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Obama stump speech strategy of conciliation considered harmful

[Just cross-posted to Kos. How about a recommendation? And welcome, Eschatonians, Paul Krugman, Digby, Andrew Tobias, and Sadly, No readers. And Avedon, you know I do.]

[And readers, if you want others to read this post, you can use the Digg or Reddit buttons below to recommend it.]

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ONE CURRENT PERMATHREAD on Big Orange is that Krugman and Obama are feuding or having a vendetta. Which, when you take a step back, is bizarre. That movement conservatives and Villagers like stone Bush enabler William Kristol, like David Brooks, Broderella, and Andrew Sullivan are all good with Obama isn't even mentioned in passing by Obama's fan base. And yet those same enthusiasts spend inordinate amounts of time vilifying Paul Krugman, a true progressive who was there for us from the earliest dark days of the Bush regime.

Curious. What's really happening?

Krugman doesn't have a problem with Obama; Krugman has a problem with what Obama believes about the relationship between politics and economics. Moreover, Krugman makes a case that Obamaphiles have yet to confront and refute. [There is considerable commentary from Obama supporters on this thread. Readers may judge whether Krugman's case is refuted, engaged, or even understood. --Lambert] But for those who came in late -- that is, those for whom Obama might be the very first political figure they've supported or with whom they've identified -- I need to set the table by summarizing the political economy of the last thirty years or so. (I'm trying to write like an economist here, and I'm not one, but I'll give it my best shot.)

It's conventional wisdom (says Krugman) among many economic schools, not just the left, that economics drives politics, and not the other way round. Economics is seen as more fundamental than politics, certainly more fundamental than electoral politics. Economic trends are deep tides, and political changes are mere waves, froth on the surface.

Yet if you look at the history of the last thirty or so years, it seems (says Krugman) that conventional wisdom has been stood on its head, and that politics drove economics.

And that is our history as we know it. Starting in the 1970s, at about the time of the Lewis Powell memo, an interlocking network of right wing billionaires and theocrats began to fund the institutions whose dominance we take for granted today: The American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, The Family Research Council, the Federalist Society, the Brookings Institute (over time), and on and on. During this period, College Republican operatives like Rove, Abramoff, and Gary Bauer became important figures in this network, as did the ex-Trotskyite neocons who broke away from the Scoop Jackson wing of the Democratic Party. The period was also marked by the steady retreat of the press from reporting, under twin pressures from the right "working the refs", as Eric Alterman put it, and winger billionaire owners slashing news coverage in favor of "entertainment," and by the steady advance of Rush Limbaugh on talk radio and, later, by Matt Drudge on the web. And if you got hooked into that network, you got the cradle-to-grave protection typical of socialism: You always had a job, whether as a "fellow" or "scholar" at the AEI, a shouting head on Crossfire, as a columnist, as a contractor, as a political appointee or staffer, or as a lobbyist, and so on and on and on. You always got funding. You were made. Just for the sake of having an easy label for this dense network of institutions, operatives, ideologues, and Republican Party figures, let's call it the Conservative Movement (instead of HRC's* Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, since it's not really a conspiracy, except possibly an emergent one. The billionaires don't -- except for Scaife during the Arkansas project, or Rupert Murdoch playing editor -- generally pick up the phone and give orders; rather, they manage the Conservative Movement like an investment portfolio of entertainment properties; some start-ups (Politico), some stars (FOX), some cash cows (Limbaugh), some dogs (American Spectator)). Slowly but surely, well funded and well organized Conservatives pushed their ideas from unthinkable, to radical, to acceptable, to sensible, to popular, and finally into policy, in a process described as The Overton Window. As surely and ruthlessly, progressive ideas were marginalized, and then silenced altogether. And spending what it took, the winger billionaires used the Conservative Movement to restructure politics, and having restructured politics, economics. To their economic benefit.

For these billionaires, the ROI of the Conservative Movement is absolutely spectacular. At the micro level, for example, if you want to create an aristocracy, then you want to eliminate any taxes on inherited wealth, despite what Warren Buffet or Bill Gates might say about the values entailed by that project. So, the Conservative Movement goes to work, develops and successfully propagates the "death tax" talking point (meme, frame) -- which they may even believe in, as if sincerity were the point -- and voila! Whoever thought that "family values" would translate to "feudal values" and dynastic wealth? At the macro level, their ROI has been spectacular as well. Real wages have been flat for a generation; unions have been disempowered; the powers of corporations greatly increased; government has become an agent for the corporations, rather than a protector of the people; the safety net has been shredded; and so on and on and on.

Blog_CBO_Income_Inequality_2007 The picture tells the story. The Conservative Movement succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the billionaires who invested in it. Despite the remarkable gains that we have made in productivity, they creamed most of it off.

Today, in 2007, the Conservative Movement is in runaway mode, like a reactor with no control rods or a car with no brakes. Ideologically, the Movement began as a drive to roll back the New Deal in reaction (see Peter Arno's wonderful New Yorker cartoon nearby) to the hated FDR**. But now, with no checks, the winger billionaires have begun to roll us farther back to the Darwinian conditions of 1890s Gilded Age, and, with the destruction of habeas corpus, roll us all the way back to the time, before the Magna Carta, when the king's word was law. Any limitation, any limitation at all, on the corporate powers that create the income streams from which the billionaires feed must be removed; hence the nonsensical idea that corporations, as fictive persons, have free speech; hence the aggrandizement of executive power, with huge and secret money flows to well-connected firms; hence the destruction of Constitutional government. (All this takes place against a background of looting and asset stripping on an imperial, Roman scale, of which the "subprime" "crisis" is but the latest of many examples.)arno

The bottom line (says Krugman): Politics drives economics, and not the other way round.

So, what kind of politics do we progressives need?

We come to Obama.

Here are the two money paragraphs from the almost always eloquent Obama's latest (and truly brilliant) stump speech. Time's Mark Halperin had it first:

[OBAMA] You know that we can’t afford four more years of the same divisive food fight in Washington that’s about scoring political points instead of solving problems; that’s about tearing your opponents down instead of lifting this country up. ...

It’s change that won’t just come from more anger at Washington or turning up the heat on Republicans. There’s no shortage of anger and bluster and bitter partisanship out there. We don’t need more heat. We need more light. I’ve learned in my life that you can stand firm in your principles while still reaching out to those who might not always agree with you. And although the Republican operatives in Washington might not be interested in hearing what we have to say, I think Republican and independent voters outside of Washington are. That’s the once-in-a-generation opportunity we have in this election.

I believe!

But. Not. I hope I've been able to persuade you, through a quick look at the political economy of the last 30 years, that what's going on in politics today is a little bit more complicated -- and much more important -- than a "divisive food fight." Indeed, the very phrase itself trivializes both the scale of the problem, and the efforts of those progressives who are fighting for solutions.

All progressives--and most Democrats--agree on the "once-in-a-generation" opportunity and the stakes. That's not the issue. The issue is: What kind of politics can turn the opportunity into permanent, progressive change? What kind of politics can drive economics? Because that's what it will take to achieve even universal health care. We're supposed to be from the reality-based community, and we're supposed to rely on the hard-won Enlightenment tools of evidence and reasoning, and here I think Obama's stump speech strategy comes up short. (I'll give my objections, and summarize, tendentiously but I hope not unfairly, the responses I've gotten from Obama's supporters to points I've made during a recent sojourn on Big Orange.)

Obama presents himself as post-partisan, but partisan politics are needed. The "food fight," obviously a partisan food fight, is purest Equivalation. The Democrats didn't break the world record for filibusters when they were in the minority; but the Republicans just did. And when the press covered the (very few) Democratic filibusters, they called them "filibusters." And when the press covers the (never-ending) Republican filibusters, the word "filibuster" gets magically transmuted into the "60 votes needed to pass." And last I checked, Democrats were allowing anybody to come to their election rallies, but Bush was screening his to make sure only Republicans attended. This is the Conservative Movement in action. Sure, there's a "food fight," but most of the food that's in the air is coming from one side of the cafeteria!

So why on earth would Obama think that "tearing down" the Conservative Movement and "lifting this country up" are opposites? They're the same! And we need the kind of politics that treats them that way. When the Swift Boat guys smeared Kerry, Kerry should have "torn them down." Beating Bush in 2004 sure would have "lifted up" the country! Back in the McCarthy era, Margaret Chase Smith "tore down" Joe McCarthy with her Declaration of Conscience, and that sure "lifted up" the country! Sam Ervin "tore down" Richard Nixon and got started impeaching him. That lifted up the country too--'til Gerald Ford let us down, anyway.

More importantly, we've given some idea, in the short history above, of how powerful, and how entrenched, the Conservative Movement has become in official Washington (the Village).*** If an election is held in 2008, and if an Democrat is elected, and is allowed to take office, and that Democrat is Obama, the Conservative Movement, and its billionaire funders, are not going to change their playbook. Why would they change what has worked out well for them? They will go right back and run the same plays that they ran when the last Democrat was elected (see Appendix I). The day that Obama touches a hair on the head of some Regent University grad who's rewriting the work of a NASA scientist on climate change from a Christianist perspective, the howls of outrage about "hatred," and "liberal fascism," and "authoritarianism of the left," and -- bless their hearts -- the separation of powers are going to begin, the howling is not going to let up, and the Conservative Movement and the press are going to amplify it until Obama either caves or figures out the state legislature in Springfield was Triple-A ball, not the show, grabs a bat, and gets their attention by administering an old-fashioned beat down. (Meanwhile, the Christianist will be all over the teebee, and if they pass, they'll get a book deal. You know the drill.)

Progressive policies -- this election, health insurance, above all -- will be vehemently opposed by the Conservative Movement and the winger billionaires because progressive policies are not in their economic interests. In fact, they've been working for 30 years against progressive policies, and have been well paid to do so. They won't change. Why would they? So, there's going to be a food fight. Don't we need the kind of politics that's going to win the fight, rather than deplore it?

So, what would the countervailing force to the Conservative Movement be? What kind of politics? Well, one answer would be party building. Use the 2008 mandate--assuming Obama doesn't destroy any mandate for policy by tacking, Sister Souljah style, to the (vanishing) center--to build stronger, more progressive party institutions. Use control over the legislature for -- this time -- real oversight, and destroy the Republican brand and cripple the Conservative Movement. All we need to do is show the truth! Enforce subpoenas, and destroy the Republican brand and cripple the Conservative Movement. Re-professionalize the Justice Department, and it follows as the night the day that plenty of Republican criminals are prosecuted, which destroys the Republican brand and cripples the Conservative Movement.

Tearing down the Conservative Movement is exactly the kind of politics that's needed to lift the country up!

Obama wants to "reach out," but that strategy has already been tried. Obama says he wants to "reach out" to Republicans. But Reid and Pelosi "reached out" to Republicans, and that strategy was a miserable failure.

Reid and Pelosi "reached out" to Republicans by taking impeachment off the table.

Reid and Pelosi "reached out" to Republicans by not using the power of the purse either to end the war or to curb executive power.

Read and Pelosi "reached out" to Republicans through FISA "reform" by trying to give Bush more power than even the Republicans tried to give him, when they were in the majority.

In fact, Reid and Pelosi "reached out" to Republicans by caving and capitulating to them on just about any issue you can name.

And what did we get? We got nothing. We didn't get the legislation, because the Republicans filibustered everything in sight. And we didn't get any oversight, because Reid and Pelosi were so busy "reaching out" that they didn't have time to enforce the subpeonas and ended up writing Sternly Worded Letters instead.

So, when Obama reaches out, how would that be any different from the reaching out that Reid and Pelosi already did? What the Obama fan base says is that, since we won't get to a filibuster-proof supermajority, a strategy of conciliation makes sense; they plan to pick off Republicans in onesies and twosies to pass needed legislation. Unfortunately, as we've seen, that's what Reid and Pelosi already tried, so why would we try it again? But, say the fans, Obama has a track record: Look at the Transparency in Government Act, where Obama teamed up with Republican Tom Coburn to pass legislation that put government spending programs on a searchable website for public access. No question that this is a good bill, but as proof of concept for a "reach out" strategy, it's weak (but, apparently, the best example available). For one thing, the bill is an obvious descendant of the work Gingrich (even a stopped clock) did with Thomas, which gave the public web access to legislation, so politically the bill was low-hanging fruit that could be sold in the classic Republican small government, anti-spending mode. No truly progressive policies will meet those conditions. More importantly, Obama's Transparency achievement, though real, is trivial--both in terms of policy outcomes and potential for conflict--seen relative to what's going to be needed to achieve universal health care (let alone clawing back income distribution to some sane, non-Gilded Age level). But wait, say the fans, you don't really understand; what Obama wants to do [at least now] is bring "Republican and independent voters outside of Washington" into the fold, and that will give us the leverage we need for real change. And if this were true, I would have expected to see enough calls from these Republican and independent voters to prevent children from dying because Bush vetoed S-CHIP, to take but one example of many. Ditto FISA (See Appendix II). Didn't happen. Na ga happen.

Here's another idea:

When you've got them by the balls, the heart and head soon follow. How about we try real oversight and a return to the rule of law in the form of criminal investigations, indictments, and jail time, instead of singing kumbaya? Combine that with a strong institutional presence in the form of a party you can actually mobilize, and you might get the Conservative Movement back in line. With a Democratic president, there'll be no pardons for them. Some operatives should do time, pour encourager les autres. That's the kind of politics we need.

Obama presents himself as unifying, but accountability is what's needed. Let's repeat that "reach out" paragraph:

I’ve learned in my life that you can stand firm in your principles while still reaching out to those who might not always agree with you.

Fine words butter no parsnips. What principles are we talking about, here? Off the top of my head:

1. The principle that everyone is equal before the law.

2. The principle that this nation does not torture.

3. The principle that there are three co-equal branches of government.

4. The principle that high government officials should not break the law with impunity.

5. The principle that elections are not stolen

6. The principle that war is not made on fake evidence

[To give but a few examples of how the Conservative Movement violated each principle: 1 Republican Justice Department uses criminal justice system to prosecute Democrats before elections. 2 Abu Ghraib; European gulags; Gitmo; destroyed CIA tapes. 3 Signing statements; Fourth Branch of government. 4 Scooter Libby. 5 Florida 2000; Ohio 2004. 6 Downing Street Memo (full text).]

Check that list, and start crossing off the Republicans whose actions show that they don't share those principles, and whose principles differ from all progressives, most Democrats, and most Americans, and by the time you're done, you'll have about as many Republicans as would fit in an elevator. A very small, dumbwaiter-sized elevator. In fact, when the elevator door opens, you might just end up "reaching out" to empty space.

This isn't just a matter of a "food fight," or "disagreements." These are not abstract agree-to-disagree issues. Violating these principles ought to entail criminal prosecution (destroyed CIA tapes, election theft), impeachment (signing statements), or whatever the remedy is for just plain evil (torture).

So at best, Obama is feeding us highflown, but vacuous rhetoric. At worst, he'll let the Conservative Movement operatives who drive the Bush administration get away clean, after committing criminal and impeachable offenses with impunity and no accountability of any kind. That's not the kind of politics we need to achieve a permanent progressive majority.

Obama presents himself as a change agent, but weakens the forces that bring about change. You can't win a mandate with a content-free platform, and conflict-free is content-free. And if there's no mandate for change, then there's no change.

So much of the advocacy for Obama highlights his attractive personality, his personal history, his rhetorical skills, and his negotiation skills. Atrios says it best:

Shorter Candidates

Obama: The system sucks, but I'm so awesome that it'll melt away before me.

Edwards: The system sucks, and we're gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.

Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.

We don't need the kind of politics that's about a single, charismatic figure. We need a mandate for progressive change. But when Obama focuses on "the big table," and "negotiation," and "reaching out," and the whole kumbaya thing, he weakens what Keynes calls the "animal spirits" of the very activists and social entrepreneurs that we need to build progressive institutions, and get progressive policies into the Overton Window and then enacted.

Universal health care is not going to come because Obama sits the players down around the big table and they suddenly, magically,**** "see the light" because of his mad negotiation skillz as an honest broker; it's not in their interest to see what we see, and so they won't. Universal health care may happen because of heat; if enough people can put heat on the corporations, and on their elected representatives, to make it happen. Confrontation increases voter turnout, and that can only be good for our side. And confrontation is heat, not light. Obama has it exactly backward.

And here I have to say that this passage--

... there’s no shortage of anger and bluster ...

--grotesquely trivializes the experience of any aware citizen under Bush's rule. Is it wrong to be "angry" that the Bush administration has turned us into a nation of torturers? Is it wrong to be "angry" that the Republicans took us to war under false pretenses? Is it "bluster" to say that Cheney's claim to be the Fourth Branch of government is absurd? Is it "bluster" to demand our Fourth Amendment rights back?

And who might these angry blusterers be?

Surely not those "principled" Republicans, since Obama wants to "reach out" to them. Surely not Reid and Pelosi; they've been nice as nice, going off to the slaughter like lambs. Surely not Rahm Emmanuel or Chuck Schumer! And surely not Kristol, Broder, Brooks, or Sullivan!

Could the angry blusterers be .... Progressives? Harshing the mellow with their demands for accountability and the restoration of Constitutional government?

Do we really need the kind of politics that tells us to lay back and enjoy it?

The country can't afford to wait for Obama to discover that his strategy of conciliation has failed. Do the math. Reid and Pelosi tried "reaching out" in 2007. Nothing will happen in 2008. Assuming Obama takes office in 2009, it will take his conciliatory strategy a year to fail, which it will, since he's doing the same thing Reid and Pelosi did while expecting a different result.

That brings us to 2010.

Can the country really hold out against a runaway Conservative Movement that long?

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In short, I think Krugman is right, and Obama is wrong. Krugman doesn't have a problem with Obama, but with Obama's strategy. Krugman writes:

It’s actually Mr. Obama who’s being unrealistic here, believing that the insurance and drug industries — which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems — will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform. The fact is that there’s no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste.

As a result, drug and insurance companies — backed by the conservative movement as a whole — will be implacably opposed to any significant reforms. And what would Mr. Obama do then? “I’ll get on television and say Harry and Louise are lying,” he says. I’m sure the lobbyists are terrified.

As health care goes, so goes the rest of the progressive agenda. Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world.

Bingo.

Krugman doesn't have an Obama problem; Obama has a Krugman problem. Because Krugman is right.

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC As indicated by my sig, of course I'll vote for Obama in the general, and happily so. [UPDATE: This post is from December 2007, before Obama's primary campaign threw me, and those like me, under the bus, and convinced me that I had no place in the Democrat Party. The straw that broke my back was that Obama voted in favor of FISA [cough] reform, and hence against the rule of law and the Fourth Amendment.] That doesn't mean I won't stop pushing for the kind progressive politics I think the country needs. [UPDATE: "Progressive" is used here without irony; again, when the post was written, the casual smears and misogny of the so-called "progressive" movement had not yet become evident.

NOTE * All credit due to HRC for mainstreaming VRWC, and more importantly the very concept. It's a mystery to me why she hasn't tried to leverage her understanding for strategic purposes, rather than for narrow tactical goals during the Lewinsky matter (see Appendix I).

NOTE ** Jonah Goldberg's latest emission, Liberal Fascism, is but the latest, yet by no means the best, example of work in this genre.

NOTE *** Back in the day, the parties were a lot less "polarized" than they are today. Historically, the Democratic Party was a coalition, and racist Southern and very senior representatives played a strong part within it. Similarly, the Republican Party was also a coalition, with moderate Republicans, often from the Northeast (Margaret Chase Smith, who stood up to McCarthy) or the Midwest (Charles Percy). Because both parties were coalitions, shifting alliances between party factions ("bipartisanship") was the order of the day. However, when LBJ got civil rights legislation passed, the Republicans under Nixon countered with the Southern Strategy, and peeled off the racists. Similarly, the political environment squeezed out many moderate Republicans, as they were attacked from the right by the Conservative Movement, and from the left by Democrats. The result was that both parties became much more like disciplined parties than fractious coalitions, and so the era where factions within the parties could be played off against each other -- which, operationally, is what bipartisanship means and has always meant -- came to an end. Villagers like Broder or Russert would like to play "honest brokers" between the parties, but such honesty is not possible, because the Village is, institutionally, an almost wholly owned subsidiary of the Conservative Movement (with the exception of a few honorable individuals and some fresh progressive institutions). We must also notice and remember that when Broder and the Villagers wax nostalgic for the twin lost causes of Bipartisanship and Civility, they're privileging their own self-images as honest brokers and go-betweens over the cold reality that, pre-Southern Strategy, racism was at the institutional foundation of the Democratic Party of that day, so that's what they're nostalgic for. White columns, the ol' verandah, Rastus bearing a silver tray with the mint juleps or whatever the Fuck the village drank back then.

NOTE **** Conservative Andrew Sullivan's portrayal of Obama as a post-Boomer, unifying figure is a crude attempt to erase this history. Bareback Andy is sound on torture, credit where credit is due, but there's no other word for his Atlantic piece (well, other than "prolix") than "obfuscatory."

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Appendix I: The Conservative Movement in the Clinton Years

When Clinton, a Democrat, took office, the Conservative Movement, in the person of Richard Mellon Scaife, funded the Arkansas Project disinformation campaign against Clinton through The American Prospect [!!] Spectator; the Conservative Movement provided legal services through the Federalist Society elves who manipulated Paula Jones; the Conservative Movement replaced the Special Prosecutor who wasn't getting results with one of their own, Kenneth Winston Starr; the Conservative Movement leveraged its new-found control over the press to print story after story of scandal after scandal, none of which panned out (Timesman Jeff Gerth's Whitewater reporting was especially egregious, but WaPo's "Steno Sue" Schmidt, who printed leak after leak from Starr's office, gave him a run for his money); and the Conservative Movement, after immense labor, finally managed to metastatize the scandal from baseless accusations of financial impropriety ("Whitewater") and crazed theories about murder ("Vince Foster") into the once-famous (and so-called^^) perjury trap with Monica Lewinsky, followed by the failed impeachment effort organized by Hastert, Gingrich, et al (most of whom -- strong "family values" men, one and all -- were guilty of adultery themselves).

The best way to view the Clinton era, then, is to see it as a slow-moving, media-fuelled coup, beginning with the winger-billionaire funded Arkansas Project, and culminating with the Conservative Movement's seizure of power through the theft of Florida 2000 and the famous "good for one time only" decision, Bush v. Gore.

Once again, the ROI that the winger billionaires got from the Conservative Movement's stellar work in staging the coup against Clinton were absolutely spectacular: Bush, once in office, immediately enacted massive tax cuts over a token and demoralized ("bipartisan") Democratic opposition, and the great bulk of the money went to the people who staged the coup. Surprise.

APPENDIX NOTE ^^ Perjury has to be material. There was never a showing that Clinton's affair with Monica was relevant to the Paula Jones case. Pure harassment, start to finish, and, in retrospect, a harbinger of the complete politicization of the criminal justice system and the courts under Bush. Interestingly, Clinton and Monica met when she, as a White House intern, brought him a pizza when he was working late in the White House on the night the Republicans under Gingrich shut down the government. Cute meet.

Appendix II: The Constitution

I think it's excellent that Obama, by all accounts, was a fine Constitutional law professor at a great school. And it encourages me that Obama gave excellent answers to the Boston Globe questionnaire on executive power.

All of which explains why I was disappointed that Obama failed to show up on the Senate floor to defend the Fourth Amendment, and the Constitution, when Dodd successfully filibustered FISA and prevented, at least for a time, retroactive immunity for the telcos and bulk-order warrants. (Let's not say "basket warrants" anymore, mkay?) As Kos is fond of pointing out, one way to be a leader is to, er, lead, not offer token statements of support from a safe distance. Lead, as opposed to going meta, and making speeches, however excellent, about leadership.

UPDATE Big Tent Democrat channels the shorter lambert:

I am on record that Obama's talk on change is pure nonsense. I am confident now that Mark Schmitt is right, that this is just a schtick. The problem is in politics, schticks matter and limit what you can do.

Bingo. Of course Obama's schtick limits him. That's why Brooks, Broder, Sullivan, and Kristol like it. They want progressives limited.

UPDATE What a holiday gift. My life is complete:

krugman

In fact:

UPDATE The post's title is a riff on a famous paper in computer science.

UPDATE Apparently, "once in a generation means "just once". Odd.

UPDATE For anybody who imagines that this is a hit piece, or that I'm unpersuadable, see here.

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Comments

Submitted by lambert on

"Social security and the health care mandate..."

Oh-k-a-a-a-a-a-a-y.....

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

[nathan] Watch, if John Edwards gets the nomination, he will seriously change his rhetoric and you will all be very dissapointed.

[nathan] My point is that Obama could be the Democratic Reagan...

Well, what do you care? Seems to me that should appeal to you. Afterall, you are the one suggesting to us that Edwards is actually more conservative than Obama. In that case why wouldn't it follow that Edwards would then have a better chance of attracting those cross-over voters (the Democratic Reagan effect) you are chasing?

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Submitted by lambert on

Social security, health care, and....

"trial lawyers".

But Obama doesn't "really mean" it.

It's just a right wing talking point, after all.

And personally, I like it just fine that Edwards made a whole lot of money by getting even more money to people who got fucked over by big corporations. Really, what kind of person would have a problem with that? Unless you think putting heat on big corporations isn't civil, of course.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

But your professor Krugman has endorsed Obama's fix for his criticism of the lack of mandates in his plan. Now we are left with what he has said about social security, which was a mistake, and one which he has backed off of. In the interim, Clinton, as the anonymous backer of said candidate above agrees, is the candidate of special interests, including taking a boat load of money from the insurance and drug industries (to say nothing of flat out refusing to commit to any kind of pledge to take less of their money or lessen their interest). This is the same candidate, mind you, that didn't offer up John Edwards health care plan as her own until it became clear that she wouldn't be able to waltz through the primaries without one, i.e. who will only put up as much liberal window dressing as she has to because it leaves less embarrassment when she has to take it down as President.

So what this comes down to is you chucking your toys over a miraculous parsing of meaningless stump speech rhetoric, (that apparently proves that Obama would surrender his agenda if the Republicans didn't go along happily), and a singular since-reversed gaffe on social security, in so doing furthering the agenda of the true Lieberman Democrat.

Understand this: the only candidate with a chance to unseat Hillary is Obama. There is your choice, plain and simple. And if Obama loses to Hillary in Iowa and New Hampshire, even if Edwards wins the former, it's as good as over. You make like it to be otherwise, but this is it and the Clinton campaign's support for John Edwards and Obama's attacks against him are all evidence that everyone knows this.

You want to know why the progressive agenda loses? It's because the well meaning slow coaches amongst us, such as yourself, don't see the forest for the trees. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

So, my take for the past decade has effectively been that Democrats are built to lose and don't recognize a winner when its staring them in the face. We are so terretorially concerned with proving we are right, we forget what the hell we are fighting for.

While you give us a very focused political history of how funders and ineterested parties operate on the right, you fail to describe how the electeds on the right operate. For the record, Bush did not run on fire and brimstone right wing issues in 2000. He ran as the compassionate conservative. He ran as the man who could reach out to apathetic Texas Democratic body. He ran what the moderates wanted to see, not what the far right needed him to be. When he was elected, he governed from the right.

That's what Obama supporters see. I think the left better wake up to a certain reality, HRC can't win in the national election. Plain and simple. Too many people, rightly or wrongly, abhor her. Her negatives make her a GOP dream to run against; if there is any concern about getting a demorilized base out, there will be no concern if she is on the ticket. All they need to hear is that hillary is running.

So, Lambert, Mr. Krugman, and all the rest of you who give this ridiculous hurdle for obama to jump that you wont place for hillary. Congrats. you will have effectively guarnteed 4 more years of GOP presidency. Don't blame nader this time, just look long and hard in the mirror and keep trying to convince yourself that you won the argument. Never mind you won the war for the GOP.

Submitted by lambert on

Yes, I've heard this one before, though it's a more sophisticated variant.

The argument is that Bush, like the lying scumbag weasel we know him to be, ran as a "compassionate conservative," then -- with the help of a complaisant press -- governed from the hard right.

Therefore, Obama should invert Bush's strategy, run on "unity" and then, the day after the election, enter The Phonebooth, and govern as a progressive, as he "really meant" to do all along!

Beyond amazing. First, obviously the press won't let Obama get away with claiming a mandate, as they did with Bush.

Second, what does it say about Obama--let alone his supporters--if he's adopting the same tactics as a lying scumbag weasel? Why is it so hard to understand that the way to get a progressive mandate is to run as a progressive? And that if this is a watershed year, that's exactly what you can do? Level with the American people?

And if I'd made that same argument myself, Obama's fan base would be all over me like a cheap suit, with cries that I was attacking his integrity, didn't "really understand," was objectively pro-Hillary because I'd revealed Obama's secret strategy, and so on.

It's starting to feel like a cult of personality to me. Obama is teh awesome...

Oh, and as far as Obama fixing his broken mandate concept. I'm certainly pleased that Obama took the advice of The Great Satan, Paul Krugman and fixed it, if that's what he did. [Which apparently it isn't.] It would have been so much more reassuring he had invested the energy to get it right in the first place, though. But then, Obama hasn't really been through a presidential campaign before, so maybe I shouldn't harsh the mellow on this. Maybe Obama can crawfish on his Republican talking point about trial lawyers next?

NOTE "Well meaning slowcoach" -- excellent! Looks like they put the first string on this post at last!

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

You say

“Bush, like the lying scumbag weasel we know him to be, ran as a “compassionate conservative,” then — with the help of a complaisant press — governed from the hard right.”

Grow up. You ranted for god knows how long on why the GOP wins, and you only talk about the enablers. The political genius, and yes it is genius, is that GOP candidates make their position clear in vague statements and play the plain Joe in election, and then govern from the right. Plain and simple again.

As for this mandate business. It’s a joke. You really think HRC is going to sell an unfunded mandate in a general election. Here is what the right will accurately call it; a massive new tax. If Obama, were using conservative talking points that is what he would say. And, you the universal health care enthusiast are double screwed because HRC has no intention of putting universal healthcare into place through some partisan war. DO YOU REALLY THINK THE PHARMAS AND DRUG COMPANIES ARE GIVING HER MILLIONS RIGHT NOW WITHOUT SOME ASSURANCES? They will have an effective veto on any plan. Let’s compare with Obama who says he’ll listen to the GOP. The GOP members he will listen to are effectively the pharmas and health care companies. They already bought HRC and everyone knows it.

I have seen what the Clinton triangulation gets us and its not a vanguard of progressive principles, it’s the Telecom Act of 1996 and so-called Welfare Reform. The GOP couldn’t have asked for a greater sell out from a Democrat. Its signing a blank check for Iran, on the heels of disgraceful vote to support an invasion and occupation of Iraq. And, yes, branding a government body a terrorist organization is effectively given license to attack them. Ask your legal friends how the Bush administration can stretch the semantics. Thank goodness for the brave men and women that pushed the NIE report ahead of the Bush/Clinton/Cheney/Lieberman sponsored Iran war.

Lastly, I know you will not address this point because it is the pink elephant in the Clinton/Lincoln bedroom HRC supporters won’t talk about. SHE CAN’T WIN. America does not trust her. She starts out at such high and irreversible negatives that it beggars belief that even a perfect general election campaign can push her over the top. I just hope and pray that if she wins the nomination that Bloomberg enters, because we will otherwise have handed the White house and probably at least one more Supreme Court seat the GOP. But, you will have succeeded in winning some inane universal healthcare technicality on behalf of a candidate who is already bought and paid for by the pharmas and health care concerns.

Submitted by lambert on

Speaking of my legal friends...

Farmer brings to my attention this Obama vote for CAFA.

Obama's attacks on "trial lawyers" has substance behind it too! We are, along with unions, typically the biggest funders of non-DLC type Democratic candidates. And in the single most important issue for us to come up while he was in the Senate, he stabbed us in the back and voted with Trent Lott and Geroge Bush.

Specifically, Barack Obama voted for the Orwellian-named "Class Action Fairness Act" or "CAFA." This law gravely harmed small businesses and middle class consumers. Zero members of the Democratic coalition favored it Unions, civil rights and consumer groups, and public employees opposed it. CAFA, by contrast, was supported by Bush, Lott, McCain, Santorum, George Allen, Bill Frist, Joe Lieberman, Conrad Burns, Grover Norquist, Mel Martinez, the credit card industry, the oil companies, and the big insurance companies. Barack Obama took their side, not ours.

Opposing CAFA in the Senate was the core of the Democratic Caucus, including Feingold, Kennedy, Kerry, Reid, Durban, Leahy, Boxer, Wyden, Harkin, Clinton, Biden, Sarbanes, Corzine, Stabenow, Dorgan, Murray, and Lautenberg.

Opposing CAFA from outside of the Senate were Bill Clinton and John Edwards. President Clinton vetoed similar legislation in 1995.

Obama supporters, ask yourself: Do you really want a candidate who in one of the most important economic issues voted to the right of Clinton, Kerry, Biden, and John Edwards?

So, on the Conservative Movement talking points that Obama constantly uses as part of his "Unity" appeal, what next? "Activist judges?"

Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

Oh, and I love, "Oh grow up." Goodness, I remember when Obama was all about a new kind of politics, and hope, and that. How soon things change. There's really nothing in the HRC rant worth responding to; I suppose it's what Axelrod is blastfaxing the fan base these days...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Are you trolling your own site? We're not talking about Bush tactics- that would be your own non sequitur. We're talking about positions Obama has clearly articulated to date, to say nothing of his progressive career as a legislator and civil servant (and his meaningfully multi-cultural lineage and upbringing- ever seen a photo of him with his Kenyan aunt in full garb?). In other words, it's you who's "telling us what Obama really means" in as unflattering terms as possible, and it's not a particularly astute interpretation.

What's more, I have posted now several times, and each time tried to explain to you that my support for Obama is conditioned on the circumstances: essentially that it is him vs. HRC, and that if it weren't, my choice might be different (I would probably support Edwards if I didn't know what I do about his role in this primary). In the context of those choices, one candidate has already shown herself to be a Kyle/Leiberman Democrat by her votes, to say nothing of the fact that she is taking money from the forces of darkness on Health Care. Obama is not.

You have not remotely accounted for any of this, including Obama's going on record for progressive causes in his career already (and coming out against the Iraq War and Iran war mongering), in myriad venom tipped rants about that candidate posing as riposte. If you had, or had argued that Edwards was electable, I could at least respect your position. As it is, I can only attribute it to trolling. And that's odd too.

As regards the trial lawyers, I'm disappointed in Obama there, but it should be noted that his attack was oblique, not ideological. He's trying to draw comparisons between himself and his record and Edwards, because the writing on the wall is that the trojan horse is going to sink him in Iowa, which will likely put HRC on cruise control for the remainder of the primaries, (i.e. no more progressive window dressing). In doing that, he made a mistake. He should be asked to clarify those remarks, but that doesn't mean the hyperventilating class of Obamaphobes have carte blanche to give us the obtuse Obama-for-dummies interpretation, yet again.

Submitted by lambert on

You guys can really write, unlike so many of Obama's fan base over at Kos. "Hyperventilating class of Obamaphobes" is really good.

You key point, because I don't care about Kenyan garb:

We’re not talking about Bush tactics-that would be your own non sequitur.

Sure you are. That's exactly what you're talking about. Your compadre, up above:

For the record, Bush did not run on fire and brimstone right wing issues in 2000. He ran as the compassionate conservative. He ran as the man who could reach out to apathetic Texas Democratic body. He ran what the moderates wanted to see, not what the far right needed him to be. When he was elected, he governed from the right.

That’s what Obama supporters see.

The fan base over at Kos make the same argument. It's the wannabe insider's version of The Phonebooth Theory.

Of course, this all may be a clever plan to lure low-information independents into caucusing Democratic, and... Well, winning Iowa over a candidate who gets the votes of actual Democrats. Cute. Though maybe too cute.

And it's stuff like Obama not just adopting the winger's talking points in trial lawyers, but voting for the same position on CAFA like Conservative house organ AEI wanted, that makes me a little more than "disappointed." (I imagine the parents of that little girl whose guts were sucked out by a rogue corporation's product would be "disappointed" too, since the settlement Edwards got them paid for her medical care.) It makes me question whether he would fight and govern as a progressive at all.

As for the Iraq vote, look for "cheap grace." You will find your other supposedly unanswered points answered many times over by me, by other commenters, and in the body of the original post.

Finally, it's all very simple, isn't it? If Obama doesn't want to look like he's morphing into a shape-shifting movement Conservative, then he should stop adopting their talking points! (and voting for their policies, as with CAFA).

How hard can that be? That he doesn't--and, with the trial lawyer's comment, hammers them even harder--suggests at best cynicism (the Phonebooth Theory). At worst, or what I hope is the worst, Obama simply doesn't understand the nature of the forces arrayed against Progressives--which I describe, perhaps at excessive length, in the body of the post--or the nature of the victory to be won in 2008.

I didn't start out thinking this way; this sorry episode distresses me. It reinforces long-standing concerns that I've had. But the more I looked--and the more responses from Obama's fan base that I gathered--the more Obama moved down in my own personal ranking. Sorry.

NOTE Oh, and please, can we stop leveraging the Hillary hatred? I feel like I'm at "Stop Hillary!" winger site. I'm concerned about how Obama represents on his own merits. I suggest you do likewise.

NOTE Way to represent on that "troll" comment. So often, Obama is not well served by his supported.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

because you've never lived abroad. At least, I'd be willing to bet you haven't. Just as a man who would try to carry a cat by its tail learns a lesson that cannot be learned otherwise, there is no way to acquire the deeper understanding of the world and our place in it, and to gain some perspective on our culture and social problems, than to view America from a distance. This kind of understanding is only magnified by having non-American family, especially in countries we understand little about, like Asia, and certainly north-west Africa. And it is a huge asset to a President to possess such an understanding, (witness dubya by contrast), to say nothing of its effect on the perception of America in the world.

As regards the trial lawyers and the vote you're talking about, as I say, both are a concern, and I'd like to see Obama explain them. There does need to be tort reform in this country, but that needs to be consistent with sound consumer advocacy. Edwards has conceded as much in the 2004 race. That doesn't mean that giving in to the GOP line on this couldn't be extremely counter-productive. I do find it curious/typical that you do not give any space to Obama's side on this vote if he has indeed explained it- all the better to propagandize with I suppose.

In any case, your less than generous interpretation of my argument, while consistent, is again off the mark. There is no phonebook theory and no cogent link to the Bush campaign tactics. As a 'compassionate conservative', Bush ran on policies like protecting the environment, No Child Left Behind and other federal spending on social programs that ran counter to historical conservative positions. Obama is running on a federal government detailed framework on universal health care, progressive taxation and staying out of foreign wars. Is it your view that these positions represent a break from the Democratic party more in-line with the right wing? If so, can I get the number of your skank dealer? Because that stuff must truly be mind blowing.

So no- no Bush-Rove, no phonebooth, no theory, no second down field goals, only pretty straight forward examination of the candidate, his record, his positions and his rhetoric IN CONTEXT. What context? The context of the real world choices we have as a Democratic electorate.

Speaking of, Hillary hatred? Surely you jest. I am describing the attributes of the candidate that benefits from your attacks (Obama hatred?) and those of like mind. Attributes that run directly counter to your professed aims. Frankly, the fact that you'd rather accuse me of Hillary hatred than defend her positions (and position in the pocket of the drug and insurance companies) is straight out of the Clinton handbook, which makes me wonder whether you've just been shilling for them all along. It would certainly explain better that which I've witnessed than anything else I can come up with.

PS I'm not certain whether you're accusing me of being an insider or a wannabe insider, but I am neither. I merely read Krugman's blog. Speaking of, now that Krugman has retracted his criticism of Obama's Health Care plan subject to the fix he outlined on Meet the Press, do you retract your criticism there or reserve the right to continue to propagandize with it using outmoded reasonable critique?

Submitted by lambert on

1. Living abroad. You're wrong. I don't propose to go into the details of my personal biography, so you'll have to take it on trust, but I have lived abroad and travelled extensively. Kenya is in the past, and that's why I don't care about it. I care about the present and the future.

2. Ah, "tort reform." Another AEI talking point and right wing frame. What next, "activist judges"?

3. No "cogent" link to Bush campaign tactics. I quoted your wing man, you assert that's not cogent. On this one, readers can just make up their own minds. (Nice word, though, "cogent." Kudos.)

4. Hillary hatred. This is a fine example. Hey, it's OK with me if the Obama campaign wants to, as I said, "leverage" Hillary hatred. To me, that's what all the arguments that voting against Obama because--quel horreur--that's a vote for HRC boils down to. I'm concerned with Obama on his own merits.

5. Obama changes his mind, thanks to Krugman. This point has been previously addressed. Look for it.

Look, politics ain't beanbag. If Obama's leveraging Hillary hatred and right wing talking points to suck low information independents into the Iowa caucuses so they can pick the Democratic candidate, good for him. It's a clever plan. Perhaps too clever, but time will tell.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

So record and background are irrelevant now? No wonder you're a Hillary supporter. Listen, Lambert, you're very good at manipulating logical fallacies in fits of hysteria, but that seems to be about it. I notice you drop the Bush parallel, but then don't recognize as much. No doubt this won't keep you from raising it with the next unsuspecting poster unawares that the fix is in on this blog.

You will notice I respond to your points item by item. This will be the last time I afford you that courtesy short of some reciprocity on your part. Here goes:

1) If you say so, fine. But if it is the case, then you simply don't want to acknowledge this positive aspect of Obama's profile, either because it obstructs the free flow rift of your righteous rants, or because you're a Clinton shill. Either way, I'm rapidly losing interest.

2) Tort reform is not a tag-line. It is the appropriate term for reform of a field of law which if done correctly could make it better serve the public. You are the one hijacking the term in the service of your fallacious rants, not I. Speaking of, John Edwards used this term when he said that the country needed 'tort reform' in the Vice Presidential debate, (as he should have, given what he was describing). Look it up.

3) Readers can make up there own mind I presume because you are unable to refute my argument. Bravo. And how does quoting some random anonymous saying things that I have not said but who happens to support Obama relevant to anything? You assert some fanciful link between us, and this is sufficient to serve as argument in your mind?? Phone number for skank dealer please.

4) Hey, it's fine with me if you want to employ fallacious arguments lest you risk opening your mind or returning the kiesh to your patrons, but that don't make them valid. Obama is the alternative to Hillary because of the will of the Democratic electorate, and neither you nor I have determined that or are capable of changing it. So if people don't want Hillary because of very well reasoned judgment about what her candidacy will mean in terms of electability (not my argument btw, I think either will beat whatever the GOP nominates) or what it means in terms of issues they care about, I fail to see how that qualifies as Hillary hatred. Why don't you try thinking instead of reading off the tip sheet.

5) Do you think Obama sat there and put together his health care plan over summer vacation- or that any of the candidates put these things together? Obama's plan was put together by academics, a principle one of which is at Harvard and is well respected by Krugman. That this plan didn't use mandates has some very good properties. Witness what is going on in Massachusetts. However, Krugman rightly noted the bad incentives this instills. Obama, and more likely his people, have simply recognized the credibility of this critique and adapted their plan to it so that it both gets around the issues of mandates, while resolving the major issue with their absence. No surprise that ignoramouses see adaptation to feedback as a bad trait- you share this in common with Bush supporters, btw. In any case, please don't let that sober accounting distract you in your using the health care plan to foment your mouth foam.

Here endeth the lesson.

Submitted by lambert on

Thank you for commenting, Majorajam. Your comment is important to us. Please do not hesitate to comment again. --CorrenteBot

Submitted by lambert on

And in my own house, too. Kisses!

I'll let the giant bot detectors system in the basement of The Mighty Corrente Building handle matters from here on in...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

“I'm so glad Axelrod sent over the A-Team”. Please. I am kind of a novice (but if Obama people need to staff in the commerce department –I’m your man?. I found this link on Krugman and had to see where he’s getting some of his info. When you look under the cover its quite bare.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12...

My bet is that the extent of your knowledge about the candidates’ positions on CAFA or MEDiC is limited to cutting and pasting ‘California Joe’s’ rant about it. I’m sorry, but linking the daily Kos is not knowledge.

Here is the legislation co-sponsored by HRC and Obama is. Here is their co-authored article for the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Making Patient Safety the Centerpiece of Medical Liability Reform”.
http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full...

I’m sure you will move over to some other tangential evidence, such as your other rant that he is attacking Gore an Kerry (lazy and irresponsible on your part).
http://www.correntewire.com/obama_rightw...

Your whole point is some conclusion you and 4 guys in a closet came to that he is using conservative talking points. But, he clearly is not. There is no substance in the links you provide but the other 3 guys from the closet talking about this conclusion they have reached and the daily issue they try and ascribe to it that will with the course of the day be rubbished.

And as for your comment;

“please, can we stop leveraging the Hillary hatred? I feel like I’m at “Stop Hillary!” winger site. I’m concerned about how Obama represents on his own merits. I suggest you do likewise.”

I expect nothing less than sticking your head in the sad. Again, grow up. This is the big boys table. Its an election where you look at the alternatives. And the HRC alternative is effectively a GOP President. Fact. And you can’t bear to address it. She cannot win. No moderate will vote for. No Republican will switch to her. If she is in the general election, the turnout for the GOP in the general will likely be record setting. These are political facts are so obvious that it defies reality you don’t recognize it.

The Obama merits are strong, but you do not discuss them, you try and parse crap and come to some silly talking points about him. He has a real health care plan that is clear on how it is funded (as someone who manages large budgets, I respect that fiscal reality). HRC has no plan on how to pay for the mandate. And, outside of making sure the pharmas and healthcare companies maintain their profit margins there is nothing else we know. How is she going to mandate?

Submitted by lambert on

Thank you for commenting, obomba. Your comment is important to us. Please do not hesitate to comment again. --CorrenteBot

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Eventually we have to concede that Lambert's purity of progressive vision gives him license to skew the facts to resemble his absurd characiture of Obama, and as long as Atrios and Krugman are on his side, who are we mere mortals to quibble with the pronouncements of oracles?

The thing about the trial lawyer is WAY overblown. This is what Obama is trying to tell people: "I had a degree from Harvard Law and could have become a trial lawyer and made assloads of money, but instead I went into civil rights law to fight for the disadvantaged." In fact, the Obama's had money problems until his first book Dreams of My Father started to sell. How many prestigious law school grads have undergone financial difficulties in order to fight for progressive causes? Hillary and Edwards sure didn't.

Of course rather than interpret this as a sign of Obama's progressive values, Atrios, Kos, Krugman and Lambert have decided this is an attack on all trial lawyers. Thats crazy. I really thought that progressives would give more credence to what candidates have done with their lives than parsing words on the campaign trail. Its beginning to look like the Lamberts and Krugmans been listening to and fighting against right wing spin for so long that its all they can see. You guys could really use a hiatus from the blogosphere so you can start to think like average people again. The worst crime in the world for you is repeating a word or phrase that at one time came out on RNC lettterhead. Its really blinding you to reality.

Submitted by lambert on

Nathan:

I am so, so tired of hearing about teh awesomeness of Obama's life story. Edwards, as the son of a millworker, has a compellling life story. Say what you like about Hillary, she's still standing after everything the Conservative movement threw at her. These are all compelling life stories, and for exactly that reason, candidate biographies are not a sufficient differentiator.

And if getting a little girl the money for the life time care she needs after getting her guts sucked out by a defective product by suing a corporation isn't a "progressive value"... Well, who's the purist?

And it's not just that Obama adopted right wing talking points and narratives on "trial lawyers."

He voted that way too. Take a look at this post about CAFA:


Obama's attacks on "trial lawyers" has substance behind it too! We are, along with unions, typically the biggest funders of non-DLC type Democratic candidates. And in the single most important issue for us to come up while he was in the Senate, he stabbed us in the back and voted with Trent Lott and Geroge Bush.

Specifically, Barack Obama voted for the Orwellian-named "Class Action Fairness Act" or "CAFA." This law gravely harmed small businesses and middle class consumers. Zero members of the Democratic coalition favored it Unions, civil rights and consumer groups, and public employees opposed it. CAFA, by contrast, was supported by Bush, Lott, McCain, Santorum, George Allen, Bill Frist, Joe Lieberman, Conrad Burns, Grover Norquist, Mel Martinez, the credit card industry, the oil companies, and the big insurance companies. Barack Obama took their side, not ours.

Opposing CAFA in the Senate was the core of the Democratic Caucus, including Feingold, Kennedy, Kerry, Reid, Durban, Leahy, Boxer, Wyden, Harkin, Clinton, Biden, Sarbanes, Corzine, Stabenow, Dorgan, Murray, and Lautenberg.

Opposing CAFA from outside of the Senate were Bill Clinton and John Edwards. President Clinton vetoed similar legislation in 1995.

Conservative Movement talking points are designed to achieve Conservative goals. That's why there's funding and institutions to create them.

So why would Obama use them? My guess is that it's a clever plan to win Iowa by attracting low information independents and Republicans, and then have non-Democrats decide the Iowa caucuses for Democrats. I didn't think "unity" would mean that in practice, but heck, politics ain't beanbag.

Of course, it's no way to win a progressive mandate.

So, running against your own base might be Obama's novel strategy, but I'm not sure it's going to end well.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

They enter a self-reinforcing echo chamber and begin to purge members who do not exhibit the requisite fealty to the strict partyline, identifying them with the evil "other." And thus, they lose touch with reality and simple common sense.

To make clear, the Lamberts and the Krugmans of the world are fighting the good fight. They and the progressive movement are definitely a force for good in the world. But if we want to stay relevant and be effective, we must avoid going down the path of the self-righteous echo chamber. We've seen it happen to aspects of the civil rights movement and the enviromental movement, and it could just as easily happen with Obama supporters as well. No one is immune. I don't intend to sound condescending. But this is what I worry about for our movement as a whole.

PS. I like how this site tests your math skills to put in a comment. helps weed out the idiots.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

...is all it takes to find mistakes in your post on CAFA. First, 18 democratic senators voted in favor of CAFA, not "zero" as you claim. Second there were probably some good things in the bill:

"..... the Class Action Fairness Act limited plaintiffs' attorneys from getting rich off settlements which left the actual victims of abuse with worthless scrip. The venue provisions and the coupon settlement provisions of CAFA were a very good thing."

In fact I found one site that was saying that Obama did not want to go FAR ENOUGH in limiting class action lawsuits. So its not like the Right is happy with Obama on this issue.

Now I don't claim to understand CAFA fully, but I don't think you do either Lambert. And thats my point. Like most bills, there was probably some good and some bad in it. But you don't bother to do any research, you just search DKos and post whatever you can find without bothering to think for yourself. Thats what I mean by echo chamber. DKos is probably right most of the time, but not all of the time.

Submitted by lambert on

Readers:

After you read Nathan's latest obfuscatory comment, I appeal to you to check the post again. Start here.

The "echo chamber" we're living in was created by the Conservative Movement, and Obama's the one who's repeating the echoes. That's what using right wing talking points means. Nathan's comment is purest projection (yet another characteristic of the Conservative Movement, I might add).

Readers, again, if you read the post, you'll see that my focus is institutional. It's what kind of politics we need to take on the Conservative Movement. And you know what? Adopting right wing talking points isn't the way to stay "relevant and effective" anywhere other than the Beltway. That's why Obama's rhetoric is harmful.

Now again, pragmatically, Obama and Axelrod could be smart in the short term. Maybe our discourse is so degraded by the Conservative Movement that, to appeal to independents and Republicans, there's no alternative to using right wing talking points, and that's why Obama's doing it -- bring independents and Republicans into the Iowa caucuses, so the Democratic Party's nominee is picked by non-Democrats.

Maybe yes, maybe no.

But let's be clear that this is not "unity" and certainly isn't a "new politics." And it strikes me as a little, well, "self righteous" to first claim unity and then trash the Democratic base.

Finally, it's ludicrous and beyond ignorant, historically, to put Obama's campaign, or any campaign, on the same plane as the the civil rights movement* or the enviromental movement, as Nathan seeks to do ("How all great movements die")

When I see Obama's supporters jailed, or set upon by dogs, or killed by the KKK, I'll be willing to think about Nathan's claim. Or when I see some kind of legislative achievement comparable to the Clean Air Act on Obama's record -- instead of, for example, AEI-compliant votes on "trial lawyers" -- I might compare Obama's campaign to a movement. You've got to do more than have a lot of people show up because they want to see Oprah to claim the mantle of MLK, guy.

Bottom line: If you're part of the progressive movement, you need to walk the walk (see CAFA), and talk the talk (not winger talking points). And if Obama wants to claim a progressive mandate, then he needs to run on that basis -- and not just invert Bush's strategy of running as a Centrist, and governing from the extremes. That's not purism. It's common sense.

NOTE * Don't go there, trolls. I'm not saying it wouldn't be great to have a black man as President. I am saying that to compare Obama's political campaign to a decade's long struggle in which people gave their very lives is a grotesque over-reach -- which may, of course, be effective with the low information voters to whom Obama seems to be trying to appeal.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

Anyone who thinks Lambert supports Hillary isn't paying attention.

What bothers Lambert, and Krugman, most of us who usually frequent this site is Democratic candidates echoing right-wing talking points.

Democrats In Name Only.

What bothers the Democratic wing of the Democratic party is how Republicans are being asked into a new Democratic administration that hasn't even won yet.

Sharing power? I thought you had to have power in order to share it!

Again, it makes me very afraid to hear Obama referred to as a Great Communicator along the lines of Reagan. Reagan was basically clueless about much of what was going on in his own country, and I suspect Obama is the same way. While Hillary probably understands what's going on quite well, she has been far too much part of the problem for far to long.

Neither of the two "frontrunners" promise anything but destruction for the Constitution and the nation; not as fast as the Republicans, agreed, but certainly as inevitable.

While not perfect, Edwards/ Dodd or Kuchinich or even Biden (shudder) offer better chances of reversing the march into oligarchy.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

Submitted by lambert on

KB, I hate to disappoint you, and you know I've administered several beat downs to Hillary, but after looking at what Obama's been saying, and dealing with his fan base and his trolls...

I've put Obama third on my list after Hillary. Yes, HRC has her bullet points, and they are so not my bullet points, but by God they're her bullet points, and she sticks to them with discipline. At least I know where I am with her.

I was so ready to shift to Obama, 'til he began his rightward slide on the whole Social Security "crisis" fiasco. Then slap after slap to the base proves it's intentional. So, give me somebody that I know where I am with, as opposed to somebody who's got "unity" coming out of one side of his mouth, and Republican talking points coming out of the other. Ick. What a waste.

Republican talking points are for bad people. Why can't Obama understand this.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

This must really have your erstwhile en fuego bile duct really raging:

Kucinich Urges Supporters to
Back Obama on Second Iowa Ballot

For Immediate Release - Tuesday, January 01, 2008

DES MOINES, IA - Democratic Presidential candidate and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich opened the New Year by publicly asking his Iowa supporters to vote for him in the caucuses this Thursday, and suggesting that if he did not make the 15% threshold, their second ballot should be for Senator Barack Obama. "This is obviously an 'Iowa-only' recommendation, as Sen. Obama and I are competing in the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday where I want to be the first choice of New Hampshire voters.

"I hope Iowans will caucus for me as their first choice this Thursday, because of my singular positions on the war, on health care, and trade. This is an opportunity for people to stand up for themselves. But in those caucus locations where my support doesn't reach the necessary threshold, I strongly encourage all of my supporters to make Barack Obama their second choice. Sen. Obama and I have one thing in common: Change."Kucinich Urges Supporters to
Back Obama on Second Iowa Ballot

For Immediate Release - Tuesday, January 01, 2008

DES MOINES, IA - Democratic Presidential candidate and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich opened the New Year by publicly asking his Iowa supporters to vote for him in the caucuses this Thursday, and suggesting that if he did not make the 15% threshold, their second ballot should be for Senator Barack Obama. "This is obviously an 'Iowa-only' recommendation, as Sen. Obama and I are competing in the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday where I want to be the first choice of New Hampshire voters.

"I hope Iowans will caucus for me as their first choice this Thursday, because of my singular positions on the war, on health care, and trade. This is an opportunity for people to stand up for themselves. But in those caucus locations where my support doesn't reach the necessary threshold, I strongly encourage all of my supporters to make Barack Obama their second choice. Sen. Obama and I have one thing in common: Change."

You best get to work plotting a narrative for Kucinich as right wing collaborator. If it sticks your future as Mark Penn's G. Gordon Liddy will be bright. Ta Ta, nnnnnnn, ta ta.

Submitted by lambert on

Thank you for commenting, Majorajam. Your comment is important to us. Please do not hesitate to comment again. --CorrenteBot

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on

As far as just grabbing something off Kos... Er, care to give a link to your source? Or "the site" that you found? Because guess where your unsourced quote is from? Then again, as I said, projection is a right wing characteristic...

Here are the votes on the Healthy Forests Class Action Fairness Act. (Note that the quote says "zero" members of the Democratic coalition, not zero Democrats.)

Every Republican voted for it ("tort reform" is a winger talking point). The Democrats split like this:

Akaka (D-HI), Nay
Baucus (D-MT), Nay
Biden (D-DE), Nay
Boxer (D-CA), Nay
Byrd (D-WV), Nay
Clinton (D-NY), Nay
Corzine (D-NJ), Nay
Dayton (D-MN), Nay
Dorgan (D-ND), Nay
Durbin (D-IL), Nay
Feingold (D-WI), Nay
Harkin (D-IA), Nay
Inouye (D-HI), Nay
Kennedy (D-MA), Nay
Kerry (D-MA), Nay
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay
Leahy (D-VT), Nay
Levin (D-MI), Nay
Mikulski (D-MD), Nay
Murray (D-WA), Nay
Nelson (D-FL), Nay
Pryor (D-AR), Nay
Reid (D-NV), Nay
Sarbanes (D-MD), Nay
Stabenow (D-MI), Nay
Wyden (D-OR), Nay

Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Dodd (D-CT), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lieberman (D-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea

Now granted, Dodd's with Obama. But I'm not seeing Obama lining up with progressives like Boxer, Durbin, Wyden, Feingold, Kennedy, Kerry, Leahy, Stabenow, Wyden on this one. And I am seeing him line up with DLC, Village, and non-Progressives types like Bayh, Feinstein, Landrieu, Lieberman, Rockefeller, Salazar and Schumer. And, as I mentioned, 100% of the Republicans.

Big warning flags for me on this one, though granted I'm no expert on CAFA. For background, see Salon, Erin Brockovich, drop dead.

Of course, there is all the other progressive legislation Obama got passed to weigh in the balance on this one. Oh, wait....

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on

As usual, McClatchy has the telling detail:

This is obviously an 'Iowa-only' recommendation, as Sen. Obama and I are competing in the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday where I want to be the first choice of New Hampshire voters," Kucinich said in a statement released by the Obama campaign.

Much as I like many of Kucinich's positions, it's hard to see a "good for one caucus only" "recommendation"--not endorsement, mind you--as anything other than tactical. So forgive me if I don't regard this as earthshaking news.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

Obama and Hillary are about equally bad for me. And let me take Kucinich off the "ok" list, 'cause he's trying to cozy up to Obama today.

Biden I shudder about, 'cause they don't call him the Senator from MBNA for nothin'. But, he does fight for progressive issues when he wants to, as can (obviously) Dodd and Edwards. But they've got their ties to big money, too.

So it comes down to who I think will do the best job from stopping the evolution of neofeudalism and global thermonuclear war as we ride down the oil depletion curve. That would be Gore~Edwards~Dodd>> Biden> Kucinich-Richardson-Gravel> Hilbama>>> McCain>> the rest of the rethuglican crazies.

Okay, so I'm peeved at Dennis K. today.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Or could you just have read your own blog?

DES MOINES, IA - Democratic Presidential candidate and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich opened the New Year by publicly asking his Iowa supporters to vote for him in the caucuses this Thursday, and suggesting that if he did not make the 15% threshold, their second ballot should be for Senator Barack Obama. “This is obviously an ’Iowa-only’ recommendation, as Sen. Obama and I are competing in the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday where I want to be the first choice of New Hampshire voters.

This is to say nothing of the lack of precedence for the imaginary misrepresentation you are purporting to correct- namely that a candidate for President would endorse a competing candidate before he or she drops out, (though we now know the answer to who Kucinich will endorse when he inevitably drops out of the race).

You've outdone yourself here Lambert. NASA must have some use for natural born astronauts such as yourself.

Submitted by lambert on

Thank you for commenting, Majorajam. Your comment is important to us. Please do not hesitate to comment again. --CorrenteBot

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Lambert,

Do you honestly know what CAFA is about? It is not a 'progressives' issue. it seems you picked some random legislation, which you barely understand, and which democrats are split on and chose to call it progressive. You're embaressing yourself. Try a new subject...and I still don't see these talking points...are they up there with the lies you posted about Obama trashing Kerry and Gore.

Kelley,

You note.

"What bothers Lambert, and Krugman, most of us who usually frequent this site is Democratic candidates echoing right-wing talking points."

What irritates the rest of us is the case hasn’t really been made that Obama is ‘echoing right wing talking points’. In fact, more often then not, the people who state cases where they say this is happening get debunked pretty quickly and then just make up another lie. Maybe there is stuff out there that I am missing but the attacks are just coming off as nonesensical shrill.

Also, it is zero sum Clinton/Obama; Edwards is just a spoiler and I doubt players are knocking out Obama to set the stage for Edwards. And, the nature of the attacks on Obama serve only one person, HRC. Her plan is clear an public. He got to close, so she unleashed the negative attacks machine. These same people are shocked when anyone puts her name in the debate.

And this thing of having Republicans in the cabinet. Please, that was the Clintons and triangulation. And, that is what we will get again.

In terms of great communicator, is there a suggestion that Obama is off his rocker? I think people refer to him like that because he does not come off wonkish. Seems like unlike most of the candidates, Obama seems to have lived in the real world for a lot longer than the others.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

As an aside, I respect your POV and have made it clear that I support Obama with respect to the options available, i.e. He and Hillary. Unlike you, I see differences between the two, in fact significant differences between each of the candidates, including the contending Republicans (of which I think Mitt Romney is perhaps the worst man on the planet). The good news is that the only candidate the GOP can nominate that has a prayer of winning is McCain, and there's no way he will be their nominee. The bad news is, as stated, we've still only got two choices and neither of them are Gore or Feingold.

As to Obama, my views are on this thread and it looks as if you don't find them persuasive, but there is a substantial degree beyond the point by point rhetoric to which I think he is a good man, and I think that this matters. This isn't to say that Hillary is a 'bad woman', rather that I don't think there is as much in her that hasn't been corrupted. Corny, but these choices often come down to such intangibles that don't get stated in polite company.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Religion = values = Republicans:

"I think it's important particularly for those of us in the Democratic party to not cede values and faith to any one party."

"For progressives, I think we should recognize the role that values and culture play in addressing some of our most urgent social problems... I think progressives would do well to take this to heart...."

"...the discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religion has often prevented us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms."

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Sounds like a Merchant-Ivory film, doesn’t it?

Waaay upthread it was obvious Lambert had struck a nerve with the Obamafans but it came as a surprise to see that they actually are willing to give him the respect he is due:

”Its beginning to look like the Lamberts and Krugmans been listening to and fighting against right wing spin for so long that its all they can see.”

Not just a mention in the same sentence with Krugman, but primacy! Damn. Hat tip. Forelock tug. Kowtow. Damn.

Best non sequitur thus far, among many, is perhaps this one:

”...3 guys from the closet talking about this conclusion they have reached and the daily issue they try and ascribe to it that will with the course of the day be rubbished.”

Perhaps from a Nigerian prince supporting Obama? Who knew? Suggestion to Obamites: read your comments out loud before posting, lest in the course of the day they are rubbished.

This has been quite the treat to follow. Lamberts and Krugmans. Damn.

Submitted by lambert on

And what started it all, attacking Hillary using the right wing talking point of a non-existent Social Security "crisis" (discussed exhaustively upthread)...

And attacking Edwards using the right wing talking point of "trial lawyers" (dicussed exhaustively upthread) ...

And attacking Hillary from the right on health insurance mandates (ditto) ....

And dissing Gore on electability in 2000, as if Gore were not, in fact, elected in 2000 ...

And planning to "reach out" to the Republicans, as if that weren't what Harry and Nancy had already done (ditto) ...

And pushing "unity" as if the Conservative Movement hadn't happily dividing the country based on wealth for thirty years (ditto) for their own economic benefit ...

And what got me thinking about this post in the first place, Obama's fan base happily accepting endorsements from Conservative operatives and enablers like Kristol, Brooks, Sullivan, Broder and even George Will, while vilifying a true progressive like Krugman.

And on and on and on.

Bottom line for me is that if progressives feel like Obama's dissing them by adopting right wing talking points, that's because he is.

To get a progressive mandate, you've got to walk the walk and talk the talk--because you get a mandate by talking about what you plan to do. And if you get that mandate, you've got to take on the Conservative Movement by building progressive institutions.

I know Obama's not talking the talk; otherwise his fan base wouldn't have to keep explaining what he "really means." I'd like to think he's been walking the walk, but his legislative record is thin. And he gives no sign that he knows what he's up against with the Conservative movement -- whose existence, nature, and power is the primary focus of this post.

Political economy is not like a first person shooter computer game, where you, the gamer, kill an opponent and grab his talking points, or where when you gain enough experience points you can buy awsum new powers like "unity," or where a lucky event like a Kucinich recommendation takes you to "the next level."

And above all, political economy is not like a computer game that you buy from a vendor and can't change the source code for. In fact, the whole point of a progressive movement is to change the game's source code so it doesn't favor the Conservative Movement, and the winger billionaires who back it.

Edwards understands this. He understands that "the game is rigged."

Obama, despite his soaring yet shallow rhetoric, gives me no hope that he wants to change the game, because he uses all the counters and widgets and talking points in the game as it is currently played. You can't be talking "unity" out of one side of your mouth and dissing progressives out of the other.*

Republican talking points are for bad people.

Why can't Obama understand this? Why can't his fan base?

This is my thread and my house -- or rather, the house of the Fellows of the Mighty Corrente Building -- so I get to have the last word. (Comments have also reached some system limit and are behaving oddly, the reason I didn't find the McClatchy content upthread. Plus, I have real life demands, and can't do the "geese and cornish hens" thing on this thread forever, despite the generous stipend from the HRC campaign. Whoopsie! Did I really say that?! Snicker.)

If readers, or members of Obama's fan base, wish to engage in further Obama-related discussion, they may do so here.

-030-

NOTE * As I say there:

If Obama’s leveraging Hillary hatred and right wing talking points to suck low information independents into the Iowa caucuses so they can pick the Democratic candidate, good for him. It’s a clever plan. Perhaps too clever, but time will tell.

"Good" politics. But not "new" politics. Certainly not "post-partisan"--if anything, this tactic leverages partisan in a tricky new way, by getting non-Democrats to decide the Democratic nominee in a Democratic election. Probably Axelrod put him up to it. It might even work. I know it's no way to build progressive institutions.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

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