What Really Bothers Me About Obama (Updated)

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Dec 10, 2007 at 14:05

Barack Obama is simultaneously the best and worst Democratic candidate for new progressive media and new progressive institutions. Where his campaign is good, it is very good in this area, especially around media policy and earning support from users of new media. However, where his campaign is bad in this area, it is very bad, including in engaging direct attacks against multiple progressive and new media figures. I discuss this schism, and the conundrum it presents for progressives, in the extended entry.
Chris Bowers :: What Really Bothers Me About Obama (Updated)
There has been a great deal of discussion online about the Obama campaign releasing a "Fact check" oppo document on Paul Krugman. Ezra Klein sums up part of why it is disturbing that an attack like this is coming from a leading Democratic Presidential candidate:

It's not only the actual attacks that are weak (most of them rely on misinterpreting one comment, then misinterpreting the next, then pretending there's a contradiction), but, seriously, it's Paul Krugman. Arguably the most progressive voice in American media. When I argued that the campaign should take the gloves off, I really didn't expect their target, in this document and in the health care fight more generally, would be progressivism.

It is certainly disturbing that Obama is attacking a leading progressive voice in a media system where progressive opinion journalists are few are far between. What is even more disturbing is that this is not the first time the Obama campaign has considered doing this.  Back during the Donnie McClurkin fiasco, it has been confirmed to me from multiple sources that the Obama campaign was preparing opposition research papers of this sort against some one of the progressive bloggers who were speaking ill of him at the time (Update: I have edited the previous sentence for the sake of clarity and accuracy.  I know two separate things, and conflating them is a bit of speculation on my part. First, I know that about a year ago, someone was conducting oppo research on most major progressive bloggers, but I don't know who. After I heard about oppo being prepared against one blogger a couple months ago, I speculated that meant the earlier oppo was conducted by the Obama campaign as well. That is purely speculation on my part. Take it for what it is worth).  When I heard about that, Obama temporarily dropped to last place in my personal choices on Democratic candidates. This is a campaign that appears willing to go negative against a wide range of progressive media figures should those figures step out of line and criticize Obama campaign decisions. Given that, I became personally worried that an Obama nomination would, at some point in the future, result in a public smear campaign, possibly directed by the a new White House communications department, against me and / or many of my friends and colleagues. As Jerome Armstrong wrote on Friday:

Actually, it's worse. Couple it with the quote of Obama's above the PR that says: "I want to campaign the same way I govern, which is to respond directly and forcefully with the truth -Barack Obama". It is plainly and simply an effort to call Paul Krugman a liar.

But it's also a telling quote of the way that Obama would govern as President-- by attacking those who are most outspoken in the being progressive.

That sounds about right. During an Obama presidency, progressive media figures could face regular attacks from a Democratic White House. It is a fear that I still hold, and which keeps me from getting excited about Obama's improving position in the campaign.

It isn't just about attacking progressive media figures, either. In my experience, Obama's blogosphere outreach has been far, far worse than that from the Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, and Richardson campaigns, which have all been excellent in this area. Even the Biden campaign has been slightly better in this area. Overall, the willingness to attack progressive media figures, the poor blogosphere outreach, the willingness to triangulate against left-wing strawmen, and incessant, beltway-pundit friendly talk about the need to "fix" Social Security, combine to paint a pretty stark picture of the Obama campaign's relationship with progressive media and new progressive institutions. That is to say, he doesn't like those new institutions, and is instead making friends with the more established media infrastructure.

Obama actually seems to be doing a good job in this area, as he receives significantly more positive media than any other Presidential candidate. Certainly, showing a distaste for the dirty hippies and real concern over the need to "fix" Social Security can make you a lot of friends among media figures who have the ability to sway public opinion. Obama's improvement in the polls over the past six or seven weeks must be strongly connected to the media favoring him above all other presidential candidates, Democratic or Republican.

There are some mitigating factors at play here. First, Obama has released transformative open media proposals, as Matt has discussed in the past. Second, he has more grassroots activism conducted on his behalf than any other candidate in the history of primary campaigns (although, adjusted for national population increases, it is possible that Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, RFK in 1968, and George McGovern in 1972 had more.) So, even though the culture of his campaign is institutionally aligned with establishment media and against progressive media, his media policy is the most supportive of new media among all campaigns and he probably has more supporters who participate in new, open media than any other campaign. This is a truly odd conundrum, where Obama could win because of new media support, enact fantastic new media legislation, while simultaneously sending his communication staff out to destroy anyone in new media that steps out of line, from Joe Anthony to Paul Krugman to progressive bloggers.

It is a truly odd situation that both bothers me and makes it difficult for me to draw any conclusions about Obama. Presidential campaigns are vast operations, and I wonder how much Obama has played a role in both the anti-progressive pundit strategy and the open media policy proposals. If he played a major role in one and not the other, it would make a big difference. It he played a major role in neither or both, it would leave me as confused and conflicted as before. I have met Obama and talked with him. Over the course of about thirty minutes, he appeared thoughtful in a way that reminded me of academia, and progressive enough to make me feel comfortable. At the same time, I wondered after the meeting if he tailors his message depending on his audience (I was with some other bloggers when I met him). This massive schism in the way his campaign approaches new media only adds to that concern. Is this the sort of conflicted approach that a President Obama would take toward new progressive media, or is one aspect dominant over the other? I honestly have no idea, and it probably isn't something I will be able to make my mind up about before January 3rd.

Tags: , , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

It bothers me, too, but I'm not surprised. (4.00 / 3)
Don't forget who mentored Obama when he first came to the Senate -- Joe Lieberman.

It seems that young Barack took to heart his mentor's habit of attacking vehemently anyone who criticizes him from the (CW)left, while sucking up to his critics on the (CW)right.

It does not bode well for an Obama presidency.


Can we give this line a rest already? (4.00 / 4)
It's repeated constantly.  Lieberman was assigned to Obama, as is Senate tradition for incoming senators.  They had lunch together. 

By all accounts, Obama kept far closer counsel and advice with Dick Durbin during his early time in the Senate.

One Million Strong --- Join up!

[ Parent ]
Lieberman (4.00 / 1)
Obama's voting record is much more progressive than Lieberman's, so I do think the Lieberman thing can be overplayed.  Having said that, Obama was fairly AWOL for Lamont, which is disappointing.  I understood incumbent Senators supporting Lieberman in the primary, even if I disagreed, but it was disappointing that many, including Obama, didn't do more in the general election to elect the Democrat. 

See http://www.dailykos....

[ Parent ]
I should've added (4.00 / 1)
that I'm not sure the Lieberman thing matters very much.  Lieberman Democrat is a slur that's been leveled against Clinton and Obama and I think it's mostly unfair to both of them.  There are areas where they agree with Lieberman and areas where they disagree.  Neither Clinton nor Obama has been a profile in courage on Iraq in the Senate.

[ Parent ]
Uh - excuse me... (0.00 / 0)
So...Lieberman was "assigned" to Obama and "they had lunch together".
That's all there is to it. Poor Obama. He has been maligned.

Of course, there is this inconvenient quote from Mr. O:

"I am absolutely certain Connecticut is going to have the good sense to send Joe Lieberman back to the U.S. Senate so he can continue to serve on our behalf."

Obama uttered these stirring words while stumping for Lieberman in Hartford Connecticut - March 31, 2006. He was opposing the challenge to Lieberman by Ned Lamont on the issue of the war in Iraq. (Lieberman is for the war. Lamont is against the war.)

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

[ Parent ]
Village Mores and Message Discipline (4.00 / 12)
I think there are three things at work here:

1) Obama personally clearly has a desire and a drive to be approved of and accepted by the DC establishment. Throwing Paul Krugman under the bus seems to be an instance of that.

2) Obama's campaign clearly has a very "message discipline" oriented approach to its online supporters. While they've got the biggest numbers, I don't really know how boisterous or "ripple-making" their peer network really is, because I don't think the campaign sees these people as peers or creative partners. At best, they're sources of money and repeater-nodes for the official campaign talking points.

3) At the same time, everything I know about the campaign and its staff and have observed about the candidate leads me to believe that the above two phenomena are motivated primarily (though hardly exclusively) from a sense of pragmatism. Obama believes that he has to get "in" with DC, or else he'll end up ineffectual like Carter. His campaign believes they need to keep a short leash on their supporters because a "gaffee" could bring them down.

These are not unreasonable beliefs, but they are disappointingly risk-averse. In the case of making nice with the establishment, it means that any chance of meaningfully changing, improving or even weakening that establishment is lost. In the case of not tapping into the creative independence of his supporters, he's passing on the potential (and risk) of a truly transformative campaign, and settling for one which functions as a simulacra for people-powered change.

Me | My Work | Future Majority

Interesting analysis (4.00 / 1)
Thanks, some good food for thought I hadn't considered.  Still makes me nervous.

Join other progressives at EENRblog

[ Parent ]
pragmatism (4.00 / 1)
"Obama believes that he has to get "in" with DC, or else he'll end up ineffectual like Carter."

He might be right on this. We have seen the TV political pundits sink one Dem candidate after another (Gore in 2000, Dean in the '04 primaries, Kerry in the '04 general) with superficial personality critiques. This could be a game that smart candidates need to play for another decade or so until the power and influence of people-powered media overtakes that of big corporate media. Crucial in the short term is whether a President's policies strengthen and expand working-class owned media and help undermine the hegemony of media owned by billionaires. If such a shift continues, future candidates will have no choice but to suck up to progressives.


[ Parent ]
sucking up to progressives (4.00 / 4)
Having said that, candidates who are already sucking up to progressives (like Edwards) will be rewarded with my vote.


[ Parent ]
Best Analysis I've Seen of Obama So Far n/t (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Concur with this (4.00 / 1)
Obama knows, everyday, something that many of us are able to forget. He's a Black man in America. He has to prove he is not a threat to a majority of white America. I don't believe this is a post-white-supremacist society. Obama has been negotiating power in this society all his life, so he knows that being unthreatening is key to his campaign. So he is depressingly risk-averse.

I fear he would have to govern the same way, so I can't support him positively, though if nominated I'll work to get him in.

Can it happen here?

[ Parent ]
The Bigger Problem (4.00 / 3)
with Obama's Krugman attack is that he basically attacked Krugman for telling the truth about Obama's healthcare proposal.  It's not as though Krugman passed along some misinformation.  There are arguments for and against mandates as a policy matter, but most the folks I've read seem to agree that a mandate program done right would cover more people than a program without mandates.  Indeed, Obama's attack on Krugman wasn't about showing Krugman was wrong, but rather that Krugman had contradicted himself. 

Similarly, I doubt Obama's planned attacks on bloggers were going to be disputing whether McClurkin was really a homophobe.  The campaign did that at the time.  So what was the "info" going to be? 

We can never know (0.00 / 0)
I think you can *never* know how a candidate will govern from their campaign - because circumstances (economic, political, cultural, global) can change rapidly.  And there are always the exigencies of merely winning a race vs. implementing policy after you've "threaded the needle."

This is all so much navel gazing.  He (or Edwards, or Clinton) could be great Presidents.  They could be mediocre.

While I (sort of, before the public money declaration) prefer Edwards, I'm totally agnostic about who wins this. 

At a minimum, shouldn't we draw some comfort from the fact that Obama *will* attack back?  A few months ago that was in question; he seemed too gentlemanly or naive. 

Attack (0.00 / 0)
We know that the Obama camp will attack progressives and Democrats.  We do not know how hard they will push back against the conventional wisdom of Versailles or against Republicans.  he's "grown up" in a one party environment where the key is winning the Democratic primary and the general election is taken for granted.  This is a poor background for a national general election IMO.

[ Parent ]
Possibly (0.00 / 0)
Even if he's attacking the wrong people know, this could be a sign that he'll fight back. Except I haven't seen him calling out the Washington Post for their accusation that he is a secret terrorist Islamofascist. If he starts doing that kind of thing, we can at least be certain he'll fight. Until then, the fear that he's a 90s Democrat who only fights his own side will still remain.

That said, I'm putting forward a hypothetical. Right now it seems more likely than not that he'll fight.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
That post is brave of you (4.00 / 4)
Because you now will be trashed the way Jerome Armstrong is being trashed as a loser etc. 

As an Edwards supporter I have been puzzled and trying to see the positive side of Obama since Edwards himself has said he and Obama are closer in values than he and Clinton.  I am not so sure.  Clinton at least recognizes the left as legitimate.  I am not convinced that Obama does.  His supporters at Dkos try to shut down any real criticism.  It is painful to watch. 

This weekend with Oprah is a good case in point.  His campaign asked for a pass from the unions.  They did not use the campaign to further the cause of unions.  They could have had an additional event in NH if more wanted to see it.

I thought Oprah was a real coup for Obama, but now I think her support reveals the discomfort I have in his "movement".  Ben Smith writes about it "Messianic rhetoric infuses Obama rallies".  I started out this year debating between Obama and Edwards once I realized that Gore and Clark were not running.  I went with Edwards because I liked his plans and Obama was taking forever to get them out, but could have been easily persuaded to change.  I did not expect to get more and more uncomfortable with Obama, but I am, mainly because of his constant compromises against progressive values.  I would like this unease to go away. 

Join other progressives at EENRblog

The Dear Leader (4.00 / 1)
vibe that comes from some of those around Obama scares the hell out of me.  I know it's not necessarily Obama's fault, but I don't want a President that's not allowed to be questioned or criticized.  Even if it's one I agree with on most issues.

[ Parent ]
Dear Leader (4.00 / 2)
Amen to that.  It scares me to and I sure don't want another president who can't be challenged.  We've got one of those now.

One other thing bothers me a lot is when a candidate tells a crowd that he's going to raise the minimum wage every year, like Obama did in SC this weekend, you just heard a guy lie through his teeth. Let's face it, that ain't gonna happen and he knows it.

I don't think that either Clinton or Edwards has made statements that are that blatantly dishonest. It's a real problem for me because I don't care whether I personally like a candidate or want to have a beer with them. I care a lot about the policies and, if you'll lie that blatantly about one, then what else is a lie.  Some of them, all of them, beats the hell out of me.

Lie to me about your sex life, I don't care, but we should demand honesty about what they want to do when elected.

[ Parent ]
minimum wage (4.00 / 1)
With a Dem majority in congress and a Dem in the Whitehouse, what's to prevent a minimum wage that goes up each year?


[ Parent ]
the hint of a personality cult (4.00 / 2)
has increasingly bothered me as well. Obama used to be my second choice, but he has moved to my third or even fourth choice in our current field.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
bah (4.00 / 1)
This strikes me as irrational.  For one, on pretty much every other blog I read, the Clinton personality-cult is far more pervasive than any "Obamabots" or what have you.  For another, Edwards is certainly not in short supply of such supporters either.  One need only look at the diary list on MyDD to see what I'm talking about.

And I have yet to see a post in this thread that resembles anything approaching a "personality-cult"-like defense.

We've definitely agreed on stuff in the past and had some good interactions (particularly and recently on student voting in the Iowa caucus), so I'd be interested to see your response to some of my posts below.

[ Parent ]
Different sorts of personality cults (4.00 / 4)
I'm generalising and I don't read too many horse-race comments on MyDD - there's only so much stupidity my brain can take at one time - but I think the candidate partisans fall into different categories.

Firstly, there are the articulate and logical ones. These are rare, but I've seen them for more or less every candidate. You can and will disagree with these guys, but they don't repeat anti-Democratic slurs and they have clear reasons to support their candidates.

Secondly, you have the Clinton Clowns. They're mostly distinguished by obsessively attacking Obama at every stage of the way. I have to confess, I have no idea why it is they support Clinton. Her gender? As a legacy candidate? I just don't know.

Thirdly, there are the Obamabots. They're big on ideas of hope and change and reluctant to admit their candidate isn't like the Second Coming but better, yet not terribly specific on policy issues.

Fourthly, there are the Edwards [insert funny descriptive term here]. There are less of these (that I've seen) and if I had to pick one of the top three candidates it'd be Edwards, so I make no promises of objective neutrality. But it seems to me that in general they're powered by social and economic justice issues - populism appears to be the main reason for their support. Some of them even seem to be able to admit that Edwards is not all they could ever hope for in a candidate.

Your mileage may vary, and I refuse to doublecheck my findings, as those comment threads kill my faith in humanity.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Hang in there pal.... (4.00 / 2)

when Hillary and Obama go down to defeat many, many heads will explode and those among us who are concerned with social justice, civil rights and economic parity will be able to get on with it.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
I think that's pretty much on point (0.00 / 0)
I have to admit, there are times when I get see red and get reactionary, but I certainly hope that I come off better than that the vast majority of the time.  I don't think I've said anything that crazy or out of line here. Of course, ACitizen is gonna come and tell me I'm brainwashed and delusional (again) any second now...

[ Parent ]
Edwards's relative lack of a personality cult (0.00 / 0)
There's a reason for that: Most of us supported someone else in 2004 (Dean in my case) and many of us hoped for someone else this time around (Gore). So while Edwards may not be our "ideal" candidate, we looked at his rhetoric and stance on the issues vs. the other serious candidates and decided he was the best choice, not the second coming.

[ Parent ]
I would suggest that (4.00 / 9)
...the division is not confused at all.  He aligns with progressives and new media on the substance of the matters, and sees the promise of the internet as a transformative power in democracy.  However, he disagrees with the approach of many in the blogosphere, who's hyper-partisanship is both often predictable and, in his (and my) opinion, often counter-productive.  The willingness to take on a Paul Krugman, then, shouldn't be surprising.  Much like Matt's previously-mentioned problems with Dennis Kucinich, Obama (I believe) most likely thinks that for all that Paul Krugman may have the right policy ideas in general, his "fight the GOP" rallying cry actually hurts the progressive movement.

Jason Zengerle captured this perfectly today by talking about how damn good Obama is at disarming conservatives.  If I had to guess, I would think Obama sees his job as that of a salesman, and you don't sell someone on your product by telling them their worldview is wrong and their ideas are stupid.  Instead, you acknowledge and respect their concerns, and then explain why your policy is the right one anyway.  The nod to their viewpoint takes people out of partisan-mode, allowing you to start discussing policy on the merits of whether or not it will work, and not in terms of who's talking points it matches up with best.

Which is why I get frustrated when I see progressives (like Krugman) railing at Obama for "adopting Republican talking points."  And then calling him a mealy-mouthed moderate, a DLCer.  That's one of the most absurd mischaracterizations around.  It's a republican talking point that we should raise taxes on people making over $100K to help secure the retirement benefits of hte middle class?  It's a republican talking point that we need to invest capital in building a gov't-run health insurance infrastructure that will be available to every American?  Huh?  Those are strongly progressive ideas. 

The obsession of some on the need to "fight" partisan battles seems, in part, to trump actual results IMO.  I have yet to see Krugman, Klein, Cohn, et al address any of the perfectly valid criticisms of individual mandates (how they can be damaging if the cost-reducing mechanisms don't work out as well as planned; how they also are likely to leave at least 6 million people uninsured, thus making them no more "universal" than Obama's plan or any plan short of single-payer; how they are basically meaningless without an enforcement mechanism and/or tracking infrastructure, both things that Clinton's plan lacks).  In short, the dispute seems to be over partisanship rather than policy.  An individual mandate is a something required to prove one is a strong liberal partisan; by not including it, Obama has bucked the partisan trend (of course he has, he's running as a post-partisan candidate), and the biggest partisan warriors are trying to punish him for it.

But the question shouldn't be who's the most partisan; it should be who can be the most effective at passing progressive legislation.  As far as I can tell, Obama has yet to propose anything that isn't substantially progressive regardless of framing or acknowledging conservative concerns, so instead of claiming making the unsophisticated claim that partisan battling will be more effective than mealy-mouthed DLCing, we should ask who's specific approach to passing legislation is most likely to be effective.  Obama's approach is nothing like Joe Lieberman's, so we should discuss what he actually does and whether or not that is effective, rather than sketching some caricature and then pointing out how ridiculous it is.

The Zengerle post I linked to above certainly suggests that Obama's "disarm 'em and then talk nuts and bolts policy" approach actually has a chance to be effective: "The amazing thing is that Hayes recognizes this as a trick--and he still falls for it! Granted, Obama has disarmed any number of conservative writers--whether it's the quirky Peggy Noonan or the intellectually honest Andrew Ferguson--but Hayes has long struck me as someone who's in a different league from these folks; he's an ideological water carrier of the first order. Is there any conservative writer able to withstand Obama's charms?"  Obama's even had a Republican advocating for him in a .  And this is not because he's a squishy moderate; as even Hayes notes in a piece that's largely praising of Obama, "[W]hile [b]Obama eventually settles on the mainstream liberal position[/b]--path to citizenship, crack down on employers, don't punish the workers--he does so only after acknowledging (and in some cases, embracing) the concerns of conservatives."

Again, raising the cap on Social Security isn't anything but progressive, and regardless of the presence or absence of a "crisis", while arguably be beneficial for the fiscal house of the gov't down the road (that's another debate entirely, but there are good points both for and against it).  Building a large and universally-accessible public health insurance market isn't anything but strongly progressive; Obama's FP is arguably the most progressive of any of the Dem candidates when looked at as a whole, etc etc.

The question is whether partisan progressives in the blogosphere or elsewhere are willing to even entertain the idea that their approach to selling the country on progressive ideas (bludgeon conservatives over the head with the obvious truth of your position) might not be effective as Obama's (disarm conservatives by respecting their position, get them to drop their guard, and then sell them on the common-sense & effectiveness of your position). 


oops (0.00 / 0)
I guess I got the tags wrong above, but I was trying to say that a Republican even advocates for Obama in a campaign ad.

Here's the link

[ Parent ]
Negotiation strategy (4.00 / 6)
The problem with this analysis is basic negotiation theory:  You are negotiating on a subject with an outcome in the 1-10 range.  You would prefer an outcome of 2, say, but you choose to be "realistic" and open with a 4, assuming your negotiating partner will behave similarly and the end result will be somewhere around 5.  Not the best from the perspective of your preferred position but reasonable for everyone.

Your "partner" (really your opponent) opens with an 11.

The end result is going to be somewhere around 7. 

Then your opponent moves the center to 7 and demands another round...

Obama talks a lot about a new politics etc, but he seems unwilling to acknowledge that the Radical Right has dragged the "center" of public discourse over to the 7-8-9 range in the last 15 years.  They aren't going to stop that effort just because a sweet-talking Democrat is in the White House.  The Radical Right wants the Gilded Age back and they aren't going to quit fighting until they achieve that end.


[ Parent ]
Except Obama (4.00 / 1)
...doesn't open at a 4, I fail to see how this is applicable.  The "individual mandate" isn't the battle; the gov't-run public health market is the battle.  This precisely what's confused me about this criticisms.  Obama's plan, just like Clinton's and Edwards', largely expands the role of gov't in providing healthcare and provides a path to single payer.  If single-payer is a 1, that's a 2.5 at worst, to a "2" from Edwards and Clinton for their individual mandate (just for e.g.)

What else is a "4" for him?  His enviro stuff was praised by the lefty wonks.  His poverty stuff was praised by the lefty wonks.  His FP was really praised by the lefty wonks.  His ethics reform stuff has been praised by the lefty wonks.  His open media stuff has been praised by the lefty wonks.  Even Klein and Krugman say they're taking issue more with his framing than his policies on health care.

So, what you say is valid, but its not sound.  He's staked out strongly progressive policy positions.

[ Parent ]
Social security (4.00 / 2)
If you are negotiating with social security in CRISIS you have already LOST and the Republicans have won.  That is how you are negotiating from a loss.  If you are fixing it for some time in the future because in 2045 when it might have a problem , then you have an even field.  Obama GAVE THE REPUBLICANS THE HAND

[ Parent ]
I don't understand this comment (0.00 / 0)
What did O give the Republicans exactly?

Conceding that there is a shortfall in the social security trust fund?

Calling it a crisis?

It is a crisis -- only because the beltway crooks have been RAIDING the trust fund for years now.

Is the program designed poorly? No. Well, unless you consider how regressive the SS tax is...

The crisis talk is smart. It's a great excuse to raise taxes on the relatively well-to-do.

That's all it is.

That 'social security' money has been piped into the general fund for decades now.

I'm telling you. It's just a politically easy way for a progressive tax increase.

[ Parent ]
The cult of partisan navels (0.00 / 0)
superb post.  I would add that most criticism of any candidate from within the party seems to be based on projections of selected negative positions or events, and generalization from there.  IOW, "I've seen candidate X do Y, therefore he will definitely do Z, and I hate Z/Z is terrible." 

People go way, way, way out of control labeling any of the 3 leading D candidates not "_____ enough."  We've got examples in this thread above with people basically accusing Obama fans of being cultists.  Like what political candidate doesn't have cultish fans?  Jeebus. 

[ Parent ]
That presumes (4.00 / 3)
conservative want to work with progressives, that they want to be "won" over.  Certainly some voters who identify as conservative might be open to working with progressives, but I've seen nothing that indicates Republican members of Congress have any real interest in working on healthcare or social security in any way that's helpful to progressives.  When they are out of power, they look for compromises that undermine progressive solutions by weakening them and then bide their time until they get back in power where they work to dismantle them.

I think healthcare is one of the biggest examples of this.  Republican strategists have said repeatedly that any real healthcare reform would be a victory for Dems. and cannot be allowed because it could renew confidence in government programs and undermine Republican ideology. 

That's the problem with trying to fight ideology with pragmatism.  There are some areas where Dems and Reps can work together, but there's a reason why everything is so partisan.  It's not because of the personalities, it's because Republicans and Democrats strongly disagree.  Simply changing the rhetoric isn't going to change the underlying disagreement.

[ Parent ]
Except (4.00 / 1)
Obama has actually passed more substantial legislation than either Hillary or Edwards have in their time in Congress, and did so with conservative co-sponsorship.

And yes, I know what conservative politicians are trying to do.  I think the point is, that's true regardless of who's in power.  The key to getting that stuff passed, then, is to persuade conservative pundits and conservative voters first, allowing you to both get better margins in Congress, get an actual mandate going into office, and let the public pressure the GOP establishment.

You may not agree that such an approach would be effective, but I fail to see how anything else short of 2/3rds in the Senate and House and holding the Presidency could be more effective.  And I don't think re-enforcing partisan division is the path to getting there either.  We've seen what highly-partisan elections look like: 51-49.

[ Parent ]
I keep hearing (4.00 / 1)
that Obama passed more legislation than Edwards or Clinton, but I never see any actual cites.  I'm not saying it's not true, I don't know, but I am doubtful that Obama in his two years as a junior Senator has any significantly more legislative accomplishments than Clinton or Edwards.  That's not necessarily a slam at Obama, junior Senators (which would describe all three of them) rarely move big pieces of legislation and when they do, it's usually because they've teamed up with a more senior senator (I'd say the same thing about Clinton or Edwards).  It's just the way the system works.

I believe Obama did have some significant legislative victories in the Illinois legislature and he is rightfully proud of those accomplishments.  I personally have a problem with his present votes on abortion issues, but there were certainly other areas where he was effective.  I think he's probably a fairly effective Senator as well.  But then I'd say the same thing about Clinton.

We're just going to have to disagree on partisanship.  I've seen Democrats trying to work with Republicans for twenty years and the only thing that's gotten us is a country further to the right than ever.  I may not like the Republican policies, but they've been incredibly effective at enacting them and they haven't done that through compromise, they've done it by getting Democrats to compromise.

If Obama is the next president, expect a complete all out war against him, just as they did against Clinton (and Gore and Kerry).  The press loves him now, but it won't last.  It never does. 

[ Parent ]
well (4.00 / 1)
Obama wasn't setting the world on fire, but his open gov't stuff (Obama-Coburn "google for gov't) was opposed by senior members of both parties (I think Byrd tried to kill it with a hold) and he got through when Republicans were in power, and Obama-Lugar as well.  They're certainly not amazing, core progressive causes, but they're substantial, and they took a lot of nuts-and-bolts work to get done.  To my knowledge, neither Clinton nor Edwards have passed anything close to that level of substance and importance that was progressive in nature.  Im not sure but I think Edwards was a co-sponsor on the Senate AUMF, which I guess would be the biggest legislation any of the 3 have passed, and certainly not in his favor lol (he is my 2nd choice, I'm not trying to start a partisan bickering war there, just saying: thats really the only big legislation I know of with his name on it).  If someone wants to correct me, please do.

here's hilzoy on his legislative habits

Read it.  It's good.

[ Parent ]
Edwards' (0.00 / 0)
Senate record is the least progressive of the bunch.  I think he mostly gets a pass on this in the primary because of the presumption that his conversion is sincere.  You can bet he won't get it in the general.

Clinton has some progressive legislative accomplishments, although not all involve actual bills.  Her hold (along with Patty Murray) on FDA nominations played a key role in the FDA releasing its decision to make Plan B available over-the-counter. 

That's why I say that I don't think there's a lot of difference in the Obama/Clinton Senate records.  They've both done worthy things, but they're limited by the nature of the Senate (and their own cautious natures).

[ Parent ]
Progressivism as relative to one's constituency (0.00 / 0)
It's true that Edwards and Hillary were equally progressive, or un-progressive, depending on how you want to look at it.

But Clinton represents New York, which was a blue state when she got elected, and is getting bluer all the time.  Edwards represented North Carolina, a red state that may not be quite as red as it used to be, but isn't purple by any means.

An argument can be made that Edwards was about as progressive as his constituency would let him be - but Hillary was far from being as progressive as her constituency would have allowed.

Put Hillary in NC, and she'd probably trim her sails and move slightly to the right.  Put Edwards in NY, and he'd be every bit the progressive as the campaign he's running now would indicate.

Obama, too, has had the advantage of representing a very blue state in Illinois.

[ Parent ]
Great Points (4.00 / 3)
I agree with you entirely.  Krugman and the others who whine about Obama seem to be unhappy that he isn't picking the policy solutions that have been the standard progressive response in the past.  They see Obama opposing mandates, and since Republicans also oppose mandates, they view him as a partisan traitor. 

The problem is that there is more than one way to skin a cat.  This blog has highlighted how the establishment in the environmental community is radically behind the leading presidential candidates in still supporting an outdated approach of cap and trade and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.  I think there are other issue areas, like health care and Social Security, where Obama is presenting new progressive solutions that the establishment progressives don't like because they are new and different. 

[ Parent ]
It's not the policy - it's the GOP talking points (0.00 / 0)
Not that Obama's policies on health care and especially Social Security are anything but flawed.

But the main problem is that of making Republicans' arguments for them, so they can say, "Even Obama agrees with us" as they rip apart another piece of the safety net.

[ Parent ]
Death of a Salesman (4.00 / 7)
Good thing for the country that FDR didn't decide in 1932 that fighting Republicans and their ideas would actually be bad for the progressive movement.
By the way, our first black president approached politics as salesmanship and he sure was a heck of a salesman. No unsophisticated partisan battling for him. Never met a conservative he couldn't schmooze. THEY THOUGHT HE WAS SO CHARMING AND NON-PARTISAN THEY IMPEACHED HIM.
Word to the second black president:if you want to sell door to door in this neighborhood you'll get further if you pack heat in your sample case along with the shoeshine and smile..

[ Parent ]
Yeah (0.00 / 0)
...and if it were 1932, maybe that would be appropriate. 

A progressive's goal is to expand the role of gov't and achieve good works through gov't.  That makes our job not just tougher than the conservative's, but fundamentally different from it.  Hyper-partisanship undermines public confidence in gov't, so getting hyper-partisan on progressive reform seems (to these eyes) self-defeating.  All we do is re-enforce a culture that will destroy gov't institutions on its own.  I just think we're doing the GOP's work for them if we continue to push for slim margins and partisan battles.

That doesn't mean you don't have to stand and fight on some issues; but you'll be in much stronger position to actually win those fights with the popular will of the people behind you.  And getting their requires getting passed a large portion of the electorate's knee-jerk partisan reactions to progressive ideas.

[ Parent ]
It's clear from your comments that... (4.00 / 4)
.....you live in the delusional land of the ReichWing. When you say:

And getting their requires getting passed a large portion of the electorate's knee-jerk partisan reactions to progressive ideas.
(sp not corrected)

That you just don't understand what's going on. Paul Rosenberg has posted here repeatedly about where the citizenry is. I have also, read my post Why I am an Idiot! (hint: clik thru and read the whole PEW report).

The problem is not that 'Versailles' cannot rally the citizenry to progressive positions the problem is that the parties are both in thrall to the same MIC, financial, cultural gangs due to the corrupt nature of our political process. The problem is NOT that the citizenry won't get behind a progressive agenda it's that the 'leadership' in both parties are opposed to a progressive agenda.

They've been paid good money to be so.

How ludicrous is it to point to the people and say, 'It's their fault real healthcare reform hasn't happened when The American people know something is rotten....and they have for fifteen years. while at the same time the leading condidate for President on the Dem side is the #1 recipient of Big Pharma cash in the Senate. And she thinks that's perfectly OK!

This is how the game is played: Big money buys the outcome they want in Congress.

The citizens are starting to catch on, although strangely the blogosphere is still stuck in the incorrect 'spineless' Dems meme, especially now that the 2006 mid-term election mandate to the Dems to get the U.S. out of Iraq has been so conpicuously thrown under the bus by Dem 'leadership'.

That was a mistake because now folks can see the real mechanism upon which the nation is being run.

And it ain't the will of the people.


Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Up from Clintonism... (4.00 / 3)
"And getting their requires getting passed a large portion of the electorate's knee-jerk partisan reactions to progressive ideas."
Q:Who says that the public has a knee-jerk hostility to progressive ideas on a regular and monotonous basis??
A:The Republican Party and the conservative movement through their big megaphone
Q: Who believes this propaganda?
A: Corporate Democrats who use the same meme to advance their Republican-lite ideas and progressives who are perhaps a little ashamed of being liberal and a little scared and tired of being knocked around so hard by right wing bullies
Q: And the result?
A: Truly progressive ideas never get out of the Democratic party gate. So-called progressive candidates like Obama feel they have to wrap a big spoonful of bipartisan sugar around their bitter little progressive pill of a policy idea before  it will be acceptable to the masses or the pundits.

We're watching this process in action with the Iraq war. Massive public antiwar sentiment that the Democratic party absolutely refuses to channel or even really acknowledge.No, we won't stand and fight on this issue. And if not here, where? And if not now, when?
Up from Clintonism means breaking out of the frame that conservatives have tried to impose on us. It helps if you can remember the Civil Rights Act or the War on Poverty, but it's all in the history books.... 

[ Parent ]
You're mostly right, but there's one problem. (0.00 / 0)
Okay, the public likes progressive policy positions.  So is your plan to pass a thoroughly progressive health care plan to win Senate races Virginia, NH, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon, NM, Maine, Alaska and Kentucky so that we don't have to worry about Republican political leaders?  We are going to need to work with Republicans with decidedly unprogressive policy positions, whether we like it or not.

[ Parent ]
I guess my point is (4.00 / 1)
the current state of Washington is such that a strong fight can't win without ridiculous margins in both houses of Congress and control of the Presidency.

I know there will be times when progressives will have to "fight" for core principles, but the only way those fights will have any chance of success is if we lay the groundwork in advance by defusing the charged atmosphere.

Think about in terms of an argument between a married couple.  A functional couple can argue and one side might even "win" the argument without ever reaching a resolution acceptable to both, but move past it.  I know because I've been through it with my girlfriend.  In a dysfunctional relationship, however, every fight over any little thing turns into a fight about everything that's ever bothered either of the two about one another.  In psychology they call it "kitchen-sinking". 

Whether we like it or not, conservatives are our partners in governing, and our relationship with them is totally dysfunctional.  We have two possibilities for getting progressive legislation passed:

1-get large enough margins in both houses that the conservatives are effectively impotent even as an opposition party


2-establish a functional relationship with the GOP

Now, (2) may seem impossible, but it also seems a lot more possible to me than (1).  This election, we have a shot at (1), sure, but then in 2012 there's a good chance we'll see a decline in Dem control of Congress, given the # of congressmen up for re-election from both parties.  If we don't get that control now, it probably won't happen for at least 8 years, probably much longer than that.

So we can tailor our strategy around (1) or (2), but its also important to note that a candidate committed to (1) is also, in my opinion, the person you most want at the top of the ticket to get to (2).  And if you have the margins in (2), well, it doesn't matter whether or not the President is a fighter, because the opponent is impotent.

[ Parent ]
Actually, #1 is way easier than #2 (4.00 / 5)
#1 is way, way easier than #2. With Republicans defending 42 of the 69 Senate seats up for election either in 2008 or 2010, we have a very good chance of reaching 60 votes after the 2010 election. In the House, where we can already pass most legilslation we want, we are primed for another 20-30 seat landslide.

So, #1 strikes me as far easier to achieve, in the very short term, than #2. I don't know how we "diffuse" a situation with a party that has already broken the two-year record for filibusters in one year. In fact, I think crushing them electorally is actually more likely to lead to #2 than being nice to them. If they have been crushed electorally, and we are on the brink of doing that, it might be the best way to show them that their current tactics aren't working.

  It isn't even close in my mind. Getting the White House, 60 Senate seats, and 265 House seats seems way, way easier than convincing Republicans to start to work with us. The former is within our grasp. The latter has been proven wrong by virtually every political showdown of the last 15 years.

[ Parent ]
# 1 Is The Only Way (4.00 / 2)
to actually change the media culture and get Republicans to compromise, IMO.  Part of what drives the MSM narrative is the idea that Democrats are losers.  FOX is always going to be conservative, but a lot of the other reporters/pundits are primarily interested in sucking up to power.  Only by completely beating the Republicans can Democrats change this dynamic, IMO.

Part of the problem with the media coverage of Obama is the focus on his individual qualities.  The idea that only Obama can do X.  It's a way to minimize the popularity of progressive ideals by making the election not about ideas but about a person. Kind of like how they always talk about Bill Clinton being such a talented politician.  Americans didn't elect a Democrat, they elected the best politician.  It separates the person from the ideology, making progressives losers even when they win.

[ Parent ]
Well, its certainly possible (0.00 / 0)
However, like I noted above, I do believe that in 2012 the numbers for re-election are not in the Dems' favor.  Ezra noted this earlier and kinda railed at Clinton about it, when she said she'd get her healthcare plan passed by the end of her 2nd term.  He thought that was ill-advised, since whatever margins get in 2008 will decrease in 2012.  Maybe he has that wrong, but I'm basing my thoughts on the possibilities of getting those super-majorities on him.

And like I said, I still think the best bet to getting those margins is putting a candidate on the top of the ticket who can speak to independents and moderate Republicans in language that they understand.  To Paul Krugman, that sounds like traitorous "Republican talking points", but to me that sounds like getting them to drop their guard so you can sell them on progressive ideas.  Get those voters more amenable to progressive ideas and we'll have much less trouble getting progressives into office.

Again, that's just my opinion on the matter.  I'm not as bullish on the coming election as some are, though I do think the Dems will make substantial gains.

[ Parent ]
Language that they understand (0.00 / 0)
is not equal to HRC-style doublespeak

[ Parent ]
1.5 is easiest. (0.00 / 0)
Hitting 60 or getting a bunch of republicans to join you are much more difficult than hitting the high 50s and getting a couple senators to defect.

[ Parent ]
partnership??? (4.00 / 3)
Partnership presumes some kind of shared goal or values.
If my lying eyes don't deceive me, conservatives take a sledgehammer to effective government every time they get in power, except for the piece that serves as an ATM for their pet special interests -can you say Blackwater? In other words, they don't share our or Obama's ideas and goals about or for government and can't be partners in the commonly accepted sense of the word.

Or did some great bipartisan effort just pull New Orleans out of the trash heap while I wasn't looking?

[ Parent ]
um (0.00 / 0)
Look a couple posts above mine, and you'll see that I agree our goals are fundamentally different.

A progressive's goal is to expand the role of gov't and achieve good works through gov't.  That makes our job not just tougher than the conservative's, but fundamentally different from it.

However, that, to me, means our approach has to be fundamentally different.  I'd also point out that every time the GOP has taken a sledge hammer to gov't, they've done so with the help of the Democratic party.  But they've also created an environment who's only logical end goal is the reduction of gov't and the ability of gov't to function properly.  You can win elections in a hyper-partisan atmosphere, but I don't think you can goven in it.  If that's true, then as long as the hyper-partisan atmosphere remains, the GOP wins.  Maybe you disagree. 

I happen to think the only way to get past that is to get margins in the House and Senate that I don't think the Dems can get by appealing to partisanship, ironically enough.  Check it out down below. 

I think its perfectly reasonable to have a difference of opinion about this; I see where you're coming from.  So lets discuss, instead of condescending to one another.

[ Parent ]
reality (4.00 / 1)
"You can win elections in a hyper-partisan atmosphere, but I don't think you can goven in it."

The hyper-partisan atmosphere will exist regardless of what Democrats want. Modern Republicans are hyper-partisan. That's just the reality. Dems can deal with it and fight back, or get walked on. Take your pick. You are only allowed to pick options from the real world, not DLC fantasy land.


[ Parent ]
excluded middle (4.00 / 1)
I hate the DLC

There's a difference between talking to the right half of the country in language they understand, and compromising on core values.  I think the former is commendable, and the latter disgusting.

Anyway, I gotta run.  Its 5:25 here, so I'm off work. 

[ Parent ]
Help me out (0.00 / 0)
..and define "hyper-partisanship"
I think this might prevent us from talking past each other

[ Parent ]
social security "crisis" (4.00 / 2)
The "crisis" with social security is that the very adequate surplus paid for by doubling taxes on working people in 1983 has been looted for tax cuts for billionaires and corporate welfare for the military industrial complex. The "crisis" is that, when the boomer retirement wave comes, those funds will have to be paid back somehow. In your beyond-partisanship model of Obama's tactics, what is preventing him from framing the situation truthfully the way Hillary Clinton has?  I suspect that he is merely sucking up to elite media whose careers are dependent on the whims of billionaires who don't want to give that trust fund money back.


[ Parent ]
Because I'm sure (4.00 / 2)
these millionaires and billionaires will be so thrilled to be hit with the huge new tax bill they'll be getting under Obama's plan. They'd be more likely to oppose it than anything else.

[ Parent ]
Good point, but... (4.00 / 1)
by using the "crisis" language, he is ringing the Pavlovian bell for beltway elites to drool over his "seriousness." Whether his specific proposal is ever actually realized, he has moved the ball for conservatives whose first objective is to convince people that the problem is with social security itself. The endgame will be some sort of bipartisan commission whose final solution will be to screw the middle class out of the retirement they've paid for.


[ Parent ]
I agree and disagree (0.00 / 0)
I don't think there's a social security crisis; however, I do think there is a social security problem that goes beyond social security itself.  You have to look at gov't holistically.

When the trust fund is raided, all that is really is using social security tax as general gov't tax.  And that's fine; that means social security is just another gov't program.  And thus, when benefits out-pace taxes, the shortfall should be make up by general gov't budget money.  That's logically consistent.

Here's the problem, then: if SS taxes are just general gov't funds, then the period when benefits outpace intake will be a systemic tax cut and a systemic growth in spending.  You can't cut taxes and increase spending and be fiscally responsible.  So, of course, in that situation, you have myriad options:

1-deficit spending

2-cutting spending in other areas

3-cutting spending on social security

4-raising taxes in general

5-raising social security taxes

I'd say 3 of those options should be amenable to progressive, but the devil is in the details, as they say.  (2), if we're talking about limiting pork or cutting funding for the military industrial complex.  4 if the taxes are on, say, wealth, or high-end inheritance, or on upper-middle or upper class income.  And (5), if we're raising the cap (or doing a donut hole), and not the payroll deduction, and the timing is right.

Well, of those options, Obama is pretty good on all of them.  Now, Obama is good on 2--he's big on transparency in gov't, limiting earmarks, and doesn't seem to pay much fealty at all to the MID.  He's good on 4 (roll back Bush tax cuts).  He's good on 5 (raising the cap and saying he'd be open to a "donut hole" tax that excepts people in, say, the 100-150K range and then taxes the 150-200K money). 

The draw back is, of course, that any tax raise before output is greater than input would, in effect, make the problem worse unless it eliminated the possibility of output>input altogether.  If there will never be a time when output outpaces input, then we'll never have the tax-cut/spending increase problem to worry about.  However, if we raise taxes now and still end up at the spot, only further down the road, then the problem we'll face then will most likely be bigger, as all we've done is allocate more funds to be looted in the meantime.  As far as I know, Obama isn't suggesting we raise the cap right now, so I don't view that as a problem.  Someone could correct me on this.

[ Parent ]
framing (4.00 / 1)
My point is that by failing to adequately describe the problem, he has made it more likely that the solution will be to screw poor and middle class retirees out of some portion of their retirement. Regardless of his own proposed remedy, his framing of the issue has strengthened the hand of those who will fight to move toward privatization and screwing retirees out of their pensions.

If you want to get into actual solutions, I would propose that the money be taken back from those who took it, i.e. cut the budget of the military industrial complex in half and jack up taxes on the super-rich (In the 50's the top marginal rate was 90% and middle class living standards were rapidly rising. I don't by that Laffer curve bullshit.) so that the trust fund can be repaid with a general fund surplus. Simple. Honest. Fair.


[ Parent ]
Zenergle, huh? (4.00 / 5)
"Jason Zengerle captured this perfectly today by talking about how damn good Obama is at disarming conservatives."

The same Jason Zenergle who thinks that Kos controls the entire progresive blogosphere via secretive email lists and the liberal blog adveritising network? Pardon me if I don't think he has Obama right, either.

The fact is that if Obama really was so good at getting conservatives to work with him, don't you think that Senate Republicans wouldn't be smashing filibuster records this year? Obama is in the Senate, and Senate Republicans have become even more intransigent. If he was so great at getting conservatives to work with him, I think we should have seen some results on that by now.

"However, he disagrees with the approach of many in the blogosphere, who's hyper-partisanship is both often predictable and, in his (and my) opinion, often counter-productive. "

And I'm not just talking about "tone" or being the most partisan here. I'm talking about overtly attacking members of the progressive media.  I guess we do differ on approach if my approach is not to release oppo papers on progressive media figures, and their's is. In this case, they are actually the one being the aggressive assholes, not us.

I'll add one more thing, Mr. blogs are "often counter-productive." The progressive blogosphere has done way, way more to push progressive ideas, Democratic candidates and even progressive legisltation, than Barack Obama has over the last three years. We have been way, way more productive than Obama.


[ Parent ]
Heh... (0.00 / 0)
Yeah...that guy....snort....

If folks think Obama the scolding Mama is so damn great I suggest they check this out:

Oprah and her good, good friend.

No my moma tole me, 'Son, you can know a person pretty well by seein' what company they keep.'

And my mama knew what the hell she was talking about.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Why is Krugman off limits? (0.00 / 0)
Are you really suggesting that Krugman is off limits because he is a progressive?

[ Parent ]
I should be... (4.00 / 2)
...in my opinion to lie about what Krugman is saying.

It should be 'off limits' to lie period.

But perhaps you feel differently.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Why not? (4.00 / 2)
A progressive candidate should not criticise other progressives, especially using conservative frames.

So Obama disagreed with Krugman? OK, that's acceptable. But releasing oppo documents against him? That serves no purpose except to destroy his credibility. Which weakens progressivism. Which a progressive candidate should not do.

Is this really such a revolutionary idea?

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
did you read it? (0.00 / 0)

I would hardly call this an oppo document.....

[ Parent ]
krugman is carrying hillary's water (0.00 / 0)
and obama is just supposed to stand by and take it? bull.

[ Parent ]
The mailing didn't even say that Krugman was wrong (4.00 / 1)
it just said that he changed his opinion about Obama's healthcare plan?

[ Parent ]
doesn't matter (0.00 / 0)
Ridiculous Doesn't matter that Zengerle may be a jerk.  He's right about Obama disarming conservatives.  So if Hitler says the sky is blue, it isn't?

Look, Obama has something we haven't seen since Bill Clinton. He can (if you want to be uncharitable) snow people in so many ways.  I'm in awe.

It's truly a great quality for a politician to have.  I know I win no points by saying this to this audience of many idealists.

[ Parent ]
Obama Disarms Conservatives? (4.00 / 2)
Somehow I suspect that after he's the nominee, they won't be quite so disarmed.

[ Parent ]
You missed the point (0.00 / 0)
Of course - but he'll pull in a marginal number of R-leaning I's.  And his popularity will frustrate, just as Reagan's did.

I personally know a couple of R's who say "he's not so bad" Granted, this is in CA.  But this a real phenomenon, but if you're asserting that I'm naive and think this will be kumbaya nation if he's nominated, you're wrong.

[ Parent ]
Clinton (4.00 / 1)
While Clinton's triangulating skills helped him get elected and re-elected, they also led to the Republican majorities in Congress for over a decade. Are you sure you want to cite him as a positive example?


[ Parent ]
completely disagree (0.00 / 0)
triangulating caused the repub revolution?  No, it was a strategic reaction to it.

correlation is not causation.  I don't think your thesis is remotely true. 

[ Parent ]
NAFTA (0.00 / 0)
Was NAFTA a "strategic reaction"? Clinton was the DLC golden boy before he even ran for President. I realize that he had to make adjustments after '94, but to pretend he wasn't a triangulator before that is bogus. Also, it says nothing about whether his post '94 triangulating was helpful or harmful in the long run. I would argue that, while it helped him personally, it was harmful long-term for Democrats and the liberal/progressive cause.


[ Parent ]
please (4.00 / 1)

The same Jason Zenergle who thinks that Kos controls the entire progresive blogosphere via secretive email lists and the liberal blog adveritising network? Pardon me if I don't think he has Obama right, either.

What does this have to do with anything?  That's a fallacious line of reasoning, a classic ad hominem.  Zengerle said X, therefore he's untrustworthy, therefore we can discredit anything he says on anything else, especially if we disagree with him.  Why not address what he says on the merits?  You can continue to bang the drum that Obama can't disarm conservatives, but Zengerla at least showed evidence to back his thesis.  Did you?

And I'm not just talking about "tone" or being the most partisan here. I'm talking about overtly attacking members of the progressive media.  I guess we do differ on approach if my approach is not to release oppo papers on progressive media figures, and their's is. In this case, they are actually the one being the aggressive assholes, not us.

Er, Krugman was leveling political attacks on Obama.  He even flat-out admitted (as did Ezra) that their amped-up attacks had nothing to do with policy (as their issues with the policy were well-documented and were ignored by Obama) and everything do with political framing. 
I don't understand how you can expect to enter a political argument, between two politicians, and make a political point, and not get a political response.  Krugman wasn't trying to have an honest debate about policy and discuss the risks and benefits of both candidates' approaches; he was impugning Obama's character by suggesting he was some sort of traitor to progressives for adopting Republican talking points.  What type of response do you expect?  And why should those charges go un-answered, when they're rolled out in unison with the charges from his main political rival, from one of the biggest non-political pulpits in the country?

I'll add one more thing, Mr. blogs are "often counter-productive." The progressive blogosphere has done way, way more to push progressive ideas, Democratic candidates and even progressive legisltation, than Barack Obama has over the last three years. We have been way, way more productive than Obama.

What the hell have I said here to deserve this type of response?  This is exactly the attitude towards open debate I'm talking about.  Not only did you refuse to engage the point about approach on the merits by dismissing Zengerle ad hominem, you've also misrepresented my post and taken an unnecessarily combative tone here.  I'm not trying to argue with you here, so why not take a deep breath and relax before responding?  I never said blogs are counter-productive; I said "hyper-partisanship" by "many" in the blogosphere is "often" counter-productive.  That leaves plenty of room for less-partisan blogs to be productive, and leaves room and leaves room for hyper-partisan blogs to be productive.  And I'm just voicing my opinion. 

And you just state your apparent rebuttal to my opinion as if its true if you say it is, by fiat.  Aside from the pretty good legislation on sunlight in gov't and non-proliferation Obama has pushed, there's also the fact that he's mobilizing his networks to support the candidates in the OH-05 and VA-01 elections (link).  Josh Marshall's site, which I don't consider "hyper-partisan", essentially took down Alberto Gonzalez, and I tip my cap to them.  And I also appreciate all the work that you, Stoller, the people a DKos, Ezra Klein, etc etc do.  Obviously; I post here, don't I, even if I mainly weigh in on horserace stuff.

So again, if you raise some actual points with some links that you think suggests I'm getting something wrong, let's have a debate about it. 

I don't see what's so "open" or "left", however, about your entire approach to responding to me here.  It just seems thin-skinned, defensive, and light on substance.

[ Parent ]
You might consider professional help if you really 'think'... (4.00 / 2)
...that this is the way to discuss things,

I don't see what's so "open" or "left", however, about your entire approach to responding to me here.  It just seems thin-skinned, defensive, and light on substance.

Go to the dictionary and lookup 'pejorative'.

You're not interested in 'open debate' you've already made up your mind as you comments clearly show. You fit right in with the Obama cult.

All indignant that others don't agree with you and are far from willing to accept your dismissive frames.

Much luck to you pal.

You probably will need it.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
rofl (0.00 / 0)
I presented a pretty evenly argued and substantive post, and am happy to disagree and debate.  Yes, I have an opinion on the subject, but that doesn't mean I think all other points of view are stupid and invalid.  You, however, have lined all your responses to me with vitriol.  Bowers took an unnecessarily condescending tone.  And then you have the gall to suggest that I'm the only who doesn't know how to discuss things?  Please.

[ Parent ]
The problem with your argument (0.00 / 0)
is Obama's ability to disarm Republicans has not yielded progressive results whereas the progressive blogosphere has taken down unprogressive legislation and politicians.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
Why attack Krugman? (4.00 / 3)
What the hell purpose does that serve? Who will vote for Obama because he misrepresented Paul Krugman so as to defend himself?

It's not even like more than a tiny minority of the American public votes based on wonky details like whether a plan involves a mandate and Obama's received enough acclaim from the press that he can stand the odd bit of criticism. Obama's attacks cannot be viewed as necessary self-defence.

Viewed through this lense, Obama's reaction is either a deliberate attack on progressivism, a dangerous personal sensitivity that could lead to cult-of-personality style politics or just really really stupid.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
your unstated assumption (4.00 / 2)
There is an unstated assumption implied in your arguments that there is something fundamentally wrong with partisanship. I disagree. Republicans suck. Their conservative ideology sucks. Their regressive feudalist agenda sucks. Their  policies suck. Their thoroughly dickish rhetoric sucks. We have a two-party system. So we have a choice - either embrace suckiness or be a partisan Democrat. Seems pretty clear to me. What's the problem?


[ Parent ]
I don't think it sucks (0.00 / 0)
I think its ineffective.  All I care about is results.  If I think on certain issues or in certain times, partisanship will get more results than the approach Obama is taking now, I'm all for it.

But I think the combination of what progressives want to do and the environment in which they want to do it create a situation where partisanship is self-defeating.  All it does (IMO) is re-enforce a stagnant, ineffective gov't.  Right now, it plays into the status quo bias built into our system. 

[ Parent ]
Then how do you refute the counter-example? (4.00 / 3)
Partisanship worked for the Republicans for twelve years. Sure, it all fell apart in the end, but that took creative stupidity, massive corruption, the sinking of a major city and an unpopular war.

Whereas Democratic pragmatism in those years failed.

Particularly when one considers how reluctant the current Republican congress is to really negotiate in good faith, it would seem that partisanship tends to be more successful than instinctive compromise.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
I don't refute the counter-example at all (0.00 / 0)
I don't think the counter-example applies, as I stated above.

The Republicans are trying to destroy gov't.  Democrats are trying to build gov't.  "What's good for the goose is good for the gander" incorrectly presumes the goose and the gander have the same ends in mind; in this case, they don't.  Dig?

Now that this is off the front page I don't know if you're gonna see this, but this is the main point I think so many who are deeply invested in adopting Repub tactics towards politics are missing. 

Partisanship is bad for governing, and since ending the federal government's ability to govern effectively as a goal of Republicans, it is good for them.  Adopting the same strategy towards a goal of good government is highly misguided.

That's my point.  I believe that, and I believe that strongly.  I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise, but as of yet nobody has explained to me why I'm wrong.  I don't think being strongly partisan is the key to super-majorities in both Houses, and I don' think it will work for institution building without those super-majorities, and as such, I don't think, overall, it is a wise strategy.  That doesn't mean I'm advocating having a weak spine and compromising on core principles, either.  It doesn't have to be one or the other. 

[ Parent ]
I think we come at this from fundamentally different places (0.00 / 0)
I just don't see compromise as meaningful until the other side has an interest in real compromise. In the current situation, with an opposition that does not negotiate in good faith, partisanship is the only sensible option, at least until the make-up of the GOP in congress starts to change.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Dude. (4.00 / 2)
I think you are seriously misdiagnosing the problem. The problem is not some distasteful partisan atmosphere. The problem is mass media owned exclusively by rich people. That is the hostile environment that makes it hard to govern progressively. If you fail to understand the problem, how can you expect any of your "solutions' to make any sense. The best remedy we have is a continued neutral internet.


[ Parent ]
What is Obama's seniority ranking (4.00 / 1)
in the Senate?

If he was so great at getting conservatives to work with him, I think we should have seen some results on that by now.

Obama passed 2 bills with his name in them during the Republican-majority Senate -

From the wiki:

Partnering first with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), and then with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Obama successfully introduced two initiatives bearing his name. "Lugar-Obama" expands the Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction concept to conventional weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles and anti-personnel mines.[67][68] The "Coburn-Obama Transparency Act" provides for a web site, managed by the Office of Management and Budget, listing all organizations receiving Federal funds from 2007 onward, and providing breakdowns by the agency allocating the funds, the dollar amount given, and the purpose of the grant or contract.[69][70] In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the "Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act," marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor.[71]

How many other Democrats can say the same? That they passed major legislation during the Republican-controlled Congress?

No matter how hard he works - what he says/does - nothing ever seems to be enough.

[ Parent ]
Maaaaybe (4.00 / 2)
But a few things:

1) Zenglare is kind of an idiot

2) "The Public" doesn't "react negatively" to attacks against Bush and the GOP.

3) There's something infuriating about the kind of trickery tactic you're crediting Obama with using, and not just because it runs blatantly counter to the rest of his campaign message. If this is even the case, we need to get some dog-whistles going so he can let us know what he "really" means, and there are still certain things he probably should avoid saying (like that there's a "crisis" with social security).

I'd prefer openness, of course. I think it's actually very effective. But I realize these big cats are unlikely to change their stripes.

Me | My Work | Future Majority

[ Parent ]
Well (0.00 / 0)
Regardless of Zengerle's intelligence (or lack thereof), all the pundits he cites have indeed spoken warmly of Obama.  I've also read an American Spectator article warning conservatives against this phenomenon.  We've seen conservatives that worked with him at the Law Review at Harvard describe exactly how he does it.  And I don't think its a "trick" either.  Its just good salesmanship. 

The Dem nominee's goal is to sell the country on progressive ideals.  But its hard to sell someone on an ideal if you start from a fundamentally different world view.  You just end up talking past the person.  If you want a quick and easy and really interesting read that goes into this, I'd suggest Influence: Science and Practice.  Cialdini goes into a lot of different methods people use to gain trust from those they're trying to sell, for example waiters who will warn a diner away from an expensive entree, and then recommend something cheaper.  And then later, with the customers now trusting that he'll base his rec's on quality and not price, recommend a really expensive bottle of wine. 

Two of the classic ways to were to go through a list of reasons you might be wrong first, and then explain why you're right anyway; and, list and even respect someone's concerns first, and then explain why you're right anyway.  Obama's just a good salesman, IMO.  If its because he actually respects others' opinions, or if its something he picked up on intuitively, or if its an explicit attempt at manipulation...doesn't matter, I don't think.  It is what it is.  IMO, its an effective way of wooing independents and moderate Republicans.  Polls seem to bear this out; his favorability with Indies crushes the other Dems', and, as noted, there have been a line of conservative pundits saying nice things about him.

Maybe I'm wrong though, but the policies he proposes certainly don't suggest he's DLCish or conservative in the least.  He looks only slightly to the right of Edwards' to me.

[ Parent ]
The pundits speak warmly (4.00 / 2)
I see what you are saying, but I think you miss the point that I and others are making in two key ways, or perhaps you do realize what we're saying and simply disagree.

1) "The pudits speak warmly of him" neatly encapsulates a big part of the problem here. The pundits are a flawed constituency, which is institutionally invested with an undemocratic and increasingly destructive amount of power. The fact that Obama expends significant energy to appeal to these people is a possible cause for concern.

2) The notion that significant progressive gains can be "sold" to moderate congressmen and senators under a situation of narrow majorities seems to bely the past 14 years of history.

I think most of us would rather see someone with Obama's obvious talents champion an openly progressive agenda rather than attempt to please the DC elite and "sell" his policies through conservative framing. I don't think that's an unreasonable desire.

Me | My Work | Future Majority

[ Parent ]
Why is he talking about SS at all? (4.00 / 2)
When Medicare is in much, much worse financial shape?

[ Parent ]
Because he wants to be considered a.... (0.00 / 0)
....very, very serious person by the likes of Tweey and PumpkinHaid. And, no, I'm not kidding he really thinks that if he kisses enough corporatist media ass they won't tie a porkchop around his neck and throw him to the wolves.

'Course maybe if kisses enough NeoCon ass that won't happen....

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Why SS? To change the subject. (4.00 / 1)
Because he does not have much of a plan to cope with Medicare costs. The crux of his cost control plan is "improve IT." We need more fundamental change, in the form of universality and public/private competition, to begin to deal with the long term health care costs escalation and Obama is not willing to go there.

[ Parent ]
Except (4.00 / 3)
Obama didn't try to sell Krugman on his health care reform ideas.  Instead, he simply smeared Krugman.  So Obama smears Democrats and progressives and sucks up to Republicans, using their talking points.  How many Sistah Soljah moments does the dude think he needs?

[ Parent ]
Different View? (0.00 / 0)
Is this perhaps just the growing pains of a progressive movement?  It's one thing to have a relatively monolithic progressive movement, especially when it feels isolated and backed into a corner by the DC establishment and the Republican Party.  But as progressives build a majority, isn't it natural that they might not always agree?

For instance, I am cheering Obama on in his spat with Krugman.  I don't see Krugman as an effective progressive voice, I see him as a bumbling characticture of progressivism with all of the negatives of being an ivory tower out of touch elitist. 

Obama is clearly a progressive fighting for changes to the establishment that would allow a progressive media to flourish.  But too often I feel like the new progressive media, the blogosphere and like, are still giving the same policy prescriptions of the establishment: big government mandates in health care that scare off middle class voters, or a refusal to even consider that there is anything wrong with Social Security.  As an icon of a new generation of political leadership, Obama isn't going to be prescribing the same policy solutions that the "dirty hippies" were handing out back in the 1960s.

You prove Bowers point (4.00 / 4)
Krugman writes very well thought through positions.  To describe Krugman as a "bumbling characticture of progressivism" is insulting and demeaning a voice that was there when no one else was there.

And no, I do not see that "Obama is clearly a progressive".  He is NOT clearly a progressive to me and many others.  See this post at the LeftCoaster Barack Obama's War On/Of Triangulation

Join other progressives at EENRblog

[ Parent ]
"bumbling characticture"? (4.00 / 3)
WTF? Care to back that up with any substantive critique?

Not to say that overall Obama isn't progressive, but it seems from your comment that what appeals to you about Obama is his less progressive side.


[ Parent ]
It's his DLC advisors (0.00 / 0)
They just can't give up their dream of having an African-American Joe Lieberman. They probably whisper in his ear that no Republican will vote for DFH Civil Rights Librul Black Man and, without them, no Democrat can get elected.

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

The comparisons to Joe Lieberman (3.00 / 4)
...disgust me more than anything.

They're vacuous and unsupportable when looking at his legislative history.  I'll quote Hilzoy on this matter, who's a rather popular voice among the progressive wonk-o-sphere as far as I can tell:

His legislation is often proposed with Republican co-sponsorship, which brings me to another point: he is bipartisan in a good way. According to me, bad bipartisanship is the kind practiced by Joe Lieberman. Bad bipartisans are so eager to establish credentials for moderation and reasonableness that they go out of their way to criticize their (supposed) ideological allies and praise their (supposed) opponents. They also compromise on principle, and when their opponents don't reciprocate, they compromise some more, until over time their positions become indistinguishable from those on the other side.

This isn't what Obama does. Obama tries to find people, both Democrats and Republicans, who actually care about a particular issue enough to try to get the policy right, and then he works with them. This does not involve compromising on principle. It does, however, involve preferring getting legislation passed to having a spectacular battle.

I would point out, too, that Obama did not go out of his way to criticize Krugman; he responded only after Krugman attacked him.  Obama did not go after Cohn, Krugman, or Klein when all of them were raising reasonable objections to his policy on the merits.  But when Krugman came at Obama for not being partisan enough, Obama responded forcefully.  And I don't find that confusing at all; Krugman's attack went hand-in-hand with the very same charges the Clinton campaign was leveling.  Krugman leveled a political attack, and Obama gave a standard political response.  I do not see why this should be surprising. 

[ Parent ]
Donnie McClurkin (4.00 / 2)
...says it all about compromise on principle -that is if you believe that tolerance and inclusiveness for racial, cultural and social minorities is a core progressive principle.Very inspiring indeed when the man who's supposedly going to bring us all together under the tent of decency and pragmatism allows his campaign to be used as a homophobic bigot's platform and therefore slaps his (supposed) allies in the gay community across the face. Encouraging as hell that his action also tacitly endorses and advances the social ideology of (supposed opponent) Rev. James Dobson.And since being sophisticated and bipartisan apparently means never saying you're sorry,nary a word of reassurance or consolation to the slapped allies afterwards.
In soccer you'd call that a double own goal.
In politics it's a performance that might have even caused a cynical opportunist like Bill Clinton to lose his lunch... 

[ Parent ]
Obama simply is not a progressive hero (4.00 / 2)
Everyone, but everyone who supports Obama that I talk to, describes an Obama more of their imagination than the one who actually made it to the Senate. Hey, I was a donor for his senate run and urged my parents who live in Chicago to vote for him. He's disappointed me ever since.

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

[ Parent ]
Another side (4.00 / 2)
There are two things about Obama that lead me to support him in 2008:

1: He seems to have a very clear sense of what the job of the presidency entails and what kinds of changes he might be able to realize as president.  Watch his interview at Google for a good sense of what I am talking about:


He doesn't seem to have any illusions that, as president, he won't be transforming the American or global economies.  He is a reformist, and he is quite upfront about this fact.  On the other hand, with someone like Edwards, the rhetoric (of populism, anti-corporate power) is bound to disappoint when he actually takes power and assumes responsibility for overseeing the US economy. 

Despite all of the back and forth about healthcare, all three of the top Dem candidate plans are not what we need (i.e. a single payer, universal system).  Edwards' plan is not qualitatively different than Obama's or Clinton's.  And the idea, promoted by Krugman, the Obama is attacking the other plans "from the Right" is not accurate, because the true progressive position is NOT to mandate that everyone buy (private) health insurance (it is to provide guaranteed health coverage to all through a single payer plan).

2: Obama subtly sneaks strikingly progressive messages into speeches that likely appeal to self-identified conservatives.  Again, the Google interview is a case in point.  In a discussion of Pakistan, he states that, during the Cold War, the US repeatedly made the mistake of supporting "pro-US" dictators and squelching/betraying democratic forces in other nations.  This is an incredibly progressive position -- one that is generally verboten in CW/beltway discourse.  But in the same answer, Obama said something like: "people say I'm some out-there progressive, but really I'm conservative -- I want to restore this country to its best traditions (he was talking of restoring habeus corpus)."  So he couples a disavowal of the Left with  the articulation of a position that is far to the Left of CW/beltway discourse. 

My point in saying all this is that we should not reflexively assume that every time someone repeats a Left wing straw-man or disavows a portion of the Left that this person is not also moving national discourse significantly in our direction.  Politics is more complicated than that -- and to really understand what Obama's candidacy is about, we need to recognize that. 


Doesn't make sense (4.00 / 2)
"the idea, promoted by Krugman, the Obama is attacking the other plans "from the Right" is not accurate, because the true progressive position is NOT to mandate that everyone buy (private) health insurance (it is to provide guaranteed health coverage to all through a single payer plan)."

So because nobody has a perfect progressive plan, it's impossible for one to attack one of these plans from the Right? You are aware that's absurd, right? And that it directly contradicts what you said about supporting Obama as he is an unabashed reformer?

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
There isn't actually an argument here.... (4.00 / 1)
I didn't say that it was impossible for Obama to critique Edwards or Clinton's plans from the Right, but that, in fact, he wasn't doing so when he made the arguments he did about mandates because -- at least in my view -- mandating that we all purchase health insurance from private companies is not (necessarily) a more progressive policy position than pushing the costs down and offering a government plan.  Incidentally, there is a good post in this thread about the pragmatics of not proposing mandates going in.... 

I'm not sure how this argument conflicts with my argument about Obama and reformism.  If Obama was going after Edwards on economic issues from the Right, then I could see your point. But he isn't.  My point is simply that Obama strikes me as quite forthright about what he plans to do as president.  I don't see his rhetoric as being misleading (as I do, to a certain extent, with Edwards).  It's not that I prefer reformism; it's that I prefer a candidate who is realistic about what he is going to do as President.  Of course, one could argue that Edwards is not a reformist but a revolutionary, but it would be a mighty hard argument to sustain...  The truth is that we are choosing between a bunch of reformists. 

[ Parent ]
I get you're point (4.00 / 2)
But frankly I don't think it's very important. I don't want you to take this personally Chris but I don't think a whole lot of people care about whether you and you're friends feeling are hurt by some things the Obama campaign has done. I personally couldn't give a shit if he was attacking me as long as he's good on policy. That's probably going to sound really offensive but really for me it's all about what they are going to do. I don't see much of a anti-progressive pundit strategy.  You've named under 10 progressive pundits. I don't know, I wish he'd be nicer to progressive pundits and wouldn't use a few words that he does but his media policy is to damn good for me to really care that much.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

Jerome Armstrong... (4.00 / 2)
A progressive...come on now. Since Warner fold, he has been doing his darnedest to tarnish Obama. It is encouraging that Obama isn't taking crap from anyone whether they call themselves progressives or conservatives.

Jerome can go after him on his blog day in day out, but Obama doing oppo research on his ass is a no no. What parallel universe do you guys live in?

[ Parent ]
Chamingly naive of you pal. (4.00 / 1)
In order for your argument to hold water one has to believe that Obama is telling the truth about his policy intentions.

He's not.

Remember this is a guy mentored by Joe Lieberman. And what did Joe say when he was desperately trying to beat back the Lamont challenge.

Oh...yeah...I got it now,

'No one wants to bring the troops home more than I do.'

We have a saying in our meetups at Drinking Liberally, Oakland,

'Don't like Senator 'Hope's position on something? Just come back in little while. He'll have a new one that you'll like...'

And no, I don't think this is 'sophisticated tactics' or 'designed to get the pundits on his side..' it's something he does quite well:

Lie to get elected.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Naive huh? (4.00 / 1)
You guys can throw around this Obama Lieberman meme all you want. That wouldn't make it true.

Chris jumped on a rumor about opposition research on bloggers and went frontal with it without a shred of evidence to back it up. I thought that is what the MSM do and not the blogosphere.

Can Chris provide evidence of opposition research conducted on him or another blogger by the Obama camp? I don't think so.

[ Parent ]
What is he supposed to do? (0.00 / 0)
Raid the safes in Obama's office? It's a rumour. He hasn't put it forward as gospel truth, so stop being so hyper-defensive.

And as I say this as someone who thinks Jerome is out of line in his dishonest attacks on Obama every bit as much as you do.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Chris can speak for himself but... (4.00 / 1)
as far as the Obama/Lieberman connection only a low-info Obama cultist would be dumb enough to say:

You guys can throw around this Obama Lieberman meme all you want. That wouldn't make it true.

When 20 seconds with Google gives you this:

Never mind, for example, that Obama was recently hailed as a "Hamiltonian" believer in "limited government" and "free trade" by Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks, who praises Obama for having "a mentality formed by globalization, not the SDS." Or that he had to be shamed off the "New Democrat Directory" of the corporate-right Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) by the popular left black Internet magazine Black Commentator (Bruce Dixon, "Obama to Have Name Removed From DLC List," Black Commentator, June 26, 2003).

Never mind that Obama (consistent with Brooks's description of him) has lent his support to the aptly named Hamilton Project, formed by corporate-neoliberal Citigroup chair Robert Rubin and "other Wall Street Democrats" to counter populist rebellion against corporatist tendencies within the Democratic Party (David Sirota, "Mr. Obama Goes to Washington," the Nation, June 26). Or that he lent his politically influential and financially rewarding assistance to neoconservative pro-war Senator Joe Lieberman's ("D"-CT) struggle against the Democratic antiwar insurgent Ned Lamont. Or that Obama has supported other "mainstream Democrats" fighting antiwar progressives in primary races (see Alexander Cockburn, "Obama's Game," the Nation, April 24, 2006). Or that he criticized efforts to enact filibuster proceedings against reactionary Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Never mind that Obama "dismissively" referred-in a "tone laced with contempt"-to the late progressive and populist U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone as "something of a gadfly." Or that he chose the neoconservative Lieberman to be his "assigned" mentor in the U.S. Senate. Or that "he posted a long article on the liberal blog Daily Kos criticizing attacks against lawmakers who voted for right-wing Supreme Court nominee John Roberts." Or that he opposed an amendment to the Bankruptcy Act that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. Or that he told Time magazine's Joe Klein last year that he'd never given any thought to Al Gore's widely discussed proposal to link a "carbon tax" on fossil fuels to targeted tax relief for the nation's millions of working poor (Joe Klein, "The Fresh Face," Time, October 17, 2006).



Seems like a few 'self-centered...thin skinned...' bloggers like Chris have...well they've got a few problems with....

Senator 'Hope'.

But Hey! Obama's got David Brooks, WSJ and one assumes Alito and Robert on his side.

Yeah, he's the 'answer' all right. To the ReichWing's dreams.

Gotta go feed the pit-bulls now so...

Try and get a few facts on your side for next time.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
You've been fooled, too (0.00 / 0)
Yeah, but the game you're playing is stupid - it could be applied to Edwards as well. 

Like maybe his war vote "apology" was just strategic?  I think it was.  Doesn't stop me from liking him, but I think you've been snowed.

Really, you don't have to be a bully.

[ Parent ]
What About Krugman? (4.00 / 3)
I find it odd that Obama is not allowed to answer back to the criticisms of Krugman and yet it is perfectly acceptable for Krugman to attack our leading progressive candidate.  What Krugman has done, or allowed to be done in his name, is allow a minor difference and really minor point between the plans to become the sole focus of the Health Care debate.  And to whose advantage? The Insurance Companies.  And we are to praise him?

Jonathan Cohn who claims to be largely responsible for putting out the 1.5 million people figure based on Krugman and others which Clinton and Edwards have used to try to bash Obama, states in his most recent article about mandates:

If the significance of including a mandate as part of health care reform really came down to nothing more than the numbers, it would not be so important. Obama's plan may not reach as many people as Clinton's or Edwards' would, but it would reach an awful lot of people--and, as such, do an awful lot of good. And, thankfully, Obama continues to say he wants to achieve universal coverage--that is, to make sure everybody has insurance. At least he has the right goal in mind.

If it came down to just numbers then the numbers are not so important, and yet Krugman has allowed the numbers to become the Primary focus of the Health Care debate.  He has never put out the numbers Mandates would leave uninsured so we can compare the two.  We, as so-called progressives, have allowed everyone to take their eye off the ball, something Obama has been consistently focussing on when he says the problem is not that Americans don't want Health Care, they can't AFFORD it.  They, we, don't need to be told to get it.

The people who do need us to be told to get it is the Insurance Companies.  And this is where Cohn goes very wrong, Edwards and Clinton go very wrong, Krugman goes very wrong, and Obama exhibits he knows what the hell he is doing.  He has admitted that once we see how many people are not signing up, perhaps mandate might be necessary but he's not going to enter the negotiation stage which will determine the final plan with that in place.  Cohn gets right to the heart, though with a naive understanding of how to negotiate, when he says about the political realities of achieving Health Care and an individual mandate:

The insurance industry, meanwhile, will demand it because they think it essential to prevent an adverse selection death spiral. If the idea is to pass universal health care with bipartisan support, then a mandate may be essential.

If they want it, you don't hand it to them before walking in the room.  You exchange it for a greatly regulated industry and no exclusionary practices.  You hold back the possibility of maybe the government talking over the risk, in essence setting up a Catastrophic Care Insurance for all out of government funds, which would be the true path toward Medicare for All.  You let the insurance companies force us into that, not fight us on it as Kucinich would do.  You don't place the private and public plans in competition as Edwards would have us do, you head toward a Medicare Advantage model where private plans wrap around the public one.  That is the progressive vision, not the one being touted by Edwards.  Krugman by allowing the debate to get sidetracked is the one who should be criticized for attacking the only one with the smarts to see clearly the goal and the achievable path to it.

risk (4.00 / 2)
I've been trying to identify my own issue with Obama, and after reading his supporters defenses of his positions on Social Security and health care coverage I think the underlying issue is ideological.

Shared risk underlies the modern progressive policy consensus. Republicans understand that shielding people from risk is at the core of the Democratic coalition and so, as documented in Jacob Hacker's The Great Risk Shift, they seek to undermine the progressive institutions that spread risk and head off new programs, like universal health care, that would strengthen our coalition.

Obama is a self-made man, and he appears to believe that people must be held responsible for their mistakes. His plans focus more on giving people opportunities than on strengthening communities. His transformational rhetoric is ultimately self-transformation, and very much in tune with the kind of self-realization that Oprah promotes. This world view becomes very clear in his supporter's arguments.

He is willing to call for shared sacrifice in defense of the nation, as even libertarians do, but not so much as part of a domestic bargain. This makes it easier for him to challenge the progressive consensus and to be open to Republican prescriptions. It explains, to me, the appeal of Reagan's rhetoric to Obama, and his willingness to challenge fundamental progressive assumptions like the universality of health care coverage in any reform.

how does this square with... (0.00 / 0)
Obama's repeated assertions that he would "move towards a single payer plan" if he were designing a health system from scratch.  One might say that he is lying through his teeth when he says this (without any evidence, of course), but regardless it complicates your assertion that he is interested in "challeng[ing] fundamental progressive assumptions like the universality of health care coverage in any reform." 

[ Parent ]
assertions (0.00 / 0)
Obama also asserts that his plan is universal. Now, sure, it is universal in the sense that anyone could purchase insurance, but the progressive assumption is that universal means spreading the risk over the whole population, not to those who chose to participate. Obama has attacked that fundamental progressive assumption in his opponent's plans as coercive.

Since we are not starting from scratch the question must be how does Obama's plan move towards single payer? The other Democratic plans set up a public plan that competes with the private plans, Obama's public plan only competes for uninsured individuals and small businesses.

[ Parent ]
You know what bugs me? (0.00 / 0)
it has been confirmed to me from multiple sources

Oh really?


How is this ANY better than what CNN pulls with "unnamed sources"?

You know what else bugs me?

That "progressive bloggers" are allowed to say whatever they want about whoever they want - whether it's factual or completely made up - and if ANYONE else responds by questioning their credibility, it's open war on that person for daring to question said progressive blogger.

Here's the way to fix ALL of these problems - Make a claim, back it up with proof.

This weekend alone - Jerome Armstrong and Taylor Marsh pushed a completely fabricated story about how Oprah is anti-union and won't let any union workers work in her studios. I asked repeatedly for proof of this accusation. I still haven't gotten any. The only place I find this story is the article that Armstrong and Marsh both referred to - an article by Robert Basilisky - nothing comes up on a search when I try to find out who he is - he cites absolutely NO proof of his own claim in his article - and yet, some random person on the internet wrote it, so Armstrong and Marsh believe it??


Krugman attacked Obama - unfairly - on more than one occasion - last I checked, we LIKED seeing Democrats respond to attacks. But since it's Obama, that's bad? Or is it that it's Krugman? What makes Krugman untouchable exactly? Are we back to - progressives shouldn't attack one another? Is that this week? Or until some other big name blogger decides to make stories up about one of the Democratic Presidential candidates. Hunter has a post up right now bashing Democrats over at DKos...should he take that down?

Pretty simple - make a claim, back it up.

One last question -

At the same time, I wondered after the meeting if he tailors his message depending on his audience

Doesn't everyone do this? I certainly do. If I'm talking to a Republican and trying to persuade a Republican to vote for Obama - I focus on specific issues and positions...if I'm talking to a liberal Democrat, I focus on other issues and positions. The benefit - Obama's positions aren't DIFFERENT for the audiences - the audience's concerns are different.

If Obama is speaking to a teacher's union - he'll tailor his message to things those teachers might be concerned about. If he's speaking to an environmental group - he'll tailor his message to things they care about. That's just common sense.

Gee, so (4.00 / 1)
you're bothered that progressive bloggers can say whatever they want?  I think you're living in the wrong country then, unless you want to call for the repeal of the Bill of Rights.

[ Parent ]
No she'd just add one... (4.00 / 1)
...Thou shalt not criticise Senator 'Waffle'.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
This is what she said, smartypants: (4.00 / 1)
That "progressive bloggers" are allowed to say whatever they want about whoever they want - whether it's factual or completely made up - and if ANYONE else responds by questioning their credibility, it's open war on that person for daring to question said progressive blogger.

What she is calling for is an environment in which open debate is encouraged,not stifled.  How about next time you not blatantly misrepresent someone's arguments in an attempt to smear them as anti-free speech. 

[ Parent ]
Congratulations (0.00 / 0)
You got it.  I just did to her exactly what Obama did to Krugman.  Doesn't feel so good now does it?

[ Parent ]
And Kindergate was just a joke.... (4.00 / 1)
Sorry, but saying that you were trying to make a point about "how it feels" to be Paul Krugman facing Obama's criticisms just doesn't wash.  It appears that you are trying to rewrite history after having been called out for a clearly over-the-top response. 

Obama didn't make anywhere near the kinds of insinuations you made in your nasty little post. 

[ Parent ]
I don't see the outrage here (4.00 / 2)
First off, Chris, name your sources if you're going to blame Obama for collecting oppo on bloggers.  This is just as shoddy as the Judith Miller's reporting from pre-Iraq.

While the substance of what Krugman thought of Obama's health care plan hasn't changed, the tone has, and so has his obsession with mandates.  Krugman has been extremely harsh on him, while ignoring other candidates' flaws.  Where is his column attacking Hillary Clinton's right wing frames on foreign policy?

I don't mind criticisms of Democratic candidates, but don't pick one candidate to the exclusion of the others.  Krugman was essentially doing Hillary's work for her.  I don't agree with the method the campaign used to address Krugman.  It seems a bit paranoid.  At the same time, he had a right to respond.

Regarding Obama's supposed distaste for the blogosphere, I don't see what the whining is all about.  For all his rhetoric, his positions and record are very progressive.  The blogosphere tends to get a bit melodramatic.  If you're focused on substance, with Obama, Obama's right there with Edwards.  I should hope the blogosphere is focused on results, and can take a bit of ribbing with a grain of salt.

The reality is that the blogosphere has influence, but it is one influence among many.  Back when they writing Obama post mortems, he was gaining resonance with the voters.  Let's not see things in such stark terms, look at the broad picture, and realize an Obama election would be very good for progressive causes.

really? (4.00 / 2)
if you "know" that the Obama campaign was conducting "opposition research" against one blogger, you should write a story about it.

I can't believe you would just put this out there without saying who the blogger is or who told you this information. If you are willing to actually tell the story, you shouldn't strip it of all names.

You should also explain what you mean by "opposition research". There are several progressive bloggers that hate, hate, hate Obama, and have deliberately spread stupid fucking smears about him (e.g., Jerome / Oprah; Taylor Marsh / 'cannibal'), so it wouldn't surprise me if the Obama campaign tried to see whether these bloggers were somehow connected with another campaign. Without any explanation of what you are talking about, I'm left to speculate as to what you mean.

Also, I certainly hope the "one blogger" isn't Jerome given you quote him in this piece.

I have been around a long time (0.00 / 0)
and Obama has seen very little love on the blogs. What the hell do you want from him?  It takes two.

"Progressive" Bloggers and their ankle biting of Obama (4.00 / 1)
Look, there is a simple explanation for why so many progressive bloggers have it out for Obama: they feed like parasites off of a partisan environment. What would they have to bloviate about if the partisan temperature were actually turned down a few degrees? These folks care more about their need to fight than the well being of the country. That's why they give Hillary, Edwards, and Dodd passes on Iraq, Edwards passes on Bankruptcy, etc, etc but crucify Obama over trying to raise taxes to put more money into social security or committing the cardinal sin of not having a mandate in his health care plan. Most of them are so emotionally invested in detesting the other side that they will nitpick Obama's solid progressive credentials to death because they hate that he chooses not to categorically cast all Republicans as the "evil-doers." In their selfish combative myopia, they bite the ankles of the man most likely to effectively move this country in a progressive direction by having the crossover appeal likely to get things though the Senate.  And they undermine their credibility by shilling for candidates who only became progressives when the polls told them they could.  Maybe if they were pushing Kucinich you could respect their point of view, but they are showing by their behavior that they are neither principled nor particularly saavy in doing what is best to make sure that America actually goes in a progressive direction.


Open Left Campaigns



Advanced Search

Powered by: SoapBlox