Frolicking With Ponies In A Psychedelic Fantasyland

by: David Sirota

Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 20:15

Al Giordano and Election Inspection make arguably the most ignorant, least informed, stupendously idiotic assertion that Obama is trying to negotiate with Republicans on the economic recovery package in the belief that if he plays his cards right now, they will cooperate with Democrats when Democrats push more contentious bills like the Employee Free Choice Act.

Now, look - I think Obama is making a big mistake not by rhetorically reaching out to Republicans, but by legislatively negotiating with them on a stimulus bill where their legislative complicity isn't necessary. However, Barack Obama is a lot of things - but one of them is not stupid to the point of braindead. He is definitely not stupid enough to believe - as Giordino and Election Inspection apparently do themselves, and as they believe Obama does himself - that being nice to Republicans on the stimulus bill or outmaneuvering him on the bill will make them more likely to later vote for something like the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that the entire corporate community has sworn to stop at all costs.

Giordano, in particular, self-importantly lectures us about his "decades of studious participation in authentic social movements" and about his allegedly awe-inspiring experience in politics. But I just have to say: If you put pen to paper (or, as it were, keyboard to Internet) arguing with a straight-face that it's realistic to believe that coddling Republicans now will mitigate their "This Will Be Armageddon" opposition to bills like the Employee Free Choice Act, then you shouldn't be bragging about your political experience or acumen because you are making very clear that you spend your life frolicking with ponies in a psychedelic fantasyland that most mere mortals never even dreamed existed.

Yes, yes, Republicans will be cajoled with candy and niceties into supporting bills to help make union organizing easier, just like I will teach myself the Force so that I can levitate and read people's minds and see the future and defeat Darth Vader and the Emperor in an intergalactic space battle aboard a steel-constructed planet called the Death Star. I mean, really. When you even suggest such an absurd line of reasoning, you make abundantly clear that you are so far gone, you have been so utterly lobotomized over the last 20 years, you have been so completely oblivious to the very basics of politics for a generation, that it's hard to even know how to communicate with you, other than to wish you well in your unfathomably ignorant bliss.

Indeed, I find the best thing to do with such lost souls is to simply repeat what Woody Allen said to Christopher Walken in Annie Hall: "Right. Well, I have to - I have to go now, Duane, because I, I'm due back on the planet Earth."

David Sirota :: Frolicking With Ponies In A Psychedelic Fantasyland

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I disagree with you about everything (4.00 / 11)
But you're right on this one.  The only one who might cross over is Specter, and if he does, it will be about union pressure from PA, not a quid pro quo on the stimulus.

Cognitive Dissonance. (4.00 / 1)
Not just for Republicans.

not about Caroline? (2.00 / 2)
When I saw "Al Giordano" and "the most ignorant, least informed, stupendously idiotic assertion" I figured this had to be about his crazed break with reality over Caroline where he made Neil Diamond writing a love song about an eleven year old look grounded.

On twitter: @BobBrigham

You mean the Al Giordano (4.00 / 6)
who was so consistently right on just about every opinion or prediction he had during the primary and since?

As opposed to the David Sirota who was wrong on just about every single thing he's posted in the last 2 years?


[ Parent ]
No the Al Giordano who agitated for JOHN MCCAIN as The Democratic VP in 2004. (4.00 / 3)
That Al Giordano.

You tell me how this person who is so involved in social movements wants John McCain on the Democratic ticket.

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

[ Parent ]
I'm not talking about 4 years ago. (4.00 / 6)
I'm talking about now.

Or should we talk about the Markos who used to be a Republican?

Or should we talk about the millions of people who voted for Bush and Reagan who came back into the Democratic party this year to vote for Obama?

People earn credibility and they lose it over time. Al earned credibility in the past year and a half by being right, by being a responsible journalist, and by doing the research necessary to write the stories he wrote. Sirota lost it because he cherry picked the research that fit his initial argument and then ignored everything that didn't fit his worldview - no matter how wrong he was, no matter how blatant it was, he refused to ever correct information. Sirota actually argued that John Edwards was the most "progressive" Presidential candidate in the primary - you know, the guy who voted with Republicans over 50% of the time when he was in the Senate.

I don't care what Al was doing 4 years ago - because Al gained credibility by doing his job responsibly - which is more than I can say for way too many liberal bloggers this past year and a half.

[ Parent ]
What I find most ridiculous (4.00 / 3)
about your post is how you think what Al did four years ago doesn't matter, but Sirota has no credibility because he thought that Edwards was the most progressive candidate...because of votes four years before.

[ Parent ]
Show me where Edwards provided (3.33 / 6)
some proof of those progressive credentials Sirota is so willing to give and take away from any candidate who won't do his bidding.

There wasn't any. Edwards never earned the progressive label. Sirota never earned credibility.

[ Parent ]
Ain't that cute (4.00 / 3)
one of the Obama-right-or-wrongers showing up to defend one of their princes and to bash Sirota, whose primary sin, whatever they may claim, is having the temerity to criticize Obama from a prominent forum.

By the way, are you the same Elise who was at Dkos yesterday claiming that Noam Chomsky had as little to offer as Evan Bayh?

If so, that makes sense because beneath these tiresome ego-driven pissing contests is a battle over ideology, if you pardon my French (I know how the Obama hardcore hates that word.)

[ Parent ]
I don't know why you take it all so (3.00 / 4)
personally, mizner. I don't.

And as usual - you didn't pay attention to what I said yesterday.

And do let me know when Sirota actually comes up with a valid criticism of anyone or anything. I've yet to see it - he ensures his own failure every time he starts writing and refuses to look at the evidence that doesn't support his pov.  

[ Parent ]
Should I call you a "Sirota right or wronger"?? (2.00 / 2)

[ Parent ]
You are not following the argument (4.00 / 6)
I was pointing to an inconsistency in your defense of Al.  You said 4 years ago didn't matter, and then in your attack on Sirota you made an argument which assumes that 4 years ago does matter.  I was offering a reason not to take you or your argument seriously.  I was not defending Edwards.

But since I supported Edwards in the primary let me say that the fact that he was so extreme (relative to the mainstream of American politics) in his anti-corporate message that he received almost no money from corporations that weren't law firms went a long way towards convincing me that he meant it.  It is easy to say mushy weakly progressive things that are mushy and weak so that they don't scare big money donors.  Moving yourself from being the darling of corporate democrats to being completely abandoned by them in the course of four years is something that takes real trying.  

Plus his policy positions were, on every issue that I remember, farther to the left than Obama or Clinton.  He wasn't the most progressive.  Kucinich was.  But was he the most progressive person who had a chance.

[ Parent ]
there was also (4.00 / 1)
The 2004 Edwards campaign to look at.  Edwards' transformation from red state blue dog Senator to progressive was not an overnight phenomenon.

[ Parent ]
Because 4 years ago (0.00 / 0)
for Edwards is all we have to go on...because he's done nothing since. Therefore he has no progressive credentials. I didn't expect you to get it.

[ Parent ]
How sweet (4.00 / 3)
And uninformed.  He ran and runs an anti-poverty program at UNC Chapel Hill.  He went one several speaking tours, where he presented the same anti-poverty, anti-corporate message.  What else do you expect someone who is not in elected office to do?

[ Parent ]
More to the point, do you think (4.00 / 6)
that Giardano is correct in the post to which Sirota linked?

Defending that particular argument would probably be a more valuable contribution.

[ Parent ]
It's blatantly obvious that this (4.00 / 5)
is Obama's plan. The only people who miss things like this are those who never understood Obama - who never made even the slightest attempt to observe what he does. Every time they disagreed with what he was doing, they railed against him instead of trying to comprehend that there may be a larger plan in place.

Al's first commenter sums it up nicely - this is what Obama does.

I'll put the main points here:

1. Call on people to listen to their better angels and put aside petty fights.

2. Extend an olive branch and make a "concession" that's not really as big as it seems.

3. Allow himself to be slapped by the other side who thinks they've got a pushover on their hands.

4. Wait for the other side to overextend themselves.

5. Chide the other side for being childish and then proceed to do what he always meant to do anyway.

Not tough. That's Obama's standard plan. He does this every time. When he's done with the stimulus he can say that he was willing to compromise with Republicans and they were unreasonable to the point where they want to ensure the complete and total failure of the economy. This strategy kneecaps the Republicans for screwing around and prolonging the stimulus while Americans lose their jobs - and it puts them in a bad position to object to every other bill that's put forward by Obama because clearly the Democrats have tried to be reasonable and bi-partisan - it's the Republicans that refuse to play. And we win more seats in 2010.

[ Parent ]
Don't bash Obama (4.00 / 3)
Step one is so naive as to be transparently dishonest.  Step two is not applicable here, Obama has made big concessions, big enough that some democrats in congress are fighting a newly elected democratic president.  Steps 3 and 4 do contribute to step 5.  However Step 5 seems nowhere near as good a goal to shoot for as actually just getting a good bill done in the meantime.

I like to give Obama credit for being a craftier political operator than you are giving him credit for.  You are really representing him as a ignoramus.  Its not fair.  Please stop.

[ Parent ]
I prefer David's version (4.00 / 11)
Even if your interpretation of Obama's jiujitsu were correct (and based on the same evidence that you cite, I think it's a massive case of projection on your part) I still don't see any advantage other than a cosmetic one in publicly playing psychoanalyst to a roomful of demented Republicans. No voter who's lost his house and his job will be more likely to vote for Obama because he's nice, and likes to give everybody, even the most discredited, a chance to chew on the President's ankles.

On the more substantive issues, there's no question that an Obama who makes Hillary Clinton his Secretary of State, Robert Gates his Secretary of Defense, continues our refusal to talk to Hamas, and whose first National Security decision is to authorize a predator drone to wipe out a bunch of people in Pakistan, is in dire need not only of progressive advice, but progressive pressure as well.

Either we believe in what we believe in or we don't. Civility has no standing as a religion, and while a man who outwitted the Clintons may be a marvel to behold, that alone doesn't make him the Wizard of Oz.

[ Parent ]
Spitting in the wind (0.00 / 0)
You're right, but it's useless to tell people on here. It's become an echo chamber.

Just wait, english lefty and Travis will be here to troll-rate this in 3 ... 2... 1 ....

[ Parent ]
I guess he was more interested in winning the election (4.00 / 1)
than ideological purity, but if you're happy with how the whole Kerry/Edwards thing worked out, more power to you.

[ Parent ]
Exactly! (0.00 / 0)
Me thinks this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

[ Parent ]
You also mean the Al Giordano (2.67 / 3)
Who backed Barack Obama pretty much without thought, even when he contradicted himself?

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
And Elise brings the "Obama can do no wrong" roadshow (4.00 / 6)
To Open Left, willing to misstate facts in pursuit of the "thou shalt not speak ill of thy president" agenda.

For example, it is a statement lacking facts - which you chided Chris Bowers for in a Daily Kos diary - to claim Sirota has been "wrong on just about every single thing he's posted in the last 2 years." Going by the standards you've set, I would like to see an itemized list. And yes, I will wait.

Of course your comment does not deal with the meat of Sirota's criticism, which is that it is absurd - laughably absurd - to believe that Republicans will cave on Employee Free Choice because Obama gave them some stuff in the stimulus. Sirota is actually giving Obama credit here.

[ Parent ]
Do you agree with this?: (0.00 / 0)
I am not asking you to abstain from criticizing Obama. I'm not asking you to keep your disagreements to yourself. Obama himself welcomed them. There are several issues where I find disagreement with Obama - gay marriage, FISA, clean coal, and a few others. I absolutely disagree with him on these things. I want him to change his positions.

Because that is what I wrote about Obama in a July 2008 diary, and you recommended my diary. So piss off with your bullshit allegations of blind support.

[ Parent ]
Giordano's an interesting case (3.43 / 7)
I've been aware of him ever since he made a bizarre and false charge against me (too boring to go into.)

He takes great offense whenever bloggers portray themselves or their views as progressive yet seldom does a week past when he doesn't brag about how far left he is on "class struggle" or is this case about his participation in "authentic social movements."

And just about every I look up this self-styled "authentic" "class warrior" is cheering some centrist act by Obama, whether it's his capitulation here or his support for the Peru Free Trade agreement.

I thought we (4.00 / 2)
were through with holier than thou "I fight for the masses" new leftist bragging 20 years ago, but guess not, looks like some of them new left hipsters are still thinking they can awe their inferiors with it.

[ Parent ]
I was done with Giordano when he got in a fight with Greenwald, (4.00 / 8)
and after at best holding his own (I would say he lost), he wrote something along the lines of "I'm a faster, smarter velociraptor and I just took a dripping hunk of flesh out of the thigh of Tyrannosaurus Glenn."

Really, he said that.  At least he had the sense to put it in the comments section.  Though the main post was not much better.

It's too bad, because a good political analyst who comes out of the narcosphere would be an invaluable asset.  And maybe he is still illuminating, if you screen out his obvious limitations of ego and delusion.  But I'm honestly too lazy to bother with that.

You could print up stickers (4.00 / 4)
It's too bad, because a good political analyst who comes out of the narcosphere would be an invaluable asset.  And maybe he is still illuminating, if you screen out his obvious limitations of ego and delusion.

Wow, there are so many bloggers you could apply that to, including Sirota and gasp Greenwald. Yeah, I said it.

[ Parent ]
You said it, I'll second it. (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
He's not the only one who's insane... (4.00 / 2)
Chuck Todd believes the same thing...

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!

the guy's a blowhard (3.60 / 10)
who was frequently wrong in what was assumed to be his core competency, raw electoral politics, before moving on and being the chief "Obama's got a super-secret strategy ZOMG how dumb are you guyz to not see it" apologist.

Insert shameless blog promotion here.

I usually find Al Giordano pretty shrewd, but he's pretty confused on this one. (0.00 / 0)
Very, very naive.

Obama is not that stupid. (4.00 / 4)
The Republicans will compromise on gay marriage and torture before they will on economic issues.  EFCA means economic fairness.  I don't understand how anyone would think that EFCA would not be a true war.  The Rs certainly won't "be nice" based on Obama "negotiating" with them on the stimulus.

Good diary, David.

The force is strong with this one... (4.00 / 3)

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!

Stop insulting Star Wars. nt (1.60 / 5)

[ Parent ]
Where's my bloodshine light saber when I need it? (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Who does his hair? (1.00 / 4)
Whoever keeps it in place deserves some Academy Award for special effects.

[ Parent ]
Geek (1.33 / 3)
Travis, quit following me around and find a date.

[ Parent ]
I'm just an OpenLeft reader. (4.00 / 1)
You, on the other hand, seem to have a "thing" for David that I think you should work out on your own before coming here to lob your 'truth bombs'.

[ Parent ]
How many sock puppets do you have? (0.00 / 1)
Are you T Maylse, too? David, is that you?

[ Parent ]
Isn't it even stupider to do it for nothing? (4.00 / 2)
I agree that Giordano's idea is stupid, and Obama would be stupid to make so many concessions in the hope that Republicans will sign off on EFCA...

But isn't it even stupider to play the Republicans' game, with a stimulus full of tax cuts and all the rest of it, for nothing?

Just remember in 2004 that Al Giordano wrote many diaries on DKos (4.00 / 1)
touting how absolutely wonderful it would be to have JOHN MCCAIN be the DEmocratic VP nominee.  

The right wing John McCain...the John McCain who said he's voting against the stimulus...becasue it doesn't have enough tax cuts.

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

Missing the real point (4.00 / 6)
I think nearly everyone is missing the real point of what Obama is doing, both today with the Republicans and yesterday with the Arab TV station...he's bypassing the folks in power and sending his message and methods to the real folks the figureheads represent.

Overtly going into his opponents camp rather than making them come to him and cede to his power, listening to what his opponents have to say rather than dictating his terms or the highway, speaking in plain language about his goals to get to the people's work are all done for the benefit of the real people of the world not to try to sway any of the fools elected Reps in the House or the leaders of Hamas, etc.

Who knows better than Obama that if you get the folks to like and respect you they will give their representatives hell if they try to hard line him.

I agree Gr (4.00 / 3)
Obama wins in the long run. He has now shown that he's really willing to be bi-partisan. If all the Repugs show in return is a clenched fist, they're the ones who look like they're still playing old school politics. In the end Obama will turn around and call them on their shit. So he gives up funding for birth control, that can always be funded in the budget bill or the health care bill. And as for the tax cuts, NOBODY knows exactly what is going to work, so throwing a few bones to the Repugs only makes Obama look like he's playing fair. I grow very tired of Sirotas game of playing devils advocate all the time. It's time to put aside childish things David. Get over your Obama hatred and put aside your primary loss.

[ Parent ]
Playing... (0.00 / 0)
Playing devil's advocate can be a very useful to constructive conversation.  However I don't think that's what David is doing.

I believe David and other folks like him truly believe what they believe and will fight hard to forward their goals.  They are no different than others, especially in the political arena, that hold fast to their principles no matter which political bent.

But that's the very reason a leader like Obama, who I believe truly believes in governing from common ground, is so valuable at this moment in time.  We have radicalized ourselves to the extreme and as a huge nation we desperately need someone with the calm and conviction and confidence to face all the dens of lions on all sides of all the issues to try to find those common threads that run through all our discussions.

Lucky for us that Obama resides naturally on the left side of the spectrum so we should get a more humane path than we've known in a long while.  But none of the hard line believers will get all they want and none of them will be really happy with this Presidency.  

[ Parent ]
We have been radicalized (4.00 / 12)
I agree.  I would also like to tell a story.

Suppose you are with a group of people walking along a mountain side.  It is not easy going.  From time to time people twist ankles.  At a certain point a significant portion of people in the group suggest that everyone jump off the side.  They insist it is safe and employ lots of dishonest rhetorical tricks against anyone who says different.  This convinces some people.  In horror the rest of the group starts getting very emotional and extreme in how they handle the situation.  After all the other side is suggesting that everyone jump off a cliff.  So they don't hold back.  They fight the suggestion with everything they have.

This strikes me as a situation in which a group has been radicalized.  It also strikes me as a situation where a calm evenhanded centrist is a bit crazy.  Not as crazy as the cliff-jumpers, but certainly not preferable to the group that is against jumping off the cliff and is radical about it.  The appeal to bipartisanship and centrism seems to me usually involve a failure to appreciate that for a lot of the questions we are fighting over there are correct answers to the questions, and that one of the two radicalized sides has those answers (or has them more reliably than the other side).  

When it comes to what get called 'cultural issues' like abortion, euthanasia, the proper role of religion in public life I tend to support the kind of centrism that Obama does (not because I don't think there are correct answers.  I do.  I just don't think they are answers that are obviously correct to every rational informed person).  But when it comes to economic and environmental issues, the other side just doesn't have a leg to stand on.  Its not like we are in the 1970s when there were all sorts of new untested economic theories challenging Keynesianism.  Monetarism, rational expectations theory, supply side economics, etc. have all been pretty well empirically refuted as far as I am concerned (Krugman has excellent arguments for these claims).  On these issues the other side is wrong.  Tax cuts are not better than direct government spending.  The market does not allocate resources more efficiently in every case than the government.  Calls for moderation, given the epistemic situation we are in with regards to these issues, strike me as crazy.

Don't give ground when you know you are right, you know the other side is lying, and you know that people's lives hang in the balance.  I know that people are going to say that 'radicals always think they are right, and always justify their radical claims by appeals to the correctness of their positions.'  That is true.  And sometimes the radicals are right (see the anti-Vietnam war movement and the Civil Rights movement for recent examples).

[ Parent ]
Not on point (4.00 / 1)
You may be correct in your assessment of Obama's overarching strategy and that he will be successful in the long run.  I am not necessarily as opposed to Obama's bipartisan tone on the stimulus bill as some; so long as nothing too valuable is removed, and things are not currently moving in the ideal direction.

But in saying that there is anything - anything at all - that will get a non-trivial number of GOPers to support EFCA Giordano is being duplicitous or a moron.  Or both.

As I understand it, that is the point of this diary.

I refuse to accept that a person as intelligent as Obama can believe the nonsense Giordano is peddling about EFCA.

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 hope everyone clicks through (4.00 / 5)
Since while it is entertaining to see these two call each other names, "The Field" is not saying Republicans will be "cajoled with candy and niceties," rather

To get to that point, he has to make individual Republicans feel vulnerable at the ballot box to Democratic challenge. Today's events are speeding that process up.

Not that I think he is right, but at least we should be criticizing based on, you know, the actual argument.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

Wait, you mean Sirota misrepresented (3.56 / 9)
Al Giordano's argument?

Well I never...

He does this sort of thing every single time he posts.

[ Parent ]
Well .. it is nice he is doing that now .. (0.00 / 0)
hell .. look at Minnesota ... I am sure Franken could have used more help before election day ... and what is Obama gonna do to make them electorially vunerable? .. is he going to campaign against some of them?  will he come to PA to campaign against Scottish Haggis if Snarlin' Arlen doesn't get with the program? .. will he campaign for whomever the Democratic Senate nominee is in Florida?

[ Parent ]
What is Giordano doing to improve the stimulus? (4.00 / 6)
The belief that Obama is enacting a secret progressive agenda by way of jujitsu is perfectly compatible with a belief in pressuring Obama from the left. There is no reason why people like Giordano and Sirota can't be allied on this and put aside the pointless debate over Obama's state of mind. That is, of course, unless Giordano really doesn't support pushing for a more progressive stimulus. So that is my question for/about him.

In some ways, the secret Obama-decoding of Giordano and Silver can help by leading Obama supporters to push for progressive principles on the belief that they are pushing Obama's secret agenda. Just depends on how it's framed.

David, while I agree with your point on substance, I think you'd be more effective if you dropped the ad hominems (which I know Giordano makes a practice). Not that I'm above it all - I will admit to laughing at lines like "frolicking with ponies" - but there is a gap to be bridged between people who can agree on organizing pressure but disagree on personalities. I'm sure we all agree that the debate over Obama's mind is secondary. And the reality is that Brand Obama is simply too powerful to compete with in Democratic Party, or even progressive, circles. Lest we forget, he beat out Apple for Ad Age's Marketer of the Year. And that was before he won, let alone the propaganda of the inauguration. Framing the debate as being against Obama is a loser every time, at least until his neoliberalism starts reaping the whirlwind.

Excellent comment, vosh. (4.00 / 1)
It is better to promote the progressive policies Obaam favors while pushing him from the left.

Framing the debate as being against Obama is a loser every time.

The goal is change.  I'm okay with criticizing Obama when he's wrong, but we should not frame the issue as the left v. Obama.  Rather, we must strengthen Obama's ability to move left.  

[ Parent ]
i agree (0.00 / 0)
push the press to cover the progressive issues more openly and fairly (not by being anti-obama but by attacking the crazy meme's being pushed by the gop)

we can be reality based progressives without being anti-obama.

krugman is a good example as is yglesias.

[ Parent ]
The only point at which we would have had this kind of leverage (4.00 / 3)
was when the financial shit hit the fan in September.  That would have been the time to say, "You can have our $700 billion, on the following conditions..."

Of course, no one in DC of any significance wanted to do that, because the main interest at the time was in preventing the extant power infrastructure from collapsing.  But I'm afraid that that's what it's gonna take to get EFCA passed -- a genuine belief that the alternative to passing EFCA is impending chaos.

Okay. They won't compromise on EFCA. (4.00 / 3)
That looks obvious.

The next question you need to ask is: Is there anything they will compromise on?

Healthcare? (Given the "if healthcare passes, Republicans are doomed" mentality from at least the 90s, this appears doubtful.)
Financial regulations?

I dunno. Hence asking.

But yeah, going through the motions of bipartisanship, cooperation, and respect is the right thing to do whether or not you can actually expect tangible results. (For one thing, it doesn't cost you anything, and who knows, you could end up being surprised). But the 'respect' bit, especially, I think could be beneficial in itself. Not that I care so much necessarily about the personal relationships of a few hundred powerful people in D.C. (they're professionals and act overwhelmingly based on calculation rather than emotion, anyways), but the way they deal with each other and through the media influences to some degree the way their voters also relate to each other. And where a climate of fear and divisiveness favors Republicans, one of respectful, if strong, disagreement favors the Democrats (not to mention, you know, simply being preferable on the merits).

Two political paths (4.00 / 6)
More than one person has defended the claim that Sirota is attacking.  They are claiming that Obama is involved in some very complex bit of gamesmanship.  While I doubt this is true (it sounds too much like political fiction and too little like the kinds of things you find in history books), I am not talking to Obama or anyone in the administration, so I have to admit they may be right.

I want to argue against this strategy on its merits.  The way I take what they are saying is that Obama is acting in a bipartisan fashion, so that when the Republicans maintain their obstructionist stance, Obama can reap political rewards.  He will look above the fray, and the republicans will look like children.

This both wouldn't work very well, and to the extent that it might work there are better alternatives.  And I mean morally better alternatives, because I think taking the attitude towards political activity that these people are attributing to Obama approaches the morally disgusting.

I want to ask who it is that you are trying to get to vote for you with this strategy that wasn't already going to?  Democrats and left-leaning independents are in the bag.  Do you really think that the 20-30% of this country that are solidly conservative republicans are going to vote for Obama, or stay home, because of this political theater?  No.  If congressional republicans (or more accurately the media that is owned by the same people that own them) tell them that Obama was being unreasonable and that the evil liberal media is lying when they say that Obama was trying to be bipartisan, do you really think that they are going to question that?  They have been swallowing that for decades.  Ok, so what about right leaning independents?  At the end of the day, according to this account of what Obama is doing, left-wing legislation is still going to get passed.  That is what such people will care about.  They might watch this thing play out, and Obama might get them to be even further disenchanted with republicans, but come voting time do you really think they are going to vote democratic because republicans failed to moderate democratic legislative ambitions?  These people want left-wing legislation to fail, and you think that the inability of republicans to make this happen is going to make them vote for democrats?

The only people this plany might work on is centrists.  They like bipartisanship, sometimes more than they like or dislike any particular peice of legislation.  But you know what else they like?  Not living in a recession.  Not losing their jobs.  Not seeing the real value of their salaries decrease.  You can win centrist over with political theater.  You can also win them over by actually doing a good job with your legislative opportunities and helping people out.  And unlike the political theater, actually helping people out the best you can gets you a political victory and it actually helps people out.

When people talk about political strategies this way they seem to me to forget what rides on the legislation we are talking about.  Why take a risk that the bad bill you proposed merely to make republicans look bad will be the bill that gets passed?  Why start with a flawed bill that will inevitably get watered down in the Senate so that you can do something that passing a good bill will do for you just as well?

Tradition, mostly (0.00 / 0)
"Why start with a flawed bill that will inevitably get watered down in the Senate so that you can do something that passing a good bill will do for you just as well?"

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

[ Parent ]
He'll shut up when (0.00 / 0)
Obama goes after his pet causes, Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales.  He isn't altogether a bad guy, but I think he believes all people of color of progressive.

My blog  

If you don't honestly represent your opponent's argument (4.00 / 4)
then everything you say about it is, indeed "frolicking with ponies in a psychedelic fantasyland."  Pass the mushrooms.

He is definitely not stupid enough to believe - as Giordino and Election Inspection apparently do themselves, and as they believe Obama does himself - that being nice to Republicans on the stimulus bill or outmaneuvering him on the bill will make them more likely to later vote for something like the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that the entire corporate community has sworn to stop at all costs.

I have read Al's post and I am unable to find any place in which he argues that Obama's strategy is "being nice to Republicans."  Al says

In other words, Obama's strategy is to set them up for another rout in the 2010 Congressional elections and to hasten, in the meantime, the process by which they wake up and realize their seats are vulnerable. The President doesn't need their votes on the Stimulus (therefore, this maneuver is not about the Stimulus, but more akin to a football team calling a running play to set up a later passing play). The truth is that so many Congressional Democrats are so undependable that Obama will need some Republican votes later on other legislative priorities, particularly in the Senate in order to get 60 votes for "cloture" to allow bills to be voted up or down: On the Employee's Free Choice Act, on Immigration Reform (and now he needs one more to offset the anti-immigrant junior Democratic Senator from New York), on children's health care and much, much more. To get to that point, he has to make individual Republicans feel vulnerable at the ballot box to Democratic challenge. Today's events are speeding that process up.

The rest of your piece is just ad hominems and hardly worthy of your talents.

Agreed. (4.00 / 1)
David's description of Al's post bears no discernible relation to the post itself, to the point that I wondered if David had linked to the wrong one.

Al's point seems to be simply that after Obama rope-a-dopes the republicans a time or two or eight on legislation that's gonna pass anyway, word will start to bubble up from the proletariat that the obstructionist shit is getting old, and republicans in  the less-than-a-lock seats will start to distance themselves from McConnell, Boner, and the rest of the lunatic contrarian fringe.

Al's observation of this tactic is neither conjecture nor projection, but simply the result of having seen Obama use it time and again on first Hillary, then McCain.  And hey, if the bipartisan sentiment is genuine - as it may actually be - then so much the better.

Having said all that, neither Al nor David comes out of this little pissing match looking very mature.  Such flaming is unseemly enough to seem almost, well, republican.

[ Parent ]
That's not a moon... (0.00 / 0)'s a space station!


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