On Biden and Old Progressives

by: Matt Stoller

Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 17:12


Biden is what I call an 'old progressive', and he fits right in with the old progressives running the Obama campaign (and his coming administration).  He's a good pick for the campaign.  Biden's got a certain appeal to older white voters and working class voters that we in the new progressive movement don't really get.  He's not from our world, he was wrong on Iraq and the Bankruptcy Bill, and he's kind of a blowhard and dislikes the blogs (he blames us for the 'clean, articulate' controversy).  He's bad on the war on drugs, he subscribes to the 'antiwar left = not serious' concept, and he wants to keep residual troops in Iraq.  In other words, he's perfect for the Obama campaign, reinforcing their key frame of 'change, but not scary liberal change'.
Matt Stoller :: On Biden and Old Progressives

Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972 when TV was just coming into Senate races, and much of his most important political experience consists of a high-minded fight in the 1980s over Robert Bork and a middling performance during the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991.  As I've written (and Dana Goldstein and Ezra Klein have echoed with more detail and intelligence than I can muster), the Obama campaign is full of the Daschle-Gephardt-Biden axis of Democratic politics.  They see a Beltway consensus as a critical element of a moral political order, they respect journalists as a professional group of authoritative and trusted arbiters, they respect conservative populism but disrespect progressive populism, they believe in people who come from elite academic institutions or think tanks or have medals on their chests, and they generally seek a kind of tepid reformist agenda in which bombing other countries needs to be done in a smart way instead of avoided.  

Here, for instance, is Biden on the 'clean and articulate' gaffe.

At the end of the day, I think what happens is that people basically take a motion picture of their candidate and not a snapshot of their candidate. It's a little bit like the Barack comment. [Just as he was launching his presidential campaign in late January, Biden gave an interview in which he maladroitly referred to Obama as "articulate and bright and clean."]

Not a serious person in the press thought that I meant anything other than being complimentary. The good news is that I have a 34-year record on civil rights. Nobody, nobody could suggest that I was being prejudiced. But initially on the blogosphere, this was taken in a different context.

Note the use of the term 'serious' and the disbelief that the press could possibly have had any role in his comment spreading, or that there was anything offensive in what he said.  No, no, it was all misrepresentations from those nasty blogosphere people.  This fits nicely with Obama's bored affectation towards Dailykos in 2005, his scolding of the blogs during the Roberts hearing, and until this week his campaign's unwillingness to make character arguments about John McCain.  That is just not the right political order.  The good faith of the Republicans must be respected, the good faith of journalists must be assumed, the bad faith of the rabble is a given.

This is what old progressives think, and we disagree with them.  They aren't exactly political opponents, but they aren't exactly political allies.  I don't really have a firm grasp of the old progressive's agenda, but government transparency, lobbying restrictions and international alliances seem to be a big deal, legalized forms of corruption and preventing wars do not, sustained economic privilege and civil liberty violations are problems but not worth prioritizing, and the war on drugs and American empire are way off the table, thank you very much.

Biden's not a horrific pick, he's fine considering the choices.


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For Biden (4.00 / 2)
this caps off his career quite well. A guy that has spent the last 36 years as a Senator from one of the smallest states, commuting back and forth to Washington from Wilmington, losing a wife and a daughter, raising two sons while serving as a US Senator until he met his smart, sophisticated and beautiful wife Jill.  

I watched them in Springfield... (4.00 / 4)
And I'm fine with Biden.  They looked great together.  He was funny, tough, and down to earth.  I smiled watching him, but I doubt the McCain folks were smiling.  

The most important thing is that we WIN in November.  I believe Biden will help.  


You make some good points. (4.00 / 8)
A couple thoughts.  First, Biden is an old "progressive," but not part of the left in the Democratic Party.  

Second, this is the biggest weakness of the "new progressive movement":

Biden's got a certain appeal to older white voters and working class voters that we in the new progressive movement don't really get.  

The class nature of the new progressive movement holds it back.  I see it in the lack of a gut feel for working people.  Many in this new movement are upper middle class in class origin, and feel little connection to blue collar or pink collar workers.

So while I disagree with Biden on some issues related to American empire, in hus gut, he has a working class consiciousness that many in the "new progressive movement" will never have or understand.  Until they do, this
"new progressive movement" will stay in the margins.

In my view, we need alliances with a blue/green coalition that will grow with EFCA and with the coming environmental devestation and energy crises.  As part of a coalition, but certainly not the leading part of "vanguard," the "new progressive movement" has value.
 


It's aboout Patrick (0.00 / 0)
Patrick is a 70 year old retired union pipefitter who is catholic, irish, union and a Democrat.

He drinks at my old neighborhood bar in south St. Louis.

When I asked him what he thought of Obama, a steady stream of racial slurs and epithets poured from his mouth.

These people watch TV, eat meat, drink Budweiser and shop at Wal Mart.  

The "new progressive" movement will never reach them.

They have to die out like Stegosaurus.  

Until then we keep pushing new "Donna Edwards" candidates and wait for the backroom cigar chomping Democratic cocksuckers to die.


[ Parent ]
easy dude (4.00 / 1)
It is more than possible to not be racist while not having the benefit of a middle-class lifestyle.

Maybe that was a mean way to put it, but racism is dying. I think many of the older generation say things that younger people find a bit shocking (e.g., casual anti-Semitism) but don't really act on it.

Put another way: your drunken racist Irishman is sort of an outlier, and most "new progressives" (whatever that means) agree with me.


[ Parent ]
To somewhat agree with marko (4.00 / 1)
I think his racist old irish Democrat story is just one part of it. Some of these people are racists, others think young people are naive and "don't understand" because they have it easy, some see Obama as having "not earned" the right to be President, where Hillary has.

Where Biden helps is that he is cut from the cloth of the Democrats like the drunken Irishman from South St. Louis. He grew up in a poor family in a union area that probably had rampant racism and he's "earned" his way in the sense that older Democrats believe Hillary had. (and McCain for that matter). That's where he helps.  


[ Parent ]
how did Hillary earn it? (0.00 / 0)
That's what I don't understand.

An older-generation Democrat I know reasons that black men got the right to vote before women; therefore, it's only fair that a woman gets to be president before a black man. That doesn't make any sense to be either.


[ Parent ]
I don't understand it either (0.00 / 0)
but that's what they think.  

[ Parent ]
well right on the front page of this blog (0.00 / 0)
a woman said that black men got the vote forst so woman had to also stand behind the line and wait for their turn....and then the git would be handed to them.

It's odd but there was a hit song by Loggins and Messina....called You're a Rich Girl....it was based on a real person but that real person was a man not a woman...Loggins and Messina felt it played better if the song was about the usual target of "spoiled woman"  

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


[ Parent ]
But I Think The Original Formulation Is Simply Mistaken (4.00 / 5)
The disproportionately white and over-educated blogosphere is not the whole of the "new progressive movement" which is where this whole discussion got off the tracks.  Opposition to the Iraq War, for example, was always significantly higher in the black community, and Color of Change has become a potent new progressive voice that doesn't fit our narrowed demographic either.

It would simply have been more accurate to speak of the techie/blosophere facet of the new progressive movement.  Then I would have been much more okay with what was said.

"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 ]
Good point, Paul. (0.00 / 0)
I agree.

the techie/blosophere facet of the new progressive movement.


[ Parent ]
not really (0.00 / 0)
The class nature of the new progressive movement holds it back.  I see it in the lack of a gut feel for working people.  Many in this new movement are upper middle class in class origin, and feel little connection to blue collar or pink collar workers.

That's not true.  Young people are mostly economically marginalized, and they are a core of this new progressive movement.  


[ Parent ]
Class division (0.00 / 0)
I think the more accurate class division is between service workers and blue collar workers. Both groups are large and economically marginalized, but otherwise have very little in common. Service is young and expanding, blue collar is older and declining - which I suppose bodes well for new progressivism.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
I disagree. (4.00 / 2)
Where do you get that?  Which young people?  The creative class?

Generally, the core of the blogosphere are college educated folks.  

Look, this "movement" is a good thing, but if you ignore its class nature, then it likely will become self marginalizing once the Iraq war is over and Bush is out of office.  


[ Parent ]
Okay but (4.00 / 2)
Generally, the core of the blogosphere are college educated folks.  

That's not the same thing as upper class. It might have a tendency to mean middle/upper class background but "educated" doesn't necessarily mean you've won the American class game. If you're lucky it means you get a knowledge-worker job or something and you probably are pretty decently off. But there aren't that many of these jobs, and so for everyone else it means you're working at Wal-Mart or Subway or something and using your liberal arts degree to post to Deviantart.

I do think you have identified something interesting or important in that there is a difference in background between this group of blogosphere people and the "WORKING PEOPLE" you allude to, and there I think may be some sort of estrangement there that may be worth exploring, though I don't have any idea what it is. A better way of looking at it might be the difference, as Landstander puts it, between "blue collar" and service workers/creative class people. Another thing worth exploring as a source of division here might be that I don't think the labor movement has much relevance to the lives of these "blogosphere people" we're generalizing about here. The one thing knowledge workers and Wal-Mart employees have in common is they don't unionize (although for different reasons...)

The thing is though that the way you're phrasing this-- making it seem like the educated-y type people who are overrepresented in the blogosphere are all well off, or can be described as all belonging to the same "class", and the way you're phrasing this whether you mean it or not makes it sound like there's something wrong with it or there's kind of an OH YOU KIDS HAVE NEVER HAD IT ROUGH thing going on-- isn't really fair or representative, and you're going to get pushback from it.

(And as Paul notes elsewhere in the thread I don't think this educated-y thing is necessarily an aspect of the progressive movement you're judging, I think this is just a product of who we tend to see spending time on internet discussion sites, like blogs. I go on, I don't know, video game discussion sites or something and I see a lot of the same demographic.)


[ Parent ]
Re-reading what I wrote here (4.00 / 2)
I'm wondering if the division we really ought to be looking at here isn't class, but age/generation. I try to argue above that it seems like there is some group of people that are similar in background and blogosphere affinity, and that they're split between creative/engineering jobs [incidentally good jobs] and service-sector jobs [incidentally cruddy jobs]. Another thing that both sides of this creative/service split have in common is that these are the kinds of jobs the economy is moving toward, as all the normal jobs (jobs that can be unionized?) are being more and more rapidly outsourced to other countries. It seems like if so these are therefore probably the jobs that younger people would be more likely to occupy. So if we're identifying that there's some group of people that's overrepresented in the blogosphere, and we're noting that these people have some tendency to fall into certain employment classes, maybe when we talk about employment then employment is just serving as a proxy for age and generation.

...I don't know. Does any of this make any sense at all? I feel like I'm making way too many assumptions here.  


[ Parent ]
It's a fun discussion. (4.00 / 1)
I don't think the youth/old people distinction really works.  There still are class divisions.  But it's been interesting talking with you.

Take care.


[ Parent ]
Dude! (4.00 / 3)
I really look up to Openleft, but sometimes you guys TOTALLY miss the ball.

"Biden's got a certain appeal to older white voters and working class voters that we in the new progressive movement don't really get."

You generalize too much.  Maybe I should generalize a bit and say that "new progressives" are a bunch of eggheaded never worked a day in their lives pussies.  See how that doesn't work either.  

"He's not from our world, he was wrong on Iraq and the Bankruptcy Bill, and he's kind of a blowhard and dislikes the blogs (he blames us for the 'clean, articulate' controversy).  He's bad on the war on drugs, he subscribes to the 'antiwar left = not serious' concept, and he wants to keep residual troops in Iraq."

You just made the case why Biden doesn't belong in the campaign using his voting record, his militarism and his contempt for populism.  

I still want Biden as VP, because of REAL REASONS, like the MsM will actually like him.  As nihilistic as that is, it is true.  

Openleft, do what you do best!!!  Lay off the MsM like conjecture and posturing and stick to the fundementals of tracking and winning elections.  In this you are superstars.

Joe Klein could have written the above nonsense.


Maybe So, But (4.00 / 3)
Joke Line has been at this for decades.  Matt, OTOH, is quite open about how new he is to politics, and how much history he still has to learn, at the same time that he's not the least bit above getting out in the field and going door-to-door for Congressional challengers Joke Line probably never even heard of.

While I, too, think that Matt's missing something in this piece, the way he's going to grow is by doing, by making mistakes and learning from them.  Just like all the rest of us. Telling him to stay in a little box where he does his best work is recipe for stagnation--for him, for Open Left, and for the progressive movement in general.

People saying stupid things because they don't know better isn't the problem.  We all do that.  People not learning from their mistakes is the problem.

"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 nearly banned you (4.00 / 1)
Marko7,

After reading the pussy line, I nearly banned you.  Then I read the rest of your comment and realized you just misspoke.  I get your point, but please don't use sexist language.


[ Parent ]
He didn't misspeak (4.00 / 2)
It was rhetoric. "Pinko commies" would've worked just as well, I suppose, without offending anyone's delicate sensibilities?

Geez, knee-jerk PCism sticks in my craw.


[ Parent ]
Knee-jerk? (4.00 / 1)
There was little "knee-jerk" about Matt's comment. He was actually quite introspective and gave marko the benefit of the doubt. What do you want?

[ Parent ]
But sexist language doesn't stick in your craw? (0.00 / 0)
That's a pity.

John McCain thinks we haven't spent enough time in Iraq

[ Parent ]
Well I don't know (0.00 / 0)
Maybe I should generalize a bit and say that "new progressives" are a bunch of eggheaded never worked a day in their lives pussies.  See how that doesn't work either.  

It sounds to me that this is basically the same thing Tom Wells said, with the "The class nature of the new progressive movement holds it back.  I see it in the lack of a gut feel for working people.  Many in this new movement are upper middle class in class origin, and feel little connection to blue collar or pink collar workers.", it's just that Tom Wells didn't go out of his way to phrase everything nastily.

And in Tom Wells' non-nastified version I think this is probably a valid starting point for an observation someone could make about the new progressive movement (not trying to imply here it is an accurate observation).


[ Parent ]
Maybe it applies to some of the posters .. (4.00 / 1)
but surely not all .. and probably not to most of the commenters .. what would you consider "gut feel" for working people?  making it easier to join unions?  storm the Federal Reserve building to make Bernanke tame inflation(which is a tax on working people)?

[ Parent ]
Don't ask me (0.00 / 0)
Wasn't my comment. Maybe Tom Wells can clarify?

[ Parent ]
I wasn't asking you specifically .. (0.00 / 0)
yours just happened to be the comment I hit the reply button to .. sorry

[ Parent ]
I'm Missing The "Progressive" Part of the "Old Progressive" Here (0.00 / 0)
he was wrong on Iraq and the Bankruptcy Bill, and he's kind of a blowhard and dislikes the blogs (he blames us for the 'clean, articulate' controversy).  He's bad on the war on drugs, he subscribes to the 'antiwar left = not serious' concept, and he wants to keep residual troops in Iraq.

As I've tried to explain on various different occassions, the whole point of the term "progressive" coming into vogue in the late 1906s and 1970s is to claim a term not tarnished by the "Cold War liberals" who brought us Vietnam.  Those who may have opposed the war (because, in the end, virtually everyone did) but who retained the basic mindset ('antiwar left = not serious') were, by definition not part of this newly defined political grouping.  Ergo, Biden never was a progressive in this sense. He may have been a progressive in the early 20th-Century sense, but that's a whole different conversation.

What you're really referring to is simply "Democratic establishement", which in turn, over time, has absorbed a great deal of the no-longer-so-progressive remnants.  But Biden himself was not one of those who was absorbed.  He was on the side that was doing the absorbing.  This is not to say that he hasn't been on the right side of a number of battles.  It's just a matter of being clear about what terms mean.  Then, of course, the DLC came along and tried to poach the term in the later 1980s.  "Faux progressive" is a more accurate term for them, not "old progressive."

"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


he (4.00 / 2)
Two small examples - Biden stopped Bork and wrote the Violence Against Women Act.  He's not bereft of progressive credentials.

[ Parent ]
Nice (0.00 / 0)
It's nice to see that you actually know some good things about Biden as well.  It's unfortunate that you couldn't find the space to include them in your piece.

And considering all the bloviation and gnashing of teeth here at OpenLeft over FISA, don't you think it would have been fair to also point out that the "Old Progressive" voted against FISA?  

Biden voted NO on extending the PATRIOT Act's wiretap provision in 2005, although he did vote to reauthorize the original PATRIOT act in 2006. He also voted YES on preserving habeus corpus for Guantanamo detainees.  In 2007 Biden introduced the National Security with Justice Act, a bill that unfortunately died in committee. The legislation would have prohibited any U.S. officer or agent from torturing detainees.  

Biden doesn't have a perfect record in his many years of holding office, but it's certainly good.  To concentrate on the negative while ignoring the good is disingenuous at best.  I can get that kind of commentary at FOX.


[ Parent ]
Three Points (4.00 / 1)
First, these two examples both had a great deal of organzing oomph! behind them, and second, he was grooming himself to run for President.  His performance with Bork was in marked contrast with his double-dealing with Clarence Thomas, which was a despicable disgrace.

Third, these are not issues beyond the pale of corporate Cold War liberalism, updated for the Reagan/Bush era.  Sure, the outside groups pushing on them were primarily from the post-Vietnam progressive ranks, but that doesn't mean that Biden's alliance with them made him one of them.  This only shows that he was courting their support.

"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 is one of the oldest champions of (4.00 / 1)
Maine style clean elections, he seems mildly supportive of gay marriage "gay marriage is probably inevitable and that if marriage brings stability to gay couples, I don't know why we should be frightened of that", anti-DADT, is for a 80 below 1990 levels with 100 auction cap and trade, strong advocate of gun control, for progressive immigration reform, champion of rail and Amtrack (he's commuted from DC to DE on Amtrack for the last three decades), good on media reform.

He's also done plenty of bad things. He handled the Thomas hearings badly, voted for the war in the end, bankruptcy bill and crime issues. But overall Joe Biden is slightly to the left of the Democratic Party. But only slightly.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


[ Parent ]
Something very small I found interesting (0.00 / 0)
And I'm not really sure where best to point it out, but:

Both Biden and Obama have been constitutional law professors.


[ Parent ]
We probably got played a bit (4.00 / 5)

 Biden's probably about as good a pick as we could have expected from Obama. Someone like Evan Bayh or Chet Edwards would have been truly obnoxious, so Biden looks good in comparison. So yes, the Obama campaign probably manipulated the netroots a bit. That's fine; we're obviously significant enough to be worth manipulating. That's progress. :)

 But Biden has his virtues. He'll fight and attack McCain and whatever overprivileged stuffshirt he picks as his running mate. He has real appeal to blue-collar voters, which helps Obama in a demographic in which he's a bit shaky. And he helps reinforce what has suddenly become John McCain's biggest vulnerability -- hie economic elitism.

 I think we'll be OK with Biden. We might not effect the progressive change we want under an Obama administration, but we will not effect ANY change AT ALL under a McCain administration. If Biden helps Obama get in, then it will have been worth it. And then we can work from there.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


OK I got it!! (4.00 / 1)
Here is the reduction!!!

Obama can get into the country club unless an old, establishment white guy sponsors him.

Now we can play golf.


my voter contacts (4.00 / 6)
are mostly with middle-class and upper middle-class whites, so I can't speak to Biden's appeal to working-class voters.

Having talked with many voters who caucused for Biden or liked him enough to seriously consider caucusing for him, I think I do understand his appeal to older voters (I can only think of a handful of Biden caucus-goers I know of who were under 50).

He speaks confidently, forcefully and knowledgeably about the issues. Watch the footage from any of the Democratic debates last year. It's not just what he says, but his non-verbal cues convey confidence. I think this is more pronounced when you see him in person, because he makes good eye contact with members of a crowd, but it also comes across in some televised settings.

He uses an appropriate level of ridicule when speaking about Republicans. People laugh and remember what he said. It's risky to use humor in politics, because it can fall flat or look unprofessional, but Biden pulls it off most of the time.

If you'd been working in your chosen field for 30 or more years, you might also value someone with 30 plus years of experience. A lot of older Democrats are not looking for "change you can believe in." Old-fashioned progressive is fine by them.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


Change (4.00 / 4)
Yes, we all want change, but in very different ways. My grandmother wants change, and thanks to Biden she may now vote for Obama. But the 'change' she wants is for George Bush to stop wrecking America. Very different from the change I want, which is much broader and deeper - the kind of stuff grandparents usually aren't comfortable with.

I think Biden will really tap into the desire that Clinton-Democrats have for a return to stable, liberal governance. Obama himself promises much more than this, which is exactly why he excites youth voters and worries the middle-aged and older voters. What he will actually deliver is up for debate (though I get very tired of everyone proclaiming that they know how Obama will govern - you don't and I don't and, in all honesty, it will probably be based more on circumstance than anything else)

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


[ Parent ]
Biden is the kind of "liberal" (4.00 / 1)
who convinced many of us older folks that we needed to start calling ourselves "progressives." That said, I think he adds to the ticket.

We just all have to get used to the fact that Obama will be exactly as good a President as we make him be and no better.

Can it happen here?


Not mentioned much in this post... but wanted to say... (4.00 / 1)
About the whole "this isn't a reinforcing pick" and showing all the articles talking about Obama shoring up his FP "gap".

My question is, how bad would it be if he picked someone else and the articles instead focused on how Obama did NOT shore up his FP "gap"?  In other words, we'd be getting the same articles we're getting now, only worse.  The reason is because this is a perceived gap that Obama has... and it shows up in all the polling.  His job is, yes, to try and minimize that gap as much as possible, but picking a VP like Biden should at least make people who were a little hesitant about Obama a bit more comfortable with him.

All in all, I think he's a solid pick.  Would I have preferred a Feingold, Clark, Schweitzer, etc pick instead?  Probably... but they all have their deficits as well... no one is perfect.  Biden fits the bill just fine particularly for the "gaps" that the media insists Obama has, and he should make a good surrogate.  I can definitely get behind this ticket.


The Biden-Daschle-Gephardt axis isn't perfect (4.00 / 2)

 But it's infinitely preferable to the Lieberman-Feinstein-Hoyer axis.

 

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
True (4.00 / 1)
A poke in the ear beats a poke in the eye.

"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 ]
Strategically (0.00 / 0)
Strategically this may be the best choice. Maybe Clarke would be better for ideological reasons. But considering the uncomfortably close margin of this election (so far) it would have been foolish to pick someone like Schweitzer (who, thanks to the VPstakes, I have grown to love).

In retrospect, Warner still looks like the best of all possible choices. But we may all be better off with him in the Senate.

It's also noteworthy (yet mostly unmentioned) that Clinton now has a chance in 2016. Most of Obama's other short-listers would have ran given the opportunity. Biden almost certainly won't. Clinton and her die-hard fans should recognize and appreciate this.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


[ Parent ]
Clinton will be getting up there... (0.00 / 0)
This may have been her last chance.  I suppose she won't necessarily be too old... but she's almost there, and at the end of her first term she'd be as old as McCain is now (which we like to criticize).

[ Parent ]
No, actually (0.00 / 0)
She is what, 61 now? So she would be running at 69, a full 3 years younger than McCain. She would be about the same age as Reagan when he was first elected. Assuming she ages well and stays healthy (she has so far) she could run without any real age-based handicap. Women also live longer, a widely known fact, which may play into people's perception of her age.

McCain's problem isn't just age. It is that a)he would be the oldest president, not merely an old president and b)he just looks and acts like a haggard old man.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


[ Parent ]
Either way... (0.00 / 0)
Reagan already had Alzheimer's after his first term... not to say that the same will happen to Clinton, but after 4 years, she'll be McCain's age at that point... and people ARE critical of the age because it's well known that your mental capacity diminishes when you start getting up there.

And, while the polling for McCain doesn't seem to be bearing this out (maybe because people are unaware?) being 72 years old is a major negative for most people (didn't Matt write about it being as popular as voting for someone who's gay?)  

But anyway, yeah... she can run... she'd be on the cusp, but I suppose Golda Meir was already in her 70s too when she became Prime Minister of Israel.


[ Parent ]
... (0.00 / 0)
I suppose it all comes down to how she looks and acts in 2015. If she retains her bearings and stays healthy she should be fine, but that is certainly not guaranteed as one heads into their 70's. Regardless, Biden has opened a potential path to the presidency that wouldn't have existed with most other VP picks.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
I should say... (0.00 / 0)
We all assume Biden won't run in 8 years... Maybe that's right, but on the other hand... he'd basically be McCain's age, and that didn't stop McCain. =)

[ Parent ]
That's true (0.00 / 0)
some people look and perform well for their age. I have a 75 year old great aunt who doesn't act a day over 50, and some people just look their age, and unfortunately like they're about to croak. McCain looks like that.  

[ Parent ]
question (4.00 / 2)
"In other words, he's perfect for the Obama campaign, reinforcing their key frame of 'change, but not scary liberal change'."

I wholely agree with this.  but I believe in "scary liberal change."  What then, is the course of action?  This is something I've been thinking about a lot.  Do I stop even  tepidly supporting Obama and just attack McCain?  Do I critique McCain and just ignore Obama and know that I'm supporting him implicitly?  Do I support 3rd Party politics?  Do I focus on issue based work in the context of electoral poliltics?  outside electoral politics?  

This is not an ideological question, but a strategic one - what is the best way for people who are to the left of Obama to use this Presidential election to the best effect to promote their various agendas?

This seems to be a moment where this discussion, which I think is valuable, is happening (see above Sirota's post).


What? (4.00 / 2)
Biden's got a certain appeal to older white voters and working class voters that we in the new progressive movement don't really get.

Speak for yourself. Older, hard working people are some of the most dedicated and progressive people I've had the pleasure to work with in my experiences.

I'm not sure what your trying to say there.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


Wow (4.00 / 2)
I'd like to live where you do. Where I'm from...one of the most liberal progressive places in the country, I found older hard working people to be the anti-progressive. These are people who think minorities are on welfare because they're lazy and just want to suck at the teat of the taxpayer while popping out 10 kids, think we should nuke every mosque in the world, and think "liberals" care more about the rights of evil people than those of America.  

[ Parent ]
I've seen that sentiment (4.00 / 1)
But I've also seen people who live in pain every day but still get up every day to fight the fight over and over again. I've seen people who've worked through their lives but want to do more, and they do.

There is some anti-progressive seniors, sure, but there is anti-progressive youth and anti-progressive middle age folks, I don't think it has much to do with age.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


[ Parent ]
Sure (0.00 / 0)
but I think if you really talk to most people, even though who get up and fight every day, you'll find that even those Democrats aren't really all that progressive politically and don't agree with what we perceive to be progressive values, that's the problem.  

[ Parent ]
Distinctions (4.00 / 1)
I think there are some critical distinctions that are not being made here.

When it comes to militarism, the most uncompromising antiwar activists today are found in the same peace groups and progressive clergy leaders that originally mobilized in the protests against the Vietnam War, then stayed organized through the 80s in the no-nukes movement and the resistance to U.S. intervention in Central America, as well as opposition to U.S. support for apartheid South Africa.  These are the folks who have been opposed to both the war in Iraq AND the war in Afghanistan from the beginning, who are unwilling to entertain leaving residual forces in place in either country, and who articulate a larger critique against U.S. hegemony in the world, as opposed to being against "not all wars, just stupid wars."  These are principled antiwar stalwarts who contrast starkly with much of what today's 'new' antiwar movement has become -- that is, non-ideological, compromise-oriented, co-opted.  And by any definition, these, too, are "old progressives."  Joe Biden has nothing to do with them, just as people like Evan Bayh have nothing to do with the 'new' progressive movement.  I think that the differences in the politics of grassroots progressives and the politics of establishment progressives is positional, not generational.


[ Parent ]
Something I sometimes wish we could see explored more (0.00 / 0)
Is the split within the modern antiwar movement between the people who were, and weren't, opposed to things like the intervention in Bosnia.

[ Parent ]
this is true, but... (4.00 / 3)
You're being entirely too pessimistic.  Yes, Biden is all of these things you mention.  But watching him on TV today, and reflecting back on the experience of seeing him in the primaries, it's definitely true that he comes from a different place than most senators.  He's too blunt, too raw, somehow, despite having been in Washington nearly his whole adult life.  Actually, I think he both reinforces and supplements Obama.  In the roll out event it was clear how their personalities complement each other.  

In short, I think they work well together both in the negative sense you mention (change, but not too scary change) but also in a more positive sense (sharing a different perspective, ability to work together, etc.).  Ultimately, I share all of these reservations you mention and then some.  But after today I'm a little more optimistic too.


That is not what we old progressives think (0.00 / 0)
This is what old progressives think, and we disagree with them.  They aren't exactly political opponents, but they aren't exactly political allies.  I don't really have a firm grasp of the old progressive's agenda, but government transparency, lobbying restrictions and international alliances seem to be a big deal, legalized forms of corruption and preventing wars do not, sustained economic privilege and civil liberty violations are problems but not worth prioritizing, and the war on drugs and American empire are way off the table, thank you very much.

Biden's not a horrific pick, he's fine considering the choices.

Joe Biden was elected in 1972 but that is not waht old [rogressives think.

Joe never marched.  He was always within the mainstream of the Democratic party...but the party that passed Medicare, Medicaid and the 'EPA was a lot more left than it is now.

Jerry Nadler is an old progressive...Joe is not.

And you have to just take my word for it because I am an old progressive and I think that's good...Back then, I remember when there was ambition and scope to progressive dreams...and that's where too many young progressives are today...Their ambitions are cramped...they have, perhaps rightly, absorbed too well the lessons of the 80's and the Reagan Revolution...which were don't aim too far or you'll screw up the chance to accomplish anything at all.

That's Obama's problem.  In that sense Daschle and Gephardt are just like Obama....men of caution and cramped ambitions.  I didn't know Joe back then...only from the 90's, so I don't know just how liberal he really was..He wasn't a man who marched; he went to law school and wore a suit and tie...and in his case the wardrobe is telling But maybe he has a residiual memory of being a leftie....Hillary certainly in her heart has been a leftie who also learned the lessons of the Reagan era...don't push Democratic liberalism because the Republicans will kill you with it.  So maybe Joe will be go there or not....but jeesus he sure is better tnan absolutley anyone else on that list except Hillary or Wes Clark.....

It's late and I don't have time to elucidate this clearly.....but there is a difference between the LIBERAL REFORMIST AGENDA AND THE LIBERAL POLICY AGENDA....and you are conflating the 2. Different people in the party supported one more strongly than another...as usual I think the better side of this tug of war is with the liberal policy agenda....that agenda lasts e.g. Social Security and Mediacre...while the reformist agenda is more shifting and is easily undermined.... from reforms like iniative and referenda to the various campaign finance reform measures...I think those are always less worthwile, accomplish a lot less and of are even counterproductive.  Social Security has made a million times more of a difference and done more good than any farcockte (crazy crappy cooked up scheme as my Yiddishe Mama would have said) campaign finance scheme.  It's not that they're do nothing...but policy changes accomplish 100's of times more.  And if you have limited resources and you have to choose...choose policy change.  That's what the good old progressives did.

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


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