Did Obama Lose Nevada Because of his Reagan Remarks?

by: Matt Stoller

Sun Jan 20, 2008 at 01:24

Nevada Caucus Entrance Poll - Ideology

I've discussed the 'swing liberal' block before, noting that this group moved from Obama to Clinton between Iowa and New Hampshire.  Unfortunately, we can't really fully understand this trend in Nevada because the entrance polls aren't great.  Still, while the not great, it is the only data set we have to go on.

In Iowa, Obama beat Clinton by 16 points among those who consider themselves as 'very liberal'.  In New Hampshire, they were even.  And now in Nevada, Clinton simply destroyed Obama within that block by 16 points.  In other words, while it's not entirely clear who 'won' Nevada, whatever that means, had Obama run even with Clinton among those who describe themselves as 'very liberal', he would have soundly defeated her at the caucuses outright instead of having to play delegate games.

Both Edwards and Clinton dog whistled hard on Obama's Reagan remarks.  Many readers and friends simply don't believe me that the stuff he said about Reagan was bad.  Here's what it sounds like to people who lived through that period, which is still a majority of the voting universe.  Digby helpfully wrote this in a frame of reference many will understand.  Imagine George W. Bush in 2000 saying this.

We're still having the same arguments. It's all around regulations and smaller government and it's all ... even when you discuss traditional values the frame of reference is all around abortion. Well, that's not my frame of reference. My frame of reference is "what works." When I first came out against abortion, my first line was I don't oppose all abortions, specifically, to make clear that this is not a theocratic, you know, snake-handling prayer vigil kind of approach."

I think Lyndon Johnson changed the trajectory of the country in a way that JFK did not and Nixon did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of racism and anti-communism and government refusing to raise taxes to care for the poor and the elderly, I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was, we want a return to that sense of community and compassion that had been missing."

Bush would have lost the nomination right then and there.  Conservatives simply do not run away from their past, they create narratives that reinforce it as a tradition worth belonging to.  What Obama did when lauding Reagan as an answer to the 'excesses of the 1960s' (which you can very well see is a conservative meme by doing a quick Google book search) was attack and insult the liberal traditions of feminism, civil rights, environmentalism, consumer rights, and peace movement work from that time. 

And he got torched by the older liberals who lived through Saint Ronnie's time and don't remember it as such an optimistic time when a dynamic man reigned in government and brought back entrepreneurship (which is not in fact true).

The right creates and protects their icons and history jealously, just as they tear down our traditions and heroes or appropriate them for their own usage by claiming that our best people were in fact conservative (hence JFK becomes a strong national security Democrat who cut taxes).  The past matters.  It just does.  And if you want to know why, just remember that Bush has rung up a huge credit card debt that we will have to pay off.  And if we can't explain that Bush rang up the bill by referencing the past, the country is going to blame Democrats for what Bush did.  It's happened before.  Just ask Bill Clinton and the 1994 Congressional class of Democrats, who paid the price for Ronald Reagan's binge spending.

We have been fighting Ronald Reagan's psychologically diseased followers and predecessors since, well, since they called themselves the Confederacy and fought for slavery.  And we will keep fighting them if we are to retain a republic.  That's why the self-identified very liberal Democrats swung away from Obama and took Nevada from him.  Because he very self-consciously explained that he is not part of that fight, and they want a leader who is.

Matt Stoller :: Did Obama Lose Nevada Because of his Reagan Remarks?

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check your math... (0.00 / 0)
had Obama run even with Clinton among those who describe themselves as 'very liberal', he would have soundly defeated her at the caucuses outright instead of having to play delegate games.

How do you figure?  Even if they'd been even among the very liberal, she still beat him by 3-4% in each of the other ideology groups.

making a few assumptions (4.00 / 1)
I'm assuming the very liberal spread is accurate, but that the total numbers are not.  Those are some aggressive assumptions, but they are buttressed by the fact that Clinton and Edwards jumped on the comments and by local TV shows I watched in Nevada discussing Obama's pandering to a right-wing newspaper Democrats hate.  I wish there were better data, but I don't think I'm wrong in making these assumptions and I'm still searching around.

[ Parent ]
Yes, the math (0.00 / 0)
Lets see now.

Hill won by 16 amongst very liberal who make up 18% of the vote. If they ran even, that means Hillary gets 8% of 18% less and Obama that much more.

8/100 x 18% = 1.4 percent overall. Take that from her, give it to him.

So, overall, they would have ended up 2.8 pts closer.

I.e. "had Obama run even with Clinton among those who describe themselves as 'very liberal', he would have soundly defeated her at the caucuses outright"

Somebody here aint to good with numbers.

[ Parent ]
Why Hillary as the alternative? (0.00 / 0)
I too found Obama's comments on Reagan simply stunning. It's like he read those NH liberal poll results and thought, hmmm... we didn't screw this up bad enough yet, we can do worse by NV! Those NH poll results also were the signal to me that Edwards supporters were going to break for Hillary (contrary to my own feelings as an Edwards supporter). What I don't understand is why these liberal voters moved to Clinton and not Edwards - unless they feel that passionately about defeating Obama?

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

Answer - domestic policy (0.00 / 0)
Clinton's pretty clearly to the left of Obama on domestic policy, and with a recession arriving - and lots of bad memories of Reagan - liberals are breaking her way, despite Iraq.

[ Parent ]
Excellent Piece (4.00 / 3)
Probably the best explanation of why Obama shouldn't have said what he said that I've seen, and I've already seen a few other good ones.

But let me add another angle: regardless of who gets the better argument as to whether what Obama said was good bad or indifferent for Democrats and progressives in their ideological and power struggle against the GOP, it was just flat-out d-u-m-b to say that right in the most heated moment of a DEMOCRATIC primary.

You don't have to be a genius to realize that Ronald Reagan does not win popularity contests in the Democratic Party, nor does the concept that the rabid Republicans of the last 10-years have been the "party of ideas" (unless you're talking about ideas of how to subvert the Constitution and then put a partisan nutlock on the U.S. government and turn it into your own personal money-making machine).  I understand that Obama seeks to benefit from independents and moderate Republicans crossing over to vote Democratic where that is possible, but NEWSFLASH!!  They don't outnumber Democrats in the Democratic primaries.

This is the same guy who just couldn't stand it when Hillary took a shot at him over his "disorganized" remark at the debate, so that, instead of letting it fly he decided to get into a tit-for-tat about it.  Result:  stories ran in the press today headlined "Obama, Clinton Spar Over Disorganization" and Obama gets to be portrayed as fighting the good fight for the principle of disorganization.  Not exactly where most folks choose to draw the old line in the sand.  (in other words, politically d-u-m-b again.)

Do we really want THIS guy representing the Democratic Party in the fall?  The GOP wolves will be picking their teeth with his bones by Labor Day.

Er... what was the Spanish Media & Radio (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
That's interesting (0.00 / 0)
Maybe the Reagan thing had a bigger effect than I thought. Too bad.

Many Democratic Voters Would Prefer Their (4.00 / 2)
Democratic candidate to run as a Democratic at least in the primaries. And yes, for those who lived through  Reagan's presidency and were effected by it, Obama's remarks were that bad no matter how you parse or rationalize them.  I and others like me, are appalled that history was so distorted to create the Reagan myth to begin and don't appreciate a candidate that goes out of his way to perpetuate that myth. Obama managed in his campaign to verbally criticize or marginalize the efforts of Democrats in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s while appearing to praise Republicans. Since many of the political wars of the 60s - 90s are still being fought today, hearing that he was unwilling to continue to fight those wars was less than reassuring.

When you look at the anger in the blogs when the Democratic Congress when they refuse to fight for issues we believe in, why would Obama or anyone else believe that saying he would fight those battles believe that that was a winning strategy.

But Obama Is Smarter Than The Blogosphere (4.00 / 2)
So why should he care what we think?

It's 1 vs. 1,000,000.

We're all just DFHs, doncha know.

"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 ]
Obama is less of a Democrat than Bill Clinton ever was. (4.00 / 3)
Obama is Bill Clinton 3.0.  I'll give Hillary 2.0  Obama is every bit as articulate, triangulating, calculating, corporate/lobbyist owned, and consumate Reagan Democrat as Bill Clinton ever was.  He is out-Clintoning the Clintons.  Obama is an establishment candidate and a sitting Senator avoiding votes or voting for Republican scams like the Patriot Act, keeping the -troops- Blackwater funded, and Bill Clinton's trade policies.  He hearts Lieberman. He wants bi-partisanship with people who have robbed and screwed us and this country over.  He thinks and says Social Security is broken, when it has only been robbed blind.  George Will loves him, and Ben (Bush) Nelson endorsed him. He has laid claim to MLK and RFK while using black homophobic preachers to campaign for him in the black religious community. Change?  What change?  All I can see and hear is "hope for change". Everything he says/writes is like a Rosack test.  Find in it whatever you will. 

I cannot believe how transparent he is, and how many people he fools. If I'm going to end up with a Clinton in the WH, I'll take a real one. This sentiment comes from a starting position of "anybody but Hillary" and an Edward's supporter.

[ Parent ]
Your analysis fits perfectly (4.00 / 1)
In my case, at least. You describe very well how I felt about Obama's Reagan comments. I considered them an attack, and I was baffled as to why he wanted to attack me (and others like me) at this time. I've speculated that maybe Obama has just spent too much time among church-goers, who by and large revere Reagan, and he underestimated how most liberals would feel about his comments.

Unfortunately, at 45 I now qualify as an "older liberal." I have vivid memories of walking by a tree each morning in 1982, where "stop me before I kill again" had been recently carved into the trunk. It was one of the few things to take the edge off that increasingly repellent era in American politics. (In case you don't remember Reagan's 1981 comments that trees cause more air pollution that automobiles, or something like that...)

ec=-8.50 soc=-8.41   (3,967 Watts)

"Cut me down before I kill again" (0.00 / 0)
Reagan claimed that acid rain was caused by trees.

Obama's hero, folks.

[ Parent ]
Hah....hah....hah (0.00 / 0)
I'd forgotten that one! That RaGun what marroon!

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Obama & Reagan (0.00 / 0)
OK... fine -- so when are we going to start 'transcribing' the lovefest between -- oh say -- Clinton and Bush Senior...??

or... Clinton and Lieberman == Can we not have a "globist" approach here when acknowleging we have problems with 'both' our so media chosen candidates...?

That's JUST The Point (0.00 / 0)
Obama should be cleaning the floor with Clinton among the more liberal voters, just like he did in Iowa.

But he's not.

"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 ]
Bush senior (4.00 / 1)
I could see Clinton feeling some affinity with Bush senior, since both of them got stuck with the bill from Reagan's crazy fiscal policy.  Clinton also inherited the ME peace framework that was established by Bush senior after Gulf War I, that lead to Oslo.  Both of them realize that the Israeli-Palestinian situation is critical to "fixing" the ME, even if no-one can talk about it for fear of pissing off AIPAC. 

And Bush senior successfully held off the neocons that now have his son in their pocket.  He gave the shiv to Likkudniks like Shamir in his time. 

Don't get me wrong, plenty of questionable stuff wrt Bush senior (his role in Iran-Contra, his family's involvement in S&L bail-out, why exactly we invaded Panama....).

But Reagan was definitely on the wingnut side of things, and he changed our political dialogue for the worse.  It is because of him that we don't talk about the poor anymore in elections.  He may have been held in check by a pragmatic wife and staff.  For Obama to embrace him as a political icon is nauseating.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, Bush Sr Was A Crook (0.00 / 0)
But Reagan was a maniac.

Winning a nuclear war.  That's what he and his crowd were actually talking about at first.

"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 ]
GWHB (0.00 / 0)
Nowhere near as bad as Reagan.  In fact, the worst right-wing excesses of his Presidency were things, IMO, he was politically forced into.  He put together a deficit-busting bill in 1990 that included a tax increase and set the stage for Clinton to come in and finish the deficit-busting job.  That took enormous political courage, and in fact it cost him his second term.

And he is no hero of conservatives.  It's not HIS name you hear every other word in the republican debates.

[ Parent ]
Ask any gay man who is still alive how Reagan was. (4.00 / 1)
Clinton always had the gay vote, but Obama killed any chances of making inroads with it by praising Reagan.  And what gay people lack in numbers, we make up for in monetary contributions.

Reagan was worse than Bush vis-a-vis AIDS.  I think Bush and even Nixon wouldn't have sat by whilst thousands of people died with the government doing zilch.

For some reason, it seems that Obama has some pathological and deep-seated psychological need for Republicans to like him.  Seriously.  It's weird.

ok, but... (0.00 / 0)
Because he very self-consciously explained that he is not part of that fight, and they want a leader who is
and how the hell did that get to be Hillary, who is by far the most conservative of the candidates?

Hillary's not the most conservative (4.00 / 2)
Paul Krugman:

"I know that Mr. Obama's supporters hate to hear this, but he really is less progressive than his rivals on matters of domestic policy."

[ Parent ]
Clinton pretty far left of Obama on domestic policy... (0.00 / 0)
That's pretty clear. He's a centrist domestically, she's a liberal.

[ Parent ]
"Centrist"? (0.00 / 0)
Domestically, both Clinton and Obama are to the right of most Americans.  The political and cultural center is not made up of people who think insurance companies should run our healthcare.

More liberal media at The Sideshow

[ Parent ]
There may be something in those numbers (0.00 / 0)
but I'm becoming increasingly skeptical of single-variable analyses trying to explain voting results, especially across very different states.  They make me wonder what the correlations are between self-described "very liberal" ID and things like gender, ethnicity, occupation, urban vs. rural, etc., and which of these variables are actually directly associated with voting behavior.  These multivariate analyses unfortunately aren't available from most polls so, as Matt notes, we have to work with what's available.

But, with all the union stuff (and organizing issues, which Zack mentions in his post) that seems to have been at play in Nevada, I'm not sure any poll analysis like the one Matt cites can be given too much credence.  And, as Chris seemed to be saying in a post the other day, self-identified liberal-conservative scales are not consistently good predictors of primary votes so far (e.g., Edwards does relatively better with conservative and moderate voters than with liberals).

That being said, it does seem reasonable that some percentage of voters would have felt the way Matt describes, especially if the Clinton and Edwards camps were hammering on the "Reagan" issue, especially if this issue was combined with other things in voters' minds, for example the alleged union bullying.

My stab at speculation is that a good share of the Clinton lead among self-described "very liberal" voters consisted of union members who were pissed off about the reported "bullying" and also hate Reagan with a stronger-than-average passion.  To be overly simplistic about it, I might call them "angrier than average Democrats" (i.e., the more accurate scale for predicting Obama's share of votes would be "very angry" vs. "somewhat angry", "not so angry," etc.). 

I think Obama will continue to be relatively weak among this "very angry" group, and it may be a decisive factor in the nomination.  I think that would be unfortunate. 

Sure, there are plenty of things to be angry about given what Republican-controlled government has done.  But I believe that, ultimately, we'll need a different fuel than anger to govern well, sustain a long-term political realignment based on progressive values and policies, and turn around this country and the planet in whatever window we have to do so. 

I think that's what Obama is trying to achieve.  I support his candidacy because I increasingly believe that this "turning around" can only be achieved by a communicating a positive progressive vision and implementing it via an integrated set of policies that includes a massive effort to "de-corrupt" our political system and federal government, as well as a massive investment in sustainable energy industries. 

And when I think of how much needs to be done and how challenging this "turnaround" will be to accomplish, even with a strong progressive majority, I can't help but think that squabbles over statements about Reagan--whose meaning and significance I interpret very differently than Matt and others--seem irrelevant or even counterproductive.  Kinda like being on a ship that's taking water after hitting an iceberg and arguing about what different people have said about the CEO of the company that built the boat, instead of figuring out who knows how to lower the lifeboats and has the compass, food and other stuff we'll need to survive on the high seas. 

To be clear, I'm not saying that all criticism of Obama is akin to this.  I think its important that he (and the other candiates) be put under careful scrutiny and not be put on some rock-star pedestal.  But the focus should be on his ability to serve as President, not whether he's made comments that could possibly be intepreted to say something positive about some aspects of Ronald Reagan. 

More broadly, I think we need to focus more on the future we want to create and less on rehashing--or trying to undo or relive--the past.  I believe we're at a historic point in human history (not just in the relatively short span of American history) and that, while we can learn some lessons from the past several decades and centuries, more important than those lessons will be our ability to create a 21st century American and global human system that, in key respects, can (and must) be very different than anything that has come before.

If that strikes you as too dramatic or lofty a statement, think for a moment about the historical uniqueness and significance of global warming and nuclear weapons.  During the first half of the 20th century, the "civilized" nations of the world engaged in two world wars that pretty much utilized the maximum destructive power they could muster.  If there's any lesson to be learned from that, its that we need fundamentally different ways of living together as nations and human beings.  And I think, more than any other candidate, Obama appreciates this need.  That, to me, is at least a worthy starting point for a 21st century political movement.

"Kumbayah" Doesn't Cut It (4.00 / 2)
It's not enough to want to get along.  Getting along by sacrificing our principles doesn't cut it.

"Kumbayah" is a fine song.

But you sing it after "We Shall Overcome," not instead of it.

"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 ]
What specific principles (0.00 / 0)
and what specific sacrifice of them are you referring to? 

Responding to injustice and working to remedy it does not require harboring resentment toward those who perpetrate it.  The latter tends to repeat historical cycles, because it breeds reciprocal resentment and revenge, which breeds more revenge from the other side, in what historically has manifested as cycles that escalate until enough damage is done to one or both sides that the cycle seems to stop for awhile, until its reactivated or redirected, because the seed from which it grows remains active in the hearts and minds of most human beings.

To me the Kumbayah line is used too often and too glibly, and with a lack of understanding of what I'm talking about.  Read what Krishna told Arjuna about going out to fight a bloody war started by his enemies while retaining his inner peace, or watch a true master of martial arts deal with a violent aggressor, and you'll get a sense of the distinction I'm trying to make.

I don't know how well Obama grasps this, but he seems to be more in touch with it than most other political leaders.  For now, that'll have to be good enough for me, at least in terms of casting my 2/5 vote.

And, BTW, I don't claim to consistently live up to the standard of inner experience I'm referring to.  I only aspire to it, having experienced and witnessed enough of it to know that its a reality more fundamental and, from my perspective, more valuable than the ones typically argued about as political truths. 

And, as I tried clumsily in my comment to say, I've come to believe that it may very well be the essential ingredient required to keep the human race from pressing the restart button and rebooting the evolutionary process.  My "political theory" stems from my much less theoretical observation that this experience of "fulfillment/peace from the inside" (i.e., independent of events, situations, etc.) is the essential ingredient in my own "quality of life," and my ability to make a real and positive difference in my circle of influence.  I don't necessarily expect it to come to fruition in terms of how human societies operate and interact, but I do see it as potentially necessary to avoid extremely large-scale suffering and worthy of bringing up in some political discussions, particularly those focused on what kinds of fundamental change is needed.

[ Parent ]
I Am All For Peace And Reconciliation (0.00 / 0)
As I said:

"Kumbayah" is a fine song.

But you sing it after "We Shall Overcome," not instead of it.

I learned at a very early age to respect Malcolm X, but realize that King had the greater power.

And, of course, part of King's power came from the very existence of Malcolm X.

But none of it came from Booker T. Wahington.

"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 ]
depends on priorities (4.00 / 1)
I remember Chris Hani, the late great ANC leader confronting an angry audience of "leftie" purists who were safely fighting the revolution from Massachusetts, patiently explaining that "people cannot eat slogans".

[ Parent ]
And this is a great argument for Obama, (4.00 / 2)
who is consistently seen as the 'wine track' candidate, versus Hillary Clinton, who draws her strongest support from the low-income working class?

[ Parent ]
Fighting the wrong war (0.00 / 0)
The illiterate, backwards, superstitious, etc. wingers were smart enough to understand "compassionate conservatism" for positioning. Unfortunately for the nation, the highly educated, over-literal, symbol obsessed, and comfortable with losing, "liberal/leftist" section of the electorate turns out to be easily influenced by the media.

After buying the media story that Dean was not electable, and going for Kerry, the same people decided Kucinich was not electable and went for southern white boy Edwards, who the media annointed as the electable left wing standard bearer despite his legislative history as a conservative. When Kucinich disappeared, a black man with a background as an organized in Saul Alinsky's groups and as a civil rights lawyer for ACORN and other groups, was derided as being a secret Ronald Reagan supporter. When what he was doing, was opposing Jimmy Carter/Bill Clinton's legacy of positioning.
as I explain below.

Stop With the Fucking LYING Already (4.00 / 2)
No one's arguing that Obama is a secret Ronald Reagan supporter.  That's ludicrous.  And the fact that you trot out such a stupid strawman argument utterly destroys your credibility as a serious commentator.

What we are criticizing Obama for is reinforcing rightwing memes.  He thinks this is very clever as a way to lull conservatives into voting for him.  He thinks he can just take liberals for granted, and we should just STFU when he does it, because he comes from the Joe Lieberman school of politics more recently than the Saul Alinsky one.  (Blending the two is actually part of Alinsky's approach, btw, for anyone who has actually read Alinsky.)

Silly us!  We actually listened to his words!  We didn't listen to his dog-whistle!  Ooops!  That was because he was dog-whistling the right instead!

Look, if you want to lie, that's fine.  Just don't try it with high information voters, or you will get your ass handed to you every single time.

And twice on Sundays.

"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 ]
not a right wing meme (0.00 / 0)
Jimmy Carter was unpopular.
People did think the government was non-responsive.
There was anxiety over the national direction and pessimism.
Reagan's optimism was a striking contrast to Carter's idiotic "malaise" theme.

As I explained, Ted effin Kennedy, ran on those themes against Carter and Pat Caddell, the ur-consultant who decided that blaming the public for the effects of Carter's wishy-washy conservatism was a good tactic. Unfortunately, Kennedy's effort to topple Carter from the left was sunk by his personal history and Carter went to face the voters and Reagan after having convinced them that Democrats were ineffective hand-wringing bureaucrats. And Reagan used many of the same themes Kennedy used.

Pretending that Reagan only appealed to racists is just putting your head in the sand.

[ Parent ]
actually, it's worse than that (4.00 / 1)
If "reinforcing" or at least repeating right wing narratives is a cardinal and unforgivable sin, then you should be discussing Angela Davis' candidacy, and not those of any of the mod-erate squad.

John Edwards FP article reinforce the odious "tear down that wall" story about beacon of Freedom nunkiller Ronald Reagan.

Hillary's entire story on "strong" national defense is republican and in the argument about SS, while the "high information" leftists bridled at Obama's crisis language, they seemed to not notice the "trillion dollar tax increase" that Hillary used to describe making FICA tax progressive (because, god forbid people making over $100K should contribute).

This selective touchiness is hard for me to understand.

[ Parent ]
I've Already Answered This Garbage Before (0.00 / 0)
You're becoming increasingly tiresome, with nothing new at all to say, merely repeating your same talking points over and over again, even though they've already been answered.

Previously, on Buffy, The Vampire Slayer:

I am not an Edwards supporter, and it's precisely this sort of lack of consistency on Edwards' part that is a good share of the reason why.

I may vote for him (and I may not), but I have much to criticize him for as well.

That said, however, Edwards' failure is nowhere near as damaging to the core of his campaign.  It's still an egreggious historical distortion that he is giving his blessing to, and reinforcing.  But it doesn't cloud or damage the core of his campaign message.

With Obama, it utterly clouds any sense of what he means and intends to do in brining people together.  That's why it's a far more salient issue.  Also, the fact that Obama is significantly ahead.  If Edwards were neck-and-neck, then there would be more cause for highlighting his iconsistencies more--but, still, they would have to be weighted in terms of how much they affect his core rationale.

Rather than respond to the obvious differences I've pointed out, you simply repeat yourself, because you have no answer to my points.

Your paint-by-numbers spin-doctoring is beyond lame.

Give it a rest.  You are only making Obama look worse and worse in the process.

"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 ]
you can repeat it but it still doesn't make sense (0.00 / 0)
Edwards makes a substantive positive comment about Reagan's immoral political actions.

Obama makes a comment about Reagan's rhetorical effectiveness and position as a marker of change.

You cite Obama as reinforcing Republican themes (and repeatedly refuse to deal with the distorting quote - where mentions of JFK have been omitted.)

In fact, the core difference is that what Obama said was TRUE and what Edwards said was FALSE. In reality, as noted by polls and observers at the time and since, people like Roger Wilkins, for example, Reagan's appeal to "optimism" was very effective against Carter. And Reagan's victory marked a complete change in how US politics worked - Tip ONeill lamented this very clearly. On the other hand, Reagan, contrary to Edwards, run a mendacious and blood-stained foreign policy that was widely hated.

[ Parent ]
Repeating Lies Does Not Make Them True (0.00 / 0)
It's a common dittohead misperception, but it's just not true.

It doesn't matter how many times you claim "what Obama said was TRUE."  It's still a lie.

What Obama said was false.  And your defense of him is false.

And the more lies you tell, the less credibility you have.

I take it as a given that all politicians lie.  This is not a great revelation to me. (I am no longer 8. Or 10. Whatever.) The important questions are how they lie, why they lie, what they lie about.

Come back when you're 12.  Maybe then we can have a productive conversation.  If not about politics, well, maybe, girls.

"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 ]
High information voters... (0.00 / 0)
I assume since you're a high information voter, did you listen to the whole tape of what Obama said?  Read the whole transcript?

[ Parent ]
Great post, Matt (4.00 / 2)
It is good to see the light finally dawning on the legions of Obama supporters that what one says in the primaries does matter.  Those of us who have (ahem, really DON'T want to start a generational fight here) been around awhile know that the idea that Obama is making all this kumbaya centrist talk (most famous but far from only example being the Reagan quote), but will turn back left to where we all "know" he really stands as soon as he gets in - is BS.

The folks at Corrente call this the "PhoneBooth" theory (think Clark Kent --> Superman), but it's become kind of a shorthand that isn't convincing.  But proof is easily at hand.  There have been two major instances in American History where the phonebooth theory worked:

1.  Abraham Lincoln.  Only campaigned on stopping the SPREAD of slavery, not abolishing it.  But in that case, the South seceded and left him a relatively free hand to go where he wanted to go in his heart of hearts.

2.  Franklin Roosevelt.  He ran on fiscal conservatism, not the New Deal.  That only came in after he was elected.  In that case we had a Great Depression, but even that might not have been enough, had we not also had a worldwide "Red Menace" that allowed FDR to argue that capitalism needed to be saved from itself - and win that argument. 

Absent threats on a scale that large, this is a conservative country, and its elites, the corporations and the Beltway "Village" it controls are the rock we have to move.  They would never tolerate a president who campaigned centrist and  tried to govern left, unless there was a crisis like those above.

Note that this doesn't apply to governing to the right of what you campaigned on.  Bush in office pulled a bait-and-switch on his "Compassionate Conservative" campaign, and you could have heard a pin drop from the media who were FOR this kind of switcheroo.

OK, so why Clinton rather than Obama if we can't have Edwards?  After all Bill has a track record of betraying the base, of offering "putting people first" and delivering NAFTA, and there's no real evidence that Hillary would be much better (although there's always the hope that they might have learned a thing or two - faint hope, admittedly).
Because Hillary Clinton is not running a campaign that attacks the Democratic base, the pieces of Democratic institutions that will be key to what she can accomplish if she wins - the way Obama is.  If he campaigns this way in the primaries, how much worse will he be when he governs?  Clinton is making the right noises on Social Security.  Obama isn't.  And that's not the only issue.

Obama supporters can make two counter arguments. 

1. The War and his 2002 speech.  I'd buy this if he'd done anything as good as that speech once he won office.  But he hasn't.  And I'm beginning to think it's not in him.  He's getting lousy advice about running to the right and worse yet, taking it.

2.  There is no space in current America for a Black man to make leftist arguments and win - he'd be cast as the "Angry Black Man" - a kiss of death.  Probably true, but Obama isn't winning the other way either.  It looked like he might be after Iowa, but that was a long time ago, already.

Not a pretty picture, but it's the hand we've been dealt. So we have to deal with it, not engage in fantasies.

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

the boomers fall for it again (4.00 / 2)
Because Hillary Clinton is not running a campaign that attacks the Democratic base, the pieces of Democratic institutions that will be key to what she can accomplish if she wins - the way Obama is.

Hey, I sang along with "don't stop thinking about tomorrow" and all I got was a picture of Peter Edelman packing up his desk and a "don't ask don't tell" T-Shirt.

A couple of pats on the head for the "base", during primary season and you are ready to trust Burston-Marsteller with your future.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, But You Haven't Answered sTiVo's Argument (0.00 / 0)
We already know what Clintonian triangualtion is like.  And sTiVo's making the case that Obama would be worse.  You can't logically refute that argument by repeating something that sTiVo already acknoweldges.  You have to do something more.

It's become increasingly apparent that either you don't know how to make logical arguments, or you've simply lost it temporarily.

I sincerely hope it's the latter.

"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 did answer his argument (0.00 / 0)
His argument is that Clinton's pats on the head for the base will somehow lead her follow through. Since Clinton 1 demonstrated this to be a false hope, I'm not convinced.

Both candidates appear to be moderate triangulators.

[ Parent ]
Why All The Passionate Defense of A Triangulator, Then??? (0.00 / 0)
And besides, sTiVo wasn't making a binary argument.  So you really didn't answer it.

Not even close.

"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 ]
No, you really didn't answer it. (4.00 / 1)
>> Both candidates appear to be moderate triangulators

I agree, but I thought that was MY point.  I am not WILD about Clinton, not in the way so many Obama supporters are wild about their man, and I don't expect too much from either.  My argument was an argument against the theory that Obama's rightward glances don't matter, and you haven't come close to answering it.  It was, further, a justification of choosing Hillary over Barack as my second choice.

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

[ Parent ]
Don't Worry, You Don't Understand Your Point (0.00 / 0)
Only Obama supporters understand the English language.  The rest of us?


"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 ]
And... (4.00 / 1)
2.  There is no space in current America for a Black man to make leftist arguments and win - he'd be cast as the "Angry Black Man" - a kiss of death.  Probably true,

I almost fell for that argument until I remembered that trying not sound like an angry leftist doesn't require you to attack the Democratic base, which is what he does all the time.  He can just not talk about gay issues, but he doesn't have to have himself represented by someone who is virulently anti-gay.  He can shut up about Social Security, he doesn't have to suggest that it's obsolete.  He can pretend he doesn't know the blogosphere exists, but he doesn't have to smack "the netroots" around.

And when he talks about "the excesses of the '60s", isn't he the one who is dissing the civil rights movement, and Dr. King?

I just can't help the feeling he's thinking, yeah, those people in the '60s laid the groundwork for me, and now I can throw 'em under a bus.

More liberal media at The Sideshow

[ Parent ]
Seems strange that a guy who's sooooooooooooooo..... (0.00 / 0)

.........concerned about excesses has a big mouthed windbag of an anti-union celebrity front for him. If there is on thing that many agree on, both left and right, it is that our culture's sick preoccupation with 'celebrity' is not a.....

....good thing.

Guess Senator 'Dope' din't get da memo, eh?

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
I stand corrected, Avedon (0.00 / 0)
You're right.  This isn't a good argument for Obama, although  it is the best try, and I certainly never thought it a decisive one.  Not good for Obama that his best argument doesn't hold water.

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

[ Parent ]
I doubt it (0.00 / 0)
Its important to generally remember that the blogosphere is out of touch with the regular democratic voter.  It calls edwards liberal whereas most think he is conservative, etc. 

Hillary's campaign has been reaching out lower income workers who feel invisible and she has largely been successful at that.  Thats where her advantage is.  Obama isn't doing enough outreach to the poorest among us.

It's Important To Remember That You're Out Of Touch With EVERYTHING! (0.00 / 0)
Except for Clinton's talking points, of course.

Shills really shouldn't be lecturing others about being "out of touch."

"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 ]
Don't sell that "invisible" stuff short (0.00 / 0)
It's simple and seems to be working, especially with people who don't spend their lives obsessing on blogs. Just a thought, not a talking point.

[ Parent ]
Paul AS USUAL (0.00 / 0)
it is hard to listen to your arguments, because in the end  all you do is remind us all..YOU ARE FRIGGIN ALL KNOWING AND WE ARE JUST FRIGGIN STUPID if we don't get on your Obama meltdown express.

[ Parent ]
Great argument. (0.00 / 0)
I now see the light for usually concurring with his well-reasoned posts, rather than with your CAPSLOCKed ones.

[ Parent ]
Also, (0.00 / 0)
Only those who know they have no logical defense themselves resent having a rational opponent.

[ Parent ]
Give Paul a break.... (2.00 / 2)

....when you are continually having a 'dalogue' with the abysmally ignorant, low-info Oborg, see Lambert's Corrente if you want to see someone ripping huge bleeding strips off of Obama, one tends to get a little frustrated.

I think most in the 'sphere are now hip to Senator 'Dope' and his follower's continued use of the 'double secret dog-whistle' and much of this is down to Paul.

If you feel stupid perhaps you should ask yourself  why and not blame it on Paul.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Thanks, a citizen, we aim to please (0.00 / 0)
Send me some mail with the feedback form, wouldja? Thanks.

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
I Just Know A Shill When I See One (0.00 / 0)
Honestly, I wish I couldn't keep track of them.

But I simply can't avoid tripping over them.

"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 ]
"Practice, practice, practice" (0.00 / 0)
That's the punchline.

But oh, to have to listen to it...

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
It's not the Reagan comment per se that bothers me (4.00 / 2)
It's the number of times that Obama has used right-wing frames, language, theories, etc. as a way to get across his "progressive vision" that bothers me.  If this was the first time he had done that, I would probably have just gone "huh?" and chalked it up to another Democratic presidential candidate momentarily putting in this case his foot in his mouth.  But it seems to me that he does this on a regular basis, as opposed to, you know, using left-wing frames, languages, theories, etc. as a way to get across a progressive vision.

The problem, of course, is that I can't remember many of them, beyond the Social Security is in crisis one.  It's the general impression I have, which itself says something, and I don't even have any vested interest in seeing him lose the nomination.

Progressive views (0.00 / 0)
If Obama is making any mistake it's that he's not getting across what I believe is his main message...that of being American and more alike than different.

Setting aside the whole Reagan dog whistle on both sides for a moment, when he speaks to an issue I hear him saying WE need to tackle this...work out a solution.  Not from a far left or far right position, but because we all want it.

Don't we all want healthcare fixed, regardless of which party we belong to?  Don't we all want to assure SS is there when our parents, we, our children need it, regardless of which party we belong to?  Aren't we all looking for good jobs for ourselves and our children?

Granted, there will always be fringe elements of our people that care only for themselves.  But the vast majority of this country is longing for a leadership that isn't party based, but idea based...solution based.

Obama and Obama followers know he can't do it alone...he can't fix the massive problems we face as a nation alone.  He's going to need good congressional participants that are less afraid of being reelected and more interested in actually fixing this country.  He's going to need an electorate that will educate itself and insist from it's leaders they get what they need.

If he and his words can inspire a nation to stand up to the corruption it's government has become, then he will have contributed greatly. 

But it's up to us to follow through.

Can he do that?  Maybe...but my primary vote for him is a good start.

Read his position papers.  Read his legislative voting record.  Find out about his community organizer experience.  I think if you do that you'll see Obama is quite enough liberal. 

If what you see there falls short, fine.  Then look to the same in the other candidates pasts and decide which is closest in message and record to where you think the country will go.

It's the primary season and we do have choices.

[ Parent ]
The right wing frames (0.00 / 0)
A citizen mentioned something about tearing bleeding strips, so herewith:

I think, at this point, we can forget about the biography, and the position papers, and the oratory, stop listening to the music, and start listening to the lyrics. First came Obama's infamous dogwhistle to the Village that put Social Security in play, a right wing talking point. Then there was calling unions "special interests", a right wing talking point. Then there was tax cuts as a panacea, a right wing talking point. Meanwhile, the Oborg consistently leverage right wing talking points like "trial lawyers" to trash Edwards, not to mention Hillary Hatred, all the while explaining what Obama "really means," and airily denying it all. Then there was the trashing of Gore. And finally we've got the infamous Florida brochure, where Obama encourages Republicans to become "Obamacrats" just for one day to vote for him, and then re-up as Republicans again. (Way to party build, there, guy.) Obama is a highly skilled politician and a Harvard-schooled lawyer. None of this can be accidental.

Hope I'm not violating OL policy by pasting huge slabs of my own, er, oratory...

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Get a Clue (2.00 / 2)
This whole "win the label" battle (who is most liberal according to a bunch of self-proclaimed ideological purists who were absent when they taught Government 101) is a prescription for electoral disaster.  The only positive, and you can't take any credit for it, is that the GOP faces the same purists only they reflect the far and farther right.

After watching the NOW segment on MD-4, I am even more convinced that you just don't get it.  This win the battle and lose elections approach is just plain dumb.  At its core is the fallacy that America best runs on extreme (one or the other).  The core of our political society is the compromise you disdain.  America isn't about the whole loaf (of course that means the other extreme is in the no loaf camp).

Frankly, you and your movement demonstrate an arrogance that you can't back up in your political knowledge or won/loss record.  Wow, going after Democrats -- perhaps you see it as gutsy and heroic.  Go take out some Republicans and show you can actually get something done.  But you can't because you do not have a political message that can win general elections.  Yeah, you might scare some spineless Democrats who quake in their boots at the thought of actually standing up for a political process that focuses on getting things done and governing from a place closer to the center.

What does this have to do with Obama and Reagan?  Well what Obama said about Reagan wasn't bad.  Not only was it not bad, it was accurate.  But if you come from the perspective I outline above of course it was a capital offense.  Or if you're one of his opponents you're going to pounce of only to seize an opportunity that has media (and blogger) legs.

The simple fact is that to win the so called swing liberal block is to lose the White House.  And once in the White House, or Congress (in all but a few districts) for that matter, fealty to this bloc makes governance impossible.

So did Obama lose because of his remarks?  Maybe.  Good for him.

I will when you do. (4.00 / 2)
"This win the battle and lose elections approach is just plain dumb.  At its core is the fallacy that America best runs on extreme (one or the other)."

"Go take out some Republicans and show you can actually get something done.  But you can't because you do not have a political message that can win general elections."

I'm not going to copy & paste all of your idiotic remarks, because that would require me to duplicate your entire post. However, you undermine your credibility when you assert that the progressive policy positions favoured by the left (improved health care, education, the value of Social Security, the importance of energy sustainability, a more diplomatic foreign policy) constitute an 'extreme' which is not favoured by a majority of the American public. Numerous opinion polls have shown that they are.

Here's a clue - when two sides disagree, the correct answer is not necessarily in the middle. When confronted with a scientist who believes in global warming and a religious fundamentalist who does not, the correct solution is not to say, "Well, I guess this means it's happening, but not the extent that the scientist claims." Because the latest developments on the climate field suggest that the scientists were actually too *conservative* with their warming estimates.

When confronted with the political left and the political right in the U.S.A., who is to say that the correct policy position is not even further to the left (or right?). The political discourse in Western Europe, for example, is far to the left of the political discourse in the States (even the Tories in the UK support the National Health Service). From their perspective, the Democrats would be right-of-center. Yet from your perspective, it is always better for the political left to pander to the other side.

[ Parent ]
sticks and stones (0.00 / 0)
Easy pardner.  Relax. 

Instead of preparing to talk while someone else is talking, why not try actually listening (in this case reading and comprehending)?

If you had actually read and comprehended, you'd find that my post is not about specific policies or "correct" policy positions.  While I did not mention progressive policy positions, the ones you did are hardly the sole province of progressives anyway.

My post is about the application of labels and that pinning labels, especially those that represent more of an extreme, are counterproductive to actually winning elections.  My post is about refraining from fragging our own candidates and instead focus on winning elections.

[ Parent ]
So, Obama can frag the base... (0.00 / 0)
... and we're supposed to lay back and enjoy it, because we'll all get Unity Ponies after the general?

I don't think so.

I keep hearing the Obama Fan Base run that "winning elections by appealing to low information voters" but I don't buy it. A week is a long time in politics, let alone the months 'til November, and for a long, long time, Edwards was the most competitive in the polling. Would you have gone with Edwards, then, if polls ere the most important? I doubt it... Because the reading comprehension riff is a standard OFB putdown....

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
You're missing the point (0.00 / 0)
The point is whether or not these rightward nods matter.  A claim has been made that they do, that the pressure will be on a winning candidate to move right, and the further right you start, the harder it will be to accomplish progressive things.

Can you cite a single instance (besides Roosevelt and Lincoln, which I have argued above, are special cases that don't apply here) of a president governing to the left of where he ran?  You seem to assume that a president can do whatever he wants once elected; others disagree.

That's the point.  The point is not to be the furthest left possible.  That's a straw man.  If we believed that, we'd be for Kucinich.

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

[ Parent ]
What did Obama Lose? (0.00 / 0)
In a primary race, the candidate with the most DELEGATES wins.

According to the Hillary-owned Nevada state dems, Obama is positioned to win the most national delegates in Nevada.

He also positioned himself well to take the state in a general election, as he always does, by drawing in more support in rural areas with independents and moderate republicans.

What did Obama lose?

Exit Polls? (0.00 / 0)
I thought the exit polls were a little screwy?  Have they been reweighed to more accurately reflect the outcome?

Saying that Obama lost Liberals (0.00 / 0)
because of his comments about Reagan

is like saying:

Stoller doesn't like Obama because he's black.

Huge logical fallacies.  Can't prove either one.

But what fun it is to throw these things out to see who bites, eh Matt?

Actually, (4.00 / 1)
The argument, put in logical terms, is:

Liberals dislike Reagan.
Obama praised Reagan.
Therefore, Obama lost the support of liberals who dislike Reagan.

You could dispute each premise, but there isn't a fallacy, properly speaking, in this chain of logic.

Don't throw around terms like 'logical fallacies' just because they sound impressive when you don't know what they mean.

[ Parent ]
Actually, it is a fallacy (0.00 / 0)
and it's called post hoc, or false cause.  Assuming that because B comes after A, that A is the cause of B, is a fallacy.

Don't act like some logic expert when you aren't.

[ Parent ]
All Fallacies Are Not Created Equal (0.00 / 0)
Blaming Stollers fictional, counterfactual racism is hardly the same thing as making a causal argument about something that we'll, unfortunately, never have the data to confirm.

Some post hoc arguments are inherently far more plausible than others.  The once that are most plausible tend to be the ones we check out first.  That's because there's a significant distinction between sound logic and sound hueristics.

The counterfactual Stoller remark was neither sound logic nor sound hueristics.

"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 ]
Sorry You Didn't Get It (0.00 / 0)
I wasn't suggesting that Stoller is a racist, just using an eye-catching line (sort of like Stoller's headline) to make the same point that you did--he doesn't have the data to prove his point.

[ Parent ]
Recognizing sound strategy (0.00 / 0)
How did Obama praise Reagan?

If he praised anything, he praised sound political strategy. 

He recognized that Reagan did change this country...and if you see or read the whole thing...not in a better way, not in the way Obama is trying to, but he did change it.

To not recognize that is to ignore history, something Obama is far less likely to do than those that prefer to work within Reagan's construct that this country is conservative in it's soul.

75% thinks this country is headed in the wrong direction.  Congress has a lower approval rating than Bush.

Can we not recognize the time is ripe for another coalition to be formed?  This time a coalition based in true American values rather than the construct of Reagan?

If Obama recognizes that and is willing to take on the political machines on both sides that got us where we are, is he wrong?

[ Parent ]
Very liberal (0.00 / 0)
Matt, it might be instructive to study what very liberal, or even somewhat liberal means in Nevada as opposed to the coasts, big cities.

Liberal as compared to what?  Their neighbors?  San Francisco?

Nevada is west simply because it's west of the Mississippi.  What appears as liberal in Vegas and Reno is largely libertarian...the Tahoe area may be more west coast type liberal or could be younger, wealthier Republican.  There's a huge area of the rest of the state that is very much MidWest conservative as compared to what most folks consider liberal.

Those last voters could very possibly have gone for Clinton since in reality she is very much centrist/right of center on most things.

Numbers are funny things.  As is declaring Clinton to the left of Obama without demonstrating how you could possibly come to that conclusion if you look at their records.

His comments about how he'd run the Presidency hurt more (0.00 / 0)
That is my opinion.

I think a lot of Americans would be mortified by the idea of a young President who doesn't think it is his job to do the day to day stuff and dot the I's and cross the T's.  Obama says he would be busy doing the vision thing.

After Bush 43 that is F'in scary.

I can't picture a Barack Obama "Brownie" moment in my mind.

For people who are really paying attention to this race.  This about how many times Obama has claimed ignorance and blamed a junior staffer.  Again after Bush is this what we want?

To Clarify (0.00 / 0)
I CAN picture a Barack "Brownie" moment in my mind.

Phone rang, got distrac ....

[ Parent ]
Perplexing (0.00 / 0)
I am seriously perplexed how folks come to this.  I get the aversion to another GW mess, but how did Obama's remarks that he needs people to keep track of papers, schedules even close to the Brownie fiasco?

Ever worked in a large corporation?  Ever strolled by the door of the CEOs' office or a Board Meeting?  Did you see the army of folks stationed outside those doors that take care of the detail going on inside the doors?

Looking at campaign screw ups is a good point.  I haven't heard much from Edwards' direction (that may be the media blackout) but there have been several weeks of Clinton having to go back and *explain* and/or apologize for staffers/underlings.

The campaigns are huge *corporations*...the government is vastly larger.  There will inevitably be minor screw ups in any giant organization and it's silly to expect there not to be. 

Bush wasn't disorganized...he was disinterested.

[ Parent ]
What comment was that? (0.00 / 0)
I'm missing the context here. Thanks.

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]

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