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The Audacious Book Salon: Chapter One... and done

vastleft's picture

When I decided to read and review Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope, it was with a schizoid agenda.

As an Obama skeptic, I reckoned it might help justify my remaining a member of what Kos calls "a shrinking band of paranoid holdouts."

And, in the likely event that Obama will be my last best hope to keep Bush-hugger John McCain from the White House, it might help rally me onto the Obamawagon... with maybe a modicum of enthusiasm.

While the book is doing a prodigious job with the former, it's making the latter painfully difficult. So difficult that I'm not sure I want to keep on reading it.

In any case, I'm pulling the plug on my plan to review it in full, because I'm finding it seriously depressing, and because if I call bullshit on all of the bullshit, I'm going to get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Chapter One ("Republicans and Democrats") of my copy is now awash in red ink, as I trace Family Circus-style the circuitous path Obama takes to fashion himself into a self-styled superhero: Triangulator II.

Shorter Obama:

  1. Politics used to be gentlemanly
  2. But there were problems, like racism and such (and everyone had to be a "gentleman")
  3. In the 60s, some of those problems came to a head, and things got better
  4. Still, the Baby Boomers are "arrested development" cases whose whiny entitlement is the cause of today's political stalemate
  5. It should be said that the Republicans have done some terrible things. So, maybe it's not a stalemate.
  6. ... But I'm sure the Democrats have been just as extreme (even if there aren't any relevant examples). And, besides, we're losers.
  7. Bill Clinton played the GOP to a draw. I'm going to succeed like he did. But differently. And more so. In some way.

Fuck! Exactly what I was afraid this was going to be: a masterpiece of equivalation.

Even though Obama seems fully aware that today's GOP is quite a lot different (i.e., ruthless, corrupt, authoritarian, incompetent, if not in so many words) than today's Democratic Party (well-meaning but hapless), the two-bickering-partisans narrative is so cheap, easy, and — most importantly — aggrandizing to his more-nonpartisan-than-thou "I'm the good Democrat" campaign, he just can't resist. God fucking dammit. This guy is the odds-on favorite to "represent me" in November. Fuck!

Lest I be accused of cutting and running without backing up this assessment, here are some snapshots of these stomach-churning twists and turns.

1. Politics used to be gentlemanly

P. 16: [When I got to D.C.] "The country was divided, and so Washington was divided, more divided politically politically than at any time since before World War II. (Apparently, we are more divided than during the Civil Rights and Vietnam rifts of the 1960s, and I guess we lack the pleasing unanimity of the HUAC era.)

P. 25: One of first things I noticed upon my arrival in Washington was the relative cordiality among the Senate's older members : the unfailing courtesy that governed every interaction between John Warner and Robert Byrd, or the genuine bond of friendship between Republican Ted Stevens and Democrat Daniel Inouye. It is commonly said that these men represent the last of a dying breed, men who not only love the Senate but who embody a less sharply partisan brand of politics. And in fact it is one of the the few things that conservatives and liberal commentators agree on, this idea of a time before the fall, a golden age in Washington when, regardless of which party was in power, civility reigned and government worked. (Damn you, Clinton and your blow job for ruining all that! The Republicans had so wanted that Beltway Eden to prosper.)

2. But there were problems, like racism and such (and everyone had to be a "gentleman")

P. 26: He [an unnamed Washington old-timer] had airbrushed out of the picture the images of the Southern Caucus denouncing proposed civil rights legislation from the floor of the Senate; the insidious power of McCarthyism; the numbing poverty that Bobby Kennedy would help highlight before his death; the absence of women and minorities in the halls of power.

3. In the 60s, some of those problems came to a head, and things got better

P. 27: Ultimately Lyndon Johnson chose the right side of this battle, but as a son of the South, he understood better than most the cost involved with that choice: upon signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he would tell aid Bill Moyers that with the stroke of the pen he had just delivered the South to the GOP for the foreseeable future. (My apologies for relaying Obama's racist claim that Johnson played an important role in the civil rights movement.)

4. Still, the Baby Boomers are "arrested development" cases whose whiny entitlement is the cause of today's political stalemate

P. 27: And then, with the walls of the status quo breached, every form of "outsider" came streaming through the gates: feminists, Latinos, hippies, Panthers, welfare moms, gays, all asserting their rights, all insisting on recognition, all demanding a seat at the table and a piece of the pie.

P. 29: ...excuses for violence in intellectual circles... spitting on vets....

P. 31. That Reagan's message found such a receptive audience spoke not only to his skills as a communicator; it also spoke to the failures of liberal government, during a period of economic stagnation, to give middle-class voters any sense that it was fighting for them. For the fact was that government at every level had become too cavalier about spending taxpayer money. Too often, bureaucracies were oblivious to the cost of their mandates. A lot of liberal rhetoric did seem to value rights and entitlements over duties and responsibilities.

...by promising to side with those who worked hard, obeyed the law, cared for their families, and loved their country, Reagan offered Americans a sense of a common purpose that liberals seemed no longer able to muster. And the more his critics carped, the more those critics played into the role he'd written for them—a band of out-of-touch, tax-and-spend, blame-America-first, politically correct elites. (We wouldn't want anyone playing into Reagan's framing, now would we?)

What I find remarkable is not that the political formula developed by Reagan worked at the time, but just how durable the narrative that he helped promote has proven to be....

The fury of the counter culture may have dissipated into consumerism, lifestyle choices, and musical preferences rather than political commitments, but the problems of race, war, poverty, and relations between the sexes did not go away.

And maybe it just has to do with the sheer size of the Baby Boom generation, a demographic force that exerts the same gravitational pull in politics that it exerts on everything else, from the market for Viagra to the number of cup holders automakers put in their cars. (For those who might see Obama fomenting generational warfare, fear not. He's [p. 29] "always felt a curious relationship to the sixties," which is no wonder. Who wouldn't be fascinated by the era that turned out millions of limp-dicked latté-loving limousine liberals?)

5. It should be said that the Republicans have done some terrible things. So, maybe it's not a stalemate.

P. 19: They [Obama's new colleagues, when he joined the Senate] told me about their fallen leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who had seen millions of dollars' worth of negative ads rain down on his head—full-page newspaper ads and television spots informing his neighbors day after day that he supported baby-killing and men in wedding gowns, a few even suggesting that he’d treated his first wife badly, despite the fact that she had traveled to South Dakota to help him get reelected. They recalled Max Cleland, the former Georgia incumbent, a triple-amputee war veteran who had lost his seat in the previous cycle after being accused of insufficient patriotism, of aiding and abetting Osama bin Laden.

And then there was the small matter of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth: the shocking efficiency with which a few well-placed ads and the chants of conservative media could transform a decorated Vietnam war hero into a weak-kneed appeaser.

6. ...But, I'm sure the Democrats have been just as extreme (even if there aren’t any relevant examples). And, besides, we're losers.

P. 16: Not only did we disagree, but we disagreed vehemently, with partisans on each side of the divide unrestrained in the vitriol they hurled at opponents.

P. 19: [Immediately after the Daschle/Cleland/Kerry comment, above] No doubt there were Republicans who felt similarly abused. And perhaps the newspaper editorials that appeared that first week of session were right; perhaps it was time to put the election behind us, for both parties to store away their animosities and ammunition and, for a year or two at least, get down to governing the country. (He goes on equivalate about "the escalating ferocity of Washington's political battles... Iran-Contra and Ollie North, the Bork nomination and Willie Horton, Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, the Clinton election and the Gingrich Revolution, Whitewater and the Starr investigation, the government shutdown and impeachment, dangling chads and Bush v. Gore." It really makes you ashamed to be a Democrat when you see it laid out like that, how we've matched tit-for-tat the sins of selling weapons to our enemies to fund a secret war, running an $80 million campaign to destroy the presidency, vote fraud, and more.)

P. 23: Thoughtful Republicans shouldn’t be too sanguine, though, for if the Democrats have had trouble winning, it appears that the Republicans—having won elections on the basis of pledges that often defy reality (tax cuts without service cuts, privatization of Social Security with no change in benefits, war without sacrifice)—cannot govern.

And yet publicly it’s difficult to find much soul-searching or introspection on either side of the divide, or even the slightest admission of responsibility for the gridlock. What we hear instead, not only in campaigns but in editorial pages, on bookstands, or in the ever-expanding blog universe, are deflections of criticism and assignments of blame. Depending on your tastes, our condition is the natural result of radical conservatism or perverse liberalism, Tom DeLay or Nancy Pelosi, big oil or greedy trial lawyers, religious zealots or gay activists, Fox News or the New York Times. (Let's take stock of this. The "cannot win" Democrats are as bad as the lying, "cannot govern" Republicans. Today's Democrats are as extreme on the left as the Repubs are on the right. Tom Delay vs. Nancy Pelosi, oil execs vs. trial lawyers, religious obsessives vs. equal-rights gays, and Fox News vs. the New York Times are fair match-ups of disreputable, polarized extremists. And there's more, after saying "I won't deny my preference for the story of the Democrats," he equivalates once again by comparing the right and left as mirror-image conspiracy theorists, as if the Democrats are routinely as radical on the left as the folks who brought us the last seven years are on the right).

7. Bill Clinton played the GOP to a draw. I'm going to succeed like he did. But differently. And more so. In some way.

P. 35: Clintonism could be made to embody the very traits of sixties liberalism that had helped spur the conservative movement....

Clinton may have fought that [conservative] movement to a draw, but the movement would come out stronger for it.

As the chapter draws to a close, Obama's see-sawing equivalation becomes positively dizzying. One moment he's observing that (p. 38)"I know very few elected Democrats who neatly fit the liberal caricature," only to suddenly reverse course by wagging a finger at New Deal / Great Society dead-enders bent on "achieving ratings of 100 percent from the liberal interest groups."

He momentarily disses Democratic "centrists," but then immediately turns and characterizes the Dems as "the party of reaction." What kind of reaction? The kind that Ronnie warned us about:

P. 39: In reaction to a war that is ill-conceived, we appear suspicious of all military action. In reaction to those who proclaim the market can cure all ills, we resist efforts to use market principles to tackle pressing problems. In reaction to religious overreach, we equate tolerance with secularism and forfeit the moral language that would help infuse our policies with a larger meaning. We lose elections and hope for the courts to foil Republican plans. We lose the courts and wait for a White House scandal.

I don't think Maureen Dowd, with a Hillary nutcracker in hand and Al Gore's milk dripping from her curled lip, could have done a better job unmanning the Democratic Party.

And could Pat Robertson have done a better job equating religion with morality and of pissing on Jefferson's concept of a secular government as a means to religious freedom?

Obama just as nimbly shames us from being sickos who want the kind of health care that every other modern nation has:

P. 40: I am convinced that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. For it is the predictability of our current political debate, that keeps us from finding new ways to meet the challenges we face. It is what keeps us locked in "either/or" thinking: the notion that we can only have big government or no government; the assumption that we must either tolerate 46 million uninsured or embrace "socialized medicine."

Now, somehow you might have gotten the idea that there was a sea change in America, where the narrow and disputed losses in 2000 and 2004 and the disastrous governance of double-millennial America had prepared us to turn away from the legacy of Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush and Bush. But you'd be wrong. Why, I'm not sure. But he gave me his word that it was the case, and that's good enough for me with old Barry.

Well, the good news is that, if Obama is right, and Americans share his semi-phobia for a progressive agenda, this book should serve a stiff antidote for those who would defame him as a "liberal."

And if you're worried whether post-partisan Obama is tough enough to weather the final roughneck leg of the campaign (in case framing the Clintons as racists who want to destroy the party isn't sufficient proof of his political acumen), there's good news on this front, as well:

P. 17: I don't claim to be a passive bystander in all this. I understood politics as a full-contact sport, and minded neither the sharp elbows nor the occasional blind-side hit.

Obama refers to his "fluke" of a Senate campaign that went easily... after his top Democratic rival "spent $28 million, mostly on a barrage of positive ads, only to flame out in the final weeks due to an unflattering divorce file that the press got unsealed."

The New York Times offers some background on the circumstances of that "unsealing":

Axelrod is known for operating in this gray area, part idealist, part hired muscle. It is difficult to discuss Axelrod in certain circles in Chicago without the matter of the Blair Hull divorce papers coming up. As the 2004 Senate primary neared, it was clear that it was a contest between two people: the millionaire liberal, Hull, who was leading in the polls, and Obama, who had built an impressive grass-roots campaign. About a month before the vote, The Chicago Tribune revealed, near the bottom of a long profile of Hull, that during a divorce proceeding, Hull’s second wife filed for an order of protection. In the following few days, the matter erupted into a full-fledged scandal that ended up destroying the Hull campaign and handing Obama an easy primary victory. The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had “worked aggressively behind the scenes” to push the story. But there are those in Chicago who believe that Axelrod had an even more significant role — that he leaked the initial story.

I don't know about you, but for the first time ever, I'm naming my Unity Pony "Proud." Not proud to be a Baby Boomer liberal, mind you, but proud nonetheless.

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myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

Have you run across that yet?

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

Submitted by lambert on

I think his beliefs are there. Not the beliefs about abortion, but a lot of other beliefs.

Why do you keep asking hateful questions?

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

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

Did he write that information down or did one of his staff members do it?

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

jeqal's picture
Submitted by jeqal on

condensed version

[ ] Hitler (D) [x] Cthulhu, is my homeboy (R)

On his website you can clearly see that his beliefs are and always will be maybe or maybe not there. I saw it then I wasn't sure it was a haze came across then my grandma spoke from beyond the grave and I knew at that moment the reason I did not and could not understand the beliefs is because something happened in my past that kept it shaded and unclear. I can only Hope and believe.
Ride that pony deep into the desert and even if it takes 40 years. I know we will sip Canaan's wine and frisk in the fruits of Sodom and Gemorrah. Aleph.

Its change for a next tommorrow which will lead to a brighter future that was in the past.

Submitted by lambert on

... forged his handwriting.

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

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

http://www.gaywired.com/NewsArticle.cfm?...
--
"... the stridently homophobic Rev. James T. Meeks, an Illinois state senator who also serves as the pastor of Chicago’s 22,000 member strong Salem Baptist Church.

Described in a 2004 Chicago Sun Times article as someone Barack Obama regularly seeks out for “spiritual counsel”, James Meeks, who will serve as an Obama delegate at the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver, is a long-time political ally to the democratic frontrunner. ..."

Stellaaa's picture
Submitted by Stellaaa on

Thanks...this is a great summary of what my gut tells me. And as we are told, judgement is imperative.

A. Citizen's picture
Submitted by A. Citizen on

......Yes indeedy, I started to do this and....I couldn't do it. Whoever wrote this vile stew of stupidity, 'conservative' Reichwing memes, assertions not in agreement with history as generally accepted, and out right fukin' lies is no Democrat.

Not in the slightest. The one thing you can say is:

They are really reaching if they think anyone who knows their American history would do anything with these 'books' other than throw them in the trashcan.

Where they belong.

A. Citizen

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

Radiowalla's picture
Submitted by Radiowalla on

Your post has just given me permission to give this book a skip. Thank you. I didn't want to read it anyway, but was thinking I should just because so many of my friends in the blogosphere are gaga over Barack.

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

Are we allowed to say that? Or do we have to pretend that the DLC and past editions were progressive rock stars?

Reagan stole a lot of his effective rhetoric from Ted Kennedy's campaign against Carter. Too bad for us.

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

too bad Obama's book lacks the intellectual heft of "It takes a Village" or "A tyson's chicken from Hope".

Here's one of Bill's gems,

"The globalization of the world economy has had profound effects on work, on workers, and on wages. Open markets mean products come into America that are made by people who work for wages Americans can’t live on. This can cost some American workers their jobs and keep others from getting a raise.

But, overall, trade has brought vast benefits to most Americans. Jobs in exporting companies on average pay considerably higher wages than jobs in companies that sell only within the US. "

Wow. David Broder could not have made it more jello like.

Or how about this stunner:
"We don’t need to build walls, we need to build bridges. We don’t need protection, we need opportunity. But in a world of stiff competition we also need more than free trade. We need fair trade with fair rules.

That’s why I fought for NAFTA, which effectively opened Mexico’s and Canada’s markets to American products, and for GATT, which is helping to level the playing field for American companies abroad.

In all, since 1992 we have negotiated more than 200 trade agreements-21 with Japan alone. "

Or this stirring explanation of progressive politics

"We expanded the application of the death penalty for nearly sixty violent crimes, including murder of a federal law enforcement officer, and limited excessive death row appeals. And we have stiffened sentences for drug offenders and told those involved with drug activities in public housing projects they only get one strike. Public housing is a privilege; abuse it and you’re out."

Makes me want to go out and march in the May Day Parade - I dunno about you.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

You might get further if, instead of attacking the future First Dude, you attack the Clinton, I don't know, actually running for President.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.
- Sir William Drummond

dr sardonicus's picture
Submitted by dr sardonicus on

I tried to read through all the pull-quotes, but my head started spinning after two or three and I had to quit.

Before dismissing Obama's book completely, though, it needs to be noted that millions of Americans share his "a pox on both your houses" outlook; I'd go as far as to say that that sentiment is what drives much of Obama's popularity. If we are to revive progressive politics in America, we are going to have to deal with this at some point.

...for the rest of us

Don't no don't now try to get yourself elected
If you do you had better cut your hair

A. Citizen's picture
Submitted by A. Citizen on

...............and there is something to it. But....

It would resonate more if there was a progressive voice actually being heard out there, Edwards comes to mind, not a series of centrist sellouts such as we are saddled with.

I'm pretty sure we are going to hear more from Edwards in the future and I really think his silence now is impressive. He will be the go to guy for the post McSame Presidency. Especially if Barry makes into the the ring with McSame.

Nothing would make it easier to clean the dead wood out of the party than the DLC's Magic Man getting hammered ala McGovern.

But, don't blame the people for their lack of enthusiasm for the puffed up assclowns the Dead Loser Caucus insists on running.

They can smell the fish rotting.

A. Citizen

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... because they're such shrill lefty partisans. Is that really the cure for what ails us? Is that something other than warmed-over DLC/"third way" triangulation?

I am not now, nor have I ever been, saying that Hillary represents a progressive ideal, but she can get through a speech, debate, etc. without giving the impression that she's missed the last several years of American politics.

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on


he's so slimy--i can't believe you got as far as you did--
Submitted by amberglow on Tue, 2008-04-01 14:28.

and what kind of person writes 2 autobiographies by 40???

* reply

Why the kind of ambitious feller or gal who wants to be President of the USA.

Generally not an office sought by deeply modest individuals.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

The clearest-cut Clinton Rule of all is that if she wins the nom and loses the election it's her fault, and if Obama wins the nom and loses the election it's her fault. You can count on the wrong lessons being learned.

jeqal's picture
Submitted by jeqal on

Obama's bad bowling score was because of Hillary.

I say you can take the score from his IQ and add it to his CQ, but personally I just don't get into his looks, He is like a scarecrow.

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

I am not now, nor have I ever been, saying that Hillary represents a progressive ideal, but she can get through a speech, debate, etc. without giving the impression that she’s missed the last several years of American politics.

Oh please.
The DLC rhetoric has been so effective that I can see why the wingers would want Democrats to keep using it, but why would anyone else want it?

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

http://nationaljournal.com/rauch.htm -- A New Politics? Or A New Pandering?

rootless, about the books--that's not ambitious; that's serious psychological issues. Even Rudy (who's a monster and fired police chiefs bec they got better press than him, etc) didn't blow his own horn the way Obama did--esp since he hadn't done anything.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

That's why there's only one thing for her to do - Win the whole fucking thing!

(h/t to Jake Taylor/Tom Berenger)

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

Submitted by lambert on

So I don't give two shits about Obama's oratory.

Nice point on the flag. Sucks. Yep, she's a Centrist. Next.

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

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Didn't she eventually vote against that, after some pressure.

OMG, a president who listens, heaven forfend, what will we do with ourselves.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.
- Sir William Drummond

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

The technique of jumping from topic to topic is particularly annoying.

rootless: What does the DLC have to do with anything in VL's post? VL is right. You use "DLC" as a generic negative association. Interchangeable with "rovian" "limbaugh inspired" and "right wing talking point". When you're not making vague implications of racism.

Please try to stay focused on the topic of the post. Or take some meds.

No offense intended to anyone including rootless who may actually have a mental illness or psychological disorder.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

I'm a liberal Democrat and I believe in the 1st Amendment. I think the Flag Burning Amendment was more for show than anything else.

But when I see someone burning the American flag, my blood boils.

All things considered, I could live with that amendment.

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

rootless: What does the DLC have to do with anything in VL’s post? VL is right. You use “DLC” as a generic negative association. Interchangeable with “rovian” “limbaugh inspired” and “right wing talking point”. When you’re not making vague implications of racism.

Hillary uses a style of politics that was codified by Bill and the DLC. I'm not using it as a pejorative, but to describe a rhetorical style that is essentially an updated "cold war liberal" style that the DLC put together in order for "new democrats" to have a wider coalition. People who don't like it, like Lakoff, critique it as a "laundry list" plus a bunch of heavy puffing to "sound strong".

http://clinton.senate.gov/news/statement...

I sign up for most of the laundry list issues - but I don't think it's a particularly effective style anymore.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

First, it's that Clinton is horrible and her stances are horrible, that's why you can't support her.

Now, it's not the stances it's the delivery.

Well, that explains why you go for Obama.

Style over substance!!

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.
- Sir William Drummond

Imelda Blahnik's picture
Submitted by Imelda Blahnik on

I don’t think Maureen Dowd, with a Hillary nutcracker in hand and Al Gore’s milk dripping from her curled lip, could have done a better job unmanning the Democratic Party.

Dayam. I'm putting that quote on my fridge.

Seriously though, I commend you for getting through all that. Ugh, what blatant pander, what disingenuous crap. I always love it when he goes all "I heart Reagan."

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on


I'm not voting for the Toastmaster of the United States
Submitted by lambert on Tue, 2008-04-01 20:25.

So I don’t give two shits about Obama’s oratory.

Nice point on the flag. Sucks. Yep, she’s a Centrist. Next.

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

* reply

Let's be serious for a moment here and then we can return to earnest discussions of which of these centrist would-be-leaders is more offensive to our delicate sensibilities.

There are structural constraints which apparently ensure the Democratic party will currently represent a less repulsive wing of the military/corporate power structure than the thugs. Because there is no alternative, for now, people with some ethics are forced to support this "less repulsive" wing and whatever representative is chosen to lead it. We're captive. We had to vote for Kerry and for Gore/Liarman and for Bill Clinton, and will most likely have to do the same for either Obama or Hillary. Both of them have to support the Empire, the military economy, the vulture capitalists of wall street and so on.

What I find to differentiate them is just two things. The first is which of them is more likely to close the deal and not pull a Kerry and get fecklessly swiftboated or sit there stupidly like Gore as they stole florida from under him. In my opinion, the Mark Penn Lead Team Hillary is a sitting duck for the Thugs while Obama and Axelrod have shown an ability to take the initiative now and then. The second issue is which would be more effective at fighting the right in office and less effective in suppressing the left. On this issue, Obama also wins. Hillary and Bill have shown excellent ability to survive while sacrificing the team and an inclination to easily dump their "base" to appease the thugs. And Obama's rhetoric, which is so bitterly despised here is, in fact, a populist rhetoric. There is a difference between "yes I can" and "yes we can" - which is exactly what Lani Guinier was getting at. And that's why I'm supporting Obama.

I don't give a shit that his book is filled with meaningless pablum - in fact, it would utterly shock me if someone who wrote a serious book on American politics got near the throne. I don't care whether he praises reagan or panders to the religous - every fucking single one of them do. I don't care about stupid manufactured indignation about Obama's preacher or his bowling or Hillary's tipping habits or fantasy life as a Ranger parachuting into Bosnia.

Capiche?

Submitted by lambert on

Can't you get serious, rootless, before I'm about to crash after a day of traveling? That's a comment worth engaging. I disagree with you on the substance which I have, in fact, considered. See you tomorrow....

On the book: I'd expect a book by an ordinary politician to be filled with meaningless pablum; par for the course. However, we are constantly being told that Obama is transformational, different, you know the drill, and also being told by the Obama Fan Base to read the book, you'll understand. So, VL reads the book, and understands it quite well, and what it shows is that Obama's... just a politician. Now, I accept that Obama and Hillary are both "just politicians." But Hillary's not making a claim that she's not "just a politician." Obama, or at least his campaign, and certainly his fans, are making exactly that claim.

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

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

I look at the same circumstances you do, and I see the situation completely different.

In my opinion, the Mark Penn Lead Team Hillary is a sitting duck for the Thugs while Obama and Axelrod have shown an ability to take the initiative now and then.

Obama has not shown good judgement. Wright, Rezko, McClurkin, now Meeks. If he was able to take the initiative, these would have been dealt with way before FOX News got a hold of it. I don't see him in anyway capable at all of dealing with the Thugs. If he falls back on his tried and true tactic of calling racism, it won't work. First, he will begin looking like the boy who cried wolf. Secondly, it won't affect Republican voters. Democratic voters, who wish to believe we have moved past race in our society will fall for it, but that won't help in the general.

Also, Bill has been extremely well-behaved since he knew his behavior would affect his wife's political chances, and there is no there, there.

The second issue is which would be more effective at fighting the right in office

I think your projection of Bill's weakness onto Hillary is stretching. She has demonstrated time and time again that she is the stronger one in that relationship. You honestly believe Obama, who is tired of campaigning, and wishes this would all be over, really has the stamina necessary to stand up to the GOP? Clinton was the only one still interested in a real fight, last I checked.

And please don't respond with the "anything to win" stretch, ok? If the Clinton's were as truly diabolical as people claim, don't you think he would have launched Operation Enduring Freedom(as it came to be called in Oct. 2001) in Oct 2000 after the USS Cole attack? Do you know why he didn't launch it? Because he did not wish to inject the prospect of war into the ongoing presidential election(the infamous "October Surprise"), which probably would have ensured a Gore victory. But he understood, that war and politics should remain separate, and chose to stay above it. If the Supreme Court hadn't handed the election to Bush, Operation Enduring Freedom(2000 edition) probably would have launched in December, caught Bin Laden by January, and maybe averted the 9/11 attacks. But Clinton, put principles before winning, believing correctly he shouldn't hand the next president a war(as was done to him) and didn't believe a war should be interjected into the campaign.

And Obama’s rhetoric, which is so bitterly despised here is, in fact, a populist rhetoric.

Obama's rhetoric, while embracing the idea of populism, is empty rhetoric. It has allowed him to command a lead in the democratic primary, but it will allow the republicans to define him. Clinton, who voters have known for years, really can't be any further defined. They will have to attack her where everyone knows she stands. Obama, OTOH, will be attacked with whatever the GOP wants voters to believe about him, and that they are very good at.

I'll also add that these discussions are nice. These are discussions where minds can be swayed, and the high minded rhetoric put away. And hey, even intranets agrees with you.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.
- Sir William Drummond

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... is that he continually uses those Toastmaster skills to dump on his base. Hillary's far from pure on this, but it's either calculated of pathological with Obama (not sure which would be worse).

That "his campaign is about you" horseshit is horseshit. He is running the most messianic, I'm-the-awesum campaign I've ever seen.

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

On the book: I’d expect a book by an ordinary politician to be filled with meaningless pablum; par for the course. However, we are constantly being told that Obama is transformational, different, you know the drill, and also being told by the Obama Fan Base to read the book, you’ll understand. So, VL reads the book, and understands it quite well, and what it shows is that Obama’s… just a politician. Now, I accept that Obama and Hillary are both “just politicians.” But Hillary’s not making a claim that she’s not “just a politician.” Obama, or at least his campaign, and certainly his fans, are making exactly that claim.

Hillary is making the claim that she will "fight for you", a claim that is belied by her entire history. The fact that it is bullshit doesn't offend me though. It's just annoying when people buy into it.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

without spouting a completely unrelated talking point.

My Question: What does VL's post have to do with the DLC?

Your answer: Hillary uses a DLC style.

Typical. Any statement made by pro-Hillary folks is not addressed, you just counter with "Hillary or someone related to her or the campaign did something bad or said something objectionable at some point in time".

This is why these comment threads spin around in circles. Try to focus. Ritalin is your friend.

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

Obama has not shown good judgement. Wright, Rezko, McClurkin, now Meeks. If he was able to take the initiative, these would have been dealt with way before FOX News got a hold of it. I don’t see him in anyway capable at all of dealing with the Thugs. If he falls back on his tried and true tactic of calling racism, it won’t work.

I know you dislike Obama, but this is just not accurate. Obama's response to Wright was not to "call racism", but to offer a very sophisticated speech on race which apparently defused the situation - according to polls. It's not important whether you found it persuasive or deep, but that hit hard and losing ground, he was able to come out of it in a way that looked strong. He did not end up having to apologize or denounce his side as Bill did with Lani Guinier. Obama has an interesting dance to do here because Democratic primary voters are weird, but accusations of pandering to christian ministers who are homophobic will have no negative effect in the general. (and just for the record, they all do that.)

I think your projection of Bill’s weakness onto Hillary is stretching. She has demonstrated time and time again that she is the stronger one in that relationship. You honestly believe Obama, who is tired of campaigning, and wishes this would all be over, really has the stamina necessary to stand up to the GOP? Clinton was the only one still interested in a real fight, last I checked.

This is another issue where I disagree with Clinton supporters. Appearing combatitive may rile up the faithful, but it's a question of delivering. Hillary was the person who brought Dick Morris into the white house. She has a 20 year relationship with Mark Penn. She is a founder of the DLC and seems to genuinely believe in their "third path" crappola. Her folding on AUMF and Kyl-Lieberman and Flag Burning show her to be vulnerable to roll-over-itis. It is certainly to be hoped that she will not be as craven as Bill, but I see no reason to expect her to win battles for even moderately liberal causes - except maybe some for reproductive rights for women with money. And I'd love to be wrong here, but honestly look at her discussion with the code pink women and tell me different.

As for Obama, I think he has demonstrated smart ways to frame issues to make the actual progressive goal line up better with the underlying aspirations of the public. Polls show that Americans want universal health care, less empire, end of war, etc. but the thugs have been able to frame these as "government bureaucracy", "weakness", and "defeat". The frustrating thing about the "liberal" response to Obama has been that instead of understanding how brilliant it is to escape Republican frames, many people have felt angry that the tried and true methods (of failing) are not being used again.

I knocked on doors for Obama in conservative working class neighborhoods in South Austin and met people who were lifelong republicans because of trigger issues and because they knew the republican "brand" as small-government and "values" who had become Obama supporters. He had vaulted over the thug frames and managed to appeal to them on common issues like ending the war and breaking the insurance companies. All that talk about common aspirations has a kernel of truth in it. Those people perceive Hillary as condescending and elitist (and I do too) and perceive Obama as genuine (which may be true). The job of the candidate is to sell the program.

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

At least I don't repost vicious racist lies from Investors Business Daily and explain that they "worry" me.

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

And please don’t respond with the “anything to win” stretch, ok? If the Clinton’s were as truly diabolical as people claim, don’t you think he would have launched Operation Enduring Freedom(as it came to be called in Oct. 2001) in Oct 2000 after the USS Cole attack? Do you know why he didn’t launch it? Because he did not wish to inject the prospect of war into the ongoing presidential election(the infamous “October Surprise”), which probably would have ensured a Gore victory. But he understood, that war and politics should remain separate, and chose to stay above it.

Actually, if Bill had shown a little more backbone about having DEMOCRATS other than himself win, I'd be a lot happier with him.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

You're so non-linear! Bringing up another completely unrelated talking point.

Like a rhetorical moebius strip. And you go on and on and on.

Your committment to commenting at Corrente is admirable but perhaps it would be less annoying if you really tried to have an honest discussion about ONE TOPIC AT A TIME.

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

What does IBD have to do with Ritalin?
new
Submitted by shystee on Wed, 2008-04-02 00:42.

You’re so non-linear! Bringing up another completely unrelated talking point.

Like a rhetorical moebius strip. And you go on and on and on.

Your committment to commenting at Corrente is admirable but perhaps it would be less annoying if you really tried to have an honest discussion about ONE TOPIC AT A TIME.

Well, it's hard to take you seriously as someone who wants to have a discussion when you are so angry at Obama that you can give even a moment's credence to the IBD. That post of yours is what brought me here, really. I decided even someone of my poor rhetorical talents would at least add some counterbalance.

As for the DLC, the post was about Obama's rhetorical style. There are a number of comments on style, and, in particular, I was responding to VL's

I am not now, nor have I ever been, saying that Hillary represents a progressive ideal, but she can get through a speech, debate, etc. without giving the impression that she’s missed the last several years of American politics.

I think, on the contrary, that Hillary often speaks like it is 1996 and the DLC playbook will still work.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

I challenge you link to the post where I linked to anything on Investor's Business Daily.

Which, just to review, has nothing to do with ritalin, which in turn has nothing to do with the DLC.

Methinks this another one of your annoying troll tactics: accusing one poster of something another poster has written.

And thanks for getting around to answering the actual question, kinda not really.

As for the DLC, the post was about Obama’s rhetorical style. There are a number of comments on style, and, in particular, I was responding to VL’s...

No, you weren't. VL's quote comes AFTER your bringing up the DLC. Nice try. Lying is not your friend.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

Your blog feed thing you link to says it was posted by janittdott. So it was not me and you're a lyin' ass troll. Don't make shit up, not around here.

If you must know, as soon as I saw that post I warned janittdott not to post rumors on this site. I then alerted Lambert who as the admin deleted the post. In the interim other "senior fellows" scolded janittdott for posting unsubstantiated rumors. She was new to the site and apologized and never came back.

Thanks again for completely derailing the comment thread from the topic of the post. This is what Right Wing trolls would do back in the day when they showed up.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

You can revise and retract this comment or I can do it for you.

From the link in that post I can tell that you mistook my byline from the post immediately above.

I found it by googling "corrente investor's business daily".

I've been maintaining an online reputation, such as it is, for over five years.

In your zeal to do whatever it is you think you're doing for the Obama campaign you have associated my online identity with some BS article.

NOT cool.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

But then rootless and his ilk will have won.

Rather than gaining converts I think their goal is to annoy regular visitors enough that they stop coming by.

The old adage "don't feed the trolls and they will go away" (which I have not been observing) might be of use from now on.

They really have nothing of value to say and their circular arguments are a complete waste of time.

intranets's picture
Submitted by intranets on

Please try to stay focused on the topic of the post. Or take some meds.
No offense intended to anyone including rootless who may actually have a mental illness or psychological disorder.

If you are talking about prescription drugs then you mean psychiatric disorder. As for Clinton, both of them have mental disorders and the prescription drug program will leave many Americans homeless, unlike the DLC, which has built great big foundations of lies and deceit. Dungeon Deceit in Ultima was a dark and scary place much like Hillary's cold heart. Tetrahedron Generator of the Guardian was the last thing standing in the way of the Avatar, just like Obama is the Guardian who dreamed about being president.

jeqal's picture
Submitted by jeqal on

I couldn't even download the sample to my Kindle, the title alone is enough for me to want to watch new disney movies over and over and over until I too can sing, cheer and be skinny like obamanites. Thanks for the review, although not as gruesome as the book, still made me kinda retchy. I hope you got paid a lot for that. Anyone who has read that book is you. I think he got a few of the dates off too. The only think worse than Obama is the BS in his book OBSama
that's better
NOBSama

RickTaylor's picture
Submitted by RickTaylor on

I agree with your reservations, but (and this may or may not be comforting) I suspect a lot of the unity image he presents is a sham. There's no question he knows how to play hardball politics if you look at his history. Remember George Bush campaigned as the compassionate conservative, getting a far more conservative agenda through by prettying it up with lots of unity speech than would otherwise would have been possible. Maybe Obama can do that in reverse. Anyway, it's looking like he's going to be the candidate, so I'm willing to suspend judgement and give him a chance.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

Obama definitely can play hardball, but when has he ever done it against the right? Honestly, I've tried finding examples of that and it seems he cowers when faced with strong opposition.

RickTaylor's picture
Submitted by RickTaylor on

He hasn't really been in a position where he's had to play hardball with the right so far. That's going to change instantaneously, assuming he wins the nomination as seems likely. For all the talk of a different kind of politics, he's a very ambitious politician who wants to win, and who will want to leave a record of accomplishments, and that's not going to happen through magical unity dust alone. I suspect he'll adapt, as he has in the past. Actually there have already been some signs of it; he's did a better job of calling out McCain than Hillary Clinton did for his Al Qaeda mix up, for example.

At any rate, the decision is out of my hand at this point since the primaries in California have come and gone. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt assuming he's the nominee.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

When has he held his own against the right as a state or US senator when the chips were down? As someone whose candidacy--judgment!--revolves around being anti-Iraq war, I can't help but wonder why didn't he even speak out against funding the occupation or in favor of setting timetables during his first few years in the Senate (before 2007)?

I understand that it's out of our hands (I voted on Super Tuesday as well), but that doesn't mean he's should be given benefit of the doubt if he's the nominee. Same applies to Clinton. I think it's best when we know what we're getting rather than hoping for better. And right now, I'm struggling to figure out what core convictions he has, what progressive or moderate positions he'll go to the mat for. I want to know where he stands when push comes to shove.

Even with his so-called "profile in courage" during the Wright affair, in which he truly couldn't all of a sudden denounce his mentor after 20 years, he tried to have it both ways.

Submitted by lambert on

... it's to give a politician the benefit of the doubt only after long, long examination of a career extending over a period of many years. Feelings don't count. I wouldn't give either of our two candidates that benefit.

In a marginal case like this one, I'm voting the base, since Hillary's base cares about Social Security and Universal Health Care, and Hillary's wonkery, which appeale to me. Plus I won't reward a campaign based on hatred of The Clenis and the Clintons generally.

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

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by lambert on

We already know that Obama can play hardball--just against the left. What are the dogwhistles on Social Security about but that? What are is backing off Universal Health Care about but that? What is reviving and leveraging the Clinton hate fomented by the right about but that? What is the misogyny of the Obama fan base about but that?

All you have to do is ask yourself who the people preventing Unity are -- and can't be the Republicans, since Obama wants them in his cabinet. Like I've been saying, Obama's going to govern from the center right.

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

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

That’s going to change instantaneously

RickTaylor, I know everyone wants to believe believe believe that Obama really is the second coming of hope for Dems. Hell, I used to believe it myself, but since he was been elected to national office, he has done nothing but attack the left. I can't have faith that he will change, that makes about as much sense as a DV survivor believing the abuser will change. At least I know Hillary represents Dems, as centrist as she may be.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.
- Sir William Drummond

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

Submitted by lambert on Wed, 2008-04-02 08:31.

We already know that Obama can play hardball—just against the left. What are the dogwhistles on Social Security about but that? What are is backing off Universal Health Care about but that? What is reviving and leveraging the Clinton hate fomented by the right about but that? What is the misogyny of the Obama fan base about but that?

Aside from your attempts to breath new life into a bunch of discredited and never credited nonsense, it is easy to find strong attacks on McCain in many of Obama's recent speeches and pressers, but Senator Clinton has forgotten McCain since she explained that he had great foreign policy credentials.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Rootless, unlike you and the media, I have been paying attention to what Clinton actually does, not what you percieve her to do, and she has been attacking McCain on the stump.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.
- Sir William Drummond

Submitted by lambert on

The best way to deal with a lie is with the old-fashioned tools of evidence and reasoning, Aeryl.

The "she's not attacking McCain" is in the air these says, and it would be great to have the links. We could even refine the attacks, help her be more civil [snicker].

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

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

kc's picture
Submitted by kc on

I love your stuff. It is the only thing about this whole primary season that makes me laugh hysterically.

kc

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

She gives her "good friend" McCain a mild rebuke while comparing herself to Rocky the fighter (aside from being fiction, he lost - for the rest of us it's the winning not the signifying that counts).

Weak tea. Gimme a link to a serious hammering.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

And Senator McCain will gladly accept the torch and stay the course, keeping troops in Iraq for up to 100 years if necessary.

They both want to keep us tied to another country's civil war, a war we cannot win. That in a nutshell is the Bush/McCain Iraq policy. Don’t learn from your mistakes, repeat them. Well, here is the inescapable reality. We can have hundreds of thousands of troops on the ground for 100 years, but that will not change the fact that there is no military solution to the situation in Iraq.

Senator McCain can’t seem to budge from Bush approach that insists on using military force when diplomacy is needed. He has said he wants to keep our troops in Iraq. It would be fine with him for 50 to 100 years.

. Senator McCain really wants eight ears more of the same. Well, I'm going to deliver 21st century solutions that will move our country forward again.

Bullshit I say. The main reason I posted that objection, is I just saw Clinton in person, and she blasted McCain several times(links for that speech are not on her website, that I have seen). I found these searching her site for two minutes. Does she mention him in all her speeches? No, but neither does Obama, from what I've seen. Hell, it was up on the Google News page(now it's moved) that "Clinton and Obama attack McCain on Economy."

Both candidates have been sorely lacking in this area, personally I think they would sway more voters by demonstration who has the better attack on McCain. But I won't let you lie and say she never attacks McCain, because she does.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.
- Sir William Drummond