Political Animal


August 11, 2011 9:20 AM ‘Chumps’

By Steve Benen

The relentlessly independent-minded Matt Miller argues today that he’s aware “who the real villains are at this volatile moment.” His piece notes that he realizes it’s “Tea Party Republicans” who’ve been reckless, who’ve undermined confidence in the United States, and whose actions have weakened the country.

But, Miller adds, he’s mad at President Obama anyway. Kevin Drum’s reaction resonated with me.

Honest to God, Republicans must all be sitting in their back rooms and just cackling like hell right now. Think about it. They developed a strategy to hamstring the president completely — a strategy that’s bulletproof thanks to our country’s Constitution — knowing that it would rally their base but also hoping that it would cause moderates and lefties alike to become disgusted with Obama’s weakness even though we all know who’s really responsible for what’s going on. And it worked! In fact, it’s worked better than they could possibly have imagined. They can probably barely keep from spitting up their beers right now.

We are such chumps.

A couple of weeks ago, the day after the debt-ceiling agreement was announced — a deal I repeatedly condemned, by the way — I asked, “Am I supposed to be angrier with the radicals who held a gun to our heads, or those who prevented them from pulling the trigger?”

Even among those who know “who the real villains are,” there’s apparently still some ambiguity about the answer.

Based on nothing but my own perceptions and recent experiences, I’m often surprised at how common this is. I’m on a number of email lists, for example, with fellow lefties in various circles, and I’d say the criticisms of Obama on a daily basis, particularly over the last month or so, outnumber criticisms of Republicans by at least 50 to 1. These are folks who know full well who’s chiefly responsible for the nation’s self-inflicted wounds, but like Miller, emphasize the fact they’re “mad at Barack Obama” anyway.

The unstated message seems to be, “Sure, Republicans have become an American nightmare. That’s obvious. In fact, it’s such a given, it’s not worth talking about. Instead, let’s denounce the White House….”

But as Kevin noted, if we all know who’s actually responsible for what’s going on, maybe it is worth talking about, rather than playing the game the way the right prefers?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • greennotGreen on August 11, 2011 9:28 AM:

    Many years ago on the TV show Quincy the audience was informed that abused children may cling to the abuser and pull away from the parent who has failed to protect them. I don't know if that's true - surprisingly, you can't believe everything you see on TV - but it certainly is in this case.

  • September on August 11, 2011 9:30 AM:

    Now now, if you don't accept the Hamsher/Greenwald/Sirota/Cenk/Emoprog frame that everything all the time is Obama's fault, then you're obviously an Obamabot who should be ignored for not being consistently critical enough to be considered VERY SERIOUS among people who value emotion over facts.

    Get all that?

  • brent on August 11, 2011 9:33 AM:

    I get where you're coming from Steve but I think the anger towards Obama is not entirely unwarranted either. Basically your question is posed as an either/or but thats a false premise. People like Matt Miller are upset with both but I think their justification is that while they don't expect much from the tea party, they do expect the president to not let himself get played by a bunch of half wits. I am not exactly with people like Miller on this issue but its an understandable sentiment.

  • Geoff G on August 11, 2011 9:33 AM:

    It's easier to unite people against a common enemy than on behalf of the common good. Unfortunately for Democrats, the common enemy is a Dem president. The Repubs have succeeded at stoking anger and cynicism, while doing more harm to themselves than to the Dems they're attacking (have you seen how badly Repubs and their policies poll?). Repubs think they can survive their self-inflicted wounds if they demoralize Dems just enough to keep Obama from being re-elected. If they turn out to be right, I don't think any of the current Dem critics of the Prez will be happy with a Romney or Perry presidency.

  • sjw on August 11, 2011 9:33 AM:

    The anger at Obama is not irrational. Things don't have to be this way; it need not be that Republicans dominate the national discourse. Fighting; fighting back; educating the public about the Depression and Keynesian economics; proposing plans for job growth and then pushing them aggressively ... these are things Obama could do, but doesn't.

    In other words, Obama IS partly responsible.

  • Leonce Gaiter on August 11, 2011 9:35 AM:

    The madman takes a hostage. The police charged with the hostage's well-being decide that the madman simply won't give the hostage up--they have insufficient leverage over him. So they agree to let the the madman cut off the hostage's legs and send the rest of him back. Where do you focus your anger? At the madman, or at the police?

  • Steve P on August 11, 2011 9:35 AM:

    I'd enjoy an interview with a professional hostage negotiator about how Obama's doing. I know what I'd like to see:


    Unfortunately, there's no Murphy.

  • navarro on August 11, 2011 9:36 AM:

    i find much to agree with in the position you and kevin take and yet i must wonder why obama seems so often to accept the republican framing of each issue and does such a poor job of trying to frame the issue in a more left-liberal fashion. surely it can't be that hard to do, after all the republicans do it every day with what appears to me to be a much weaker set of arguments.

  • c u n d gulag on August 11, 2011 9:36 AM:

    I no longer read Digby or FDL anymore.

    I read them both religiously for years, and commented on Digby's site often.

    Now, I never even look at FDL, and I only glance at Digby every few days, because the comments sections are out of control, and they're skewing the posts themselves - not that Digby was ever an "Obamabot."

    It's anti-Obama and the Democrats 24x7x365 - with calls for people to either sit out 2012, or even vote Republican to hasten the dive off the cliff.

    And though I'm sure some of them are trolls, probably paid ones at that, there seem to be a lot of people that I used to have dialogues with there who are on board the anti-everything crowd.

    I call them "The Purity Police."

    They're just as extreme as the right-wingers.
    And you know how much I hate the 'both sides do it" crap, but there are many commenters there who are VERY EXTREME - and any deviation from some form of pure Liberalism, means you are insufficielty pure, and must be addressed like an addled child, or mocked.

    If you want a more Liberal President, give him a more Liberal Congress. And that takes work.

    But no, too many of them just want to whine and complain...

  • mass on August 11, 2011 9:41 AM:

    The talking heads on my teevee are the laziest pieces of crap I have ever witnessed. Watching Morning Joe an hour ago, I learned that our president needs to show some "leadership" to turn it all around.

    Yeh, Obama needs to "order" Congress back from vacation to make some sort of "super leadership" speech that will be all leadershippy and whip all the Congressional minions into line. Because, apparently Obama controls the two chambers of the legislative branch, or something. Also, Wall Street will follow along like a puppy dog, too.

    Yeh, a speech will suddenly make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House again. John Boehner (who brags about getting his 98 percent of the shit sandwich) will suddenly "sack up" and take charge of his lunatic wing of GOPers and force them to follow President Obama's leadership and shit.

    Oh, and Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan, also, too.

  • Kathryn on August 11, 2011 9:44 AM:

    Couldn't agree with you more Steve. The drumbeat to blame Obama, the drumbeat that Obama's weak is turning into a crescendo in the media. Front page article in WaPo "Democrats, nervous about 2012, want Obama to be bolder", haven't had stomach to read. The GOP is made up of liars, thieves, religious fanatics, tea party fools and flat out traitors to this country but they don't eat their own.

    If the result of low voter turnout in 2010 isn't crystal clear yet, let's splinter and whine our way to a Republican president in 2012. Let's see Mitt, if you think Obama's weak in the face of the Tea Party/Cantor crowd, you'll love him or Rick Perry, let's turn the USA into a right wing theocracy where only Christians matter and turn history on it's ear with our biblical interpretations of the Constitution, so please don't contribute, don't campaign for Obama, JMJ, what could go wrong. We'll show that community organizer how disappointed we are.

  • cld on August 11, 2011 9:44 AM:

    in ref: something above,

    Obama's failure is that he has never tried to unite the country against a common enemy.

    The common enemy is clearly the Republican party and conservatives generally. They're the only serious enemy we have and he resolutely does everything, anything, that he can to avoid addressing this.

  • walt on August 11, 2011 9:46 AM:

    There's someone trying to burn your house down. The cop is outside not arresting the criminal but negotiating with him. He finally tells the criminal he can burn down most of the house but to leave the garage standing for future negotiations.

    We desperately need better leadership. I'm sorry Obama was forced into this terrible set of circumstances. I'm sorry when soldiers have to go to war. But no one forced Obama to run for president. No one.

  • Holmes on August 11, 2011 9:50 AM:

    I'm tired of everyone blaming the Tea Party for the Republicans problems. McConnell was bragging about the hostage taking after the debt ceiling debacle, and said he would do it again. Kyl tried scuttling the START treaty several times. Cantor is just as crazy as any Tea Party freshman.

    The entire Republican party is f'n crazy.

  • pol on August 11, 2011 9:50 AM:

    I'm with you, c u n d gulag, and I'll add Kos to that, as well.

  • DAY on August 11, 2011 9:51 AM:

    Obama, being a rather bright individual, and surrounded by more of the same, is well aware of everything we say here, ad infinitum, if not ad nauseum.

    But, Timing is Everything, and even as I type this, he has his hand on the door of the Clark Kent Phonebooth.

    -Doesn't he?. . .

  • penalcolony on August 11, 2011 9:51 AM:

    Very sensible post, though why anyone bothers to read Miller's "radical centrist" mirror-kissing is beyond me.

  • Anonymous on August 11, 2011 9:52 AM:

    “Sure, Republicans have become an American nightmare. That’s obvious. In fact, it’s such a given, it’s not worth talking about. Instead, let’s denounce the White House….”

    Well yes, GOP insanity is a given, a fixed, unmoving fact of our political life. But the President has had options. From the 14th amendment, to drawing a line in the sand with a veto promise, to, well, Obama being Obama.

    This is a man who was elected thanks to his creative ability to build bridges across partisan divides, to make lemonade from lemons. This "Obama Process" is almost always a virtue, and has led to many successes. But trying to manage a hostage standoff within the Obama Process was simply not possible. The process didn't fit the problem - "bringing a butter knife to a gunfight". But the President seemed fixated on applying his process, regardless. The result has been a bad deal, bad policy, and bad precedent.

    Just because we know the teahadists are nuts, doesn't mean we can't be exasperated with the President for stubborn adherence to his process at the expense of all principle.

  • SteveT on August 11, 2011 9:53 AM:

    This discussion reminds me of the fable of the scorpion and the frog:

    A frog is sitting on the side of a river, when a scorpion approaches him and asks, "Would you carry me across the river?"

    The frog says, "No, I won't do that. You will sting me and I'll die."

    The scorpion says, "I won't sting you, because if I do then I will drown."

    So the frog lets the scorpion climb on his back and starts swimming across the river. When they get to the middle, the scorpion stings the frog and as they start sinking the frog asks the scorpion why he stung him. The scorpion replies, "It's my nature."

    I could by the argument that Obama is not at fault, if he hadn't seen scorpions repeatedly sting frogs before. But once you know the nature of scorpions if you put them on your back anyway thinking that they won't sting you this time, then it's mostly your fault.

  • jlt on August 11, 2011 9:54 AM:

    Well put! But often the abusers are given the most slack while the protector is treated like the scum of the earth for not doing enough according to them!

    The Obama bashers are a tiresome gaggle..from ggreenwald to the woman at fdl---they are the very same as the tea baggers...with less principle and a smaller axe to grid~!

    Yawn..you can not dissuade those stuck on stupid..It is like an atheist and an agnostic debate..Totally different sets of information with no apex!

  • James on August 11, 2011 9:55 AM:

    I'd echo c u n d gulag up above, and add the Kossites and Atriots as well, and a big chunk of HuffPosties too. It seems as though a large patch of internet liberals have jumped off the deep end in a massive, en masse swan dive. Sheesh. Just nuts. They are the Bizarro Tea Party.

    But these people aren't really Democrats, and certainly not the Democratic "base." They really represent disgruntled Naderites and Greenies and other leftwing fringe for the most part. There is no earthly reason why the Democrats should jump off the cliff with them.

  • Sheldon on August 11, 2011 9:55 AM:

    I think Obama defenders are completely missing the point. Indeed the Republicans are the villains here - THEN WHY IN HELL IS OBAMA NOT POINTING THIS OUT, REPEATEDLY? That's the point. Instead, he adopts Republican perspectives on the economy - harping on the deficit, which is playing deep in REPUBLICAN territory - and trying to adopt an above-the-fray manner, when what is required is a forceful response to Republican attacks. Sure, he's not a dictator. But he's also not a MUTE, people.

  • Tom Paine on August 11, 2011 9:59 AM:

    Jobs...jobs...jobs are what matter. The best counter strategy is for Obama & co. need to get off the deficit non-problem and come up with some job initiatives pronto. When GOP balks, run against the "do nothing about jobs" Congress.

  • LWC on August 11, 2011 9:59 AM:

    Excellent post from WALT above. My anger at Obama is his positioning himself so frequently to appeal to Independent voters. He never seems to stake out a position, to show a commitment to an idea. And I'll point out a perfect example: Steve Benen yesterday again pointed to polling data which show a majority of Americans want taxes on the wealthy to go up. Obama NEVER makes this case and in fact he embraced the horrible Simpson/Bowles proposals to cut entitlements (you know, the programs to which the American people are ENTITLED because they paid into them). He even talks about lowering the highest tax rates in order to close loop holes. Huh? Just close the damn loop holes. He was willing and ready to totally cave during the ACA firestorm, it was Nancy Pelosi who had to lead the fight to get even the halfway deal we ended up with. And finally during his State of the Union in January 2010 he used the term "death panel"--talk about framing; he used the crazy right wing frame! I know he used it to refute it but repeating a lie reinforces it. We can go over the cliff slowly, following the bad ideas of the Third Way Democrats (listening to people like ugly little Alice Rivlin) which Obama seems to have embraced or we can go over fast with the Republicans in charge. Frankly, that's not much of a choice.

  • mass on August 11, 2011 10:00 AM:

    "Obama's failure is that he has never tried to unite the country against a common enemy."

    Do you understand that 27 percent of this nation's voters are lunatic-crazy? That's 27 percent of the people who show up to vote in EVERY election today would vote for an Alan Keyes, Michelle Bachmann, Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson or Billy Graham's fucking ghost, for the SOLE purpose of pissing off liberals.

    That's a guarantee of 27 percent of turnout for every election nationwide, from school board to President.

    The Koch brothers, Chamber of Commerce then need to convince need to whip up about 15 percent of standard American, mouth-breathing "moran" to vote against his interest because the commercial on the teevee told him to. He's not a crazy 27-percenter. He's just stupid.

    What's that, 42 percent?

    Obama needs to get better than that 42 percent of the vote. The Jane Hameshers and PUMAs and whatnots are just fucking idiots, and they are committed to putting another religious nutjob -- worse than Bush II -- into the White House to prove their purity. Assholes.

  • Anonymous on August 11, 2011 10:01 AM:

    Let me add to my previous comment with this from Steve's own post:

    "The pitch is pretty straightforward: have the White House take the several hundred letters GOP lawmakers have sent to the executive branch since 2009, asking for public investments, followed by President Obama announcing he’ll gladly fund all of the Republicans’ requests that have not yet been filled."

    That Obama hasn't done anything like this, at any time, on any issue, is why he's getting this liberal's outrage. Does it mean I won't vote for him? Of course not. But do I think he's way underperforming politically, and letting the Republicans trample all over him? You bet.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on August 11, 2011 10:03 AM:

    as said above "In other words, Obama IS partly responsible."
    But..... remember they have a 7/24 propaganda channel and the rest of the MSM , well tell me the last time you heard anything other than a split screen he said she said they're all to blame narrative.
    The Democrats are a bunch of limp dicks and need to fight back NOW!
    If you watch TEEVEE you see nothing but Karl Rove and American Crossroads "Blank Check" ads Targeting Obama and local Dems.
    If the fundraising is going so good then start the goddamn ads now . Don't wait until they have the mouth breathing goobers convinced.

  • j_h_r on August 11, 2011 10:03 AM:

    Many years ago on the TV show Quincy the audience was informed that abused children may cling to the abuser and pull away from the parent who has failed to protect them. I don't know if that's true - surprisingly, you can't believe everything you see on TV - but it certainly is in this case.

    I agree partially with this, but I don't think it's so binary. Or, in other words, don't underestimate the incredible resentment that develops after tragedy towards those who failed to protect you from it.
    EVERYONE to the left of the Republican party has been under constant attack for years, sometimes from conservatives in government, sometimes from right wing nuts with guns. One constant thread in liberal commentary is that those with the power to defend against such attacks rarely IF EVER do so. During the darkest years of the Bush II regime, "Democrat" was often synonymous with "curled up in a fetal ball waiting for the beating to stop". Josh Marshall coined the "bitchslap theory of American politics" in response to John Kerry being relentlessly pounded by lies about his war record and doing NOTHING to fight back.
    Now there's a Democrat in the White House, put there by the greatest grass-roots mobilizations American politics has ever seen, and, pardon my 40-year-old potty mouth, he's being a f***ing pussy. My community college AmGov 101 class taught me that the president, in addition to being head of state, is also head of his party, and while yeah, I get all the insider baseball about procedural issues and stuff, I have rarely, if ever, seen Obama act like he runs the Democrats. Quite the opposite; when a lefty blogger asked one of Obama's flacks to respond to accusations of hippy-punching, he couldn't deny it. Well, then. If you're gonna keep biting the hand that feeds you....

  • whichwitch on August 11, 2011 10:06 AM:

    I think my anger with Obama at the moment is that I know he is far more intelligent than the Congress critters with which he has to work...but it isn't showing because there isn't any action. Yes, I know there is only limited actions he can take but, just to site an excellent example, come up with an idea that the GOP can't say no to and at the same time, create JOBS.

    Here's that idea: "The pitch is pretty straightforward: have the White House take the several hundred letters GOP lawmakers have sent to the executive branch since 2009, asking for public investments, followed by President Obama announcing he�ll gladly fund all of the Republicans� requests that have not yet been filled."- Steve Benen

    Do it!

  • KJ on August 11, 2011 10:06 AM:

    There are some gawd-awful analogies on this thread (this isn't analogous to a crime despite the frequent reference to a hostage situation--this is using the levers of power to prevent Obama from accomplishing anything). I think folks are wedded to this notion that if Obama really "tried harder" or "showed more leadership" or something, the GOP would stop their legal, but deplorable, obstructionist tactics. They won't. They've not paid a price for what they are doing, and as Kevin Drum and Steve point out, they now have parts of Obama's base blaming him for the natural result of their actions (checks and balances folks). In short, their tactics and strategy are working.

  • TCinLA on August 11, 2011 10:08 AM:

    Only the cucumber sandwiches (with the crust trimmed off) loving "good government" morons at NPR continue to take this idiot seriously - which I guess is why the Washington Pest would publish this bit of politically-illiterate dreck. Why Matt Miller is not living in a cardboard box under a freeway is beyond me, he's so fucking stupid. I gave up on his idiot "Left, Right and Center" show long ago. You couldn't get an idea into that granite skull with a bunker-busting bomb.

  • Dick Zantow on August 11, 2011 10:09 AM:

    Here's the thing: Obama campaigned on a platform of change, and his administration instead extended several odious Bush policies. His supporters during the campaign are for some reason less enthusiastic now, and are regarding him as a politician rather than as a transforming leader. He has lost the standing to generate enthusiasm among those who would have been giving him support now. That's why people are peeved at Obama. It's the difference between expectations and reality.
    If the Republicans won't and the Democrats can't, then there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two.

  • golack on August 11, 2011 10:11 AM:

    The POG message machine works. How often have you heard "uncertainty" mentioned in talks on the economy. It's utter non-sense. No discussion of what really works, no discussion of what really happened that got us into this mess, no real discussion of how to work our way out--just fear mongering. The big bad future is "uncertain"...

    How about this one, "Where are his (the president's) proposals?" Constant meme--just not true. Followed by attacks on him for lack of leadership because he's not following the TP. Or that it's his recession--they're still plugging away at that one....

    I don't necessarily like the agreements that can make their way through congress, but I kinda understand where the President is coming from. Unlike the previous administration, a policy disagreement does not make you a traitor. He is restoring some dignity to the office and trying to reshape the nature of the discussion in DC--and waiting out the TP tantrums. (Think Pierce Brosnan first Bond movie)

  • Registeredguest on August 11, 2011 10:11 AM:

    I'm with Brent at 9:11. Some weeks ago I sent an email to you Steve, suggesting that we need to criticize Democrats more then we do. Republicans are what they are and beating up on them on liberal blogs is preaching to the choir.

    We need to go after Democrats to get them to change their behavior and develop a spine. Read recent attacks of Claire McCaskill and her capitulation regarding unemployment benefits.

    In my suggestion to criticize Democrats more frequently I suggested that we just increase the ratio from near 80 per cent attacks on Reups 20% on Dems to something like 60/40. I didn't suggest abandoning attacks on the Repubs.

    We have to get better Democrats, make them better Democrats. Oh, and a better Main Stream Media as well.

  • blondie on August 11, 2011 10:13 AM:

    Just yesterday I participated in a "Jobs, Not Cuts!" rally outside my idiot Republican representative's district office. One of the people who participated said she's not going to vote for Obama next year. I asked why and she said, "He hasn't done anything."

    Really, I said. What about taking at least the first step toward healthcare reform? The Lily Ledbetter Act? The rescue of the American auto industry? And so on.

    And she clearly knows our idiot Republican representative is worse than useless, indeed, actively destructive. But she's mad because she's still hurting, and she counted on the President to make things better.

    I empathize with her pain - things haven't been very easy for me for the past three years, either - but I was so mad I left the rally early. This woman clearly is engaged (she was there to make herself heard, after all), but she still doesn't understand the realities of Washington.

  • Alli on August 11, 2011 10:16 AM:

    This is because some dumb dumb liberals are telling their flock that Obama is unwilling to use his super duper lib powers to bring them all that they wanted HE JUST DOESN'T WANT TO. When you read lunacy like that everyday its no wonder these whack jobs are angry. WAKE UP AND ENOUGH WITH THE MAGICAL THINKING!!!

  • Stetson Kennedy on August 11, 2011 10:17 AM:

    It is certainly true that Republicans, and their tea bagger cohorts, are responsible for this mess. However, that doesn't excuse Obama and congressional dems from their mismanagement of the situation.

    Many of us on the left are extremely frustrated with the President's habit of negotiating by giving something up before negotiations even start. That may be a fair way of doing business if you have fair-minded adversaries, but Obama should have realized long ago that RepubliCONs' #1 agenda item is to oppose anything Obama supports - and there is no #2. It would be nice if he played hardball once in a while.

  • xando foote on August 11, 2011 10:19 AM:

    Many Dems were dismayed in 2010 when Mr. Obama extended the Bush tax cuts, but he obviously had to do so in order to save the funding for unemployed held hostage by the GOP. The move was fine with me because he vowed to not extend them again for the rich and it was clear that this would be a prime 2012 issue.

    During subsequent negotiations I feared that Mr. Obama and the Dems would bargain away this trump card, but they managed to avoid doing so. Yes, there were times when the GOP seemed to come out on top, but Obama has kept the card and the issue will now frame the 2012 elections. Fortunately, the GOP members of the special panel recently formed are adamantly opposed to the rich paying more.

    It's simple, really. Mr. Obama will not extend the Bush tax cuts again and will allow them to sunset, as was originally intended. The GOP will howl and whine that this is raising taxes and harming the job creators, both of which are absurd contentions. The Dems can then cut taxes again for the middle class, something the GOP will oppose at their peril.

    So, there it is. The 2012 elections will be decided by voters largely on the basis of either their support of Mr. Obama allowing tax cuts for the rich to expire (~67% of all voters and ~45% of Republicans) or their support of the GOP's childish resistance.

  • Chris on August 11, 2011 10:21 AM:

    With due respect to Steve, I'm not going to avoid attempting to hold our President accountable because doing so makes politicos on the right happy.

    When it comes to the so-called Grand Bargain and economics in general, President Obama appears to be governing to the right of Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush. As evidence, he's seeking an agreement that raises the age of eligibility for Medicare, reduces Medicaid payments, reduces Social Security benefits, and is likely to receive less than one dollar of revenues for every three dollars of cuts--cuts to programs that help the poor climb out of poverty and that have been put into place after winning hard-fought battles.

    These are not the values and policies I voted for, and it behooves us not to speak up. That doesn't mean we stay home on election day. It means that we continue to reinforce what we're voting for.

  • Chicago Todd on August 11, 2011 10:24 AM:

    First -- I think the GOP did take a hostage but Obama gave them the weapon by not demanding a clean debt ceiling bill. Have we forgotten that Obama wanted to use the debt ceiling bill as a way to get his "grand bargain" to somehow appeal to independents? A bargain that would disproportionately affect the poor and elderly in time of economic crisis. Obama created the environment for the hostage crisis so he is not blameless.

    Second -- sad to see these Jane, Glenn, Digby, etc bashers. These people are fighting for those that don't have any power or money to fight for themselves. Their tone might be less than appealing to you, but they are fighting a lot harder for the majority of the population than the Democrats and Obama are doing in a time of crisis.

    Most of you must forget that there are 24,000,000 people unemployed, underemployed or just quit looking -- that is 24,000,000, and that there is still an incredible amount of suffering out there as people continue to lose their homes, struggling to feed their family and lack access to health care. This is a crisis and it is being ignored by the likes of Obama and the Democrats, and yes the GOP but the Dems have bought into the GOP's whole meme that there is nothing the government can do and that is just wrong!

    So forgive me for supporting websites like Firedoglake and Hullabaloo who constantly remind us of all this suffering and the lack of political courage by the Democrats and Obama. Because you sure don't see the Democrats or Obama really caring all that much -- nor do you see it in the media because these forgotten people are powerless and lack the financial backing to force the issue into the forefront. At least these blogs and bloggers are doing it. The Democrats certainly are not and it was expected that they would -- Obama too. This is not a climate of hope, it is a climate of apathy.

  • N.Wells on August 11, 2011 10:25 AM:

    I share your frustration over this. Pushing for more progressive policies is great, but intensely negative public griping about Obama is hugely counterproductive. CUND gulag has it exactly right: put more and better Democrats lower in the ranks, and that will make more progressive policies possible at the top. Letters to newspapers, call-ins to talk radio, and phone calls to your representatives arguing against Republican nonsense will wear down the opposition, while bitter complaining about Obama simply demoralizes progressive voters and turns off swing voters.

    Obama has been hugely constrained in what he has been able to do, but he has accomplished a lot, and it is easy to overlook the success he has had in running a scandal-free administration (remember the scandal fatigue under Reagan and GWB?). For a politician, he has also had a remarkable record of pursuing courses of action that he always said he was going to pursue, but the exceptions have been disappointing and it has been easy to get disappointed over having read something more than what he said into his uplifting speeches and then not getting it. His strategy has been to be an honest broker, in the hopes that his opponents would finally come to their senses, realize that they are getting a decent deal and that everyone has some goals in common, and start cooperating. In theory and most times in practice, this should work, and it might yet, but with the current crop of unbelievably vile and stupid republicans and massively misguided voters, it's failing horribly. Although part of me would love to do worse to the R's what they are doing to us, that is probably not a useful strategy - they need to be converted, because they have too much money and power to be crushed. (Although more emotionally satisfying at the time, the post-WW1 solution to the German problem by crushing proved far worse than the post-WW2 solution of re-integrating.)

    The idea that if we let the republicans drive us over a cliff, the American people will finally reward democrats is a horrible strategy. It rarely works, (1) because swing voters rally behind politicians who win and who sound more confident about their solutions, (2) because all we get is even more incredibly awful Republicans, and (3) because the interim pain and stupidity is intolerable. When dems deserted Carter, part of the reasoning was that Reagan's first term was going to be so unbelievably awful that people would flood back to supporting Democrats, & look how well that worked out.

  • Bob Johnson on August 11, 2011 10:26 AM:

    Hop over the The Times Letters to the Editor today and read the responses to Westen's article. They thoroughly and succintly cover in breadth and depth what we now feel.

    Living in a political environment, I note two aspects that provide strength to my belief in our president: His accomplishments have been mighty and his political instincts are massive. We on the left may carp while the pundits crap and GOopers craw, but Obama will use the next election to educate and excite. Why waste the funds now against the amorphous enemies in politics and the press when he can dominate head and story lines, maximizing investment, at a time when everyone is really watching and concerned and when not just an opponent, but hir party's slipshop policies can be sharply targeted?

    While his conciliatory approach seems defeatist to us, I sense a hidden political agenda directed to the larger "independent" body of voters who will vacilate regardless press, policy, or political theater until a year from now -- or until their personal fiscal position is seriously threatened. It is in this regard that the Wisconsin recalls may be illustrative.

  • Unabogie on August 11, 2011 10:26 AM:

    All the people who think that all it would take is "fighting back" on the part of the President, and not months of hard work on their part to change the country, how do you explain Wisconsin?

    Here you had a GOP state party run amok. They fucked over the unions. They grifted. They sent the police after the Democrats. They overreached in pretty much every way imaginable. Hell, their newly re-elected judge Prosser just tried to strangle someone.

    So did they voters punish them?

    Only kinda sorta.

    Let's face it. The activists in Wisconsin made their case, and it wasn't enough. The fact remains that at least half the country consistently elects Republicans. If you want to change things at the top, you have to start at the bottom.

  • samsa on August 11, 2011 10:31 AM:

    No, this is all wrong.

    If you invite the thieves to your house and they steal, the actor directly responsible for the theft is you. The thieves are responsible, of course, but why did you let them in?

    Obama framed the debate in Republican terms, and, as a consequence, the end result was a foregone conclusion. It's not as if nobody knew at the get go that Republicans will not negotiate in good faith.

  • Kathryn on August 11, 2011 10:40 AM:

    LWC you must be kidding, "frankly that's not much of a choice", Third Way Dems or Republicans. You're think going over the cliff quickly is equal to trying to re-elect Obama and, presumably, take back the House. I admit to being more of an Obama believer than most on this blog, but I do share the frustrations many express. But to suggest that Obama should have used the 14th as Anonymous does, seems to deny certain facts. If Obama had used the 14th, I believe county would still have been downgraded, blame would have been thoroughly affixed to BHO, impeachment would have been the only subject for his last year, along with the Great Depression of 2012. Maybe all this criticism will jolt him into a more bullish approach to governing and I too would like to see that. However, I thought his statement after Dow crash number 1 had a lot more substance than was credited to it and can see the beltway narrative of weakness is picking up steam as it rolls down the hill. If anybody can tell me why they think invoking the 14th Amendment would have been a better choice than the one Obama made, please do. I'm open and interested in knowing why as my thinking could well be off.

  • Tom on August 11, 2011 10:54 AM:

    The predominately white progressive intelligentsia don't see Obama clearly because of our racial blind spot. We don't see the role of race in how he seems to understand himself and how other perceive him.

    First of all, we think that he understands himself as one of us. A progressive activist, heir to the radical and New Left movements most of us were raised in. He is not; I think that he understands himself (and certainly his real base understands him) as the first African American President. We're thinking Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. We should be thinking about Harold Washington, the first African American mayor of Chicago. Washington was elected and immediately faced a solid wall of opposition from most white aldermen in the city. Washington understood his role as breaking down that wall of opposition and assembling a governing majority, which he finally did after his re-election. Unfortunately, he died shortly thereafter. By the way, one of Washington's political strategists was David Axelrod.

    How does Obama break the iron unity of the GOP opposition to assemble a governing majority in the US Congress?

    If we progressives were not blinded by our own assumption that our history is the only history, we might see how Obama may be seeing his situation.

    White progressives often think that African American elected officials are politically naive. We will far more credit to Cornel West, who has never been elected to anything, than to an elected state senator, or even the President of the United States. We think that Obama does not understand the nature of John Boehner, Mitch McConnell or Eric Cantor, as though he has not sat across the table from them. He doesn't understand how mean they are, we think.

    Obama acts entirely within the tradition of mainstream African American political strategy and tactics. The epitome of that tradition was the non-violence of the Civil Rights Movement, but goes back much further in time. It recognizes the inequality of power between whites and blacks. Number one: maintain your dignity. Number two: call your adversaries to the highest principles they hold. Number three: Seize the moral high ground and Number four: Win by winning over your adversaries, by revealing the contradiction between their own ideals and their actions. It is one way that a oppressed people struggle.

    Obama has taken a seat at the negotiating table and said "There is no reason why we cannot work out solutions to our problems by acting like responsible adults. That is what people expect us to do and that is why we have entered into public service." That is the moral high ground.

    Honestly, I have been reminded more than once in the last few months of those brave college students sitting in at a Woolworth's lunch counter, back in the day. Obama sits at that table, like they did at the counter. Boehner and McConnell and Cantor clown around, mugging for the camera, competing to ritually humiliate Obama, to dump ketchup on his head.

    I don't think those students got their sandwiches the first day, but they won in the end.

    Obama is winning. Democrats are uniting behind him, although some white progressives think that they could do the job better. Independents are flocking to him. Even some Republicans are getting disgusted with their Washington leaders. Obama is not telling us about lack of seriousness of the Congressional GOP; he is showing us the vivid contrast between what we expect of our leaders and their behavior. The last two and half years have been a revelation of the essential conflicts in our society and politics.

    If white progressives understood much about the politics of the African American struggle in the United States, we would see Obama in the context of that struggle and understand him better. And you don't have to be African American to know something about the history of the African American struggle. The books and the testimony is there. It's not all freedom songs. But you have to be convinced that it is something that can teach you something you don't already know.

  • Kane on August 11, 2011 10:57 AM:

    I blame much of the media. Can you imagine what the media narrative would be right now if the positions were reversed? Can you imagine what the media would be saying about Democrats in congress if they publicly stated that their primary goal was to hamstring a Republican president? Or if Democrats had held the economy hostage? Or if in a recall election, Democrats had placed fake Republicans on the ballot? Or if a Democratic Congress elected on the notion of creating jobs had not provided a jobs bill eight months after taking office? It's doubtful that they would be blaming the Republican president.

    And then there's the constant stream of media stories presenting a similar narrative of how every traditional Democratic voting block is upset with President Obama, and how he has somehow let them down. One week it will be reported how the LGBT community is angry with Obama. The next week it will be that progressiv­­es are disgruntle­­d with Obama and his administra­­tion. The next week the narrative will be that African Americans are upset with Obama. And the following week the narrative is that Jewish Americans might not be as supportive of Obama as they once were.

    Rarely is there any context provided or is it noted how these groups continue to overwhelmi­ngly support President Obama and Democrats. Instead, if someone manages to offers any criticism of Obama whatsoever­, it is sure to be reported and given a narrative of looming doom for Obama and the Democratic party.

    The web-media even managed to turn a Rolling Stone essay from Al Gore, which was primarily a rebuke of the media and it's failure to focus attention on impending climate change disasters into a misleading story of "Al Gore slams Obama." James Fallows noted that these misleading and disingenuous "Gore attacks Obama!" stories were found at Slate, TPM, NY Mag, Huffington Post, the AP, and the Atlantic. Not exactly the ususal suspects of conservative media.

    The scenario provides a deja vu moment, a continuation of the prevalent narrative of the 2008 presidential campaign where every issue raised is magically twisted and presented as a potential problem for Barack Obama. As just like in 2008, many of the weak-kneed democrats are buying into the narrative.

  • FRP on August 11, 2011 11:07 AM:

    I apologise if it is needlessly simplistic to point to a Stockholm syndromedy .


    Its all I can do
    To keep waiting for you
    Its all I can do
    Its all I can do

  • majun on August 11, 2011 11:09 AM:

    There's nothing wrong with being angry at both sides. Disillusionment and disappointment with Obama are OK. Just don't let those feelings get the better of you and keep you sitting on your ass on November 6, 2012. Get out and vote. Drag at least two friends or family members who might not vote otherwise with you. And when you vote, as you decide which of the two sides to punish, keep in mind that the choice is between a good dream gone sour and an out and out nightmare. You should be able to make the correct choice then.

  • SecularAnimist on August 11, 2011 11:10 AM:

    "Knowing who the real villains are" and criticizing Obama for dealing with those "villains" ineffectively are not incompatible views.

    Kevin Drum and Steve Benen are both mischaracterizing the criticisms of Obama from the so-called "left".

    And neither one of them is stupid enough to be unaware that they are doing that.

  • rk21 on August 11, 2011 11:12 AM:

    Let me state the real reason we are in this mess. The country consists of dumb asses who want instant gratification. Bush clearly lied about Iraq, clearly endorsed torture, yet was voted into power again. After Clinton left office the country was prosperous (relatively), the job situation was fine. Republicans were clearly crazy, from whitewater to murder to impeachment, they accused him of everything, all clear lies. So what was the reason to vote for a republican? Al Gore sighed too much? Gore did win the popular vote, but not by that much. Why was it so close? It does not matter how Obama frames the debate. He inherited a disaster. We are lucky we are not standing in line with begging bowls in hand. His opposition is 100% foaming at the mouth crazy. Yet at least 47% of the population will vote for them. The real problem is that there is no place for decent rational people in this country's politics. And the crazies are a reflection of the people who elect them time and time again. Forget Obama. No one can save this country from its own madness!

  • Kathryn on August 11, 2011 11:15 AM:

    @ Blondie, I too went to a Move on jobs rally at GOP congressman's office and someone spoke about not getting Dems backs this time because of disappointment. It stuck in my crawl (sp?) so I spoke after her and said that while I too would like to get rid of all blue dogs, coporatists, etc., electing Dems still had to be #1 as the choice is so stark. Interestinly, prior speaker then agreed with me. The newly elected GOP governors clearly show the agenda going forward if a republican wins the White House. We're obviously outgunned in the media, in Koch brothers and others money and registeredguest thinks increasing negative ads on Dems is the way to go, negative reinforcement doesn't work with children except to make them worse, so why would that be a good idea. Chicago Todd...a climate of apathy gave us Pat Toomey, Joe Walsh, Allen West and many others so let's try it again. Good post N. Wells.

  • nothingmuch on August 11, 2011 11:15 AM:

    Seriously? If Barack Obama himself isn't even willing to point out the real villains, how can anyone else be expected to? He talks like he still believes Republicans are reasonable, cooperative governing partners.

  • Perspecticus on August 11, 2011 11:17 AM:

    In today's Diane Rehm Report, we discuss the London Riots with a heavy emphaiss on economics in Europe and the U.S.. During a discussion of U.S. policies, Ms. Rehm's guests noted that Obama needs to show toughness that he has yet to show; needs forcefulness he has yet to display; and needs policies to get things moving that he has yet to produce. When the guests were asked what, in the face of incredible Republican intransigence and obstructionism, Obama could have done differently to date, there was a moment of silence followed by each guest gradually admitting that, "I don't think there was anything he could do, but...".

  • danimal on August 11, 2011 11:20 AM:

    Nobody's mentioning the Bully Pulpit, that magical phrase that turns preznits into leaders of legions. Use the Bully Pulpit, Obama. Say the things you have said One More Time, this time with feeling.

    If you fail to do so, Obama, then I will whine that Obama NEVER fights Republicans, NEVER espouses his own policies, NEVER pushes for progressive causes, ALWAYS uses GOP framing, and so on.

    Use the Bully Pulpit, Obama, or I, the emoprog blog commenter, will spam dozens of boards today.

  • Kathryn on August 11, 2011 11:21 AM:

    Tom, thank you, brilliant.

  • Doctor Biobrain on August 11, 2011 11:21 AM:

    What bothers me so much is that these people all INSIST that there's a straight forward path for Obama to take which would assure victory, and he's not doing it. And were that true, I'd agree with them completely. But it's not. In fact, there's no obvious path for him at all.

    Their advice is for Obama to ratch up the rhetoric and insults, as if he can talk his way out of this and force Republicans to back down. But it wouldn't. It'd only have the opposite effect, as the Republicans' biggest problem is that they have no fricking idea what they're doing and only know how to hurl insults and obstruct things. And we're to imagine that if Obama refused to compromise that it'd magically force Republicans to compromise. But it wouldn't. Instead, it'd only give justification for Republican obstructionism. The reason Republicans don't compromise isn't because they think Obama's soft. It's because they think he's dangerous and there's almost NOTHING that can get them to compromise. Were he to actively prove he's not "soft," it'd only make them fear him more.

    The sad truth is that there are no magic bullets here and rhetoric will NOT win this for us. What WILL help? If these people devoted the energy they spend attacking Obama towards attacking Republicans; just like they did when Bush was in office. That'd be a HUGE help. It's OUR job to make the claim for liberalism and make conservativism look bad; not Obama's. It's easy to blame everything on one man. It's a lot harder for us to take responsibility for our lives and do something about it.

    Obama's not preventing us from pushing liberal policies. That's ALL on us.

  • jjm on August 11, 2011 11:29 AM:

    Again, those finding Obama weak and failing are itching or spoiling for a fight: they'd love to see him get down there in the mud and wrestle ...

    I still recall the successes of this presidency, though everyone else seems to have forgotten them. (The GOP has not, they're running against them all the time, something everyone seems also to be forgetting: they are running against his policy successes, to the point where Bachmann recently had to make up a fictitious 'conversation' with Obama in which he supposedly told her Obamacare was going to get rid of Medicare.)

    What did he concede to the GOP? In the continuing budget resolution, $33 billion in cuts that turned out to be $5 billion in MORE spending.

    I just don't see why everyone is, as they say in True Blood, 'glamoured' by the GOP to the point that they cannot see how Obama has succeeded in many ways. All we hear is their hot air, 24/7. He can't get a word in edgewise.

    I recall when ALL the blogs and the news media were excoriating him for not calling forcefully for raising taxes on the rich. Even though the week before they were yelling at him he had made it the substance of his weekly address.

    You don't hear Obama's message because you're too busy paying attention to what some of the dumbest people on the earth have to say, e.g., Bachmann. I for one would welcome hearing more in detail about what Obama says weekly (has ANYONE ever headlined it???) and less about what nonsense some low intelligence GOP operative has to say.

    By the way, doesn't anyone imagine that the absolute grasping at straws by the GOP and Fox shows THEIR weakness? Obama's approval rating went UP two points after the debt debacle, while theirs dropped like a rock.

  • Cathy on August 11, 2011 11:32 AM:

    The reason I am unhappy with Obama is that he has been dismissive of the opinions and positions of those on the left and has not listened to those who have been correct from the get go on econmic issues. I don't believe the path that he wants to follow economicaly is the correct one.

    I also believe that a good political leader could have put some effort into nipping the tea party in the bud. They have not always been with us. When Obama was elected, we had a Democratic senate and house. We had 60 Dems in the Senate. He did not lead his Democrats well. That allowed the Tea Party to exist. He did a good job with getting health care passed. However,I think the tea party should have been countered aggressively at that time. He or his people (who he picks and the agendas of whom he sets) need to get better insight on how to deal with media who consistently ravage him. But even so - I have come to believe that he simply does not agree with me. His goals are not my goals. Also, I have become irritated with the his middle road, split the baby - compromise is always better affect. I don't think he is doing the best he can with the situation at hand. I think he thinks its the right thing to begin with. If that is not the case, I don't have evidence to show.

  • danimal on August 11, 2011 11:34 AM:

    Tom, while I was taking cheap political shots, you made an incredibly salient point.

    I hope your comment gets the attention it deserves.

  • low-tech cyclist on August 11, 2011 11:39 AM:

    Look: being upset that the bad guys are indeed bad guys gets you absolutely nowhere - unless you're talking to people who aren't aware of who the bad guys are.

    Everyone here knows who the bad guys are.

    The question then becomes, WTF can we do about the bad guys? And the answers to that question are entirely about who's running our team, and whether they're acting effectively or not.

    The other thing that's worth mentioning is that we have about zero agency to affect the bad guys' actions, at least between now and the next election season, when with any luck, we'll vote a bunch of them out of office. But until then, the only thing we have even a chance of affecting is how the people on our team approach this battle with the bad guys.

    So, Steve, Kevin, and anyone having the same reaction: what do you expect our discussion to look like, given these circumstances?

  • Simon S. on August 11, 2011 11:39 AM:

    “Am I supposed to be angrier with the radicals who held a gun to our heads, or those who prevented them from pulling the trigger?”

    Y'know, Steve, whenever people like us got upset over Bush administration misdeeds in Iraq, up to and including Abu Ghraib, war defenders would ask why we were angrier with our own president than with the unquestionably evil Saddam Hussein. And the answer was, of course, that we're supposed to be better than that.

    But, of course, nobody listened to that argument. We were supposedly "objectively pro-Saddam."

    Similarly, we expect Republicans to commit governmental misdeeds like holding the country's financial ratings hostage to their maniacal anti-tax pledge. But we're still entitled to be angry when Democrats give in spinelessly and enable such behavior.

    And for our pains, we're told that we're suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and sympathizing with our oppressors. No we're not; we're angry at our so-called defenders for not even trying to defend us.

  • c u n d gulag on August 11, 2011 11:50 AM:

    Thank you, Tom.

    I've kind of had the same thoughts once in awhile, and commented here and elsewhere, but YOU thought it through and said it far, far, far better than I ever could.

    Well done!

    PS: You may want to post that on some other blogs. I think it's well worth repeating.

    PPS: Would you mind if I copied or quoted you on this subject? Giving credit to you, of course.

  • Cranky Observer on August 11, 2011 11:50 AM:

    Three times in my career I have been recruited into a company that was in a disastrous or near-disastrous situation with the explicit understanding it would be my responsibility to straighten it out. I have never accepted such a job unless I was reasonably confident I knew what the problems were, how bad they were, and felt that I could fix them. I have also turned down several similar positions either because I _didn't_ understand what the problems were or did not believe that I could fix them.

    What, exactly, was Barack Obama expecting when he decided to run for President in 2007? Was he completely unaware of how the Republicans had been behaving since 2004, how they could be expected to behave once a Democrat was in office, and how much damage Bush/Cheney had done to the US and the US Government? Because if he wasn't, and he wasn't prepared to find solutions and fight them through, then that doesn't speak very highly of him.


    And yeah, I worked my butt off to get him elected. At some risk to my employability in this state and with a not-inconsiderable percentage of my family savings.

  • Cranky Observer on August 11, 2011 11:51 AM:

    should be "... the Republicans had been behaving since 1994..."


  • SecularAnimist on August 11, 2011 11:59 AM:

    Tom wrote: "The predominately white progressive intelligentsia don't see Obama clearly because of our racial blind spot."

    What does my "racial blind spot" have to do with Obama approving the largest expansion of off-shore oil drilling in US history, dismissing concerns about its safety -- just weeks before the BP blowout in the Gulf?

    What does my "racial blind spot" have to do with Obama approving Shell's offshore drilling for oil in the Arctic -- even though the head of the Coast Guard has said there is no way to deal with a spill there, which would be catastrophic?

    What does my "racial blind spot" have to do with Obama approving a massive expansion of coal mining on public lands?

  • sapient on August 11, 2011 12:05 PM:

    Tom, that's one of the best comments I've read for awhile. And there are often some good ones here on Steve's blog! It's something I'm going to save and consider every single time I hear from someone bashing Obama.

    I've thought about this myself, but only fleetingly. The idea that Obama personifies the courage and humanity of the civil rights movement, and that such courage and humanity prevails, is something to remember always. Even if it fails, it still prevails - it's the best of who we are.

    As to those who think that Obama has an agenda to screw the poor, no - actually, he doesn't. His agenda is to get past this period where he is hamstrung by the Republican Congress. The "Grand Bargain" was really not bad from a liberal standpoint, because it was timed to delay the social cuts until after the tax cuts had expired. After revenue begins coming in again, a Democratic legislature can do many creative things to restore and improve the social safety net.

    I continue to have Obama's back. I would love some red meat - who wouldn't. And he should dish it out sometimes - maybe during the election campaign. But that's not what governing is about.

    Thanks again, Tom.

  • MsJoanne on August 11, 2011 12:16 PM:

    Let's add Crooks and Liars to that list of Purity Police sites. Susie Madrak used to post anti-Obama stuff that was refuted an hour, day or week later, never once being corrected at C&L. Now, they've promoted her to managing editor. I used to be there religiously, met my fiancé there, and posted comments extensively. I haven't even checked in in months. I go there a few times a year.

    Unfortunately, these are the top liberal sites, and not one of them has any basis in reality. But if they got their wishes, they'd have nothing to bitch about which would be bad for business...their business.

    I used to donate $$ to C&L and Digby (as well as Benen). Now it's Just WaMo and Colbert.

  • Sparko on August 11, 2011 12:18 PM:

    Steve: the cogent reaction here is to lash out at everything. The deepness of the frustration with the blatantly destructive policies of the GOP is a clarion call for action. Obama, despite his inclinations elsewhere, will eventually have to basically take strong measures against the GOP. They aren't just rooting for failure; they are blowing up the economy through inaction or spite. It will come down to a clash of wills--or simply letting the GOP set up some type of nutty fascist religious government in our ashes.

    Captcha is killing me. Two utterly unreadable constructs, twice in a row?

  • Emo-bagging Hamster Tea-rollop on August 11, 2011 12:23 PM:

    The President of the United States is not above responsibility; capitulation to crazy people and their toxic ideas of governance is for all rights and purposes inexcusable and has long been. He's not the assistant manager, he's the CEO, is it too much to act display some managerial prowess sans bending over every time some asshole Republican makes a scene about something they're clearly not even qualified to denounce? We had 8 years of atrocities already and these people will never stop! Obama is not above the necessity for responsible and reasonable action, even if it costs him his job. Stop the Afghan war, stop the spook war, or otherwise stop using Afghanistan as a base of operations for the CIA. Close Guantanamo; an executive order "opened" it; another should be able to effectively end it. Thanks for the healthcare, I think.. If I were a Republican, I wouldn't be complaining, I'd be in line with the others. This is not a “nice-off”, this is in fact an expanding mess and a civil disaster.

    To Quote Tyro:
    “Politics is about getting stuff done for your constituents, not acing out a personal narrative about how virtuous you are”

  • Cranky Observer on August 11, 2011 12:35 PM:

    > As to those who think that Obama has an agenda to
    > screw the poor, no - actually, he doesn't. His
    > agenda is to get past this period where he is
    > hamstrung by the Republican Congress. The "Grand
    > Bargain" was really not bad from a liberal standpoint,
    > because it was timed to delay the social cuts until
    > after the tax cuts had expired. After revenue begins
    > coming in again, a Democratic legislature can do many
    > creative things to restore and improve the social safety
    > net.

    This is just pure projection, and it is exactly what is driving liberals and progressives insane. After a _Democratic_ House and a _Democratic_ Senate told President Obama that he couldn't have a "commission" (what ever happened to elections?) to cut Social Security he went ahead and used his executive authority to create one. Then he **funded that commission with monies from Peter G. Peterson and staffed it with Peterson acolytes**. How much more does it take to convince you that Obama /really believes that Social Security - a program with a $3 trillion surplus - needs to be slashed/?

    And the idea that "future Congresses can fix the damage is ludicrous, since the most corrosive effect of the last 20 years of DLC/Third Way thinking has been to cement down Republican tropes in our political society - even among nominally Democratic congresspeople.


  • JC on August 11, 2011 12:40 PM:

    Ok, lets say President Obama does everything you all are saying but he still can't get any more republican votes. Now what? Yes, take it to the American people, let them know who is responsible and why the change he promised isn't happening fast enough. Ok, now after all that what if the republicans still, vote no, block or filibuster everything he wants to change, everything he knows we need to change or pass; new stimulus, health care public option, ending tax cuts for the rich, money for education, jobs bill, rebuilding our infrastructure, green energy, climate change etc. Now what?

    Everyone seems to have all the answers on what this President should have done, and everyone seems to believe if he had just done things this or that way the end result would be different (bigger stimulus, public option etc...) Let me be clear I don't agree with or how the president has handled everything but I'm trying to understand this view from the center and left. Would you be happy with the President if he did and said everything you want BUT the result / outcome was the the same or less - same small stimulus, same healthcare bill etc.. In the end, after all the talk it still comes down to votes, republican votes.

    For example, I remember President Clinton being very tough on republicans about his & Hillary's healthcare bill. I remember him going to the American people about it, telling us about it and that the republicans were trying to kill it. I remember him drawing a line in the sand and a veto threat if the bill did not contain what we wanted. The result - No Healthcare bill - Nothing.

  • bdop4 on August 11, 2011 1:02 PM:

    "I asked, 'Am I supposed to be angrier with the radicals who held a gun to our heads, or those who prevented them from pulling the trigger?'”

    I'm angry at the people who let the lunatic put the gun to my head. If they had kept him at a distance, there might have been a chance to disarm him.

    People seem to think criticism of Obama's passivity somehow equates to letting the lunatics off the hook. There's no logical foundation for that assertion.

    Other than through brute political force (elections), Progressives can't influence the lunatics. They can only put pressure on those who are supposed to act in their interests.

    The only rationale for those attacking progressive criticism is a belief that progressive ideals can't happen in this society. Even incrementalism can't be realized if the supposed liberal party is afraid to champion its own ideals.

  • Doctor Biobrain on August 11, 2011 1:06 PM:

    I also believe that a good political leader could have put some effort into nipping the tea party in the bud. They have not always been with us. When Obama was elected, we had a Democratic senate and house. We had 60 Dems in the Senate. He did not lead his Democrats well. That allowed the Tea Party to exist.

    Wow. Simply, wow. I read this comment above and don't even know what to say about about it. Because first off, the "Tea Party" has ALWAYS been with us, they just didn't call themselves the Tea Party. But these were the same bozos who forced Republicans to impeach Clinton in the 90's and who truly believed he was a Soviet Spy who killed Vince Foster. They're also the same types who hated hippies and wanted to bash their skulls and throw them in jail. These people have always been with us, and if anything, they're at their weakest point now.

    Secondly, the "Tea Party" first began identifying themselves as such in early 2009. That's simply undeniable. Here's a post I wrote in April 2009 which described how they were part of the Republican Death Spiral and how moderates needed to reclaim the party before these nuts took too much control: Republican War Lords. So we're to imagine that Obama could somehow have prevented this from happening before he had even really done anything in office? I don't think so.

    Look, Republicans have power and it's not Obama's fault. It's the "fault" of our democracy, which intentionally gives minority groups outsized power, to protect them so they remain enfranchised in our system and don't work to overthrow it. Yes, they're abusing the system, but it's better they abuse our political system than actively seek to destroy it. I'd much rather have a dysfunctional Congress than none at all.

    And again, the answer is for us to work against them, not denounce Obama for not following our orders. It's our job to fight in the trenches and clear the field, so Obama to give us the policies we need.

  • Steve on August 11, 2011 1:14 PM:

    If Mr Obama's standard negotiating tactic was not to preemptively concede to the other side, I might have a bit of sympathy. If he even made an attempt at hardball negotiating, I might be willing to cut him some slack.

    Yes, he's accomplished some things but he's also given up a huge amount of ground without a fight.

    Perhaps he would have lost the ground anyhow but at least there would have been the satisfaction of having lost with honor, not in a strategic retreat.

  • Jjm on August 11, 2011 1:15 PM:

    I want to re-emphasize a point I made above.

    If Obama has been so ineffectual, WHY are the GOP candidates running against every single legislative success he got through?


    This debt thing has been a huge and well planned distraction for everyone including the left to cloud over what he has accomplished.

    And you all fell for it.

    Chumps indeed.

  • Just a guy on August 11, 2011 1:46 PM:

    As niceas the "hostage situation" analogy is, please remember that it is just that -- an analogy.While it articulates our feelings, the parallel is not exact. They TP'ers did nothing illegal, they cannot be arrested, imprisoned, etc. And the analogy also assumes that they are "brilliant masterminds" who somehow outwitted our professorial president.

    They aren't. Just look at these guys. Just look at the clown from Georgia mentioned today, Graves, or his fellow Georgian, Broun. These are not the best minds of their generation.

    So let me use another analogy to express why I'm angry with Obama. Obama is the zookeeper, and he has a group of poo-flinging chimps running amok at the zoo. They are hurting people. They need to be put down. But he's trying to reason with them, when he should be using the dart-gun. And I see no sign that he's even looking at the dart-gun.

    So I'm ticked at him, yes, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to vote for the poo-flingers.

  • sapient on August 11, 2011 1:59 PM:

    Just a guy, you say "So I'm ticked at him, yes, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to vote for the poo-flingers." And that's good. But the only way Obama won is that people weren't just voting for him - they were excited about him, talked him up, and got other people to vote for him. There is a big problem with voting in our country, and that is that a lot of people are actually disenfranchised (in that they've been incarcerated). A lot of people believe that they're disenfranchised (they don't think their vote counts). A lot of people are too apathetic to vote because they just don't get interested. The reason why Obama won was because a lot of people in the latter two categories became enthusiastic because people who are politically active were demonstratively talking Obama up.

    I'm all for pushing the conversation leftward, but trashing Obama isn't the way to do that. The way for us to do it is to constantly be calling out Republicans, and rejecting false equivalencies.

  • NotEasyBeingGreen on August 11, 2011 4:37 PM:

    I'm sympathetic to your thesis, that it's Republicans who are truly crazy and Obama is doing his best to work within the constraints of having such hideous opponents. It sounds like a reasonable argument. But when I consider what Obama has actually *done* in his 2.5 years in office, I come to the belief that your argument is just more wishful thinking. Our current president has been terrible on just about everything he's attempted. Not only has he hidden in the White House while the Congressional sausage was being made, but he consistently brings a knife to a gunfight. The Tea Party/GOP has been saying since inauguration day that their goal was to defeat Obama and what has his response been? On issue after issue, he's been conciliatory and "bipartisan." His negotiating style, even if he's a true centrist, is beyond pathetic. He proposes just about everything a sane Republican could want, his opponents shoot it down, and then he caves to their demands. I understand that you'd rather have Obama in office than Romney or Bachmann, but do you have to delude yourself and your readers to achieve that goal? This guy just ain't what he pretended to be in '08, and no amount of Hope is going to Change that.

  • Scott Farris on August 11, 2011 5:22 PM:

    Wow, so Obama is not perfect. What a surprise. I realize politics is a case of what have you done for me lately, but are our attention spans really so short that we have forgotten that two short years ago we were hailing Obama for having the most successful early presidency since FDR? Didn't he shepherd through the most significant changes in our health care system since 1965? Didn't he get a massive stimulus bill that, perhaps not quite as large as Paul Krugman wanted, still helped stave off a great depression 2.0? Aren't we out of combat in Iraq?

    So, what happened? Well, a lot of the pseudo-progresives who thought Obama was some sort of super hero in 2008 decided to stay home and not vote in 2010, so the Republican crazies took control of one branch of Congress and made big gains in the other, which under our constitutional system means gridlock is not only possible, but likely. FDR faced much the same thing in his second term, which is why he tried to purge the Democratic Party of conservatives and pack the Supreme Court -- and he failed at both.

    Has Obama made mistakes? Sure, he's young and still learning. But part of his predicament is that he can't rely on his own base to stay with him through thick and thin. The Republicans don't have that trouble, or else George W. Bush, the worst president in history, could not have gotten 51 percent of the vote in 2004. We accuse the GOP of demanding ideological purity, but we are worse.

    And yet, what is our situation? The economy sucks, no denying, but has a single entitlement been cut yet? What exactly did the Tea Party get for all their bluster? A very modest decrease in the rate of growth of government spending, but public opinion is solidly on the side that increased revenues are necessary to address the deficit, and public opinion wants jobs. Also, by any reasonable measure, Obama should be able to win re-election handily against whomever the Republicans nominate -- and whoever that is will be the most conservative candidate nominated since Barry Goldwater. Unless, of course, we follow the advice of those who say we should abandon Obama and stay home and keep our checkbooks zipped next year.

    Go ahead and do that, my friends, and help elect President Perry or President Romney or President Bachmann, and then come back and tell us how much good you did for your party and for your ideals. For then, you will know what real disappointment and real trouble is.

  • Andam on August 11, 2011 5:30 PM:

    We are talking about the crazies who held a gun to our heads. We're talking about how our President negotiated and continues to negotiate with confirmed deniers of reality--holding, your metaphor, imaginary guns to the country's head.

  • Jackie on August 11, 2011 5:48 PM:

    Yes, I am guilty of wailing against the President I had such high hopes for, and most of my liberal friends are in the same place right now. It appears that many of us hit the wall at the same time. We're just getting our frustrations out now and they are plenty justified. Of course we know that there is not a single Republican who would be preferred over Obama in 2012--and I bet we mostly all come around and support him in the crunch. In the short term, however, I am hoping that our displeasure is heard by the President and that he takes the next year to clean up his act, find some stones, and LEAD!!! I don't care if the Republicans are enjoying our moment of dissent. What do they know about dissent? For them, it's all black and white, our way or the highway. We're Democrats, for pete's sake, and we are acting like Democrats. As Will Rogers said, "I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat."

  • zandru on August 11, 2011 5:51 PM:

    Wow, Tom, that was perceptive and somehow much more believable than all the armchair-analyst stuff I've been hearing about the President's "desire to be accepted by the rich white folk."

    This is why I like to read the comments here: analysis as good or better than the main article. Like c u n d gulag and others, I've given up on digby and Fire dog Lake; they're too deep into masturbatory librul cynicism and impotence. (And it's all Obama's fault!)

    If the history of African-American activism is a key to Obama's strategy and actions, we'd be a lot smarter to figure out how we can use this rationale to get him to take what WE consider more effective action. It's pointless to yell at Ghandi to go kick some (white man's) ass.

    In the distant future, perhaps Barack Obama will be the Mahatma Ghandi of the United States.

  • zandru on August 11, 2011 5:53 PM:

    Of Course, What I Meant Was...

    In the distant future, perhaps Barack Obama will be considered to have been the Mahatma Ghandi of the United States.

    "Preview" is your friend...

  • Mitch on August 11, 2011 6:19 PM:

    This is not an either/or argument. To think otherwise is either childish or dogmatic.

    Am I going to vote for Obama next year? Yes.

    Am I upset with his performance as President so far? Yes.

    Why am I upset? Because on many of the most important issues he has sided with the Oligarchs and Plutocrats: national security (including the Patriot Act, Gitmo and the 'War on Terror'), the Bush Tax Cuts, even Health Care. Because he is far more likely to treat Progressives like the enemey than the Republicans.

    Tell me, how much did George W. Bush respect the Democrats in Congress during his administration?

    Obama BEGINS his negotiations by offering the Republicans exactly what they want. Why is anyone surprised that they then push for more?

    If a bully is taking your lunch money, and you give it to him every time, then how long is it going to be before he starts demanding all of the money in your wallet?

    I am neither an Obamabot or an Obama-hater. I will criticize anything that he does that I disagree with. This is our duty as citizens. Mindlessly throwing support at a politician or political party is not a virtue and should not be treated as such.

    No, I do not expect him to use the bully pulpit to make mystical and magical changes to the country. I understand the limitations of the office. But I do expect him to fight the enemies of our nation, and to hold true to the ideals upon which the Democratic Party has stood since FDR. He does not, and that upsets me.

    It is the Party's responsibility to serve us; it is NOT our responsibility to serve the Party.

    I will vote for him next year, because he is the lesser of two evils. Anyone who suggests avoiding the voting booth (or even worse, voting Republican) is either stupid or a Republican operative-in-disguise. They are, at the least, fools playing a dangerous game, and should be called that repeatedly.

    I am tired of his weak negotiating ability, and his constant support of Republican ideas, and his inability to fight against them (no matter how vile their attacks upon him may grow) . . . but I will not hand the nation over to the Republicans again. We must not allow them to regain control of America.

    If you're upset by Obama's actions (like me) then how can you willingly give the nation to those who will do MUCH worse than he has?

    But if you are upset by Obama's actions, then voice your opinion. Let yourself be heard, even if it is just on Blogs like this. Talk to your Congress-people. Hell, email the White House. Do not fall in line and become a mindless supporter of either President or Party. But for the sake of our future, do not sabotage the only defense that we have against the oligarchs, plutocrats, theocrats and corporatists who are the true enemy.

  • Mike on August 11, 2011 6:31 PM:

    Obama has made it perfectly clear that he will surrender his starting position before negotiations even start and yield even more at the first hint of opposition. He should therefore not be surprised when his (ex?) supporters become his opposition in the hopes of him appeasing them as he has been appeasing the Republicans.

  • Thom on August 11, 2011 6:41 PM:

    Braindead dumb. If you're a member of the party that holds the presidency, and the other party is completely nuts, and the president continuously and relentlessly kowtows to the nuts party - you should be mad at the president. First and foremost. You can't do anything about the f*cking nutzoids, but he's your godammd president!

  • MJ on August 11, 2011 8:11 PM:

    Thank you for that astute response. I totally agree with your assessment of Mr. Obama's leadership style. That's also why my 76 year old African-American mother often refers to the POTUS as our generation's Jackie Robinson.

    If you don't mind, I'm going to link to it at a few other websites I frequent. I'll be sure to link back here, but please let me know if you want me to add any additional info about you in my attribution.



  • howie on August 11, 2011 8:51 PM:

    I haven't read FDL since the health care debate, but still read digby.

    I am one of those people who is pretty sick of our wimp-in-chief. Once in a while, POTUS should take a break from punching the hippie and actually blame the crazy rethugs for something. Instead he reinforces the laziness of the SCLM by making vague reference to how Americans are sick of dysfunctional Washington.

    If Obama and his staff spent half as much time fighting the rethugs as they do attacking the left, I'd like him a lot more. Thinking about it, I feel that Obama blames the left instead of the rethugs at least as much as vice versa.
    As it stands now, I'll vote a straight dem ticket but leave the top blank in 2012. I live in MD and feel fairly sure he won't need my vote to win here. If he does, he's going to lose about 45 states anyway.

    Besides, he's made it clear he really doesn't want my vote because I'm just a silly liberal.

  • Doug on August 11, 2011 9:50 PM:

    I'd like to add my sincere appreciation to Tom, c u n d gulag and Dr Biobrain (among others) for the informative and intelligent posts on this thread.
    I've said before that I can understand the frustration many who post here may feel. What I can't understand is why the blame is NEVER laid at the feet of those causing it - Republican/Teabaggers, and some DINOs and Blue Dogs, too. Just because we're the "good" guys doesn't mean we win all the time. That doesn't even happen in the movies anymore!
    Doesn't anyone have a copy of the Constitution or Robert's Rules of Order? The demonstrated lack of knowledge here about our Constitution and how it operates is appalling. FWIW, I can recommend a daily post at DKOS which includes what Congress is doing every day. Often the writer includes explanations as to WHY Congress is doing whatever it's doing. Very informative and worthwhile. Believe it or not, there ARE rules in politics.
    Of course, if you prefer doing the Republican/Teabaggers' jobs for them, don't come whining when Democrats lose a legislative battle. Or an election...

  • samsa on August 11, 2011 10:00 PM:

    Forget about being a bad negotiator, when was the last time Obama proposed any bold policy initiative for creating more jobs?

  • N.Wells on August 11, 2011 10:33 PM:

    My thanks come a bit late and echo others, but Tom, thanks for a really informative comment.

  • Steve on August 12, 2011 1:16 AM:

    Obama unilaterally offered to lower the eligibility age of medicare and adopt cuts to SS through the bogus cost of living adjustment.

    He offered these in a back room in direct breach of his campaign promise to neverr do such a thing, and to always stand up for working families.

    He does not have the moral authority to decide on his own to do something so drastic and against everything he claimed to stand for. How many decades have we fought to protect them and here is Mr. Obama begging the republicans to accept "his" cuts to medicare and social security.

    I can never vote for him now. I can't even watch him on TV any more. It was the deepest betrayal I have ever experienced in my life.

  • yellowdog on August 12, 2011 8:56 AM:

    Both critics and fans of President Obama need to judge his policy efforts in light of two big problems:

    1 - Slow growth - weak jobs and incomes picture now and for the near future

    2 - Government finance troubles in the longer term - principally involving Medicare - leading to unsustainable debt

    Those are two hard, unpleasant realities. They would be the same no matter who was president--Bernie Sanders, John McCain, or Barack Obama. Even if the first problem did not exist, and the economy were growing briskly, the second problem would still exist. There are two trains--one on top of us now, another right behind it. Stopping one will not stop the other.

    Here is how one set of policy experts described the situation when Obama took over: "The long-term budget challenge can be stated succinctly. Three large programs--Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid--now constitute almost one-half of non-interest federal spending and are growing faster than tax revenues because of soaring health costs and the aging of the population. If we fail to reform these spending programs and insist on maintaining the tax burden where it is [and] has been over the past 50 years (about 18 percent of GDP), deficits will soar, and the public debt is likely to exceed 100 percent of the GDP within 25 years. That compares to 37 percent at the end of fiscal 2007. . . . "

    "Although we are rightly absorbed by our short-term problems, the long-term budget situation ultimately poses graver challenges to the success of your presidency. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are expected to constitute 1.8 percent more of the GDP in 2016 than they did in 2008. That may not sound like much, but if the growth were to be financed entirely with tax increases, it would imply an overall tax increase of almost 10 percent above historical levels--and that would only be the first of many tax increases to follow. If it were financed by cutting all other non-interest programs including defense, the across-the-board reduction would have to be more than 20 percent compared to baseline levels. Even if a number of inefficient and low priority programs are eliminated, it would not be possible to fulfill your election promises--to expand health insurance coverage or to increase public investment in education, infrastructure, and research on alternative energy sources, among many others--without digging our long-term fiscal hole even deeper."

    These are, to borrow a phrase, inconvenient truths, for both parties:

    A - Tax cuts do not pay for themselves; they won't get us out of this tangle and may well make it worse. Even if they did yield economic growth, that alone won't solve Problem 2.

    B - Tax increases alone won't solve the problem either, if programs are unchanged. Eventually, big spending cuts will also be necessary--forced upon us--because of rising Medicare costs. Bigger and bigger tax increases will be necessary to pay all the bills.

    In light of these unpleasant realities, President Obama has been talking balanced approach and grand-bargain. He wants a serious bipartisan effort to stabilize Medicare's financial future--as other presidents have gotten from Congress over the years. Changes to tax policy and Medicare need both parties at the table; they need broad public support and awareness. (That is why Obama has asked for serious bipartisanship. The political costs of only one party proposing Medicare and tax changes are potentially too great, too ripe for abuse by the other side.)

    Obama's approach is entirely reasonable and consistent with historical experience. What is new in the equation is that his opposition party now openly calls for the destruction of Medicare (in the name of cutting spending), not its reform. That is the Ryan approach. Note also Cantor's comments on the subject just last week. In addition, the GOP is insisting on tax -cuts- and major spending cuts rather than a balanced approach--even though the public supports the President's position. One would expect, when a party becomes so far out of step with public opinion, that it will pay at the polls. (That may not happen, if election manipulation by the GOP works, keeping GOP incumbents safe from public retribution.) Even if it does happen, and a Democratic Congress takes over, Problem 1 and Problem 2 will still exist, and they demand a sensible response.

    The charges of Obama caving or selling out to the GOP are harsh and misplaced. Before making such charges, I strongly urge potential critics to -realistically- confront both Problem 1 and Problem 2. Other than deny the problem, what would you do about it? Problem 1 is the train now upon us, but Problem 2 is potentially even more destructive, to even more people. Progressive values demand credible responses to both.

  • pika on August 12, 2011 1:52 PM:

    @Tom--you should know that your comment is going viral. Hope it does some good.

  • kCha on August 12, 2011 2:34 PM:

    @ Tom.. Thank you Tom, for that powerful analogy! I've always felt that PBO gets it exactly.

    And, yes.. "I don't think those students got their sandwiches the first day, but they won in the end."

  • bardgal on August 12, 2011 4:45 PM:


    Seriously. Scroll up. I'll wait. You'll be a better and smarter human being.

    Tom - Thank you. I am sending it, begging every blog I know to post it, then I will FB & Tweet it until my fingers bleed. (Please forgive me for not asking permission - it's too important.)

    The rest of you here - please stop HURTING and start HELPING.

    1. Please STOP with the "Democrat Majority" LIE. Obama NEVER had 60 magical votes in the Senate http://blog.reidreport.com/2011/07/myth-of-progressive-majority/
    nor a Super Majority in the House. This is a FACT that many of you are either willfully ignorant of, or ignore. Either way, it's destructive to state otherwise. STOP IT.

    That fact ALONE is OUR FAULT, not President Obama's. WE MUST OWN THAT, and do EVERYTHING POSSIBLE to NOT REPEAT this shortcoming on OUR PART. Instead of beating up on the POTUS for not fulfilling your fantasy of what might have been (because the facts show he NEVER HAD THE VOTES), we need to be working our asses off to make sure we send to Washington in 2012 what we have failed to send > A PROGRESSIVE SUPER MAJORITY IN THE HOUSE, and a MINIMUM of 65 Magical Votes in the Senate.

    Doesn't ANYONE remember Ben Nelson and his destructiveness regarding HCR?? He's the reason the Public Option was never on the table. (But now that ACA is here, it is on the way.)

    2. Only 6 Dems voted to fund closing Gitmo. So STFU about how Obama didn't close it. It's shameful that you've also forgotten about how the GOP screamed that it would be dangerous to have TERRORISTS ON OUR SOIL, and whipped up FEAR, so there were only 6 Dems who were left with a spine. HOW IS THAT THE POTUS's FAULT???


    GET OVER the fantasy of anyone primarying Obama. That would be the nail in the coffin for the Democratic Party FOREVER, and the Kochs would jump at the chance to fund it.

    Stop believing the pearl-clutching, FauxProgs who are paid Teaspoon posters who have infiltrated every liberal blog to poison the pool, and have successfully managed to brainwash a mass of Progressives into thinking like them. STOP IT. Not only is it destructive, it's embarrassing. You're usually smarter than that.

    STOP insisting Obama isn't leading. HE IS by continuing to be the ONLY ADULT IN THE ROOM. He needs to play a BETTER GAME, BETTER. Not become the Crazy. Remaining the only adult in the room MARGINALIZES THE CRAZY.

    Stop listening to the ridiculous pundits, and start LISTENING TO THE POTUS. Almost every day there is new video of him speaking somewhere, but it's mostly never going to be carried on the GOP-OWNED MEDIA - WHY SHOULD THEY??? It's not in their best interest. http://theobamadiary.com almost ALWAYS has the latest video. GO THERE. EDUCATE YOURSELF. Be OPEN to information, not closed.


  • Denise on August 12, 2011 6:12 PM:

    As an African American, and long time civil rights activist I'd like to thank Tom for his insightful comment above.

    No we didn't get those sandwiches, or to ride on the front seats in buses, or to use whichever water fountain was nearest - or even to vote - right away. One day at a time, one step at a time...those things came to pass and we're no where near done yet.

    And no President can do it all for us - though they can help a bit. That's what organizers know.

  • Kelly on August 12, 2011 6:49 PM:

    Tom your comment is 100% truth. Why the far left people refuse to understand this I don't know but the good news is the base gets it as dose some indies. ty for verbalizing truth.

    Tom on August 11, 2011 10:54 AM:

  • Terry Sanders on August 12, 2011 7:56 PM:

    Talk abot racism: excusing Obama's miserable & craven record of facilitating the Republican agenda because he's black is a new low in rationalization.

    In the beginning, when he surrounded himself with Bush's/Goldman's cronies i was alarmed, but chose to 'keep faith' that this was part of a 'grand strategy'. Well, in fact it was, unfortunately this strategy was to torally flummox every rational independent & progressive that voted for him, including me.

    At the 2 year mark, still with a House & a Senate majority, he weaseled out of allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, I had to face the facts rather than further indulge in the fantasy.

    IT'S NOT HIS 'BLACKNESS AT ISSUE. It's his performance befitting a corporate shill that's at the core of the argument. Insimuating that he should be 'excused' because he's black is an outrageously rascist argument. The facts are, that every outcome just happens to benefit his Harvard 'homies', regardless of race, is not to be dismissed.

  • Sheryl Kaye on August 12, 2011 9:25 PM:

    I read your comment above and I am totally blown away by your insight and ability to draw such a strong contrast between perception and reality of this situation. I wholeheartedly agree with all that you have written.

    Thank you for this brilliant and compassionate analysis.

  • jacquelineoboomer on August 13, 2011 12:10 AM:


    Many of us are sharing your comments far and wide. That has got to be the best, most insightful analysis I've seen in eons.

  • jacquelineoboomer on August 13, 2011 12:14 AM:

    bardgal - Standing ovation for you! Well done!

  • Anonymous on August 13, 2011 3:03 AM:

    I agree with Tom--Obama is the Jackie Robinson of US Presidential politics. He is establishing a beachhead for the next African-American or other minority President. That makes it paramount that he remain the only adult voice in this current sea of Washington tea party madness.

  • CJS on August 13, 2011 3:41 AM:

    Tom –

    Thank you very, very much for a much-needed breath of sanity.

    Professional Leftbagger Progresso Blameobamabots and their old-style Northern racism have been making me want to vomit for quite some time now.

    Thank you.

  • CJS on August 13, 2011 3:48 AM:

    . . . cause moderates and lefties alike to become disgusted with Obama’s weakness even though we all know who’s really responsible for what’s going on. And it worked! In fact, it’s worked better than they could possibly have imagined. They can probably barely keep from spitting up their beers right now. We are such chumps.

    Yes, Blameobamabots seem to love being useful idiot goons for Arianna Breitbarton and Ron Paul, no, who’s the other one, Dennis Kucinich, don’t they. Odd, isn’t it?

    All together now – “BUSH III!!!!!”

  • Dorothy on August 13, 2011 9:20 AM:

    Thanks Tom!

  • Denny in Seattle on August 14, 2011 6:37 PM:

    Tom, it's been a few days so you may not see this, but I wanted to say that your comment is incredible. I'm probably someone your comment is aimed at. I've been so disappointed by President Obama, the way he negotiates by starting so far on the opponent's side, the way he insists that both parties are to blame for the road blocks, rather than highlighting the differences in the parties at every opportunity, his seeming unwillingness to get into the mud and fight it out with the assholes who don't mind destroying the country if it makes them a buck. I'm still disappointed, but after reading your comment, I'm not nearly as angry at him. I can better understand that I'm looking through the lens of a white person. My belief of what he should do isn't necessarily something he would see as an option. Rather than being a wimp, perhaps he’s walking a fine line in what a black man can get away with in this country. I’ll try to view his actions in a different light and see if I can’t rally behind him again, or at least stop feeling like he’s not on “my” side. I just wanted you to know that you moved me. Thank you.

  • SHARKSBREATH on August 17, 2011 9:14 AM:

    If you have a gun and you get robbed by a guy with his finger pointed under his shirt.

    Who do you blame.

  • kayhag on August 20, 2011 3:35 PM:

    Tom, your comment has been cross-posted (credited and linked) so I found it yesterday, came back here to find out the context, and will be forwarding it far and wide. Thank you so much for your insight, and for a fresh wise way to help "disillusioned" and angry progressives get with the subtle, deep, intense reality that the President must dwell within.

    I hope to find your thoughts elsewhere, and frequently.

  • Renegade on October 05, 2011 8:18 AM:

    I'm really happy that you've set up your own web resource and have in fact publish your thoughts. I like your work and feel I can concern to what you've done. Most folks can't even imagine having such talent. I hope that you know how lucky you are. :) Good luck to you in all your aspirations. :)