Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 19, 2010

A COMPELLING CASE.... There was an interesting item in The Hill last night noting that White House officials, most notably President Obama and Vice President Biden, are "concerned that liberals disappointed with Obama's policies might stay home this November," and are taking steps they hope will prevent a disaster.

Adding Elizabeth Warren to the president's team might help, and it probably wasn't a coincidence that when Biden raised his profile, he was sure to spend quite a bit of time with Rachel Maddow. Indeed, during the interview, he specifically told "our progressive base... you should not stay home." The V.P. added, "You better get energized, because the consequences are serious for the outcome of the things we care most about."

The next question, then, is how to get the left energized before the well-documented enthusiasm gap moves Congress sharply to the far-right. In the midst of a campaign, there are generally two choices, energize the base by: (a) pointing to a record of accomplishment or (b) pointing out the radical qualities of the other side. Republicans are excelling exclusively on the latter; for Dems it's more complicated.

The majority party shouldn't have too much trouble reminding the Democratic rank-and-file about the threat posed by radicalized Republicans -- by nominating so many hysterical extremists, the GOP has made that task easier. Besides, as we continue to struggle with crises left over from the Bush/Cheney era, the stench of Republican failure is still very much in the air.

But what about the record of the last 20 months? I've long believed, and continue to believe, that there's a chasm between perceptions and reality when it comes to the White House's policy accomplishments. Ezra Klein had an item the other day that rang true to me, and I hope he won't mind if I quote it at length.

The White House held a conference call today for Elizabeth Warren and various bloggers and writers. Most of it was what you'd expect, but Warren did mention that Rep. Barney Frank once told her that getting a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was a "pipe dream."

I think some people will see that as a mark against Frank, but he was right, at least judging by Washington's record over the previous 20 or 30 years. In fact, a lot of the Obama administration's accomplishments were pipe dreams.

A near-universal health-care system? Why would Obama and the Democrats succeed when Truman, Nixon, Carter, and Clinton had all failed, and politicians as adept as FDR and LBJ refused to even make the attempt? They've seen the numbers, right? The health-care industry is bigger now, and richer, and there are no more liberal Republicans. There's no way.

A $787 billion stimulus? Yes, it was too small. But everything Washington does is always too small. And within the confines of that stimulus, the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress managed to make a host of long-term investments that would've been considered huge accomplishments in any other context, but are largely unknown inside this one. Huge investments in green energy, in health information technology, in high-speed rail, in universal broadband, in medical research, in infrastructure. The Making Work Pay tax cut. The Race to the Top education reform program. No recent president has invested in the country on anything like that level.

If voters who backed Obama two years ago are prepared to make an evaluation based on accomplishments, and decide whether to vote in 2010 accordingly, the White House has a compelling case to make, the popularity of these successes notwithstanding.

As unsatisfying as it seems to grade on a curve, it's worth noting that while Obama took office with sky-high expectations, he was also against the backdrop of a country that was practically in free fall. Arguably no president in American history started his first day with a list like this: the Great Recession, two deadly wars, a jobs crisis, a massive deficit and budget mess, crushing debt, a health care system in shambles, a climate crisis, an ineffective energy policy, an equally ineffective immigration policy, a housing crisis, the U.S. auto industry on the verge of collapse, a mess at Gitmo, a severely tarnished global reputation, an executive branch damaged by corruption, incompetence, and mismanagement, and an angry, deeply divided electorate.

The president was told to clean all of this up, quickly, without the benefit of a minority party willing to play a constructive role. And just to make things really interesting, Obama was also told that for the first time in the history of the United States, every initiative he came up with would need mandatory supermajorities just to pass the Senate.

And despite all of this, what have seen? The Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, Wall Street reform, student loan reform, Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, nuclear arms deal with Russia, a new global nonproliferation initiative, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years.

But what about the unpopularity of the Democratic successes? Why are Democrats understandably reluctant to run on the most successful two years of policymaking in decades?

The White House's message machine has often fallen far short of late, but part of me thinks the pitch at this point should go something like this: we were moving in the wrong direction, but we've made some unpopular moves to get back on track.

It's like a recovery from a serious illness -- you feel miserable, the medicine tastes awful, and the shots hurt. You're left frustrated, weak, and maybe even embarrassed. The physical therapy and recovery process takes too long and leaves you wondering if it's even worth it.

But it is. Recovery happens. It wasn't pleasant, and the illness wasn't your fault, but you make progress and you get better, even if there are times when that seems that's unlikely.

Getting back on your feet and thriving again may seem like a "pipe dream," but once the toughest moves are behind you, real progress lies ahead -- that is, unless you decide to go back to the quacks who got you sick in the first place.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (131)

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Comments

Investments take time to show a return. Why won't the GOP's financial wizards acknowledge this?

Eight years of tax cuts for the wealthy and what does the GOP have to show for it? Their big funders lied to them about how many jobs they would create once they got their tax cuts. Now the GOP has to cover up the fact that they are complicit in a conspiracy to increase unemployment and poverty because that's just what they accomplished after eight years in control of fiscal, financial and regulatory policy.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 19, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Tsk, Tsk, So O & the D's are finally going to do something good for us?

"concerned that liberals disappointed with Obama's policies might stay home this November,"

Well dems (& R's too), Fuck you all till you stop kidnapping & murdering on the president's unconstitutional whims.
and
Fuck you till you close gitmo,
and
Fuck you till you stop bombing wedding parties.
and...
Oh just Fuck you .....

Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The question isn't one of Obama not having a list of significant accomplishments that he can site. The problem is how the administration didn’t even put up a fight or advance an aggressive agenda on any of these items. They suffered from pre-mature negotiation; they never attempted to negotiate from a position of strength. Their default opening on all of this legislation was to open with a compromise proposal and negotiate down. If they had fought for a progressive agenda and then negotiated down to what they could attain it would have not only gained us more in terms of what has come out of the legislation but it would have excited the base. They didn’t even fight and the manner in which they went about their task was pitiful. Even in the heat of the Tea Party backlash against healthcare they never stood up to make their case. Look at the current tax cut debate, the Democrats have once again proven to lack both spine and fight and cant even clearly articulate a winning position. It's joke. The Republicans have been practicing class warfare for my lifetime and the Democrats lack the determination and grit to hold their feet to the fire.

Obama rolled on the Telecom Immunity Bill prior to the election and then gave the entire Bush administration a pass on how they lied and mislead the country into war. He has not only given the Bush admin a pass on the grossly illegal Patriot Act Measures but adopted and advanced many of them. The administration has demonstrated over and over that the rule of law only applies in certain cases.

You just cant argue the alternative is worse and expect people to turn out. You have to make a good attempt and a good show of it. I for one will go out and support the Democrats in November. The choice is the party of hypocrisy, ideology, bigotry and illiteracy. So I will vote. But the time is quickly approaching where Progressives are going to need a Tea Party, or separate party of their own. Maybe the Green Party was a good start and we should take the lessons learned from that and move forward.

Posted by: Ron on September 19, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Cwolf, you whining , contemptable little tantrum throwing baby . . . .

Posted by: Michael on September 19, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Well, of course there's a lot of significant accomplishments.

But don't you understand that he didn't grin enough or tapdance fast enough while he was doing those things?

Posted by: cr on September 19, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's not that there aren't "check-list" accomplishments. The problem is most of those accomplishments aren't meaningful to many voters. The other problem is the abandonment of a commitment to the rule of law, with nary an explanation or a peep.

Finally, I'm not OK with giving the growing extremism of the GOP a pass. The President has only recently started to call these guys out, and then only mildly. The country appears to many of us to be falling to the forces of evil, and the reasonable and sensible people of the Democratic party seem unwilling to fight back.

That's where my enthusiasm gap comes from.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on September 19, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Frank's comment about the "pipe dream" was part of a valid point: lobbyists usually get what they want, and they very much did not want this new agency. Can't fault the man for telling the truth. The creation of this agency in spite of them is a rare opportunity. Let's hope they don't screw it up.

Posted by: Algernon on September 19, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

*sigh* When will the white house and punditry get it. The "professional left WILL turn out and will hold our noses voting for Dems. We always do. It's the squishy middle that will respond to the limp POLITICS of Obama over the last 2 years with a yawn .... and stay home.

Posted by: Mike on September 19, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

OH. And I guess that's why Obama totally offended the "left" the other night at the 30K/plate fundraiser.

Posted by: Mike on September 19, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Good points all on why A Dem majority will be much much better than a GOP one. The admin though needs to stop equating low motivation with a "eft base." Most of the not enough critic isms taken as salvos form the left are for things, like the public option, that polled majority support when they were up for debate. The latest example, no tax cut for incomes over $150k. It's the majority you have to grab by convincing them your brand has something to offer that the other doesn't. Without a positive case for what theDemocrats do it's not hopeless--the Repubs are terrible and lots of people know it--but it is a crying shame as they could do much better.

Posted by: angler on September 19, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

What Ron said, and also what Mike said.

Part of the issue is that the Democrats perpetually operate from a defensive crouch, then when it's time to vote, they say, "yeah, but we can STRIKE OUT WITH DEADLY FORCE in 10 different ways from the fetal position!!" and most people, understandably, consider that to be a load of bullshit.

I mean, I know how things look to me - to me it looks like Republican obstructionism is a convenient excuse for Democrats not having to really push that hard and risk upsetting their donor base. They've already put us on notice that there will be no attempt to change the rules to stop minority rule in the Senate, which means even if they retain the majority, the next two years will be no better, and most probably worse, than the last two.

I'm not some purist who insists we have to get everything in one bite. I'm thankful we got at least something out of health care, even though it could have been both much better and much cheaper than what they did. But it would be nice to see the Democrats every now and then starting from the position of "we want it ALL" and really fighting for it, instead of starting from a halfway point and immediately going back into the fetal position whenever the inevitable opposition arises.

That's not particularly inspiring.

Posted by: Jennifer on September 19, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Cwolf, I'm sure it'll be so much better under President Palin.

Have fun frolicking with your unicorns today.

Posted by: Brian on September 19, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Ron has it mostly right, I think, though I also think that a third party for the liberal wing would be disastrous all around.

Seems to me that the enthusiasm gap is partly due to the fact that those millions of us who supported Obama's original agenda during the 2008 campaign quickly found ourselves dismissively labeled as "the Left" (or even, as Gibbs has it, "the professional Left") after the campaign was over. For the first year, moderate progressives like me who felt strongly about things like the public option kept getting the back of Obama's hand at the same time that he and his staff were enthusiastically kissing the butts of every Republican and Blue Dog in sight. Like Ron, I will go out and vote for Democrats, and like Steven, I believe that Obama's achievements are remarkable and substantial and deserve to be shouted from the rooftops. I still admire and support the man. But I'm sick and tired of being treated like dirt by Gibbs and Rahm just because I have continued to actually believe in the things (like the public option) that Obama talked about during the campaign. Obama and his people, and the Democrats generally, need to start having the courage of their convictions instead of all trying to sound like Republicans.

Posted by: Patrick on September 19, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

I wish the O-Team et al had been more concerned with pleasing "liberals" and progressives to start with. (That faction basically means rational consumer/employee members of the public rationally concerned with their own interests from facts and objectivity instead of being mislead.) The Warren step looks good, but Obama may not be trying hard enough and her "midwifery" may be a sidelining tack:
nakedcapitalism.com/2010/09/warren-pr-push-intensifies-as-evidence-against-her-succeeding-mounts

Posted by: best alien on September 19, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Passive-Aggressive Nation. Shouldn't there be a common ethos of voting no matter what?

Posted by: Leo Flinnwood on September 19, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable." J. K. Galbraith

Now the tortured have no recourse, not from any branch of gov't. As Jim Pharo pointed out above, "The other problem is the abandonment of a commitment to the rule of law, with nary an explanation or a peep."

The Republicans have moved to some other planet, one that's 6 thousand years old, with no global warming & where Rachel Carson killed millions. That's a disastrous mindset.

OTOH, the Democrats only offer a better run Empire, not the end to Empire. What a terrible choice; I'll vote, as I always exercise my franchise, but with no enthusiasm.

Posted by: Enon on September 19, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

President Palin will have the power to jail citizens without having to show cause, torture citizens without having to show cause, murder citizens without having to show cause, and delegate these powers to anyone in the Executive Branch she chooses.

She will have all these powers because the Democratic Leadership chose to secure most of them, acquire one of them, and deliver all of them unto her.

You might argue the Democrats should be kept in power in the hope they will have but not use these powers, thereby buying you time; but you have no reason to believe they won't simply add to the list.

These are not people of good will or good faith.

Posted by: Forrest on September 19, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

@ Brian on September 19, 2010 at 1:36 PM who wrote

Cwolf, I'm sure it'll be so much better under President Palin.
Have fun frolicking with your unicorns today.

LOL, I didn't think truthful observations would start a pissing contest.
Well, I've survived Tricky Dick & Ronnie Popular so I think I'll survive you & the other enablers of this war crap.

Can I write Nader in for everything ???

Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Torture. Rendition. Black prisons. Torture. Rendition. Black prisons. Torture. Rendition. Black prisons. Unconstitutional collection of private information for "national security purposes" followed by its use for non-security law enforcement (and one suspects for political purposes as well). Torture. Rendition. Black prisons. disUnitary executive.

Those were the issues that the two Republican military vets on my Obama canvassing team were concerned about. Ya think those two will be back for Obama in 2012?

Cranky

Oh yeah: stop calling those who were your strong supporters "f---ing stupid".

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Compelling list Steve, but you forgot abt the 2 Supreme Ct Justices.

Posted by: cat48 on September 19, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

This post over at FDL by Michael Kwiatkowski is On Point,,, imho.

So You Want to Move Democrats to the Left? Stop Voting for Them

Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

There's the base and then there is the "base". the "base" you will find in this thread. They will gloss over all of Obama's accomplishments and complain about the most trivial things. You will also find that the "base" were not excited by Warren's appointment because she didn't go through Senate confirmation even though THEY WANTED HIM TO DO AN IMMEDIATE RECESS APPOINTMENT. The "base" can go take a flying leap. Now the real base just needs to hear from the administration that this election is just as important as 2008, even more important actually.

Posted by: Alli on September 19, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is leading the country. Bush led the Republicans. There's a vast difference. Obama's an honorable guy who wants to take everyone's needs into account. Bush is a bully who loved telling Democrats "My way or the highway." Obama tries to achieve his goals without cracking heads.

The folks who should be cracking heads for progressive ideas are the leaders of the Democratic party. They're supposed to be partisan, it's their job. But whenever they can press their advantage, they roll over and play dead instead.

Case in point: tax cuts for the middle class. As Steve said, take two votes and call me in the morning. But to appease the Blue Dogs (who, like spoiled kids, run the family) the Democrats will dither until once again the electorate concludes they won't stand up for anyone but themselves.

Posted by: dalloway on September 19, 2010 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

@JIM: Obama's accomplishments aren't meaningful to most voters? you have lost your mind. I am as average as they come and his policies are extremely important to me.

Posted by: Alli on September 19, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know how much of this is unrealistic (to say the least) but I wonder how a how a platform of promising to end the filibuster would affect the elections (assuming that enough Senators/candidates would agree to run on such an idea).

Those who follow this relatively closely understand that much of what they wanted might very well have gotten done if it weren't for the 3/5 hurdle in the Senate. Those that don't just see that things didn't get done, and such a plank might be invisible to them anyway. The right will never vote for Dems in any event.

Like I said, this is probably all nonsense or wishful thinking. But I don't see how Dems can bemoan the Senate procedures and not have some plan on how to address this other than the equally pie-in-the-sky idea that appealing to low information voters about the need to elect Democrats will make the difference this time, especially after the majorities in the present Congress proved to be inadequate.

Posted by: jhm on September 19, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure if you really don't get it, or if you're just pretending.

The "professional left" HATES Obama. Plain and simple. And by repetitively droning on and on and on day after day, week after week about how much "still" isn't done, they've beat into everybody else's heads how shitty Obama's "record of achievement" is.

And they'll continue to do that, defending themselves from all pleas of reasonability with locutions like "you obamabots just want me to clap louder" and shit like that.

And you whine about a "messaging machine" from the White House? What's the point? All the "professional left" is going to do is rip on anything they cite as an accomplishment.

Posted by: sherifffruitfly on September 19, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think the reason that Obama and the Democrats legislative successes are not resonating is because the the country is in worse shape then it was on the day Obama was inaugurated.

I think the accomplishments of the first two years of Obama's term will really take effect over the next two years and the President will be in good shape for winning a second term.

However, things could have been worse and things will one day be better is a hard message to sell today

Posted by: Backbencher on September 19, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I was offered change I could believe in. Not just change in what we do, but in how and why we do it. Not merely technocratic success laced with compromise to pass certain bills. I wasn't interested in a more competent version of Hillary, I wanted a change in the attitudinal approach to governance.

I was kinda hoping for an administration that wouldn't try to pretend that a deployment of 50,000 troops doesn't count, and might try rolling back some of the Kafka-esque security state brought us by the Cheney administration. I wanted Democrats who wouldn't start by accepting Republican framing and negotiate backwards from there.

So, yeah, there's an impressive list of legislative successes. If you forget about public option, or benefits that start before 2014. If you forget about bringing the crimes of the previous administration to light, and the continued defense of executive security powers. If you were among those with Krugman jumping up and down screaming that the stimulus was obviously too small, who wanted someone like Obama to be saying so, as a bargaining chip if nothing else.

Most of all, I'm not seeing an administration that's been willing to continually push back on the Republican media framing and bias, and reclaim the rhetorical high ground for traditional Democratic positions.

That's not change I can believe in. I can't get emotionally invested in better legislation. I need to invest in a cause, a set of principles about America. They have dropped the ball there.

Consider my enthusiasm still gapped.

Posted by: biggerbox on September 19, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

> The "professional left" HATES Obama. Plain and
> simple. And by repetitively droning on and on and
> on day after day, week after week about how much
> "still" isn't done, they've beat into everybody
> else's heads how shitty Obama's "record of
> achievement" is.
>
> And they'll continue to do that, defending
> themselves from all pleas of reasonability with
> locutions like "you obamabots just want me to
> clap louder" and shit like that.

Do you, and Rahm, and the "professional DC Democrats" really believe that insulting and continuing to insult those who worked hardest on Obama's behalf in 2008 is really a good strategy? Does Plouffe agree? Do you understand that effort and loyalty must be earned, not demanded?

Presumably not.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Cwolf, you and FDL are monstrously and destructively wrong. Stop voting for Democrats and they'll shift even more rightward to pick up whatever votes they can from everyone else. And once Republicans get more power they will lock things down and cause even more destruction that we may never dig out of (Roberts, for example.) The answer is not about "the election" where the choice is already narrowed to two relative evils that you must pick the lesser of. The answer and the action is in *the primaries*. Find and promote good candidates, and work to advance their messages and their agendas. What else could you do? And look how Nader's candidacy already ruined the country (on a "judgment per decision outcome" basis.)

OTOH, I don't think that the "left" talking of how much Obama hasn't advanced their agenda in particular makes him look ineffectual or lazy - maybe instead, the public thinks (sadly, but still) "if they aren't happy with what he does for them then maybe he's not such a socialist after all" etc.

BTW, I have a smart alec retort for "libertarian" (usually value-free establishment Republicans) who accuse me or you of being a "socialist". Say, anyone who believes the government can and should grant limited liability and legal personhood to a business entity is meddling in genuine free and individual association, and is a socialist. So "are you a socialist"?

Posted by: neil b on September 19, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

I am tired of hearing about the "Liberal/Progressive base. I submit there is no such thing. While people on this board rant and rave most Americans are non-ideological and decide who to back based on how they fell about the candidates on a personal level. As far as the Conservative base they only show up in Republican primaries. Their numbers are too small to effect a national election and local elections are based mostly on how people are doing in the their own lives.
Most people instinctively know that the great majority of elected officials care more about holding on to their present job or running for their next one. It is hard to get enthusiastic about such people even if they keep the other side from getting power.
The President is the only elected official with a national base. He is also not worried about his next job. He will be in office for the next two years at least. The republicans will shoot themselves in the foot if they get some power.

Posted by: hornblower on September 19, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats are depressed because they are suffering most in this economic crisis and their President's response is to tout a list of accomplishments that either benefit Wall Street or don't take effect until some future date. You present a great list of progressive accomplishments, and I'm sure they make those progressives who are comfortably insulated from our economic crisis feel good, but for the millions of people who have become impoverished in the past two years and for the tens of millions of working people who are now on the edge of poverty, i.e. the Democratic base, Obama has offered little. Instead we get his 'speaking truth to the powerless' schtick from the Connecticut fundraiser.

The cluelessness of asking that suffering base to take their medicine, while we all see banks, financial firms and other bailed out businesses post record profits and pay record bonuses, is hard to fathom. It is also disastrous political strategy.

Posted by: tib on September 19, 2010 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

> Cwolf, you and FDL are monstrously and
> destructively wrong. Stop voting for Democrats
> and they'll shift even more rightward to pick up
> whatever votes they can from everyone else.

As opposed to continuing to vote for Democrats, after which they... shift even more rightward to pick up whatever cash and post-Congress sinecures they can from everyone else.

The "Obama" health care bill (which was in fairness 70% Congress' doing, although the Billy Tauzin secret meeting and similar WH activities were certainly factors) was a bit to the right of Mitt Romney's version (Romney being a Republican) and certainly far to the right of both Nixon and Eisenhower's proposals for same.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

The problem as I see it is that the Obama White House isn't presenting their accomplishments as "good, but we could do more if only the Republicans and the Blue Dogs would let us."

Instead, the Obama Administration keeps triangulating against the Tea Party's increasingly frightening "only prisons and military spending" budget plan. It's as if they view the "middle" as somewhere between David Brooks and the wildest of the Tea Party screamers.

It would be nice to hear a bit more about how we got here because of 12 years of Republican policies (8 from Bush + 4 where Clinton let Gingrich and the Blue Dogs call the shots). It'd also be nice if they read Rove's playbook and started attacking Republican "strengths" such as "deficit hawkishness."

The Republicans recognize their vulnerability on this - that's why folks like Mike Huckabee are saying Republicans were "too liberal" in the Bush years. In Republicanspeak, "liberal" and "socialist" are merely sounds intended to trigger gut reactions - actual definitions are irrelevant. (Sort of like "fnord" in the Illuminatus trilogy.) They've trained their voters to fear and hate whatever concept is used in the same sentence as these words without engaging rational thought processes.

Posted by: RepubAnon on September 19, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

@neil b on September 19, 2010 at 2:42 PM

The answer is not about "the election" where the choice is already narrowed to two relative evils that you must pick the lesser of.

wOw,,, aftering a vain attempt to "...pick the lesser of."...; I'm still trying to get my knee out of, er, my armpit.

On your valid mention of the possibility that they will go right, I say - So What.
In my time, except for that blip we call the "civil rights era" the dems have at best slowed the right a bit, but for the most part they are and have been accomplices.

They're already been doing exactly what you seem to most fear, so stop pouting for them.


Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

I wish the Adminstration and the Democrats the best of luck trying to tout the legislative accomplishments of the last two years. WE have the O'Donnell circus rolling through and try to get a word in edgewise with that freak front row and center with the "news media."

As to the disgruntled "base" throwing their "fuck you's" at the President and Democrats. I hope you have a whole boatload of "fuck you's" stored up because you're going to need them if this crop of Republicans take control.

Posted by: SaintZak on September 19, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

The professional left deserves whatever is coming to them. They do not deserve this president.

Posted by: impik on September 19, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

spend two years ruling as Corporate Democrats and then whine and cry that the base doesn't understand how hard you have worked to guarantee the profits of AHIP, GlaxkoSmithKline, JP Morgan, Goldman, etc. Golly, why don't Democratic voters understand, just look at how super things are going, how fabulous 10% unemployment are, how awesome the abandonment of habeus corpus is, how criminals like Tim Geithner are doing a heckuva job.

Presidents Snowe and Nelson are going to get the next House majority they worked so hard to create. What's the problem?

Posted by: some guy on September 19, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hay,,, St.Zak - As to the disgruntled "base" throwing their "fuck you's" at the President and Democrats. I hope you have a whole boatload of "fuck you's" stored up...

Yes I do. In fact as a charter DFH, I am well versed in my fuck youse.

As George Carlin (RIP) Said many times:

Perhaps one of the most interesting words
in the English language today, is the word FUCK.
Out of all of the English words which begin with the letter F, FUCK is the only word referred to as the "F" word, it's the one magical word.
FUCK as most words in the english language,
is derived from German,
the word "fricken[?]", which means to strike.
In English, FUCK falls into many grammatical categories.

.

Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Loved Biden's quote from Boston's Kevin White: "Don't compare me to The Almighty...compare me to the alternative." Many of us progressives have expected more from Obama than any human could have accomplished in 2 years and under these circumstances. Think where we'll be if the wacko Republicans take back over. And sure, we'll vote...but we need to help convince that squishy middle that they need to vote too -- and vote our way!

Posted by: Arturo on September 19, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think the problem is that Democrats have been so complacent about high unemployment. The midterms should have been about whether America should follow the policies and get the results of Roosevelt or Hoover. They may not have been able to pass a second stimulus bill, but they could have at least tried. Obama should have embraced whole heartedly the notion that Democrats believe in running deficits in bad times and surpluses in good times.
Also, if the Republicans are not complaining about class warfare, the Democrats are doing something wrong.

Posted by: David1234 on September 19, 2010 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

They're wasting their time. Anything the White House does, the response will be the same. A.) "Stop condescending to us." and B.) "Why did you wait so long before condescending to us?"

Nach Boehner, uns! At last, a real, progressive Democratic party, freed from the distractions of winning elections and passing legislation, and able finally to buckle down and do the very thing we have parties for in the first place -- reading people out of them.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on September 19, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

> Many of us progressives have expected more from
> Obama than any human could have accomplished in 2
> years and under these circumstances.

I expected Obama NOT to continue Cheney's policies of (1) disUnitary Executive theory (2) rendition (3) defense of illegal and unconstitutional actions by the executive in the name of "national security". And in face Obama said during his inaugural address [note carefully: post-campaign; given to entire nation not just Democrats] that he would lead the necessary change on those issues. In fact he looked directly at Cheney when he said it.

Since that date, Obama's actions have been without exception to reinforce and even /extend/ the worst of the Cheney policies. Every person who joined his administration to help clean that situation up left, most within 12 months.

Those actions are ENTIRELY within Obama's control; no evil Blue Dogs or Radical Republicans standing in his way.

I still haven't heard a single justification for these behaviors from the "strong defender" wing. Please, do be the first to enlighten me.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

DavisX,
Keep up the insults; we all know that's a proven way to win support.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

I'm one of those who was never that excited about Obama. I expected that he would do some Democrat-type things, and he did.

But I am surprised at the lack of fight, the continuing lack of recognition of where the original support came from. And the complete lack of anything resembling a Public Relations machine.

However, what bothers me the most is the complete, almost nonchalant, abandonment of the rule of law and continuation of the Bush-era policies in the name of fighting "terrorism": And don't think other countries haven't noticed.

For me that is a betrayal worse than any other.

Posted by: PowerOfX on September 19, 2010 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's also funny how they do their perma-victimization routine.

It's just like a lefty version of the Greenwald classic: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2008/10/02/self_absorption

Posted by: sherifffruitfly on September 19, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Ron's comments are 100% correct.

1) Obama and the Dems have consistently begun negotiations by assuming the position that they wish to end at. That's incredibly stupid negotiating position. I would never send these clowns out to buy a rug.

2) The Blue Dogs have damaged the Democrats tremendously. They take all the central Democratic issues and put questions into them. Health care for instance. Here we have an issue which REQUIRES a solution. Having Democratic assholes like my Rep Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin be "independent Democrats" makes the whole issue much more controversial. If the Blue Dogs maintained a united front and DEFENDED the issue, all Democrats would be stronger, the policy would be much improved, and the public would not be confused.

3) The use of crappy strategies like the Arkansas carve out, the Nebraska special case, and other special treatments of specific states was horribly damaging.

Obama's leadership was simply non-existent during the health care discussion. We needed someone to set direction, and rein in assholes like Ben Nelson and Lieberman. Obama refused to do it.

Health care should be a huge winner for the democrats. The strategy to pass it was clearly flawed and poorly done. The special conditions were terribly damaging. The sales campaign has been non-existent.

Posted by: POed Lib on September 19, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, the perfect as the enemy of the good is on full display here.

We elected a president, not a dictator. We rid ourselves of a big blusterer (Bush) and now people complain that Obama hasn't matched him in bluster.

A lot of people are in the business of criticizing political leaders of any political orientation, and they need to keep their jobs by doing so in perpetuity.

Bear that in mind before you stay home: you will be keeping the silly pundits in clover if you let the far right win the Congress.'

Is that what you want to achieve?

Posted by: jjm on September 19, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

A lot of the "enthusiasm gap" we keep hearing about, and truthfully of the rabid support of the TP movement, stems from the total lack of any examples of the failure of G(n)O(B)P policies visible to the public. There wasn't an immediate crash in the private sector that cost the plurality of the population their jobs and homes. There wasn't the sort of catastrophic falloff in private enterprise that left even the entrepreneurs without options. In short, we didn't experience anything like the Ruhr Occupation or the Great Depression, largely because of the programmes implemented in the last year and a half. This invisibility of the effect - and the lack of visibility of the consequences of doing nothing - is at the root of the underenthusiasm.

There's also the problem of public opinion and the interpretation. The current administration promised to do what it could to make things better. The public - aided by the MSM - reinterpreted that as "Obama will make everything rosy again in a day." Of course the impression was not realised: it's impossible to achieve that kind of result, especially when you try to work with an opposition with no intention of making things better and plenty of reason to want to make them worse. But the misconception of the recovery efforts to date remains, and the fact that things didn't get magically better in January 2009 (as opposed to things not being tragically worse today) is difficult to address.

Then, too, there's the problem that the situation has been a lot worse than any of us would like to believe for a long time. Publicly available statistics in the US tend to paint a more optimistic picture than exists, in part by design. The unemployment rate, for example, unlike the expectation that it would count those out of work, merely counts those who admit publicly to being out of work and claiming support for their unemployment. If you factor in the segment of the population that either is not claiming benefits, or is simply too discouraged to look, the numbers nearly double; the trouble is that we have been in that situation for over a decade, and the "invisible unepmployed" have been with us too long to make their numbers generate interest or action.

Last, there's been a general abdication of the public sphere. The last time things were this bad, homeless "Hoovervilles" were reasons to act to help people. Today, the modern "homeless encampment" is nothing more than an eyesore that law enforcement is called on to remove or relocate so it isn't visible anymore. The change in attitude - particularly from people not drastically affected by the events of the past decade - breeds much more resistance to any effort to address such issues.

These items - the invisibility of the consequences of inaction, the inflaction of expectation, the longstanding conditions masking our lack of progress, and the increasing disinterest in the common weal - all make presenting a case for the accomplishments of the last two years vastly more difficult than might be.

Posted by: boatboy_srq on September 19, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

I think Ron has a very well thought out and well argued post. It kind of puts to shame some of the whines. Ditto for Jennifer and Patrick.

To recapitulate, the problem isn't what he's done, but what was easily within his power to do that he neglected. He could have done so much better by using recess appointments, executive orders, and similar maneuvers, the same way that Bush was able to steamroll his opposition. It would have been nice to negotiate from a position of strength rather than have already negotiated with himself prior to introducing a bill. Is it any wonder that so many people are discouraged? We aren't about to get really hyper on the Democrats' behalf unless we believe that somehow we would get a real benefit, not just disrespect and empty shells.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on September 19, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

cwolf,

what michael said.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on September 19, 2010 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

> Boy, the perfect as the enemy of the good is on
> full display here.
>
> We elected a president, not a dictator. We rid
> ourselves of a big blusterer (Bush) and now
> people complain that Obama hasn't matched him in
> bluster.

We DIS-elected Richard Cheney to END the disUnitary Executive Theory and the various illegal and unconstitutional _executive_ actions of the 43rd Presidency. Executive actions - you know, the decisions that a President makes as an executive, not the actions of Congress.

Obama has not only not ended the illegal, unconstitutional, and divisive executive actions of the Bush/Cheney administration, he has doubled down on many of them.

Please do explain how that is "not matching him in bluster".

Cranky

Still lovin' the insults. Really getting me in the mood for November, and 2012, I can tell ya.

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry jjim, that is exactly what they want, I believe they are republicans trying to sow dissent and let their teaparty idiots take control.

Posted by: Michael on September 19, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

LOL, I didn't think truthful observations would start a pissing contest.
Well, I've survived Tricky Dick & Ronnie Popular so I think I'll survive you & the other enablers of this war crap.

Can I write Nader in for everything ???
Posted by: cwolf

You mean the guy responsible for two wars (or at least those who voted for him in 2000, believing there was no difference between al gore and george w. bush, effectively handing the election to bush)?

Posted by: mudwall jackson on September 19, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

@ mudwall jackson on September 19, 2010 at 4:21 PM
what michael said.

Uh, Michael was talking through the bung hole instead of the pie hole so I didn't bother to piss on his leg.

On the other hand, there has since been time to reflect, and upon reflection all you can come up with is "what Michael said"?

Fucking pathetic.

Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Funny, but I'm still waiting for an explanation from the DLC Real Democrats(tm) excoriating the "f---ing liberals on this thread as to exactly why Obama has violated not only every campaign promise he made but the explicit words of his Inaugural Address and continued/expanded the illegal and unconstitutional policies of Dick Cheney. Nor have I received a single believable response to that question in the last 6 months.

Cranky

Still lovin' the insults - keep em comin'!

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Having worked for health insurance reform for 16 years, I've learned to calibrate my expectations with respect to what's possible. Congress, especially the Senate, moves glacially slow and laws that serve the interests of "the people," rather than large industries, are especially hard to enact, particularly wholesale. "Incremental" is not a dirty word when it comes to policies that improve the health and welfare of the American people. One thing that is certain in Congress is that almost all Democrats are willing to work on issues that affect the lives of ordinary Americans -- health care, wages, unemployment, product safety, a social safety net for the old and diabled, discrimination against minority groups, and a clean environment -- whereas Republicans are not. Republicans, especially the loons up for election this year, don't see these as issues that belong on the Congressional agenda. The only policies that are enacted by Republicans are those that increase corporate profits, line the pockets of the GOP's wealthiest donors, or respond to the crazy fears and prejudices of social conservatives. You can accuse the Democrats of not improving people's lives as much as they could have or as quickly enough, but the Republicans will enact policies that actually harm the American people, especially the sick, old, and vulnerable. It's one thing to be disappointed; it's quite another to demonstrate your disappointment by allowing free-market ideologues and radical Christian fundamentalists to take over Congress.

Posted by: ameshall on September 19, 2010 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Pathetic it may be cwolf, but not whining crybabies such as you who don't get exactly what you want so you are willing to risk the whole country for your petulance .

Posted by: Michael on September 19, 2010 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

@ mudwall jackson on September 19, 2010 at 4:21 PM

On Ralph Nader
You mean the guy responsible for two wars (or at least those who voted for him in 2000, believing there was no difference between al gore and george w. bush, effectively handing the election to bush)?

Well Shit, and all along I thought Gore lost because:
He made Bush look good (WTF) during the debates. Yep, ... what people saw was Gore stalking from his spot on the stage over to the Bush lectern and fucking making GWB, of all people look good in a debate!
...and because the Rheinquist USC voted for bush 5-4. The real election.
...and because Gore lost Tennessee fercrissakes - his own fucking state.
...and because Gore caved in to the Bush display of hooliganism (as in Florida) blabbering shit for the good of the nation,,, or some such baby talk.
...and on and on...

Yea, so glad you cleared that up.
.

Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

> cwolf @5:00
> Well Shit, and all along I thought Gore lost
> because:

All very true, but also important to keep in mind that the national media decided that it was tired of Clinton and Democrats and it was time for a Republican Administration, and accordingly eviscerated Gore ("brown suits" anyone?).

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

I have 4 reactions/points to this post:

1) Good! The administration SHOULD be concerned about getting the left excited and out to vote. I hope they do more. Quickly!

2) I think there is another way to get the base energized in addition to points 1 & 2 in your post; explain what you are going to do over the next 2 years! Where is the platform? It is as if Obama is saying he has done all he is going to do for his first term and it isn't even half over; what else can we expect? What should we be getting excited about???

3) "The White House's message machine" isn't very effective. They keep too much of the messaging to themselves and don't cascade enough of it out to other Dem dignitaries as spokespersons. They should know who is on their side on each issue and have them out working the media more. They also need to work more closely with media outlets to make sure their message is getting out strongly enough. They seem to be missing the boat on social media too. In terms of WH communications, it is much weaker than its potential.

4) There is good reason why the left is disenchanted with Obama. For one, his chosen leadership style is one of pre-compromize that limits the strength of all of his accomplishments. I'd rather see him strongly support something upfront and then give in at the last minute to get it passed than the way he strongly supports the 80% everyone agrees on and then sits on the sidelines and watches the 20% that could actually do some good get whittled away by the lobbyists. Another one is that OBAMA DID NOT RECOGNIZE THE TRANSFORMATIONAL POWER OF HIS OWN ELECTION! He could have kept leading this country forward and made HUGE changes - and he could have actually INCREASED the number of Dems in the House and Senate as a result - but instead he tried to just "govern" what he had. Too bad. It should go down in history as one of the biggest under-performances of any presidency. He'll never reach his full potential - it is just too late to make up for lost time - but he can still make up for most of it. I'd like to see him reach his current level of potential.

Posted by: ob on September 19, 2010 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Cranky and cwolf on this one. Sure, HCR and Lily Ledbetter and some of those other things are good, but authorizing the assassination of an American citizen? Suppressing torture photos? Making it so torture victims can't even get a day in court? Those are dealbreakers. And they aren't something Obama was forced to do by ANYONE. Call me naive, but I believe someone who, under American supervision, was hung by his arms in a freezing room for 72 hours straight, or strapped to a table and drowned on a daily basis, or curled up in a dog cage, or driven so mad he was beating his head against the wall trying to kill himself, or beaten until his legs were "pulpified" and he died, deserves justice. Obama's made it clear he just doesn't see it that way.

As Cranky has noted, it's really telling that the Obama defenders on this string aren't defending his coverup of these crimes or his own attacks on basic civil liberties. Sure, I'm voting democrat this November because the republicans are fucking sadists, but I think it's a little too much to ask me to be happy about it.

Posted by: Ryan on September 19, 2010 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

The basic problem is that the left eats its young. Indeed, the Republicans regularly rely upon us to do so in order to return to power. Folks like cwolf can cuss all they want, but that merely paves the way for the return of the neocons. All I can say is, don't complain about what the cat drags in.

Posted by: Dr Lemming on September 19, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

> Folks like cwolf can cuss all they want, but that
> merely paves the way for the return of the
> neocons. All I can say is, don't complain about
> what the cat drags in.

Under Cheney, human beings were "rendered" (disappeared), tortured, handed over to dictatorships for torture, and (illegally and unconstitutionally) denied any recourse in US courts.

Obama claims he isn't torturing. I'll accept that, while noting that Cheney and Yoo claimed they weren't 'torturing' either. On the other counts? Rendition? Black prisons? Eternal imprisonment? Lack of redress through US courts? Assassination of US citizens without even a FISA warrant?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK
Pathetic it may be cwolf, but not whining crybabies such as you who don't get exactly what you want so you are willing to risk the whole country for your petulance.

Mmmm, I know I make typos & stuff, and am willing to accept that others do the same. I like seeing that others have from time to time wrestled with the same word processing demons with similar results.

, but Michael, I have not a clue what that garble of words portends to communicate.

So let me just say that I like Gore, I think he's one of the good ones.
I like Obama, but his star has dimmed significantly over the torture, rendition, war & basic rights matters.
I really like some Dem senators and reps. Not one of 'em is "perfect" but they are some really good ones.

So what?
Real Labor Unions used to matter. The most powerfull unions these days are the fucking jailers with their "Corrections" outfits.
Is anybody you're voting for going to even oppose, much less fix that?
How about the Trillion$ spent on "defense"... and just plain fucking dumb wars.
Where' Obama on Marijuana? Lol, It's ok for him to toke but fuggettabbout dismantling the lucrative "Drug War$"


Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

The perma-victims are also hilarious when they blame the meanmeanmean people on the intertubez for why they don't support the best people available in the current races.

I can't imagine letting random internet commenters have any control over how (or if) I vote. But then again, I'm not a perma-victim.

Posted by: sherifffruitfly on September 19, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Just so you know, cranky and wolf, nobody in this administration really gives a shit what people like you have to say, or whether you even vote. You can stop acting like anyone cares. You're totally impotent. So please go play with your flaccid dicks somewhere else.

Posted by: cr on September 19, 2010 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

All --

When I say his "accomplishments aren't meaningful" what I mean is that they are not impacting any one's life. In CA, the health insurance rates are going up 19%. In my hometown (NYC), health care is no more affordable than before. My college-age daughter has not found college to be any more affordable...

The problem with this incremental approach is that it's not preceded by an effort to persuade the people to come along to something better. The administration seems to take public opinion as a given, not as something they are charged with moving.

I heard an independent, someone who voted for Obama but is likely to sit out say, "It just seems like the Republicans care a lot more."

Seems that way to me too. VP Biden saying "Hey, at least we're not quite as odious as the GOP? Really? That's what passes for leadership? What's next, this slogan: We Tortured Fewer People?

Ugh. Obama is surely a fine manager, but as a leader he is (so far) a bust.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on September 19, 2010 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Look, the major problem is not a gap between perception and reality, it's a gap between what was needed and what was done, mainly about the economy. Obama was timid and incremental when he should have been aggressive and bold. His Administration's goal with the stimulus was to stave off depression, and let the economy rebound on its own. It should have been to restore full employment.

This is where we get "Yes, it was too small, but nothing bigger could have gotten through congress." Maybe so - but the Administration DIDN'T EVEN TRY to get an adequate stimulus through. Would have been nice if they had.

That said, I'm voting. Always have, always will. But 10% unemployment is a killer in any election and there's no fix for it now.

Posted by: FreakyBeaky on September 19, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

> Just so you know, cranky and wolf, nobody in
> this administration really gives a shit what
> people like you have to say, or whether you even
> vote. You can stop acting like anyone cares.
> You're totally impotent.

Funny, there was a time when Obama was calling me twice/week. Well, OK, it was me and 12,500 other key state campaign volunteers on that call, but oddly enough for an "impotent" person I was invited to that call. Might have had something to do with my canvassing team (3rd most productive in the state). Or perhaps it was the dollar value of my donations.

Thanks for letting me know my help is not needed in 2012, cr, but I was already getting that impression direct from the Big Guy so I didn't need your input. Nice try though.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, cr, I can't help but noticed that you were unable to provide an explanation of the Obama Administration's torture policy either. Maybe because it is indefensible? Just askin'

Cranky

Keep the insults coming! Best way to motivate the troops!

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

@ cr on September 19, 2010 at 5:53

Haahaaahaha,
Send that comment to DK's Hate Mail-a-palooza

Maybe you'll get a mention along with Socialist Fuckstick

Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK
"Obama rolled on the Telecom Immunity Bill prior to the election . . ."

And there you have the inanity of the Shiny Object Left in a single phrase.

There was no "Telecom Immunity Bill." No such goddamned thing. Instead, there was a bill to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to make it clear that the "exception" Bush's people pulled out of their ass did not exist. They claimed that that "exception," based upon the usual Kafquesque gobbledegook and the magic words "unitary executive"authorized them to eavesdrop on foreign calls without bothering to get a warrant, or have a post-bugging probable cause hearing before the FISA court. Secret eavesdropping by the Executive branch without judicial review, accountable to no one. A bad thing, a very, very bad thing indeed.

So Congress wrote an amendment to make it clear that the FISA procedure was the only allowable means of listening in on foreign calls into or out of the U.S. (other than getting a normal warrant from a regular court in a normal criminal investigation, of course). The amendment addressed some of the claims that FISA wasn't workable any more because of the volume and the terrible, terrible, threat.

And then, right in the middle of it, some Senators who were owned by the telecoms, including a guy who the left suddenly started liking during the health care debate, dropped in an amendment to kill some lawsuits that the Electronic Frontiers Foundation and the ACLU had started as an end run around governmental immunity and the state secrets doctrine.

The telecoms had cooperated with Bush to bump up the surveillance capability by a couple of orders of magnitude when he ordered them to do stuff pursuant to the nonexistent superpowers that the FISA amendment eliminated. Everyone knows that. The purpose of those suits was to find out new stuff that the government had stamped "SECRET." No one was really expecting to get any damages. No one really expected they'd be found liable given their defense that they were relying in good faith on executive orders. They just wanted the discovery from the civil suits so they could get more information on what had gone on in the past on without running in to the state secrets privilege.

The phone companies, however, were terrified, not of revealing secrets (WTF did they care), but of the potential for liability that no one but them was worried about. So they went to their pet Senators and bought the amendment.

Senator Obama voted against the telecom immunity amendment to the bill. It passed anyway. So then he had to make a choice. Do I a) vote against a bill that will put a stop to the Bush warrantless, reviewless wiretapping and, oh, P.S. and by the way limit me too if I win the election just because it has the telecom immunity amendment in it, or do I b) vote to stop the warrentless wiretapping even though it means the telecom suits will die?

Those were his choices. He did not have magic powers that allowed him to create a third choice, FISA amendments with no telecom immunity, out of thin air. He was a presidential candidate, but at that time, for that purpose, he was also a very junior senator.

The left had no understanding of the issue. They didn't even know what "Telecom Immunity" meant, nor did they have a fucking clue why the FISA amendment was necessary, how FISA worked or much of anything else. It was just the lastest in the endless series of shiny baubles they required Obama to give them, as proof of his undying love and devotion to them. And he decided instead that, on balance, the better path for the country was to get rid of Bush's warrentless wiretapping program ASAP, even if the Left got its fee-fees huwt.

Posted by: Steve (Not that one) on September 19, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

If the blue dog dems writing above are correct, BHO's approawch will not lead to electoral disaster in 11/10. If they are incorrect, and I think they are, BHO and the Dems will lose at least the House in the midterms. It is then time for a change.

I doubt if Obama can change his image as a rather weak compromiser who gives away much of his position before negotiations ever start. it isn't the whiney liberal left BHO has lost--- it's independents and most minority voters and the miuddle cklass of all colors. He has the support of whiney blue dog DINOs who want to blame the voters for BHO's fa;lling support and who don't outnumber the Tea-partiers.

The party in power is expected to do what's necessary to pass its agenda. If it can't, it is held responsible for the failure, not those who stopped them from doing it. This is particularly true when you have a near-supermajority: voters think you are a weak leader and the underdog Republicans are simply "playing politics" better and so deserve to "win." Ironically, if they win -- and the day they need to do so-- the Republicans will not hesitate to break the filibuster via the nuclear option. Saving the filibuster "for good use by Dems later on" is fatally naïve.

With the political will to break the filibuster, Dems could even now be passing bills that really create jobs, reform health care, etc., etc., and asctivate their base. Most Progressives won't "vote Repub", but they also will not give money, time or effort to re-elect leaders who make ineffective efforts to alter failed policies. Ditto Hispanics re issues like immigration of high interest to them. Ditto Blacks re inadequate job stimulus and income distribution.

Equally important, if I'm an average Joe-low-info voter who isn't going to do nuance, I see confused and frightened Dems with at best mixed messages timidly delivered versus Repubs who aggressively take flack in opposition. I sure see how Joe-low-info wants someone perceived as a strong leader negotiating on his behalf with a Korean "Dear Leader" and other bad guys out there - and how he also transfers these sentiments domestically dealing with Wall Street and HMOs. Obama needs strong Progressive opposition--- if only to take advantage of his strong instinct to compromise... and, unfortunately to have some chance of replacing him in 2012 with someone other than Palin.

Posted by: gdb on September 19, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

@ Posted by: sherifffruitfly on September 19, 2010 at 5:44 PM

The perma-victims are also hilarious when they blame the meanmeanmean people on the intertubez for why they don't support the best people available in the current races.

Some day you may get sick of playing
Worse, Worser & Worst Person in the World at the ballot box. (h/t olberman)

Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

To some extent Obama could have (fill in the blank) but much of the complaints here are exaggerations or AFAICT wrong. Obama, contrary to some accusations here, has indeed been blaming Bush and saying "don't give them the keys back" etc. There's a limit to how much he can say and not have it used against him by the lousy media complex. Some things he could have done better by his own choice (picked the wrong economic advisers like Geithner and Summers) but even then they came from the 90s Clinton era of mostly good economy (but big dawg should never have gone down that neoliberal NAFTA/repeal G-S act etc.)

Elizabeth Warren is a good sign and I hope she'll be put to real work. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-3) told me ("unofficially" OK) this afternoon Obama might appoint her to another, actual post (some agency but I can't remember just what it was, and he got a phone call before I could ask more.) while she's setting up the CFPA. All I can say is: Obama, here's your big chance to do right by those of us who worked hard to elect you as well as the public interest. If she couldn't get the nomination then at least let her have the effective influence she needs. I wore out some soles on that one, we don't want to wear out our souls too.

Posted by: neil b on September 19, 2010 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

> Steve (not that one) @6:06

That's an, um, interesting interpretation of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Not one that anyone in the civil liberties community shares (or the telecomm industry for that matter), but interesting. The fundamental problem with your interpretation is that negative affects on civil liberties and accountability were immediate and concrete, while all the "protections" you cite rely on the good will of the Executive Branch and its tame Justice Dept and security organs to have any effect. Yet both the administration in power at the time _and the current Democratic administration_ claim to have the magic Executive Power to ignore any and all laws that they deem in need of ignoring. So the protections are a bit marshmallow-ey compared to the already active iron fist.

Similarly, your description of the legislative history leaves out a few minor items such as (1) the cloture vote (2) the history of public statements and public debate.

But hey, no worries. I am sure President Liz Cheney, with the example of the lack of accountability and follow-up from 2009-2016 in mind, will be utterly scrupulous in following those new FISA restrictions.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Just so you know, cranky and wolf, nobody in this administration really gives a shit what people like you have to say, or whether you even vote. You can stop acting like anyone cares. You're totally impotent. So please go play with your flaccid dicks somewhere else."--cr

Here's exhibit A for why I suspect a lot of men will support anything a party in power does. (Iraq, for example.) If they admit the President is doing something that goes against their fundamental principles, that's an admission they can't do anything about it. Which makes their penises feel small. With their penises on the line like that, of course they're going to support whatever a president does.

Posted by: Ryan on September 19, 2010 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks to Obama extending Bush's unconstitutional evisceration of individual rights, Americans are more vulnerable to abuse by their own government than they have been in decades, maybe longer.

Yet the only commenter brave enough to bring this up is subject to a childish barrage of insults and namecalling.

I used to get really pissed off when wingnuts called Obama's followers a cult. Now I have to wonder.

More power to you, Cranky, you're a helluva lot more patient that I would be with these fools.

Posted by: Gummo on September 19, 2010 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

> Some things he could have done better by his own
> choice (picked the wrong economic advisers like
> Geithner and Summers)

The only thing we have to judge Obama by are his actual, documented words and actions. By that standard there is absolutely no evidence that he thinks he made any sort of mistake in appointed Geithner or Summers, or in his approach to the economy or Wall Street in general.

Look, as noted above I worked pretty hard to get Obama elected, but as a south sider myself I was under no illusions that he was anything but a conservative Chicago Democrat. Still, both in 2008 and today this tendency of Democrats and Obama defenders to treat the guy as a Rorschach blot onto which they can project their inner hopes about what he "really thinks" and what his indefensible actions (or his defensible actions for that matter) "really mean" is deeply disturbing.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

One thing that a lot of the liberal base may forget. At some point the senate has to please all 100 senators to do any business. There are all sorts of filibuster issues, sure, but to move anything requires unanimous consent in many cases just to bring shit to the floor. So Mike Enzi of Wyoming, with his whopping 189,000 votes, can stall damn near anything.

I do not understand why people do not understand that the roadblocks are almost all in the senate, and there is only so much that any president can do when 40 or 41 senators don' want you to move anything.

Posted by: bigtuna on September 19, 2010 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

You're likely right about Elizabeth Warren & it would be nice to see if she will be allowed to meaningfully participate in government.

I don't think anyone knows how much bank$ steal from people with all their B$ fees and scams, but most estimates I recollect put the number in the moderate to mid Eleven figure category.

That's a sneaky job of the Upper People pick-pocketing the Lesser People; and it needs real attention.

Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

> One thing that a lot of the liberal base may
> forget. At some point the senate has to please
> all 100 senators to do any business. There are
> all sorts of filibuster issues, sure, but to move
> anything requires unanimous consent in many cases
> just to bring shit to the floor. So Mike Enzi of
> Wyoming, with his whopping 189,000 votes, can
> stall damn near anything.

Exactly. For example, Senator Russ Feingold put both a secret hold and a fillibuster notice on the Telecom Immunity Act, and the sucker just died in the Senate. There was no way for anyone, including the Senate leadership, to move it forward after that.

Oh wait...

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, I get insulted with the insinuation that just because I vote Democrat, I am a lazy, non-thinking, unenthused person. I plan to go to vote in November to throw as many Republicans out of office as I can. No one needs to call me, send me a cheerleader, etc. It is my civic duty and I have done it since I was 21--just turned 65. Also, for most of my life I have not had a car; but, always made it to vote via public transportation every year. Always. I been doing my small part at throwing Republicans out of office starting with Richard Nixon. And, I am proud of it!

Posted by: Bonnie on September 19, 2010 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Like biggerbox said.

Posted by: getaclue on September 19, 2010 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Jane Hamsher over at Firedoglake was on about this same piece the other day, starting with Klein's claim of "near universal" health care. But it is not a lack of accomplishment that rankles. Yes, this administration did take over after eight years of truly epic and unprecedented disaster. The problem, however, is the lousy way they did it: the "premature negotiation" and selling out, the near total failure to hold anyone accountable-- even in the current administration over catastrophes like HAMP.

At the same time, with no necessity, they backhanded their voting base. Anyone whowanted DC Dems to show not just results, but a working spine, have been regularly and bitterly disappointed. Worse, torture and wiretapping and all the rest have expanded. Blackwater still gets contracts. Prisoners still exist, effectively, without a name or number, in secret camps where Satan's work is done in the name of God. We all know that rhetoric is not the same as a supermajority-- but loud, partisan, uncompromising, reality-based rhetoric would at least be a start, and we've heard pitifully little of that for far too long.

But even granted all of the above, it's still time for an All Hands call to the polls because the alternative really IS unthinkable. While letting the bastards back in the driver's seat may finally show up the minority party so that No One can pretend they are serious about this nation, its laws, or its citizens, we're just plain out of time. What Dumbo did for eight years was to race the country backward, and at least as bad, squandered eight years in not doing things that were urgently necessary even before terrorists of yesterday provided a convenient, all-purpose excuse for preparing this day's madness.

While Cheney & Co. waged unnecessary wars abroad and faked or ignored security at home, infrastructure crumbled, education declined. Ignorance, poverty, and sedition increased. Jobs were lost, taking a generation with them, while the rich got richer, faster than ever before. They-- we!-- lost eight years that should have been spent solving energy problems, hampering global climate change, shoring up nuclear security, elevating science over superstition, harnessing technology to serve even the least of us, and aiming for the stars. It's nice that someone in power finally has enough of "that vision thing" to revamp the space program and turn over our familiar extra-planetary commuter traffic to private industry.

Now that the long, hard slog of progress has resumed, but what little has been accomplished leaves us still omniously close to the brink, and we can no longer wait for improvement. There is no time to let Regressives continue obstructing jobs, health care, energy. People are suffering and dying now. Underage rape and incest victims, our rising prison population, the poor, the sick-- these demand compassionate action NOW, not after GOPigs have rubbed everyone's noses in their dying party's last-gasp stupidity, cupidity, fear-mongering, and outright malice.

You know what else won't wait? Democracy-- a return to majority rule in the Senate, for one thing. Can you imagine the mischief this year's litter of Heathers will do if given a chance? Even without the threat they pose, two more years of running in place to mark time like Alice are two long, dangerous years we can't afford to waste, and burn daylight that will never return, sending the world into a second Dark Age. After over 200 years of busily being born and going about its children's business, the US is busy whimpering itself to death.

Get out the vote! Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Posted by: Tomm on September 19, 2010 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Fire up the base? Try some more unlawful false claims in the gulf of mexico, that oughta help,
http://www.truth-out.org/university-groups-raises-bp-oil-spill-contaminants-entering-food-supply63367
Or use some more of that HAMP money to gouge desperate, trusting homeowners in default and then evict 'em. Or trick everybody with another ingenious ruse like removing all combat troops from Iraq and pissing off the noncombatants still in combat there. The Dems' imminent humiliation is well deserved.

Posted by: debacle on September 19, 2010 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Where's Tufte's work??

http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0003e0&topic_id=1&topic=

From ET:

I will be serving on the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel. This Panel advises The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, whose job is to track and explain $787 billion in recovery stimulus funds:

"The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 with two goals:

To provide transparency in relation to the use of Recovery-related funds.
To prevent and detect fraud, waste, and mismanagement.
Earl E. Devaney was appointed by President Obama to serve as chairman of the Recovery Board. Twelve Inspectors General from various federal agencies serve with Chairman Devaney. The Board issues quarterly and annual reports to the President and Congress and, if necessary, "flash reports" on matters that require immediate attention. In addition, the Board maintains the Recovery.gov website so the American people can see how Recovery money is being distributed by federal agencies and how the funds are being used by the recipients.

Mission statement: To promote accountability by coordinating and conducting oversight of Recovery funds to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse and to foster transparency on Recovery spending by providing the public with accurate, user-friendly information."


I'm doing this because I like accountability and transparency, and I believe in public service. And it is the complete opposite of everything else I do. Maybe I'll learn something. The practical consequence is that I will probably go to Washington several days each month, in addition to whatever homework and phone meetings are necessary.

-- Edward Tufte, March 7, 2010

Posted by: Hank Roberts on September 19, 2010 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

I have to say that nothing gets this liberal fired up more to vote for bribe-eating corporatist DINOs more than being accused of being an "effing retard" by greedy corrupt corporatist DINOs.

(Yes I'm being sarcastic, brain-dead bribe-eating corporatist DINOs.)
~

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya on September 19, 2010 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

So you'll let the USA go from "still alive but barely breathin'" to complete hell just to enjoy punishing some inadequate politicians ... well you can be as much a masochist as you like but no way the rest of us can let things go from "bad" (~) to worse. Imagine having to swerve into bushes to avoid a brick wall, you going to keep pleading you should have gotten to keep driving? What Bonnie and Tomm said.

Posted by: neil b on September 19, 2010 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

All the fucking puppet has to do to make me happy is execute the laws. That's what he swore to do. Instead he breaks them. He breaks them for BP, he breaks them for Goldman Sachs and for Bank of America and for torturers. He's got secret laws, powers of indefinite detention and assassination without process, for chrissake. He could execute the laws if he wanted to. Clearly he has other plans.

Posted by: debacle on September 19, 2010 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

"But what about the unpopularity of the Democratic successes? "

Maybe because the Administration never even tried to pursue progressive policies, choosing instead to eliminate them before the horse trading even began. Maybe because by doing so the Administration never "set the table" to force the other side to defend their past policies (of the past 8-10 years), or the media to focus on the right's lack of ideas. Thus, they let the right and the media set the narrative. And we do not know whether or not just a bit of spine to push for true progressive policies might have resulted in the adoption of one or two true progressive policies.

Posted by: bubba on September 19, 2010 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

@ Michael et al, What Tomm said on September 19, 2010 at 8:01 PM:
Concise & to the point as well as factual & comprehensive , thx Tomm.

Except for this part:

You know what else won't wait? Democracy-- a return to majority rule in the Senate, for one thing. Can you imagine the mischief this year's litter of Heathers will do if given a chance?

A footnote from the 1972 presidential elections, and a long forgotten story is that when it became obvious that Sen. McGovern was DOA after the Eagleton smear and other signals appeared clearly indicating that "I am not a crook" Nixon would be reelected,,,
many anti-vietnam war voters decided that they would cast protest vote "for Nixon" because he was believed certain to be impeached for "Watergate"

For all you 69 dimension chess aficionados, I pose this question,
Are the Tea-brained R's of 2010 any less susceptible to failure than Nixon?

...and because sometimes you just got socked & it's necessary to use some energy to stop going backward before you can againstep forward & re-engage the Right Wing Neocon/Xtian-Taliban/Xenophobic, Racist/Projectile Idea Hurling/Teabrained Miasmamatons.

Goodnight Gracie.

Posted by: cwolf on September 19, 2010 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

We have a "near universal health-care system"?
We do?
Really?
Wow.

Posted by: charles pierce on September 19, 2010 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is that there is now a huge pile of broken campaign promises piled up in front of Obama that tell us exactly what is and what is not important to this administration- and instead of being honest about the "compromises" the Democrats made, the administration tries to blow more smoke up our asses.

The power of the presidency is the power of the bully pulpit. The power of the bully pulpit is words. No one listens to words if they are coming from a liar. Obama is a liar.


Posted by: spiny on September 19, 2010 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

How easy would it have been to get a really good person up there, realistically. I don't think a clever double-cross vote like setting up Nixon would work out well at all, in this age of rotten media, stupid/crazy voters, and Republicans determined to take final advantage of whatever power they can get. They will make it so hard to fight back, that letting them takeover will be like falling into concrete mix. It has to be stopped. Period.

Posted by: neil b on September 19, 2010 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

"...osted by: Jennifer on September 19, 2010 at 1:27 PM

When will you wonderful people understand the dems have no megaphone. Cable news is repubs/cons 24/7.

Dems are always in the minority in the MSM, seldom get National coverage until they scream compared to repubs. It is a corporate media...with an agenda...unconcerned with losing sponsors or money just to cultivate anger, blame and misinformation...or else they lose their jobs or access.

Knock the profiteering out of elections, demanding public access time and then we will get a more credible dedicated representation. (and please no more presidential debates in mega churches refereed by pastors.)

Posted by: bjobotts on September 19, 2010 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Gibbs is basically right about the professional left -- they can never be pleased. Even if Obama does exactly what they want is is always "too late" and otherwise it is "too little." The reality is that despite their presence on comment sections and even their own blogs, they are not substantial part of the electorate. The things have happened that are exactly what any left wing president would have done IF THEY WERE FACING REPUBLICAN (OR NELSON + REPUBLICAN) VETO POWER ON EVERY BILL. If the left had created its own tea party-type momentum and gotten MSM attention for its pet causes, maybe the republicans rather than dems would be shamed into caving in (they have come close on DADT but not close enough). But this didn't happen. It was all Obama's responsibility to unilaterally do .. whatever...

Posted by: molosky on September 19, 2010 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

"...Posted by: sherifffruitfly on September 19, 2010 at 2:31 PM

That is so stupid and misguided.
Obama should only get pressure to respond to from the right and the "Professional Left" must always agree with his decisions and directions rather than try to form a parade for Obama to lead, or pressure his direction too just to make sure he knows where his backers stand. If you disagree...say nothing, then he will feel no pressure to change his behavior.

You can both 'support' and 'criticize' Obama at the same time...and the Professional Left does. It's what he said he wanted.

Posted by: bjobotts on September 19, 2010 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

It comes down to this

THE BEST THAT CAN BE ACHIEVED AT PRESENT
VS
THE WORST THAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN

(if the majority changes...there won't be a "next" time. This is the choosing of the direction of Fourth Turning)

Posted by: bjobotts on September 19, 2010 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

> Gibbs is basically right about the professional
> left -- they can never be pleased. Even if Obama
> does exactly what they want is is always "too
> late" and otherwise it is "too little." The
> reality is that despite their presence on comment
> sections and even their own blogs, they are not
> substantial part of the electorate.

Then why is, e.g., Biden being sent around to simultaneously beg and chastise? Something doesn't add up here.

By the way, what do you consider "just good enough" for the human beings who have been disappeared ("renditioned"), tortured, and locked away in black prisons without trial or recourse for the rest of their lives? Is a cementing down of the principle that America can disappear and torture whenever it so decides "good enough" for Democrats? Wow.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

> If the left had created its own tea party-type
> momentum and gotten MSM attention for its pet
> causes, maybe the republicans rather than dems
> would be shamed into caving in

Sort of like, I dunno, Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy? The one that was in operation during 2006 and 2008, and that Obama and Rahm made it a first priority to dismantle?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Keep the insults rolling guys. Best way to insure solid support and contributions in 2010 and 2012: insult and belittle your strongest 2008 supporters. Proven method to ensure enthusiasm. Because after all liberals and the "professional left" _owe_ Billy Tauzin their support.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 19, 2010 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Ah yes, Howard Dean - the Patron Saint of True Progressives.

Howard Dean, who took the Republican line on Park 51 and who recently said he supported what the Tea Party was doing. But that's okay, right?

You're a joke, Cranky.

Posted by: John S. on September 19, 2010 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

You don't sound like an Obama supporter. You sound like someone desperately looking for an excuse to not have to be happy with anything he does. And to even raise the specter of taking your ball and going home because some anonymous people hurt your fee-fees is so patently absurd, it doesn't even require an insult. It IS an insult.

With "supporters" like you, who needs opponents?

Posted by: John S. on September 19, 2010 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

Whoa...Cranky and cwolf need a little time on the couch to work on those anger management issues. They really don't seem to get how much as been accomplished and they really don't seem to get what allowing the Republicans/TeaBags to take control again will do to the nation. These are the Democrats that have failed us before and it looks like they want to do it again.

Posted by: maggie on September 19, 2010 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry I responded to the angry attention whores. If they can give up their values to teach someone a lesson and get some temporary notoriety then they're really not worth the time, effort or space in the comment section.

Posted by: maggie on September 19, 2010 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

John S. and maggie--what are your feelings on the torture cover-up? Or about authorizing the assassination of an American citizen? Still haven't heard any of the many Obama defenders on this thread weigh in on that stuff. Like I said, I'm voting for him, but the answer to Obama doing some vile shit isn't getting Cranky and cwolf to shut up about it. I mean, maybe it is if you're Obama. But I like to think better of the people who read this blog.

Posted by: Ryan on September 19, 2010 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus people.

Don't like the party? Vote in the primary. But come general election day, why would you stay home and not vote for the general democratic candidate? Do you really prefer to give all these tea bagger lunatics an outsized say?

This is Really stupid people.

Posted by: no leaf clover on September 19, 2010 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

Find me a single Democrat in a contested race who is running on a platform of having helped the president achieve these great progressive victories over the last two years.
Then show me the evidence that this WH has a strategy to use the HCR legislation that finally passed as a steppingstone to real universal health-care. One quote. Anything.

Posted by: charles pierce on September 20, 2010 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

It's funny. For eight years, Bush supporters complained about all the criticism that was leveled at Bush. They called it Bush Derangement Syndrome and accused Democrats of being irrational in their hatred of Bush. Apparently Democrats would attack Bush "no matter what." The phrase was often used in a way to suggest that Bush had a long track record of giving Democrats what they wanted and that, no matter what he did, Democrats were going to attack Bush. Of course Bush NEVER gave Democrats anything that they wanted.

Well, it appears that we now are in the second phase of this dynamic. Now corporate Democrats accuse liberals of irrationally hating Obama "no matter what" as if Obama has been spending months on end trying to woo liberals only to have sand kicked in his face.

The accusation is just as silly now as it was then.

Posted by: square1 on September 20, 2010 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

RE: And despite all of this, what have seen? The Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, Wall Street reform, student loan reform, Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, nuclear arms deal with Russia, a new global nonproliferation initiative, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years.


It's not quantity, it's quality. These bills are written by the industry, for the industry. They suck and so does the totally corrupt and failed US government. There is no rule of law for the ruling elite in the US.

Posted by: GREYDOG on September 20, 2010 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

Mike posted:

"*sigh* When will the white house and punditry get it. The "professional left WILL turn out and will hold our noses voting for Dems. We always do. It's the squishy middle that will respond to the limp POLITICS of Obama over the last 2 years with a yawn .... and stay home."

__________

This needs to be repeated and repeated until people actually get it.

I find it fascinating that someone can write a post like this by Steve Benen, talking about how the White House is concerned about liberals in their base-- when all you've heard recently from the White House is insults and stiff-arming, right from the podium, aimed at liberals and progressives. Barack Obama was in favor of Universal Health Care and would settle for a public option, but the public option was an absolute promise, right there in the campaign literature-- and then it was gone. Without a fight, without a whimper. And anyone who was in favor of universal coverage was "on drugs" and anyone who wanted the public option was a far-left "glass half empty" dreamer, to be ridiculed as unrealistic. And then what Rahm said, which I won't even go into..

And this is a White House worried about what liberals think of them?

Most of the Democrats I know are sorely disappointed, and almost none of them, statistically speaking, read blogs or could be called "the professional left" or anything like it. All of those who are active enough to read political blogs will vote, of course they will, they always do, and they'll vote for Democrats. It's some of the others I know who might be the type to just sit it out, and what they tell me is that the economy is still tanked, unemployment is at 10%, and rich people seem to be getting all of the attention.


Krugman and others have been screaming for years now that the stimulus was far too small, but the White House didn't push for more (we now know) out of fear that the Republicans would call them Socialists. Now, the only thing that could have possibly helped politically would be unemployment dropping, and it hasn't, because of this mistake.

Don't blame progressives or liberals, blame the White House. Talk about on drugs, good grief.

Posted by: UncertaintyVicePrincipal on September 20, 2010 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

John S., you know it's possible to be pissed off as hell about something and still fight like hell for that something. And if you don't understand this very fundamental point of human nature, do us all a favor and shut up. I mean it just doesn't sound like you've got a good grasp on anything. I've been reading Cranky for at least six years, he's totally in the fight - the good fight, with his eye on what's important. And from what I can see Crank's worth about 20 of you. I mean, the way you fly in here, I gotta figure you're a GOP stooge just trying to piss off the kind of people you say you want fighting. Either that or you're incredibly young and stoopid (sorry, don't have nearly the patience to be as polite as Crank).

Posted by: snicker-snack on September 20, 2010 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

Everybody that wants to jump on cranky and tout their holier than thou credentials needs to answer his damn questions.

Or STFU

I say this as an observer on the sidelines.

Posted by: SnarkyShark on September 20, 2010 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

I will never understand the conept of "punishing" the Democrats by staying home and letting Angle, Rand, Miller, O'Donnell and every other crackpot, far-out hyper-"conservative" seize the majority. I do not care how butt hurt people are over the slow, incremental nature of change. Some folks sound a lot like the lunatics who, after three weeks of Obama being in office, began that ridiculous (and racist, if you've ever heard the joke) "hopey/changey" thing.

Has the entire liberal wishlist been passed in quick order? Not even close. But why don't you take a moment and consider all of the forces against that wishlist- frightened poor white trash, terrified seniors, low information/easily angered voters, a media that is far more fond of conservative talking points than any critic of "lamestream media" would ever acknowledge, the Koch Brothers, Murdoch's empire, Limbaugh and the entirety of talk radio, the cutesy named "Blue Dog" Democrats, Ben Nelson, Lieberman, the Reagan Myth, PUMA's, racists, homophobes, evangelicals, Islamophobes, etc., etc, etc..

There is a group of people who will, step by excruciating step, advance the liberal/(little p) progressive agenda and a group who seek to abolish that agenda, and all who believe in it, from the American psyche forever. You who think sitting on the sidelines in November is going to accomplish anything but a full reversal of the gains that have been made are fooling yourselves and hurting the rest of us. Cutting off your nose to spite your face only leaves you without a nose. And that's not a good look for you.

Posted by: Perspecticus on September 20, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

I admit to not keeping up much on Obama and the retained questionable powers, but is he using them as much as Bush did? And don't he and Holder get blasted by the Right for "reading Miranda rights to terrorists" etc? I know those critics will distort, but it seems that overall there is great improvement and better recourse on average for most who get caught up in the gears now (even if not much retroactive recourse for those harmed by them earlier.) Here, re some intra-administration tension on the subject:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/15/holder-picks-wrong-crowd_n_539931.html

Posted by: Neil B on September 20, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

Hey 'cwolfe' we understand how much holier and better you are than the rest of us so we accept your criticism and bow to your special status.

But please get the Fuck out of the way because the rest of us have work to do!

Posted by: robert on September 20, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Those were the issues that the two Republican military vets on my Obama canvassing team were concerned about. Ya think those two will be back for Obama in 2012?

You think they are going to be voting for Demint, Rand, Angle, O'Donnell ?

I'm sorry that Obama hasn't corrected all the nations ills in 18 months, but what's the alternative ?

Posted by: Stephen on September 20, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Then show me the evidence that this WH has a strategy to use the HCR legislation that finally passed as a steppingstone to real universal health-care.

Go check a Tea Party web site.

Posted by: Stephen on September 20, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sorry that Obama hasn't corrected all the nation's ills in 20 months. I'm sorry that he chose to exacerbate them while pretending to mitigate them.

Republicans convinced me that voting Democratic was necessary. The Democrats proved it was futile.

I'll be voting third party, Green for preference, from now on. The Greens don't stand a chance, but neither does America so long as the Axis of Symbiosis are running things.

Posted by: Forrest on September 20, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

I'll be voting third party, Green for preference, from now on.

Just as long as you aren't taking the "futile" option

Posted by: Stephen on September 20, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, look, if you actually believe allowing far-right whackadoodles to take over congress is a means towards achieving liberal goals, I'll stop trying to get you to vote. You'll do exactly the same damage tossing a vote away on the Greens or some other marginal party as you will not showing up at all. Stay the hell home and free up a parking spot for someone more serious about this stuff.

Look, iI do not support many of the Dubya-wide expansionist policies maintained by the current admin. However, I for one, a) recognized that some of those policies would be too tempting for any admin to maintain and some would have to be kept for a Democratic admin to keep their street cred up for the chickenhawks, and b) would much rather have like-minded people in office who would possibly help restore the balance of power and reverse these policies than hand the keys back to people who would further expand the unitary executive (under the white, er, right president, of course).

So again,, if you are so shortsighted to think that giving congress back to the Republicans is the best way to achieve your goals, please stay home and we will try to make do and prevent the catastrophe you are helping to set us up for.

Posted by: Perspecticus on September 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

"I think the reason that Obama and the Democrats legislative successes are not resonating is because the the country is in worse shape then it was on the day Obama was inaugurated." - Backbencher.

Being in a free fall is actually quite painless if you have your eyes shut and haven't hit the ground yet. I guess if you never read the papers or watch the news, you can make the above statement.

But I get it. People hadn't yet felt any pain personally, so they don't think the country is doing too badly. I guess most murkans can't conceive of anything beyond their own personal circumstances.

Seems like a lot of people like the thrill of a free fall and want to jump again.

Posted by: bdop4 on September 20, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Look, iI do not support many of the Dubya-wide expansionist policies maintained by the current admin."

You admit that things are continuing to get worse, but hope that pressing the same button will produce a different result. I see.

Posted by: Forrest on September 20, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

And yes, people with an investment in the Axis of Symbiosis do prefer those who vote for the couch than another party. So long as the left chooses the couch, the leaders can pretend they need to move to the right for more votes. An election where the Democrats lose by 1% and the Greens draw 1%...well, that would be inconvenient.

Posted by: Forrest on September 20, 2010 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Inconvenient for the whole nation. The Democrats need to hear more fire before elections, more people writing and marching and pressing for good candidates. By election day it is too late to fix things your way.

Posted by: Neil B on September 20, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing that our government provides too much support to is the Defense Department. Maybe we could save a few dollars from the over-spending there. To spend equal to what everybody else on earth spends is just plain stupid!!!

Posted by: Maine Liberal on September 20, 2010 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

So, to sum up the options this November:

Vote Republican and thereby tell the Democrats to continue moving right.

Stay home and thereby tell the Democrats to continue moving right.

Vote Democratic and thereby tell the Democrats to continue moving right.

But whatever you do, don't vote third party, because [SCENE MISSING].

"The Democrats need to hear more fire before elections, more people writing and marching and pressing for good candidates."

They do. They refer to it as the whining of retards.

Posted by: Forrest on September 20, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK


Forrest says:

"Vote Republican and thereby tell the Democrats to continue moving right.

Stay home and thereby tell the Democrats to continue moving right.

Vote Democratic and thereby tell the Democrats to continue moving right.

But whatever you do, don't vote third party, because [SCENE MISSING]."

The scene isn't missing, it's just that it's useless, badly acted, and written by a team of idiots.

I'm glad I'm not american, only having TWO uselesss parties to vote for, but a filthy european socialist, because if I were to vote in the U.S., I'd... I dunno, throw up at the very thought? Benen is a well-meaning guy, and he points out absurdities that should be pointed out. But he's also, like so many so-called libs, dems and otherwise sane people, ready to absolve the current administration for continuing some of the worst policies of the former.

Posted by: HMDK on September 21, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why Obama is trying to repeat the Bush's mistakes.

Posted by: bad credit loan on October 13, 2010 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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