Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 28, 2009

GIVE VOTERS A REASON.... The latest Research 2000 poll for Daily Kos included the usual question on the generic congressional ballot, with Dems still enjoying a modest edge over Republicans, 37% to 32%, with 31% unsure. Democratic numbers were strongest in the Northeast (53% Dems, 7% GOP), and Republican numbers were strongest in the South (51% GOP, 21% Dems).

But this poll added a new question to the mix to measure voter enthusiasm: "In the 2010 Congressional elections will you definitely vote, probably vote, not likely vote, or definitely will not vote?" The overall results aren't nearly as interesting as the partisan breakdown.

Among self-identified Republican voters, 81% are either "definitely" voting next year or "probably" voting, while 14% are "not likely" to vote or will "definitely" not vote.

Among self-identified Independent voters, 65% are either "definitely" voting next year or "probably" voting, while 23% are "not likely" to vote or will "definitely" not vote.

And among self-identified Democratic voters, 56% are either "definitely" voting next year or "probably" voting, while 40% are "not likely" to vote or will "definitely" not vote.

Markos, who called the results "shocking," explained:

Two in five Democratic voters either consider themselves unlikely to vote at this point in time, or have already made the firm decision to remove themselves from the 2010 electorate pool. Indeed, Democrats were three times more likely to say that they will "definitely not vote" in 2010 than are Republicans.

This enormous enthusiasm gap ... seems to make passing legitimate health care reform an absolute political necessity for Democrats. This polling data certainly should be something for Congressional leadership to consider, as they move along the legislative path.

The notion of an enthusiasm gap this year is not exactly new, but we haven't seen numbers quite this stark until now.

The results aren't a total surprise. President Obama, working with a Democratic Congress, generated high hopes. As the year progressed, the GOP base was worked into a frenzy, based on little but rage, ignorance, and confusion, while the Democratic base grew frustrated and impatient. They did their part on Election Day, and there's a sense that Democratic leaders aren't doing their part now. Policymakers have gone the better part of nine months without any major legislative accomplishments. That, coupled with a still-struggling economy, is not a recipe for widespread satisfaction.

To be sure, there are some explanations for the political paralysis. For the last six months, policymakers tackled the toughest policy challenge of them all -- health care reform -- which left little room for anything else. Plus, now that the Senate no longer operates on majority rule, passing anything even mildly noteworthy has become harder than at any point in American history. But these explanations, while true, don't change the larger dynamic -- the motivated right is still convinced the president is Hitler, and the listless left is still waiting for progress.

It's obviously not too late, and a great deal can happen over the next 10 or so months. What's more, the solution isn't exactly a mystery -- if Dems do what they were elected to do, they'll be pleased with the results. I keep thinking about something Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) said earlier this month: "We must deliver. I need to give Democrats something to be excited about."

Finish health care. Pass a jobs bill. Finish the climate bill. Re-regulate the financial industry. Finish the education bill. Pick up immigration reform. Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." It's ambitious, but a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president can prove to the country that they know how to tackle the issues that matter and know how to get things done.

The R2K/Daily Kos poll shouldn't cause panic among Democratic leaders; it should serve as a wake-up call.

Steve Benen 10:55 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (104)

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No, actually, I'd like to see a little panic among "Dem lawmakers."

Just how many times do they think they can get people to vote for them before people figure out they're not going to do any of things they conned them into thinking they would do?

Posted by: karen marie on November 28, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

You left out:

- total withdrawal from Iraq
- total withdrawal from Afghanistan
- close Gitmo
- prosecute Bush administration war criminals
- put an end to un-Constitutional and illegal Bush administration surveillance programs

Posted by: Ron E. on November 28, 2009 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

the problem is, karen marie, that ben nelson and mary landrieu and evan bayh and joe lieberman didn't con anyone: they've been perfectly clear that they are centrists at best and moderate republicans hiding out in the democratic party because they're scared of the right-wing thugs who control the gop at worst, but they are behaving exactly the way we should expect people of their ilk to behave.

the problem is that the median democratic voter is not, for example, the median nebraska voter, and ben nelson could care less what the median voter says anywhere else in the country.

what the dems need to think long and hard about is getting rid of the filibuster once and for all, which is what empowers these cretins.

meanwhile, insofar as there is an offsetting note, it's that the election may well be "nationalized," but it's not a national election: the question, as always, will be the quality of the individual candidates (that is, of course, assuming that the dems do pass some worthwhile legislation and don't continue down the path that the aformentioned senators are leading them towards).

Posted by: howard on November 28, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

It is clear that while the Democrats have a majority in Congress, Democrats wishing change in Bush-era policies are a minority. If that's the case after 2006 and 2008, it will always be so.
So why should I care whether the Democrats or Republicans have the best parking spaces on the Hill? That seems to be about all that changes with control of Congress.

Posted by: JMG on November 28, 2009 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

It should cause panic for Harry Reid. Either have the balls to control your caucus (at least enough that they lose their seniority if they vote with Republicans on cloture votes) or lose your seat and let someone else do the job.

Posted by: Shalimar on November 28, 2009 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

We need someone as smart and levelheaded as Oprah focusing on getting the marginalized citizens to think for themselves and figure out that they have a place and a responsibility in politics.
Is she available?

Posted by: Hank Roberts on November 28, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

The right wing extremists controlling the Repugnant Party have resisted and monkeywrenched everything they could, while uniting more and more with an even more extreme and potentially violent fringe.

Meanwhile, the Dims have done little fo to lack of leadership, organization, unity, commitment to the country...their own particularly depressing escape from reality that they do so well by simply not doing anything.

Looks like smells like tastes like a Weimar scenario. Either the right wing takes power and trips a crisis justifying a move to authoritarian control, or the various potential crises happening trigger the right wing return to power.

wont the next couple of years be fun? be lots of good drama on the teevee to watch...

Posted by: neill on November 28, 2009 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

shalimar, i'm always fascinated when people assume that if only harry reid were tougher, ben nelson would suddenly care about what any voter outside of nebraska thinks.

you do understand that the majority leader is an elected position? that you need the support of your colleagues to be in that position? and that your colleagues aren't going to give you that support if you are busy bouncing people from committee chairs?

please tell me you understand that. the problem is not harry reid: the problem is the filibuster empowering cretins.

Posted by: howard on November 28, 2009 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Without knowing the size of each group in the electorate it's hard to contextualize these numbers. But it doesn't take much to see a "centrist" Democrat claiming that these poll numbers show how important it will be to appeal to "independents" in 2010, and thus pass much crappier legislation that will be more expensive.

Posted by: Ron Mexico on November 28, 2009 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

what the dems need to think long and hard about is getting rid of the filibuster once and for all

And how are you figuring we'll get the votes to do that?

As long as you're urging people to be realistic, you might think about joining them in that goal.

Posted by: Tom K on November 28, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Ron E.

You left out:

- total withdrawal from Iraq
- total withdrawal from Afghanistan
- close Gitmo
- prosecute Bush administration war criminals
- put an end to un-Constitutional and illegal Bush administration surveillance programs

I second !

My first reaction was , prosecute the political heads and let the stink roll downhill . Reading Shalimar's comment I was in enthusiastic agreement concerning our poor kinetics . It is either fear or hubris that keeps among these retired pugilists , the fine , mild , authorities from defending the law , or my understanding of the human condition through the warp of office needs tweaking .

Posted by: FRP on November 28, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

The problem amounts to Nancy Pelosi not getting any help from Reid or Obama. She's got bigger balls than either of them wimps.

I'll definetley vote in 2010 but it's very likely that I won't for a president in 2012.
I'm beginning to regret putting effort, money, and hope into Obama.

Posted by: wrapper on November 28, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

The newly Stalinist (People's) Republic Party threatened to end the filibuster in 2005 only to have the "Gang of Fourteen," - featuring some familiar names: Landrieu, Lieberman, Nelson - avert Trent Lott's "nuclear option" by agreeing to embrace right wing judges.

For Howard, an otherwise astute and articulate commenter, and those others who think Harry Reid should be held harmless, it's worth pointing out that Lott had only 55 votes and still felt he could successfully eliminate the filibuster.

Posted by: Larry McD on November 28, 2009 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

the saddest thing is that if the GOP took back the senate, dems would let them pass atrocious legislation with 51 votes. lieberman, nelson, landrieu, lincoln, they will help gop block major dem legislation, and then vote for cloture on gop crap. wtf is wrong with them?

Posted by: eggnoggy on November 28, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

As Howard Dean says, "Use your majority or lose your majority."

Posted by: Tommy Corn on November 28, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

As already pointed out - the election is still a long way off, and there has been progress on the "progressive agenda" - just not as much and as quickly as some would like.

But calm down a bit - one of the factors that isn't considered in this poll is that even many of the most vocal parts of the so-called "anti-incumbent-mood" generally applies their moodiness to politicians outside their area - usually they feel and vote that their politician is the exception - thus the power of incumbency.

Posted by: colonpowwow on November 28, 2009 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

I remember that Speaker Reid chooses to put the emphasis on cordiality in an unseemly , personalised bullying , insular power mad , illegitimate , and argumentative approach . The overture to this style of vile provocation appears to require a substantive change from the Kerry head in the clouds what swift boat liars , Gore being buried alive comity confederation being offered in return .
Perhaps the problem isn't Harry Reid , but little has been offered that shows otherwise . Imagining a more robust indignation to an otherwise worthless republican neo con right wing corporate noise machine , seems just about right thank you .
Bringing silk ties and finger sandwiches to a mud wrestling bullying contest just lacks that tangible sense of the possible .

Posted by: FRP on November 28, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

tony k, here's how i would get rid of the filibuster: first off, i would have obama and a variety of senators obsess publically about the issue to get it into the political dialogue, and then i would propose an elimination of the filibuster in some specified time period (6 years, for example, so there would be a complete election cycle).

as i understand it, it's a senate rules matter, which means you only need 51 votes to get rid of it. i think it's hard but not impossible, not nearly as impossible as imagining that a senate majority leader is going to control his caucus when it's the caucus that elects him.

Posted by: howard on November 28, 2009 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Why does this surprise anyone? Republicans have been playing the voter suppression game for decades. They know that they just have to grab a majority of the relatively affluent who vote regularly. The people who need to be protected by their elected officials, the young and the relatively disadvantaged, feel helpless and apathetic. Obama lured them to come out and vote for him in droves with the promise of change. Since the 2008 election they see Obama and Congress as pursuing a path of 'same-old, same-old.' They're giving up already. Unless Obama pursues a bolder course which benefits a larger swath of the population, we could well be looking at a Palin presidency elected by a highly motivated minority. A tepid healthcare plan which is cumbersome and expensive for the majority of the middleclass will only alienate and increase apathy among the more vulnerable. Obama could wind up squandering all of the hopes and goodwill he benefited from in his first Presidential election if he doesn't figure this out.

Posted by: bos'n on November 28, 2009 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

not to throw a bucket of cold water on the off-with-their-heads parade, but i worked in Democratic politics a long time before I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up and I can tell you a large part of this is just Democrats being Democrats and stealing defeat from the jaws of victory.

We are known for our general disorganization, circular-firing-squads and the like, but we are also much less patient than the other side (the Goldwater-renamed-for-Reagan Revolution took 15-20 years after his loss, after all), less tough about becoming disspirited, and less willing to self-motivate in off years. None of this is new. Off year voting patterns have long favored Republicans and Republican-leaning demographics.

Yes, we need a better Senate and a stronger White House. But those aren't the cards we have right now, and the hand isn't going to get better if Dems sit out the midterms. Who really gets punished if we throw a tantrum and sit on our hands? Evan Bayh? Ben Nelson? No - they'll win reelection easily. It is the harder victories - people a little left of the norm that rode Obama's coattails, first-term Dems -- that will be swept back out.

Moreover, there is a lot less to be upset about than this post and thread suggest. Yes, there is a lot left on the progressive to-do list. But (a) Obama has only been in office 10 months for cryin out loud, and (b) he didn't exactly get to pick his battles - he was handed major freaking crises by the Worst President Ever. Still, he and the Congressional Dems have passed a politically difficult stimulus bill that virtually every expert credits with preventing a worse depression, a minimum wage increase, expansion of SCHIP, extensions of unemployment benefits -- these things may not "count" for a group that can afford a computer and internet service, but they do for millions of Americans. He has health care reform the farthest it has been in 60 years. And there are scores of under-the-radar things never getting press: the replacement of administrators with people who actually want government to work, the placement of 2 MILLION additional acres of wilderness under protection, the largest conservation effort in the past 15 years, and massive improvements in our standing as a member of the world community.

The last thing Progressives should do is aid and abet the underselling of what Obama has accomplished so far. We help disspirit our own, we give Repubs talking points, and we remove the incentive to do much at all - if no one notices, cares, or is ever satisfied, why bust your ass?

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 28, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

democratic voter apathy is to be expected and is a direct result of two things:

1) obama is a cad. He is governing nearly opposite to what he was elected on.

2) the democratic Congress is a complete failure - enacting nothing of what was promised nor ushering in the new direction Americans elected them for.

heckova job there vichy dems. As usual, way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But then again, that is exactly what the democrats corporate plutocratic overlords ordered.

Posted by: pluege on November 28, 2009 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'll definetley vote in 2010 but it's very likely that I won't for a president in 2012.
I'm beginning to regret putting effort, money, and hope into Obama.
Posted by: wrapper

It dismays me to see how eager some Democrats are to hand the reins of power back over to the Republicans simply because a new administration hasn't accomplished every one of their demands only ten months into its tenure.

Sit out the vote, wrapper. Hold your breath and stamp your feet while you watch the election returns in 2010 and 2012. Bask in your smug, self-satisfaction, knowing you did the right thing while the rest of watch in horror as Sarah Palin, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican freak show celebrate their return to power. Democratic base voters like yourself will be to blame for it.

But you'll have done what was morally right to you, so it'll be okay, won't it?

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on November 28, 2009 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

as i understand it, it's a senate rules matter, which means you only need 51 votes to get rid of it.

You understand incorrectly. You need a supermajority -- 67 if all senators are present. Good luck with that.

Posted by: Tom K on November 28, 2009 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Since it seems to be widely stated, and is repeated above, it's worth noting that the Republicans NEVER contemplated, desired, or threatened to do away with the filibuster in 2005. The issue at the time concerned only filibusters of judicial nominations, not the filibuster in general. The Rethugs claimed that filibusters of judicial nominations violated the Constitution and the rules of the Senate. (Of course, on its merits, this position was laughable both legally and in light of typical Republican hypocrisy this year.) Their plan (the nuclear option) was to have Darth Cheney, as president of the Senate, make a parliamentary ruling that filibusters of judicial nominees were not permitted by the Senate rules, which would be upheld by a majority vote.

Posted by: Marlowe on November 28, 2009 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

What zeitgeist said.

Posted by: Micheline on November 28, 2009 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

1) obama is a cad. He is governing nearly opposite to what he was elected on.

You're a parody troll, right?

He has done and been exactly what he campaigned on. Where did this fantasy come from that he campaigned as Dennis Kucinich? He said health care would be a key issue; it has been. But his universal coverage provisions during the campaign were less robust than Clinton's (something he took a fair amount of heat about). He said he would expand SCHIP and raise minimum wage and use government to stimulate the economy. Check, check, and check. He has taken steps re the logistics of closing Gitmo. It hasn't been a quick process (in no small part because of a misleading press and resistance in his own caucus), but its not like he's done nothing.

But most of all, he campaigned as a bipartisan, consensus-seeking, "can't we all just get along" type, not a flame-throwing, forceful leader (much less a trail-blazing partisan). Which was exactly why I did not support him in the caucuses/primaries. And sure enough, that is pretty well how he is governing.

So where is the surprise?

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 28, 2009 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Clarification to my post of 12:16: "Supermajority" can mean either 60 votes or a two-thirds vote, depending on the context. Rule 22 provides that a two-thirds vote of all senators present is required to change Senate rules. That pretty obviously is why they're not changed all the time.

Posted by: Tom K on November 28, 2009 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Rule 22 provides that a two-thirds vote of all senators present

so next time the Repubs pull one of their publicity stunt boycotts, and only Dems are "present," we move the filibuster rule change and we're golden, right?

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 28, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Considering who now runs the GOP, it seems to me highly irresponsible for anyone, however disappointed with the present situation, to sit out any election. Throwing a tantrum and holding your breath until you turn blue isn't going to do anything but enable the crazies to take over, and if Dubya wasn't enough for you, a Congress and maybe President whose strings are pulled by Rush and Sean and Lou D. ought to do the trick. But after that, it may be too late.

I'm old enough to remember the death of FDR (I was five at the time) so my future is a lot smaller than my past and I'll probably do OK tending my garden (so to speak). But I have a grand-daughter now 2 1/2 and I care about what world she will grow up in and I have only one vote. I suggest that everyone read a good history of the Weimar Republic (Shirer will do as well as any)...and note that the Left's mantra was "After Hitler, us". They were right of course, but only at the cost of 60 million dead, and Hitler didn't even have TV or nukes. (And what they got was not a worker's paradise, but a Stalinist police state.)

The raw materials for an American fascism are piling up, and a committed fanatical minority can do a lot of damage (the Nazis were never a majority). Right now the only weapon left to us is the vote, and I believe that anyone who abstains from using that weapon will have no little responsibility for what comes after...and then your complainyt will avail you even less than they do now.

I'll sign myself as what, alas, I have become....

Old Fart (but not senile yet, and maybe worth listening to)

Posted by: jrosen on November 28, 2009 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

so next time the Repubs pull one of their publicity stunt boycotts, and only Dems are "present," we move the filibuster rule change and we're golden, right?

That thought has occurred to me more than once.

Posted by: Tom K on November 28, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe you forgot the wars Steve. I think that speaks volumes about the Democrats and the enthusiasm gap.

Posted by: Me2d on November 28, 2009 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Benen: Steve Singiser (not Markos) wrote the Daily Kos piece to which you referred.

Posted by: RightKlik on November 28, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

The huge machinery of the Obama campaign has been allowed to rust in the field. The 50-state campaign of Howard Dean's 4 years as DNC chair is what won 2006 and 2008, and he's been summarily thrust aside because he proved Rahm Emanuel wrong. To my mind, that's the biggest mistake of the Obama administration and it bodes ill for 2010.

Posted by: Joyful on November 28, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

We are screwed, because too many congressional Dems are douche-bags and cowards.

Posted by: Obama Won on Change on November 28, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please.......Obama's been in office less than a year but because Santa Claus hasn't given you everything you wanted on your list, you're going to take your marbles and go home. How frigging childish! Grow up! Obama may not be perfect but he's a hell of a lot better than GW Bush.......or did you forget that Bush and the Rs nearly ran this country into the ground.

Now I am worried........maybe the Dems are as stupid as the Rs claim. I have never read so much childish whining in my life!

Posted by: ted on November 28, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Repeating what was clearly stated: I will definetley vote in 2010 and I likely won't vote for a president in 2012.

That means I put right and wrong ahead of party loyalty. I don't vote for republicans and I won't vote for Obama if he continues adopting some of the worst behaviors of the boy king's admin.

This Tuesday I expect Obama to say in so many words that dropping bombs on Afghan weddings is necessary to securing a second term for himself.

Posted by: wrapper on November 28, 2009 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

wrapper, i hope unlike others you dont find this surprising. Obama explicitly campaigned on escalating the Afghan war. It was a point of distinction between himself and W, who "fought the wrong war." We would slowly de-escalate Iraq and simultaneously increase troops and activity in Afghanistan - the "good" war. Obama is doing exactly what he campaigned on. I take it you must not have voted for President in '08 either?

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 28, 2009 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

The only reasonable reaction to disappoint over what has not been accomplished so far is to focus on what has been accomplished so far, what is not happening now that the republiscum are out of office, and to fight even harder to elect more democrats in order to dilute the power of the Lieberman - Nelson crowd.

Obama passed the stimulus bill (thereby keeping a huge Bush disaster from reaching catastrophic proportions - think what McCain or Bush would have managed to do), passed the Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act, eased restrictions on wage discrimination suits, renewed & expanded health insurance for poor children, the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Act, the Smoking and Tobacco Control Act, the omnibus land management act (protecting 2 million acres), and he finally killed the F22 fighter program. He has greatly improved US standing in the world and has changed the tone in international relations. He got China to cooperate on Pakistan, N. Korea, and Iran. He just changed lobbying rules. Given built-in impediments to progress (i.e., the Senate, for now), this is remarkable. There's a lot more to do, and it has only been 10 months so far.

(Not to mention that if you listen to the fright-wing, he has singlehandedly destroyed capitalism, created a huge fascist government of crazed socialist czars hired, turned the country over to godless liberals, and ensured perpetual democratic power by handing control of elections over to ACORN). :)

Posted by: N.Wells on November 28, 2009 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

not a flame-throwing, forceful leader (much less a trail-blazing partisan). Which was exactly why I did not support him in the caucuses/primaries.

So you picked the flame throwing, forceful in sound but not in action, ineffective one instead of the non flame throwing, ultrapersuasive, ineffective one. Whoop de do.

Posted by: 'tweren't no progressives in that race on November 28, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter zeitgeist, et al: When Republicans are in charge, you must suffer and hold on. When Democrats are in charge, you must suffer also but you must help them stay in charge, because Democrats who don't listen to the majority of the voters they serve are much less evil (though many are evil still) .

Change is impossible; it was just a campaign slogan that was never intended to actually occur.

The Republicans can ram through any and all their legislation with 51 votes and nothing we say matters. They can maintain party loyalty and discipline without thinking. The Republican president's word is law in congress and whatever Democrats say is immaterial -- they are shut out of committees, prevented from introducing legislation, etc.

The Democrats can't ran through much of anything worthwhile with 60 votes and everything we say endangers the future. They can't maintain loyalty and discipline with thinking. The Democratic president can't speak words to congress without riling up Republicans, so he best stay silent and stealthy. Republicans and conservative Democrats can't be made to pay a price because they are incumbents and, therefore, untouchable.

Did I get all that right? Oh, and Obama has passed everything he said he would. The devil in the details is to be ignored. Right?

Posted by: Gober Peas on November 28, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't agreed with everything Obama has done, and I've had my share of disappointment, but overall, what a relief from the previous eight years. Reid, on the other hand, should have come down like a house on fire right from the get-go on the blue dogs and made it clear to Liebermann that he play nice or his chairmanship would be stripped away.

But, I think a HUGE part of Democrats disinterest falls on the media, particularly whats left of the progressive media. The Huffington Post, Salon have turned bashing Obama over everything into a cottage industry. For better or worse, you don't EVER see the Republicans eat their own.

Posted by: Saint Zak on November 28, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

actually you have it wrong. Passing so-called health care bill will make the problem worse for the Dems. Even grass roots Democrats do not what this bill. The enthusiasm for the Republicans and Independents will get greater and the apathy for Democrats will just get worse.

Wake up Liberals!!!!!

Posted by: Ann Branstetter on November 28, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Well - this far Obama has continued the two wars and boosted the US presence in the Gulf region; he's supported the Banksters to the hilt and pleased Wall Street no end; he bailed out the totaled car industry, as if that will help; he's been mum on what kind of healt care option he really wants, and seems to play it very safe; and so on.
Bush went biking; Obama shoots hoops.

The electorate is seeing that Obama is part of the D.C. cleptocracy, only capable of forming whole sentences that don't sound like alphabet soup.

Why shouldn't they be abandoning the Dem's?

Posted by: SteinL on November 28, 2009 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Democratic legislators need to stop worrying that what they do will motivate a backlash from Republican voters. These whackjobs are already thoroughly motivated. What Democratic legislators need to worry about is that their lack of results are motivating Democrats to stay home on election day.

Posted by: giantslor on November 28, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

I've been a Democrat for over 40 years. I don't give a fucking damn any more. Nothing left to do but move to Vermont, I guess, and hope it secedes.

This country could hardly be more royally screwed. And right now, the "progressive" blogosphere is due for a large part of the blame. Why? For pretending that it makes a difference to elect Democrats, instead of using the vast networking energy available to organize something completely different.

Posted by: TaosJohn on November 28, 2009 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

And picking up on what someone else says above, yes, the so-called "health care" bills will completely destroy what's left of the Democrats, now seen as the party of Wall Street, Big Pharma, and all those health insurance industry bastards most people hate.

There's no health, no care, and certainly no reform in either the House or Senate bills. It is mindboggling to watch the ongoing political suicide among the Democratic leaders.

Posted by: TaosJohn on November 28, 2009 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yes, the old "Lesser of Two Evils" argument is still alive and well even in the age of Obama: "Sure the Democrats have accomplished very little of what they promised, but the Republicans are worse! So keep electing Democrats, because if we keep rewarding them for ignoring their own campaign promises, surely they will see the error of their ways, right? Right?"

I guess Rep. Stupak had a point when he talked about passing his coathanger amendment: For all the whining and screaming and stomping of the feet, at the end of the day the liberals will still fall in line and vote for the Democrats' position, while the Republicans will get their asses kicked if they step out of line.

This is why Pelosi and Reid are more scared of the Blue Dogs than any of you. What are you going to do? Vote them out? Maybe vote for someone who is actually a little more liberal and shares your values and not someone who merely pretends for the sake of getting elected? Ha!

Posted by: A Lurker on November 28, 2009 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a lesbian. Neither party will support my Constitutional rights. Neither party will dismantle the corporatocracy, or reinstate the 4th Amendment, or uphold a woman's right to bodily autonomy. The only difference between them is that the Dems lie and say they will. Why should I spend two hours standing in line to vote for a choice between sociopaths or pants-wetting pathological liars? That time could be better spent volunteering at an animal shelter, or tutoring 8th graders who still can't read past a 2nd grade level, or any number of things that would actually make a difference to someone else.

And no, I didn't vote for President in 2008. My choice was between a hateful old fart with a Joel's Army Armageddon-fetishist running mate, and a corporate-owned, bigot-courting, serial liar with a patsy for his running mate. I skipped that block and voted all the downticket issues, including local ballot initiatives and school board officials.

Without a major push from Dems to actually fulfill the 2008 party platform, if I vote at all in 2010, it will be in five minutes by absentee, and it will be skipping the entire top section of the ballot.

Posted by: Ephemereal on November 28, 2009 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

And right now, the "progressive" blogosphere is due for a large part of the blame. Why? For pretending that it makes a difference to elect Democrats, instead of using the vast networking energy available to organize something completely different.

Agreed - but start your own blog. Seriously.

As for the "progressive blogosphere," they're problem with Georgetown cocktail parties is not that these parties exist but rather that they're not being invited.

Posted by: Fitzhugh on November 28, 2009 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

"It's obviously not too late, and a great deal can happen over the next 10 or so months."

Or is it--and can it? I believe the next 10 or so months will reveal a dramatic shift rightward in the Obama Executive branch as the president continues his attempts to forge an ill-conceived legacy as a bipartisan president. Meanwhile, the current polarization (mouth-foaming among Republicans and listlessness among Dems) will only increase.

Look out.

Posted by: Kevin J-M on November 28, 2009 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

N. Wells: "...if you listen to the fright-wing, [Obama] has singlehandedly destroyed capitalism, created a huge fascist government of crazed socialist czars hired, turned the country over to godless liberals, and ensured perpetual democratic power by handing control of elections over to ACORN). :)"

Which is exactly why I will vote Democratic in the next election and gladly vote for Obama in 2012! I am flabbergasted to hear Democrats once again whine that "there is no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats." You would think that eight years of GWB would have laid that canard to rest. Jeepers, people, are you so mired in self-interest that you can't see the difference between 1) having the Republicans dismantle the US government, and 2) having Democrats struggle to do the right thing in the face of profound hostility? We live in a country in which ignorance is not only deep but is actively cultivated by media elite.

Instead of attacking Obama, we need to attack Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Fox news, etc. etc. and the ignorance of the average American.

Posted by: PTate in Mn on November 28, 2009 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

You left out:

- total withdrawal from Iraq
- total withdrawal from Afghanistan
- close Gitmo
- prosecute Bush administration war criminals
- put an end to un-Constitutional and illegal Bush administration surveillance programs

Posted by: Ron E. on November 28, 2009 at 11:09 AM

absolutely. this should have been your list, steve, instead of that other stuff that you listed.

Ron's list is the stuff that MATTERS. and should have been dealt with starting Day One.

but we can all thank rahm ( isreal first !! ) emmanuel for screwing it all up. ( boy, was he a bait and switch from the campaign. )

Posted by: Pissed Off on November 28, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

I can't understand why progressive reform needs 60+ votes in the Senate, while GOP madness gets launched with 51 ...

Just don't get it.

Posted by: SteinL on November 28, 2009 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

The simpler explanation, as is evident from comment sections and even front page posts around the leftish blogosphere, *cough*Aravosis*cough*Hamsher*cough, is that 40% of Democrats are whiny footstamping purity trolls who'd rather be outraged than feel more or less any other emotion. When we have President Bachmann because the footstampers take their toys and go home, it won't "heighten the contradictions" and lead to the emergence of True Progressive Politics. It will just suck.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on November 28, 2009 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

I can't understand why progressive reform needs 60+ votes in the Senate, while GOP madness gets launched with 51 ...

Obviously we need to devise methods to implement progressive reform without utilizing the Senate while also developing means to neutralize any further GOP madness - Senate or no.

That means specifically that liberalism, on the one hand, and the federal government, on the other, are two distinct and generally antithetical things.

Posted by: mcgurk on November 28, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Passing so-called health care bill will make the problem worse for the Dems. Even grass roots Democrats do not what this bill.
Posted by: Ann Branstetter

Hundreds of polls say you're completely full of shit. But don't let evidence get in the way of your fantasies.

Posted by: Shalimar on November 28, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Obama promised to close Gitmo, but he can't. Congress refused to authorize the costs of closure in the budget, for purposes of eliminating wasteful spending. Meanwhile we continue to run that place and not very cheaply either.

Posted by: maverratick on November 28, 2009 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is a right wing country, and I think Americans actually ate up "Mission Accomplished", the bullying foreign policy and agressive wars.They like cheney's meaness and bush's swagger. The total failure of thaty adminstration was so huge it couldn't be overlooked and in the end, people turned on them. But if John McCain had picked a viable running mate he would be our current President.

Obama and congressional Democrats will suffer if healcare reform passes, yet disapproving americans will greedily claim any benefits there might be. Don't ask, Don't tell? Don't pay attention to polls. That issue would turn radioactive if the President and the Democratic majority moved to repeal it. He's stuck with Afghanistan. To pull out would immediately result in a repeat of Saigon in 1975. He'd be finished.

Between 2010 and 2016 the Republicans will gain back control, and this incarnation of the party will make the Bush years look like a golden age. But that's what America has become. The rest of the work must think we're crazy.

Posted by: Saint Zak on November 28, 2009 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Zeitgeist - Yeah, Obama did call Afghanistan the right war and said he'd divert resources there from Iraq. At the time I thought it was requisite election-year penis pumping. His approach in recent months made me think he was really seriously considering non-military approaches, though, and whatever he promised, sending more troops into a regime-propping quagmire is not going to make the left happy.

Posted by: inkadu on November 28, 2009 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

I have given $30K in the last two cycles, but when I get the calls I tell them to call me after health care legislation has been enacted. None of this is the Republicans' fault. I am very disappointed with the Democrats. If they don't produce results, they deserve to get whipped next year, and they'll do it without my support, anyhow.

Posted by: Magic Dog on November 28, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Finish health care. Pass a jobs bill. Finish the climate bill. Re-regulate the financial industry. Finish the education bill. Pick up immigration reform. Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

In another blog today I saw someone talking about how much Obama has done that he's not getting credit for. There is a reason for him not getting credit, namely that there is so much he could have done that he actively decided to oppose.

When a farmer talks about fly control, you don't measure it's effectiveness by the number of dead flies on the ground, but by the number of live flies left in the air. The same way with Obama's agenda. You don't measure it by the number of little things that have been done, but by the number of big things left to do. So far, he (along with the rest of the Democrats) hasn't actually achieved a whole lot and it will be reflected in the vote next time.

Why should things be any different from Virginia where the voters had a choice between a Republican heavy and a Republican lite? The Democrats stayed home and the Republicans voted. At the rate that Democratic legislators are going, their voters won't see much difference between them and the Republicans, so they will stay home.

This is a wake-up call, guys. Get your act together and get some of this stuff done. Forget excuses. Obstacles are an opportunity for growth.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on November 28, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

When a farmer talks about fly control, you don't measure it's effectiveness by the number of dead flies on the ground, but by the number of live flies left in the air. The same way with Obama's agenda. You don't measure it by the number of little things that have been done, but by the number of big things left to do. So far, he (along with the rest of the Democrats) hasn't actually achieved a whole lot and it will be reflected in the vote next time.

This is a ridiculous standard: it rewards Republicans for being such total fuck ups by helping put them back in place to fuck things up some more. Obama has done more in his first year than anyone since FDR. That Bush left him so much to be done is certainly not Obama's fault. Could more have been done? Sure. But if the left isn't realistic, it will never be a political force. Aren't we the "reality based community"? Reality is that no other President in over half a century has done as much in so short a time. To expect more defies all historical sense of what is possible. If you're holding out for a Democratic President whose agenda is not deterred by the Republicans, Congress, word events, the economy or the media, whose only weakness is kryptonite, you'll be watching Republicans run the show the rest of your life. Last I looked the votor reg options weren't "Republican," "Democrat," "Justice League."

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 28, 2009 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Sure. But if the left isn't realistic, it will never be a political force. Aren't we the "reality based community"?

Heh.I said something very similar earlier today -

He has a reality that we have to assess and deal with pragmatically. We have a framework that, if we want to be effective and have an impact, we have to work within. This is not my idea, I would love to just crash the fucking gates and get it over with, but that ain't how it works and never will. That (so-called) self-proclaimed members of the "reality based community" refuse to accept this drives me absolutely nuts.

Posted by: Blue Girl on November 28, 2009 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

heh. Thanks. Midwestern minds think alike :)

Although it's gotten me started again on those who think otherwise. . .

It really would be funny, we're it not so dangerous, how people can come here all last week and join Steve in making fun of the Republican Litmus Test for funding, and then with no sense of irony at all come here today and suggest that they are already imposing the same thing on Democrats for 2010 and 2012. Most polling shows 20-25% of the voting public self-describe as "liberal." These massive changes in capitalism, in militarism are not going to come from elected executives and legislative bodies until those liberal numbers are upwards of 40%.

John Lennon put it as well as anyone: "You say you want a revolution -- well you know, we all want to change the world. . . but if you go carryin' pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow." The revolutionary faction among the progressives would do well to note there has only been one in this country, and that was over 200 years ago. Change is our system is never revolutionary, always evolutionary. We win a few more seats this election. We add a blue state next election. We get a new program or two passed this session. We take a step back, and have to fight our way forward again. We move the Overton Window slightly each cycle.

If that will not be good enough for you because you have political ADD, go ahead and rant away, throw your tantrum, sit on your hands. Because all you have to do is read Jeff Toobin's "The Nine" to see that the wingnuts on the rights have the patience and ability to tough out losses and think long term without defeatism or fatalism and if we lack those same traits, we're going to get our asses handed to us. We should be able to kick their asses - if we have their toughness but a lot more sense, this should be doable. But whining about purity and never being satisfied wont get us there.

Whining ain't winning.

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 28, 2009 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has dug the Dems' grave with his decision to escalate the illegal war in Afganistan. That Benen didn't even fricking mention this is just another sign that Benen is part of the problem.

Posted by: Disputo on November 28, 2009 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the period of 10 months is sufficient to understand a President.

Obama is an ineffectual president, with very little of what is normally recognized as leadership skills. He may be naive or timid or loathe to stand strongly for something, but it does not really matter. In the ultimate analysis a winner gives his supporters concrete reasons to support him. Obama has not done so. He was definitely a good campaigner for the specific circumstances of the 2008 presidential election, but he has done very little to build upon the support of the campaign into a lasting movement. On the contrary he seems to have gone out of his way to not forcefully stand for the things for which the democratic base voted for him.

He has intentionally pissed of his base on the left in quest for the ephemeral bipartisanship, betraying total ignorance of the politics in Washington and of the tactics of the Republics and moderate democrats.

Unless an economic miracle happens in the next year, he is toast, a one termer like Carter.

Posted by: gregor on November 28, 2009 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

If what congress has done on health care is considered 'tackling' they couldn't even be compared to the Detroit Lions.

Posted by: par4 on November 28, 2009 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

It's been less than a year. The standard isn't perfection, but the Democrats have to deliver on health care. That's the make-or-break issue as far as I'm concerned.

If the Democratic Party can't turn their House and Senate majorities and presidency into health care legislation, then there's really no use for them.

This is the #1 domestic issue. Yes, we know that the Republicans don't want to do anything about it. That's why the country elected Democrats. Now if the Democratic Party cannot address the #1 issue, there's just no point in supporting them.

Posted by: Magic Dog on November 28, 2009 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Again with the "the crappy legislation that Democrats pass and Obamas signs (too small stimulus, bailout for Wall Street and Detroit plutocrats but NO support for union members, Bush-style education policies, etc.) are the fault of whiny liberals, who are a minority anyway."

I've been at this political game for about 40 years now -- too long for someone to insult me with the "political ADD" label. I was there when Johnson did the right thing. And I remember being screwed by Clinton.

It never fails to amaze me how Republicans kiss the butts of their base over and over and Democrats kick their base in the face. Go away, you DFF! Wish you'd told me that before I wasted all that time and money volunteering and working last year to get Obama elected and a Democratic majority in congress!

I fully expected to see nothing substantial come out of it because I'm cynical after all these years. Amazing how the too-small stimulus with no strings attached passed before the dust could settle in the oval office but anything remotely progressive takes years and years and incrementalism.

The problem is that we, the base, aren't Wall Street, big PHRMA, a military contractor, or any other wealthy donor. We just do the grunt work and then get told to STFU whenever we raise our voices to point out that what our betters in DC are doing is the complete opposite of what they said they'd do once in power again.

That's OK! Vote Democratic anyway -- it could always be a degree worse. Republicans are at least honest about wanting to screw you and give everything to the rich. The Democrats lie and say they want to change things. Ha!

Posted by: Goober Peas on November 28, 2009 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

the election is still a long way off, and there has been progress on the "progressive agenda" - just not as much and as quickly as some would like.

Posted by: mbt shoes on November 28, 2009 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

I agree fully with all of zietgeist's posts and every one who says - "Hey, it's been 10 months since Obama inherited a totally fucked up country from the worst administration in recent history".

I voted and worked for Obama in 2008 and I will be out there again for 2012. I don't agree with everything he's done so far, but he's a thinking man with - for the most part - good advisers. I've long considered myself a "progressive", but also a "pragmatist". We're not going to get everything we want immediately, but let's stop wanking and support our president.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on November 28, 2009 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Question to Obamabots like 'phobes-in-santa-fe' above:

What do you think is he going to do in the next three years? During the last ten months he has clearly indicated that he is not going to ever stand firm for anything. Torture, detention, wars, prosecutions, health care -- on each of them he has been perfectly malleable. The only constant has been his intense desire to walk away from the progressive agenda. What reason is there to expect that he will miraculously change his MO?

Posted by: gregor on November 28, 2009 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Like some posts here pointed out, Obama in ten months has begun all kinds of changes that are easy to overlook. In my agency the political appointees are people with actual qualifications beyond merely being ideologues or recommended by the Federalist society or the Heritage foundation or something, who are actually working for rather than selling out the mission of the place. So there's a lot going on in a positve direction in less than a year probably throughout the government. The new direction operates from a macro to micro level.
Obama's basic mistake is not kicking some ass in some obvious ways. There is symbolism in the act as well as the issues. As often suggested, why doesn't he order the temorary cessation of DADT discharges. Just put his foot in the door on a few big issues where he has the power to do it. This would signal to us progressives that he's willing to go out on a bit of a limb on a few issues, and the wingnuts would maybe to some degree respect the moral rigor, even if they are opposed on the issues. A bit of this kind of thing would be I think just good politics. Reminds me a lot of Clinton actually.

Posted by: emjayay on November 28, 2009 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and maybe kick a little Wall Street butt, beyond the usual speech they enjoyed sneering at.

Posted by: emjayay on November 28, 2009 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

I will definitly be voting in 2010 (barring death), but what I see is that the liberals (that's me) and progessives are feeling ignored by the Obama Administration and by the Dems in general.... no backbone... no apparent will to fight. We got them elected in 2008 and what we are looking at is Bush Lite. The disgust level is high and rising.

Posted by: Claimsman on November 28, 2009 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

gregor@9.10p - please, I don't consider myself an "obama-bot". I came to support him last year after measured reasoning about him and his main rival, Hillary Clinton. There was no way I would ever support a Republican, after the mess they'd made of the country I love for eight straight years.

I liked what I saw about Obama, particularly what I could see of him raising our profile in the world. We had been represented by a sneer and a smirk for eight years. I also knew that way too many people were attaching "their hopes and dreams" onto Obama and would be crushed if he failed to perform as they wanted him to. And, that has happened. I don't like more of the Afghanistan war, but I'm waiting til he speaks to the nation on Tuesday. He certainly has made progress in other ways since being sworn into office last January. In the main, I am happy with the way our country is heading. Do I wish the wankers at Goldman, Sachs weren't being "rewarded" as they are? You bet! I'd like to see us out of Afghanistan and Iraq sooner rather than later. Health care passed, of course. DADT repealed? Sure. BUT, I'm thinking of how bad we were a year ago and the way we seem to be coming out of it.

gregor, how do John McCain and Sarah Palin look to you?

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on November 28, 2009 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

I used to think it didn't matter whether we elected a Dem or a Rethug. In 200 I even thought that maybe it was a good thing that Bush got elected because then the pendulum would swing back and we could get a progressive prez.

I never, ever thought he could f**k up the country so bad.

I will never, ever make that mistake again.

Dems suck, but they don't start wars with Mexico because Canada harbors terrorists.

Posted by: The Sailor on November 28, 2009 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

When it comes to having "names" thrown at me, I'd *much rather* be an "Obamabot" than a "Limbnought" (or "Limpnaut"); fewer fat cells, more grey cells... an altogether preferable combination.

Posted by: exlibra on November 28, 2009 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

To have a great president you must have great countrymen too

And we aren't great anymore.

We are an unhappy people filled with rage, blame, worthless media detritus, transparent lies, and 1000s of hours of tv commercials. We are not the same people that FDR had in hand. Or even LBJ.

Most of us don't even know where Iraq is on the map. Or who Joe Lieberman is. Or that Joe's wife makes a ton of money from the insurance industry. But we know what car we lust after. And we know who won last week on American idol...

Worse: Our undereducated country is now in a bitter cultural war with itself. A war that neither side can win. A war that will not end in our lifetimes. A war that is amplified by the internnet and re-amplified by Big Media trying to steal eyeballs back from the net. And so on and on... Until this grotesque food fight we call a country, would tear the president apart for winning the Noble Peace Prize.

I mean really, how lame was that whole thing?

Or more timely, how lame is this: Obama's going to Copenhagen with a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 17% by 2020. Not good enough says the left. He should give back his Nobel. Ain't no global warming says the right. It's a scam!

You think you could find a leader that could lead us better than Obama? Forget it. He is playing the best he can with this shitty worn out deck of cards that is the American people...

No matter what Obama does or says is cause for hate. Hate from the left and hate from the right. And of course: an growing indifference from the great unwashed middle in response to that hate. That's the political takeaway from the Daily Kos poll. The moral takeaway is much more broadband: America is committing suicide in broad daylight. Our people are being consumed by self-loathing and too many easy empty media calories.

Obama's the right guy at the right moment doing the best he can.
But it's not good enough because we aren't good enough anymore...

Posted by: koreyel on November 28, 2009 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

You left out EFCA, which is probably the single most important piece of legislation which could be passed. Nothing would do more to empower the working poor than giving them some actual power at the bargaining table, and giving them some real political clout come election time. Most of them don't even vote because they believe, pretty accurately, that nobody represents them. Successfully unionizing the service industry would do more to challenge corporate dominance of the federal government than anything listed in this post.

It is truly disheartening that a publication like the Washington Monthly has given up without even the semblance of a fight.

Posted by: Jason on November 28, 2009 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

To have a great president you must have great countrymen too.

To what ridiculous extent will the Obama diehards go to excuse his performance? Reminds me of some religion wherein the God is supposed to have the right to your prayers.

To say that Obama is better than what McCain and Palin would have been is a total copout. Of course you can always set low enough bar and Obama will come out looking like a Lincoln.

The fact remains, nevertheless, that on many issues Obama's performance so far has been considerably short of the expectations set by his campaign rhetoric. It is as if he wants to prove that all that was just that, and to force us to forget all the promises of the 2008 campaign.

Posted by: gregor on November 29, 2009 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

Boo hoo. Just because one poll took place 12 months before the midterms, everyone is crying and the Repubs are gloating. Well, only in political land do people profess to have such short memories. In real life, memories are long and Repubs are still the villians of the piece -- and will be for as long as Ayn Rand, Rush, and Sarah Palin live iin the hearts (black as they are) of humanity. XXXXOOOOO Kurt

Posted by: Kurt on November 29, 2009 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

I see many of the whiners have come out in force to show their lack of understanding of what Obama has accomplished and what he will eventually accomplish. All of the negativity from the networks has turned a great movement into a pathetic mass of complainers who want Obama to wave a magic wand and make everything all better without any support from the pathetic mass. Many of us have seen great things happen over the first ten months and know it takes time to create change especially in this political climate but I did not think I would see the day that the biggest obstacle to Obama's success in reaching his goals would be cowardly democrats willing to lose all just so they could crow that Obama did not do everything they wanted in the first ten months and if he would just do it their way things would be as we dreamed of on election, an impossible instant utopia. Grow up and realizre that true change takes time and hard work and a strong effort from everyone, not just Obama.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on November 29, 2009 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

gregor If I am not mistaken President Obama has a lot on his plate. A little more than you and other commenters and bloggers who sit in front of a computer gathering negative news stories and reporitng on them while ignoring the positive. I read a story where the stimulus saved millions of jobs. I read a story where the health care reform process has gotten farther than at any time in the last 40 years and is actually looking more likely to pass every day. I see a president making sure he gets Afghanistan right after years of dithering by Bush and Cheney. I see a president promising bank regulation after the small tasks of taking care of healthcare, the economy, two wars and fighting a public relations war with Fox, CNN and most of the network news shows. I see good things happening, as much good that can come after eight years of the country being raped and and on the brink of ruin from the previous administration as recently as 10 months ago. Obama has accomplihed more in 10 months than most presidents have accomplished in their first four years. I am betting on Obama. I do have one question for you... After eight years of complete failure why should I take your opinion seriously? Your party is in turmoil, filled with some of the most dishonest corporate toadies the capital has ever seen and you want me to take what you have to say like it has value? Explain to me why.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on November 29, 2009 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

I love how the counter-argument to the lack of enthusiasm for voting Democrats next year is facing Hobson's choice: Would you rather wish real, reeeeeeeal hard and hope that Obama's just going to come out with everything from repealing DOMA and passing EFCA to pulling out of our wars and putting Bush and co. on trial for war crimes at some point in the near future? Or would you prefer to stay at home and let Sarah Palin and her teabagging ilk win?

I guess I was a naive fool to think that a real democracy would have more options than the choice of being punched in the head or being kicked in the balls. But the "Lesser Evil" theory lives on...

Posted by: A Lurker on November 29, 2009 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

So now I am a whiner, and a complainer, and good havens, a Republican?

Good luck to Obama running on a platform of 'change takes time' and 'we were better than Bush'.

The apologists do not seem to grasp the basic point that Obama has silently gone back on many of his promises, direct as well as implicit, and his actions and words strongly suggest that even if he gets ten terms those promises will not be fulfilled. It is not very hard to look for and find such signals (unless of course you are blind), the more recent examples being the departure from the White House of two key officials who were supposed to work on his promises on Gitmo and torture.

Posted by: gregor on November 29, 2009 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

"This country could hardly be more royally screwed. And right now, the "progressive" blogosphere is due for a large part of the blame. Why? For pretending that it makes a difference to elect Democrats, instead of using the vast networking energy available to organize something completely different."

Oh, something completely different! Sounds like fun! Any details? No? Guess your ass is off to Vermont!

TaosJohn, if you had any ability to organize anything, you wouldn't waste your time griping ineffectually and vaguely on progressive websites about the fantastic organization you want to see. You'd be out making it happen. But most of Obama's lefty detractors are even more ineffectual than they accuse him of being.

In fact, I don't even think you'll move to Vermont (just as well, since it ain't about to secede). Most likely, you'll spend the next several years grousing about how you will, in between harangues about the need for a new, "completely different" organization.

Posted by: sweaty guy on November 29, 2009 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

Two things: first, I believe that this white house has seriously underestimated the disaffection felt by many progressives with the seeming cowardice displayed by Obama's white house in the face of republican opposition antics; second, I believe that Rahm Emmanuel may turn out to be one of the worst choices Obama could have made for the white house staff, with his apparent focus on tactics to the detriment of progressive philosophy.

Posted by: rbe1 on November 29, 2009 at 4:47 AM | PERMALINK

while poll after poll clearly show that the country prefers democratic policies:

1) democratic policies appeal most to people who tend to vote less than the rapid opposition.

2) when democrats raise expectations they never intend to deliver on they cultivate cynicism, further suppressing their own voter base

Posted by: pluege on November 29, 2009 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK

Tired, we've heard all those arguments before and we're tired of excuses. We want action. We want problems solves. We are sick and tired of being told how hard Obama's job is. If he wasn't up to it, he shouldn't have fun.

This load of BS is no more entertaining from you than it was from the Bushies 2 years ago.

Posted by: soullite on November 29, 2009 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

This thread is a showcase of individual posters' respective obsessions. It's like everyone got on here and starting doing parodies of themselves.

Posted by: shortstop on November 29, 2009 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Whiner democrats are like little children who want everything done Nowwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!! Although I think many of the crybabies on this site and others are republicans in whiners clothing many are just people that are unaware that our government is set up to make change very slowly using checks and balances, the foundation of our country. No magic wand or dictatorial powers to use when needed. Go ahead and complain all you want that things are not happening fast enough, it is your right. But the presidents plan is for the long term on a global scale and it is a plan that I think would take more than 10 months to create and implement. To me even a young child would be able to understand that.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on November 29, 2009 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

There seem to be a lot of people who, while agreeing with the substance of the criticisms, believe that publically criticising Obama or the democrats is unfair and unrealistic because, you know, they're in a tough place, and Bush left them with such a mess, and Washington is almost hopelessly corrupt, and they're doing the best they can given the circumstances.

Lets assume this is true. How does this invalidate criticism? The only leverage as voters that we have is making our elected officials afraid that they won't win the next one.

Additionally, it seems to me that the political methodology that is being suggested here is that we should first determine what we believe to be "politically feasible," and then take off the table anything too "extreme" before the fight is even begun.

The best recent example of this is single-payer. The elites of the democratic party decided at the start that this simply wasn't possible, and so we are not even going to discuss it. Even if we assume the political calculation was correct, we lost enormous ground at the bargaining table before even beginning. This approach was accepted by almost all "left leaning" publications, including the Washington Monthly; Democracy Now was about the only outlet willing to even entertain the idea.

On a related note, I noticed that Mr. Benen exluded passage of EFCA from his "to do" list, presumably because, again, it is considered to be politically impossible. He is probably right. But that is no reason to refuse to fight for it, or apparently, even acknowledge its existence.

Obama and the democratic party should be subjected to principled criticism, regardless of the "political reality," and held accountable in the only way possible: making them fear election time. Come election time, I would encourage everyone to put their cynicism aside and vote against something even if they, understandably, can't bring themselves to be excited about voting for something. Until then, however, principled, sustained, thoughtful criticisms which make our elected officials afraid for their survival, are absolutely necessary if anything is going to be accomplished.

Posted by: Jason on November 29, 2009 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the word: Nader.
I have absolutely no problem complaining about Obama and our shitty Democratic Congress. But I've been hearing an awful lot of these whines before--not a dime's bit of difference blah, blah, blah.
Don't like the Democratic Party? Then let's take it over. Start primary fights with the blue dogs. Find a real progressive Democrat and make Obama run against him in the primaries. Make him defend his record--whatever that is come 2012.
But this 'stay home' crap? This sneering at 'the lesser of two evils'?

This is the survival of a great nation, not sports talk radio about Alex Rodriguez.

Obama may be too cautious and too compromising. Agreed. I stopped being a real rooter at the FISA vote.

But this country will not survive another period of Republican malfeasance. We will flop into second-class status. We will lose more cities. We will have real hair-on-fire emergencies arising from our wretched health-care delivery system, our nonexistent safety net for the middle class, and our bursting boils of right-wing craziness if these guys get back in power. We'll become the fucking Ottoman Empire.

Didn't you see it? They're the Katrina Party. They will let the intestines of America spill out onto the sidewalk, shout 24/7 that it's not happening and then that it's the Dhimmicrats' fault. And they'll let it die because, hey, they'll just move to the South of France where they have a little place.

It's not that we should be complacent about Obama's actions--by all means, let's pressure the hell out of them. But we simply can't afford the Republicans--and we can't afford any Naderite nonsense--or any tactic that puts those crazed shitheads any closer to power.

Posted by: pbg on November 29, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

No need to panic? Perhaps not panic, but guess what. This has happened before. The Republicans have their purity test in writing. Liberal Democrats have their purity test as well and when reality sets in and they find out that 60 is not a magic number, that the far right is skilled at race baiting and fear mongering, that compromise is absolutely essential with such a slim majority, they take their ball and go home.

I saw this several times in the past. One result was Nixon. Another was Reagan. Another was Bush I and then Bush II. Now, in 2010 Congress has a good chance of going down the drain and all the self satisfied pure Democrats will then be saddled with exactly the opposite of what they want and the Obama presidency will fail.

Stop whinning morons. You are not going to win anything by going home in a huff. Learn that with the slim non-majority you have that nothing, nothing is going to go smoothly. Right now, this type of attitude is childish and stupid. And you damn well better get out and vote in 2010.

Posted by: Richard on November 29, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I know the common wisdom is to think all voting or feelings about voting reflect how people feel about the President, even when that President is not on the ballot, as Obama won't be in 2010. I'm not sure I believe most people connect the dots this way to the President (or to the Congress as a whole). The majority of voters in the Governor's races in NJ and VA said President Obama wasn't a factor and that their votes reflect how they felt about the individual candidates. People in VA like Obama, but abandoned the Democratic Gov candidate, because Deeds was a dud candidate who ran a poor campaign. If the Dem voters are no more impressed with their candidates running in 2010 than they were with Deeds, the results seem likely to be similar, whether voters support Obama's policies or not.

Posted by: DC on November 29, 2009 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm voting for Nader!

Posted by: Glen on November 29, 2009 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Ralph Nader is looking better all the time.

Posted by: cwolf on November 29, 2009 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't mind seeing some panic - but I've actually decided I'm done with them. Even if they do pass health care - it's a piece garbage bill.

But too many people are hurting. War, Bush tax cuts, no health care, climate change, unemployment, college tuitions, re-regulating the banking industry, helping the middle classes - and on and on.

They blew it - I'm done.

Posted by: francis on November 29, 2009 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

A favorite quote, from Michael Jordan: Winners don't need wake up calls.

Posted by: AndrewBW on November 30, 2009 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

"This enormous enthusiasm gap ... seems to make passing legitimate health care reform an absolute political necessity for Democrats."

Completely agree. Too bad no legitimate health care reform bills are on the table.

Posted by: sj on November 30, 2009 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an independent and if the Dems cram health care 'reform' down our throats then I'm more likely to vote...

...against them.

Posted by: tkc on December 1, 2009 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

I am tired of my choices being criminals and cowards. If the Democrats do not stand up, take action and stop letting Republicans rule (yes, rule, not lead) from the minority I will not vote for them. I would sooner write in Donald Duck and throw my vote away than waste it on a weak kneed Democrat who is afraid or unwilling to stand up to the Republican monied interests.

I didn't vote these bozos into office so I could get another eight years of Republican control. I voted them into office because I wanted my freaking rights and country back and Republicans aren't interested in that.

Posted by: E in MD on December 1, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: ksdjabvlkhnb on August 18, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK



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