Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 28, 2010

A PASSIONATE PLEA.... President Obama sat down with Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner and Eric Bates two weeks ago, chatting for an hour and a quarter for a new cover story. The discussion covered a lot of ground, and led to some fascinating exchanges on subjects ranging from Fox News to Tea Partiers, health care to global warming.

But the comments that ultimately may generate the most interest were the last ones. Obama had brought the interview to a close and left the Oval Office, but then quickly returned to make a "closing remark" that Wenner said was delivered "with intensity and passion."

"One closing remark that I want to make: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we've got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.

"The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible.

"Everybody out there has to be thinking about what's at stake in this election and if they want to move forward over the next two years or six years or 10 years on key issues like climate change, key issues like how we restore a sense of equity and optimism to middle-class families who have seen their incomes decline by five percent over the last decade. If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we'd better fight in this election. And right now, we are getting outspent eight to one by these 527s that the Roberts court says can spend with impunity without disclosing where their money's coming from. In every single one of these congressional districts, you are seeing these independent organizations outspend political parties and the candidates by, as I said, factors of four to one, five to one, eight to one, 10 to one.

"We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up. Bringing about change is hard -- that's what I said during the campaign. It has been hard, and we've got some lumps to show for it. But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place.

"If you're serious, now's exactly the time that people have to step up."

It probably won't surprise regular readers to learn that I find this pretty compelling. Regardless, it raises an opportunity to make a distinction between different kinds of center-left critics of the president.

Kevin Drum notes, "If you're, say, Glenn Greenwald, I wouldn't expect you to buy Obama's defense at all. All of us have multiple interests, but if your primary concern is with civil liberties and the national security state, then the problem isn't that Obama hasn't done enough, it's that his policies have been actively damaging. There's just no reason why you should be especially excited about either his administration or the continuation of the Democratic Party in power."

Right. Glenn not only has a legitimate beef, I honestly can't think of anyone who's offered a persuasive argument to counter Glenn's criticism. I don't know, however, how large a group of voters we're talking about that disapproves of the president based primarily (but not exclusively) on concerns over the national security state.

I'd argue that if Glenn's contingent represents one group of the disaffected, the other two general groups of center-left critics are (2) those who believe the president's accomplishments have been inadequate; and (3) those who are struggling badly in this economy, and expected conditions to be better than they are under Obama.

For those in the "inadequate" camp, the president's pitch may or may not be persuasive, but I think it should be. We talked recently about the accomplishments of the last 21 months, so I won't rehash the list again, but I continue to believe it's a record that's as impressive as anything we've seen in modern times. What's more, I'm not at all convinced it was within the president's power to make these milestone breakthroughs any stronger. The accomplishments can and should go further, but for the Democratic base, that should mean getting more engaged, not less.

Reaching that final group seems to be a tougher sell. The administration's economic policies have made a huge difference, but the status quo is still woefully unacceptable. It's not necessarily up to the president alone to grab hold of the economy and make it better, but there have been missteps and the frustration is understandable.

I suppose the pitch Democrats can make to these voters is: it can and will get worse if Republicans win, and would have been much worse had the GOP gotten its way. Obama has taken steps to get us on the right track, and conditions have slowly improved, but the surest way to stop the progress, the argument goes, is to hand the GOP power and encourage Republicans to pursue their discredited economic agenda.

Or, as Kevin concluded, "And the alternative? Well, if the prospect of ripping apart healthcare reform, shutting down the government, deep sixing START, slashing social spending, and reliving the glory days of investigations over Christmas card lists isn't enough to get you motivated, I guess I'm not sure what is."

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (104)

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Comments

The number of "take their ball and go home" Democrats is very small, I think. This is about press narrative.

Funny how these types always say they're being condescended to. But they have very unrealistic expectations of how politics works.

Politics is like life. You are not going to just grow up, get amazing jobs, make millions, and marry a supermodel, have brilliant children, and become a great tennis player. You might get pieces of these now and then. But never all. Politics is like this.

Posted by: Frank C. on September 28, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm as discouraged and depressed as any Democrat out there.

But I'm more afraid at what the Republicans could and would do if they again had the power.

Think they were bad in the past? You ain't seen nothin' compared to the harm they could do. Starting in January.

A timid, spineless Democrat is still better then a vicious, destructive Republican. Every time.


Posted by: K in VA on September 28, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Incompetent or evil? Those are the choices, America. Pick one.

Posted by: John S. on September 28, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

But what if our local candidates are just terrible democrats?

My representative is Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, who is right now campaigning on being against everything Obama wanted to do. How does re-electing her help him, or me, or progressives in general?

It just makes me sick that so many Democrats are so stupid and/or irrational with their policies, but we're being told that we're being irresponsible if we don't support them.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on September 28, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

I have a very serious question for the "sit it out until we get real liberals" crowd. When has this actually worked? Did it work in '68 when Nixon got elected? What about '80 when we ended up with 12 years of Reagan/Bush? Are we honestly going to say 8 years of George W Bush left us with an objectively more liberal nation? I see so many people talking as though punishing Dems this November will obviously result in more liberal policies, well where's your evidence for that? Show me where this strategy has succeeded.

Posted by: Nied on September 28, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who always votes, but is in the Glenn Greenwald camp I normally would hold my nose and vote for the Democrat since the civil liberties problems are in the Executive Branch and Obama is not up for re-election this time.

However, as I live in a vile Blue Dog district with a Democratic rep who has voted against every single Obama accomplishment, I WILL be sitting on the sidelines in that race. I won't vote for a republican, but I sure as hell won't vote for a Blue Dog. There will be a blank slot on my ballot.

Meanwhile, those 527's are spending huge amounts of money here to convince the populace that Bobby Bright is a Pelosi Democrat and must be defeated. It is interesting they are will to spend so much money when the final result will be the exact same vote.

Posted by: martin on September 28, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

If I recall, a survey of likely voters suggested that dissatisfied Dems were more likely to vote in the midterms than those that are content with democratic policies thus far. Further, such voter apathy was derived from the belief that the Dems would maintain legislative control following the midterms. As such, getting more Dems into the "likely voter" category will only derive from repeatedly driving home the point that Republicans are on the verge of Bringing the Crazy. I.e. get the content Dems worried (as they should be). I worry that the wrong Dems are being targeted.

Posted by: OB on September 28, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Look, I've been saying this stuff for months. If the President of the United States thinks he can get people to listen better than I can, well, more power to him.

Posted by: Perspecticus on September 28, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Is there a new poll on what Dem voters think the mid-term outcome will look like, lately? I know the one we saw a month or so ago showed the majority of respondents believing that we'd be doing just as well or better after the mid-terms. Maybe the message the President needs to get out is that we really are in serious danger of losing our majority in the House, and have a serious probability of even worse gridlock in the Senate.

Posted by: Kris on September 28, 2010 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

I ask you 'are the Democrats right on the issues?'

I am against the war in Afghanistan, for net neutrality, for equal rights, for a new 'New Deal', for a single-payer health care system (or at least a public option), against expanding executive power, for closing Gitmo and ending torture, for prosecuting criminals even if they are politicians, members of the military or bankers.

On each of these issues the Democrats are taking the other side of the issue -- even if they occasionally give lip service to the other side.

Yes, I think most Democrats will 'come home' and vote Democratic in November -- but they are voting party first, issues (or country) second. So, I've concluded, I can not be a Democrat anymore -- I am in opposition to the party and the positions it has taken on the issues important to me.

And I will vote in November.

Posted by: PGeorge on September 28, 2010 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Martin,
Sitting out is still a vote for a return of Republican leadership. The Blue Dogs are pretty disgusting I know, but the primaries are the time to vote your ideals. The general election you're voting for the leadership that will set the agenda for us all.

Not voting, even for a disgusting Blue Dog, means a step closer to endless investigations, defunding programs and misery for us all.

Posted by: mikel on September 28, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pretty pleased with Obama's domestic record, am fully cognizant of the hand he was deal, and totally blame the Republicans and the "centrist" Democrats in Congress for the disappointments of the last two years.

That said, the White House needs to grow up and stop whining about its ungrateful base. By lashing out at the base right now, the administration is indulging in the same emotion-driven counterproductivity they decry. The White House is letting their anger cloud their thinking. Condescension and insults aren't the underpinnings of an effective GOTV strategy. The administration is flailing.

I have a few hundred bucks, a few days of vacation time, and a personal connection to a vulnerable House Dem who needs both. I will still give, and I will still work. But if I were as irrational as the White House is being right now, I would take my ball and go home.

Posted by: The_Dan on September 28, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

In future deliveries of this plea, he might want to leave out the part about civil liberties.

Posted by: Toast on September 28, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

As someone firmly in the Greenwald/Hamsher camp, I refuse to spend any more time and effort defending or supporting Obama and the Congressional Dems. Their conduct has been inexcusable and I don't believe in rewarding bad behavior...so apparently things are going to get a whole hell of a lot worse before enough people become sufficiently enranged to fix our broken political system.

Obama has managed to fuck up every single policy iniative that's crossed his desk, either through political incompetence, apathy, or hosting Republican swordfights in his mouth. He's simply unprepared for the job, and now he sounds like a whiny bitch looking for a bailout. I'm not playing this game any more; I need to sleep nights.

Good luck and fuck you, Barry.

Posted by: Monty on September 28, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a better motivator than complaining we don't love and trust you enough - prove the Democrats are worth supporting by taking a firm, line-in-the-sand stand on something (anything) that matters; pass the middle-class tax cut and end the giveaway to the rich. See how easy that was? Otherwise, how can we believe that the results you've gotten so far aren't exactly what you wanted all along?

Posted by: sleon on September 28, 2010 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the thing about the Blue Dogs and the DINO's - yes, they're thoroughly unreliable votes on many issues. But with a very small number of exceptions, they're a reliable vote on the leadership, and the practical difference between Dem or GOP leadership of either house of Congress is enormous.

If you've got a bad Dem in your district or state, see about getting ready for their next primary, but unless the idea of Speaker Boehner sounds inviting to you, don't punish the country to send a message to the Blue Dogs.

Posted by: drkrick on September 28, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Remus and martin: A bad Democrat is better than a Republican, because the majority party controls the agenda. If you sit out the election to punish your local blue dog, you punish the country. There is no doubt whatsoever that a republican majority will lead to legislative paralysis and probably impeachment of the President. If you don't vote Dem, you'll be effectively voting for that.

Posted by: Jose Hipants on September 28, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Not voting, even for a disgusting Blue Dog, means a step closer to endless investigations, defunding programs and misery for us all.

I am almost to the point of not caring. I don't have any faith in this country. I don't have any hope for its future. I see the Republicans as monsters who want to destroy America and the Democrats as feckless cowards who will only enable them rather than oppose them. I am very nearly to the point of giving up and sitting back to watch, in perverse fascination, as the GOP rapes the country to death. I lived on nothing but schadenfreude for eight long years when Bush was in office. I can live on it again.

Posted by: Alan on September 28, 2010 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

As a Democrat who is going to go out and vote, I find it hard to get up the energy to try and convince other people to vote. Telling me that I am a whiner, or that I lack enthusiasm doesn't change that. I know that. I don't want to lack enthusiasm. I just do.

If somebody is depressed, would you just yell at them, "Quit being depressed all the time! Just be happy that you aren't living in a gutter!" Let me know how that works for you.

Posted by: DR on September 28, 2010 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, mikel, if we don't vote for Blue Dog Democrats, they might lose to teabaggers who ... well, vote exactly the same way.

I agree with PGeorge. Give me a choice between a Democrat and a Republican -- such as I have with my Congressman, Tim Walz, who has stood up for us despite coming from a purple district -- and I'll enthusiastically support the Democrat. Given a choice between, say, Blanche Lincoln and some Republican, I'd have to shrug.

Just because someone calls himself a Democrat doesn't mean I should fight for his re-election, any more than just because some other person posts as "Tom Allen" means I have to agree with him. :-P

Posted by: Tom Allen on September 28, 2010 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

If you are such a left wing, principled democrat, why would accuse the President of having "Republican swordfights in his mouth'?

Posted by: tom in ma on September 28, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad Hillary lost, she'd be so much better! F' Barry, he stole it,waaaaaaaaa.

Posted by: Monty's Inner thoughts on September 28, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

"I am against the war in Afghanistan, for net neutrality, for equal rights, for a new 'New Deal', for a single-payer health care system (or at least a public option), against expanding executive power, for closing Gitmo and ending torture, for prosecuting criminals even if they are politicians, members of the military or bankers. "

Me too. And I agree that the administration's record of positive steps on any of those things is somewhere between disappointing and non-existent. Is there any reason to believe the GOP would do any better?

Posted by: drkrick on September 28, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oh shut up.

Posted by: Monty on September 28, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Blue dogs have pooped all over the dems. Smelling only bowel movement better than republicans these days is problematic.

Posted by: Silver Owl on September 28, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

"The administration's economic policies have made a huge difference, but the status quo is still woefully unacceptable."

What sort of evidence exists for this claim (aside from some kind of counterfactual about what would have happened if there wasn't a stimulus)?

HCR was an important measure. There was a financial reg bill, finally, including what will hopefully be a stronger consumer protection mechanism. But the large scale payoffs and implications of both are still in the future.

Posted by: Bulworth on September 28, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing says "loser" like scolding your voters for not recognizing your supposed awesomeness.

What happened to the politically astute Obama who outmaneuvered Hillary? We could use that guy back.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on September 28, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I will vote, but I would rather see leadership than compromise. That is my biggest disappointment.

Posted by: maurinsky on September 28, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

In response to the commenters above who find themselves in the difficult situation of having to choose between the Republican candidate and the "for all intensive purposes Republican" Democratic candidate...

I understand not wanting to vote for your Democratic candidate; but the reason I think you should is that keeping a Democrat in those seats will be crucial to preventing a GOP takeover of the House. And that would be a very big deal and a big blow to our chances of passing any addtional progressive/effective legislation.

Yes, Herseth-Sandlin and Bright will likely continue to oppose Obama's policies, however their continued presence in the House would help prevent the GOP from deciding what bills to take up, and from starting-up time/media sucking and substanceless investigations. (For example: http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/09/28/bring-out-your-dead/ )

So I'd (humbly) recommend holding your noses and voting for the Democrats in your races, for the greater good of your Country.

Posted by: Emes on September 28, 2010 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

My representative is Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, who is right now campaigning on being against everything Obama wanted to do. How does re-electing her help him, or me, or progressives in general?

Because the first vote she would cast in the 112th Congress would be to elect Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. Who then would organize the House to keep madmen and women such as Darrell Issa and Michelle Bachman as far away from committee chairmanships as possible.

Posted by: DJ on September 28, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Only Freepers call him Barry. Monty, you are full of shit.

Posted by: Paranoid Floyd on September 28, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Posted by: Anthony Damiani on September 28, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Was this before or after he tired to expand internet wiretapping ?

What Obama seems to not grasp is that some of us liberals really don't like the way he and his party have been handling their business. Fuck, everything passed was so far from expectations, give me something to chew on before the lecture.

And as far as the House and Senate not voting on middle class tax cuts. God damn, are they really trying to win, or let the R's in for a couple years in hopes of another republican backlash.

I am not lethargic, and I take a hell of a lot of insult in Obama lecturing me on climate change, equality, and civil rights. Last time I check jack happened with the climate, it may be even further away then 2 years ago. Equality tax vote is after the election which I assume won't include any form of equality, and civil rights ? Seriously, Obama has been lock and step with Bush on many civil rights issues, namely non-Americans and spying on all of us.

He can seriously save it. I will vote, but for one reason only, because the right has gone off the charts crazy. I don't think any democrat in the Senate deserves my vote, not that I have any to seriously choose from in Texas. They have blown it from here to there and yet we are forced to vote for them because the alternative is unspeakable.

And I wish the world would quit calling it an enthusiasm gap, it's not, quit blaming me for your failures D's. My party is so gutless they won't hold a vote on middle class tax breaks before the election and then they have the balls to blame me for not being enthusiastic enough. That's the obvious one, but there are about 10 pieces of legislation that we could not make the case for, even thought the public supports it and/or they are too scared to even try and get a vote.

Posted by: ScottW714 on September 28, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but if it encourages Democrats to find their balls and actually stand up for the progressive agenda I'll deal with two years of republican control of the house. At least the GOP would have to take some responsibility for governing (which will take away a lot of the purity momentum). And since they are not ready to lead they would probably be demolished in 2012. The simple fact of the matter is the Democrats run away from their own agenda and accomplishments with remarkable consistency. Is it any wonder the GOP wins the rhetoric wars. And Dems need to stop patting themselves on the back for things like too-small stimulus, Healthcare reform that is corporatist in nature, Wall Street Reform that doesn't do nearly any of the things they claimed, etc. Instead they need to have the courage of what is right (they have no convictions) and say we got the basics but the country needs more.
The republicans are campaigning on a platform of 'we are going to offer you no help in the present economy, even taking away programs that do help' and the Dems still lose the argument because they are afraid of charges of socialism that will come even if they voted the republican agenda. My god, they are incompetent. I'm voting third party in every national race.

Posted by: me on September 28, 2010 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Paranoid Floyd: Only Freepers call him Barry. Monty, you are full of shit.

I like your nick. And I've been posting from the far left here since Kevin Drum ran the place.

Posted by: Monty on September 28, 2010 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

I think the comments about leadership roles are a bit misleading or maybe even not completely getting the point. While Republican leadership in the house will be horrendous, the Democratic leadership has shown them to be a bunch of wimps. I think Pelosi has done pretty well but how do they deserve respect when they won't push a vote for the tax cut for middle class before the election. How can Reid expect support when he will not use the powers at his disposal to push issues, irrelevant of the filibuster Republicans love so much.

These things have to be taken into consideration. I am in the Greenwald camp and will vote in November. And because I will have no one else to vote for, I will probably end up for a Democrat. But for the first time in my 20 years of voting, I truly feel like I am voting for the lesser of two evils. I had never felt that way before.

Also, I have to agree with the comment of Alan @1:52.

Posted by: Craig on September 28, 2010 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

The main problem is not what has been done in terms of policy. The problem has been with the campaigning. It is their job to motivate voters, not just to complain about complacency.

Posted by: David1234 on September 28, 2010 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

I've noticed a pretty clear pattern on the comment boards. There is a cadre of people who post over and over about how much they hate Obama, sneer at anyone who disagrees as Obot followers of Dear Leader, and use harsh, overblown rhetoric aimed mostly at Democrats.

These people find something wrong with everything that Obama does, including this statement. It's obvious that nothing will ever be enough for this group. So stop the make-believe about how you're so disappointed this time, because after seeing it a few dozen times it isn't believable any more.

Obama is right here, and the full segment is thoughtful and nuanced. It's really too bad that some members of the online echo chambers have worked themselves into a such a lather of hatred that they can't ever see any good.

Posted by: Marc on September 28, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

drkrick: "Is there any reason to believe the GOP would do any better?"

No, absolutely not -- but that in no way would make me want to vote Democratic.

Your choice -- D or R -- is a false one. It's like someone asking me who I prefer Palin or Angle? I oppose both of them and refuse to be forced to vote for either.

Listen guys, this isn't some sort of sport. In sports you cheer the home team even if the guy next to you cheering is wearing a Bush/Cheney T-shirt. It's all about team loyalty. It's a game. Governing is not.

Lots of people seem to want to make politics about blind loyalty to the team -- that's why so many Tea Party people are taking issues that are directly against their own interests. But so are Democrats, they want you to vote for candidates and the administration even if that means voting for the things you are against. I do not support the Democrats (or the Republicans) on the issues, period.

Posted by: PGeorge on September 28, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Enthusiasm isn't a rational choice. Either the Democrat's policies and rhetoric inspire people or they don't. You may be able to frighten people with the "horrible alternative", but you can't inspire with it.

Posted by: cnmne on September 28, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Sorry, but if it encourages Democrats to find their balls and actually stand up for the progressive agenda I'll deal with two years of republican control of the house. At least the GOP would have to take some responsibility for governing (which will take away a lot of the purity momentum). And since they are not ready to lead they would probably be demolished in 2012."

Seriously when has this actually worked? When has punishing dems with losses to right wing wackos caused them to "find their balls"? It's not like it hasn't been tired before.

Posted by: Nied on September 28, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who is taking the time to comment here would probably fall in the camp of the dissatisfied left. Most of us are going to vote in November. The folks who pushed Obama over the top in '08 (and all the subsequent coat-tailing) are the ones who are staying home. Therein lies the potential for Republican catastrophe.

Posted by: OB on September 28, 2010 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'm voting for none of the above. Want my vote Mr. President? Quit taking every opportunity you, and your administration, can to take cheap shots at the base. Because I am content to stay at home, make some popcorn, and watch the impending ACORN hearings. Cuz buddy, I'm done with the heavy lifting. I'm out bitches.

Posted by: polldancer on September 28, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

PGeorge? DO vote this November. Don't be a democrat because they do not 'stand' for what you believe. BUT if you vote 'against' the party because you think a Republican will do ANYTHING about those issues you care about you are living in an alternate reality. Altho the Dems have not voted on or fought for some of my 'issues' I am FULLY cognizant the Republicans will not do one single thing for me. It will be the top 1% and I gotta PRAY that maybe THIS time it will trickle down. OR I vote for a Dem majority and hope that even tho my rep may stink, overall as a party they still represent ME better.

Oh and Monty? You're an ass.

Posted by: SYSPROG on September 28, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

But what if our local candidates are just terrible democrats?

Hold your nose and vote Democratic, regardless. Conservative districts elect conservative representatives, regardless of party. But, when redistricting time comes around, you want your party drawing the map. It's about the only way to change the electoral map in your favor.

I've always liked the term "yellow-dog Democrat". As in, "I'd vote fer a yeller dog if it was a Democrat."

Posted by: AK Liberal on September 28, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

You're willing to sit this out, just to see what happens? You must not have any kids.

Posted by: Jose Hipants on September 28, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

The other thing to remember about "Blue Dogs" is that some of them have been allowed to vote "no" for agenda items for political reasons if there were enough overall votes to pass the item. The problem has not been the House. They have passed a lot of stuff that is stuck in the Senate.

It's all about the Speaker and the Committee leadership.

Posted by: threegoal on September 28, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

For the nine millionth time. Activist WILL VOTE DEMOCRAT! The problem is the sorta-kinda voters who are disappointed in a warm spit president.

Posted by: Mike on September 28, 2010 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

It's as if Obama was sending a personal message to Jane Hamsher and the FDL crowd, amongst others in the "progressive" blogosphere.

Perhaps it will gratify your own ego, but pulling a Nader isn't going to help your cause, folks.

Posted by: Richard on September 28, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting interview but a bit of a softball, no questions about the Administration's affray on civil liberties.

Posted by: Kathy Larkin on September 28, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Steve, I'm in the Greenwald camp on this one. What I find irresponsible is a President and VP that bashes the liberal base for criticizing them over legitimate MAJOR grievances such as wholesale adoption of the illegal Bush surveillance policies as well as introducing new and exciting assassination decrees against US citizens without a shred of evidence or indictment.

If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we'd better fight in this election.

No, that's why I fought in the last election. And you've rewarded me by being as bad OR WORSE than Bush on civil liberties. But, look over there, Sharron Angle is even worse!!

Posted by: ckelly on September 28, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Controlling the legislative branch is important and the only way any part of the liberal agenda will move foreward. Now I am lucky my representative is Mike Capuano and he is more often than not in the right place so voting for him is not at all difficult. Still even if I lived in a purple district I like to think I would vote for a right leaning Democrat than stay home and have those people end up controlling congress.

The other side has come at us hammer and tongs for two years doing theie best to wear us down, divide us and marginalize all of us. Lets not hand them a victory by staying home.

Posted by: roreilly on September 28, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

It's not " a record that's as impressive as anything we've seen in modern times."

Bush got more through, all of it bad. (War, PATRIOT act)

Clinton raised taxes, balanced the budget (good) passed NAFTA and deregulated finance (bad).

Reagan, do I need to list? (almost all bad)

Obama got weak tea healthcare legislation, weaker tea fionancial reform, it did not even roll back all the damage that Bush did much less the damage that Rubin/Summers/Clinton did.

What's worse, and most disasterously in the case of the weak tea stimulus, his MO is to cede the argument to the Republicans at the START of negotiations.

In response to the argument that he has done a lot in his first 1-1/2 +years, I think that you have to go back to Bush I to find someone who has done less.

In fact, the only place where you see unequivocal "accomplishments" is in his support warrantless wiretapping, torture coverups, bald assertions of secrecy, and assertions of the right to murder without due process.

Posted by: Matthew G. Saroff on September 28, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'm voting in November, and will actively support those Democrats who deserve it. Fortunately for me, that extends to the rep.s in my state, so I have no conflict there.

But I'm certainly not voting because Joe Biden and Barack Obama tell me to "buck up." To them and the republican lite part of our party, I give a hearty and earnest "Fuck you."

They should also be forewarned that they will not have progressive support in the 2012 primaries and will face a shitstorm trying to get to the general election. See you then.

Posted by: bdop4 on September 28, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I volunteered today to canvas here in Milwaukee. We're going to the neighborhoods where Obama got out lots of non-voters in 2008. As I think about whom Obama is speaking when he says: "It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election," it's clear to me that he means non-voters. That would be mostly group 3 in this post; but I think they're non-voters usually who voted for Obama. I'm curious to learn whether they're really so discouraged that they're not going to vote, or if it's just that without Obama on the ballot they're back in non-voter status.

It occurs to me that quoting Obama saying it's inexcusable for them not to vote in this election might be persuasive to get them to vote.

Posted by: NealB on September 28, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I'm voting for patti murray and jay inslee.
If the President plans to run again I will only vote for him if it's close. Otherwise I am in the Hamsher/Greenwald camp and think this President, who is a bluedog, has pretty much blown it.
I am concerned about the future of Social Security, his catfood commission gives me pause.
His bashing the left is totally innane, the 'reagan democrats' are bailing on him, the liberals are just pissed.

Posted by: Myshadow on September 28, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

You're willing to sit this out, just to see what happens? You must not have any kids.

Oh, we do. It's just that we're not very good parents, in addition to not being very intelligent or very good at being grownups.

Posted by: Tom Alien on September 28, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

I read the same way NealB did. He was at a campus the other imploring folks not to sit out the mid-terms. I don"t take his comments as bashing me. Please have realistic expectations. We do not need to give the creeps more victories. Lord help the poor man, women and child should they win.

Posted by: KK on September 28, 2010 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry
This is a straw man
It isn't progressives who won't show up at the election.....
It's the young and the indepoendents who believed that Obama would be an inspiring leader
He hasn't been inspiring
He hasn't been a Leader
He hasn't explained his policies
He's been politically incompetent
Now he wants to blame lefties for HIS shortcomings ???

Banks are STILL too big to Fail
We're still wiretapping
He couldn't sell HCR, yet Bush could sell WMDs
Thanks, Barack

Posted by: frisco on September 28, 2010 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Friends:

I, too, share your disappointment at lack of accomplishment in the areas of Gitmo, wiretapping, etc.

HOWEVER.

Obama and his administration have had to swim upstream but nonetheless have an impressive list of accomplishments. Don't forget that the MSM has a vested interest in not reporting these accomplishments. And that yes, Democrats aren't trumpeting the accomplishments loudly and often enough, but that they also have a hard time getting the message out there through the MSM's filters. Consider the balance of politicians interviewed on the Sunday morning political shows, for instance.

See http://obamaachievements.org/list# for a heartening list of achievements.

IMHO we need to work to keep Democratic control of Congress. Then we have to start finding progressive candidates to replace the Blue Dogs. Get MoveOn involved in this effort. Raise money for ads, and if our local stations refuse to run them, picket the stations and let it be known to advertisers that we won't buy their products if our ads aren't given a fair airing. We have to work hard to raise funds since we don't have a lot of deep pockets on our side the way the Republicans do.

All this is hard work, to quote our former fearful leader, and aren't you glad he's gone? It will also take much longer than one elective cycle but it needs to be done.

We also do need to let Joe Biden and Gibbs know that scolding us for "whining" is REALLY REALLY counterproductive.

They do read the leftist blogs, folks. They do listen even if it sometimes seems that they don't. And let's roll up our sleeves and get to work!

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on September 28, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

With all due respect, Mr. President, tell it to Steny Hoyer and those other Congresscritters who don't seem to understand that holding a vote and LOSING it makes a better GOP bashing stick than not holding a vote. Tell the cowards in the Congress who are too afraid to go to the public and say, "We wanted to cut your taxes, but the Republicans wouldn't let us."

You want people to "shake off this lethargy" and "buck up"? Start with the Senate and the House Democrats.

(BTW, of course I'm voting again for Patty Murray and Jim McDermott. It doesn't mean I'm happy.)

Posted by: biggerbox on September 28, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we'd better fight in this election.

What I ask, above all, is that you not lie to me and insult my intelligence.

Obama would win a lot more brownie points with the base by being candid and explaining why he believes that the extreme positions that his administration has taken on civil liberties issues are necessary. I might not agree with him. But I'd at least respect that he was treating the issue like an adult.

For Obama to come out and act like he is defending civil liberties against the GOP makes me want to vomit. And it makes me not trust ANYTHING he says about ANYTHING. Clearly, he is showing that he is completely full of shit and will lie to our faces.

Posted by: square1 on September 28, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Some moral suasion

I honestly can't think of anyone who's offered a persuasive argument to counter Glenn's criticism...

I'm all for shooting dead the American citizen in Taliban clothing over there in Yemen who is actively planning the death of more American citizens.

Fuck him. Kill him. I don't give a hang about his due process rights. And I am sure very few other Americans do either.

Let's be honest here: only a handful of civil rights purists care about this guy's rights. A tiny extreme minority of holy Greenwald monks. The rest of us understand that the Taliban and Al Qaeda have declared war on us. And that the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has sided with the bad guys. For us, his citizenship is forfeit. Voided. Implicitly. For us he has no claim to constitutional rights. The sooner he is shot dead the better.

This is why, of course, the country historically does not trust the Left in questions of foreign policy. Sometimes a President has to make decisions that are extralegal. The vast majority of Americans understand this. The hard Left does not.

And so they end up standing with Anwar al-Awlaki.
And making the noble argument that he is citizen who deserves the full protection of the law.

Sorry.
That make be legally correct but it is morally wrong. Shoot him dead. Right now.

(As for the new proposals for internet wire tapping, I am for that too. But that is another post.)

Posted by: koreyel on September 28, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Why give Greenwald a pass? He's right, but in the real world, civil liberties will be much, much worse with Republican majorities.

Posted by: Upper West on September 28, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

How can anyone actually write "he has accomplished more than any modern president" and in the next paragraph say " the result of this Presidency are wholly inadequate"?

Huh?

Passing legislation does not constitute an accomplishment. Until Steve Benen and others figure it out, they will not figure out why Democrats are not making electoral progress.

We are so lucky the other side is insane.

Posted by: Justmy2 on September 28, 2010 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Seems like there's something fundamentally stupid about (1) yelling and complaining constantly that Obama sucks and never listens to you, yet (2) also complaining whenever he _does_ listen to you, because you don't like being chided and yelled at.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on September 28, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

While I have no desire to vote for a Democrat in my district, I realize that if the Republicans win the meme will be that the country is shifting further to the right. Blue Dogs and other Democrats will shift even further right trying to capture the votes of those who actually show up at the polls and vote.

If you don't vote, your congressperson has no reason to listen to you. If you vote Republican to punish the Dems you just embolden the the Far Right.

We liberals, or progressives or whatever the current tag is, should take a lesson from the Tea Party. Those folks got off their asses and got their brand of politician elected at the primary level. What has the left done, in the primaries, to promote candidates that represent their views?

This November, I plan on holding my nose and voting for my Bluedog P.O.S. Rep and Senator. Then I plan getting involved and working towards a primary candidate for the Democratic ticket that shares my values.

Posted by: awarren on September 28, 2010 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever. Groups one and two don't matter for November, and whining at group three isn't going to work. Find a better strategy or lose.

Posted by: Tim on September 28, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

In his efforts to help correct years of political malpractice, President Obama is hampered by political naivety and the American culture that demands constantly, More.Better.Now!

He is correct, all who wish to help our nation to move forward, and not backward, need to go to the polls to keep the Republican brand from taking us back to a lesser station in the world of nations! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 28, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Korayel proves my point. I'm not going to debate the merits of his argument, though I find it deeply flawed. But I have little doubt that his views are shared by Obama and his senior advisors.

Fine and good.

Just don't try to scare Democratic voters the idea that the GOP poses an existential threat on civil liberties issues when you largely agree with senior Republicans on spying and assassinations.

Posted by: square1 on September 28, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

I see ... so the argument continues to be:

"Sure, we cheated on you, slapped you across the face, and kicked you in the balls. But THOSE GUYS just might shoot you and rape your children!!"

It's fucking pathetic. It truly is.

The #1 problem people have with Democrats -- whether those people are on the left or in the middle -- is that they never stand up for what they allegedly believe in. Never. Ever.

They fire a woman due to a highly-edited video on a rightwing site known for smearing anyone on the left. They actually expand the surveillance state in ways Bush Co. never dreamed was possible. They cave before even beginning to negotiate. Obama has made ZERO effort to repeal DADT (which he could easily suspend with a wave of his pen). And they basically just act like the GOP of the 1980s.

Listen, I get that politics is give and take, and rarely do people get everything they want. (Well, unless those people are Republicans. Then they seem to get about 90% of their agenda passed, while Democrats -- with much, much larger majorities -- can't even get a fucking tax cut through the Senate.)

But it's fairly simple: people with principles ... people with passion ... people who believe in what they are doing ... actually fight for their beliefs, not cave and give up when things get tough. Yet that's all Obama and 90% of Congressional Democrats have done: flinched every time the GOP raised its hand.

If Democrats want some votes, then they should:

1. Stand up for their beliefs (if they actually have any);

2. Stop insulting those whose votes they need, only to turn around and beg and ask for forgiveness afterward, much like an abusive husband;

3. Give us a reason to vote FOR them, rather than just against someone else.

If they can't do those simple things -- and they really are quite simple -- they don't deserve my vote.

Posted by: Mark D on September 28, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

The worst softball interview I've ever read.

I mean, how did he ask these questions straight-faced? "Did you cry?"

Pathetic.

Posted by: John Allen on September 28, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Frank C. 1:22 PM :

Funny how these types always say they're being condescended to. But they have very unrealistic expectations of how politics works.

My sense is "these types," as you label them, are being condescended to, and do not hold the unrealistic expectations you attribute to people who point out they do not see much in the way or accomplishments or any substantial policy departures from the status quo. Now, there are differences, but they're of degree, not kind.

And that's key: you attribute views to those who've got valid concerns, who have something to say, and it's easier for you to label than listen to them.

They haven't said they'll sit out the election. They may be more loyal to their principles & to their integrity than to a politician that does not adhere to those principles or to his campaign stances.

You might not like it, but they've got something to say. And given the current mood, it'd be worth listening with some care to what they're saying, rather than burying your head in the sand. It's unrealistic of you to expect anyone to respond positively to the real insults & the egregious unresponsiveness of many Dems & their frivolously un-pragmatic professional advisors.

Politics is like life. You are not going to just grow up, get amazing jobs, make millions, and marry a supermodel, have brilliant children, and become a great tennis player. You might get pieces of these now and then. But never all. Politics is like this.

Yeah, I can't imagine why anyone would say they're "being condescended to" (your words): my bet is it's because you're condescending as hell, as exhibited by the above quote. "Funny" (your word) how you demonstrate their point while presuming to be in a position to scold them or anyone.

Posted by: johnsturgeon on September 28, 2010 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

wow. just finished reading all the commencts, and what I keep reading are things like

"if it encourages Democrats to find their balls and actually stand up for the progressive agenda I'll deal with two years of republican control of the house"

"Because I am content to stay at home, make some popcorn, and watch the impending ACORN hearings. Cuz buddy, I'm done with the heavy lifting. I'm out bitches."

"Obama has managed to fuck up every single policy iniative that's crossed his desk, either through political incompetence, apathy, or hosting Republican swordfights in his mouth. He's simply unprepared for the job, and now he sounds like a whiny bitch looking for a bailout. I'm not playing this game any more; I need to sleep nights."

"I am almost to the point of not caring. I don't have any faith in this country. I don't have any hope for its future. I see the Republicans as monsters who want to destroy America and the Democrats as feckless cowards who will only enable them rather than oppose them. I am very nearly to the point of giving up and sitting back to watch, in perverse fascination, as the GOP rapes the country to death. I lived on nothing but schadenfreude for eight long years when Bush was in office. I can live on it again."

Then, there are the others who will swallow their disgust and vote anyway. Thank you, from a single mother of three children, who now knows that her children's pre-existing conditions won't keep them from getting health insurance, who can now keep her children on her health insurance until they are 26, who now knows that if her health insurance premiums become more than 9.5 percent of her salary, she can go to a government subsidized pool and get better/cheaper coverage, who has kept her State job due to the stimulus plan: who has been able to register her children in a charter school due to stimulus funds, and who thinks, as a perfectly AVERAGE American, that the President has done a pretty fucking good job for me.


Posted by: single bill-paying-mom on September 28, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

By this logic, I fall into all three categories. Civil liberties are by far my biggest concern and my biggest disappointment in the Obama administration. Greenwald says anything I would have to say on that much better than I ever could. But overall this is the overreach that scares me and makes me worry the most about what will happen in future administrations when we get Presidents who aren't as nice as Obama.

On all other issues I think the Obama administration's accomplishments have been good, certainly better than what the Republicans had offered, but are also inadequate. I don't believe that in this time of multiple crises the Obama administration couldn't have done any better. Crises often spur great advancement when politicians effectively capitalize on them. Didn't Bush achieve a lot post 9/11 and with much smaller majorities and a smaller overall agenda? Accomplishing a lot then, post financial crises and oil spill crises and Bush excesses and with control of both houses of Congress was almost a given. But did he accomplish all he could? No. I don't think he did. And there are certainly simple things he could do today like stop discharging service members for DADT that he refuses to do and I don't understand why that is.

But actually I do understand. It's mostly because he doesn't believe in the same things that liberals believe in as much as liberals do and he never did. For example, he probably believes in gay rights but not that it is a moral imperative that must be solved ASAP. Evidence of that lay in his unwillingness even to say he supports gay marriage. Other issues show similar dichotomies. By his behavior he seems to think big banks are partners, insurance companies can be trusted, Republicans can be worked with, public institutions are not that important, social security is in danger, abortion rights can make an acceptable bargaining chip, war escalation is necessary, short term suspension of civil liberties can be acceptable, teachers are primarily to blame for problems in education, unions are overly demanding and hurtful to our economic competitiveness, border security is priority number one on immigration, marijuana legalization is a minor unimportant issue, etc. etc. Most liberals are appalled at least some if not all of these stances. So of course they criticize the Obama administration's accomplishments as inadequate.

If you are in the center-right he probably accomplished enough from your perspective. Certainly the financial reform and health care bills were mostly center right. But from the Left where I stand he hasn't accomplished nearly enough to bring the society back anywhere close to the center after the Bush administration pushed us way too far to the right. And while I understand it's been less than two years, I'd rather he not keep acting like nearly everything's resolved when I see so much more that still needs to be done.

Lastly, I still think in the long run the economics of the presidency will be how the Obama administration will be judged. I've seen my financial situation stagnate over the last few years and seen much worse happen to people I know and care about. If that weren't the case, I'd probably forgive the rest of Obama's failings and be a cheerleader for his awesome job on the economy. But I can't.

So yeah, holding the line isn't good enough for me in terms of economic progress. I don't blame the Stimulus either. It obviously helped. But I wish he had fought for more. I wish he would fight for more now or at least be SEEN as fighting for more. From our perspective there just isn't enough urgency or empathy in the administration about the plight of the poor and I think that's devastating. People I know who are struggling aren't sure whether Obama is really on their side right now. There's just been too many foreclosures and too many lost jobs and too little assistance for them to believe that. There's too much blame the poor for being poor in the media that goes unanswered for people to not feel betrayed.

And yet in spite of all this, nobody needs to "lecture" me about how important it is to vote. I always intended to vote and everyone I know who is paying attention intends to vote.

The real problem is the people who aren't paying attention. The vast majority of the public who never really pays close attention to politics. The population that decides whether to vote a month or two or sometimes even a week or two before an election. Right now, of those people, those that lean RIGHT are super fired up about defeating the "evil" Obama and KNOW that they are going to RUN to the polls.

The rest, the majority on the left are either exhausted from constantly having to defend Obama, or are just closing their ears and not listening to anything. At best the most they've heard is whispers and rumors second and third hand. And most likes what they've heard whether it be from the Left or the Right have been negative.

So they think, "eh, probably doesn't matter if I vote this year, since both sides suck." And that's all they ever think about it. How do you motivate them? I don't think shame does it, but maybe it does, who knows. I guess we'll find out since that's the administration's strategy.

But I know what definitely DOES motivate them, and that's convincing them that your party both DOESN'T suck and HAS to win, and telling them that if you DO win you'll do this and that good thing for them that they really want to see happen.

You have to convince them that this election is important. Otherwise they just keep thinking its some abstract stupid game played by the wealthy elites that they can't win no matter what they try to do. Whoever they vote for, they see themselves as ending up with the short end of the stick.

Posted by: nephyo on September 28, 2010 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

I feel bad for single bill paying mom because she is actually depending on this party to deliver something. I have no faith at all but I keep pulling the lever and sending money because the alternatives are so much worse. I fear for the future of my country when our options are ignorant lunatic mobs orchestrated by wealthy oligarchs and nebbishy insubstantial Rockefeller Republicans orchestrated by wealthy oligarchs. It is like Thelma and Louise driving towards the canyon and fighting about what color to paint the car.
Obama and Biden need to stfu and listen to the people who put them in office and respond honestly, humbly and directly and quit trying to be so cute with their scoldy rap because it is not only alienating, it reinforces the right's Liberals are elite smarty pants frame. Mr Constitutional Scholar is embarassing the constitution and is definitely not passing the Glenn test.

Posted by: Dick Hertz on September 28, 2010 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Was that a "pitch" or a "plea"? I didn't realize that "kwitcherbitchin" qualified as either one, but let it pass.

This certainly is a novel approach Obama is taking to revive voter enthusiasm. Liberals do tend to be pretty submissive - no GOP President would dare to speak to his base in this manner - but I'm wondering how far Obama can push with this.

In the meantime, I'll only observe it's not generally considered smart for generals to fire on their own troops. Happy voting.

Posted by: Steve R. on September 28, 2010 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

If you can't stand on principle, at least stand with your party, if you can't stand your party, at least stand for your nation.

Voting simply to hold the democracy of the United States together for a bit longer is a noble vote. Letting the Republicans take over the show AGAIN, even to teach the Dems a lesson, is not good national policy. Their on-going campaign of destruction isn't going to halt in the name of Jesus any time soon.

They share this nation, they don't own it. If a vote is all we have to remind them of this little detail, we need to use it.

Posted by: Skip on September 28, 2010 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Hertz:

Don't feel bad for me. I don't depend on anyone. No one gives a shit about me OR my kids. I take responsibility for my own life. I work two jobs, love my children, am an activist, and do whatever I have to do to make my life work.

And, I am grateful. Every damn day I get up and say thank you for everything I have. And I say thank you for every challenge I encounter. I accept each challenge as if I had chosen it, and keep moving forward.

Wish I could say as much for some of the commenters here.

Posted by: single bill-paying-mom on September 28, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

I, for one, am sick and tired of this emotional nit picking over the performance of Obama and his Administration. It's time for the Prez on down to STFU and direct our energies to Nov. You can't tell me tha Glen Greenwall and all the rest aren't going to vote Dem. The real criticism should be directed to the undecided and uninformed. Ask a Repub why they want to vote Repub. You'll get a good idea of what's at stake.
When you consider their answer the task at hand is obvious.

Posted by: fillphil on September 28, 2010 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'm voting this year, and for Democrats, and working for them, too, just as I have done in every election beginning in 1968. I've done so even though many elections have presented Hobson's Choices, and I've had to hold my nose while casting my ballot. It's in my enlightened self-interest to do so, and it's my obligation, my duty, as a citizen.

So I do take exception to being scolded for being a liberal, for being served a cold, moldy mound of spinach and being told to smile and swear it has a wonderful taste. Liberals are the heart of the Democratic party. If Obama wants to motivate them, he needs to offer hope, not to abuse them like a frustrated high school football coach who hectors and belittles his players for not exulting when he orders plays that lose yardage.

I'm working like hell to get Democrats elected, and I'm doing it not because Obama conspired with the Blue Dogs and Scaredy Cat Senators to enact Richard Nixon's health care plan, but in spite of his doing so because I know how much worse things will be if the Grand Old Tea Party captures even one house of Congress.

But I've had enough of Obama's scolding, patronizing sermons. They're mean-spirited, bullying, and self-indugent, and they generate despair and anger, not hope and action.

Posted by: James Conner on September 28, 2010 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

I have a very real fear of Republican rule. Even though my congressman (Mike Arcuri) has made made idiotic statements and votes, I just had a huge re-election sign put in my yard. I am also going to the rally in Washington, DC this Saturday. My gripes with the Obama administration pale in comparison to how f*#?ked my country will be if the Repubs win.

Posted by: Jess on September 28, 2010 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'll vote, of course I will. I'll even go to the trouble of typing in my "protest vote" (since Dean got the boot, we no longer have anyone running against the GOP fossil; nobody takes the trouble to motivate anyone for that fight).

But... If you pardon my (and Emanuel's) French, I'm too fucking retarded to get excited to the point of "renewing my membership" in the Dem party and support the "leadership" with the scarce cash. Let the super rich, whose tax breaks they seem to be willing to defend, shell out.

Posted by: exlibra on September 28, 2010 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

The reason to vote for even a 'terrible' Blue Dog Democrat rather than sitting on the sideline is to ensure a Democratic majority in the House. If the Republicans reach the majority they will be able to set the agenda. It's a very dangerous proposition.

As for Mr. Obama's comments. I'm disappointed but not surprised to hear him berating the very people who worked to get him elected rather than his own missteps (not getting out early to sell health care reform but instead sitting in closed door sessions with health insurance big shots) and false presumptions (we're in a post-partisan era). Rather than trying to persuade the Republican opposition to be reasonable he should have clearly presented what he wanted and then when they opposed him, attacked them strongly for doing so. Can't HE take some responsibility? Reminds me of "fool me once..."

Posted by: Lynn on September 28, 2010 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's disingenuous for the WH to try and blame a very small amount of "professional left" for a poor showing at the polls. I think the "professional left" gets blamed for saying what the majority of the Dem base is thinking.

People voted in large numbers for Dems in 2006 and 2008. If they don't in 2010, then it's long past time Obama, the WH, and the DC Dems figure out what THEY are doing wrong.

Posted by: Glen on September 28, 2010 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Blaming voters for apathy is never a good tactic, and given that he won the Presidency against a guy who got castrated for saying the same things, you'd think he'd know better.

Yeah, I'll take 2 years of GOP in the Congress if it means the Democratic politicians get their ass in gear and start working to control the dialogue.

Posted by: Quinn on September 28, 2010 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK
Yeah, I'll take 2 years of GOP in the Congress if it means the Democratic politicians get their ass in gear and start working to control the dialogue.

Too bad that's not what's going to happen. The election will be widely seen, and spun as, a referendum on Obama's "extremism." The Republicans will have a "mandate" to dismantle anything they don't like, which is damn near everything, and Democrats will be told that they need to move to the right because that is what the country wants. And being idiots, held hostage by a mainstream media that is anything but "liberal," all too many of them will go along with it.

Posted by: PaulB on September 28, 2010 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Are we honestly going to say 8 years of George W Bush left us with an objectively more liberal nation?"

8 years of bush left us with one hell of a shot at making the country hugely more progressive. A shot that was pissed away by the obots because they got enormous boners for anyone who talked pretty regardless of all the warning signs that Obama was a shithead.

Posted by: Tlaloc on September 28, 2010 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Too bad that's not what's going to happen. The election will be widely seen, and spun as, a referendum on Obama's "extremism." The Republicans will have a "mandate" to dismantle anything they don't like, which is damn near everything, and Democrats will be told that they need to move to the right because that is what the country wants. And being idiots, held hostage by a mainstream media that is anything but "liberal," all too many of them will go along with it."

Whereas if we vote for the assholes who have copied the right and gone them one better on fucking civil liberties, hating gays, and torturing anyone not lily white then they'll TOTALLY get the message and be more progressive in the future.

So let's game this out for a moment-
four options:
vote dem
vote rep
vote 3rd party
don't vote

Apparently whether we vote for the dem or not we'll get the same kind of actual policy- that is policy that only helps the corporations and wealthy. So if that's the case then there's no chance of good policy (certainly not with Obama in the whitehouse and the presumptive dem candidate in 2012). So all we're left with is personal gain or long term gains. Not voting frees up time and energy for personal endeavors. Voting third party is the only choice with any chance of long term gains.

Pick one.

Posted by: Tlaloc on September 28, 2010 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Five options, actually. #5 is to work not in parties but in nonpartisan NGOs on issues that rip both parties apart. E.g. civil rights, if you remember. Or, these days, corruption, the right to well-being, or any number of issues on which the parties collude to screw you. The two authorized parties are there to dissipate your energies with red-herring issues and keep you powerless and broke.

Posted by: human sacrifice on September 28, 2010 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's a fair point.

Posted by: Tlaloc on September 29, 2010 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

Sharing someone else's comment from firedoglake because it speaks to the entire thread.

zeabow September 28th, 2010 at 10:26 am

They dont care about staying in control of congress; in fact, they care more about losing it becoz then it makes their kabuki theatre, which always ends up with pro-corporate legislation, that much easier to direct in fact, they dont even have to direct it then becoz they can use the old clinton excuse: the republicans made me do it. It makes it easier to serve their corporate masters becoz then they wont need all the elaborate inter-party bullshit like pulling a liebermann or a nelson out of their hat at the last moment to keep the dumbass demo-zombies riveted in their seats and voting/rooting for their heroes (the obaminiation administration).

Now that they know that there will be big losses in the mid-terms they want to use the progressives as scapegoats for them and use that to further alienate progressives from their demo-zombie followers and hence move the party further to the right. It aint a big tent, its invitation only and you got to be a demo-zombie that will vote democrat no matter what the hell they do becoz that provides them loyal votes to keep their corporate serving politicians in power or have big money to get in.

Does anyone have a better explanation? Can they be this stupid to continually antagonize their base, their most passionate and demanding voters, right before the election? Has this tactic ever been done before in the history of american politics? Is there any poll whatsoever that shows this to be a winning strategy? And finally, when are the progressives going to figure out that you aint invited to the party unless youre inebriated on their nonsense? And when are we going to start fighting back and begin the long and arduous work of creating a third party?

One of the few things that obama did not lie about was that he was quite comfortable being a one-term president. What he did lie about was whose interests he was willing to serve to risk that. Hint: it aint ours; its the exact opposite.

Posted by: Bill Michtom on September 29, 2010 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats get crushed this November it will not be because the base didn't turn out but because the Obama voter will either stay home or some of the indies and Republicans will revert to voting for the other team. The Democratic base always turns out - that is why they are the base. The Obama political operation knows this and it is why they can continue to mock this group as whiners without taking a political hit.

Team Obama are trying to reignite their 2008 voters and are using the Democratic base as a foil (in 07/08 it was the culture in Washington and politics as usual) Their strategy is rather ingenious - instead of confronting the failures and missed opportunities of the past two years, Team Obama is taking on the reaction to their shortcomings. Every time a member of the 'professional left' gripes in public, Obama's fixers smile since it is another opportunity to combat a CW strawman (liberals always complain) while restating their accomplishments.

As Obama himself said today, if his voters show up in November then the Democrats will win.

Posted by: clever on September 29, 2010 at 5:42 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Mr. Biden,

If the "professional left" is so small and inconsequential, why the venom? We have been thrown under the bus so many times, we have patented the tire marks. I mean really, it wouldn't take much to make us happy. To take just ONE example, you could have let Congress hold actual hearing on single payer health care even if you fully intended to use it as a bargaining chip in the most cynical way. But you didn't even try.

You see, it doesn't really take all that much to buy us off and win our adulation.

Why is it that "all options are on the table" only applies when dealing with 3rd rate countries in the Middle East?

Posted by: bobbyp on September 29, 2010 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

I find it disgusting and nearly unbelieveable, that someone would call upholding civil liberties a utopian far-left, never gonna happen ideal.
It says a hell of a lot more about the person belching it out, than about those who actually have the stamina and character left to denounce it.

Posted by: HMDK on September 29, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

vote for Bush III? never!!
i hope the Republicans tar and feather him. selling HOPE and delivering Republican ideals are a recipe for treason.

in any case, enjoy the one party state Obama represents.

driving off the cliff at 70 mph and 20 mph is a difference, indeed. not much, but yes there is a difference.

i won't help Obama though, you need Republicans for that.

Posted by: Bernard on September 29, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

@Bernard:

Sir, pardon my language, but are you out of your #*@%ing mind?

Were you even awake over the eight years of Bush II and the incredible heap of garbage that was left by him?

Oh, what the hell. Go ahead and wash your hands of all of this, and continue to boogie on living in your idealogically purist world while all around you burns down (not that you even care). The rest of us will just have to push on with hard-headed pragmatism in order to fight off the real threat--the right-wing Republican menace that has driven this country in the wrong direction for 30+ years.

Please, continue to dine on ashes. I hope you enjoy the taste.

Posted by: Marc McKenzie on September 29, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the point about civil liberties can apply to other areas as well. For instance, with the health care "reform" bill, the public option was what got me excited, and ultimately what got me to vote for Obama and encourage others to do the same. I saw in the public option the first real, structural change in our health care system in our lifetime.

When that got dropped -- and when it got clear that it was dropped due to pressure from the top (read: Obama and Rahm) -- my enthusiasm for Obama went to near-zero. When you add in similar about-faces -- prosecutions for war crimes not evident, and in fact the administration is acting to shield the criminals, states' secrets being used more and more, new outrages like targeted assassinations of American citizens without judicial review -- I agree with the Greenwald position: Obama isn't just *not doing enough* to keep his campaign promises, he is *actively working against* them, or at least the ones I cared most about.

So I can't speak for others, and sure, I may represent a tiny minority of the Democratic base. But speaking for myself, I just can't see why I should be motivated to vote for an administration that is actively working against the very policies I care most about -- civil liberties and social justice (which, incidentally, are the core planks of the old progressive platform).

That's what's so frustrating. I'm not throwing a temper tantrum. I'm not just childishly pissed that Obama hasn't got magical powers and done EVERYTHING I wanted. I never had illusions that he would win every battle.

But when I see an administration that is actively working AGAINST all of the things I care about, politically speaking, and actively breaking a number of promises that they made while campaigning, really, what is my motivation to vote for them again in November (and in 2012)? "The Republicans will be worse"? Really? How can you be worse than *actively voting against* the things I care about?

So, I'm sorry, but calling me a whiner or otherwise insulting me for holding what I consider to be a very logically consistent, pragmatic position -- that I have policy goals that matter to me, and I want you to at least fight, HARD, for them, if you want my vote -- is not going to suddenly motivate me to vote the way you want me to vote. If anything, it's just going to turn me off to the process even further. It's not just insulting, it's a political losing game; you haven't given me any more reason to vote FOR you, and one more reason to stay home in November and mutter "a pox on both your houses."

Posted by: Tom C on September 29, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

@Tom: Sorry that you feel that way, Tom. I'm not going to call you a whiner--you explained your points well.

But...if you think handing the keys back to the Repubs, or the "Pox on both your houses" stand is going to help, think again. It won't. You may dislike what the Administration is doing (and while I do support them, it isn't blind support--I do have issues with some of what they are doing), but the "they're all the same" rhetoric is useless.

We are not in a perfect world where we get everything we want. If you honestly thought that Obama would fix everything in two seconds or less, sorry boss--things do not work that way, especially with Repub obstruction and a media more intent on sucking up to those vipers. Did you know that it took FDR at least 2 to 3 years to fully implement the New Deal? And that the Left was pissed off at him?

And I am more upset that we are turning our guns on Democrats and leaving the Repubs alone. Hell, how many people here still want to hold Bush accountable for where we are today?

You want to stay home? That's your business, and I guess nothing I say will convince you otherwise. Fair enough. I will go out and I will vote, not out of blind loyalty, but because I honestly feel that the Republican party must never be allowed back into power for, hell, at least 1 to 2 generations. For 30+ years their policies--not the policies of Clinton or Obama--have sent this country on the express elevator to hell.

Yet it seems that some here would rather put the nuts back in charge of the nuthouse. Didn't we learn our lessons in the 90s and with the eight years of Bush? Or are we suffering from the same amnesia that's gripped the media?

But, to the rest who want to sit out...enjoy dining on ashes. Hope you enjoy the taste while waiting for Godot.

Posted by: Marc McKenzie on September 29, 2010 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

"I continue to believe it's a record that's as impressive as anything we've seen in modern times"

That's because you're an effing centrist, Kevin! For the progressive point of view, this looks very differently. It boils down to what you are willing to accept as changes. And for many on the left, there are NO changes at all regarding civil rights and executive power (Greenwald's territory), hardly any changes on the economy (Krugman's territory), ineffectual changes regarding foreign policy (the anti-war camp territory) and insufficient changes regarding the situation of the average folks (union and progressosphere territory). That you are still impressed with the achievement is based on your preferrence for "stay the course" and cosmetic corrections of symptoms. You're simply an absolute unradical, and you probably would have steadfastly rejected the whole New Deal as a dangerous experiment that may sink the boat, too. But desperate times such as this one REQUIRE radical measures, and putting lipstick on the pig simply isn't good enough anymore!

Posted by: Gray on September 30, 2010 at 6:56 AM | PERMALINK

"The Obama political operation knows this and it is why they can continue to mock this group as whiners without taking a political hit."

Imho this is a foolish belief. Sry, but the mood in the comment threads of the blogs shows that only a minority are determined about going to the polls, another minority probably will go but isn't so sure, and a strong minority won't go or will vote third party or NOTA. Reagrding that many races are rather close, the absence of just a few percent of the Dem base may make a very real difference. Especially when you take into account that many of those folks are activists, and that their absence in the campaigns will multiply the missing votes!

So, sorry, but team Obama actively ridiculing theirnown voters can only backfire. There is NO historical evidence at all where such an idiotic action turned out to be a winning strategy. And since the WH has to know that, they're either losing their temper under the impact of the bad poll numbers, or they are already preparing the scapegoat for their embarassing failure.

Imho it's even more evidence of a failure to fight for real change that shows this guys are more concerned about their own future than about the future of the US. And I'm sure many Dem candidates wish and pray that the egomanicals in the administration would STFU and stop to drive even more voters away!

Posted by: Gray on September 30, 2010 at 7:09 AM | PERMALINK

Oops, sry, I screwed up. My comment was directed at Steve, of course, not Kevin. But really, "to believe it's a record that's as impressive as anything we've seen in modern times" is simply ridiculous. What's impressive is what Lula did in Brazil. Obama's "change", on the other hand, can only impress those who started with very low expectations. A turnaround for the US, it isn't. Not even a significant change of course. After all, it's still the same old corporate interests that trump everything else, and which allow on cosmetic changes like the text on credit card bills. You have to be naive to fall for this kabuki theatre!

Posted by: Gray on September 30, 2010 at 7:24 AM | PERMALINK

Obama has NOT done everything he can. He has stupidly negotiated from weakness. In his naive zeal to be Mr. Third Way, he has failed to make sure the Republicans are held responsible for their failures. His crimes against the constitution are unforced errors, not necessary compromises.

There are a lot of legitimate complaints that we professional lefties have.

You know what's irresponsible? A politician who needs my vote to prevent the evil Republicans from gaining power, who browbeats me instead of kissing my ass. You and your lackeys need to kiss our ass for awhile, Obama. For you to do anything else would be irresponsible. So get to it and start kissing my ass or I'm staying home on election day.

You all are treating us like a manipulative girlfriend who says "You'll never get another girlfriend as attractive as me, so shut the fuck up about me having sex with your worst enemy and do what I say." I'd rather masturbate than have that bitch for a girlfriend.

Posted by: The Fool on September 30, 2010 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

1, I'm not buying the 'evil Republican' trip. I've learned enough to know that's a lie, even when I was a Democrat.

2, on civil liberties. The House Speaker slandering dissenting Americans is a civil liberties threat, even if they are conservatives I don't agree with. The radical left is a civil liberties threat. Look at the hypocrisy on burning the Koran (as opposed to flag-burning or pissing on the crucifix). Look at Journolism. The race card suppression strategy, calls for Smith Act prosecutions against the Tea Party. These people don't believe in the 1st Amendment.

3, I haven't heard an answer on the long-term impact of these quantum deficits. I'm open enough to conservative fiscal arguments to believe we can't tax our way out of these skyrockets. Bill Clinton has tried ('we were in a 3-trillion dollar hole'). Problem is, Bill has to talk about his role in Glass-Steagall and Fannie Mae before I buy his 'Republican policies' line.

4, Team Obama lies too much. I don't believe anything they say.

Posted by: whoframedrudy on October 2, 2010 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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