Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 30, 2010

'IT COMES DOWN TO A SIMPLE CHOICE'.... I've been fascinated lately by leading Republicans who've gone out of their way to argue that they have no intention of compromising with anyone in the coming years, regardless of merit or popular will.

As it turns out, the White House seemed to find it pretty interesting, too. In President Obama's weekly address this morning, the president emphasized the importance of policymakers working together, regardless of the election results, to solve problems.

"Whatever the outcome on Tuesday, we need to come together to help put people who are still looking for jobs back to work," Obama noted." And there are some practical steps we can take right away to promote growth and encourage businesses to hire and expand. These are steps we all should be able to agree on -- not Democratic or Republican ideas, but proposals that have traditionally been supported by both parties."

I think phrases like "traditionally been" are used as a reminder to note how extreme the current crop of Republicans is, even by Republican standards.

But the president also noted how "troubling" it was to hear "the top two Republicans in Congress" foreswear good-faith negotiations: "The Republican leader of the House actually said that 'this is not the time for compromise.' And the Republican leader of the Senate said his main goal after this election is simply to win the next one.

"I know that we're in the final days of a campaign. So it's not surprising that we're seeing this heated rhetoric. That's politics. But when the ballots are cast and the voting is done, we need to put this kind of partisanship aside -- win, lose, or draw.

"In the end, it comes down to a simple choice. We can spend the next two years arguing with one another, trapped in stale debates, mired in gridlock, unable to make progress in solving the serious problems facing our country. We can stand still while our competitors -- like China and others around the world -- try to pass us by, making the critical decisions that will allow them to gain an edge in new industries.

"Or we can do what the American people are demanding that we do. We can move forward. We can promote new jobs and businesses by harnessing the talents and ingenuity of our people. We can take the necessary steps to help the next generation -- instead of just worrying about the next election. We can live up to an allegiance far stronger than our membership in any political party. And that's the allegiance we hold to our country."

If you listen closely outside the RNC, you can probably hear staffers laughing at the very idea.

Steve Benen 11:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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I am glad to see President Obama playing up the contrast between the parties here as I think the fact that only the Democratic side is serious about addressing the major issues facing our nation today. Republicans are promising obstructionism, investigations, and efforts to repeal the progress we have made. Democrats are promising to continue common sense efforts to fix our economy and tackle immigration reform, climate change, and the budget deficit. Anyone who wants progress over the next two years should vote to make sure that Boehner and his gang are not given the keys to Congress.


Posted by: Winning Progressive on October 30, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

You cannot compromise with a lunatic. That is what the GOP is filled with these days - lunatics. Obama is a fool and will almost certainly be a one-term president, due to his inability to see his opposition for what they are - INSANE!

Posted by: Sam Simple on October 30, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, the choice is simple:

The Democrats are attempting to do democracy, while the Republicans only wish to exercise unrelenting power!

American voters who do not discern this are political fools, but nonetheless, most probably will show up at the polls on Tuesday to help our nation go to hell! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on October 30, 2010 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

So what is the strategy? Get creamed again?

Obama is said to be a pragmatist -- which may or may not explain the absence of fire and conviction that we seem to see too often in his words and political directions -- but how pragmatic is it to lose indefinitely? To completely underestimate the determination of your avowed enemies? To fail to call public "servants" liars and thieves when they fail to serve the public (which pays them to do a job they are refusing -- explicitly -- to do)?

During the 2008 primaries, in a speech dismissing by inference Hillary Clinton, Obama said that it was time to move past the confrontational politics of the Sixties (I paraphrase). I was no Hillary fan, but I understand that the confrontation of bad policy is essential if the democracy is to survive. At the time I marveled that a man looking for votes would dismiss a huge block of voters who came of age during the Sixties are still alive, well, loud, clear, and -- as parents and new grandparents -- even more aware of the consequences of bad policy.

I voted for Obama with joy but this is not change we can believe in. I know it takes time to make change acceptable, but you cannot keep working on a health care reform plan -- as legislators who really legislated did on Social Security and Medicare, for example -- if the early skeleton of it gets repealed.

And I feel, since it's Saturday and I'm an American, that some things need an truly clear, direct, non-processed or evolving response: specifically upholding existing law. That means, in real terms, holding outlaws, those who violate existing law, accountable. From the Bush Administration. On Wall Street. In corporate board rooms. In prisons and interrogations, including not sending people overseas to be "interrogated" by other countries where torture is all in a day's work.

Doing that is contentious and difficult. But the rule of law and the Bill of Rights is what sets us apart, allows us to believe in ourselves.

Instead we are sweeping crimes committed by powerful people under the carpet so we can move "forward."

Can't move forward on a broken axle, Mr. President.

Posted by: SF on October 30, 2010 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's infatuation with bi-partisanship is exactly why the democrats are in for a ass kicking on Tuesday.
Americans do not like wimps and the democrats caved to a MINORITY party on just about everything over the last 2 years.

If the dems aren't going to stick to their principles and core convictions, why on earth would they expect us to come out in droves an vote? To see them get bullied all over again?

Let the tea partiers and greedy corporate slime take this country careening off a cliff, I don't give a fuck anymore. America will get what it deserves.

Posted by: citizen_pain on October 30, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

But we have been prohibited by the liberal know-it-alls to call them insane, so that won't fly

Posted by: Carol on October 30, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Having learned nothing over the past two years, President Obama is now poised to do the same thing over again, expecting different results. Even as Boehner and McConnell state openly that their highest priority will be to destroy Obama, the prez is once again chanting the mantra of bipartisanship, signalling his willingness to "work with" a newly-empowered, teabag-inspired, unremittingly hostile GOP. Unless Obama changes that political dynamic, the Republicans will get their wish -- he will be a one-term president.

Posted by: fradiavolo on October 30, 2010 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

and what's he supposed to do? Do you have a workable solution?

Posted by: Elizabeth on October 30, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Somehow I think Obama will find plenty of bipartisan support for his plan to gut Social Security and Medicare. At least it will be a win for him. Too bad about the rest of us....

Posted by: cnmne on October 30, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

"I know that we're in the final days of a campaign. So it's not surprising that we're seeing this heated rhetoric. That's politics. But when the ballots are cast and the voting is done, we need to put this kind of partisanship aside -- win, lose, or draw..."

Well, the wingnuts already announced right after the inauguration that they aren't interested, so GIVE UP THE GHOST, PRESIDENT OBAMA! Tick tock--it looks like you HAVE TO get partisan tough-as-nails for some time before anything can get post-partisan!

Posted by: Varecia on October 30, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: NEIL B on October 30, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

I can understand the obvious frustration the political realists are shouting at Obama, i.e., bipartisanship isn't possible, wake up you fool! But our president is a smart man, supposedly a pragmatist, so what explains his stubborn refusal to see his sworn enemies for what they are?

The answer can only be inferred from his behavior. He has stood for nothing, at least not for very long. Mostly he gives up before the fight even starts (e.g., public option). He's quiet when he should be shouting. The man is not a change agent, certainly not of the caliper he claimed to be two years ago. He's an incrementalist, risk averse, confrontation averse, and essentially ineffective. He shows no sign of significant change.

Why does anyone think he'll get reelected? Does he even want to be reelected? And why would we want four more years of spinelessness in the face of the fascist enemy? Hitler replaced the spineless and ineffective Hindenberg. If a real demagogue arose on the right (Palin doesn't qualify) the final steps to authoritarian rule would be taken in 2012.

Posted by: rrk1 on October 30, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

"In the end, it comes down to a simple choice. We can spend the next two years arguing with one another"

I don't care what pols say, this is exactly what the american people want. They want fighting and screaming and drama. They want good tv. So they'll vote Republican.

Posted by: SaintZak on October 30, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

SaintZak is right--the chief complaint of 'progressives' against Obama is that he is calm and deliberate and not a hysterical ranter -- he is 'too presidential' and not partisan enough.

Even today, when it comes to the ralliers for sanity on the mall, all they can say is they are disappointed in Obama for not taking the Republicans on.

What kind of schizophrenogenic message is that?

Posted by: jjm on October 30, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

I was about to add this sentence when I accidentally hit "post":

One of the big signs featured on TPM was of a Stewart rallier with a sign labelng DC as "The District of Plutocracy" -- a pure Tea Partier kind of sentiment -- with another rallier quoted as saying that she is disappointed in Obama because of all the 'partisan bickering' in DC.

Are they disappointed in Obama for not taking the Republicans on, or because he has fostered 'partisan bickering' (a conveniently vague complaint).

Posted by: jjm on October 30, 2010 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

jjm, I know that the President must present a non-partisan posture most of the time, BUT what I am so frustrated with is that EVERYONE knows what the wingnuts are like, everyone knows how they operate, they heard them declare their intentions to oppose everything and destroy Obama's presidency from the start. And Washington Democrats don't seem to have been able to take that seriously enough to anticipate and pre-empt them. Wingnuts laid out their intentions and their strategy and tactics early on and I read that as a declaration of political war. It is time to take that seriously. There is no compromise and discourse with combative fanatics. Period.

Posted by: Varecia on October 30, 2010 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

I neglected to make the important distinction: given that wingnuts have openly declared political war, given all of their obstructionist objectives and tactics, the sane response *is* to push back with greater force and become relentlessly proactive.

Posted by: Varecia on October 30, 2010 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

I beg to differ, Varecia, "everyone" DOESN'T know the Republicans/Teabaggers are insane.
Where are the network/cable news commenters informing people that Angle et al want to gut SS, UEI, OSHA, the EPA; in fact, ANY federal body that can put any limits on business? Those people aren't journalists, they're merely "newsreaders", which are a dime a dozen and can be easily replaced. So these people aren't going to risk their paychecks to actually provide facts to viewers.
If, as many believe and a few hope, the Republicans win control of the House next Tuesday, they will destroy themselves with their far-right, reactionary attempts to return this country to a historical time that, in reality, never existed.
Hopefully, if that occurs, they won't also destroy the rest of us too...

Posted by: Doug on October 30, 2010 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

I should have said everybody within the liberal/progressive camp knows this. There is one image I think that encapsulates the aggravating dynamic over the past almost 2 years: failed Alaska governor Sarah Palin fairly successfully crafting health care legislation via Facebook and Twitter. If that didn't signal that something needs reassessment within the Democratic modus aperandi I don't know what would.

Posted by: Varecia on October 30, 2010 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Compromise is at the heart of our political system. Now the GOP leadership has revealed they reject that traditional value. This is just one more example where the modern Republican Party has shown it is not conservative anymore in any true sense. It is the radical, extremist party.

Early on, Obama/Reid should have forced the Republicans to actually fillibuster--not just threaten--and allowed them to be seen on TV rambling on reading the phone book to kill some reasonable bill.

If the Dems somehow manage to hold on to a majority in Congress, they need to reform the fillibuster rule and force the Republicans to show themselves for the extremists they are.

If the Dems lose control of one or both houses of Congress, I see no good way forward. As far as I can see, there will be no progress on any of the serious issues and Obama will be blamed for it.

Posted by: Seould on October 30, 2010 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck the centrist democratic bullshit. That's just another name for GOP lite. Put some progressives up or find me at home election night.

I give it 10 years before a political upheaval installs the strongest progressive majority ever known on Earth.

But it first has to get really really bad.

Backlash is such a bitch.

Posted by: getaclue on October 31, 2010 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Probably laughing?

If they aren't it's only because they are drawing up plans with the Chamber of Commerce on how to pluck the almost naked bird of it's last feathers.

Party before country, money above all.

The dumbest mistake a person can make is to project their reasonableness onto criminals bent to destroy them in every way possible.

Posted by: LosGatosCA on October 31, 2010 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK



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