On The Progressive Conversion of John Edwards

by: Chris Bowers

Sat Dec 29, 2007 at 14:40

Back in 2004, the Daily Howler usefully put John Edwards's National Journal composite ideological vote rankings in the public record

Here are the Journal's annual rankings since he arrived in the Senate:

John Edwards:
1999: 31st most liberal senator
2000: 19th most liberal senator
2001: 35th most liberal senator
2002: 40th most liberal senator
2003: 4th most liberal senator

I point this out because I think it shows that John Edwards, once a DLC golden boy, experienced a meaningful ideological shift several years ago. This change can be measured in terms beyond stump speech rhetoric and campaign policy papers, and occurred before he began running for President in this electoral cycle. During his final years in the Senate, John Edwards was no longer a rising star of the center-right, but had instead become a reliable progressive vote in Congress.

Now, as happened back in 2004 when this report was released, some will criticize Edwards for undergoing a campaign conversion. The charge leveled against Edwards is, more or less, that he shifted from center-right positions that helped elect him to the Senate in North Carolina, to progressive positions that would help him with the national rank and file in the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination campaign. Basically, this charge paints Edwards as a pandering politician who only shifted to the left because of activist pressure, and not a true progressive at heart.

More in the extended entry.

Chris Bowers :: On The Progressive Conversion of John Edwards
Personally, I don't read it that way, and I consider Edwards's shift to be genuine. For one thing, the shift is now five years old, representing more than half of the time Edwards has spent as a politician. In other words, he has now been a Progressive Democrat for longer than he was a New Democrat. Second, with less than ten years of experience, Edwards is a relatively new politician, and shifts of this nature are more common to people who are just entering the scene. Third, indications appear to be that it was Edwards was more conflicted during his earlier period of centrism than he is now. As examples, consider that Elizabeth appears to be a very solid progressive, that Edwards apparently didn't want to support the war but didn't have the courage of his convictions at the time, and that he has always appeared more comfortable since he found his "two Americas" rhetoric. I consider Edwards's conversion to be not unlike Gore's, where repeated object lessons of the heinous, bad faith, bankruptcy of American conservatism, and decided instead to just trust his gut, progressive instincts.

However, let's say that I am wrong, and spend a moment entertaining the possibility that Edwards has indeed undergone a five-year progressive shift in order to pander to the progressive rank and file. Even in that case, I am thrilled with his conversion. Over the past several years, I have tried to pressure politicians to shift to progressive positions on hundreds of occasions, with successes coming few and far between. After all the action alerts, phone calls, emails, letters, rallies and fundraising in which I and millions of other progressive activists have engaged, shouldn't we all expect that win over at least a few converts? Seriously, even if Edwards is just pandering, praise friggin' Jeebus that we finally scored a conversion with such a prominent Democrat. Isn't that exactly what we have been trying to do with Democrats? If progressive activists aren't happy that one of the six people who still has a shot at being our next President caved to our pressure on a wide swath of both policy and rhetoric, then what was the point of engaging in all of that activist pressure in the first place? It is almost even better this way, since Edwards is running a progressive campaign with the zeal of the newly converted, and since his conversion helps him recognize our power in a way that few other politicians ever will.

I think there are two possible views on John Edwards's progressive shift. On the one hand, the shift is genuine, and he has embraced his inner progressive. On the other hand, he bowed to progressive pressure in a way that no other politician has done in recent memory. So, we either have a true progressive, or someone who is more easily controlled by progressives than any other national politician in the last thirty-five years. I'll take that deal in a heartbeat, and gladly forgive any past history of DLC association. If we are progressive activists looking to make change, rather than to just say "I told you so," this strikes me as very much the scenario we would want.

Perhaps this is simply a long way of saying that I believe new progressive media and the emerging progressive grassroots will have more influence in an Edwards administration than in a Clinton or Obama administration. Now, given things like uber-blog proponent Peter Daou probably having a place in the Clinton White House, Obama's awesome open media policy, or simply Obama's exceptional activist strength, I could be wrong about this. However, there is something about a newly (five-year) converted progressive that appeals to me, even though I actually moved to the right in order to join the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. New converts tend to be the most zealous, the most willing to accept your arguments and the quickest to see the failings of the opposing camps. They are less entrenched in the politics of compromise and stalemate, and feel a more immediate sense of betrayal than those who always believed the other side was corrupt and wrong. Those are useful qualities, especially in a moment where a sweeping shift in power is possible.

The newly and solidly converted are the backbone of any major realignment, and I for one am glad to have them on board. Believe me, I have a burning desire to say "I told you so," but having someone else say "look, they told you so," is almost as good.

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So Basically (0.00 / 0)
Mitt Romney is the second-rate mirror-image Republican knockoff version of John Edwards?

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

Better that a candidate (4.00 / 3)
move to us like Edwards, than a way from us by calling us secular atheists, accepting GOP arguments on Social Security, vote for funding while giving lip service to being at first against the war etc etc etc etc and a lot more etcs like Obama.

Chris point, which I know you get, is plain. If your goal is move to a real progressive center, you start by having candidates who feel they must move left to win rather than right. Obama's central issue is that to prove his bona fides he has always had to move right. Name one issue of which he has actually acted in Congress beyond the rather thin reed of disclosure where that's not true.

You can certainly make excuses for why he feels the need to move right, but it's not one that builds in confidence as to what he will do when the pressure is on him as President or about the likelihood of a left of center forming in this country rather than a right of center.

[ Parent ]
But... (0.00 / 0)
what if I am a secular atheist?

[ Parent ]
You confuse me with someone else (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
The national review thinks so (4.00 / 1)
Romney, however, has been around longer (ran for Senate in 1994), and gone through a more recent conversion (like, two years ago).

[ Parent ]
There's Also The Matter Of Edwards' Roots (4.00 / 2)
Poor boy. Trial lawyer. He's been fighting them for a lot longer than his brief period of trying to make nice with them.

It's more like a case of "Get Back (To Where You Once Belonged)".

With Romney, not so much.

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

[ Parent ]
Also let me quote a friend (4.00 / 1)
who used to work for Gov Ann Richards-- in politics you dance iwth the one what brung ya.

[ Parent ]
David Sirota on why he likes Edwards... (4.00 / 3)

....you can call me a cynic - I believe all of these candidates are, in some way, professional opportunists (And I say that about ALL politicians, even the best of them - Being a successful politician means seizing opportunities - that's just a fact). And in believing that, I then judge the candidates on what they decide their opportunity rests on. I don't really care why they came to see the opportunities they see. The only thing that really matters is what they see their opportunities grounded in - that is, what they see their political base as and who they believe they rely on for their current and future political survival and advancement.

These are the factors that tell us how politicians will behave in office, who they will act on behalf of, and what constituencies they think they answer to. http://www.dailykos....

I absolutely agree with Sirota, which is why I can't believe that so call progressives in the blogosphere could support anybody but the ONE and only viable candidate that reached out to us.  I guess we too get what we deserve.

[ Parent ]
ding ding ding ding (4.00 / 2)
Someone who gets it. It's about to whom are they catering. Obama spends much of his time not catering to his base who adores him even as he slaps them in the fact. Clinton has made it clear to her supporters that throwing them under the bus maybe an option should it become necessary for her own cause. THe only one saying- I am going to embrace you- fake or not- is Edwards of the top tier choices. I've said for a while I would love a Fraken-candidate that combines the qualities of all the candidates that I find appealing. But, given a choice betwee personality and agenda, I am sticking with agenda. The later is what is missing from the Democratic party, not the former.

[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
That did occur to me for a second, until I realized that Romney is much more of a Bush 2000 clone, i.e. repositioning himself to best appeal to the broadest swath of those people he feels he has a chance of appealing to, whether or not those repositions have anything to do with who and what he actually is. The difference is that with Bush and Romney, the phoniness and pandering are obvious, because in both cases their transformations took place in the year or two before their elections, whereas with Edwards, it is not, because it's been taking place over a much longer period. I'm not saying that I don't have my doubts about Edwards' progressive sincerity, just that they're far less intense and clear than my rock-solid belief that Romney is an out and out phony and the indisputible evidence that Bush is and was not a so-called "compassionate conservative".

In any case, it's less important to me whether a politician is a "true" progressive, or a centrist posing as one, than whether they can, and will, help promote a progressive agenda, whether out of conviction, or out political and policy calculations. Although I want a candidate to possess both progressive "pureness" and political toughness and smarts, between the two, I view the latter as more important in the end (so long as there's enough of the former) because it's what ends up getting things done. Too far towards the latter and you get another Bill Clinton. Too far towards the former and you get another Mike Dukakis. I want someone who's got enough of both to not only get things done, but get the "right" things done (i.e. push forth a progressive agenda, a la a new New Deal). I see all three top Dems as being able to do that, to one extent or another.

But between my top two choices, I see Obama, although unfortunately less openly progressive in his rhetoric and policy positions as Edwards, as being more politically skillful and thus likely to get a progressive agenda passed than Edwards, but still more than progressive enough to be likely to try to. Edwards, though, is no Romney. Even if part of his progressive conversion is phony, it could not possibly even begin to compare to that of Romney's inherent phoniness, in quantity or quality. Not even close.

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

[ Parent ]
please list (4.00 / 1)
the legislative efforts that demostrate Obama's abilities to get things done since being in the Congress. He's been there almost 4 years now. You should have a handy list available.

[ Parent ]
Two Points (0.00 / 0)
Point One:

Show me a list of the three of them, showing how they can get things done, and what they've gotten done.

I think that the list is equally meager for Clinton, Obama, and Edwards.

Point Two:

Show me how their record of pushing legislation in the Senate is relevant to their potential Presidency.

Being a Senator and being a President are two totally different jobs. The President's first job is as our number one diplomat. Other jobs include nominating SCOTUS justices, and being a Commander in Chief in a time of war. So, really, we need to concentrate on those three things, and see who has the best credentials to pull those three things off. Who is the most diplomatic, who knows the most about the SCOTUS, and who has the best military judgment?

[ Parent ]
As i say below (4.00 / 1)
I didn't make the assertion that Obama wll be better- the other poster did. I am asking for proof that he will be better from his actual recordi in congress. If its merely gut, then the poster can certainly say that as well, bvut then that would show the statement up as just being more cult like support without proof to back it up.

[ Parent ]
cult-like support (0.00 / 0)
You may be correct regarding a lot of Obama supporters, but I don't think cult-like support is necessarily behind a person who believes that Obama's can't-we-all-just-get-along political style will prove to be more effective. I happen to favor Edwards' approach, but I would not go so far as to dismiss all who favor the Obama approach as cult-like. I think a reasonable case can be made for the Kumbaya approach. Personally, it turns me off.


[ Parent ]
I dismiss it because (4.00 / 1)
its warmed over Clintonism circa 1992 with a difference face on it. I am not putting people down to be mean, but the ideas that this is something new is simply not true. And we know from actual outcomes what happened with CLinton 1992. For that matter we have more recent examples such as Daschle. Or for that matters the COngress in 2007 with the GOP in the minority role gives us indication of how they deal with compromise.

[ Parent ]
okay (0.00 / 0)
You make a good case for rejecting the general strategy. My point was only that many people favor that strategy for its own sake, and I didn't think it was legit to dismiss it based entirely on cult-like support for Obama.


[ Parent ]
I call it cult like because (4.00 / 1)
the typical response to the evidence that the general strategy has been a failure is to talk about how special Obama is. It may not be a nice description, but then I am not trying to be nice, but instead honest.  Obama is a gifted politician. But so was Clinton. The idea that the outcome will be different because Obama is Obama is cultish behavior because it relies solely on personality.

[ Parent ]
I get it. (0.00 / 0)
I think that is a somewhat valid generalization. Still, taking Obama out of the picture, I think it is a reasonable concern that a politician will receive unflattering coverage from the corporate media if he or she doesn't suck up to the corporate-sponsored beltway consensus. We saw it with Dean. We are seeing it with Edwards. But when it comes to general election time, I agree with you that it will be bad for whoever the Democratic nominee is. I believe that real progressives just need to get used to the fact that the corporate media will be against them and just deal with it. Here is a brief related post I wrote a while back:


[ Parent ]
by the way (0.00 / 0)
I am all for compromise. I am actually as I said moderate- but compromise should happen from a position of strength, not because you are thinking "Well this is as good as I can get."

[ Parent ]
PS (4.00 / 1)
For the reocrd, I think they each can acchieve something merely because they have a Dem Congress and we are comparing to the crap thata preceeded them. However, the agenda requires someone who is willing to try something new. Of the three- only Edwards reflects this williness to try something new. I assume will fail and many times as he suceed, but then if I had to choose between a progressive agenda failing half the time, and a right of center one achieve about the same results- I will choose the former becuase the later starts off at  a place that already lower in outcome. I am not relying on my candidate having magical powers. Just on the fact that he's going to be more agressive in what he is seeking and as a consequence achieve better results without regard to failure and sucess rate (they will ally have failures and sucesses).

[ Parent ]
Remember (0.00 / 0)
"I think they each can acchieve something merely because they have a Dem Congress"

I don't have as much hope for merely having a Dem Congress. Bill Clinton had a Democratic Congress for his first two years, and what happened there? Not a whole hell of a lot.

[ Parent ]
One which he worked against (4.00 / 2)
Hence my points about leadership style and whether oen is 'pandering' to the right or left. As I keep saying, it's ironic that supposedly progressive people are bitching and whining that Edward is pandering tot he left but they don't see the irony in supporting candidates such as Obama on Social Security and healthinsurance and a litany of other issues and Clinton on a litany of issues who are pandering to the right. In the world of pandering, I prefer the former rather than the later. That's what it comes down to. Not whether one is reallhy better than the other, but whether one can get beyond personality long  enough to see the strategic advantage of the former over the later. Some people because they still follow what my conserrvative friend calls the politics of personality (its how he sees AMerican politics) still make it about the candidates alone rather than environment in which they will enter, forces to which they are beholden, rhectoric  that they use on the bullypulpit etc.

[ Parent ]
Indeed! (4.00 / 3)
Pandering, campaigning, triangulating all politicians do this which word is used has more to do with where the commentator is coming from than anything else.

As to Obama, many have been ensnared by his rhetoric built around change but a careful analysis of what he's said, off camera so to speak, shows him a Joey the Liarman clone, ready willing and actually saying different things to different constituencies. Sirota has been pointing this out all frikin' year. And he's been castigated for it. Bowers has finally come to grips with this 'Obama mystification effect'. And so has the rest of Free Left Blogistan today you can roam the threads and find many folks confidently asserting that they've thrown Obama under the bus because of his equivocation and outright assaults on progressive figures of every stature.

I believe many in the progressive blogoshere, a different place than Free Left Blogistan, have been slow to warm up to JRE for three reasons:

He is a Southerner...racism has it's blowback.

He was a trial lawyer....The ReichWing has pretty much successfully demonized these folks although JRE's utter refusal to be anything else has started to change the cultural zeitgeist on this.

His daddy worked in a mill. Like my daddy did. I want to assure folks like Matt and Chris, whom I've met and like on a personal and political level immensely, that class is a huge factor in this country  even though it's never discussed nor it's effects studied much. And one thing I know from being from the working class in America is that nobody, nobody wants that label.

Americans have historically and to this day worship at the clay feet of the class structure. Whey do you think Bill Clinton hangs out with Poppy? Why do you think pus sacks like 'Bloody Bily Kristol go from being fired by FAUX News to the NYT? What's Britt Hume doing?

Class guys, Americans want to believe that their leaders are intrinsicly better than they themselves are. 'Folks' did not want to have beer with Mr. Bush because they thought he was gonna be fun guy to hang out with. They were thrilled that he'd condescend to even think about doing so. Thrilled.

JRE has suffered from this. The Hill is, by virtue of Clever Bill's runs to the center, WH Royalty. Obama is part of the 'New Rising Black Artistocracy' in his $10,000 suits which he wears very, very well. He looks classy; he must be classy.


A man who's spent his entire life fighting for folks who got the short end of the corporate stick is assaulted because he's 'too pretty'. What's meant by that is that his tailor and hair cuts are not Wall Street that he looks like what he is: a Southern populist. It's apparent to everyone that he is NOT a member of the ruling class and worse he's not attempting to fake it.

The Heresy!

Now before the pileon starts I know JRE is a rich guy. That has nothing to do with what I am arguing. I can tell you this: that as a fellow member of the working class I can clearly see in his dress, bearing and demeanor the working class kid he was. And I would not want to be a punkass member of Miss Nancy and the 'Sellout' Reid caucus if they piss him off.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Whoops (0.00 / 0)
I didn't really intend to start a debate over which candidate is best, but it looks like I have.

In my view, most of what you say is right. A lot of Obama's change talk rings hollow. He is occasionally full of shit. John Edwards did actually grow in the working poor class. John Edwards is more liberal than Obama.

The thing is, I don't care. We're electing a President, so we need to judge these candidates on the qualities that a President needs. The President's jobs, in order of relevance are to be our lead diplomat abroad, to nominate SCOTUS justices, to be Commander in Chief in time of war, to have veto power over congress, and then everything else.

So then who is the best diplomat? I think it's pretty clear that it's Obama. Who knows the most about the SCOTUS? I think that's also clearly Obama. Who has shown the best military judgement so far. I think that's also obviously Obama.

It would be fun to have a fist pumping liberal populist in the White House. I just don't think that's what the job calls for. I'd love to see John Edwards back in the Senate. I'd love to see him in lots of powerful positions. I just don't think that his skill set is the best match for the Presidency.

[ Parent ]
I take your point and I'm not.... (0.00 / 0)
.....gonna get into an argument about this.


JRE has shown in his trial lawyer career the kind of qualities the President needs in the areas you highlight.

I further submit that the areas you expect to be the most important differ from mine.

Social justice and economic stratification are the two biggest threats we face as a society and a nation. If we don't cut out the rot nurtured by the 'conservative' movement in our society we will go the way of the Easter Islanders. Read 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond to see what I mean. Then check what current thinking on the role of 'trust' plays in having a functioning economy is among economists.

One closing shot: If Obama is 'good' on SCOTUS why has he repeatedly refused to use his vote as a U.S. Senator to oppose The Patriot Act, FISA and other Addlington inspired assaults on the Constitution?

Guy seems to think using the 'Unitary Executive' might be fun!

I's like to hear good, coherent answer to that question.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Wash (0.00 / 0)
I agree that social justice is very important. It's just not something that a President has that much control over.

As for the Patriot Act, John Edwards voted for it too, so that's a wash.

[ Parent ]
Republican "president" (0.00 / 0)
Your description of the job of President sounds very Republican. I doubt your argument will persuade many progressives because the progressive vision of the job of President is much different than yours and happens to coincide well with Edwards' platform.


[ Parent ]
Class is at the root of what makes wingers' heads explode (0.00 / 0)
when they think about Roosevelt, the Kennedys, Kerry, and now John Edwards. They don't understand how he, having transcended his humble upbringing, can concern himself with the plight of the poor. In their little minds, it's class treachery. The next worst thing after the cardinal sin of race treachery (See "Slick Willie" Clinton) and in their little minds it's unforgivable.

[ Parent ]
P.S. (4.00 / 1)
I suppose you can guess from that question who my favorite candidate is. I love Edwards' rhetoric, and the fact that he's  a real live, hot blooded progressive populist. I just don't know if there's a real benefit to having a hot blooded progressive populist in the White House.

[ Parent ]
I asked a pretty simple queston (0.00 / 0)
An assertion was made that Obama will be better than Edwards at getting an agenda through- not equivalent- better. I was asking for proof of this assertion.

[ Parent ]
Sure (0.00 / 0)
Sure. That's only fair. I'm just saying that I don't think that question even matters so much in the first place. It's the wrong place to start looking for an answer to the question, "Who would make the best President?"

[ Parent ]
Specificity (0.00 / 0)
I'm just saying that we need to concentrate on what the actual issue at hand is. The question is not, "Who excites me the most?" or "Who agrees with my positions the most across the board?" the question is, "Who has the best skills in the specific jobs that a President has?"

[ Parent ]
A few things (0.00 / 0)
I am more moderate than the progressive agenda being persued by Edwards and advocated by Stoller or Bowers. I believe in a restoration of a real center in this country.

However, I don't believe policies of triangulation or moving to the right or trying to be post partisan are the solution to restoring the middle because such arguments ignore context and how politics works. Politics is conflict and define or be defined. That means if one wants a strong center, one has to have both a weak right and weak left, or a strong left and strong right. Right now, we have still in this country a strong right, weak left. This means that we are right of center by force of intertial impact of the tug of war between the two polars.

That's why I support him for strategic reasons and leadershp style. Ironically, it is exactly the things you mention that I am considering as my main concerns. I do this by looking historically at sucessful presidencies like FDR and Reagan. I look at what types of leadership are sucessful for engaging the American people- not DC- the American people in the long run. If you get the American people- the politicans will follow. The failure of the Democrats (and I must assuming intentionally so) is to engage DC rather than the people.

I will be blunt by using a pop culture  metaphor- Americans prefer their leadership to be John Wanye. Simple easy to understand ideas, clear direction, etc.

Edwards appeal is that no one questions where he stands. Sure, people can play this game of "does he mean it when he say she is progressive?" But that's a different game of  than does he mean that one has to do with Obama and Clinton. With them, one has to hope like hell they don't mean some of their right wing rhectoric but with Edwards one has to hope he does mean his progressive rhectoric. See the difference of impact? It's one of definition and how that affects how he will lead and strategic choices he will have to make given what he is saying.

[ Parent ]
As opposed to what? (4.00 / 2)
A hot blooded progressive populist, or a calculating, triangulating corporatist, or a preachy compromiser. That is a no brainer choice to me.

[ Parent ]
What's The Question? (0.00 / 0)
Is the question, "Whose politics do I more identify with?" or "Who would make the best President?"

The answer to the first question for me is John Edwards. The answer to the second one is Barack Obama.

The Presidency is not a magical path to getting all your policy dreams actualized. It's a job. And the job has tasks associated with it. So the trick is to figure out who is the best at those tasks.

[ Parent ]
Who would make the best President?" (0.00 / 0)
So, you pick the preachy compromiser.  I am sure Obama will reach across that aisle in a flash, kumbaya, and into the Republican slimey stew, kumbaya, and give you more big pharma written prescription drug programs, kumbayah, because "while it isn't perfect, it was the best compromise Obama could get, kumbayah.  No thanks.  I'm not interested in a pragmatic and incompetent government. I prefer someone with higher standards than that.

[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
No, he won't reach across the aisle at all because that's not a President's place. The point I'm making is that Obama is a mediocre Senator, but he would make an excellent President, since being a President is about completely different things than being a Senator.

[ Parent ]
but his policy statements (4.00 / 1)
and positions about how he will govern already says that he will. i dont understand how you ignore what the man has actually said about how he will govern unless you think he is lying. really there are only two choices, either he isn't lying- in which case will govern as a centrist or he's lying, in which case the new politics stuff is just marketing. i prefer the later, but i don't understand how any of you can know for certain based on his actual record in the last 4 years

[ Parent ]
Relevence (0.00 / 0)
Concerning the things over which a President actually has control, I love his policy ideas.

His open government idea for the Executive Branch is really smart. He wants to pull out of Iraq, and he's smart enough to not send troops elsewhere. I can't say the same thing for Clinton or Edwards.

The other stuff isn't so important. He'll have less power over other policy issues as a President than he will have as a Senator. It sounds like a win/win to me.

[ Parent ]
Basically (0.00 / 0)
If a President could do all the stuff that Edwards talks about, voting for him would be a no-brainer for me. I'd work on his campaign, even.

But the thing is, Presidential candidates who campaign on domestic policy, once they're elected, they learn that they don't actually have much say about domestic policy. The President is a foreign policy position, with some limited domestic influence. So, those are the skills and policies on which we should judge the candidates first.

[ Parent ]
No one in their right mind (0.00 / 0)
thinks edwards willl do all of what he says. THat's not the standard by which I am judging what he's saying. I am judging it by the standard of what direction he's come from and whether strategically and stylistically does it represent a position of strength or weakness. BOth Clinton and Obama's approach relies on teh notion that we are going to 'trick' the electorate into believing our position. Edwards strategic relies on being unapologetic. Compromise will happen in such an approach but it will happen from a position of strength, not capitulation to fear. Its really a paradigmatic shift for the left leanding peoples because we have spent 30 years thinking in terms of okay--- let's trick them into beliving in us because Reaganism maybe right.

[ Parent ]
So Then (0.00 / 0)
John Edwards would make a great op-ed writer for the NYT, or a talking head on the news, or a White House press secretary, but not a President.

[ Parent ]
He's been there almost 3 years now, not 4 (4.00 / 2)
Where you get that phantom extra year is a mystery to me. Elected in the fall of '04, he started serving as senator in January '05. That's 3 years by my "math".

Anyway, who got what "done" in a mostly GOP-controlled senate (the brief Dem-controlled period having concluded before Obama was sworn in) with a totally GOP-controlled house and presidency in a highly nasty and partisan far-right era in which Dems had little to no power is a meaningless question. None of them got much of anything done because it simply was not possible. So this is not a very useful benchmark for political savvy and strength. (And I would remind you that Edwards was a senator for 6 years, and Hillary has been one for 7, so relatively speaking, their records of underaccomplishment is actually worse than Obama's. But who's counting.)

Although, what I do know is that while Edwards and Clinton were caving into the beltway consultants' exhortations to vote for a war that they either clearly knew was not justified or necessary (based on the intel that WAS known at the time, which they've both been quite dishonest about since then), or were simply too dumb and/or lazy to realize (also based on same intel), Obama was openly against said war, for all the right reasons. And he didn't even have access to the classified NIE that neither Edwards nor Clinton bothered to read (and which, deplorably, very few other Dems read). To me, that indicates, at the very least, a level of political courage and smarts that the other two lacked, and in Hillary's case likely still does.

I'll also kindly ask you to not refer to me or anyone else who doesn't support your preferred candidate as a "cultist". I've gotten this line of dishonest and lazy BS from BTD, and don't come here looking for it from others. I have been on record as having serious problems with Obama's statements about social security and universal health care, but one can find faults with all of the candidates. I still favor Obama not because he's anywhere near perfect, nor because I despise the others, but because, overall, I view him as the better candidate. Yes, part of this is "gut", but we don't really have all that much to go on at this point with ANY of the top candidates, given that none of them have accomplished all that much as legislators.

As for more tangible reasons for why I prefer Obama (and in case it's not clear by now, this preference is relatively slight with respect to Edwards, and quite major with respect to Clinton), aside from the war, I'm a lot more comfortable with his record as a constitutional scholar, and the very direct and satisfying answers that he gave to the recent Boston Globe survey about constitutional matters, compared to Edward and Clinton's somewhat more muddled responses (although I would really have preferred that he put his money where his mouth is and have flown to DC to support Dodd's recent filibuster).

I also don't understand all this fear of Obama the right-leaning triangulator who will sell out the left for political power. I do not have a problem with talking to the other side or sitting down to negotiate with it, and perhaps even making some necessary compromises, so long as it's done on terms that don't require that you abandon your principles and agenda. Unless and until Dems control over 2/3 of the house and 60-67% of the senate, some compromise is unavoidable. I don't know why people on our side don't get that. But compromise does NOT have to mean unprincipled compromise or selling out. Did Feingold sell out when he and McCain got campaign finance passed?

If you're looking for cultist, look elsewhere, and spare me the ad hom. Supporting someone who is not your preferred candidate for reasons that cannot entirely be "proven" in a context in which none of the top candidates have solid enough legislative records to "prove" that they're better than the rest does not make one a cultist. This piqueish pettiness is totally out of control right now, and serves no meaningful purpose. One could just as well call Edwards supporters cultists given that while he's said much in favor of a progressive agenda, he's actually done very little as a legislator to promote it. Those who recognize this and admit it are not cultists. Those who do not, or will not, are. As is the case for any candidates' supporters whose support is not very informed.

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

[ Parent ]
Where you and I differ is... (0.00 / 0)

...........while I think it's all Kumbaya and all that he's a 'constitutional scholar' I have serious problems with his votes.

Votes are what count; talk is cheap.


'I missed it...or 'present' are just another of Senator Hope's bag of tricks  he uses to continue bamboozlement.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
And opting to become a community organizer (4.00 / 1)
instead of working for a high-powered law firm certainly proved what a bamboozler he was. All part of the 40 year plot he hatched in the kindergarden to someday become president and fool us all so that he could then govern to the right of Bush II.

Oh, and he was educated at an Islamic Madrassah in a Muslim country. And is a notorious drug dealer. What else ya got?

And speaking of votes, what of Hillary's K-L "Yes" vote? Or her and Edwards pro-war vote? Neither of them deserve any preferential treatment in the vote department over Obama. And they have or had more years of service in the senate than Obama. If "votes are what count", I'd say that Obama's no worse than the other two, and arguably better.

Did he vote for the MCA? Did he vote for FISA? Did he vote for K-L? Would a "No" vote on the latter have made a difference? No, his voting record is not perfect, but it's at worst no worse than these others', and, like I said, arguably better.

The "Obama is not a perfect progressive who speaks my language and therefore he is a right wing plant" cultism is simply unbelievable. And if you don't think that his expertise in and stands on the constitution (which have been backed by votes, e.g. the above) don't amount to anything substantive (as opposed to lots of pleasant-sounding stump speaches without the legislative record to back them up), wow, simply wow.

None of our candidates--and in NONE, ZERO, NADA--are perfect (and that includes flip-flopping UFO boy Kucinich, along with Mr No Residual Forces but I can't even handle a MTP appearance Richardson), especially with respect to today's issues. But to single out one candidate in ways that can easily be applied to all the rest just seems silly to me.

Nowhere have I attacked Edwards (the above criticism was merely to prove a point, not one that I've been actively making), but rather merely expressed my mild and still changeable preference for Obama. The responses that I've gotten, I think, say a lot more about Obama's detractors than about me, him or the other candidates.

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

[ Parent ]
No they say more about Obama and his.. (0.00 / 0)
............'Son of Lieberman' campaign. Without fail as soon as his attempts to blur his posititions on anything are raised the whole ReichWing smear attempt on him is hauled out of the basement, yet again, and for what purpose?

To argue that I am like Hannity, that I am like FAUX News and to what purpose?

To protect a candidate from his own rhetoric.

Go back to dKos where such circular firing logic is esteemed.

Obama ain't perfect, and neither is anyone else on the planet, but may the spirits of the Internet protect you if you dare, if you dare, to point that out.


Arguments about Ron Paul are more informative than this.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Enjoy living in your pure world (0.00 / 0)
where nothing gets done but everyone gets to feel superior because compromise simply isn't a part of their vocabulary. That's done wonders for the left these past 40 years.

You display your dishonesty and/or ignorance with that Lieberman smear. As you do with your assertion that criticizing Obama is invariably met with massive scorn when you're obviously just too thin-skinned to handle criticism. It is you who is Hannity-like with such dishonesty.

Unlike you, I am able to handle the apparently too painful process of vetting all candidates, and will support whoever gets nominated. Yes, even Hillary. And I've been critical of all the Dems, where I felt that it was deserved, but not in a way that shoots the party in the foot. Whereas with that Lieberman remark, you've made it impossible for you to genuinely support Obama if he wins. And you have the nerve to talk about not setting oneself up for attack from the right, when you've just done it yourself with a leading Democrat. Clearly, you're more interested in advancing your own causes than in helping the party. Worked real well for your buddy Ralph and the rest of us in '00. Enjoy another 5 years in the purity wilderness.

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

[ Parent ]
the first sign someone is (0.00 / 0)
losing an argument is when they started to label others as seeking purity. i dont think anyone here is looking for purity. just chutzpah.

[ Parent ]
The FIRST sign? (0.00 / 0)
As opposed to being dishonest and smearing other candidates with lies? No, that's clearly the way to "win" an argument, however impurely.

Obama briefly supported Lieberman before he supported Lamont, once said that social security was in crisis before he took it back, said some mean things about Paul Krugman, and is not in favor of health insurance mandates, so he's obviously a DINO. Right. As opposed to someone who voted for a war that they knew was wrong on all sorts of levels. Uhuh.

Yet I don't go around calling Edwards a DINO or Bush-lover or Lieberdem or whatever cheap smear feels good at the time just because he's not my preferred candidate. And I've gone on record ad nauseum that no matter who wins the nomination, I will support them, period. Are you willing to do that? Doesn't seem so to me. Thus the purity tag, totally deserved.

Infantile petulance circular firing squad-style is not how we take back the presidency.

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

[ Parent ]
riiiight (0.00 / 0)
okay good luck. i was waiting for the second sign in which the poster goes off the deep end into ranting and you provided that proof with this post.

[ Parent ]
"Son of Lieberman" pretty much sealed it for me (0.00 / 0)
Not able or willing to have a substantive discussion with anyone who disagrees with your apparently self-evident positions (i.e. Obama is a Republican shill and DO NOT DISPUTE THIS), you petulantly resort to silly smears and empty talking points. Fine. You want project your own cultism onto others, go right ahead. Just don't pretend that it's substantive discourse.


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

[ Parent ]
I use the word "cult" because i know several people who have (0.00 / 0)
minimized their own strongly held beliefs - about the war, universal health care, the courts, civil liberties, and Democratic party politics, to name a few, and cast aside what they know of the brutish political landscape that the Republicans have created, to maintain their fervent support of Barack Obama, who has come down on the wrong side of all those issues.

I read comment aftre comment that elevates Obama's thin legislative resume to comically exhalted heights. I read one rationalization after another, for his support of Joe Lieberman, his gratuitous attacks on the Democratic wing of the party and no less an authority than Paul Krugman, and his persistent use of right-wing rhetoric on important issues like Social Security and UHC. These posts portray him as an infallable, god-like figure that bears no resemblance whatsoever to his voting or campaign records.

When people turn against that things they believe, give themselves over to a movement, led by a charismatic leader, that is based on delusion and falsehood, lash out against people the once trusted and respected, and devote much of their time to trying to win converts, I think "cult". If you can think of something that's equally apt, but less offensive than the c-word, I'll be happy to use it.

[ Parent ]
If you don't believe what I say about the cultlike following, ask Michelle (0.00 / 0)
Obama. She not only recognizes the hold her husband has on some supporters, to her great credit, she implicitly took a stab at diffusing it with her talk about his smoking and his daughters' comments about his "stinkiness". IIRC, Maureen Dowd shouted her down for her trouble.  At least she tried. I don't blame her or her husband for the devotion he inspires, but I am frustrated by its persistence in the face of cold, hard, unflattering reality.

[ Parent ]
Whaaat? (0.00 / 0)
Edwards may have been a centrist back then and may be a progressive now, but I can't trust someone that isn't firm in their convictions. Edwards has had to apologize for many votes he's taken -- and as stated, he's only been a politician for a decade.

I'd rather a fresh face (like Edwards) have a roflpwnage voting record than have a "conversion". Even if the conversion is genuine, how do we know he'll stay progressive into the presidency?

With Clinton, one knows what she'll be like, and likewise for Obama. I don't mean to sound like a dick, Chris, but it seems you're backward-rationalizing.

So when Obama says he is against the war (4.00 / 2)
but then votes for funding it for the last 4 years running- what does that mean?

[ Parent ]
??? (0.00 / 0)
It means that he doesn't think that de-funding the war will get us out of Iraq in a way that is good for Iraq, America, or our troops.

Personally I think that if we de-fund or had de-funded the war Bush would just leave our troops in Iraq to die.  Do you trust him to do better?

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama

[ Parent ]
What I know is that (0.00 / 0)
Obama people make a lot of excuses for his behavior since he's been in office with regard to his failed leadership on the war, the issue that they claim defines their support. What I expect is a better answer than the one you just gave me which has been proven factually inaccurate and doesn't certainly explain missed votes like on Iran etc. What I also think is that I am not the type of guy who is going to choose a candidate based on one thing. If obama over all had a record that said what I just described wasn't a pattern with him- unlike you and the war- I could accept the lack of leadership. What I can not accept is when example after example that conflict with what I am being told about him. And all of thes examples have occured in the last 4 years. None of which are conveniently ever discussed by any of you, but you want to stay fixed on 2002. It's because of your denial of the last 4 years rather than reasonably explaining it why he will remain my distant number 2 choice but quite frankly he's starting to tie up with Clinton. I've been looking for a reasonable explaination as to why he's better than Clinton. You and others have not provided it. So i may when the primary hit go conservative and vote for the devil i know in the form of Clinton if Edwards isn't in the race then rather than the one who is a wolf in sheeps clothing. I haven' decided that yet.

[ Parent ]
standard (0.00 / 0)
I am impressed by many things about Obama.  Certainly it was his initial opposition to the War in 2002 and his speech in 2004 which initially drew me to consider supporting him.  I know that a significant fraction of the readership of this site are probably in favor of cutting off war spending and no residual troops.  If you are voting on those issues then you should be supporting Kucinich or Richardson.

I don't know if Obama's support for war funding and weaker promises on the withdrawal timeline are due to political or practical consideration.  I know that his record and judgement on matters of war and peace are significantly better than the top three.

He has missed a lot of votes while running for president.  So has Clinton, so did Edwards when he was trying to do the same.  He knew that his vote wouldn't chance the outcome of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment and he chose not to change his schedule to make the vote.  He has since admitted that it was a mistake to do so, he did state clearly for the record that he was opposed to it.

All of our candidates have records of service to our country and their communities.  All of the front runners have a similar amount of legislative experience, all of them have missed votes to run for office.  None of them have a strong record of successful leadership on the Federal level.

I choose the candidate who inspires me, who has shown good judgement on the critical issues of today and willingness to think progressively and outside of the box in working for solutions that benefit all of his constituents.

PS How is my earlier answer factually inaccurate?  You did not refute it so I would like to know if and how I am wrong.  I thought I had stated my opinion of how it would play out if we tried to end the war by de-funding it.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama

[ Parent ]
Thanks for the non answer (0.00 / 0)
You  and others when people talk about Obama act as if he's a better choice for the reasons you often site- but then when push comes to shove you back off. I asked you for substance, and I got a lot of they are all good. We aren't discussing whetehr they are all good. I was asking what makes Obama substantively better for progressive causes, and how does his embrace , for example, of right wing frames on Social Security (since they are all good) help the country move to a left of center position rather than right one. Until you can answer me and voters such as myself in a substantive way rather than say "trust him" it's looking like you aren't going to get my vote.

[ Parent ]
non question (0.00 / 0)
I don't really know what specific questions you have.  You have brought up Social Security, so I will discuss that and Health Care.  BTW I didn't say that you should trust him, I said that I do.

I reject the notion that willingness to ensure we have Social Security when we retire even if it means the contribution from the rich is a right wing frame.  If the program is secure then he won't do anything.  If it isn't then that is the most progressive solution to maintain a progressive program.  The frame that Social Security needs help is a right wing frame only if privatization is the goal.  Rightly or not many Americans think that Social Security is in trouble in the next 40-50 years.

I also reject the notion that opposing mandates is an right wing position.  If Krugman is right that they are necessary then they will be added either initially or when it is shown that we need them.  I find them objectionable both on personal liberty grounds and because I don't think that they have been shown to work in MA.  I do not find it to be a liberal or progressive position to fine someone for the crime of being a US resident and not buying something.  Single payer is significantly preferable to a mandated system, but since the consensus of our candidates appears to be that we can't get a National consensus on single  payer subsidies without mandates is in my opinion the most liberal, progressive solution.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama

[ Parent ]
You can't answer my question (0.00 / 0)
So you do what the Christian right does- "well it's what I believe." Got it the first time you posted it above. Posting it a second time doesn't make what you say anymore convincing. Maybe if you repeat yourself over and over again while telling us how comparatively Obama is better because you feel he is better eventually the repetition will win the day?

[ Parent ]
Now you are just rude (4.00 / 1)
I took the time to write a fairly long substantive comment, I tried to treat your concerns with respect and thought you would offer me the same courtesy in return.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama

[ Parent ]
Your question wasn't directed at me (0.00 / 0)
but I'll try to give you a substantive answer regardless.

On SS, bringing it up as a problem (a crisis, even) in the first place is in some ways a right wing frame. There's no evidence that there is a problem with the Social Security Trust Fund; even pessimistic economic projections show it to be in good shape for the foreseeable future. I don't believe that Obama wants to dismantle it, but Republicans are going to cite Obama on the Social Security crisis for a long time. It was difficult enough to put the genie back into the bottle in 2005 - let's not go there again unless there really is a crisis.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
Its how he talks about it (4.00 / 1)
Even if he believes there are issues to be dealt with he needs to show enough sophstication to talk about it in such a way that doesn't work  into people who want to use his comments an excuse to privative.  The same is true of the mandate issue. Supposedly he has said in a back pedal that he's not completely rulling out the necessity of mandates but then the way he has framed the discusison he already has taken it off the table rhectorically and his supporters online certainly reflect this because they now assume from his marching orders that one can address issues like free rider or costs wthout mandates.

[ Parent ]
PS (4.00 / 1)
AI post isn't substantive just because it's long and what you said could basically be boiled down to "it's what I feel." Substantive is backing it up with actual real world examples and how they play out in the real world. The problem often times I have with Obama supprters , including off line, is that you can't give me that real world response about how his strategies will produce the result you claim. It's all he will do it because he will do it and I believe he will do it. Yo u may consider that a substatnive response, but it's certainly not objective enough for anyone who hasn't bought into team Obama to evaluate. I on the other hand explain exactly how what he says as Rosenberg describes- gives away the store whether he intends to or not, and I give specifics for how that occurs. I don't resort to appeals to my candidate and I don't resort to discussions of his character. I talk about his strategy on their own terms, and what outcomes we can expect given what we have seen of such strategies in teh past.  Can you give me an argument that doesn't rely  on "i believe obama will do it?"

[ Parent ]
He/she didn't answer your question (0.00 / 0)
in the way that you wanted--i.e. he/she didn't fall for your logical trap--and that makes them like the "Christian right". Yeah, that sort of framing itself is not straight out of the "Christian right" handbook. This person said that Obama's claiming that social security has problems that need to be addressed (which it does and which they do and which anyone who denies this is themselves being dishonest) is not, in and of itself, framing things from the right.

He does not in any way support privatization. He supports raising the salary cap, which is by definition progressive. What part of that didn't you understand? How is being supportive of a progressive solution to a genuine (if not crisis-level) problem addressing it from the right? And how is providing such a response not the sort of response that you asked for--i.e. what makes Obama a progressive? As for what makes him more of a progressive than Edwards, I have no idea how to guage that since neither of them has a very solid progressive record as US senator. What makes Edwards more of a progressive, or more likely to successfully advance a progressive agenda?

And for the record, I am absolutely for health insurance mandates, and have been critical of Obama for foolishly being against them. But if I were looking for the perfect candidate who agreed with nearly all of my policy preferences, I'd probably be supporting Nader. Instead, I'm supporting (mildly) the candidate who strikes me as having the best combination of progressive beliefs and political skills, the former supported by his rhetoric on constitutional matters, the war, and other issues (caveats already noted), and the latter supported by his years as a community organizer and state legislator.

It's not that I think that Obama is godlike and perfect. He's not, and I've pointed out some of my problems with him (there are others). It's that I find the other two more lacking. Hillary much more so, but Edwards somewhat too. But if you can point to anything in his 6 year legislative record that might change my mind, I'm all ears.

Between accusing this person of being no better than your average "Christian right" hack, me of being a cultist, and continuing to get the number of years that Obama has actually served in the senate (still less than 3, NOT 4) wrong, it's hard for me to take you seriously. Seems that you're more interested in having a political brawl than actually discussing the issues.

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

[ Parent ]
kovie (0.00 / 0)
There is no problem with Social Security. It's fully funded for the foreseeable future. Even with extremely pessimistic projections, it's funded at 80% of promised benefits after 40 years, which in real terms will be worth more than current SS benefits. So to talk about it as a crisis gives conservatives who want nothing more than to dismantle SS room to maneuver. And you already know they will use it when they get the chance.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
Ah, but I didn't call it a crisis (0.00 / 0)
and criticized Obama when he did call it one. I completely agree with you on that point. But I don't see how a retirement insurance program that will, if left unchanged, eventually only be able to payout at 70% (not 80%) of what it promises can be said to not have a problem. Perhaps not a huge problem, given that 70% is in no way "bankrupt" (as the right likes to dishonestly claim), and that in any case we have 30-40 years or more to address it. And certainly not a crisis. But it's still, technically, a problem--of the sort that a combination of all sorts of reasonable and politically doable solutions can more than solve.

Calling it a crisis was clearly wrong, and he's since backtracked on and I believe apologized for it. But citing it as a problem, among many problems, and proposing quite reasonable solutions to it is, I'd like to believe, what responsible politicians do--as opposed to what the dishonest right with its ulterior motives likes to do, which is to either deny that something is a problem or is even happening (e.g. global warming), or else propose radical, unnecessary and dishonest "solutions" to it (e.g. social security privatization).

So I don't see this a mark against Obama, especially now that he's stopped using the "crisis" frame. Rather, given that he's now talking about it in realistic and reasonable terms, I see it as a plus for him (although my understanding of Clinton and Edwards' positions on social security is that they're pretty much the same, so he's not really distinguishing himself on this issue, a lack of differentiation that I view as a net plus for our side).

Now if only he came around to the realization that smart (i.e. with rebates and exclusions for lower income and unemployed people, the freedom to opt for more elaborate if unnecessary plans at a premium for the more affluent, and effective ways of enforcing them) mandates are essential and unavoidable if we're to achieve true universal QUALITY health care. I think that he will. He'd better, or I and others will be all over him. Even Hillary gets it.

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

[ Parent ]
Another character flaw (4.00 / 1)
Your focus on what you feel about what he says without thinking about the impact of what he says in context. Contextualization isn't about the politics of personal "I believes." When looking at the SS issue, when people are critiquing Obama, they are critiquing him based on understanding the environment in which he enters. He can only get things done to the extent he understands that environment. That understanding isn't about your acceptance or notl.

[ Parent ]
Social Security has actually come very close to going (0.00 / 0)
bankrupt, when freaking Ronald Reagan was president, and we were still able to come up with an immediate fix that solved the problem for the foreseeable future (a shortfall will only occur if the economy is terrible for the next 40 years.)

I see no reason to put Social Security on the agenda, even if your proposals are typically progressive ones. For example, Clinton and Gore both proposed using the budget surplus to invest in Social Security, mainly to protect the surplus from GOP boondoggle tax cuts. Still, just as Bush and his allies cited Clinton on Iraqi regime change, they cited him on Social Security to make the case for "reform".

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
I don't know where you get your figures (0.00 / 0)
but all the projections I've seen (from CBO and SSA, and vetted by economists like Krugman and respected progressives like Marshall) are that if left unchanged, and based on realistic projections (to the extent possible this far into the future), the social security trust fund will run out of money in 40 or so years, because payouts will have exceeded payins for the previous 30 or so years, at which point, because payouts will continue to exceed payins by around 20-30%, payouts will be around 70-80% of what they were supposed to be. Do you dispute this, or simply consider this to not be a problem? I'd say that whenever you can't make 100% good on your financial obligation, it's a problem by anyone's definition.

Everyone understands (or should understand) that other retirement programs such as 401k's, IRA's and pension plans are subject to market fluctuations. But Social Security is supposed to be guaranteed by the government. That's why it's called insurance. If it can't do that, then it's a problem. Perhaps not a "crisis", and certainly not "bankrupt", but a problem nonetheless that is best addressed years in advance with some combination of reasonable tweaks not unlike that Reagan and congress worked out 21 years ago. I don't see why talking about this in this way is a bad thing for a candidate to do. It might not be the most critical issue now, but it's on the minds of lots of people who would be affected by this someday. So long as they don't lie about or exploit it, I think that talking about this is perfectly reasonable.

Of course, health care is a much bigger problem, and Obama's rhetoric and plan both leave much to be desired at present, and I'm frankly perplexed at why he's doing this. I do not agree, though, that either will make it substantially harder for him to pass serious health care reform as president. Sure, the GOP will run 527-type "Harry and Louise" attack ads that cite what he said during the primary campaign if and when he tries to push forth his health care plan. But so what? The public is going to side with the GOP on health care just because they run a few nasty ads?!? This isn't 1993, and Harry and Louise are dead--they died because the GOP blocked passage of the Clinton health care initiative that might have saved their lives. (In fact, a shrewd counterattack ad campaign would have us visiting their "gravesite"--poor Harry and Louise, fooled by the special interests, and paid the price.)

I should also add that my support of Obama is relatively mild, less because I think he's that great than because I have bigger problems with the others. Less so with Edwards, much more so with Hillary. And none of the rest of the pack has a chance absent a brokered convention. But if Edwards wins I will have no problem supporting him. I'll have somewhat more of a problem supporting Hillary if she wins, but it won't stop me from ultimately supporting her. I just wish that some of the partisan cultists (who project so much when they accuse others of being cultists) would be so flexible. This is ultimately about promoting an agenda, not a politician. And I refuse to believe that there are only one or two people who can make that happen. This cult of personality thing has got to go (not you, but others).

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

[ Parent ]
let's say you are 100 percent (0.00 / 0)
corrrect. that's if. but let's say you are. he plays into the GOP hands by how he chooses to describe the situation in the same terms as they do. He doesn't usurp their language. He simply uses the same language.

[ Parent ]
What language? (0.00 / 0)
He's already taken back the "crisis" wording, and is now calling it a problem that needs to be solved, which it is and does. How is that "playing into the GOP hands"? If Bush says that terrorism is a problem, and I say the same thing, I'm playing into his hand's? I would say that the exact opposite is actually true.

I.e. if, because I'm afraid of looking like I'm playing into Bush's hands, I refuse to say anything that Bush says, even when it happens to be true (broken clock theory and all), am I not in fact actually playing into his hands? Not playing into the other side's hands is not about not saying what they're saying or not doing what they're doing. It's about saying what you believe regardless of whether it's what the other side believes (or claims to believe) or is doing--i.e. not letting them determine your words and behavior in either a positive or negative sense.

I'm still not sure what language you're referring to, or how this plays into the GOP's hands.

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

[ Parent ]
Your assumptions are wrong (0.00 / 0)
Matthew Yglesias has a decent summary in this article. Kevin Drum as well. (Stoller, why did you let Thereisnocrisis.com lapse?!?)

It boils down to A) we're not even certain that there will be a problem, B) the "problem" may be a reduction in benefits that is still better in real terms that what current retirees receive, and C) based on past experience, some tweaks can make the system solvent for a long time more.

This discussion made me think of a point that Matthew's article reaffirmed for me. I recently watched a video that a local blogger made of Obama supporters traveling from St. Louis to Ottumwa for some canvassing. The 20 something field organizer actually cited Obama's willingness to deal with Social Security as a reason that she supports him. The fact that so many people, especially young people, still believe Social Security is destined to go bankrupt without intervention, that's incredibly disturbing. Especially all the debunking of the "crisis" in 2005. It's also disturbing that a major Democratic candidate would make it a priority in the next  years, absent further proof that there actually is a crisis.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
Ok, let's unpack this carefully (0.00 / 0)
First, both of these articles are more than 3 years old, so the data that they're using is dated, and there's been a lot of water under the bridge since then (I followed this story quite closely when Bush tried to privatize social security and it was one of the issues that got me so involved in political blogs in the first place--I read TPM several times a day back then so I'm reasonably familiar with the layman's take on this matter).

In any case, neither of them claimed that there wasn't a potential problem. Instead, they said that any such problem was 40 or so years in the future, not a crisis, not headed for bankruptcy, and fairly easily fixable. I am not disputing any of this. Nor is Obama at this point (now that he's taken back talk about a crisis). But neither of them disputes (nor does any mainstream economist that I've heard of, including Krugman) that, if NOTHING is done, that payouts will be 20-30% lower than what they were supposed to be based on the current method of indexing annual payout increases. If I were a future retiree I'd call that a problem. And I am--I started my 401k in my mid-20's and 40 years didn't seem like too far in the future to start planning for retirement. Lots of other people think this way--and should.

But the point is that, because a combination of relatively easy fixes can solve this problem, it's not a serious problem. But a problem nonetheless. And, given the great sales job that the GOP has done of convincing young people that social security is going bust (which, in case I still haven't made myself clear, it is NOT), this misperception, on top of the actual, much smaller problem, is itself a problem, which any smart candidate is obliged to address.

So I'm not sure what wrong assumptions I'm making here. I'm not making any of this up or basing it on shoddy economic projections. Go dig up some TPM archives from late '04 through late '05 and see how Marshall wrote about. Problem, yes. Big problem, no. Crisis, no way. Deceptive GOP effort to privatize and thus destroy social security and the New Deal? Absolutely. Underlying actual (as opposed to made-up or exaggerated) problem still in need of addressing, yes. Fully solveable without undo pain, yes.

What part of this do you still object to?

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

[ Parent ]
I read TPM, Washington Monthly, Yglesias, and TAPPED religiously then, too (0.00 / 0)
The point is that we still don't know that it's a problem, so we shouldn't propose any fixes until we really do. No one disputes that there are projections that show Social Security could face a benefit cut in 40 years (again I'll note, seniors would still receive more benefits in real terms than they do now) if those predictions about demographics and the economy hold. But as Kevin Drum points out, it's a mug's game - those predictions are constantly being revised for the better because that sort of thing is very difficult to predict over a 40 year period. (For example, do we really believe that the economy will only average 1.8% growth for 40 years?) 25 years ago, Social Security was on the brink of bankruptcy, but some tweaks shored up it up for decades, actually patching it up enough to get us through the Baby Boom swell of retirees. There's no reason we can't wait 10 or 15 more years, see how Social Security is doing, and if it needs a slight adjustment, work on it then.

My problem with Obama bringing it up as a campaign issue is that he's using it a signal that he's a straight talker, a very serious person who understands the concerns of Russert and the editors of the WaPo. He validates himself in that circle, but he also validates the issue for Republicans in this cycle and the next, who will run ads quoting Obama on the crisis and the problem of Social Security, even if there's still no clear evidence of that being the case. God forbid he's actually the nominee or president, in which case his words will come back to bite Democrats for the next decade.

Also, let's say he succeeds. That means making SS a huge legislative priority and necessarily shoving other issues to the side (keep in mind that he's choosing to focus on increasing taxes for a fiscal problem 40 years in the future). He'll have to muster every Democratic vote to find a slim majority to force a payroll tax increase to solve a problem no Americans are actually facing - a Pyrrhic victory.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
In short playing into the GOP's game (0.00 / 0)
and rhectoric. Like using the war on terror frame these narratives have their consequences.

[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
Neither Drum nor Iglesias are social security experts or economists as far as I know, and even then these articles that you cite are over 3 years old. No economist that I know of expects social security to be able to pay out at currently promised levels in 40 or so years unless it's adjusted somehow. No responsible person says "Oh, that's 40 years in the future, so who cares?" when it comes to retirement planning. Every year this is put off is a year of potential revenues streams forsaken forever.

No one's calling this a crisis on our side (now that Obama's stopped using this term), which it isn't. No one's calling it one of the great problems of our time, which it isn't. But all the candidates are calling this A problem that needs SOME addressing--which it is and does, whether or not your think so, because most economists think so. And to pretend otherwise just because Pubs have mischaracterized this as a crisis to enable them to privatize and destroy it is to not only be irresponsible, but to allow the other side to control what our side says or does. I say ignore the other side and treat this problem as if the other side didn't even exist, in terms of its dishonest rhetoric.

I don't know where you're getting his notion that anyone's calling this a major problem that should be a "huge legislative priority". You're exhibiting "law of the excluded middle" logic here, i.e. either social security is a crisis, or it's not a problem at all. Huh? Your apparent fear that if Dems treat this as even a minor and fixable problem, and try to solve it, it will be a political boon for the Pubs. Again, huh? We should allow our priorities to be determined by how the GOP is likely to play an issue? I.e. politics over policy?

Isn't it instead the right and smart thing to do to address the issues on their own terms, and not according to whether or not the GOP has or will exploit them to its benefit? Avoiding dealing with an issue for fear that it will appear to be triangulation is just as bad as actually triangulating. Just deal with a problem on its own terms and to hell with the GOP (but be on guard for its trick, of course). And most economists--Krugman included--believe that, while not a huge problem, social security is a problem, to the extent that it will need to be tweaked, and the sooner the better--even if all that entails is effectively saying "Hey, we didn't index this correctly which overestimated how much we'd pay out. We've fixed that, and now expect social security to pay out at 100% of projected levels". Although, politically speaking, that would probably be unwise, and some effort will likely be needed to increase payouts to come closer to currently promised levels. I.e. a combination of modest revenue increases (via raising the cap) and revising the current indexing method.

But to claim that social security is not "A" problem is to either deny that the likelihood of its missing its current promised payouts for people who are currently in or entering the work if it's not tweaked is not a problem, or subscribe to economic projection theories that very few respected economists currently do.

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

[ Parent ]
What economists believe that the economy will grow at an average of 1.8% for 40 years? (0.00 / 0)
When you say that I'm resorting to the "Law of excluded middle" logic, you're constructing a strawman. I readily concede that there could be a problem with Social Security, but one that's fixable even if we wait 20 years to see if it really is going to be a problem. Indeed, by pursuing policies that reduce income inequality and grow the middle class, we stand a good chance of raising enough revenue through economic growth alone to solve the projected shortfall without ever directly addressing it.

And yes, it will be harder to address those issues if we're spending time negotiating over a fix to Social Security. We don't have infinite time and resources to work on all the big issues that need to be addressed in the next Administration, especially when faced with an obstructionist Republican minority.

Your apparent fear that if Dems treat this as even a minor and fixable problem, and try to solve it, it will be a political boon for the Pubs. Again, huh? We should allow our priorities to be determined by how the GOP is likely to play an issue? I.e. politics over policy?

Our priorities should be determined by the challenges that actually face us. Health care reform, trade policy, a new energy policy, combatting global warming, investing in our nation's infrastructure, and media reform are all much higher priorities that face us right now. If it was clear that Social Security was going to face massive cuts in 20 years if we don't act now, I would be applauding Obama for talking about it. That's just not the case. And if he keeps bringing it up, he'll only be setting the stage for the opposition to cite him later on down the line when they have the upper hand.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
The economists at the SSA, for one (0.00 / 0)
Although to be fair it's three years old (like the articles that you cited) and based on their "intermediate case" projection that falls in-between their best and worst-case ones (the best one being that payins will be able to fully cover currently promised and projected payouts regardless of the state of the trust fund, and the worst one being that the trust fund will run out and payins will no longer fully cover payouts well before 40 years from now). And this projection--the one they called their best guess projection--projects the trust fund running out and payins only covering payouts at 70%.

I got it from this NY Times article from early 2005:

January 16, 2005
A Question of Numbers

Politicians and other commentators tend to speak about these long-range trends, or at least about Social Security's finances, with an air of precision. This is almost amusing, since few economists can predict the swings in the federal budget even a year in advance. Joshua Bolten, head of Bush's Office of Management and Budget, said of Social Security last month, ''The one thing I can say for sure is that if left unattended, the system will be unable to make good on its promises.'' But the Social Security Administration itself pretends to no such certainty. Its actuaries (about 40 are on staff) frankly admit that the level of, say, immigration in 2020, or of wages in 2040, is impossible to forecast. ''The only thing we are sure of is that it won't happen precisely as we project,'' says Stephen Goss, the chief actuary at the agency. And the trustees' annual report, which is based on the actuaries' analysis, takes pains to say that it is not making a prediction. It makes a projection -- three different ones, actually -- that amount to informed but very rough guesses. The agency's best guess, labeled its ''intermediate'' case, is that the system will exhaust its reserves in 2042. At that point, as payroll taxes continue to roll in, it would be able to pay just over 70 percent of scheduled benefits. That would leave a substantial deficit, but one that Congress could easily avert if it were to act now when the projected problem is more than a generation away.

What's more, there is a strong case to be made that the agency is erring on the side of being overly pessimistic. If its more optimistic projection turns out to be correct, then there will be no need for any benefit cuts or payroll-tax increases over the full 75 years.

No one can definitively predict that outcome, either, of course, but David Langer, an independent actuary who made a study of Social Security's previous projections compared with the actual results in 2003, thinks the ''optimistic'' case is its most accurate. Over a recent 10-year span, the trustees' intermediate guesses turned out to be quite pessimistic. Its optimistic guesses were dead on, and its pessimistic case -- sort of a doomsday situation -- was wildly inaccurate.

And, contrary to widespread belief, recent demographic trends have been modestly better (from an actuary's gloomy standpoint) than anticipated. For instance, longevity hasn't increased as much as expected. Partly as a result, since 1997 the agency has pushed back, by 13 years, the date at which it projects its reserves will be exhausted. In other words, as the cries of impending doom started to crescendo, the guardians of the system have grown more optimistic.

So you've got a point, that the projection that I referred to appears to be more pessimistic than warranted. Nonetheless, it still falls within a realistic projection spread (i.e. what you get when you throw out the most overly optimistic and pessimistic one that are not very likely to happen), and so cannot (or should not) be simply put aside and ignored. Because there's still some reasonable chance that it might come true (i.e. more than remote, less than likely), it seems to make sense to me (and to others, again including Krugman) to make minor and relatively painless tweaks to the current system to take care of even this possibility.

If this ended up being unnecessary, then I'm sure that ways to deal with such a surplus can be found (pre-retirement payouts, perhaps, pro-rated per future retiree proportionate to how much they paid in?). And if it ended up being necessary, then we will have been smart in forseeing it. We're not talking major fixes, but small tweaks, which would make it politically doable, I think. And it doesn't have to happen right away, because it's not a crisis. But somewhere along the line, in the next administration I think, it might make sense to address this, perhaps as part of an overall package of fiscal reforms that would also address the far more important problems of the budget deficit, insanely low marginal and capital gains tax rates, and the far bigger looming Medicare problem.

I agree with you that this is far from the most serious issues facing us today, and that Obama and anyone else is dead wrong in calling it a crisis or acting as if it's anything close to it. But one, as minor as it is, it still needs to be dealt with (even if only by convening some task group that might end up determining that it actually doesn't need to be addressed, but at least due diligence will have been done). And two, and perhaps more importantly, given that it's still out there as an issue that, thanks to GOP lying, large segments of the public still believe IS a crisis (even though it isn't), Dems are going to have to deal with, not the non-existant "crisis", but with the perception that it is a crisis, and convince the public that there is not and never has been a "crisis" (which, I'm guessing, will require aforementioned minor tweaking to create the impression that whatever problem actually did exist has now been dealt with).

The GOP is very good at manufacturing phony crises that the public often (but not always) falls for, in order to enable its policies. And until Dems become better at nipping them in the bud before the public starts believing in them, they're going to have to handle these live political grenades one way or another, before they blow up in their faces. E.g. the Swift Boaters, whom Kerry allowed to have a much bigger influence than they should have, by ignoring them for too long. I see social security as just the sort of issue that can hurt Dems in the future politically if they don't deal with it properly now (precisely because many people still believe in the "crisis" lie), by convincing the public that it's NOT a crisis, but hey, there are some possible small problems with it which we're going to fix with a couple of small tweaks. Ok, "problem" solved--next? I just see this as a way to both solve an at worst small fiscal problem but potentially large political problem in one fell swoop.

I agree with you that our policy priorities should be set by reality, i.e. by the real, actual problems that face us. But politics is not just about policy. It's also about, well, politics. And so long as the right keep manufacturing these phony crises, Dems will have to knock them down. And given that at least one of them is, while in no way a crisis, still potentially a problem down the line, albeit a small one, why not both address this potential problem AND knock down yet one more GOP made-up crisis with one move? This is the point that I've been trying to make. And I'd like to believe that this is what Obama intended to do, albeit in a very, very clumsy and stupid way that he's now walking back.

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

[ Parent ]
Don't take my word for it (0.00 / 0)
Here's Krugman himself, in a recent op-ed in which he rightly criticized Obama for mischaracterizing social security as being in a crisis that needed immediate resolution:

But Social Security isn't a big problem that demands a solution; it's a small problem, way down the list of major issues facing America, that has nonetheless become an obsession of Beltway insiders. And on Social Security, as on many other issues, what Washington means by bipartisanship is mainly that everyone should come together to give conservatives what they want.

I.e. not a crisis, not a huge problem, a small problem--but a problem nonetheless, that should be treated in a manner that matches its importance, and which is and has been my point all along. Just because Obama was stupidly and inexplicably buying into RW talking points doesn't mean that there isn't an actual, albeit minor, problem with social security, that needs to be addressed.

Also, the thing about RW talking points and lies about any given issue is that while Dems must absolutely not enable let alone adopt them, neither should they ignore them or allow them to mask the often actual if far less serious underlying problems. Just because the GOP calls social security a crisis headed for bankruptcy--an out and out lie--doesn't mean that there isn't an actual, albeit smaller real problem. Just because the GOP lied about Iraq and WMD to get us into war doesn't mean that Iraq and Saddam weren't a problem, albeit a much smaller and more containable problem that did not call for war. Or, to take a completely different example, just because those Swift Boaters smeared Kerry with vicious and unsupportable lies didn't mean that he should have ignored them.

I view all of these as opportunities to, as the saying goes, "turn lemons into lemonade". I call this smart and principled triangulation, in which, instead of meeting the other side halfway (or more), in order to take away some of the its thunder, take the very issue which it has decided to dishonestly exploit to score political points, and make it your issue, but on YOUR terms (and honest and principled ones at that, of course). Done properly, this can turn a potential disadvantage into a huge advantage. It was in fact one of Rove's principal methods of turning disadvantages into advantages (albeit in dishonest ways in his case). E.g. Bush is supposedly ignorant and unsophisticated? Then that just proves what a regular, plainspoken, unpretentious regular Joe he is!

In the case of social security, I believe that the right way to deal with the GOP's lies about it being in crisis is to first state categorically that it is NOT in crisis and that anyone who says it is is a liar (using, I suppose, somewhat more sophisticated language). And then follow this up by adding that despite this, it does nevertheless have certain relatively minor and quite fixable future problems. This would shut up the right, reassure anyone who's bought into its lies, and make one come across as honest and responsible.

Don't eat the lemon. Turn it into lemonade.

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

[ Parent ]
They are dying now, or doesn't those count. n/t (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
absolutely counts (0.00 / 0)
People are dying in Iraq now because Bush wanted to attack and the Senate authorized the use of force.  I do not believe that it would save the lives of our troops if we stopped funding the war.  I do not trust the Bush Administration to respond in a rational way.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama

[ Parent ]
By your logic (0.00 / 0)
The AUMF didn't matter either, since Bush just does whatever he wants, without regard for Congress.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
Apparently, many netrooters agree with Bush (0.00 / 0)
that Congress is irrelevant. 

America's occupation of Iraq costs about $10 million an hour

The irony of the whole damned thing is that the "troops" aren't getting the money anyway.  No armored humvees, crappy flak jackets, dirty water, and $20 cokes.  They are funding Haliburton and Blackwater; and if anyone thinks they'll stay without a profit, they're nuts. And if they don't pay their mercenaries, they'll quit.

Other parts of McGovern's withdrawal plan include:

-- Release all prisoners of war and close all detention centers.

-- Assist with a national reconstruction corps.

-- Withdraw from the Green Zone and turn it over to the Iraqi government.

-- Remove all private security firms by stopping payments to them.

-- Help rebuild the country, but let Iraqis do the work with American financial assistance.

-- Make financial reparations to Iraqis for the loss of life and property damage.

-- America should not object to Iraq voiding all contracts for oil exploration, development and marketing. The goal is to have those contracts open to free bidding.

-- Assist with food, farming and health programs conducted under guidance by the United Nations.

Assuming even the highest costs for their proposals, Polk and McGovern estimate withdrawal would save $400 billion to $500 billion over the next two years.

[ Parent ]
it means... (0.00 / 0)
that he knows how to count to 67.

[ Parent ]
Two thoughts (0.00 / 0)
That progressive punch ranking in 2003 is probably due to his missing a lot of votes while running for office.  I remember that being an issue for Kerry because the Right incorrectly painted him as being more liberal than he really is for the same reason.  If fact the article you linked to discusses just that.

When pundits call Edwards the "fourth most liberal," they are cherry-picking his rank from one year-a year in which he missed more than a third of the votes used to make the tabulations.

We all spent time refuting this charge three years ago, I'm not sure why you repeat it now as an asset.  It is no more meaningful than it was then.

The other thought is that it would worry me less that Edwards has significantly changed his positions since 2004 and 1998, the other two times he ran for office if he was more open about the change and the transformation.  I feel like Edwards wants me to forget who he was in the Senate and more difficult how he ran in 2004.  He can change his positions but I would like to know about why.

Edwards is my second choice for president.  If the Edwards of today had existed by 2002 he would be my first choice now and probably in 2004.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama

I don't know; (0.00 / 0)
the impression I got of Edwards ever since he started running this cycle was that he was pandering, hard, because that was the only way he had a chance of beating Clinton's establishment support. His sudden fiery rhetoric now that he no longer had to back it up with votes in the Senate seemed far too convenient. I've since softened on that: it's very possible that he is genuine, but I'm still not entirely convinced. The concern is that if he's not, as he moves from the primary to the general, what's to stop him from pivoting again, now that the group he "needs" to appeal to isn't the Democratic base, but the great, unwashed masses of "independent/undecided/middle/centrist" voters?

Regarding Iraq... first of all, I can't find much about Edwards's support in your link, but maybe I'm just blind; second, while I think his apology was sincere and does much to alleviate the vote, I find it very difficult it believe that he didn't really want to support it in the first place. That could explain a vote of calculation such as Clinton's (who, ironically, doesn't explain it that way), but Edwards actively cheerleaded for the war and cosponsored the resolution. That's not something you can just explain away.

It's Worth Notiung That DW-Nominate Shows Him To Be More Progressive (0.00 / 0)
as I've posted several times before.

But this is secondary, since it certainly is true that wherever he belongs, he is more progressive now than he was before, he trust his instincts more, and is less influenced by the Versailles CW.

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

I Support Obama (0.00 / 0)
And I think some of it has to do with pressure of wanting to become president and win over progressives to do so and some of it comes from longstanding inner-beliefs. Elizabeth Edwards has been a true blue progressive the whole time. However I do think Edwards has been taking positions slightly to the left of what he really believes. I don't think he is as passionately progressive on some social issues like gay rights or abortion, I just don't. And I also don't buy that he's completely turned around on forign policy. If he was iffy on Iraq he wouldn't have co-sponsored the IWR and he wouldn't have been the only presidental canidate to vote against all amendments to give Bush less power. I think he's completely for real on the economic issues but I still think he has some faults still with forign policy and social policy.

With all that said it is great thing that Edwards has turned to the progressive side. Even if he doesn't win he has undoubtedly moved Clinton and Obama to the left and he will be around for a long time fighting no matter what. I like Edwards a lot it's just as Michael Copps says "no matter what you're issue is, media should be you're number two." Obama has far and away the best media polices and is by far the strongest on my number one issue which is public financing of elections.

If Edwards has really converted and it is the activists that have done it we should look at possible factors that lead to that because if we could find a real strategy for converting high profile leaders then we would have found one of the most important priorities for the movement.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

One sure fire first step is to support (0.00 / 0)
candidates who use the rhetoric that supports a progressive majority rather than make excuses for them when they call us secularists against Christians or use the same right wing frame as the GOP on SS.

[ Parent ]
One sure fire first step (0.00 / 0)
Is to not make things up.

The two single best ways to insure progressives in my opinion are good media policy and reducing money in politics.

With better media progressive won't be afraid of beltway pudit attacks and they will be able to communicate a progressive message to the people better and be able to frame the debate.

Reducing money in politics will make them beholden to us the grassroots donors not the rich.

I think a possible reason that Edwards got more progressive is that he didn't have to constantly fundraise from rich donors and he never took PAC or lobbyist money so he never had to try to get money from them. Also he gets more of his big money from trail lawyers who tend to be the more progressive side of the rich.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
I find your post confusing (0.00 / 0)
We are talking about the candidates and you go off into a wide variety of other topics. I understand why you are doing that- but let's not pretend it has anything to do with the point I made about leadership.

[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
I was talking about how we could build the progressive movement in my post. You responded that supporting Obama would be counterproductive to that. I countered that media policy and money in politics were the two most important things and that Obama had been the strongest on those issues and therefore I as a progressive supported him.

That's how I see it but I guess you don't.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
Your statement isn't a counter (0.00 / 0)
to the damage that Obama is doing to the process of progressive reforms. It's a "look over there' statement that tries to side track the point. While you are claiming that Edwards is "fake" or "isn't real" the things that Obama is saying may or may not be real- but it definitely damaging to the stated goal. How do I know this- because Clinton tried in the 1990s.

[ Parent ]
What? (0.00 / 0)
You think that Edwards isn't rock solid on abortion rights? He's been one of the strongest supporters of a woman's right to choose dating back to his first days in the Senate! He's had a 100% rating from NARAL, and one of the reasons Kate Michelmann signed on to his campaign was because she felt more comfortable with his position on abortion than any other candidate, including Hillary Clinton.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
I don't want to (0.00 / 0)
move the flame wars to OL. I was using abortion and gay rights to clarify the kind of social issues I was talking about so no one would think I was talking about economics issues or something like that. On abortion he has been quite strong however overall on that kind of issues I simply don't find him very passionate. However I don't find any of the candidates are particularly passionate on the issue so maybe I'm not being fair to Edwards.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
I believe you when you say you don't want a flame war (0.00 / 0)
But you have to understand that you're going to be challenged when you make claims about that.

As for your statement about Edwards' passion, I really can't argue with your own personal response to him because it's completely subjective. I will reiterate that Kate Michelmann follows the issue of abortion in particular and women's issues in general, and she wouldn't have supported him if she didn't think he was passionate.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
Your post is exactly what I mean (0.00 / 0)
by having a standard by which to gauge these things other than how a candidate makes one feel personally. There are ways to look at this that digs deeper than that.

[ Parent ]
Embracing his inner progressive (4.00 / 1)
is my choice of explanation, especially since there are definite signs of that inner progressive in John Edwards' biography:

1) he went through a similar conversion from centrist to progressive in his career as a lawyer when he went from corporate law to taking cases holding corporations liable for hurting people (for those who say he took this path because of money, if he is such an insanely good trial lawyer wouldn't he have made much more money representing corporations successfully than some of these long shot cases?)

2) his wife.  I'm with those who contend you can tell a lot about someone by their choice of spouse.  Elizabeth is awesome and she says a lot about John Edwards' values.  (I also think Michelle Obama reflects a lot of glory on her husband as well.  Both these women are strong progressives.)

3) his ease with and passion about progressive policies.  By all reports what made him such an effective trial lawyer was his passion for the cause he was litigating; when he truly believed, he won big.  His strong progressive voice now in the campaign has that same ring of conviction and will make him an awesome nominee if he can make it to past Clinton and Obama despite the lack of establishment support, media attention, and special interest money.  He is obviously (like Gore) now a man completely comfortable in his own skin.

4) the tragedies he has experienced.  He decided to become a politician in the first place because he wanted to make a difference after the death of his son.  He decided to remain in this race despite the recurrence of cancer in Elizabeth precisely -- I believe -- because he (and she) still really want to make a difference.  I don't think a fake conversion jibes with that harrowing decision.  They both have dedicated (and sacrificed) a great deal to fight this fight with everything they've got.  I just don't think they'd do that for a fake reason, and faking that they care about a progressive agenda doesn't make sense.  As you say, if that's the case, they've been living that fake life for five years now -- and I just don't believe Elizabeth Edwards would be willing to make that sacrifice for a lie.

John McCain doesn't think kids need health insurance

Excellent Points All Around (0.00 / 0)
I really wish there were more of this sort of discussion about the candidates.

On the one hand, Sirota and others have a valid point that all politicians are playing the game on one level or another.  But, at the same time, it's also true that they're human, and had/have lives outside of politics as well.  We can and should pay some attention to those lives--not the Halmark versions being peddled to us, but the warts-and-all reality.

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

[ Parent ]
I think that Edwards' bio (0.00 / 0)
has been dismissed more than it should be because:

a) Obama has such a compelling story, it has kind of sucked up all the oxygen out of the room for other bios;

b) people think they already know JE's bio from 2004 and many dismiss it in a soundbite -- "son of a millworker" -- because they think it was overused then (though no one seems to think that Obama has oversold his bio too much).  Back in August, I read an excellent bio by Charlie Pierce that wove a fascinating narrative linking JE's law career to his current populist stands that made it seem an understandable and even inevitable journey;

c) people dislike lawyers, so even though most of the candidates on the Democratic side are lawyers, John Edwards pays the price of being that most hated of species, a *successful* lawyer.  Consequently, little interest has been paid to the effect of his law career on his political philosophy or how his exposure to the minutiae of how corporate greed can lead to terrible acts is dismissed and instead replaced with shallow lawyer jokes;

d) most of the media doesn't like his criticism of them and their corporate sponsors so they tend to propagate the shallow caricatures that were remnant from the right-wing attacks of 2004 (not to mention the new ones from this cycle: "haircut", "mansion," "hedgefund," that are pushed by Clinton and Obama supporters when they don't want to talk issues).

John McCain doesn't think kids need health insurance

[ Parent ]
Edwards Flip-Flopped on Healthcare Reform in 2007 (4.00 / 1)
On a topic that Obama has been grilled for in the Netroots (bringing everyone to the table for healthcare reform), Edwards did a complete flip-flop in the span of this calendar year.

From the middle of the hilarious NY Times Huckabee/Pakistan article:

Mr. Obama's Web site says that Mr. Edwards's harsh, anti-corporate, anti-lobbyist rhetoric these days is in stark contrast to his approach earlier this year, which was more conciliatory.

In February, the Web site says, Mr. Edwards said of the health-care debate: "I think you try to bring everybody to the table. You want their participation, you want to make the system work for everybody."

Today, he scorns the idea that everyone can sit at the same table and find an equitable solution.

"If you think we can have universal health care by talking with the insurance companies and the drug companies, it will never happen," he says in a YouTube video. "These people have billions of dollars at stake. There's one way to take their power away from them. That's to beat 'em. Take them on head on and beat 'em."

Here's the Obama Press Release.

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which direction did he go (0.00 / 0)
and which direction did obama go?

[ Parent ]
It doesn't excuse his flip-flopping (0.00 / 0)
Just because Mitt Romney has switched his stances to be much more conservative doesn't change the fact that he's inconsistent and comes across as unauthentic.

The only reason Edwards gets a pass for changing his positions to more progressive stances is because he's the only Democrat in the race (with a realistic shot of winning) taking these progressive, Netroots-friendly stances, while Clinton and Obama could care less about winning over Netroots support.

Romney doesn't get away with his flip-flopping among conservative Republicans because they have other options to go to.

Leftmost Bit

[ Parent ]
I'd rather have him flip flop to the left (0.00 / 0)
than right. I am pretending to accept for the moment that you are actually right (you aren't) but playing along with it, you are still wrong. You'd rather have  a Democratic candidate flip flop to the right (the other two choices) than the left. Dress that pig up with lip stick however you want- that's the discussion we are having.  No amount of baiting by you about how I am "netroots" or other right wing derision of left leaning voters is going to change it. I am glad you are happy Clinton and Obama are willing to ignore you and other voters (because if you hadn't figured it out- you are on a blog able to discuss your views however silly they are).

[ Parent ]
Why the need for personal attacks? (0.00 / 0)
It's fine that we have a disagreement over the positions that Edwards has taken, but there's no reason that you should suggest (a) that I prefer for a Democrat flip to the right, or (b) that I'm using the term "netroots" as a form of rightwing baiting, or (c) that I'm glad that Clinton and Obama are ignoring progressive positions.

I simply wanted a strong and electable progressive in the race -- namely Al Gore. Unfortunately we didn't get that, and I don't believe Edwards is authentic in his progressive views when they were so different from a few years ago, or in the case above, a few months ago. It seems to me that he sees the Netroots as a constituency to pander to because we have nowhere else to go.

Leftmost Bit

[ Parent ]
Predictable response (0.00 / 0)
Can you actually talk about the substance of each candidate's strategies and their ramifications without comments like "ignore the netroots" or then getting personally offended because I called you on your ploy?

[ Parent ]
No, I can't (0.00 / 0)
Because the substance of their strategies was not the point of my original comment. I was merely calling a flip-flop a flip-flop. I'm actually kind of curious as to what my ploy exactly was. Can you explain it to me?

Leftmost Bit

[ Parent ]
many of us have left... (0.00 / 0)
you say we have nowhere else to go but many of us who are pro-peace and pro civil liberty have moved on to Ron Paul. really I just don't see how I can support Hillary Clinton, Obama, or Edwards over Ron Paul. I just don't. Paul tells the truth. He's against the war. And he's for civil liberties.

I'm a lifelong democrat. I voted for Clinton, Gore, and Kerry. This year I would vote for Ron Paul over any  mainstream Dem candidate (ie not Kucinich or Gravel who are both great.)

[ Parent ]
Uh.... (0.00 / 0)
Where's the flip-flop? If I remember correctly he was talking about everyone playing a part in a UHC system: insurance companies, individuals, government, and business. That doesn't mean that insurance companies and corporations get to write the UHC plan. I have a feeling the reporter was trying to take a quote out of context.

[ Parent ]
The original MyDD Interview (0.00 / 0)
Of course insurance companies, individuals, government, and business would have a part in the healthcare system, like they do now. But Edwards was talking about "bringing everyone to the table", which is a phrase specifically about negotiating the plan:

Singer: Senator Wyden has also come up with a plan -

Edwards: I knew about Senator Wyden's plan.

Singer:  - also bringing in both corporations and labor and healthcare groups and doctors. Not getting into the specifics at all, but how do you see bringing in everyone so it's not just an us versus them, because us versus them didn't work in the past?

Edwards: I think you try to bring everybody to the table. You want their participation, you want to make the system work for everybody. I think there's a difference between a healthcare plan that builds on the existing system but deals with some of its deficiencies and problems as opposed to a complete new way of doing healthcare in America. The latter will engender huge opposition. And it will engender a lot of just plain political opposition. If on the other hand you're taking the system that exists, dealing with the problems with it, making sure everybody gets covered, it's just much more likely to be achievable.

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[ Parent ]
He's referring to the difference between his plan (0.00 / 0)
and single-payer.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
Perfect as an argument against good without comparison to worse (0.00 / 0)
L's comment is the bait and switch that's been happening a lot when discussing healthcare. Not a comparison of what Edwards plan does in comparision to Obama's plan and how both compares to universal healthcare abroad. Instead, it's a comparison of Edwards plan as not perfect perhaps (it varies- some support single payer and others to not) because its not single payer although it does  provided universality. An argument made without regard to Obama's plan. So, you get the argument that since Edwards plan isn't single payer that means its  worse than Obama plan which doesn't provide universality.  The part that's switched out and the leap of logic is the failure of Obama's plan by comparison to each of the two other plans, and, quite, frankly how each plans compares to working UH plans abroad regardless of whether single payer or not. Since, not all countries have single payer systems, but many do provide universal healthcare.

[ Parent ]
When did I say a word about their plans? (0.00 / 0)
The Edwards plan is much better than Obama's (universal mandate vs. none). But I wasn't talking about their plans. I was talking about how they would go about making their plans into bills once they got into office. Obama has always said he'd "bring everyone to the table". Edwards said the same thing last February, and has done a flip-flop since. I actually think Edwards is more correct than Obama now, but a flip-flop is a flip-flop.

Where you got that I was ever talking about the merits of their actual plans is beyond me. Yet somehow, I'm the one being accused of bait and switch. LOL.

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[ Parent ]
"Bringing everyone to the table" doesn't refer to negotiation? (0.00 / 0)
The phrase Edwards used, and what Singer was specifically asking about, had to do with the process of drafting a bill that can get passed. It had nothing to do with the details of an actual plan.

Leftmost Bit

[ Parent ]
Thought you ought to know--- (0.00 / 0)
Single-payer systems around the world are driving their governments into deficit and debt, which have or already has forced them to adopt multi-payer systems like Germany, or drop certain coverage (dental, ect.).

As a poor college kid, it appeals to me that we have a free-market yet affordable health care system. Obama's plan of subsidies and regulations simply makes the most sense. I know there isn't a solid definition of "progressive," but isn't practicality a feature of it?

Obama has also stated that he'll talk to our enemies, contrast to Clinton. I find it to be very childish that we don't get on better terms with our enemies simply because they're "bad guys."

I kind-of merged the debates going on in here, but I'll conclude with: most progressive =/= most socialist.

we pay twice as much for healthcare costs (4.00 / 1)
compared to the rest of the world with worse outcomes. both outcome care and timing issues.  In fact, our costs including the cost of premiums are going up at faster than inflation (almost doublt at an average of around 7 percent) so that the rate of growth is also higher than other countries. The projections - conservative estimate out for several decades- show that while other countries costs will increase- ours which is already one of the worse will increase at a faster rate. this is something that anyone can find in about 5 seconds of googling it with an open mind.

by the way, there are countries with a variety of structures- not all single payer. all of them are universala nd all of them have mandates. again easy to look up if one wanted to really know.

[ Parent ]
Thought you ought to know This Is A Load Of Crap (4.00 / 1)
So the "practical" solution is to keep paying more for health care than any other country on Earth, while getting poorer health outcomes than any other advanced industrial nation?

Interesting defintion of "practical" you have there.  Yes, indeedy!

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

[ Parent ]
Be advised that this is a most complicated subject. (0.00 / 0)
One fact stands out.

At current rates of inflation in healthcare costs coupled with the base cost now being paid national healthcare costs will exceed the nation's entire GDP by 2050. This is obviously not going to happen, the smooth curve of inflated costs will hit what mathematicians call a 'discontinuity' which means the insurance companies, in order to protect their  profit margins, will throw 100 million or so more Americans off the roles of the insured using the time tested method of.....

....raising your rates pal.

For some real info about the costs and comparisons to other nations check out The Angry Bear, specifically these posts:




For those too lazy to clik thru be advised that childhood mortality rates in some age ranges here in the Greatest Fuckin' Place in God's Entire Universe, by HuckaBee!, is the same as Third World Pest Holes like Bangladesh. Seems MItt Romney and Ron Paul and their hordes of ignorant lil' pissant Libertarians DID NOT GET THAT MEMO!

Ah, well....they live in the upper of the 'Two Americas' so...

What the fuck do they care.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
I don't know how affordable it will be (0.00 / 0)
since it incentivizes free-riders.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
Obama's plan makes the least sense (0.00 / 0)
If you force community rating on insurance companies, yet you don't mandate people buying in, you'll incentivize free riders. Why pay into the system if insurance companies can't deny you coverage when you develop an illness or condition?

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
Actions Speak Louder Than Words (0.00 / 0)
At the tune of $2 million dollars

John Edwards is funded by 527s--probably the least progressive fundraising tool out there.

EDWARDS 527 Money:

Working for Working Americans/Carpenters: $526,440.76

Alliance for a New America (SEIU): $1,530,411.77 (this includes $769,000 that has not formally posted)

Democratic Courage: $20,410.00

Total: $2,077,262.53

Yeah, unions are running supportive ads (0.00 / 0)
of Edwards. Very unprogressive.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
I'd love to... (0.00 / 0)
trust and believe in what John Edwards says but I find it very difficult to trust him. Plus even with what he's saying now I don't find him to be near liberal enough on social issues... He's also not strong enough against war.


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