Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 8, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

OBAMA vs. KRUGMAN....The brewing war between Barack Obama and Paul Krugman continues here. Krugman has been hitting Obama pretty hard lately, and I can understand why the Obama campaign has hit back: Krugman is extremely influential among likely Obama voters, and they can't afford to just let his grumbles sit there unanswered. What's more, Krugman isn't some kind of progressive Delphic oracle. It's OK to fight back against him.

Still, attacking Krugman as inconsistent, as they did on Friday, is indeed bizarre. He hasn't been. What's more, although it's true that Krugman prefers the Edwards/Clinton approach on both healthcare and Social Security, his complaint isn't primarily with the substance of Obama's plans anyway. Rather, his complaint is with Obama's rhetoric, which has been fundamentally an attack from the right that will only make it harder for progressives to fight similar-sounding right-wing attacks in the future.

So why is Obama doing this? Via Jerome Armstrong, MyDD diarist thirdestate speculates:

I've been considering these questions for some time, and I'm becoming more and more convinced that Obama is trying to win the "media primary"....My suspicion is that Barack is attempting to appease/manipulate the class of establishment pundits, and with them the press corps as a whole....By making noises about Social Security and [healthcare] mandates, Obama is feeding the media beast. Heck, it might even work, if recent polls are any evidence.

This sounds disturbingly plausible to me. Every four years the media finds itself swooning over some candidate that it crowns as a "truthteller," and they've pretty much already anointed Obama in that role this year. But rather than leaving well enough alone — the smart strategy — I can't help but think that Obama has decided that he should actively court the Tim Russerts and Tom Friedmans of the world, the ones who ritually demand bipartisan pain as the only solution to America's problems.

Maybe it'll work. Who knows? But it's a dangerous, short-term game, and I don't have to like it. And I don't.

Kevin Drum 2:49 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (83)

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Comments

This sounds disturbingly plausible to me. Every four years the media finds itself swooning over some candidate that it crowns as a "truthteller," and they've pretty much already anointed Obama in that role this year.

The media love Sista Souljah Moments. Gives you maverick street cred.

Posted by: Old Hat on December 8, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sure it may work in the primaries, but what is he going to do when the media goes back to their wife, the republican candidate?

Posted by: Col Bat Guano on December 8, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Sure it may work in the primaries, but what is he going to do when the media goes back to their wife, the republican candidate?

Lose. While they laugh at his folly and pedantically trash his wardrobe selection.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 8, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, yes. We all remember this strategy working very well for Presidents McCain and Bradley.

Posted by: rufustfyrfly on December 8, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

I've been saying this about the Obama campaign for a while now, and the problem is, "even if it works" for Obama in the short run, it isn't going to work -- for Obama or any other Dem -- in the long run. The natural tendency of the media, who (like the public itself) largely agree with Dems on the positions, but (unlike the public) must find some way to project "balance," is to look for character issues to attack Dems with as a means of evening things out. Republicans do bad things, but Democrats are bad people, so, from the media perspective, there is "balance." Obama is a fool if he thinks he can somehow tame this beast, because people prefer someone they think has "character" over someone who happens to be right on the issues. If Obama wins the primary, the media are going to come after him on "character issues" just as they will any other Dem, except he has given legitimacy to the whole thing by doing it himself; if he loses, they are going to come after the winner on character issues, using Obama's attacks now as even more ammunition. The really sad thing is, if you read Obama's book, he clearly understands all this and is willing to play this game anyway. Really, a huge disappointment.

Posted by: Martin Gale on December 8, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Silly, silly, silly Barack.

Posted by: balzar on December 8, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

In Jonathan Cohn's piece, he argues that big business and the insurance companies will demand the individual mandate as an instrument of universal health care policy.

Perhaps Obama, anticipating that - and anticipating attacks on him as a big government liberal - is inoculating himself for the general election? Now he can say in the general - "the other Democrats wanted the intrusive mind-control policy of the individual mandate, and I argued against it" - and then he has to surrender to business and insurance on the mandate after he is elected.

Too much?

Posted by: mikey on December 8, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

You ask a very good question "Why is Obama doing this?"

People like me respect Krugman's opinions greatly, and Krugman has been devastating to Obama. Like Krugman, I was shaken by Obama's criticism of Social Security, and because of Krugman, I think less of Obama's health care proposal. But, hey, strategically, what has Obama got to lose? Someone like me is part of the choir. If Hillary gets the nomination, I'll be furious, but I'll hold my nose and vote for her. If Obama gets the nomination, even if I have concerns over his positions on SS and health care, I'll vote for him.

It seems to me that the real question in this election is who is going to capture the center and the independents. Just as Hillary has had to position herself as a tough broad who will not hesitate to drop bombs, so Obama has to persuade the nervous nellies and downright bigots that it is "safe" to vote for him, African American that he is. He may be able to do it, maybe, by attacking from the right. A lot of conservatives and independents don't like Paul Krugman and--in a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of logic--they might respect Obama more as a result.

And you are right, the media is eating it up. Interesting! I disagree with his policies, but thinking it through, now I wonder if the strategy is brilliant, triangulation at its most subtle.

Posted by: PTate in MN on December 8, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

The irony in the concept that Obama might be considered the "truth teller" is that his entire "universal health care" program is based on a clear lie, namely, the claim that it's universal. Every time that word comes out of his mouth in reference to his plan, it is a prevarication.

The reason Edwards settled on "mandates" is precisely to take his genuinely universal health care plan out of the realm of inconsistent fiction.

Now, I certainly think that the mandates Edwards proposes has some really serious problems -- problems that strongly suggest that single payer is a far better solution. But at least the man is willing to utter the hard truths necessary to make his plan live up to its name.

The real problem for Obama is that this is a dishonesty that will certainly catch up with him, should the day come he is made President.

As he has outlined his plan, it will certainly leave millions upon millions of Americans without health coverage, and will hike up the premiums for those who do choose health insurance, because so many healthy people will opt out of coverage.

As Krugman has pretty much argued, how can Obama at that stage possibly argue for the only real solution that extends his plan, namely mandates? He himself will have argued against them in the most scathing possible terms in his own campaign.

How does such a politician possibly deserve a reputation for "truth telling"?

Posted by: frankly0 on December 8, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

for starters, i think obama's plan is much more politically feasible, and those right-wing attacks will come no matter what, so I think Krugman's wrong about this. we can't wait another 15 years to gin up the national momentum on this, and more important than "universal" coverage is solid coverage for people who can't afford any, end of story. after that runs well, we can solve the problem of universiality.

i think the Obama campaign's overreacting because Hillary got away with such a nasty swipe in the debates, one which ended up in a lot of stories about Hillary's "comeback" performance: that line about Obama not having the "courage" to insure 15 million people. it was a low blow, and blitzer cut off obama's response to it, so the only way to fight back without bringing it up in another debate (and showing how much Hillary's nasty little rhetorical trick stung) was to get a media scuffle. they can get the word out (private mandate vs no mandate, instead of courage vs no courage) by going back and forth with a widely-read influential columnist on a couple points, instead of attacking Hillary directly and possibly leading to nightly newscast-type stories.

Posted by: jj on December 8, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

for starters, i think obama's plan is much more politically feasible, and those right-wing attacks will come no matter what, so I think Krugman's wrong about this.

Yes, except for the fact that NOW they will have the words of a very prominent, supposedly progressive (though why people continue to say that I can't begin to understand) Democratic politician to back them up to the hilt in their attacks -- just as they now do on SS.

I've always suspected that Obama was at heart another Lieberman type -- pious, full of his own self righteousness, and eager to turn to right wing attacks on fellow Democrats to demonstrate his "bipartisanship".

It's hard to see how he has in any way disconfirmed my suspicions.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 8, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

"But it's a dangerous, short-term game, and I don't have to like it."

Right on. Good posts lately from Mr. Drum, IMO.

As an aside: I also feel that lefties with "liberal hawk" tendencies, like Mr. Drum here, were ALSO playing a dangerous, short-term game, by legitimating the Republicans' "War on Terrorism" fear-mongering, in their attempts to be "serious" foreign policy people. Never knew if liberal hawks were buying in for "electoral expediency" or because they (foolishly) believed the threat was significant, and the response proportional.

And killing one million innocent people in Iraq is more important than which health care system the US adopts, IMO.

Posted by: luci on December 8, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Since when was it not OK to knock the Delphic oracle? I seem to recall Euripides making a career out of just that.

Posted by: Gene O'Grady on December 8, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Maybe it'll work." -Kevin

No one I voted for has ever won a primary. So it's working already.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on December 8, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Hey--John McCain is a truthteller! And so is Lieberman!! Don't you know that to be a truthteller means to attack Democrats and give a privileged place to torture in our society? Geesh.

Posted by: Anon on December 8, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

My take is somewhat different. I believe that Obama made a fundamental miscalculation about this race early on: that touting his opposition to the Iraq war would automatically propel him past Hillary.
How many times has he mentioned that speech from 2002? It seemed for a while he was running on nothing else!
Well, for whatever reason, Iraq is not enough for him to beat Hillary; therefore, he started attacking Hillary's domestic policies.
He requires these new attacks to move past Hillary.
Krugman has jammed the gears of this operation, and the Obama campaign does not not how to react.

Posted by: MarkL on December 8, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Amen MarkL. I've been thinking for some time that Obama is our Mitt Romney. An empty suit who is not ready for prime time. I worry that he'll be killed in a general when faced with the slurs he'd face from the GOP "A" Team. And I think his presidency would be Jimmy Carter Redux as he lacks the chops needed. I support Edwards and admire Hillary. Say what you will about those two but they (especially Clinton) know how to fight back. All this "Kumbayah" from Barack makes me sick!

Posted by: richard locicero on December 8, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ditto on the Obama as Mitt Romney/Empty suit offering, although I think Obama has far less character than Jimmy Carter. And I agree with Kevin, "But it's a dangerous, short-term game, and I don't have to like it. And I don't."

I don't trust or like Hillary Clinton. I would prefer Dodd, I could live with Edwards.

Posted by: Helena Montana on December 8, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's a hoot how dumb the truth-tellees are.

20 years ago, my wife took at graduate course in microeconomics, and I tutored her and another organizational behavior gradual student in the math. Some of the first examples in their book were demonstrations of how medical insurance games (taking tests, keeping results secret, effects of false positives and false negatives for high-cost medical conditions, healthy people opting out, insurance companies seeking healthy clients) lead to godawful market failures. The theory is old and understood; the market will fail. Right-wing yahoos may claim otherwise, but they either have not, or can not, or will not, do the math. Employment-based "group" insurance plans "work" because they combine sorta-mandate with a healthy-client selection (not so sick that you can't work) and I think some tax breaks for the employer paying the bills

So that's theory. Here, for once, theory and practice agree. 20 countries cover all their people, get better outcomes, for less money, by avoiding the boneheaded "market" solutions that we promote.

And these drooling pinhead columnists think that Obama is telling them the "truth" on this issue. "Truthiness" is more like it. If any of these guys knew what they heck they were writing about, they'd recognize that it was busted, instantly. Krugman must be about ready to blow a gasket, seeing not only that Obama would put forth this nonsense, but that all media idiots lap it up uncritically.

Posted by: dr2chase on December 8, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Helena,
Let me give you food for thought, on Hillary.
I've noticed that she has made several appearances with disabled people. She also gave a great speech on women's rights as being universal in Beijing in 1995.
She stands with the weak, and she stood up for women's rights in front of the whole world.
She is a woman of conviction, not some smarmy pol.

Posted by: MarkL on December 8, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "But it's a dangerous, short-term game, and I don't have to like it. And I don't."

Neither do I. Here's my Obama story, which I've kept quiet about until right now.

Speaking for myself, the bloom fell off Sen. Obama's rose several years ago, when I attended a December 2004 Hawaii Democratic Party fundraiser in his honor at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. He and his family were back in his old hometown of Honolulu for the holidays to visit his grandmother.

Obama showed little sense of humor when the emcee, then-HI Dems' chair Brickwood Galuteria, clearly referred to him in jest as "Hawaii's third senator" during his introductions. Rather, the then-Sen.-elect took exceptional public offense, going so far as to immediately rebuke Galuteria when when he stepped up onstage to say a few remarks.

Sen.-elect Obama then proceeded to lecture his audience about tolerance and respect, as though he were the second coming of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. talking to a roomful of east Texas crackers. And all the while, he gave me an indelible impression that he'd rather be somewhere, anywhere else that particular evening.

OK, perhaps Obama had a bad day. Neverthess, he was supposed to be the guest of honor at a political function where the other guests paid $100 and up for the privilege of hearing him speak. Therefore, such curt behavior on his part was ill-mannered, in bad form, and reflected an understandably outsized but still-fragile ego.

I understand that by almost all accounts, "Barry" Obama had a rather tough time of it during his adolescence out here, when he was one of but a mere handful of African-Americans to attend the prestigious Punahou School -- the oldest prep school west of the Mississippi River, and arguably one of the most snobbish as well. It was eminently clear to me that he still harbored a few grudges, even after a quarter-century.

Sen. Obama is a brilliant man, but I think he needs more seasoning and maturity, before I'd trust him with the keys to the Oval Office. I'd give him sincere and earnest consideration for the White House in eight years, when he's 55. Two terms in the U.S. Senate will do him and the country a world of good.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on December 8, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

While I agree that Obama is playing to the media, it has nothing to do with the policies he's promoting -- its all about the person he's attacking.

The media loves attacks on Hillary Clinton. When Obama was sliding in the polls, all the Villagers were saying "Obama has to attack Hillary". So, Obama is attacking Hillary, and all is right in the media world.

Posted by: p_lukasiak on December 8, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone catch the most recent Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, when Moyers and his guest, Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Univ. of Pennsylvania's Annenburg School of Communications, discussed the unbridled vitriol to which Sen. Clinton has been subjected to over the years, most especially now during this current campaign? If not, you should:

BILL MOYERS: "Here are some of the entries from Facebook, you know? "Hillary can't handle one man; how can she handle 150 million of them? Send her back to the kitchen to get a sandwich. She belongs back with the dishes, not upfront with the leaders." It goes on and on like that. I mean, and it is fairly misogynist, but it isn't just the Internet. I mean on Rush Limbaugh, he talks about Clinton's testicle lockbox. MSNBC's Tucker Carlson says there's just something about her that feels castrating. One of his guests, a former spokesman from the Republican National Committee, Clifford May, says that if Clinton is going to appeal to women for support on the basis of her gender, at least call her a vaginal-American. I mean, in fact, isn't the sexist vilification of Hillary Clinton being set by the mainstream media?"

...

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: "Well, and at one time there was actually an argument that if women became educated, they would become infertile. There was also, for a long period of time, serious penalties for women who tried to speak in public. And the residue of this is a language that suggests that women in power cannot be women and be in power. And as a result, as Hillary Clinton certifies herself as being tough enough to be president, competent enough to be president, these attacks say then she can't be president because she's not actually a woman. And you can't trust someone who is that inauthentic. So underlying this and underlying the vulgarity and underlying the assertions of raw sexual violence is deep fear about a woman holding power.

"But I'm not sure that it's only about that with Hillary Clinton because Hillary Clinton has been attacked as long as she's been in the public sphere. She came into national public awareness with the candidacy of Bill Clinton. Some of this coincides with attacks on liberals and Hillary Clinton as a liberal woman. Some of this coincides with original attacks when she was in the White House and what was framed as exercise of unelected power. And one of the questions that-- I find interesting is this hypothetical. Let's say if Elizabeth Dole was this far along in the polls for the Republican nomination. Would she be subject to the same kinds of attacks? And I think the answer is no."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on December 8, 2007 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary Clinton brings out the worst in every American - Republicans, Democrats, and even herself.

The once proud Edwards is now trying to out-shrill Kucinich.

Obama's worst sin is selling us 25% bullshit along with 75% truth.

Since I can't have Dodd, I guess I'll take the latter of these three.

Posted by: lampwick on December 8, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has zero chance of becoming president. This country is too racist to elect a black man. This sadly is a fact!

Posted by: spyder on December 8, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK
Since I can't have Dodd, I guess I'll take the latter of these three.

Posted by: lampwick on December 8, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

While your deathless analysis is fascinating and all, it regrettably nothing to do with the topic at hand.

The inevitability of these sorts of partisan red herrings are what allow the media, and the candidates who pursue the course Obama is taking, to feel they can get away with it: they figure a big chunk of the voters are happy to hear this sort of thing because it helps a candidate they are supporting and/or hurts a candidate they hate, so the merits and, most importantly, the propriety of the attacks themselves go with little comment. That's perfectly OK, if you don't mind seeing yet another iteration of the 2000 election in 2008. Personally, I'd rather not.

Posted by: Martin Gale on December 8, 2007 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

And killing one million innocent people in Iraq is more important than which health care system the US adopts, IMO.

Well, said. Drum is calling Obama black.

Posted by: Justin on December 8, 2007 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not clear on what about Obama's rhetoric has been so awful. What exactly has he said?

So far I've heard him make the case that affordability is more important than mandates. I've heard him say that Hillary's plan wouldn't cover everybody either (which it wouldn't). So what have I missed that was so damning?

You can disagree with Obama on policy grounds, that's fine. But unless someone has the goods I don't see the case for saying he's trying to win the "media primary." My sense is that he doesn't believe mandates will sell politically, and I think he has a point there. But this is all speculation, which is what I wish Ezra, Kevin, and Krugman would engage in a hell of a lot less in.

Posted by: Nathan on December 8, 2007 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

From a distance Obama looks good as he is not as Nanny statist, nepotistic and just plain wrong and stupid as Clinton and nowhere near as phony as Edwards with the house and the hair.
There is a smart way to outflank the right and Rudd down here just did it. Krugmans economics just don't cut it because they're a red herring. The whole tax cuts thing is a bait-and-switch if the state ( and its debt) just keep growing. Now if health cover will increase the deficit then savings must be made elsewhere. Someone as smart as Obama will suggest broad areas for savings and leave it at that. The main thing he has to do now is just turn up at the convention. To sum up.
'Mongo like Sheriff Bart'

Posted by: professor rat on December 8, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not clear on what about Obama's rhetoric has been so awful. What exactly has he said?

He came out against "mandated" universal health care insurance. That's busted, and won't work, and every honest economist knows it. I'm assuming Obama's smart, or has smart people working for him, so he knows it too.

Beyond "it's busted", it also gives credibility to right-wing talking points, which is no help to anyone.

As far as fixing our health care system goes, we should not do anything "innovative" -- we should look at the 20 countries that deliver better care to more people for less money, and do what they do. I am pretty sure that, one way or another, they are all "mandatory" -- either there's no insurance and it's paid with taxes, or the "insurance" is just a government program paid with taxes, or (someone said Switzerland and Germany above, as well as Massachusetts) there is insurance, and it is mandatory, and subsidized for the poor.

Posted by: dr2chase on December 8, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is not suggesting thematic inconsistency on the part of Obama. All his team is doing is showing that Krugman (who is rightly respected) is not as hostile to the Obama plan as his column may make it seem. It may have been done sloppily, but it is not an attack on K.

Posted by: Moral Panicker on December 8, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is trying to win the "media primary"

Not going to happen. He is making himself a non-viable candidate. You're either a reformer or your not. And Obama apparently is not.

Posted by: patience on December 8, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

And as far as selling politically, we need the health care equivalent of Ross Perot, with all his damn charts, 20 of them, where he can (country by country, including those economic powerhouses Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Belgium) rattle off the superior life expectancy, fewer years sick, lower infant mortality, lower cost per capita, lower (zero) % of population uncovered, and a quick summary of how their care is delivered/managed. It's a schtick, but I am certain that people believe (really believe, as in won't listen to contrary information the first three times they hear it) that we have the finest and most civilized health care on the planet. We don't.

And, also, people see little differences in numbers, and don't realize what a vast difference that means across the entire nation. The difference in infant mortality rates, between the US and Canada -- that translates into 8000 dead babies, that should not have died, each year, every year (and no, it's not because aggressively try to save premature babies, it's because we do a crappy job at aggressively promoting and delivering prenatal care to ALL mothers. If check the state-by-state numbers, we suck most in the poorest states, and in some poor urban areas).

(I think I'll get myself some detachable big-ears, and get to work.)

And I think the way to phrase it is "which of these health care systems do we want?" with a quick summary of how much longer you'd live, how much less you'd be sick, how much money you'd save, and how many fewer babies would die, and how the system is run and funded.

Posted by: dr2chase on December 8, 2007 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree with "thirdestate" and I'm surprised that you buy it.

I actually think that Krugman, right now, is buying into much a deeper right-wing narrative than the ones Obama has used. What scares me is that it's now spreading.

Consider: Clinton fired the opening salvo in the health care back-and-forth. She continued by hitting Obama on it every day. Which is absolutely fair, of course--it's a legitimate policy disagreement, her solution is probably the better one from a progresive's standpoint, etc.

But that doesn't mean that Obama's position was defacto wrong or "right wing." I've read some compelling arguments against mandates on good lefty blogs (including this one I thought?), and though I still lean about 60/40 to the mandate side, I think it's a point on which people with progressive values can reasonably disagree.

Now, here was Obama's situation:

Clinton had hit him "from the left."

Most partisan Democrats had been complaining, loudly (and IMHO correctly) that he hadn't given us sufficient proof (even as of mid-November) that he knew how to punch.


If Obama hadn't countered Clinton's health-care attack, Krugman et. al. would have dismissed him as a wimp. I, for one, probably would have agreed. His campaign would most likely have been over.

So he did what he had to do: he hit Clinton back. "From the right," because that's where he was coming from relative to her.

Krugman tries to get around all this by ignoring/reversing the order of events, suggesting that Obama shot first. He didn't, and quite frankly that's the kind of obfuscation I expect from, say, David Brooks, not the generally wonderful Krugman. It credences one of the deepest-set right wing narratives:

If Democrats don't attack each other, they're proving that they are wimps;

if Democrats do attack each other, they're helping the Republicans.

IMHO, it's Krugman who's risking the biggest potential damage for us down the road. And he, of all people, should know better.

Posted by: Adam on December 8, 2007 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, one more thing: Krugman has never mentioned the fact that Clinton's Social Security defense was based on a worse right-wing narrative than Obama's: that increasing the payroll cap for Social Security would be a "giant middle-class tax hike."

In all likelihood, some day we will have to adjust the Social Security structure, a la 1983. We really don't need comments like that on the record when that time comes.

My question is this: why is Krugman okay with Clinton's frame, and with the one that he's using on Obama, but not with the ones Obama used? All three originate with, and favor, the Republicans.

Granted, I think Obama probably started this whole thing with is Social Security talk. But Krugman has really escalated it. Does anyone think Obama could have reasonably not responded to two major columns suggesting that he's a dupe?

Oh, and incidentally, that entire "oppo" piece Obama put out is basically reiterating something MSNBC's "First Read" pointed out a couple of weeks ago (I even think they used the "Krugman Then and Now" headline). This didn't come from Drudge, or Mark Halperin; it came from Chuck Todd's shop, which has done a pretty admirable job of avoiding right-wing frames (the site, not the entire network).

Posted by: Adam on December 8, 2007 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and incidentally, that entire "oppo" piece Obama put out is basically reiterating something MSNBC's "First Read" pointed out a couple of weeks ago (I even think they used the "Krugman Then and Now" headline). This didn't come from Drudge, or Mark Halperin; it came from Chuck Todd's shop, which has done a pretty admirable job of avoiding right-wing frames (the site, not the entire network).

Yes, but it's an entirely misleading "analysis" of Krugman's statements. And if this is their idea of avoiding right-wing frames then god forbid when they do cross over to the dark side.

Posted by: Col Bat Guano on December 8, 2007 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Christ! Political Animal has turned into the Hillary Clinton '08 blog.

Kevin has taken cheap potshots at Edwards over his mechanism for universal mandates. Now he is taking potshots at Obama over healthcare as well.

When talking about other candidatess he has reverted to crappy horse-race journalism. Edwards too specific in his policy proposals (this from Kevin "Have-I-got-a-graph-for-you" Drum), while Obama uses "republican language".

Republican language? Is that like Kevin's defence HC's warmongering after the NIE was made public? His fond memories of St. Ronnie struck me as Republican language.

Elect Hillary Clinton and get the DNC back in power. Because that is what we want -- a return to triangulation and the politics of screwing the base.

Bullshit.

Posted by: Adam on December 8, 2007 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

That last commenter wasn't me (I'm the "Adam" who wrote the comments at 8:45 and 8:54). The ambiguity is probably my fault for posting under my first name alone. But I've never come up with a good "handle" for myself, and posting under my full name feels too formal for some reason.

Anyway--Col Bat Guano: I don't really see what's so misleading about the Obaman Fact Check page. They include the whole First Read quote, which notes that "the substance of Krugman's two columns is essentially the same. The tone, however, is not."

I guess I see how that could be seen as a little misleading, in that it could maybe be read as Krugman making a specious change in his stance toward Obama's plan, without giving a reason for the shift. Krugman did give a reason--though one that I find troubling for the reasons I gave above. Nonetheless, he went from presenting Obama's plan as basically good, though not ideal, to basically weak, though a step in the right direction. I don't see how pointing that out is misleading.

Posted by: Adam on December 8, 2007 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Great points, Adam.

This whole fight really is more about rhetoric than it is about policy. And I think what many liberals fail to see is that what Obama does so well is to take conservative rhetoric and employ it to advance a more liberal framing of the issues. To me, this is the genius of Obama as a politician. He is taking the "crisis" of Social Security, stealing that frame from conservatives, and using it to actually raise taxes on the rich. Once you get past the rhetoric, how could you not support that policy? A big part of the problem is that liberals have been fighting these fights for so long, we tend to have knee-jerk reactions. But by refusing to use any rhetoric that conservatives have used, we are really cutting ourselves off from communicating with Moderate America. And we are blinding ourselves to the candidate who will do the most to advance liberal causes because he understands how to speak to Moderate America.

I think that calling out Obama for "parroting Right-Wing talking points" actually plays into right-wing hands by giving them more credence than they deserve. It just a more liberal version of the same old "defensive crouch", just reacting to conservatives out of fear and anger, and letting them decide what language is appropriate, rather than taking some of their language and using it against them by employing it to create a more liberal framing of the issues. We need to be more confident than that.

Posted by: Nathan on December 8, 2007 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK
Nonetheless, he went from presenting Obama's plan as basically good, though not ideal, to basically weak, though a step in the right direction. I don't see how pointing that out is misleading.

Posted by: Adam on December 8, 2007 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Krugman described the plan as weak the first time around:

"In that regard it’s actually weaker than the Schwarzenegger plan." (emphasis mine)

If you're going to support Obama, that's great. Of the candidates out there, I prefer him to Hillary, and only rate him slightly behind Edwards because of electability. I actually suspect that an Obama presidency might be outstanding for the country in several ways. But this stupid partisanship, which leads to bizarre logical constructs like "Calling out Obama for using Republican talking points is really using Republican talking points," and attacking anyone who points out Obama's rather overt pandering to the media, by willfully mischaracterizing what Krugman has said won't help anyone (Obama included), except the Republicans.

I'm beginning to get the same sense from the Obama camp that I got from the Dean camp in '03-'04. It was an ugly, illogical, and petulant display of partisanship then, and the fact that I actually like Obama doesn't make it any less so now.

Posted by: Martin Gale on December 8, 2007 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

I think Mark L and Richard LoCiero pointed to a couple of things that really resonate for me. I, like Krugman, couldn't help but be disappointed in Obama's strategy for distancing himself from Clinton. I think he did miscalculate. And, I think that kind of miscalculation is a costly one for him. And, given this type of miscalculation, I wonder if Obama is sufficiently seasoned to approach the Presidency right now. I'd add only this observation by Andrew Young. It adds another dimension. Found at Talking Points Memo (link at my sig or, http://tinyurl.com/38wvvc ):

Civil rights icon calls Obama too young; Civil Rights Icon Andrew Young Says Barack Obama Not Ready for the Presidency; ERRIN HAINES; AP News; Dec 08, 2007 18:30 EST

Mr. Young's key point is, Barack Obama is too young and lacks the support network to ascend to the White House. The lack of a support network an interesting perspective.

Posted by: bystander on December 8, 2007 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

...which ended up in a lot of stories about Hillary's "comeback" performance: that line about Obama not having the "courage" to insure 15 million people. it was a low blow...

It wasn't a low blow. It was a legitimate point. Is universal health insurance a goal worth fighting for or isn't it? If you want to leave universality out of your plan because for whatever reason you're unwilling to propose mandates, fair enough. But don't expect other progressives -- many of whom consider national, universal healthcare our single biggest priority -- to keep silent.

I can understand Obama's need for a Sister Souljah moment. Maybe he really is a brilliant politician and this will pay off. I just wish he'd use something other than universal social insurance as his "Sister Souljah."

Posted by: Jasper on December 9, 2007 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

To me, this is the genius of Obama as a politician. He is taking the "crisis" of Social Security, stealing that frame from conservatives, and using it to actually raise taxes on the rich. Once you get past the rhetoric, how could you not support that policy?

I think it's a very questionable policy, even if, like me, you'd prefer the tax code to be much more progressive. Why? Because, even if you could get such a payroll tax increase through Congress, you might well undermine the support for Social Security among more affluent Americans. And for what? The fact is, the program doesn't need any more cash at all at present, and is not in some kind of serious financial danger, and will only need minor adjustments when the time comes, some time in the 2020s. Junking social insurance has been a dream of the right wing literally since Franklin Roosevelt's day. This really isn't very complicated, and Obama should have known better. Or maybe he does know better. Simplest explanation and all that -- has anyone ever considered the possibility that perhaps Barrack Obama is just not that much of a progressive on economic issues?

Posted by: Jasper on December 9, 2007 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

[Obama] came out against "mandated" universal health care insurance.

All Obama has done is come out against mandating insurance before cost comes down. He is afraid such a mandate would be unfair to those who would already like to buy insurance but cannot. He has said he is willing to enact a mandate later if one is needed. He has even said he is willing to put a "trigger" in the law that would cause a mandate to come automatically into effect if significant numbers of people who are able to pay refuse to do so.

I honestly think that Krugman's reaction, and now the progressive blogosphere's, is a little off kilter. Clinton has never said how she'd enforce a mandate, so we have no idea how effective it would be. She has falsely claimed her plan is universal. Edwards' suggestion that we'll subsidize health care up to those making $100,000 sounds unworkable on the face of it. And no one is talking about how to contain cost, which should be the number one issue.

Oh, and it seems to me that by leaving mandates on the table, rather than promising them up front, Obama has left himself some room to negotiate with the insurance companies to bring cost down. Edwards and Clinton have ceded this issue to the companies already.

Posted by: Rachel on December 9, 2007 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

Martin Gale: ...But this stupid partisanship, which leads to bizarre logical constructs like "Calling out Obama for using Republican talking points is really using Republican talking points," and attacking anyone who points out Obama's rather overt pandering to the media, by willfully mischaracterizing what Krugman has said won't help anyone (Obama included), except the Republicans.

I really think it's unfair to characterize what I said as "stupid partisanship."

First off: I do support Obama, but I really like Clinton and Edwards too. A lot, in fact. And I don't think Obama is infalible; he's made plenty of mistakes. Heck, I don't even egree with him on the policy point in question. I still lean toward the idea that a health care plan with a mandate is better than one without one (although if he's really going with the "trigger" idea Rachel mentioned, I think he may have threaded the needle on that issue better than anyone else--but that would be news to me).

I basically agree with Krugman's original assesment of Obama's plan. He made sound points about its weaknesses; the basic characterization was of a good plan that doesn't go as far as it should (or as Edwards', and later Clinton's, did). Since I lean toward the mandate side of the debate, I agree with this.

I think Paul Krugman is absolutely fantastic; I've been a huge fan of his for years. If he ran for the Democratic nomination I'd vote for him in a heartbeat. The biggest reason I admire him so much is that he has been taking and vigorously defending progressive stances in the face of unsupported charges, from both Republicans and the political press, of "shrillness," "mindless partisanship," "overt pandering," etc.

All that said, I don't think Obama mischaracterized what Krugman, nor do I think he was attacking Krugman. I absolutely believe that Krugman, and not Obama, is playing into Republican hands here. I outlined my reasoning above, and I stand by it. Your response was to call my logic "bizarre" and to accuse me of "stupid partisanship." You refer to Obama's "rather overt pandering to the media," essentially assuming your premise and implying that if I don't agree I'm being willfully blind to the truth.

Who does that remind you of?

Posted by: Adam on December 9, 2007 at 4:18 AM | PERMALINK

"essentially assuming your premise"

Er, that should have been "assuming your conclusion" or "making your conclusion your premise." Sorry.

Posted by: Adam on December 9, 2007 at 4:22 AM | PERMALINK

Poor Kevin.

Of course there is an alternative explanation: there really are problems with social security, and you and Krugman are full of shit.

Posted by: am on December 9, 2007 at 4:22 AM | PERMALINK

Obama better not get cute because without the base he's a pure media creation. Come to think of it with or without the base, he's a pure media creation.

Get some balls Obama.

Posted by: The Fool on December 9, 2007 at 4:46 AM | PERMALINK

Adam: I still lean toward the idea that a health care plan with a mandate is better than one without one (although if he's really going with the "trigger" idea Rachel mentioned, I think he may have threaded the needle on that issue better than anyone else--but that would be news to me).

The "trigger" concept is something Obama said he'd be open to. He's pretty clear that he won't impose an unaffordable mandate on people who would like to buy insurance but can't.

I heard him say this in an interview from New Hampshire that's online. Obama addresses his views on free riders here and also talks about how he would go about getting a plan enacted. The clip is good and takes about 10 min to watch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjsRcIfMj-E

And Adam, I completely agree with your view on how this went down. Clinton started hammering on the difference in the health care plans a few weeks ago, after polls had shown that voters trust her more on that issue and Obama more on Iraq. The problem is that her plan is also not universal, and now the national health care discussion we should be having is hung up on the mandate issue. Argh.

Posted by: Rachel on December 9, 2007 at 5:54 AM | PERMALINK

I think lefty Dems are schizophrenic about Obama. He claims that he doesn't want to be "the president of blue state America or red state America but of the UNITED states of America. He wants a new kind of politics - a bipartisan kind of politics. Do the people lauding this approach really believe that the Clinton's didn't come to Washington wanting exactly this same thing. The first babyboomers in the White House, they were all about a "bridge to the 21st century" etc.
Why do people think this didn't work? Well, its because blue state America wouldn't let it work!
Now the left criticizes Clinton for being a trianglulator, for being too willing to compromise. But isn't that just what Obama is promising them now? Is there any reason to think the Republicans would let him succeed anymore than they let Clinton succeed? Hillary has learned that lesson and is willing to fight. I think the Dems need a fighter more than ever.

Posted by: Vicki on December 9, 2007 at 6:10 AM | PERMALINK

Finally, some of you are beginning to awake. Obama will say anything and do anything to win, even if it means selling out on core Democratic issues. He scares me like no other candidate. He's a Lieberman in disguise. (In fact, that's his mentor, he even stumped for him for peet's sake). Even though I am a staunch Hillary supporter, I would much rather see Edwards win a million times over Obama. Unfortunately, I don't think Edwards has enough money to sustain his campaign for the long run. So I am sticking with Clinton, as she is the safest, and in my opinion, the best bet.

Posted by: Jessica on December 9, 2007 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin again reminds me why it's so hard to be on the left. Nothing - certainly not winning - nothing is more important than putting your thumb in the eye of the Russerts and Friedmans [or Liebermans or Hoyers] and striking the required PC vogues. Krugman is the north end of a horse headed south, and Kevin wants to take his talking points from him because he thinks he's sufficiently contemptuous of the great unwashed.

BTW Blue Girl, the reason AlGore was mocked about his risky wardrobe scheme wasn't because of his switch to earth tones, it was because he used the donations of people who believed in him to pay a consultant $15,000 a month how to do it.

Posted by: mr insensitive on December 9, 2007 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, yes, better to ignore reality and lose. In the words of Joe Biden "Let's get real here folks....."

Posted by: RollaMO on December 9, 2007 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

I don't like it either, and it makes me fundamentally mistrust Obama. Pandering to Russert dumbs down the whole conversation.

Posted by: Dawn on December 9, 2007 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

The thing that gets me is that people are being rather shortsighted when it comes to the chances of Clinton's healthcare being passed in any way as long as it remains as is. That's the fallacy of this whole diatribe. If Clinton were to get elected, and was to pass a healthcare policy, it would more likely end up resembling Obama's current plan than her pie in the sky plan that has little hope of passage.

Posted by: Quinn on December 9, 2007 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with Jessica. Obama scares me like no other politician. It's not just because he is a corporatist pretending to be progressive and he is always trying to play both sides of the fence. It's not just because he lacks experience and accomplishments. It's more because there is something ice cold in those eyes. A total narcissist who must always have the primary role in any drama and is ruthless and unprincipled in a way that is pathologic and not just the ordinary ruthlessness of a politician. Scary.

Posted by: Chrissy on December 9, 2007 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Primary season is coming up, and how do the liberals respond? With strenght and untity? Nope - with doubt and infighting and fighting against the other! Just like according to scrpt! I love it!

Posted by: egbert on December 9, 2007 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Primary season is coming up, and how do the liberals respond? With strenght and untity? Nope - with doubt and infighting and fighting against the other! Just like according to scrpt! I love it!

Um...That's called politics. It's not for the faint of heart nor the thin skinned.

How is that fallow field of yours doing? Romney and Julie-Annie patch things up?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 9, 2007 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Obama scares me like no other politician. ... A total narcissist who must always have the primary role in any drama ... Scary.

I share this fear. He takes himself far too seriously. And all this nonsense about bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle is what scares me the most.

Anyone who knows a thing about politics, how Washington really works, and the nature of the modern republican party knows that bipartisanship is ludicrous. The more important the policy issue or problem -- Iraq, health care, the environment, etc. -- the less likely bipartisanship is the answer.

Posted by: Econobuzz on December 9, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

If you're not open to the idea of universal healthcare, here are 3 simple changes to our existing system:
1. require insurance companies to offer a standard health insurance plan of the sort any employer would offer to its employees (what I'm on, for example)
2. require insurance companies to accept ANY applicant.
3. require insurance companies to charge all its customers the same rate.
This, by the way, is the Swiss health care system in a nutshell. Here is a good summary from a British study: http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/Switzerland.pdf
a couple "reviews" in US newspapers:
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_427691.html
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/06/18/the_swiss_example_on_health_insurance_reform/

Posted by: evermore on December 9, 2007 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

"It's not just because he is a corporatist pretending to be progressive and he is always trying to play both sides of the fence. It's not just because he lacks experience and accomplishments. It's more because there is something ice cold in those eyes."

Wait? And you're supporting Hillary Clinton? With the her union-busting staffers and her time spent on Walmart's board of directors?

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0312-01.htm

Are you crazy?

Posted by: Adam on December 9, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Adam get a grip on yourself. Hillary makes no pretense of where and with whom she stands. btw, I support Edwards but Hillary is definitely my second choice because although she is not dedicated to sweeping change she is at least honest about it.

Posted by: Chrissy on December 9, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

I like the way Obama has started using a loud sports caster's voice to mouth platitudes so that Chris Matthews thinks he is "passionate." america can do better has become AMERICA CAN DO BETTER!

Whether ya love him or hate him, Hitler was the all time master of putting a crowd rousing tone of voice in his speeches, having studied the technique.

Is Oprah a racist for going for a skin color, or does this only apply to white advocates?

Posted by: Luther on December 9, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

and will hike up the premiums for those who do choose health insurance, because so many healthy people will opt out of coverage.

This just ain't right. It's not even close to right. These policy attacks on Obama's plan are ludicrous - it's crazy to support mandates, whatever sense it seems to make in econo-books. The fastest imaginable way to torpedo health care reform is to compel people to pay for things they don't want to pay for - not even through taxes, which is relatively palatable, since it comes out of received income, but through instant, income-insensitive financial penalties.

The progressive approach to health care is to offer people the opportunity to have it, as close to free as possible. If some nominal fee for a service must be imposed, than that's palatable as well. But to force low-income people to lose more income, especially to services they may not be using and may not need to use - is not only not progressive at all from a moral standpoint, it's Republican.

Say it again: mandates are a Republican-esque idea "Individual responsibility and similar horsefeathers."

While we're at it:

Hillary makes no pretense of where and with whom she stands.

This is insane. I mean, it's absolutely ignorant of the record. On policy after policy, Hilary offers less information about what she's actually going to do than other candidates (her response to Social Security is "I promise to set up a bipartisan commission to study it!!! What? Why don't you figure out what you believe NOW, thank you??). When she does offer an actual opinion, she flip-flops immediately (driver's licenses?? Iran??). She has no principles, and where she does, they're Republican principles. Even worse, she has no fighting spirit whatsoever. Her "experience" consists of getting kicked around by Republicans. Her competence doesn't really exist. What there is of it is just the rewards of a tendency for camouflage and boilerplate.

And some people here haven't figured out that in election, you have to try and steal votes from your opponents. You have to try and get Republican voters even while you bash away at Republican public figures.

Posted by: glasnost on December 9, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Even worse, she has no fighting spirit whatsoever. Her "experience" consists of getting kicked around by Republicans.

Well, I confidently predict Obama is about to find out the meaning of the word "fighting." If he can survive it, he probably does have the toughness to beat the Republicans, and probably should be the nominee. If not, maybe we'll see him as Clinton's running mate. I've thought all along a Clinton-Obama ticket is not an implausible outcome. They may not look like they have much love for each other, but neither did Ronald Reagan and George. H. W. Bush.

Posted by: Jasper on December 9, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has had fawning media coverage mainly because the Russert/Dowd/Matthews types hate the Clintons. I don't think they will be swooning over Obama in a general election if he were to become the nominee. They would tar and feather him like they tar and feather every Democrat.

Posted by: Nan on December 9, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

"He wants a new kind of politics - a bipartisan kind of politics."

This kind of message turned me off the Obama campaing.

There is no such thing as "bipartian politics". It is an oxymoron. Politics and partisanship go together. We have partisanship because people disagree on the issues. They take sides. They fight for their side. Without partisan battles there would be no politics. We would all hold hands and sing kumbaya. Obama is a fool if he really believes this bs.

Posted by: Nan on December 9, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Even worse, she has no fighting spirit whatsoever. Her "experience" consists of getting kicked around by Republicans."

Really?

If Obama had faced 1/1000th of what Hillary has faced the last 15 years he would have folded long ago.

Obama is new on the national stage. He has not been targeted by the GOP and the Right Wing Noise Machine. He has had a charmed welcome from the corporate media.

When the media turns on him, as they eventually will, and the Right Wing Noise Machine goes after him he won't know what hit him.

Posted by: Nan on December 9, 2007 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is merely trying to defend himself against a stupid and vicious attack from Clinton's camp about his healthcare proposal, which is clearly superior to hers and Edwards. The mandate thing is ridiculous! I'm a pretty hardcore lefty and I hate it. They will get ripped to shreds in the general election. "DO YOU WANT THE GOVERNMENT TO FORCE YOU TO ACCEPT THEIR INSURANCE? NEXT THEY WILL TELL YOU WHAT DOCTOR YOU MUST GO TO."

Krugman jumped on Obama like he was on the Clinton payroll - not just one column but three. KRUGMAN WAS TOTALLY OUT OF LINE. Obama didn't attack anyone. He merely defended his healthcare plan from Clinton's attacks. And she had to go into overkill and accuse Obama of 'character flaws' for having a plan that differed from hers.

I thought Krugman was way out of line. I was shocked. I love the guy. He's as good as we have. But I thought he was so far in the bag for Hillary that he might be skirting the Times policy against candidate endorsements.

Why is the blogoshere tearing into Obama for this? I know that several people like Jerome Armstrong and Taylor Marsh are pretty much on Hillary's payroll, but what's wrong with everyone else. Obama is our best chance! And he strikes me as the most sincere advocate for the progressive agenda among the front runners.

I don't think this will hurt his candidacy, but it is causoing me to question many bloggers and journalist who I regarded as heroes.

Posted by: Tim on December 9, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

One last point. Reading many of the comments, one would get the impression that the Clintons have actually done something to advance the progressive agenda. All they accomplished was 'don't ask, don't tell', Welfare Reform, and NAFTA.

Posted by: Tim on December 9, 2007 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama is merely trying to defend himself against a stupid and vicious attack from Clinton's camp about his healthcare proposal, which is clearly superior to hers and Edwards. The mandate thing is ridiculous! I'm a pretty hardcore lefty and I hate it. They will get ripped to shreds in the general election. "DO YOU WANT THE GOVERNMENT TO FORCE YOU TO ACCEPT THEIR INSURANCE? NEXT THEY WILL TELL YOU WHAT DOCTOR YOU MUST GO TO."

Exactly.

And honestly, I'm sure Clinton knows that her mandate proposal wouldn't work either.

But it sounds good in the Democratic primary where it's inclusion is designed to cater to the hardcore left who don't see this as an issue. Her practical and real solution if she ever got a chance to implement it would have this mandate quickly dropped.

That's what galls me about this: Clinton (and Krugman, and Edwards) is the one being politically dishonest about their healthcare proposal...not Obama.

Posted by: Quinn on December 10, 2007 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

All they accomplished was 'don't ask, don't tell', Welfare Reform, and NAFTA.

Well, no, the Clinton administration: raised real wages, increased the EITC, raised taxes on the rich, made real efforts at helping to bring peace to such places as Northern Ireland and the Middle East, increased funding for AIDS research, supported scientific research in general, defended Social Security and Medicare, and was generally on the side of working folks. They also appointed numerous fine jurists to our courts. Oh yeah, and they brought us eight years of peace and prosperity. And they managed to do so without demonizing Latinos, or Muslims, or gay people. And they also maintained good relations with much of the world, including, most importantly, our friends and allies: it can't be stressed enough how harmful to our country's interests the loss of American soft power has been.

Bill Clinton didn't make anybody forget Bobby Kennedy, but this liberal considers him a damn good president.

Posted by: Jasper on December 10, 2007 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Jasper, your point is quite valid. I know Clinton was a good President. He picked some good people who managed the economy well. I just get fed up with the Clintonian triangulation - even though I acknowledge that it may be sometimes necesary to reach a goal. Bill allowed himself to get pushed into some anti- progressive positions. He frequently seemed incapable of drawing a principaled line in the sand.

Posted by: Tim on December 10, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK
Rather, his complaint is with Obama's rhetoric, which has been fundamentally an attack from the right that will only make it harder for progressives to fight similar-sounding right-wing attacks in the future.

Who cares if it’s an attack from the right? The important thing is that it’s a bogus attack and Obama is wrong about the math.

And it will now be harder for truth-tellers and math-respectors to fight similar-sounding attacks in the future.

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