Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 20, 2010

A NOTICEABLE DROP-OFF IN QUALITY.... Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.) offered an interesting peek into his worldview last night during his victory speech.

" In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.

"Raising taxes, taking over our health care, and giving new rights to terrorists is the wrong agenda for our country."

Perhaps now would be a good time to note that this is a Senate seat once held by John F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Henry Cabot Lodge, and John Quincy Adams, among others.

It now belongs to Scott Brown -- a conservative who supports torture, opposes Wall Street accountability, supports more tax cuts for the wealthy, opposes economic recovery efforts, opposes Ted Kennedy's life's work on health care reform, and doubts that global climate change is the result of human activity.

And says things like, "In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them."

It's admittedly tiresome to hear any political observer say, "In the good old days...." Those days were rarely as good as anyone remembers, and prominent thinkers of the day have been complaining about the next generation being less impressive than the last for as long as we've had the printed word.

But a once-storied Senate seat that belonged to Adams and Kennedy is now filled by a dim-witted wingnut, and that's a real shame -- for Massachusetts, for the Senate, and for all of us.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (55)

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Just another step on our long road to becoming Turkmenistan with TiVo.

Posted by: Cataphract on January 20, 2010 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

C'mon, Steve - I'm sure Brown would be great to have a beer with. I thought that was the only thing that mattered, right?

Posted by: TT on January 20, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

A dimwit who has served his local constituents well for many years while raising two daughters -- one a premed student and the other a talented, nationally-recognized singer.

No, he wasn't born to a rich bootlegger like Joe Kennedy, and no, he wasn't a murderer and serial adulterer like Ted Kennedy, but he worked for his new job rather than inheriting it. So, Steve, it looks like you're the dimwit.

Posted by: Disillusioned Progressive on January 20, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Last night I was REALLY disappointed.

Today I am righteously pissed off.

Heads should f_cking ROLL in the Democratic Party.

Tim Kaine? Where the f_ck was he?

Rahm f_ucking Emmanuel? WTF?

I mean, come on, people, this isn't rocket science!

If the f_cuking morons who get paid BIG F_CUKING BUCKS to run campaigns couldn't win this seat for the Democrats THEY SHOULD BE SENT INTO THE WILDERNESS NEVER TO BE SEEN ON A CAMPAIGN AGAIN.

I am so mad I need to be kept away from sharp objects and high-ranking Democrats.

Posted by: karen marie on January 20, 2010 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

And YOU, stupid f_cking "disillusioned progressive," can just STFU.

What does Brown's daughters have to do with the price of f_cking scotch? Huh?

Roger f_cking Ailes is a self-made man. You want HIM in the senate? Huh? Do you?

Don'be such a f_cking baby.

"Progressive." You don't know the f_cking meaning of teh word.

Posted by: karen marie on January 20, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

I think people should realize that 06 and 08 weren't rebukes of the Replicans or conservatism, they were handslaps. This is a conservative country and groes more conservative every year. Brown is exactly what this country is and wants.

Posted by: Saint Zak on January 20, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

It's admittedly tiresome to hear any political observer say, "In the good old days...." Those days were rarely as good as anyone remembers, and prominent thinkers of the day have been complaining about the next generation being less impressive than the last for as long as we've had the printed word.

But a once-storied Senate seat that belonged to Adams and Kennedy is now filled by a dim-witted wingnut, and that's a real shame -- for Massachusetts, for the Senate, and for all of us.

Oh, boo-hoo, Steve. It's just this kind of sour, "he's an idiot! and a jerk!" kind of line that's going to guarantee more losses and more Scott Browns. Give the man credit for doing what he did successfully, for knowing his audience... and for, potentially, rising to the occasion of his election. If he fails, then he fails... but if he succeeds... you will simply have been wrong. And cynical.

Posted by: weboy on January 20, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Benen's sense of entitlement to that seat, and Disillusioned Progressive's response, perfectly encapsulate the reasons why the national Democratic party in its current form is a dead end, a party that can occasionally stumble into power but can't govern, a party that basically represents nobody. It will be swept from power again as it was in 1994. This time, unlike then, it had better use its time in the wilderness to remake itself- this may be its last chance. The opportunity will certainly be there in 2018 and 2020 for a reborn party, because it's clear the Republicans have learned nothing from their dismal failures of the 00s. But this time the Democrats had better be ready to seize that opportunity and actually do something with it.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 20, 2010 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Steve isn't this a signal that the American people have rejected the progressive policies?

Don't take it personal: it is your ideas we hate not you.

BTW: There is a God.

Posted by: Orwell on January 20, 2010 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Orwell, your ideas are so wonderful that their disastrous consequences got the Thugs thrown out on their asses in 06 and 08. It's only the utter fecklessness of the Democrats that's going to rescue them so they get another chance to destroy the country.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 20, 2010 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

microsoft open year developed positive basis worldwide announced

Posted by: jillpassm on January 20, 2010 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

What a ridiculous comment thread. This is not a conservative country, and it never has been. Progressive policies have been favored by a majority of Americans for decades. Most Americans want a fairer economy, progressive taxation, more help for the poor, and heavily regulated or government run health care. The percentages move around but it's never been the case that most Americans support the Republican agenda.

Unfortunately, many Americans are also uninformed, or stupid, and are easily misled and frightened. Republicans are better at lying than Democrats are, and better at manipulating negative emotions, and better at simplistic narrative, and so they often win elections. But that's not because their policies are popular.

Liberals and leftists should accept that they are right and the other side is wrong. The fact is that among sensible people all the big policy questions are settled, and have been for many years. Of course there is global climate change, and of course it is caused by humans. Of course government run, universal health care is better than our private health care. Of course women have a right to control over their bodies. Of course homosexuality is normal rather than sinful. These are just facts. Only crazy people think anything else.

Yesterday, a majority of the people who voted in MA decided to vote against their own interests, and against the facts, and in favor of fear and ignorance, and against the planet, and against civilization, and in favor of death, injustice, and suffering. And if you don't think so, then you are wrong, and you are personally responsible for making this country weaker year after year.

Posted by: Mark on January 20, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Mr Brown will let us know what his health care plan is. I don't understand why we continue thinking it is OK to NOT spend 100% of health care dollars on healthcare and that is it OK to spend a great portion of it on mansions and corporate jets an multi million dollar salaries for CEO's.
If the senate had not let Lieberman take out the public option perhaps we could have been on the right track.
Bi-partisanship will never work with the repubs.

Posted by: JS on January 20, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Scott Brown is not a wingnut.

He has a voting record more liberal than 2/3rds of the Massachusetts Republican Delegation. When you freak out like this, you are doing progressives a disservice. Of course I would rather have a democrat in that seat, but this is not the end of the world.

Hell, considering that he will have a tough time holding on to that seat in 2 years, he'll probably become a relatively reliable "bipartisan" candidate. Take that David Broder!

The democratic party leadership wants the rank and file to believe that they are under existential threat. That way they won't have anywhere to turn when the leadership screws them on economic matters. After all, says the leadership, who are you going to vote for - a republican? Don't you know they're all crazed maniacs!

It is important for progressives to support the democratic party without losing sight of the fact that the primary objects of the democratic party is electing more democrats - not ensuring progressive change. They don't want to take any risks. If they could be Coke to the Republican's Pepsi and still control the government (with all the sweet spoils that brings), that's what they would do.

Posted by: Adam on January 20, 2010 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Benen et. al. wrote just a few months ago that the Republican party was dead resigned to 40 years in the wilderness. What happened? The people failed the party, maybe we can elect new people.

I held my nose and voted for Coakley in the runoff even though she was an out of touch bought and paid for bozo. Just a horrible candidate embodying the worst of the Democratic party. The support should have been behind Capuano or Khazei in the primaries. Where was Benen's blog through the summer and fall on this? Writing about Sarah Palin and Mike Steele day after day.

Posted by: grinning cat on January 20, 2010 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Never underestimate the power of "I've got mine" in America either.

Brown said that health care was not an issue for most people in Massachussetts as 98% already had it; that combined with Coakley saying stupid things got the low information votes, otherwise known as "independents," to vote massively against the Democratic candidate.

People know that there is something wrong with the country, but they don't really know what and they are being misinformed by talk show land into why. Low information voters get their information from said talk show land, it is why the KSM trial in New York runs 3 to 1 against despite the position making no rational sense; that's why Brown can say something about getting "weapons" to fight terrorists and not being laughed at by the public at large - enough people really believe that we can develop a super death ray to take out dem terrists.

Posted by: DBaker on January 20, 2010 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

I don't see how Coakly winning or losing changes much. Too bad for Mass in the short term, maybe they will nomicate a better candidate to hold the seat in the long term. However, there haven't been 60 reliable Democratic votes in the Dem Caucus all year. Getting Martha Coakly into the Senate was not going to get Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman to vote like Democrate.

Posted by: bcinaz on January 20, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

I frankly don't see how Scott Brown is any different than any other candidate who runs by playing off the ying/yang of optimism and paranoia, which are both easily exploited: someone writes you an e-mail and tells you that you won the Irish sweepstakes worth ten million Euros; all you have to do is send them $1,000 to cover "handling fees." Someone tells you that someone else is to blame for all your troubles and you believe that, too; send $100 to a political candidate and he or she will take all your worries away, vanquish the unnamed enemy, and look out for you; after all, they are just like you. We know in the logical part of our brain that both are lying sacks of dog-crap, but for a split-second our lizard-brain kicks in and we believe it, hoping that somehow, someway, some magic will occur and it will all be true. It is that split-second that the truly inspired exploiters make it last for much longer. That is how political fortunes are made. That is how a multi-millionaire senator can run for president and say he's fighting for the middle class: "My friends, I'm just like you." That is how a neophyte governor with the attention span of a goldfish and the intellectual curiosity of a houseplant can tell her rapt followers that she, with a six-figure income and guaranteed health insurance, is the pitiful victim of the "elites." That is how a former vice president can call into question the resolve of the President of the United States to protect the country and in doing so, give comfort to those who wish to do us harm.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on January 20, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, You're part of what's wrong with our party. Yes, Brown is a right-wing whack job, but that's irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that a majority of the electorate in MA chose him. Get over it. Instead of insulting the man -- and, by extension, every voter who decided he was better than the incredibly inept Coakley -- maybe you should consider the possibility that this election was a backhanded slap at the political leadership of the Democratic Party. The Obama Administration has taken just one year to go from the "audacity of hope" to the mendacity of nope; from "change we can believe in" to the same tired Washington-insider arrogance; from the promise of transparency to making secret backroom deals; from looking out for the working guy to pandering to corporate America. This election was, in effect an explicit rejection -- an indictment -- of the Obama Administration. Want to know why we lost? Look in a mirror. Want to know what's coming? More of the same.


Posted by: fradiavolo on January 20, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

...that's a real shame -- for Massachusetts, for the Senate, and for all of us.

Screw Massachusetts, they got what they deserved. It's the rest of us I'm worried about. God help us all.

Posted by: Freddie on January 20, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

"it is why the KSM trial in New York runs 3 to 1 against despite the position making no rational sense"

The belief that your side holds 100% of the truth and virtue, mixed with the inability to understand perspectives other than your own is the true mark of the mindless partisan.

Posted by: FuzzyFace on January 20, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

You miss the point- the people of Massachusetts support Scott Brown and what he believes. Rather than continuing to attack him, attack the people who elected him. That is the progressive way.

Posted by: mhr on January 20, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, who released all the flying monkeys onto the intertubes?

Note to actual liberals: You don't want advice from "progressives" that talk like conservatives. This includes the adoption of the following right-wing talking points:

1. Scott Brown isn't a teabagger because he's a nice guy.
2. The election was a referendum on Obama and his policies.
3. The best thing Democrats could do is scrap all their plans and start over again.

If you think throwing the GOP into the briar patch isn't exactly what they want, then you don't have a clue.

Posted by: John S. on January 20, 2010 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

By all means, Steve B, keep calling Brown dim witted and, do tell us more about his posing for Cosmo. Perhaps, if Coakley had posed for Playboy, instead of wearing tweed for Financial Times, she may have picked up more votes.

Posted by: berttheclock on January 20, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Our tax dollars need to be spent prosecuting the war criminals in our midst. If the Republicans will not allow the Democratic majority to pass legislation, then let the Democrats start investigating the crimes of the Bush administration from looting the Treasury to torture.

Posted by: Russell Aboard M/V Sunshine on January 20, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Brown is not a smart man, but he knows how to play his cards. He will become the most neutered puppy in all of DC.

But he will get rolled out at Tea Bag events, etc... to "prove" that America wants tools in the Congress.

Posted by: Greg on January 20, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

The belief that your side holds 100% of the truth and virtue, mixed with the inability to understand perspectives other than your own is the true mark of the mindless partisan.

I'm polymerized tree sap and you're an inorganic adhesive, so whatever verbal projectile you launch in my direction is reflected off of me, returns to its original trajectory and adheres to you.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on January 20, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

This is not a conservative country, and it never has been. Progressive policies have been favored by a majority of Americans for decades.

But it thinks it's conservative despite coming down on our side on most issues. And that's all about who's won the message wars -- or, more accurately, who's won and who hasn't even left the barracks yet.

Reality doesn't rule voters; perception does. Nowhere in your post is there acknowledgment that Dems will not prevail until we get that right.

Posted by: Alex on January 20, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

The belief that your side holds 100% of the truth and virtue, mixed with the inability to understand perspectives other than your own is the true mark of the mindless partisan.

Yeah, I'm a "mindless partisan" because I believe that KSM is not Lex Luthor and can summon his team of Doom and mind readers to bend the world to our ways all because he is tried in federal court. If you don't believe that all the local right wing talkers have used this issue to scare the crap out of low information voters then you have not been paying attention - turn on your radio to any non-sports talker (or sports talker with a Republican on in the morning like my town).

This was a riff on Steve's point about Brown talking about using weapons rather than lawyers on terrorists. Polling says that "terrah" polled 3 to 1 for Brown on that issue alone; it is the first thing he mentioned why he won when interviewed; not health care, not taxes, "terrah".

Remind me again how the Richard Reid or the Jose Padilla trials panned out, now will you? Then tell me, if you did a poll on Main Street USA, whether ANYONE could tell you what the technical differences are between a military tribunal and a federal court and I bet you come up with about 1 percent, if that.

Health care was not an issue for the independents in MA, plain and simple, because they already got theirs. It is this mindless partisanship, trumpeted by Rush Limbaugh and all his local friends that we all have to take care of me first and not of the community that is the issue and is near impossible to over come. When you hear "center-right" country from the bobble heads THAT is what they're talking about - the "I've got mine and screw you" mentality.

Posted by: DBaker on January 20, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

So let me see. A bunch of people seem to imagine that Brown will buck the monolith that is the senate GOP and be up for "bipartisan" operations. These people are clearly delusional.

On the positive side, we've already seen that, even with a supermajority in the Senate, the Democratic party cannot craft legislation that is anything less than "deeply flawed" (more properly: "another big step on the way to corporatism").

I'll see all you folks in November when we again get to pick the lesser of two evils -- and I'm willing to bet that the choices aren't going to smell any better than the last time. One party is organized, if you can call it that, about well enough to run a middling-successful campaign for school-body president in a middle school somewhere in Illinois, and the other party chooses its candidates on the basis of how nice they'd look in a straight-jacket.

Posted by: Charles on January 20, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I'm a "mindless partisan" because I believe that KSM is not Lex Luthor and can summon his team of Doom and mind readers to bend the world to our ways all because he is tried in federal court.

No, you're a mindless partisan because you cannot imagine any rational objection to a federal trial for KSM. That small-fry terrorists have been tried without problem is no more a slam-dunk answer than the fact that people have skydived safely proves that there is no danger in skydiving.

Posted by: FuzzyFace on January 20, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, "small fry terrorists" like the mastermind of the first WTC bombing and many others. Just because you might be able to spin some remotely rational explanation for not trusting our 200+ year old system of justice that has tried and convicted countless terrorists and murderers throughout our history doesn't mean we should abandon it to your hardon wetdream "24" fantasies.

Posted by: whatever on January 20, 2010 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK
Yeah, "small fry terrorists" like the mastermind of the first WTC bombing and many others.
Well, if you're going to bring that one up, I should point out that in the course of the trial, the government was required to provide the defense with a list of "unindicted co-conspirators" thus revealing, for example, that they knew of Osama bin Laden's involvement and his location - information that was funneled back to Al Qaeda. The possibility of something similar happening in the KSM trial is one rational objection. Posted by: FuzzyFace on January 20, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Fuck you, Massachusetts....

Posted by: BigRenman on January 20, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Scott Brown won today, but in doing so he stained the legacy of a great Massachusetts, and American, conservative.

Brown said in his victory speech last night: “And let me say this, with respect to those who wish to harm us, I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation - they do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.”

I wonder what John Adams would think about that? Against the anger of the Boston mob, egged on by his own cousin Samuel, Adams took up the defense of nine British soldiers accused of killing five of Adam’s fellow Boston townsmen.

These were the terrorists of his day, yet Adams said: “The Part I took in Defense of Captain Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.”

“Facts are stubborn things,” said Adams in his famous summation. “Whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence: nor is the law less stable than the fact; The law, in all vicissitudes of government, fluctuations of the passions, or flights of enthusiasm, will preserve a steady undeviating course; it will not bend to the uncertain wishes, imaginations, and wanton tempers of men.”

Good conservatives like Adams understood it was his duty to calm the passions of the mob by reminding them of the obligations under the law, while today’s conservatives like Brown exist only to incite them.

Posted by: Ted Frier on January 20, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Snobbery seems to be the only thing the left has to fall back on.

Posted by: Rickman on January 20, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Seriously, I wonder how many of us commenting on this board have real experience re: reacting to the failure of an organization's efforts? It is something that I made a living at, running a profit center and being a business owner, and for two decades consulting with organizations about how to change their strategies and improve their performance.

What did I learn that could be of value here?

Fundamentally, I learned that one needs to gain insight and resist the urge to be charging off in some direction thereby potentially compounding the errors and further messing up the situation. I am willing to wager that the phone lines are burning, and meetings being held (formal and informal) at which well intentioned people are saying, "here's what we need to do now."

Stop it. That's what I learned. Stop guessing, stop hypothesizing, stop arguing. There are some insiders whose ideas were not followed in the course of the failure. They probably have taken the floor and think they now have standing to "call the shots". They don't. There is no way to test whether their ideas were any better than the ones that led to the problem.

The most important thing now, I would tell such an organization is: find out in very specific terms why what happened did happen. For those of you who are sports fans, turn off the lights and look at the game film, frame by frame. Privately and soberly. And for now, STFU.

Someone needs, today, to be organizing a whole series of in depth discussions with Democrats and Independents who voted for Brown over Coakley. Private discussions conducted by skilled interviewers who know how to peel back the onion, to probe, and most importantly to listen with detachment. An outside research organization (marketing research, public opinion research, political strategy research, eg, needs to be doing this) --- someone who knows how to pull things together to present as clear a picture as possible about why these voters did what they did.

The competitor said and did things that worked, that got the shopper to pick them. Your side said and did things, and had a game plan, that didn't. As an outsider at this point I would have zero interest in hearing what "insiders" think. I want to know what the "deciders" were thinking when they "decided" to vote as they did. And THEN, if there are some insiders who seem to have some insight of their own that lines up with what happened in the real world, THOSE people should be allowed to have a key role in plotting the future strategy, regardless of their current rank and role.

Posted by: Terry Ott on January 20, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

He has a voting record more liberal than 2/3rds of the Massachusetts Republican Delegation.

He voted with Republicans in MA 96% of the time

Posted by: Candi on January 20, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

After yesterday's election of brown, I have come to the sad realization that if Americans as a whole are stupid enough to believe the bile and lies spewed by people like rush, beck, palin, hannity and brown, among lots of other members of the party of crazy, then this country is doomed.

Posted by: LTC on January 20, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I think there *is* a qualitative difference between now and 40 years ago. For one, thing, we had a reasonably responsible, somewhat sober mass-media..oh, it was still obsessed with tabloid journalism...but there were also people like Cronkite, and Murrow and Paley, who, whatever their faults, did make a real effort to inform a mass audience about the world, in a somewhat rational way.

That's entirely gone now. Subjective reality rules. It took our Ruling Class some decades to fully understand the power of mass media. Ruling Classes are inherently regressive, so it took them awhile. But they get it now, and so, subjective reality rules.

Moreover, the people who voted Brown into office are in real trouble: the jobs they knew are fading away. Their retirement resources are looking more and more anemic. No defined benefit pensions for them. Their entire way-of-life is under threat. They saw $5-a-gallon gas 18 months ago, and they know, in their hearts, it's going to happen again, and worse, and never end.

They know there are too many people in the world; they feel the brown people taking over everything (this idea is horseshit of course, but that doesn't stop those exurban "independent voters" in their escalades from feeling very, very nervous); they may take refuge in global climate-change denial, but, again, they know in their hearts that it's real, and it will change everything for their progeny; they sense how their financial prospects have slowly declined since 1973 (because they have), but someone's getting rich, it's just not them.

Most human beings never grow up. They simply assume the costumes of adulthood, to cover up the child underneath. Ask any good shrink, they'll tell you this from experience. Most people never deal with the child within, never deal with the difficult job of growing up.

And now the world really is in trouble, because there are too many of us, because we're all greedy and heedless; because the Alphas among us are running roughshod over all, in their frantic attempt to *make sure* they're safe when the shit starts to continuously hit the fan.

Finally, these exurban voters can sense that "the american way of life" (that is, too much of everything) is rapidly coming to an end. They can't actually face it, because it's just too painful to face it (and too painful to face their own small responsibility in bringing things to this point)..and if you think they'll pick compassionate progressives to lead them under these circumstances, you're sadly mistaken.

They will pick the fascists to lead them. Always. Read "the Grand Inquisitor" from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov ...he understood this dynamic perfectly, as did our own Progressives of a century ago.

That doesn't mean we should not fight back. We should. But we should NOT forget the dynamics at work here...not forget how powerful are the currents now running, the stakes are the highest they could be.

How you undo the 60 years of brainwashing that plays into the worst childish fears of those exurban voters? That? I don't know.

Maybe you get something done, for the People. Obama and the Democrats have totally forgot this fundamental lesson: get something done for the People, something really beneficial, easy to see and feel, and tell them what you've done, and you'll generally be rewarded.

The Fascists will always fight dirty. The fact that Obama seems totally unaware of this is very, very odd.

Posted by: LL on January 20, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

that they knew of Osama bin Laden's involvement and his location - information that was funneled back to Al Qaeda. The possibility of something similar happening in the KSM trial is one rational objection

Source of bolded portion, please.

Oh, and BTW, when we got information about where Usama was back in say, 1998, and the Lewinsky situation was going on, I am sure that a lot of rational people were making rational arguments about Wag the Dog and how Clinton was unable to get a BJ while making decisions about National Security.

The moment Bush got a memo stating "Al Quaeda determined to strike the US" and he said to the PDB writer "you've covered your ass now" and went back on his holiday in 2001, the GOP should have ceded all credibility on national security issues as soon as those planes flew into the Towers. That the state of our discourse is that the GOP is STILL seen as the go to party as far as national security tells you all you want to know.

My source: Richard Clarke - he has yet to be proven wrong, and he actually has shown something in public that is alien to the modern GOP: contrition

Posted by: DBaker on January 20, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if you're going to bring that one up, I should point out that in the course of the trial, the government was required to provide the defense with a list of "unindicted co-conspirators" thus revealing, for example, that they knew of Osama bin Laden's involvement and his location

False. Prosecutors were not required to release this list. And it did not have bin Laden's "location. " It was a list of hundreds of people who already knew that they were enemies of the U.S.

So not only has your original point about "small fry" terrorists been rebutted, so has your objection regarding intelligence issues.

Posted by: trex on January 20, 2010 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Nowhere to go but up after the Kennedys.

Posted by: Orlando on January 20, 2010 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not really surprised by the dispiriting results in Mass. Over Thanksgiving I spent several days with relatives in one suburb that went heavily for Scott, including attending a high school football game. It was a uniformly white crowd. Everyone was dressed almost identically. It was like a bunch of clones. Hell, even the noxiously racist little town where I grew up in the 1960s had a black cheerleader. My niece, who is in 9th grade, knows no one of any other race, religion, or ideology. She casually uses the word "faggot" to tease her friends, without any concept that this is offensive and hurtful. Whatever "news" this family receives is from the TV alone. And this family is Democratic! You can only imagine what the others are like. So much of this country has just stalled, stuck in some claustrophobic echo chamber.

Posted by: Stacy on January 20, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Someone needs, today, to be organizing a whole series of in depth discussions with Democrats and Independents who voted for Brown over Coakley. Private discussions conducted by skilled interviewers who know how to peel back the onion, to probe, and most importantly to listen with detachment. An outside research organization (marketing research, public opinion research, political strategy research, eg, needs to be doing this) --- someone who knows how to pull things together to present as clear a picture as possible about why these voters did what they did.

In a nutshell, it is this: War on Terror polled 3 to 1 (75-25) in favor of Brown. Democrats and National Party campaigning on behalf of Coakley campaigned on the fact that health care would be doomed if she was not elected. 98% of MA voters already have health care, so it was not an issue, plus it had the double whammy of outsiders coming in from outside the State telling local people what to do. The Orange Hat strategy in Iowa, to name another campaign that frittered away a 20-point lead, shows that people really don't like out of state people coming in and telling voters what they should and should not do.

By trying to acquiesce to a party that has no interest in governing, the Obama administration has not shown why anybody should be FOR it;they are suffering from the same problem as what the Carter administration had which is to try to be all things for all people but then being the noise that symbolizes nothing.

It is totally a PR/marketing thing that the Dems have been poor at as long as I have been alive. The Solar Panels or gas saving measures that Carter instituted, for example, were ahead of its time, groundbreaking and were good public policy; the GOP pissed on those ideas by appealing to the lowest common denominator and ridiculing them.

Finally, what Karl Rove actually understood pretty well is that independents are not rational voters, they are low information voters and want to jump on the bandwagon of whatever is popular at the moment. The problem with Rove's strategy was that he had no popular or rational policies to back up the GOP base's agenda; people don't want religious nuts to tell them what to do either.

The Obama administration, Dem Congress and the talking heads are all going to take the wrong lesson out of this and try to appeal to a low information middle that can only be appealed to by strength and convictions, not by trying to be all things to all people.

Posted by: DBaker on January 20, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Nice work, Massholes.

Posted by: short fuse on January 20, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

...." independents are not rational voters, they are low information voters and want to jump on the bandwagon of whatever is popular at the moment."

---I don't believe that for a moment.

Independents tend not to accept an idea or program/proposal simply because it springs forth with the label of a party. Neither do they want to get involved in the machinations of party affiliation. I think they are somewhat more inclined to live in the "gray areas" intellectually and philosophically. It's the same principle as religious affiliation, or lack thereof. I think it is dangerous to generalize further because Independents have all kinds of other characteristics and are therefore hard to stereotype, as hard if not harder than other "groupings" of people. Are you willing to stereotype Democrats or progressives into a box? I think there is danger in that as well.

For one thing, some Independents may be that because they care, are informed, and are not ready to go knee-jerking their way through life. Or they may be independent because they are not paying enough attention to know any different. So right there, you have very different kinds of "Independents". A third grouping consists of former "loyalists" who are no longer that, but have not gone completely over to "the other side".

So we have (1) thinking independents, and (2) null set independents, and (3) transitioning independents.

We might be able to generalize that Independents ARE more inclined to be swayed by new information and "different" viewpoints. That would appear to be a truism, would it not, considering human nature?

I think it would be well, as I said in an earlier post, to find out FROM Independents why they opted to vote as they did. Is that too much to ask, before we start ascribing characteristics and motives to them and calling them stupid? They are, after all, the plurality in our country now.

Posted by: Terry Ott on January 20, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if you're going to bring that one up, I should point out that in the course of the trial, the government was required to provide the defense with a list of "unindicted co-conspirators" thus revealing, for example, that they knew of Osama bin Laden's involvement and his location - information that was funneled back to Al Qaeda.

This is a lie and, quite simply, complete nonsense. Osama bin Laden had no involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and al Qaeda as we know it did not really exist at the time.

And what's this "they knew of...his location"? Big deal, in the 1990s everyone knew of bin Laden's location. He was living openly in Khartoum, Sudan. It was no secret.

Posted by: Stefan on January 20, 2010 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

We hear often that this group or that constituent has voted "against their own interests". The inference is they are too stupid and gullible to know better. I think that's a sign the speaker does not understand what those interests are. Give you an example.

A family friend is a single mom with a cleaning business and struggles to pay the bills every single month. She is also accident-prone, so she has frequent health care needs. Yet she is vigorously opposed to the "progressive agenda". Does that give you enough information to conclude that she is voting against her own interests?

She would tell you in no uncertain terms that she mistrusts government, knows the implications of voting for the progressive agenda, and wants no part of it. First off, she's had enough brushes with government on a variety of things to have formed an opinion of its effectiveness and efficiency, which as a "do it now" person infuriates her -- she thinks it's atrocious how badly government at all levels does business.

Secondly, she is fiercely protective of the idea that a person should be responsible for themselves and their family and friends, up to the point of serious disablity. She drums that into her kids, who are terrific. She sees others around her who "take advantage of the system", and believes that erodes the fabric of society, and wants no more of that than is absolutely necessary.

So her "psychic income" is coming from a very different place than you might assume. I think she MIGHT admit that life would be "easier" if, for example, government took care of many things. But that is not what she wants, she sees that as a trade off.

She is not a "me first" person; not at all. It is family first, friends second, community third, "me fourth" as best I can figure it out. She feeds homeless people twice a week, does many things to help people in her church and social circle who have problems, and sometimes gets that kind of help in return.

When she votes, it IS in her "best interest": to preserve and advance the kind of values she ascribes to, and much of that involves keeping government at arms' length and having its influence be minimized, So, if you come around knocking on the door as a candidate saying, "elect me, because here is what government can do to make your life better", there will be a smile and a gracious response (maybe a cookie) ... but then the door will close quickly.

We all need to remember there ARE people like this. And they take their voting seriously, they just don't vote for what progressives subscribe to.

Posted by: Terry Ott on January 20, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

It now belongs to Scott Brown -- a conservative who supports torture, opposes Wall Street accountability, supports more tax cuts for the wealthy, opposes economic recovery efforts, opposes Ted Kennedy's life's work on health care reform, and doubts that global climate change is the result of human activity.

Well, yeah, but he *looks* like a Real American(TM).

Posted by: josef on January 20, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

I will grant you that the government is not always competent. In fact, if the GOP had any honest policy people on their staff, and I were them, that is the argument that I would go for, but they try to have their cake and eat it to and after 12 years of majority in the House and Senate have zero credibility on this issue. The military is probably the greatest example of the incompetence of bureaucracy, but the GOP dare not go there lest they be deemed weak on National Security. So I will grant you that the government is not efficient.

That said, is corporate America that much more efficient? Why is it that Medicaid has an overhead of between 1 and 3 percent and the Blues close to 20s. Could it because there is Blue Cross golf tournament, sponsorship of baseball teams, etc., etc.?

Secondly, she is fiercely protective of the idea that a person should be responsible for themselves and their family and friends, up to the point of serious disablity. She drums that into her kids, who are terrific.

This is a standard libertarian argument. It is akin to, to give one of many examples, motorcycle helmet laws. Why should people wear motorcycle helmets - it's their own damn fault if they conk their head on a lamp post? Well, actually we ALL bear the responsibility for said accident in increased taxes and/or insurance costs, especially if that person turns out to be uninsured. The libertarian response to all of this that there should not be mandatory admission to ER laws, etc., etc. The fact of the matter is that the less of these laws, the less civilized a country becomes - I posit to you that you slide towards a Central American country very quickly with the less types of these laws that you have - which is fine and dandy with the 5 percent who can live in a gated community and fly away on vacation when the going gets tough.

In fact I would posit that the lowest 95% of the general public of the US bear the brunt of the entire 100 percent, while that top 5% leach off all of us with tax breaks and government subsidies.

Your family example does show that the Democratic party has a communication, marketing and PR issue, that they talk down to people and make them feel stupid, by saying that people are voting against their interests. I would posit that a large part of the corporate media plays on that perception while appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Finally, it is very easy to generalize in a comment thread and that was sloppy on my part. Certainly not ALL independents are low information voters, but all of the studies that I have seen on the subject, such as the ones conducted by PIPA find that the majority of "independents" are misinformed in many instances, such as that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.

Posted by: DBaker on January 20, 2010 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Take that Democrats."

Progressives sure showed you.

Same with "big labor."

Maybe now you won't take them for granted.

They don't like this "terrible" health care plan, want the end of DADT now, illegal immigrant health care and amnesty, marriage equality, etc, and all right now.

They'd rather have the Republicans back than compromise.

But the reality is they represent less than they think.

So keep fighting the fight "progressives."

"Progress us" right back into Republican rule.

You'll sure show 'em.

Posted by: Mamzic on January 21, 2010 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

[[Brown is exactly what this country is and wants.]] - Saint Zak.

Nope. Many of us, perhaps even a majority, with all our flaws, are better and want better.

Posted by: Lex on January 21, 2010 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

You lefty's are pathetic. You lost the election in Mass' due to your own leadership's arogance and incompetence. You were unable to move your socialist agenda through the Congress - even with a super majority - for the exact same reason(s). Deal with it... but, ignore or more pathetically fail to understand the message that the informed voter's of Mass' have imparted at your political peril.

If you "progressives" actually believe that the likes of Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Dodd, T. Kennedy, Boxer, Biden etc. are more capable of governing intelligently than Brown - you clearly live in some sort of, Noam Chomsky intellectually induced, parallel universe where brash stupidity, basic economic ignorance, total government control - collectively the "nani state" - are the rule.

California, is the prime economic poster child of where your far left political agenda will lead. No thanks!

Posted by: rubicon on February 3, 2010 at 4:47 AM | PERMALINK

Marvelous post on The Washington Monthly - and great domain by the way!

Posted by: como recuperar a tu parejaa on January 23, 2011 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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