The Corroded Corruption at the Heart of Moving to the Center

by: Matt Stoller

Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 13:18


There are several articles today on Obama moving to the center.  In the LA Times, Obama is shifting toward the center, several pundits discussed Obama's recent political triangulating.  Will Marshall of the DLC, Thomas Mann at the Brookings Institution, and Matt Bennett of Third Way all effusively praise Obama's repudiation of his own earlier statements on NAFTA and FISA.  Marshall noted that "I've been struck by the speed and decisiveness of his move to the center."  Indeed.  Bennett commented that Obama is "doing all he can to make sure people know he would govern as a post-partisan moderate."

I won't delve into the DLC, as that terrain has been well-trod.  To give some frame of reference on Third Way and Matt Bennett, it's worth noting that Bennett destroyed the Wes Clark campaign in 2004 as communications director, was pivotal in the loss to the NRA in his role in the triangulating Americans for Gun Safety (whose founding billionaire donor was indicted for embezzlement) around 2000, and works for an organization, Third Way, whose chairman strongly pushed the privatization of Social Security from within the Democratic Party in 2005.  Third Way is funded by executives by all the top Wall Street firm in business: Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and a variety of private investment, hedge fund, and private equity shops.

Bennett is such a loser and a failure that he got his start in politics working as an advance man for Michael Dukakis, and he "keeps the jumpsuit from the tank moment in his closet as a souvenir."  Bennett is truly a man dedicated to ensuring that the status quo remains as is, and he's paid well by powerful financial interests to be such a loser.  

The other article is in the Washington Post, and it is titled 'In Campaign, One Man's Pragmatism Is Another's Flip-Flopping'.  In this article, it's Tom Daschle who puts out the moderate credentialing argument.

"Those who accomplish the most are those who don't make the perfect the enemy of the good," said former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle, a key Obama supporter. "Barack is a pragmatist. In that sense, he has a larger vision but oftentimes knows that we can't get there with one legislative effort. When these occasions arise, he is willing to accept progress, even marginal gain, as a step toward that vision."

Tom Daschle, a former Senate Majority leader, is widely liked in DC.  He's considered a lovely man, wise and with a wide network of supporters and loyalists that were fighting the Clinton wing of the party in the 1990s through Congress.  Of course, Daschle is also known as a key supporter of the Iraq war, co-sponsoring and jamming through the Iraq War resolution, undercutting Joe Biden's attempt to push a different resolution requiring UN authorization before the President was authorized to use force.  It's possible to see this as just a bad political decision, but there's more behind the scenes.

His wife, Linda Daschle is a lobbyist for pharmaceutical industries, aerospace, and defense contractors.  During her husband's time as a key political leader within the Democratic Party, she pledged to remain independent of her husband's work, but that kind of conflict of interest, with a Senate Majority leader married to a defense contracting lobbyist is pretty severe.  

It's quite obvious that Daschle didn't take the conflict of interest very seriously, as he did very well after leaving the Senate in 2004, joining K Street law firm Alston and Bird to become a special advisor paid in the neighborhood of a million dollars a year to help in "the law firm's legislative and public policy group."  He was recruited by another Alston and Bird's special advisor, Republican Presidential candidate Bob Dole.  Daschle was an ally of corporate interests in Congress, literally married to them in fact.  And outside of Congress, he reaped a rich reward.

The kicker of course, is that Alston and Bird did work lobbying on immunity for telecoms on FISA, even serving as a recruitment bed for the McCain campaign.  And that's what is really going on.  Bribery.  Tom Daschle goes in the Washington Post and makes the argument that Obama is being pragmatic by caving to big business on a core issue of civil liberties.  He preaches the virtues of bipartisanship while working at a firm whose McCain supporting lawyers also support immunity for telecom interests.  Meanwhile, Daschle and his wife are and did make enormous sums of money lobbying for the firms benefiting from Obama's so-called pragmatism.  It's a sick, perverted, corroded system whereby perpetual political losers like Matt Bennett and affable status quo lobbyists like Tom Daschle push their agenda through journalists like Jonathan Weisman, without any disclosure whatsoever about possible conflicts of interest.  And it's bipartisan and flows through the leadership of both parties.

Tom Daschle is going to end up in a powerful position within the Obama administration, either head of HHS or Chief of Staff.  He's going to use the millions he and his wife have made to throw parties, give gifts, have a wonderful life, go to important conferences like Davos, and generally preach in favor of 'moderation' and 'bipartisanship'.  What's important here is that we on OpenLeft and in the blogs in general be educated about who these people really are.  Tom Daschle's belief is that moderation and moving to the center is pragmatic, and it is.  Or at least it is for Tom Daschle.  How else would he make a million dollars a year with his friend Bob Dole?

Matt Stoller :: The Corroded Corruption at the Heart of Moving to the Center

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

Has there ever been a Senate Majority Leader that did not... (0.00 / 0)
"retire", make millions as a lobbyist and write high minded columns about bipartisanship?

I think Mitchell, Daschle & Dole all qualify.  Lott too, I'm sure he's got an Op-Ed drafted by some intern about bipartisanship.

Lyndon Johnson became President, that doesn't count.  Mike Mansfield?  Byrd is still in the Senate (hooray for medical science!).  I'm sure I'm missing somebody but it seems to be a very well trod path.  

Does any Congressional ever "retire" and become more partisan?


sure (4.00 / 1)
Yes there are people who do this, but they tend to be written out of history.

[ Parent ]
Thank you, Matt, for (0.00 / 0)
speaking the truth in an environment that now attempts to shut down any progressive voices in favor of orthodoxy based on a person.  Please keep speaking up.  

[ Parent ]
George Mitchell (4.00 / 3)
He preceded Daschle.  He retired and went into peacemaking (Ireland, among other things).  And investigating baseball.

Mansfield was Ambassador to Japan for 11 years after stepping down as Majority Leader in favor of Byrd, under Presidents of both parties. He and then Mitchell probably did the most good after retiring.

Byrd stayed in the Senate--he was majority leader twice, as was Dole. Dole stayed after his first stint, then ran for Pres then went on to endorse Viagra.   After Byrd came Howard Baker, when the Dems lost, then Dole, then Byrd again when the Dems took over, then Mitchell, then Dole again, then Daschle, then Lott, I believe, then Frist and McConnell.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.


[ Parent ]
So moving to the center necessitates a conflict of interest? (4.00 / 1)
Even if Daschle can be labeled corrupt, I don't see why moving to the center implies corruption.  

Is it your view that post-partisanship implies working hand in hand with lobbyists and corporate interests?


yes (4.00 / 5)
Post-partisanship is simply a cover for lobbyists and power elites in both parties cooperating to rob us.

[ Parent ]
Call me naive (4.00 / 3)
But I don't think post-partisanship is merely a cover, even if it does happen to serve the interests of the power elites.

There's a reason post-partisanship has an appeal; many people, within and outside of the beltway, genuinely believe that lowering the temperature can facilitate solutions, and that the "centrist" positions are reasonable. Frankly, I cannot so quickly discount the possibility that Obama is sincere when he promotes a post-partisan landscape.  


[ Parent ]
Given something on the order of 30% of people self-identify (0.00 / 0)
as independents, of course there's a political pragmatism there too. There's no reason to believe that the two would be mutually exclusive.
        But there's been this political myth built around centrism, that somehow it facilitates change. When, in fact, centrism in many more ways advocates for the status quo.
      The center  shifts, which it wouldn't do if it sought to enact any consistent set of goals, i.e. the stuff that constitutes change. If one lacks a set of goals, then one is unlikely to achieve them, no?

[ Parent ]
Given something on the order of 30% of people self-identify (0.00 / 0)
as independents, of course there's a political pragmatism there too. There's no reason to believe that the two would be mutually exclusive.
        But there's been this political myth built around centrism, that somehow it facilitates change. When, in fact, centrism in many more ways advocates for the status quo.
      The center  shifts, which it wouldn't do if it sought to enact any consistent set of goals, i.e. the stuff that constitutes change. If one lacks a set of goals, then one is unlikely to achieve them, no?

[ Parent ]
Given something on the order of 30% of people self-identify (0.00 / 0)
as independents, of course there's a political pragmatism there too. There's no reason to believe that the two would be mutually exclusive.
        But there's been this political myth built around centrism, that somehow it facilitates change. When, in fact, centrism in many more ways advocates for the status quo.
      The center  shifts, which it wouldn't do if it sought to enact any consistent set of goals, i.e. the stuff that constitutes change. If one lacks a set of goals, then one is unlikely to achieve them, no?

[ Parent ]
Post-partisanship (0.00 / 0)
Was invented by Republicans trying to move to the left to survive in this political climate. Exhibit A: Arnold Schwarzenneger, who ran his first campaign on pragmatic post-partisanship before there was such a phrase. Turned out his particular brand of pragmatism was inept, so he pulled "post-partisan" out of his ass for his re-elect and defined it as abandoning the far right of the GOP and working with Dems on Dem issues to accomplish Dem goals. It is, by its nature, a validation of a strong stance on progressive principles, because it's forced Republicans to move left.

I have a hard time seeing this as an indication that Dems should moderate as opposed to stand even more firm. Thus, it's just a convenient new buzzword because the DLC has trashed so many others that mean the same thing when coming from Dems.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.


[ Parent ]
This is a little harsh. (0.00 / 0)
As someone who has observed the political scene for the past 55 or more years, since I was a child in a very political family, I'd say the situation is more complex. There have always been factions in the Congress, often regional as much as ideological.  There have been people who were "partisans" for their party, and those who were at least as much devoted to their regional faction (think the Southern conservatives) or to their ideology or principles, at times putting it above Party. There have been corrupt whores and people who just did what they thought was necessary to get elected to stay in power, sometimes so they could do what they believed was good.  Some moved a great deal--Southerners who distinguished themselves on civil rights or the Vietnam War, for example.  Things generally could only get done with bipartisan coalitions, often shifting coalitions, because of the factions.  

Around the time of the realignment of the parties that put the Southern Dems in the GOP and lost the GOP many of its liberals, and the influx of money and technology into politics, Jesse Helms introduced a particularly mean and nasty form of politics to the Senate, and Gingrich and DeLay later did it in the House.  This is what might be called hyperpartisanship. Helms was the one who started repeatedly introducing bills for the sole purpose of making Dems vote against them, then using those votes, and the tremendous amounts of money he raised, to defeat them.  Other people got defeated for upsetting one or more factions as well--Charles Percy deposed Paul Douglas in IL over the backlash against open hpusing, then Percy was himself beaten by allies of Israel who supported Paul Simon.  It got harder and harder to get things done.  We really are now at a point where we can;t even address issues likeglobal warming and energy policy, let alone ecomnomic isuses like job losses and income inequality--in fact, large portions of the country don't even think the gov't has any role in those issues.  Meanwhile, the problems have just exploded and the country is really a much less pleasant place to live.  It is hard to see progress on very many fronts.  But sometimes the darkest hour is just before the dawn, and I do see the pendulum beginning to swing our way with the discrediting of the GOP and with a new spirit of pragmatism.

I welcome both because I personally do not think our democracy can survive under the present kind of hyperpartisanship.  I think we have to have a more pragmatic, cooperative approach, and get back to really investigating and trying to solve problems, instead of treating every single issue as a chance to take a stand to make a point or to get more votes and money for the Party.  From my perspective, there is a difference between drawing contrasts with the other party (good) and making every single issue a fight to the death with no compromise possible bad).  

We need to be a little more sophisticated about this and know when and where to take stands, and realize that it is different for different people.  But what is appropriate for the people agitating as issue advocates is not necessarily what has to be done by the people of good will inside the government making and implementing policy.  They aren't all whores and thieves, and better we have Dems doing it than GOPers who don;t care about government at all.  Many of the people working inside the system are trying hard to balance interests and move things along incrementally.  I do think that the desire for ever more  money and power, because they are based on rank selfishness, are what screws things up.  But not every compromise is a sell-out.  Sometimes there are just scarce resources that have to be allocated or competing visions of the public good. It takes some experience to see which is which, sometimes inside knowledge.  And in 2009 we are (hopefully) going to have a Dem presdient and a much weakened GOP opposition--maybe we have an 8 vote margin in the Senate and an 80 vote margin in the House, and a bunch of opponents who have been whipped in two straight elections, seeing many of their colleagues dumped in the garbage.  And some very urgent problems--no ice at the North Pole this summer?  You have to understand that is going to make things different next year than what you who are under 30 or 35 (and I'm not trying to be partronizing here) have experienced firsthand.  It can be different and it will be, because things never stay the same for long.

 

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.


[ Parent ]
But where .. (4.00 / 1)
are you going to find the Rockefeller Republicans? .. the ones that aren't mean spirited .. or whatever you want to call it ... look at the Republican leadership now ... just a bunch of WATB's and it's not getting any better

[ Parent ]
More a problem in the Senate (4.00 / 1)
If we win 25 House seats (certainly reasonable) we will have an 80-vote majority in the House.  That will get a lot of stuff passed, and there will be some R's who cross over out of self-preservation.  Their leadership is pretty bad, but it will be harder to hold the line among fewer survivors, plus Bush isn't there to command loyalty.

I worry more about the Senate, the Dems like Baucus as much as the GOP.  If McConnell loses, it would be easier.  Plus, they have another big class up next year (19 R's vs 15 D's), the ones elected in 2004.  Some like Bunning, Burr, DeMint, Voinovich and Thune are vulnerable, and some of them, plus Gregg, McCain and Specter, probably wouldn't run again.  Most of ours are pretty solid, having won in 2004.  

I think that Obama should not so much negotiate with the GOP leadership as isolate them if they won't deal and pick off enough members to make things seem bipartisan.  Kind of the reverse of what the GOP did, but it would be more pragmatic and popular legislation to begin with.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.


[ Parent ]
Smell the Change-iness! (4.00 / 1)
Can we continue business-as-usual? Yes we can.

miasmo.com

[ Parent ]
Obama isn't moving anywhere (4.00 / 3)
He has been making these kinds of sounds since December 2007

earlier (4.00 / 4)
Obama has always been like this, actually, but my point is that he is overtly lied on NAFTA and FISA, and the justification is coming from people that are well-compensated for making self-serving arguments about 'the center'.

[ Parent ]
It would of helped (0.00 / 0)
if you had told us this earlier, like during the primary when it would have done some good...

[ Parent ]
It was there to see to all (4.00 / 1)
who looked.  Edwards partisans said it, nicely, on Daily Kos and other blogs.  Matt is right on this.    

[ Parent ]
He has always been like this (4.00 / 2)
If you do a deep structural analysis of both his speech at the convention in 2004 and the Daily Kos diary of 2005...it's there...You have to look but it sticks out.

A momorable phrase...He was "reticent" to vote against Roberts for Chief Justice.  Interesting word choice....like he was doing it against his own and better judgement.  And he was; he would have voted for Roberts if an aide had not warned him that such a vote would make running for presidient very hard.

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


[ Parent ]
Ted Kennedy is the exception (4.00 / 4)
Just to continue a bit from my comment above, one Congressional who has always stuck to his principles is Ted Kennedy.  

Sure, he has never needed the money.  But just imagine, he could have retired any time, sailed whenever he wanted and doubled the family fortune as a wise old lobbyist or "counsel" working about an hour a week with summers off.  He didn't go that route.  That is one reason why he is great.  Kennedy has WORKED with Republicans but he has never adopted the bipartisan mantra.


Well, Kennedy Has A Sense of Personal Responsibility (4.00 / 4)
which makes him pretty much incomprehensible to the political class.

It's really simple.  Both his brothers were assasinated, and he felt that he had an obligation to both of them, and the people they touched, never to give up.  Sure he has his share of personal demons and then some.  Who wouldn't in his shoes?  But that sense of obligation and responsibility?  That only exists as playacting in Versailles.

You know, fiction.

"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 it was made very clear to him in 1980 (4.00 / 1)
That, because of Chappaquidick, he could never be President.  Liberated from that desire, he really became a lion in the Senate.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Perfect point (4.00 / 1)
Liberated from that desire, he really became a lion in the Senate.

Yes, absolutely.  Do not underestimate the inexorable draw of most members of Congress to the presidency (or at least presidential politics, as in the case of Daschle and others) as a motivating factor in most everything they do.  Freed from that, as Mimi points out with reference to Senator Kennedy, they do whatever they want.


[ Parent ]
Speaking of which, I'm looking forward to seeing (4.00 / 1)
what Clinton does, now.

If she's half the woman her partisans think she is, her best days are yet to come.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Damage Control (4.00 / 5)
well this quite interesting to see these articles coming out. seems to suggest that they are running these as damage control on Obams' support of FISA and immunity. and that must mean the grassroots anger over this is having some effect. kinda a good sign.

nice write up Matt on the connections between these players.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare


As in, - the end of the fundraising quarter is approaching and numbers (0.00 / 0)
may not be where they thought they should be. This provides a sort of 'cover' for explaining maybe weaker numbers away.

[ Parent ]
Great piece (4.00 / 3)
Excellent stuff. Way to tie all of the lobbying connections on this one.  

Indeed (4.00 / 5)
This is one of the better graphs I've seen from Matt.

The kicker of course, is that Alston and Bird did work lobbying on immunity for telecoms on FISA, even serving as a recruitment bed for the McCain campaign.  And that's what is really going on.  Bribery.  Tom Daschle goes in the Washington Post and makes the argument that Obama is being pragmatic by caving to big business on a core issue of civil liberties.  He preaches the virtues of bipartisanship while working at a firm whose McCain supporting lawyers also support immunity for telecom interests.  Meanwhile, Daschle and his wife are and did make enormous sums of money lobbying for the firms benefiting from Obama's so-called pragmatism.  It's a sick, perverted, corroded system whereby perpetual political losers like Matt Bennett and affable status quo lobbyists like Tom Daschle push their agenda through journalists like Jonathan Weisman, without any disclosure whatsoever about possible conflicts of interest.  And it's bipartisan and flows through the leadership of both parties.

I think we get caught up too often on what messages pols are trying to send, frames and whatnot, forgetting to simply follow the money.


[ Parent ]
What a lost opportunity.... to have so many want to vote for (4.00 / 5)
 a candidate who promises "Change We Can Believe In" to result in "I'm voting against John McCain"

And it has taken less than one month to reach this point.


Was it somehow a secret that Obama (0.00 / 0)
is a pragmatic politician willing to buck liberal orthodoxy? I didn't miss it. I grant that he lied about NAFTA; I suspected so at the time.

For the record, I'm very disappointed in Obama over FISA but in no way am I now voting against McCain rather than for Obama anymore.

Clinton turned out to be a relatively great president; I was happy to support him despite his public stances during the campaign -- the Arkansas execution, 'I didn't inhale', etc.


[ Parent ]
Decisive Leadership, No? (4.00 / 1)
Only without the leadership part.

(It was just getting in the way, anyway.)

"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 ]
If we define corruption as (0.00 / 0)
'the abuse of public power for private gain', which is a commonly accepted definition in the anti-corruption community and, in broad terms, the subject of my dissertation, then this type of apparently legal behavior would qualify.

Just FYI in case anyone was wondering...


Corruption Is The Process of Undermining The Public Good (4.00 / 4)
Breaking the law for private gain is petty corruption.  It's for amatures.

Making the law subvert the common good for private gain is what the pros do.

"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 don't entirely disagree (0.00 / 0)
It's not about law breaking per se but rather about abusing public power and the more public power one has, the greater the potential abuses.

That's why the U.S. consistently ranks worse than it should in corruption rankings, given its generally high institutional capabilities and level of development.

We've got almost no low and mid-level corruption here so something's bringing our scores down...we're very similar to France in this way.

Having said that, breaking the law for private gain isn't petty corruption if it's done at a high-level. When the head of state of an underdeveloped nation absconds in a helicopter with suitcases full of money looted from the public treasury, he most certainly has 'broken the law for private gain' in a way that is decidedly not petty.

I'm just sayin'...


[ Parent ]
Corruption As Duplicitous Exclusion (4.00 / 1)
In a democracy, it's not just about laws made to benefit private interests. Even larger is the tendency to separate the governed from their government and the process of governing itself.

The recent FISA bill is a textbook example of this. If we put aside honest disagreements of principle, values or ideology and just look coldly at how the bill went through, we see nothing but lying and obfuscation from the supporters of the bill. Consider Hoyer's denial's about immunity even the day before the bill went to the floor. They knew people had every reason to be angry about it.

At no time have I seen anything resembling an honest (or even clear) argument for the bill or its contents. There simply is no rational or principled justification for telco immunity. So all we get are lies. Lies which will not be challenged by the presstitutes.

Indeed, even the "spineless capitulation" meme helps to cover for the implicit corruption of Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer et al, since it's better to be viewed as spineless capitulators than it is active participants in what amounts to an institutionalized cover-up. All that without even going into the 4th Amendment issues of the surveillance part of the bill!

When politicians lie about the decisions they make and the positions they take, they are effectively subverting the national discourse, making it as difficult as possible for voters to make rational decisions about issues. It is for this reason that I found Obama's deeply dishonest spin about supporting the FISA bill so upsetting. Ditto for Pelosi and Reid's pathetic stammering as well.

We can expand this to cover all the most important issues of our time: The Dems (I'm referring to leadership and the Bush Dogs here) unwillingness to deal with the occupation of Iraq; The Dems lack of willingness to deal with AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming); the Dems lack of interest in Peak Oil and all that entails for our economy and standard of living; and so on. Anyone who thinks Net Neutrality will somehow survive this congress may want to think hard on that one. As much as I understand the institutional limitations on "getting anything done," you have to admit the silence on Capital Hill with respect to all these very serious problems is deafening.

For some reason, or set of reasons, there simply isn't an issue too big to ignore or reduce to petty organizational politics. We are ruled by small minded cynics who seem to think they can just muddle through all these issues and everything will somehow be OK.

Oops. I've run a bit long here (end diatribe)..... ;^)



"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
One of more annoying (4.00 / 6)
noises coming from the Obamapologists is that his move to the center is somehow different from the Clintons' move to the center, as if all the same moves and all the same justifications weren't on display 10 years ago when the DLC was riding high. And, of course, it was the corporate-sponsored triangulation that killed the DLC, and rather than recognize the obvious moral and political bankruptcy of the strategy, we're told by the Obamapologists to hold our tongues because in our hearts we know Obama is different. Well, I don't know it. A pol is what a pol does, finally.

Guns  (now opposes DC ban)
Trade (backing away from his anti-NAFTA rhetoric)
Taxes (saying he's open to cutting corporate taxes)
reform (public financing reversal)
civil liberties (broken promise on FISA)

Whether or not you agree with these moves, they represent at least 3 and perhaps 5 reversals, and you'd think that Obama would be a little protective of his image as a principled, straight-shooter. Make no mistake: the brand is in danger as he pleases the media with his quick and decisive move to the center. He's looking like an especially political pol, these days.

As for Daschle, his harmful role in the campaign has gone mostly unmentioned, but it's through him that Obama's claim to reform looks especially hollow.

Other K Street players working to build momentum for Obama are former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), a consultant for Alston & Bird; Broderick Johnson, president of Bryan Cave Strategies LLC; Mark Keam, the lead Democratic lobbyist at Verizon; Jimmy Williams, vice president of government affairs for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America; Thomas Walls, vice president of federal public affairs at McGuireWoods Consulting; and Francis Grab, senior manager at Washington Council Ernst & Young.

Lobbyists tend to be cautious creatures. Evidence that they are flocking to Obama's camp shows that his campaign has gained substantial momentum among the politically sophisticated.

Some of Obama's K Street boosters keep their support a secret to uphold Obama's image as a Washington outsider untainted by D.C.'s influence business.

http://thehill.com/leading-the...


interesting (4.00 / 1)
I hadn't seen that article.

[ Parent ]
It's Not The Same, David (4.00 / 1)
One of more annoying

noises coming from the Obamapologists is that his move to the center is somehow different from the Clintons' move to the center, as if all the same moves and all the same justifications weren't on display 10 years ago when the DLC was riding high.

You see, Obama draws significantly on Dukaka's "it's not about ideology, it's about competence" rationale.

Plus, Clinton ran a rather unabashedly economic populist campaign.  The betrayal didn't come until after he was elected.

So, you see, not at all alike.  (Then there's the stripes on the neck.  You really need to get you a field guide.)

"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 ]
nafta (0.00 / 0)
Clinton ran as a free trade Democrat, in 1992 Gephardt was the fair trade candidate.

[ Parent ]
IIRC, Clinton ran an anti-populist campaign (at least in part) (0.00 / 0)
He famously gave a pro-trade speech at a union hall during the primaries(or some such, going off memory here) and in one of the debates he gave a pro-trade answer to The China Question.

[ Parent ]
I'm a little confused (4.00 / 1)
by exactly what Clinton's economic message was during the campaign. Naomi Klein seems to think he didn't move stiffly right till after he was elected:

It was in the two and a half months between winning the 1992 election and being sworn into office that Bill Clinton did a U-turn on the economy. He had campaigned promising to revise NAFTA, adding labor and environmental provisions and to invest in social programs. But two weeks before his inauguration, he met with then-Goldman Sachs chief Robert Rubin, who convinced him of the urgency of embracing austerity and more liberalization. Rubin told PBS, "President Clinton actually made the decision before he stepped into the Oval Office, during the transition, on what was a dramatic change in economic policy."

http://www.thenation.com/doc/2...

But I seem to remember some definite triangulation on economic matters. In any case, there's not question that on  cultural issues--welfare and crime--he campaign from the right. We were told that it was oh-so-important that he preside over the human sacrifice of a labotomized black man.


[ Parent ]
My only quibble would be (0.00 / 0)
that you're not triangulating if you really believe it and I think free trade was an issue Clinton really believed in, Klein's argument notwithstanding.

[ Parent ]
Bob Rubin's influence (0.00 / 0)
As I recall, Clinton ran in 1992 when we were in or maybe jsut coming out ofd a recession.  He wanted to do a stimulus package.  Bob Rubin told him he couldn't piss off the bond traders but had to be "fiscally responsible."  He got burned on health care and trashed on gays in the military.  He lost some high-profile appointments.  He began triangulating at that point, harder after the GOP took Congress in 1994 and even harder to win in 1996.

Clinton didn't build the kind of bridges he needed with activists, activists took a vacation once the Dems were in, and there was no one much to pressure from the progressive side.  I think this experience is where Mike Lux's views come from.  And then, of course, there were those personal failings that consumed so much time at the end of his term.  Hopefully we have all learned something from the last 16 years.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.


[ Parent ]
What are you saying ... (4.00 / 2)
that by burning bridges with the activists .. Clinton doomed his own presidency? .. that people that should have been his allies didn't stick up for him?

[ Parent ]
Not burned (4.00 / 1)
I said he didn't BUILD bridges with activists--like he famously didn't build up the party in general.  Not so much that he burned them, he didn't build them.  And activists kind of slacked off after the fights with Reagan, and there weren't the big issues that would have attracted a new set of activists.  And Boomer activists didn't bring in and train a new generation.  So perhaps bridges didn't get built from either side is more accurate.  

Maybe I'm just projecting from my own experience, though.  But certainly the Right was building their machine and we weren't.  So there not only wasn't enough opposition to the GOP juggernaut, there also wasn't enthusiastic support for many of Clinton's (limited) initiatives.  Something similar happened with Carter, too.  After the battles with Nixon Liberals and Lefties relaxed a bit, but then geared up again to fight Reagan.

I think what several of us are saying is that we've learned you can't ever relax, unfortunately.  But at least there will be more victories with a Dem President.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.


[ Parent ]
You might add . . . (0.00 / 0)
his misleading statements about not taking money from lobbyists.  Maybe not a reversal, but it's interesting how many Obama supporters have been (wrongly) touting that Obama doesn't raise money through lobbyists.

http://www.commondreams.org/ar...


[ Parent ]
great post . . . (4.00 / 2)
in that Matt gets at the money, both personal and institutional, behind the centrist punditry.  

Of course, many of Obama's moves to the center move him out of the majority opinion polls (see FISA) but into the majority opinion on K Street.  It's a big step forward now that it's Daschle's K Street that we're fighting as opposed to Santorum's, but it's also a step backward to the time when Dems had enough congressional power to be their own corrupt establishment.  This makes 2008 onward less of a break with long-term politics, and more a corrective to the same old course and away from the Bush aberration.  Better, but nowhere near best.


Ayyehhhh.... (4.00 / 2)
...I know that's not a word, but it's how I feel about this malarkey...

Obama is not "rapidly moving to the center"... It's all media created BS.

He had a tough week.  The congress, consisting of all those superdelegates who put Obama over the top, out of some bizarre consternation, rammed this FISA bill through.  So, now he's stuck... Piss them off, and they might flip on you at the convention... Piss us off, and we stop working for him.  Not an easy choice.

Then the SCOTUS hands out some controversial verdicts... People do need to realize that banning execution for child rapists in this "to catch a predator" era is the extreme minority (albeit correct) decision.  That's why we have unelected judges decide these things.  Obama knew he was going to get tarred with the "look at the liberal justices that protect child molesters that Obama will appoint" talking point if he didn't say anything.  So, he throws 'em a bone that kills the potential willie horton ads in october.  Now, the discussion is finished... no attacks and no defenses.  The smear artists will have to find something else.  It's a meaningless pander that was very smart.  If Obama actually uses this case as a "litmus test" for any judges, I'll eat my hat!  There is no way that an AA candidate is going to actually pick out judges that are pro-death penalty!  C'mon!!!

His position on the firearms ruling is consistent with what he's said all primary season and is also consistent with the 2004 democratic platform.  In fact, his statement was a lot more "liberal" about it than I expected.

If you need any reassurance that he's still with us... two nights ago, the dominant AP headline was that Obama is going to fight for equality of gay people.  That's hardly a rightward lurch.

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


No, Obama is doing nothing different... (4.00 / 1)
from what he has done, if you look at his record and his sending out trial ballons via Canada and Scotland about trade and about Iraq, and lots of other signals.

Look at some of the votes he has missed in the Senate (and I'm not talking about those he's missed since he has been actively campaigning for POTUS - which he essentially started doing the day he set foot in the Senate). People who have been in love with him pooh-poohed the missed votes, the present votes, and some of his other questionable votes (even) because they were insignificant/didn't matter/weren't on substantive measures/were just being "pragmatic". There is NO SUCH THING as accidental with regard to these votes. I don't have my lists at the moment, but I do have them.

People tell us in ways direct and not who they are (beyond the image). Seems like somebodies missed the important cues.

And what about the 2005 Energy Bill where he voted to give subsidies to the oil/gas companies - specifically to be used for cleaner technologies - that (guess what!) the oil/gas companies didn't use as legislated (per hearings held in May, I believe).

Then there's the 2005 Class Action Fairness Act - a real gem of a business bill that he supported. Take a look at some of the money he received and those who supported THAT noxious bill).

Or, how about his sly move of voting "No" to a cap on credit card interest rates at 30% in the bankruptcy bill?

He has also been in bed with ADM and other midwestern ethanol producers (during his state senate time) and done pretty much whatever they have wanted re: corn subsidies - even though it has been apparent for some time that ethanol is energy inefficient vis-a-vis inputs for output and excessive use/misuse of prime agricultural land.

One of the other posters alluded to his ties to lobbyists of these companies and his connection to and with Tom Daschle, who (guess what!) lobbies on behalf of these same companies - although he says it really isn't lobbying. But because Tom Daschle says things in such nice ways and he's so affable and nice, surely he must be telling the truth.

Obama hasn't even bothered to vote for reproductive choice measures vis-a-vis military women and Medicaid recipients, for example. To be fair, Clinton has also missed some of these votes, but she has been far more consistently pro on these measures (and has actually sponsored/co-sponsored legislation on them).

Don't even get me started on his "speeches"/statements with regard to Iraq/war funding and his actual voting record; I've been down that path with most of the left on this and have gotten absolutely nowhere.

FTR: Clinton is many things, but she didn't support the 2005 Energy Bill, the Class Action Fairness Act; and she voted in favor of early amendments to set timetables for withdrawal from Iraq, has raised concerns (on the record) about free trade deals and their harm vis-a-vis worker's rights, human rights. She also was accused of voting for the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill by Obama and his surrogates, time and again. She DID NOT vote on this bill AND she voted "Yes" for a cap on credit card interest rates.

She also happens to be far more progressive on "core" progressive issues of civil rights, women's rights, worker's rights (also on the record and from my personal experience of her in the 90s on these issues).

All of this information is on the record and available. It has been available from day one of the campaign. I found it. Granted, it takes time and energy to research and pull together. But I'm (now) just an average jane citizen (you know, one of those old white racist women who supported Hillary Clinton - the candidate who will "do and say anything to get elected...")

Am I pissed-off? You bet! There is a d***ned good reason for it, too. All of this information was out there before Obama was crowned the Democratic nominee and was pointed out to the progressive blogosphere over and over again (a lot of it pointed out by "typical old white women racists" -as most of us have been labeled). So, the fact that much of what I (and others) had to say was dismissed, derided, and ignored actually makes me doubly mad because it felt an awful lot like we were being marginalized (again) because we are women, when we dared to question Obama's credibility and credentials.

As I noted before, now we (see above to fill in appropriate adjectives) are in the same boat with you. However, that doesn't mean I (or others who tried to point this out before) have to like it.

A couple of final thoughts: don't think for one second that Obama won't appoint justices/judges who favor the death penalty. What do you think his statement was on the SCOTUS decision to not execute child rapists? A(nother) misstatement that needs to be clarified?

And what about his pandering to Evangelicals? His "Committed Christian" flyers/mailers were something I'd expect of Mike Huckabee. Progressives ought to care about this, too, but I've heard nothing but crickets. We of all people should know the dangers inherent in this rightward-lean and religio-political melding ("Joshua Network" and the "Matthew 25" group).  

And the LGBT "support"? No. He was not the one to attend this event; it was Michelle. Think that was just a scheduling conflict? He has NEVER been recorded or seen publicly with LGBT groups/leaders. NEVER, minus one interview he did for one of the gay (men's) magazines way back when.

Come on. Give me a break and just admit it: You got taken.  


[ Parent ]
Daschle (4.00 / 2)
I know it's not very popular here to be defending corporate lobbyists, and given my politics it sure isn't something I've ever done much, but I have to say a few words on Daschle's behalf.
First is just a factual error in Matt's post: Gephardt was the one who undercut Biden's negotiations to pass a much tougher resolution, Daschle was very much on Biden's side on that.
The other is a more general point. Tom Daschle, in my experience with him on capitol hill, was one of the most decent and honorable, and yes, progressive Dem leaders that I have dealt with up there. If you actually look at the way he held that caucus together to stand up to Bush on a wide range of issues, it's actually pretty remarkable- I won't go into the details I personally know about here, but perhaps I should do a post about it someday, because it's mostly behind the scenes stuff that very few people know about.
And of course Obama's campaign chair is going to defend Obama on the decisions he's making. If he'd gone on the other way, he would have defended that, too, as he did when Obama took the earlier FISA decision.
There's a whole lot of allegations in Matt's post, and I'm not going to argue them point by point. The general topic of Democrats becoming corporate lobbyists is an important one, and I find myself somewhat more mixed on it than Matt. It's obviously something I haven't chosen to do myself, and I'm not a fan of Dems doing it, but I don't think it's all as black and white as Matt suggests. Some Dems, Daschle included, specifically won't lobby for companies and issues they don't like.
One final note: to go back to the debate from the other day, I still don't get the point of harsh attacks on Obama, and his campaign team, right now.  

Mike, do that post (4.00 / 1)
Perhaps more of us who have worked in government and seen it from the other side, in good times and bad, should discuss what it's like being ground by competing millstones and trying to get the best deal possible while being jerked around by, well, jerks in both parties.  A lot of it isn't pleasant, but if at least some progressive people aren't willing to do it, the field is left to the ideologues, hacks, thieves and whores.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Run that one by me again (4.00 / 1)
Do you mean to say when the House Minority Leader is a member of the majority party in the Senate, the House Minority Leader takes the lead in determining Senate policy on foreign affairs?    

[ Parent ]
Isn't that special (4.00 / 2)
Some Dems, Daschle included, specifically won't lobby for companies and issues they don't like.

No doubt the massive agribusiness companies he shills for like themselves too.


[ Parent ]
No Surprise (0.00 / 1)
We are making the same mistake that the Republican Party made in 2000 and 2004.   This fraudulent election is much, much, bigger than Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.  This is part II of the hijacking of the United States government and America itself.

George Bush and Barack Obama are identical.  Both are arrogant, inexperienced, simple-minded, egotistical politicians, selected for these very qualities, to acquire the office of the presidency.

Bush's family's name and Obama's personality disarmed/disarms their respective parties.  Dick Cheney represented the power behind the thrown for Bush while David Alexrod is Obama's puppet-master.

Real Republicans stood by paralyzed and, in disbelief, as neo-con named agents gutted and reformulated the party, the different branches of government, and the main stream media.  This was Part I of seizing control of the largest economy and the mightiest military on earth.

Part II is unfolding before our very eyes this election cycle inside the Democratic Party.  If these agents of global dominance succeed again, the American experience will have ended.

This isn't about race, or class, or party, or gender, or even generational; this is about co-opting our near perfect union for selfish gain.

Are there enough Democrats who will stand up and stop this hijacking of our party?

Even though I am a partisan, just look at the Republican Party and compare it to what it was eight years ago.  And, then, listen to long time Republicans who have been marginalized in their own party.  Can't you see the similarities?

If we fall for the obvious traps of race, gender, class, and so forth, instead of recognizing the real threat that's invading our party, the republic will change into the most toxic Corporatocracy humanly imaginable.

The last days of America: being brought to you by the Democratic Party.


What? (4.00 / 2)
"George Bush and Barack Obama are identical."  

There are lots of us out there who are all sorts of angry.  But that line is nothing short of crazy.  

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


[ Parent ]
Didn't read a word (4.00 / 1)
after this:
George Bush and Barack Obama are identical.
 

[ Parent ]
Well, they are . . . (0.00 / 0)
running on very similar messages: change the tone in Washington, bi-partisanship, Washington is broke, etc.  Conventional outsider rhetoric.

[ Parent ]
USER MENU

Open Left Campaigns

SEARCH

   

Advanced Search

QUICK HITS
STATE BLOGS
Powered by: SoapBlox