Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 29, 2010

SCREAM BLOODY MURDER.... It's worthwhile to recognize a frustrating political dynamic. It's even more worthwhile to try to do something about it.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) on Thursday admitted the "general feeling on the Democratic side" was that Republicans have so far been able to cast controversial protest votes and stall important legislation "with impunity."

He consequently seemed to suggest Republicans' behavior in Congress over the past year as hypocritical, as Democrats could never vote against important legislation and emerge unscathed.

"Some of the votes [Republicans] cast -- we would be on trial for treason if we had voted against defense appropriations in the midst of a war," he told reporters on his way to the Senate chamber. Durbin was referring to GOP members who tried to block the defense bill out of concern that a hate crimes bill was attached to it.

"They did it with impunity," Durbin lamented.

Durbin's right; they did. Every reckless, irresponsible, hypocritical, dangerous, and incoherent step Republicans take, they do so "with impunity."

They do so because they're pretty confident that Democrats won't effectively raise a fuss, the media won't care, and the public won't know. And they're right.

Let's look at this in a different light by imagining a hypothetical. Let's say Democrats ran the government for several years, and ran the country into a ditch. Disgusted, voters elected a Republican president with a huge mandate, gave Republicans the biggest House majority either party has had in 20 years, and the biggest Senate majority either party has had in 30 years.

Then imagine that, despite the overwhelming edge, Democrats decided -- during times of foreign and domestic crises -- that they simply would not allow the GOP majority to govern. Dems ignored the election results and reflexively opposed literally every bill, initiative, and nominee of any consequence, blocking anything and everything.

In this hypothetical, despite two wars, Democrats rejected funding for the troops. Despite a terrorist plot, Democrats rejected the qualified nominee to head the TSA. Despite an economic crisis, Democrats rejected economic recovery efforts, a jobs bill, and nominees to fill key Treasury Department posts.

Now, in this hypothetical, what do you suppose the political climate would look like? Would the huge Republican majority simply wring its hands? Would GOP officials decide it's time to try "bipartisan" governing? Would Republicans shrink from pursing their policy agenda?

Or would every single day be another opportunity for Republicans to be apoplectic about Democratic obstructionism? How many marches on Washington would Fox News organize, demanding that Democrats allow the governing majority to function?

Put simply, I'd like Democratic leaders to think about what Republicans would do if the situations were completely reversed. Then they should do that.

Steve Benen 10:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (65)

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Comments

Wow Steve, this is one of your best and toughest pieces lately. Voters respect strength and self defense, they despise weakness and wormy accommodation. This is science about human nature not just opinion. Good up the good hard (in both senses of the term) work.

Posted by: neil b on January 29, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like Democratic leaders to think about what Republicans would do if the situations were completely reversed. Then they should do that.

Understandable sentiment, but then the 2 parties would be indistinguishable, and that very slim difference of adult behavior would be gone.

In other words, if you bite the snake back, then you're both snakes.

Posted by: Rochester on January 29, 2010 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

This is hardly some sort of mystery. As many have been screaming for years, it's the end result of the Republicans owning their own media machine while the Dems don't (i.e. having Maddow and Olbermann isn't the same as owning a 24/4 cable network plus all of the AM radio dial, plus having Halperin and the rest of the DC press eager to repeat your talking points).

The GOP can see that its message always goes out, no matter how incoherent it is. So their side skates, no matter what they do, while ours has to walk on eggshells.

Posted by: jimBOB on January 29, 2010 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

The president is a democrat, and the House and the Senate have large democrat majorities. Do you honestly expect the American people to believe that it is the out-of-power Republicans who are responsible for America's problems?

Posted by: Al on January 29, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, inexorable and ceaseless wimp from the Dims about how nihilistic and traitorous the Repugnants are...

there are two "Lucy footballs": a Dim one, this wimpy whine the Dims pull on the citizenry; and, the Repugnant one pulled on the Dims every goddam time.

They are such a cute little funny sit-com, s'a pity they are expected to govern, too.

Posted by: neill on January 29, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

I agree that Dems should be tougher, but there are better ways than becoming mirror images of the Republicans. Dems should work much more on message control, we don't need GOP-style hysterics, but we need to drive the facts into the ground. Dems shy away from repetition; after a few days, good messages are tossed away along with the bad.

Posted by: danimal on January 29, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

It's over for the Democrats. Obama's speech wa the last gasp of a dying party. Karl Rove's view of a permanent Republican majority will now come true thanks to gutless Democrats. The Democratic Party needs a maasive loss in 2010 to get itself reorganized. The sooner every DINO democrat is defeated and the party nominates only hard core progressives at every level, the better for them. Unfortunately voters will have long memories of Democratic fecklessness and the current majority will never come around again. What a waste!

Posted by: Candide on January 29, 2010 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

In 2005-06, when Democrats complained about Bush ignoring the will of the people on Iraq, torture, wire-tapping, the 'Unitary Executive", Chris Matthews said the Democrats were 'carping whiners' (paraphrase), and that "everybody kinda likes the President, except the real whackjobs". His panel chuckled along in assent, if not actual agreement. Bush's ratings were around 40% at the time. as I recall.
David Broder has written at least three columns since last November explaining that it was incumbent on Democrats to reach out to Republicans. He wrote the same thing nth times while Dems were in the minority. Fareed Zakaria and probably a dozen other 'non-partisan' pundits have argued that Obama has not done enough to include Republicans in various policy discussions, from foreign policy (Bob Gates) to economics (Ben Bernanke) to HCR (Grassley, Snowe).
I don't think you can overstate how badly the media/pundit deck is stacked against Democrats, and the way that filters into all coverage, down to the local outlets where that 60% who don't know about the filibuster get most of their news. And I have no idea what can be done about it.

Posted by: Jim on January 29, 2010 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Fox has the "most trusted" news programming. As staggering as that is, liberals have yet to come up with anything that can effectively counterbalance their wholesale propaganda. Rather, the rule of "equivalency" always applies: we have MSNBC. We had Air America. We have The New York Times. And don't forget Dan Rather. So, the propaganda machinery also immunizes itself against the most obvious and correct charges. Simply put, we're screwed.

Posted by: walt on January 29, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Put simply, I'd like Democratic leaders to think about what Republicans would do if the situations were completely reversed. Then they should do that.

Umm, no.

Republicans, with their idiotic votes against the stimulus package, for a spending freeze, against key department heads, etc., have demonstrated that they don't care if they destroy the country, just as long as they end up ruling over the rubble.

First, the Democrats need to decide whether they're a party or not. That means certain individuals need to decide whether they are willing to help their party and to quit advancing their own agendas or their own egos.

Then, they need quit pretending that the corporate-controlled media are unbiased. They should take a page from Keith Olbermann and begin every press conference with the "Worst Persons of the Day" -- political division and media division.

The Republicans hammered the canard of the "liberal media" until it became conventional wisdom. The Democrats, if they want to succeed (and if they can find 2 x 4's to strap to what passes for their spines), should hit back the same way.


Posted by: SteveT on January 29, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Phoning it in...

Put simply, I'd like Democratic leaders to think about what Republicans would do if the situations were completely reversed. Then they should do that.

OFA prefers emails and phone banks to marches.
That needs to change.


Posted by: koreyel on January 29, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Posted by: JohnN on January 29, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

AMEN

Posted by: about time on January 29, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

What the Republicans would do is first remove or impair the Democratic filibuster privileges, as they came close to doing in the Roberts-Alito nominations a few years ago.

Until we come to grips with the need to be aggressive about the filibuster abuse, the Congress is going to be dysfunctional.

Posted by: bob h on January 29, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats should NOT do what Republicans do - but they should be proactive about making sure the people know what is going on.

Not with cheap, jingoistic rhetoric but with strong, concise, well-reasoned statements of fact.

Posted by: sidewinder on January 29, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Understandable sentiment, but then the 2 parties would be indistinguishable, and that very slim difference of adult behavior would be gone.

I thought people voted for the party of their choice because they had a certain policy preference they wanted to see implemented (or stopped) or ideological belief driving their choice, not because they wanted to support some kind of political aesthetic that made them feel better about themselves.

Posted by: JustMe on January 29, 2010 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

JimBOB sure hit the nail on the head. The Dems can shine all the lights they have but if the MSM continues to look in the other direction and FOX insists that there is only darkness, the American people will never see that light.

Posted by: Pragmatic on January 29, 2010 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't it be nice if Harry Reid and Dick Durbin didn't roll over for the Republicans and Fox every time the Republicans whine? Why aren't they boxing the GOP in on Defense, Social Security, and everything else. All they have to do is look at the play book that the GOP used in the past couple of decades.

Force the GOP to stop the Defense Budget.

Force them to shut down the government if they don't like the changes.

Force them to actually hold up legislation.

Don't let them just say they might.

Democrats need a new LBJ in the Senate. He would never have let the GOP act like they ran the place.

Posted by: freelunch on January 29, 2010 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

The biggest ENEMY to your country is your corporate media. Your enemy is WITHIN. The corporate media decides for you what your 'reality' is. The corporations hire those who will support their need to create the necessary propaganda in order to advance their own corporate interests. This is why all the CORPORATE PUNDITS are paid millions which then makes them part of the 'media elite'. This is why assholes like Brain Williams makes 15 million a year to read for 30 minutes that which is PREPARED for him to read by the Corporate 'news producers' and 'political editors'. Meanwhile, the teachers of your children make about $30,000 a year.
The Corporations of your country control everything including the 'news' which is rewritten and 'presented' in order to advance the corporate interests. Thus, the 'news' is a manipulation of 'public perception'. And, then, gee, wonder of wonders you end up with a population, which is already one of the most stupid populations on Earth, BELIEVING the opposite of what is actually true on just about any issue you can name because 'perception' is reality in your stupid country.
So there they sit, all the 'media elite' with their million dollar suites, ties, and dresses on looking right out at you through your tv screens and lying through their million dollar teeth. Thus, the Repiglicans can do whatever they do with IMPUNITY. And your citizens are simply to stupid to know it.

Posted by: blue on January 29, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK


But why was hate crimes legislation attached to a defense appropriations bill in the first place? Perhaps Republicans should have been villified for opposing the hate crimes legislation itself, but it makes sense to want to treat those two separate issues separately, which is probably why they were able to do it "with impunity".

Likewise, the Democrats had a 60 votes in the Senate and a huge majority in the House. Anything they wanted to pass, they could have. Yes, Republicans would have attacked them for everything, and yes, that is ridiculous. But the people elected the Democrats to lead. If they were afraid to do that, or if they were unable to marshall consensus within their own party, they really shouldn't point the finger at others.

Posted by: Dave in NYC on January 29, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

When the Dems held up some of Bush's wackier nominees, the Republicans went in front of every camera and mic and shrieked "OBSTRUCTIONISM!!!" (despite giving over 95% of them an up or down vote). The media will not do it's job, so the Dems have to do the same. Find and camera or live mic and yell as loud as possible. Josh Marshall said it best: Washington is wired for Republican control. The Dems have to create a narrative, because the media won't.

Posted by: IanY77 on January 29, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

To the "then they'd be the same" crowd: Steve's call for turnabout needs to be taken in context. He means, make the same tough hits against them for what they do etc. And it's a rule of thumb and call to arms, not a law of physics.
I guess I meant "Keep up"; if "good up" makes a new phrase so be it.

Posted by: neil b, on January 29, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

You make a good point freelunch but if the MSM continues to allow the Repugs to lie and dissemble and FOX continues to actively mislead then the truth is never heard by most Americans. While the Dems have certainly got problems with message and many of the so-called centrists are gutless, the media is the root of the problem.

It is time for patriotic Americans to take the fight to the place it can be fought, in the marketplace and on the public square.

Posted by: Pragmatic on January 29, 2010 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

"They did it with impunity," Durbin lamented.

Darn liberal media!

Seriously, though, it's high freakin' time that the Democrats started pushing back against this myth, like this:

"They did it with impunity," Durbin lamented, "which they couldn't do if a balanced, let alone liberal, media existed in this country."

Posted by: Gregory on January 29, 2010 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

What Steve and the majority of the idiotic postings miss is that we republicans own the corporate media!

Our corporate media will continue their assigned roles as echo chambers and amplifiers for our republican messages.

If the democrats, as a group, yelled and screamed and behaved like we republicans did with George as president; few will hear them because our corporate media will not tell the amerikan publik about it. Or, in the few cases where they do, the remainder of our corporate media (including our star David Gergen) will point out that it is just another example of how unfair and partisan the democrats are!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on January 29, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK
But why was hate crimes legislation attached to a defense appropriations bill in the first place?

Because there was 0% chance of the hate crimes legislation passing if it were separate, because of Republican filibusters, and a finite chance of it passing if it were attached to a defense authorization bill. Isn't that obvious?

Posted by: JustMe on January 29, 2010 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Also, for whatever reason, Lib-Progressives, whether elected for mediatic, care about personal relationships. Republicans/Conservatives don't give a fiddler's fuck. EJ Dionne and Mary McGrory "love" David Broder. Barbara Boxer campaigned for Joe Freakin' Lieberman. Baucus let Grassley block HCR while Grassley was out babbling about "pulling the plug on Grandma" and never said a word about it. I don't know what you can do about this, and it matters.

Posted by: Jim on January 29, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

It's really quite simple. Democrats care what people think of them. Republicans don't. As a consequence, Democrats always look like they're flustered and uncertain, and Republicans always look confident (if assholish). It would be nice if there was a backlash against Republican obstructionism, but translate it into votes. Who on the Republican side would _vote_ differently if people were raising a ruckus about their contravening the will of the people? _Maybe_ the Maine two? I mean, no one on that side has anything to gain by being constructive. They're not going to lose by blocking and they're not going to win by pitching in.

What I would like to see is some kamikaze campaign by a Democrat in a Republican stronghold, like the inverse of Scott Brown, making exactly this case, that the Republicans are blocking everything, so elect a crusading liberal, give the Democrats a strong 60, and unclog the pipes.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on January 29, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

JimBob is correct, however, there is one thing wrong with your scenario, Steve. The RepuGs would have never considered bipartitanship in the first place.

But, RepubPoint, one question - Does the Republican Party own the corportate media, or does Corporate America own the RepuG Party and corporate media? With both Big Pharma and Big Insurance having written the so-called health care bill, it looks as though they have opened a franchise outlet at the current 1600 Ave.

Posted by: berttheclock on January 29, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

There's no downside to the Republicans being obstructionist. Their base hates everything to do with the Federal government, so the more the Republicans can do to screw stuff up, the better their base likes it. Eventually, the independents get fed up with the "bickering" and say a pox on both your houses and sit out the election and/or vote Republican because at least they can get things done. For the Democrats to succeed they'd need a two-thirds majority in both houses.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on January 29, 2010 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Some members of the Senate ARE doing something about it. We should support those efforts.

http://news.firedoglake.com/2010/01/28/tom-udall-on-fixing-the-senate-weve-gotten-ourselves-into-a-box/

Posted by: dday on January 29, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Al,

History didn't begin on 1-20-09, and voters are still mindful that your side is still basically anti-American.

And sadly it took only two replies to get to the snivelling hippie response of "we can't stoop to their level." To help America, the bad need punishment. Although I have to agree with Gregory - if punishment were tried, would the WaPo report it as such?

Posted by: Dr. Squid on January 29, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans know how to package, frame and sell. They understand messaging and their execution is disciplined. Doesn't mean they can actually govern wisely or sensibly when they win, but they know how to define an objective and go straight for it. No qualms. Narrow focus and pragmatism will get you far.

Democrats are idealists at heart. They still believe that if they do the right thing and chart an intelligent, admirable course, everything will work out. But you can't exercise power unless you're willing to do the things necessary to get it and keep it. So idealists have it tough. Politics is war, not a garden party or a colloquium. What we really want in our leaders is wisdom and compassion, but the system rewards the ability to sabotage and humiliate the opposition. Sometimes, a person can fight like hell *and govern well. FDR comes to mind.

Posted by: FC on January 29, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

It's strange people are so slow to figure out that Rahm Emmanuel (and by extension Obama) prefers the "60 vote requirement." It puts all legislation under control of the caucus's most conservative members, rather than the caucus as a whole. Essentially, the DLC dream coup.

Posted by: Alan in SF on January 29, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

There are a number of holes in this piece, but the first is a big one:

RE: "They [Republicans] do so because they're pretty confident that Democrats won't effectively raise a fuss, the media won't care, and the public won't know."

But the Democrats often did raise a fuss, the media reported it, and, most importantly, the public did know. The public favored gridlock.

In the Massachusetts Senate race, the public was told by Senator-elect Brown that he would vote against the healthcare reform bills. The polls in MA clearly sowed that more people were against the healthcare bills than favored it - by a significant margin. In voting for Brown, MA voters voted to take away the veto-proof majority. They knew it. The message for Democrats is simple: you failed to sell the healthcare reform bills in MA.

In 1994 the Democrats had a majority in both houses of congress and a Democrat in the White House. The Democrats proceeded to outline a series of domestic policies that the public didn't support, including a healthcare reform bill without financing. The result was that the voters turned over the House and Senate to the Republicans.

Democratic failures in 2009 are very similar to the failures of 1992 and 1993:
1. They failed to build political capital through small changes before trying to force through big changes.
2. They failed to address the public's concerns about the big agenda. For example, both healthcare initiatives failed to explain how it will be financed.
3. The political environment was full of corruption and waste.
4. They failed to set reasonable priorities.
5. The political process was chaotic, with too many decisions being made by Congress behind closed doors.

The Republicans can get away with stalling the agenda, particularly the healthcare bills, because most of the voting public don't want it (as written). The Republicans can fight the agenda because the Democrats' policies SUCK. They suck so badly that Democrats have to bribe members of their own party to vote for them. If Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid didn't pull out billions of dollars in freebies for key members, their own bills wouldn't pass.

If the Democrats want to succeed, they need to write popular legislation, explain it to the public, listen to the public's concerns, and answer their questions. If they do that, then the legislation will get popular support; Democrats will actually support it without being beaten or bribed; and the Republicans will have nothing to say about it.

If the Democrats continue to try to ram unpopular bills through, then the public will vote for gridlock in 2010.

Posted by: kevino on January 29, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, even Steve has finally grown a pair.
I would only amend his recommendation to state that the Dem's counter-punches must be of the sound bite size (so they have that certain catchy panache) and they must be the truth (so, unlike the opposition's, they can be defended when the MSM suddenly finds the need to fact check).

Posted by: Chopin on January 29, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

@ sidewinder on January 29, 2010 at 10:18 AM True but quickly, if not immediately followed by action.

The Re-puke-licans justify themselves by empty words; we\Democrats can better justify by actions.

Posted by: sduffys on January 29, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Once again, all you lefties immediately assume the role of victim, blaming your failures on some perceived procedural unfairness.

Fact: The filibuster rule has been in place for many years, and it applies to both parties.

Fact: Journalism is DOMINATED by liberals.

Fact: You people are far to the left of the American people. THAT'S why your agenda is being scuttled. You complain that the filibuster is preventing HCR from going through, but the fact is, 70% of Americans oppose it! Why SHOULD the "system" favor enactment of legislation that is opposed by the overwhelming majority of the people?

Fact: There's something called the 1st Amendment. Complain all you want about the media not supporting your causes, but it's all wasted keystrokes unless you plan to shut down freedom of the press. If you're not, then work within the Constitutional frameword to persuade enough of your fellow citizens that surrending an increasing share of their freedoms to unionized Washington bureaucrats is the way to go. (Hint: it might help if you didn't openly declare the American people the "stupidest" on Earth.)

Seriously, paranoic whining is not a strategy.

Posted by: Conrad on January 29, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Sigh... thank you Conrad for immediately supplying some empty words.

Your facts... Please supply the citations/documents/references... oh never mind... I'm feeding a troll..

Posted by: sduffys on January 29, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

"It's over for the Democrats. Obama's speech wa the last gasp of a dying party."

Oh puh-lease.

The Democratic party has not been stronger relative to the Republican party for decades. Literally.

Posted by: RickD on January 29, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

The best governance that the US experienced recently was when we had a Democratic President and a Republican Congress, 1995 through 2000. We got the good governance after the Congress defeated the President's health care plan. We have the Democratic president and the impending defeat of his health care plan. Now all we need is the Republican Congress, Massachusetts led us in that direction, Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson are in trouble in their home states, and Feingold trails Thompson in a poll in Wisconsin.

Things are looking up.

... Republicans to be apoplectic about Democratic obstructionism?

There are times (and this is one of them) when the most important duty of a political party is to block the ambitions of the other party. That's a paraphrase of a famous line in the Federalist Papers: Ambition must be made to work against ambition. Lots of Democrats now wish that they had blocked Bush's adventure in Iraq and his tax cuts (not to mention the FISA renewal that Obama originally promised to vote against, before he won the Democratic nomination) -- such obstructionism might well have been in the public interest and better than the policies that we got. Such is frequently asserted here.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 29, 2010 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

WHY DO WE HAVE TO EXPLAIN THIS?

I think there is some variant of the Stockholm Hostage syndrome, or something. Dems have been thoroughly whupped and put in their place.

That's what they rush to attack any Dem who stands up to Rs. They think the worst thing is for a Dem not to know their place.

More simply put, they're a bunch of wimps. They won't fight for themselves, let alone us.

Posted by: AlphaLiberal on January 29, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Doris Kerns Goodwin, on TDSWJS the other night raised the eminently entertaining prospect of watching Missy McConnell desperately pinching his pee-pee to prevent wetting himself whilst propagating the filibuster as she is spozed to be.

Posted by: woody on January 29, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Because there was 0% chance of the hate crimes legislation passing if it were separate, because of Republican filibusters, and a finite chance of it passing if it were attached to a defense authorization bill. Isn't that obvious?

Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate. Republicans couldn't have filibustered without some Dems on their side.

Posted by: Dave in NYC on January 29, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Liberal/progressive need to recapture the political dynamic through a visceral demonstration of power. In politics, that means holding a massive demonstration where you assemble 1-2 million people on a given date and make your demand in unison. Nobody can ignore that.

Look at the media attention and respect the teabaggers received when they held demonstration of less than 100,000.

It's time to find out how big a movement we really are. Progressive leaders need to schedule a summit, pick a date in the summer (July 4th?) and start organizing. All of us need to circle that date and pitch in with whatever resources are at our disposal: money, time, expertise, etc. On that day, there should be events in every major city, but people should try and get to DC, if possible.

I think that is what Obama meant when he said he couldn't do this alone. We need to show our power and give him some cover. And then demand LOUDLY that he and Congress accomplish the tasks for which they were elected.

Posted by: bdop4 on January 29, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Conrad is bulling us as usual. The fillibuster: sure, "been around" for years but formerly required to be literal, and lately 'pugs have been doing it all the time (typical right-wing simple-mindedness: can't appreciate matters of degree.) Media: most may be "liberal" in the social issues sense, but it's their corporate employers that set the tone, write the scripts, etc. That's what matters. Stupid US public: proven by polls, like post upblog. But actually has a point about HCR, which had many problems. But if 'pugs had left PO in there, it would have cut costs, prevented it from being forced buy-in to private companies etc. Wank.

kevino, that rocks!

Posted by: neil b on January 29, 2010 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Fact: The filibuster rule has been in place for many years, and it applies to both parties.

FACT: Repubs have used it exponentially more than Dems ever have, for EVERYTHING. See the difference you moronic hack?

Fact: Journalism is DOMINATED by liberals.

Typical teabagging wingnut "logic"--"I say it is so, therefore it is so!" MORON.

Posted by: Truth on January 29, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Now all we need is the Republican Congress

Yeah, because the last time we had a Republican Congress, we got such good governance out of them.

Admit it, Marler: your pipe dreams of a Republican majority is just pining for their sweet, sweet tax cuts.

Shame on you, Marler.

Posted by: Gregory on January 29, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"And I have no idea what can be done about it."
Posted by: Jim on January 29, 2010 at 10:14 AM

"Simply put, we're screwed."
Posted by: walt on January 29, 2010 at 10:15 AM

Well, this would be a start:

"The Republicans hammered the canard of the 'liberal media' until it became conventional wisdom. The Democrats, if they want to succeed (and if they can find 2 x 4's to strap to what passes for their spines), should hit back the same way."
Posted by: SteveT on January 29, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Though maybe not this:

"Not with cheap, jingoistic rhetoric but with strong, concise, well-reasoned statements of fact."
Posted by: sidewinder on January 29, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Because that worked so well for President Dean, President Anderson, and President Adlai Stevenson.
This is a classic False Choice, anyway; there is nothing antithetical between cheap, jingoistic rhetoric, and strong, concise, well reasoned statements of fact. In fact, a well-crafted amalgam of the two would probably be more effective than either alone.
But it still wouldn't matter if nobody heard it.
Which means that the solution -- and the only solution that has any chance of effecting real and lasting political change -- is that we must take back the media.
When NPR has gotten to the point where they can't talk about the Supremes' recent sellout of democracy without saying, like every other lying media mouthpiece, "corporations and unions" (as if enterprises w/four orders of magnitude of difference in their wealth and power were in any way equivalent); when their idea of a single individual of some wealth deploying that wealth in political battles is George Soros, and not Richard Mellon Scaife, Sun Myung Moon, the Koch brothers, Alex Spanos, Bob Perry, Philip Anschutz, Ray Hunt, or the Wyly brothers -- and if you don't know every one of those names, that just proves my point...
In order for not just "progressive," but any even remotely reality-based, policies to ever have a chance of being enacted, one of two things must happen. Either the mass media starts to actually commit journalism again, or we get our own.
Since the former will never happen, it has to be the latter.
With media properties at fire-sale prices, I'm not getting why a consortium of deep-pocketed progressives didn't snatch the WSJ out of Murdoch's hands, or buy the NYT. Since the Washington Post now gets, what, 120% of its profits from its Kaplan wing, and the Washington Times is no more, I don't get why nobody's offered to take the WaPo off their hands, and attempted to return it to its former glory.
Of course, the real power is in a cable-news network, but that's a whole different rant, and a tougher one to make with the late loss of Air America.
Nonetheless, it's got to be done.
Demographic realignment or no, real change in this country, and the world, cannot and will not happen without there first being real change in the media world.

Posted by: smartalek on January 29, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

We got the good governance after the Congress defeated the President's health care plan.

You mean like the government shutdown led by disgraced former speaker Gingrich? Since you obviously share the same damaged brain with Conrad, I'll excuse your warped idea of "good governance".

There are times (and this is one of them) when the most important duty of a political party is to block the ambitions of the other party.

It's not some blind "ambitions", it's the will of the people expressed through the overwhelming majorities they elected to get certain things done, things such as HCR with a public option that polls continue to say they support. The fact that you wet yourself with glee at the prospect of Americans' will being thwarted just demonstrates what a clueless halfwit you are, were, and apparently always will be.

p.s. we're more than happy to see a handful of worthless DINOs go down while retaining a majority. Things may be "looking up" for you at the moment, as I'm sure they were in 2008, but you'll definitely be disappointed again, and I'll be here to laugh at you.

Posted by: Truth on January 29, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

"In politics, that means holding a massive demonstration where you assemble 1-2 million people on a given date and make your demand in unison. Nobody can ignore that."
Posted by: bdop4 on January 29, 2010 at 11:39 AM

You mean like the single biggest worldwide demonstration in all of human history, on 2/15/2003, against the unilateral and unprovoked invasion of Iraq? The one that had, depending on whose numbers you credit, between 6 and 30 million participants?
The one that the corporate media in the US did, in fact, essentially ignore?
The one of which most Americans thus went about their busy lives blissfully unaware?

Posted by: smartalek on January 29, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, in your hypothetical, you ask: "would every single day be another opportunity for Republicans to be apoplectic about Democratic obstructionism? How many marches on Washington would Fox News organize, demanding that Democrats allow the governing majority to function? Put simply, I'd like Democratic leaders to think about what Republicans would do if the situations were completely reversed. Then they should do that."

Yes.

But how about liberal bloggers? A big problem on our side for several months now has been that many liberal bloggers have been taking every opportunity to blame President Obama and/or this or that less-than-perfect Democrat for...well, for almost everything. My own most depressing example of that came when the Senate finally passed a health care bill -- and Howard Dean and Keith Olbermann proceeded to unload on the President and the Dems.

And then we all wonder why our side lost in Massachusetts.

Posted by: CMcC on January 29, 2010 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

UNfortunately, the article does not explain how the democrats, faced with this apparently unbreachable opposition in the media, were able to elect a president and historic majorities in the house and senate.

You can bet that conservatives are saying right now that the democrats are ten feet tall and the media never calls them to task. They always do.

We always do, too, and yet the elections of2006 and 2008 were substantially different than in 2004.

The republicans DID claim that democrats were making treasonous votes, yet the democrats took over the house and senate in 2006. So simply being able to say the republicans are making treasonous votes will not necessarily lead to a bigger democratic majority - or better policymaking.

Posted by: catclub on January 29, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

OT, sorry, but, is anybody else getting a horrendous gay-baiting Marc Rubio add? I know Steve doesn't pick the google ads, but wow.

Posted by: whatthe? on January 29, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I have been a loyal democrat for nearly 40 years, and have never seen the party become so timid. It's really disheartening to see my country slip into a corporate fascist state, and nobody seems to care.
This is what our fathers fought against during WWII.
I believe that every progressive democrat should drop their ties to the democratic party, and become members of the green party. If that were to happen, it would send shivers down the spines of members of both the democrats and republicans.

Posted by: Jerry Thursby on January 29, 2010 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't read any comments, so this might be a repeat:

Democrats are damned if they do and damned if they don't!
So just do it!

Posted by: Doug on January 29, 2010 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Truth: You mean like the government shutdown led by disgraced former speaker Gingrich? Since you obviously share the same damaged brain with Conrad, I'll excuse your warped idea of "good governance".

No, that was Gingrich overplaying his hand. Also not "good governance" was the Waco raid against the Branch Davidians. but welfare reform and the budget surplus came after that.

Gregory: Admit it, Marler: your pipe dreams of a Republican majority is just pining for their sweet, sweet tax cuts. There won't be any of "their sweet, sweet tax cuts" if Obama is president. I am sure that Obama can be re-elected in 2012 even if the Republicans get majorities in 2010. I mean, who on earth can the Republicans run against him?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 30, 2010 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

You say "Put simply, I'd like Democratic leaders to think about what Republicans would do if the situations were completely reversed. Then they should do that."

But that is precisely the problem -- they cannot bring themselves to become that which they despise. I admire that, but also understand that that attitude handicaps them, and the country, severely.

An effective compromise might be to simply, and forthrightly, persistently, keep pointing out their actions -- without the attendant drama-queendom and sheer hypocrisy that the thugs bring to every issue.

Posted by: radha on January 30, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

i have actually used this argument for years on right wing acquaintances, beginning with the premise that al gore had been elected, started two wars, one on completely dubious grounds, and bankrupted the country, and what the right's response to that would be. but galactically proportioned cognitive dissonance is too great to overcome with purely logical, if hypothetical, argument.

Posted by: chrome agnomen on January 30, 2010 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

The establishing premise of the article assumes the Democrats hold a nearly bulletproof majority in both houses of Congress. They do not. The so-called centrist Democrats are in the party, but not of it. Were it otherwise, the progressive agenda would be well advanced by now.

Posted by: PeterA1 on January 30, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

"They did it with impunity." -Durbin

Yes. Yes, they did. Which invites the follow-up question: as their alleged political opponents, doesn't this mean that you have failed to punish them?

Posted by: Chris on January 30, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

I totally agree Steve. But I wrote on my blog that Durbin will probably be forced to give another tearful apology for his comments.

Posted by: Chris- The Fold on January 31, 2010 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

rochester,

You could not be more wrong.

What distinguishes the Dems from the GOP is NOT that the Dems don't play hardball like the Republicans (actually, maybe it is, but it shouldn't be). What distinguishes them is their POLICIES. The Dems generally have the policies to move America forward, while the Republicans remain mired in trickle down economics, warmongering foreign policy, and hateful social policy.

Dems need to adopt better tactics (some of which they can learn from the GOP) in the service of Democratic policies.

Posted by: ML on February 1, 2010 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

@FlipYrWhig
I'm saying in a glorifying way.
It's the other way around. Democrats will do whatever the fuck they want and get away with it. DEMOCRATS don't give a fuck. Republicans, law-abinding Protestants, are crybabies that care what people think of them. So they ban things that are seen as a threat to them.

Posted by: Adam on June 16, 2010 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

@FlipYrWhig
I'm saying in a glorifying way.
It's the other way around. Democrats will do whatever the fuck they want and get away with it. DEMOCRATS don't give a fuck. Republicans, law-abinding Protestants, are crybabies that care what people think of them. So they ban things that are seen as a threat to them.

Posted by: Adam on June 16, 2010 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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