must use that same energy to work against him, and for someone like Howard Dean or Congressman Pallone, men who really mean what they say, and follow through with positive action!

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