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Did Obama get what he wanted?
August 5, 2011 9:48 AM   Subscribe

With the conclusion of the debt ceiling debate ending in another defeat for liberals, the emerging narrative is that Obama is weak, a poor negotiator who was out-maneuvered by Republicans and forced into the agreement because of strategic errors. But Glenn Greenwald tells a different story:
The evidence is overwhelming that Obama has long wanted exactly what he got: these severe domestic budget cuts and even ones well beyond these, including Social Security and Medicare, which he is likely to get with the Super-Committee created by this bill.
In a blog post entitled The Debt-deal, or, the Chickens of Third-Way New Democracy Come Home to Roost, bloggers at The Current Moment take the long view, seeing this recent defeat as the culmination of 20 years of austerity measures led by the Democratic Party, and linked to a broad trend in the Western world:
The general point is that the Tea Party added a touch of crazy, and Obama added a touch of ruling class cool, to a much more general problem for the Left. The mainstream parties of the Left, from New Democrats to Spain’s Socialists to British Labour, have been preaching austerity and a new era of limits for decades. In such an environment, austerity in a time of recession, extended joblessness, and growing inequality seems like the reasonable thing to do.
Corey Robin, author of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin, put the question on his Facebook page, and sparked a debate among leading leftist academics that was noted by WSJ.com:
Obama continually craves – or rather demands – progressive credentials. Beyond mere triangulation, it’s as if he understands his signal accomplishment to be the translation of progressive desires into neoliberal politics...
posted by AlsoMike (241 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh my god of course Obama got what he wanted. He didn't even have to participate in this manufactured crisis. He used it to obtain spending cuts that he would otherwise have been unable to get Democrats to vote for. Is this surprising or original analysis to anyone?

Obama is an incredibly skilled and successful politician. He is not weak, and he is only a failure insofar as his goals are diametrically opposed to those of (most of) his supporters. Stop trying to rationalize all of his accomplishments as failures, and recognize them as successes for the team you didn't intend to support.
posted by rusty at 9:53 AM on August 5, 2011 [43 favorites]


The mainstream parties of the Left, from New Democrats to Spain’s Socialists to British Labour, have been preaching austerity and a new era of limits for decades.

Yep. Because rich people control the means of (mass) communication, so they get to run the story that Fair Taxes Hurt The Economy (or whatever the phrasing of the day is). See the previous post about marginalizing dissent the Left.
posted by DU at 9:54 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Editorialize much?
posted by anigbrowl at 9:56 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Editorialize much?

How do you think Greenwald makes his millions?
posted by joe lisboa at 9:56 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


A: Agit-pop.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:57 AM on August 5, 2011


Did Obama get what he wanted?

No. He got what he could get.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:57 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Did Obama get what he wanted?

No. He got what he could get.


We might find we got what we needed, but I doubt it.
posted by chambers at 9:58 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Did Obama get what he wanted?

No. He got what he could get.


No. He got what the people who actually run the country allowed him to get.
posted by rocket88 at 10:01 AM on August 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


In other words, he's willing -- eager -- to impose the "pain" Cohn describes on those who can least afford to bear it so that he can run for re-election as a compromise-brokering, trans-partisan deficit cutter willing to "take considerable heat from his own party." 

I'm missing the part where this plan makes any goddamn sense whatsoever.
posted by ook at 10:01 AM on August 5, 2011 [15 favorites]


Obama: Debt Ceiling Deal Required Tough Concessions By Both Democrats And Democrats Alike
posted by cjorgensen at 10:01 AM on August 5, 2011 [15 favorites]


Greenwald is insane. His theory doesn't even stand up to the laugh test.
posted by humanfont at 10:02 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


do try
posted by clavdivs at 10:05 AM on August 5, 2011


... fever ... dreams ... "America has been spending well beyond its means for over a decade. And we've done good work with that spending. But the bills are coming due. And I know that many of you are finding it hard to pay your own bills, let alone those of the country. But there are those of us, including myself and those who work with me in the Senate, and the house of Representatives, and the lobbyists, and those in the financial sector, who, while feeling the pinch of the economy, are still making most of the money in the country while representing just a fraction of the population. It is we, personally, those of us who have succeeded over the past twenty years, who must now do what we can to help the country. That's why I'm introducing legislation this week to raise income taxes on the wealthy to 50%, and bring estate taxes back for beneficiaries over $1M. We've been spending money like there's no tomorrow, America, but the sun keeps coming up day after day, and the bills are coming due. I urge those of you out there who have secure, stable jobs who spend more time wondering which restaurant you'll dine at this evening rather than whether you can afford to feed your children at all to join me in working together to pay off our debts. The bills are due, America, and those of us who have done well have the responsibility to make those payments today before the problems get worse. Let's on our big boy pants, American, open our checkbooks, and start paying our bills together." .... bad pizza ... mushrooms ... OH MY GOD WHAT DID I SAY
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:06 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


I like the slant the Guardian gave it yesterday (unfortunately I can't find the actual article now). It basically said that the extreme edge of the Republicans were playing a hard and ultimately pathological game of chicken, that they were willing to implode the world's economy in order to score the points they wanted scored. And in the end, Obama blinked, which is not necessarily an entirely bad thing (it did stave off that implosion) but it does mean that none of this over. Not by a long shot.
posted by philip-random at 10:06 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Her'es a Mother Jones article on the topic. It's simple and interesting.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:06 AM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


It doesn't really matter what his motivation is, as a progressive I have to say the result blows. He's better than having a Republican at the helm, but the edge keeps getting smaller.

Can't say I buy the "he got what he could get" argument, either.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:07 AM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


But why hose Boehner the first time on the government shutdown? Within a week it came out that there were no real cuts at all. If he really wanted cuts so bad, then why not have real cuts the first time?

These cuts are so far in the future they will be rewritten again, just like the cuts from the shutdown threat were written away in this deal.

Second, GG can't have it both ways. Either Obama was telling the truth on the clean bill or on the cuts. He said both. GG just picks which one he wants.

Plus he is only throwing red meat to his readers without any evidence. How does he know what the President is thinking?

And if the President is so anxious for these cuts, why wouldn't he just make them for now. The GOP would jump at that chance--instead he pushed them off until after the election.

One could make the case for the defense cuts being wanted, Obama requested $400 billion in defense cuts, and got the GOP to sign off on $350 billion of it. But we'll see.

Troubled by Panetta's talk yesterday. Although could be a bluff to pressure the Super committee into raising revenue. I still bet the GOP votes it out of existence, along with the proposed savings and or cuts and the cuts left on the books will be these ones, which will be rewritten by either party after the 2012 elections.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:07 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course Obama is a neoliberal. The United States has nothing comparable to a real liberal in power today.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:08 AM on August 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Oh my god of course Obama got what he wanted. He didn't even have to participate in this manufactured crisis. He used it to obtain spending cuts that he would otherwise have been unable to get Democrats to vote for. Is this surprising or original analysis to anyone?

Obama wants revenue. That's what he wants. That's what he hopes the super committee will get him. If they waive its provisions, then he got this deal for a lot less.

This is going to get totally rewritten when the CR issue comes up in September.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:10 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


All I know is if Obama extends the Bush era tax cuts (again) I'm done.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:10 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


David Sirota concurs.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:10 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


That does it, I'm checking the air pressure on the tyres.
posted by clavdivs at 10:12 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


In other words, he's willing -- eager -- to impose the "pain" Cohn describes on those who can least afford to bear it so that he can run for re-election as a compromise-brokering, trans-partisan deficit cutter willing to "take considerable heat from his own party."

But what fucking programs for those "who can least afford it" got cut? An accounting change on COLA SS formulas, no effect on benefits. No medicare cuts, no medicaid cuts. $350 billion cuts to defense, $150 billion to "security." The trigger? $600 billion in additional defense cuts, no cuts to social security, no cuts to medicare beneficiaries (providers will have some cuts).

So I don't understand how those who can least afford it are getting hit. Unless you mean defense contractors.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:13 AM on August 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


I don't think either side, liberal or conservative, "won". yeah, Obama lost, but the Tea Party didn't come out well either. It was crappy from both ends as evidenced by the fact that the actual Liberals and the hard-core Conservatives members voted against it in the house. When you have Keith Ellison and Michelle Bauchman on the same side of a vote you know something is fucked up.

At the end of the day, given the choices I hope Obama wins in 2012, but I suspect, like so many others, he will make a better ex-President then President.

I frankly don't see why anyone wants the job (especially nowadays), you get attacked 24/7 from all sides, blamed for things you have little control over, your human faults are magnified, your family/religion/friends/??? are held up for scrutiny and ridicule. You are either weak or a tyrant. You either micromanage or are too controlling. Too stiff or too causal. You make promises to get elected, and even if those promises are sincere and heartfelt you will fail to deliver on many of them because you literally have hundreds of enemies in a co-equal branch of government who want to see you fail.

The presidency is a shit job
posted by edgeways at 10:13 AM on August 5, 2011 [16 favorites]


Three days ago the left was all up in arms about how Obama got played. Now they are accusing him of being the evil mastermind. You can't have it both ways, people.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 AM on August 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


Er, the debt deal shaves 0.1% off the 2012 GDP, with the most brutal cuts coming from the defense budget and comparatively little (IIRC) coming from Medicare/caid/SS. If Obama secretly wanted to rein in spending and gut the social safety net under Republican cover, he could have struck a deal far, far more damaging than this. (Not to mention he probably wouldn't have pushed through that stimulus package that poured hundreds of billions into education grants, clean energy, food stamps, infrastructure, etc.)

I think a lot of the acrimony over this is coming from people who are thoroughly invested in the idea that Obama is either a long-lost Koch Brother or so incompetent as makes no odds, and then see everything through that prism. But the actual provisions of the deal are not really that bad. Not good, but not catastrophic capitulation, either.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:15 AM on August 5, 2011 [16 favorites]


Oh my god of course Obama got what he wanted. He didn't even have to participate in this manufactured crisis. He used it to obtain spending cuts that he would otherwise have been unable to get Democrats to vote for. Is this surprising or original analysis to anyone?

This crisis will not help Obama get re-elected.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:15 AM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


It basically said that the extreme edge of the Republicans were playing a hard and ultimately pathological game of chicken, that they were willing to implode the world's economy in order to score the points they wanted scored.

Not to toot my own horn here, but, uh, toot.
posted by Jpfed at 10:16 AM on August 5, 2011


My take, as a biased observer, is that if the Republican ideas are good on their own they could just float 'em. They'd get voted on, passed over to be enacted, and signed into law. All on their own. You wouldn't need to tie them to an artificial deadline. It's only sucky terrible ideas that you have to tie to something else and threaten to take the country to shit with in order to get them considered and passed.

I don't even see how anyone had time to even read this bill, let alone understand it and take an intelligent position on it.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:16 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


How does he know what the President is thinking?

"Katha: You know, none of us know what is in his head. However, he did say, as recently as last monday, that he wanted tax hikes on the wealthy. He wanted the Bush tax cuts to expire, which is not in the current deal. I don’t exactly disagree with Doug — clearly, he is Wall St’s man –but I think a more skillful politician, one less in love with being above the fray, could have handled this a lot better and gotten more on the other side. I mean, asking people to call their congressperson? Pathetic."
posted by clavdivs at 10:16 AM on August 5, 2011


I think a lot of the acrimony over this is coming from people who are thoroughly invested in the idea that Obama is either a long-lost Koch Brother or so incompetent as makes no odds, and then see everything through that prism. But the actual provisions of the deal are not really that bad. Not good, but not catastrophic capitulation, either.

Both parties punted. Each is waiting for 2012 to take control and make changes. The changes to the CBO baseline wrought by this deal are gonna be rewritten by whomever wins then.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:16 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


edgeways: "I frankly don't see why anyone wants the job (especially nowadays), you get attacked 24/7 from all sides, blamed for things you have little control over, your human faults are magnified, your family/religion/friends/??? are held up for scrutiny and ridicule. You are either weak or a tyrant. You either micromanage or are too controlling. Too stiff or too causal. You make promises to get elected, and even if those promises are sincere and heartfelt you will fail to deliver on many of them because you literally have hundreds of enemies in a co-equal branch of government who want to see you fail. "

Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job
posted by Rhaomi at 10:17 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


I mean, asking people to call their congressperson? Pathetic."

yes, because in no way could this issue, at its core, be the fault of the American people who voted these people into office.

Everyone wants there to be a West Wing style TV ending to this. Not gonna happen. This is real life. People are getting mad about what was allegedly "put on the table" not about the facts of the deal which are damn good given the circumstances.

In other words this is about emotion and perception, not reality.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:20 AM on August 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm to the point that I don't give a flying fuck any longer. Let the greedy lying politicians and their corporate handlers do what they want. I'm going to ride it out as long as I can....and then all bets are off.
This is what happens when people feel nobody can be trusted and hope is gone..
posted by tomswift at 10:23 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't even see how anyone had time to even read this bill, let alone understand it and take an intelligent position on it.

Oh, I guarantee you they didn't. here in MN where we went trough something very similar last month a deal was struck between the D(FL) Gov and the Rep legislature after two weeks of partial Govt shutdown. The deal was agreed upon, written, passed and signed before it was noticed there had been things added to it in the middle part of the process. Including a provision that would eventual mean the closure of all foster homes in the State, by making it so those homes could not fill beds as they became vacant (by foster homes, think residential group homes for folks with Dev Disabilities, or other disabilities). No one knew how this was slipped in, no one knows, or is saying who did it, and there has been zero press coverage about the addition to the bills, or the process. Meaning... once the bills where written NO ONE READ THEM prior to passage.

Just this week it was decided/agreed by the MN Dept of State and several legislators that the added provision will not be enforced and will be changed next session (ha).

This is our political process. Things made law without people knowing who proposed it. Laws voted into existence without people having read it.
posted by edgeways at 10:27 AM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


yes, because in no way could this issue, at its core, be the fault of the American people who voted these people into office.

I'm really sorry. I voted as hard as I could but it didn't work. :'(

...wait, I'm not sure I understand what you are trying to say.
posted by fuq at 10:28 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


This probably makes me an Obama apologist but I've come to embrace the idea that the presidency is not the potentially politically transformative position that it is popularly perceived to be. I think the Kevin Drum piece Stagger Lee linked above is a good take on it. The American political system gives the opposition an inordinate amount of power and motivation to obstruct so a lot of times the President is going to have to take the least-bad option.
posted by ghharr at 10:28 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, where could I get fairly neutral info on this debt deal?
posted by UrbanEye at 10:28 AM on August 5, 2011


With the conclusion of the debt ceiling debate ending in another defeat for liberals,

Premise not proven.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:29 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


But why hose Boehner the first time on the government shutdown? Within a week it came out that there were no real cuts at all. If he really wanted cuts so bad, then why not have real cuts the first time?

If his goal is actually not austerity, but instead more spending on stimulus, you can't say he fucking hosed anyone even if you buy that he did the best he could to reduce the cuts.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:29 AM on August 5, 2011


Ironmouth, where could I get fairly neutral info on this debt deal?

You'll have to wait a week, I suspect. Everyone has got their take on it now. Try the text of the law.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:30 AM on August 5, 2011


I mean, asking people to call their congressperson? Pathetic.

I don't see how asking the non-crazy citizenry of this country to get involved in something as seemingly as important as this is "pathetic."
posted by NoMich at 10:31 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Boehner got nothing he wanted, but, more importantly, appeared to have won.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:31 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


But why hose Boehner the first time on the government shutdown? Within a week it came out that there were no real cuts at all. If he really wanted cuts so bad, then why not have real cuts the first time?

If his goal is actually not austerity, but instead more spending on stimulus, you can't say he fucking hosed anyone even if you buy that he did the best he could to reduce the cuts.


How's he gonna force the Tea Party to shell out for more stimulus? I want it, you want it, he wants it, but the constitution makes it clear that they hold the cards.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:31 AM on August 5, 2011



This crisis will not help Obama get re-elected.


I don't think it actually hurts him all that much. I mean, have you seen his numbers lately vs congress? He's been remarkably stable, whereas congress is increasingly viewed as the bomb throwers they are. In addition, he got the conservative sacred cow of defense spending on the table while throwing the right a bone that turns out to be made of chalk.

Obama's biggest hurdle to being reelected is the economy. Increasingly, his ally turns out to be the tea party loons doing their tea party loon stuff.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:31 AM on August 5, 2011


This probably makes me an Obama apologist but I've come to embrace the idea that the presidency is not the potentially politically transformative position that it is popularly perceived to be.

Remember that next year when you're told you have to prevent a President Romney.
posted by Trurl at 10:32 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Three days ago the left was all up in arms about how Obama got played. Now they are accusing him of being the evil mastermind. You can't have it both ways, people.

Starting the hippy punching early this thread, eh? Democrats approved of this plan more than anyone else, there is no imaginary liberal "they" for you to accuse of hypocrisy, there is a disagreement among some people on the left.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:32 AM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Boehner got nothing he wanted, but, more importantly, appeared to have won.

I wonder if that was part of the deal. Seriously the guy came out and said he got 98% of what he wanted. I'm sure that $350 billion cut in defense with no entitlement reform was what he really wanted. Also Dems are a leg up on them in the super committee because the trigger is so favorable to them relative to the GOP.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:33 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama played kick the can down the street. He compromised some, got the next debt fight shifted until after the election, and exposes the tea party for right wing radicals. The short term impact if a pretty small cut in government spending (yes cutting spending in an economic downturn is stupid but them is the breaks) in the current fiscal year with more cuts coming somewhere down the road that will be shifted yet again in the perpetual game of kick the can.

Republicans played along with the charade because while cutting the deficit helps their side get out the vote they as a team honestly don't care about deficits. Cutting spending hurts government contractors, hurts voters, hurts re-election chances. Yeah if they could target cuts exclusively at democratic voters and districts they'd probably love that but it's essentially a campaign issue that the established Republicans don't give a shit about (see routine debt limit increases under Reagan and Bush II).

I have to concur with other posters either he's a dupe that is too weak to negotiate with bullies or he's an evil mastermind that is doing a long series of xanatos gambits so that even when he appears to lose he's really winning. Neither really seems remotely accurate.
The more likely alternative is that he's a man given a bad hand who is trying to play it in the best way possible for his own benefit (re-election) and for his team (Democrats in general). If some of his own side get hurt in the process those are acceptable risks/losses.
posted by vuron at 10:33 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile can anyone explain what the fucking market is doing today? Jesus.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:33 AM on August 5, 2011


the facts of the deal which are damn good given the circumstances.

Are they? As far as I can tell both sides had to give up stuff that they wanted, but the GOP got things that they wanted and the Democrats did not get much that they wanted (except in the negative sense of wanting some things to not happen that didn't). This quick-n-dirty analysis is confirmed by looking at who voted for and against.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:34 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


If his goal is actually not austerity, but instead more spending on stimulus, you can't say he fucking hosed anyone even if you buy that he did the best he could to reduce the cuts.

How's he gonna force the Tea Party to shell out for more stimulus? I want it, you want it, he wants it, but the constitution makes it clear that they hold the cards.


I don't know, but stop claiming victory until he fucking gets it (and the revenue) done. (Unless your victory conditions do not include stimulus or revenue!)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:35 AM on August 5, 2011


Benny Andajetz: "It doesn't really matter what his motivation is, as a progressive I have to say the result blows."

If congress remains in a stalemate, the automatic trigger goes into action, and completely decimates funding to the DoD just around the time that the Bush tax cuts are set to expire. There's a very real possibility that this will happen, and cause enough of a fracas that the tax cuts expire in their entirety. As far as liberals are concerned, this is a win, especially because the Republicans really won't want this to happen, and will be willing to make big concessions on the deficit commission.

Also, blaming the president for anything in the legislative process is hilarious and insane. Any legislation needs to make it past at least 278 other desks* before the president even gets to have a say in the matter.

If Congress doesn't like what the President has to say about the bill, they can override his decision with just 358 votes.

Don't act like the buck starts and stops with Obama. We have a president; not a king. The role of the executive in domestic affairs is incredibly restricted by the Constitution. You have at least 278 other people to blame before Obama.

*Assuming a simple majority in the House and filibuster-proof supermajority in the senate.
posted by schmod at 10:35 AM on August 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh thank god, a new thread! My work browser couldn't properly load the last thread when it went past 2900 comments...
posted by Theta States at 10:35 AM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


If the president was so opposed to this, why didn't he wield the threat of veto more forcefully. The full-on plan proposed by the right is opposed by the majority of the electorate. Most people want upper-level taxes to go up. Most people think revenue enhancements need to be included in the deal.

If I were Obama, and I were philosophically opposed to the Republicans' plan, I don't think it would be hard to say, "give me a clean debt-ceiling-raise OR a plan that includes some revenue or I'll veto it". Kick it back in their court and let them take the lead and the heat.

You still might not get what you want, but the responsibility falls where it should.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:36 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of course Obama is a neoliberal. The United States has nothing comparable to a real liberal in power today.

Depends what you mean by 'real liberal.' I think you mean progressivist.
Classical liberalism is a philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:37 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are they? As far as I can tell both sides had to give up stuff that they wanted, but the GOP got things that they wanted and the Democrats did not get much that they wanted (except in the negative sense of wanting some things to not happen that didn't). This quick-n-dirty analysis is confirmed by looking at who voted for and against.

Well, what did the GOP want, in detail:

Entitlement Reform
Medicare to take serious cuts
Revenue off the table
Only a short term deal
Balanced Budget Amendment Passed and to the States.

What did they get?
$350 billion in defense cuts
Medicare took no cuts
Revenue still on the table
Cuts pushed off until after the elections
long term deal
A vote on the BBA, but Reid can amend it, I suggest with the "Fund Planned Parenthood Until the Sun Burns Out Act of 2011."

So you tell me?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:37 AM on August 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


3D 4D chess.
posted by LordSludge at 10:38 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


If his goal is actually not austerity, but instead more spending on stimulus, you can't say he fucking hosed anyone even if you buy that he did the best he could to reduce the cuts.

How's he gonna force the Tea Party to shell out for more stimulus? I want it, you want it, he wants it, but the constitution makes it clear that they hold the cards.

I don't know, but stop claiming victory until he fucking gets it (and the revenue) done. (Unless your victory conditions do not include stimulus or revenue!)


There's a such thing as winning a defensive battle. Stopping your enemy is a big part of eventual victory.

Why does he have to win every single little thing before he gets any credit?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:40 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Three days ago the left was all up in arms about how Obama got played. Now they are accusing him of being the evil mastermind. You can't have it both ways, people.

Duh, sure we can, it's the American Way!
posted by Theta States at 10:41 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile can anyone explain what the fucking market is doing today? Jesus.

Market opened high on jobs reports showing 117,000 jobs created, above expectations (although I've read analysis saying the job report was very contradictory if you bother to read past the headlines.

Market then decided to poop itself on a global scale due to fears that the European Central Bank isn't going to bail out Spain and Italy, which cause the gains to disappear and everything to drop 2% on the day.

Then the ECB announced it will buy bonds for Spain and Italy, which drove everything upwards again.

The Volatility Index (VIX) is currently hanging around 32, having spiked earlier at 39. A VIX above 30 indicates fear in the market. All of the technical signs (that the algorithms tend to run on) are particularly crappy, and many analysts are calling for a significant drop to happen before things level out and start increasing again. I've seen a lot of expecations for the Dow to go to 10,000-10,600, S&P to 1060-1150. Right now the nerves are high enough that I'd expect that if someone farts in the NYSE that it could cause a 20 point drop.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:42 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Because the voters in the middle that actually get people elected to national office don't like partisan wrangling and gamesmanship. They want compromise and conciliation. By looking reasonable while the Republicans looked like total douchebags Obama was able to portray himself as the bigger statesman while the tea party looked like petulant spoiled brats unwilling to compromise.

End result Obama barely took an approval hit and the Tea Party has way more negative numbers than they had 3 months ago.

Playing hardball would've been risky, it was simply too easy to place the blame on Democrats and Obama if a deal fell through. So they played the issue out and got a compromise.

There are sometimes a president needs to take a firm stand and not compromise but I'm not sure a debt ceiling fight is that time.
posted by vuron at 10:43 AM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


There's a such thing as winning a defensive battle. Stopping your enemy is a big part of eventual victory.

Why does he have to win every single little thing before he gets any credit?


You are rewriting history if you think this was a purely defensive battle, he made his charge for revenue and lost. You don't get those things without offense and it's not going to happen as long as you focus too much on defense.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:43 AM on August 5, 2011


BEAR WITH ME. Conservatives when talking about deficits usually use the trope of the family budget and say: if you owe money then you have to cut your expenses. And that is what they wanted in this debt ceiling issue. But in my home--are we unusual?--if we owe, say 5 thousand dollars--then we cut expenses and try to figure out a way to get more money because cutting expenses still leaves us in need of money, though not as much. But if jobs are not there, or wages stagnating as they are, then there is not enough money coming in. That is where changing who pays what (ie taxes) comes into the picture. Note that the budget truly went sky high after the Bush tax break for the super wealthy. Note too that the Treasury Dept today indicated that two years ago some 1,400 millionaires paid NO taxes. None. And the corporations?

Now we have a super group who are to get cuts and if they do not then cuts automatically made. But note this: the conservatives are asked to cut military expenses; the liberals, social programs. So what happened? The Sec of Defense, Panetta, and gang today said we should not weaken defense etc etc...but who speaks up for the Social programs? the kid at WalMart?

As for who won and who lost: we all see things not as they are but as we are.
posted by Postroad at 10:44 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now we have a super group who are to get cuts and if they do not then cuts automatically made. But note this: the conservatives are asked to cut military expenses; the liberals, social programs.

Trigger auto cuts 700 billion in defense, $0 to benefits in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Some Medicare providers would see cuts.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:47 AM on August 5, 2011


There's a such thing as winning a defensive battle. Stopping your enemy is a big part of eventual victory.

Why does he have to win every single little thing before he gets any credit?

You are rewriting history if you think this was a purely defensive battle, he made his charge for revenue and lost. You don't get those things without offense and it's not going to happen as long as you focus too much on defense.


Where are the votes we need to go on offense? Please tell me.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:48 AM on August 5, 2011


The Tea Party won. They're willing to literally destroy the country if that's what it takes to get Obama out of office. And the Democrats let them do it.
posted by tommasz at 10:48 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The triggers are kind of a joke, no one who wasn't scared away by default as a consequence would be scared away by them.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:49 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


BEAR WITH ME. Conservatives when talking about deficits usually use the trope of the family budget and say: if you owe money then you have to cut your expenses.

Well, sonny, no baseball mitt for you this year. And Honey, I'm sorry but you can only get your hair styled once every other month. Little Susie, we're going to have to sell your Barbie sets.
But under no circumstances will I get a second job!
posted by Ironmouth at 10:50 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


You are rewriting history if you think this was a purely defensive battle, he made his charge for revenue and lost. You don't get those things without offense and it's not going to happen as long as you focus too much on defense.

Where are the votes we need to go on offense? Please tell me.


Obama's the one who apparently thought they were there, go ask him. The point is you are spinning like a top when you claim defensiveness was the goal. He simply can't deliver on offense.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:50 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The triggers are kind of a joke, no one who wasn't scared away by default as a consequence would be scared away by them.

So $600 billion more in defense cuts and you can't blame the Dems? Serious loss for the GOP.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:51 AM on August 5, 2011


This probably makes me an Obama apologist but I've come to embrace the idea that the presidency is not the potentially politically transformative position that it is popularly perceived to be. I think the Kevin Drum piece Stagger Lee linked above is a good take on it.

Indeed. Presidents are towering figures, but few people remember Congress, or the prevailing political conditions at the time. Many could recall Wilson as president during WWI. But which party controlled the House and Senate? Exactly.

That's what makes it easy to see past liberal presidents through rose-colored glasses. FDR carried 46 states in 1936 (and still couldn't pack the Supreme Court, protect all his New Deal programs, or secure a Second Bill of Rights). LBJ enjoyed greater-than-two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress (and still got mired in Vietnam and saw his Great Society dismantled). Heck, Lincoln had most of his political opponents secede from the Union, but he still had to suspend hbeas corpus and use emancipation as a bargaining chip he was willing to surrender.

In light of the structurally-weak and short-lived Democratic supermajority and literally unprecedented Republican opposition to everything on all fronts, Obama has done a remarkable job. It's sad he doesn't get more credit for all the behind-the-scenes good and quiet disaster-averting stuff like the stimulus and the auto bailouts did.

Remember that next year when you're told you have to prevent a President Romney.

Destroying and regressing is easy; progress is hard. Especially when dealing with powerful entrenched interests.

>>Three days ago the left was all up in arms about how Obama got played. Now they are accusing him of being the evil mastermind. You can't have it both ways, people.

Starting the hippy punching early this thread, eh?

Wow, that didn't take long. And doesn't even make sense in context of what it's replying to, but whatever. Mischaracterize away.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:52 AM on August 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


You are rewriting history if you think this was a purely defensive battle, he made his charge for revenue and lost. You don't get those things without offense and it's not going to happen as long as you focus too much on defense.

Where are the votes we need to go on offense? Please tell me.

Obama's the one who apparently thought they were there, go ask him. The point is you are spinning like a top when you claim defensiveness was the goal. He simply can't deliver on offense.


ON Offense:

HCR
Stimulus
Financial Reform
Repeal of DADT

All things Clinton failed at. Obama got done. You can try and try and try but those are facts.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:52 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Defense totally would not have been touched by default!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:52 AM on August 5, 2011


It seems pretty clear that he is a neoliberal that pandered to a progressive base because it was so different from Bush and was the best way to get elected.
posted by Cloud King at 10:54 AM on August 5, 2011


The triggers are kind of a joke, no one who wasn't scared away by default as a consequence would be scared away by them.

Not according to the People's View:

He is either unwilling or unable to actually look at the deal that was announced and realize what just happened: Barack Obama ate John Boehner's lunch, and then he turned Boehner out to go preach to his conservative colleagues that this eating of the lunch by Obama is actually politically good for them.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:54 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Three days ago the left was all up in arms about how Obama got played. Now they are accusing him of being the evil mastermind. You can't have it both ways, people.

Starting the hippy punching early this thread, eh?


I am sorry that you dislike the fact that I disagree with points that you are making. But I will continue to disagree. And when I do, I am not punching you. I am exercising my right make an argument and respond to what others say. What do you propose, a rule that keeps one side of the debate silent?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:54 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why does he have to win every single little thing before he gets any credit?

um... ask any minority achiever why...
posted by infini at 10:54 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am so tired of the term 'hippy punching.' It's the mirror image of 'RINO' which just a few years ago we were mocking the GOP for.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:56 AM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


You are rewriting history if you think this was a purely defensive battle, he made his charge for revenue and lost. You don't get those things without offense and it's not going to happen as long as you focus too much on defense.

Hello? Revenue-raising bills have to originate in the House. In case you hadn't noticed, the House is currently held by the Republican party with a comfortably large majority, and 1/3 or of the Republicans are Tea Partiers that don't know a fucking thing about economics or governance. Just how do you propose pushing through a revenue bill in this situation?
posted by anigbrowl at 10:56 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


[This thread needs to not become Ironmouth v. Everyone. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 10:57 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am sorry that you dislike the fact that I disagree with points that you are making. But I will continue to disagree. And when I do, I am not punching you. I am exercising my right make an argument and respond to what others say. What do you propose, a rule that keeps one side of the debate silent?

I dislike the fact that you feel an impulsive need to create an attack at a mysterious "they" of the left that is hypocritically being so horribly mean to the President when you know damn well Democrats are the group most enthusiastic about this deal. Some people on the left agree, some people disagree. There is no evil other "they" bouncing back and forth here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:59 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Tea Party won. They're willing to literally destroy the country if that's what it takes to get Obama out of office. And the Democrats let them do it.

Wha'? You realize that they use a voting system to get things done in Congress and not rasslin' matches, right? I realize that in our current system there is normally some sort of cajoling and compromising that goes on to try and the get the votes needed to pass a bill, but the tea party Repubs aren't playing that game and the liberal Dems just don't have the votes to get what they want.
posted by NoMich at 11:01 AM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am sorry that you dislike the fact that I disagree with points that you are making. But I will continue to disagree. And when I do, I am not punching you. I am exercising my right make an argument and respond to what others say. What do you propose, a rule that keeps one side of the debate silent?

I dislike the fact that you feel an impulsive need to create an attack at a mysterious "they" of the left that is hypocritically being so horribly mean to the President when you know damn well Democrats are the group most enthusiastic about this deal. Some people on the left agree, some people disagree. There is no evil other "they" bouncing back and forth here.


Nobody is evil. But it is my words that are being attacked. And I made a good point. We've heard for several days how terrible the President is at negotiating. And now gee, he's only helping them because he wants to and its a huge conspiracy.

The positions are inconsistent. They seem to be more involved with trying to attack the President than the facts.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:03 AM on August 5, 2011


but the tea party Repubs aren't playing that game and the liberal Dems just don't have the votes to get what they want.

I think we are mostly on board with the idea the Democrats can't get what they want, it would just be nice if they would stop claiming victory when they get what the Republicans want (spending cuts) instead.

If the Democrats had asked for say 10% more taxes on the rich and instead got 5%, that would be different than the Republicans only getting part of what they want.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:03 AM on August 5, 2011


Hello? Revenue-raising bills have to originate in the House.

Purely as an aside - the Senate has never agreed with that.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:05 AM on August 5, 2011


Nobody is evil. But it is my words that are being attacked. And I made a good point. We've heard for several days how terrible the President is at negotiating. And now gee, he's only helping them because he wants to and its a huge conspiracy.

The positions are inconsistent. They seem to be more involved with trying to attack the President than the facts.


They are no inconsistant, they are simply examining different reasons for how you could end up in the same place, and they are not universally held by "they" "the left", attack the ideas and not the damn dirty hippies.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:05 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This FPP is one big blow job and concern troll for the the Fire Baggers (FDL pseudo-progressives getting paid off by the Right and in cahoots with Grover Norquist) and Gleen Greenwald's fucking self-righteous over heated feverish ego.

I think it should be closed and re-written to not editorialize or troll or use that fucking term, neoliberalism, recovering and ashamed neoconservatives like to throw around to confuse who it is that crucified the nation and fucked it up the ass with a long Dong Silver, 2001 to 2008.

I get it. Obama needs a severe spanking. Go to it, but if you have half (or a quarter brain), there's no question who and what is needed in this country right now, and you know what? It's not giving solace to a dysfucntional and deeply fucked up GOTP that is in the process of making themselves historically redundant and the neofascist Quisling party of the ole US of A.

Unless of course those who are so disappointed with Obama for having a brain and a unique approach and strategy to his progress goals, tear the victory out of the mouth of the Dems and literally re-invigorate the GOTP with their big baby tantrums and inability to keep their fucking eyes on the motherfucking prize.

FLAGGED.


OUT.
posted by Skygazer at 11:06 AM on August 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Um, well then...
posted by UrbanEye at 11:07 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This FPP is one big blow job and concern troll for the the Fire Baggers (FDL pseudo-progressives getting paid off by the Right and in cahoots with Grover Norquist)

Is this tinfoil or for real? If so:

WHERE'S MY CHECK NORQUIST?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:08 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is the problem about talking about politics-as-it-happens. everyone has an opinion, often it is a very strong opinion that they are willing to insult the people they are talking to if there is a disagreement. And yet... frankly, it is all speculation.

The Tea Party won, the Dems caved... Obama ate Boehner for lunch (Obam eats Boehner!!!), this will halp him get elected, this will hurt his election chances, is a neoliberal, gets stuff done, is ineffectual...

This is kind of why I couldn't talk Dkos anymore.

We really could do without "Hippy Punching". Otherwise people, remember to breath, don't get too bogged down at the keyboard, unclench a little.
posted by edgeways at 11:08 AM on August 5, 2011


I am so tired of the term 'hippy punching.' It's the mirror image of 'RINO' which just a few years ago we were mocking the GOP for.

Me too. In debates on Metafilter I've noticed that it's consistently introduced by someone who feels they're losing an argument and pre-emptively adopts a posture of injured innocence; it's nothing but an inverse ad-hominem attack. It sounds just like the Tea Party whine of victimhood at the hands of evil Marxist tax collectors in jackboots.

And let's be frank, quite a few of the class warriors here on MeFi who break out the term 'hippie punching' on a regular basis have a massive hard-on for the Tea Party. It reminds me of the lunatic fringe of Hillary Clinton supporters back in the 2008 primaries that turned out to be be part of the GOP campaign, clustered around websites like Hillaryis44.com - not to support Hillary Clinton at all, but to demonize Barack Obama from the left for the benefit of the right. Looks to me like some of them are still at it.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:08 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just how do you propose pushing through a revenue bill in this situation?

Let the Bush tax cuts expire as they naturally would anyway. Ta-da! I solved the deficit. Can I collect my pension now?
posted by mek at 11:10 AM on August 5, 2011


shakespeherian: "I am so tired of the term 'hippy punching.' It's the mirror image of 'RINO' which just a few years ago we were mocking the GOP for"

It's even more delightful when you learn the backstory to it. sotonohito helpfully linked to this explanation of the phrase the other day:
So nearly forty years on from the chaotic '72 Democratic convention, the left, whether Netroots or "Professional" are still seen as disruptive, scary hippies and it is assumed they are loathed by all decent people. Just like the idiotic right wingers, they conflate "the left" with that carefully nurtured anachronistic wingnut fantasy of the "smelly, dirty, hairy" leftist and are scared to death of being tarred by it. And it is why many in the left blogosphere defiantly took the moniker "DFH" which stands for Dirty Fucking Hippie.

The blogosphere's subsequent adoption of the term "hippie punching" is a shorthand to describe how Democrats like to debase the left in order to appeal to so-called Real Americans. It's a sort of proxy bullying, in which the Party attempts to prove their middle of the road bonafides by attacking what they believe Americans see as their out-of-the-mainstream fringe. (It's like a gang initiation where you have to beat up your childhood best friend to prove your loyalty to the new crowd.)
In other words: "Who cares what you say, you just think we're a bunch of dirty fucking hippies and you're just slandering us like a friend who stabs a friend in the back in a futile attempt to gain cred with right-wing gangsters."

The fact that it's become the de-facto automatic retort on MeFi* to anybody offering criticism of the left from the center-left is really disgusting, given its inherent bitterness and hostility and twisting of good-faith debate into some kind of cowardly betrayal.

* used seven times by multiple people in the last thread, not counting meta-discussion
posted by Rhaomi at 11:10 AM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


So Furious I suppose you missed Jane Hamsher's little love in with Grover Norquist last year??

Dude, your "I'm a liberalm but Obama sux" schtick is getting so tiresome.
posted by Skygazer at 11:10 AM on August 5, 2011


It reminds me of the lunatic fringe of Hillary Clinton supporters back in the 2008 primaries that turned out to be be part of the GOP campaign, clustered around websites like Hillaryis44.com - not to support Hillary Clinton at all, but to demonize Barack Obama from the left for the benefit of the right. Looks to me like some of them are still at it.

Yes, that's it, everyone who disagrees with Obama is a Hillaryis44 nut, clearly. This type of broad conspiracy theory is not at all a sign of someone who feels they are losing an argument pre-emptively.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:11 AM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


* used seven times by multiple people in the last thread, not counting meta-discussion

Wow! Someone used a word 7 times in over 3000 comments! What a terrible epidemic!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:12 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I mean, have you seen his numbers lately vs congress?

Obama isn't running for Congress. Congress' approval ratings have been crap for years -- hell, decades. Everyone hates Congress (but most love their reps and Senators, it's those other guys.) So this is a null metric that will tell you nothing about his reelection chances.

He's running against somebody, but the real metric is the economy.

This deal basically ensures that we will be dealing with a null recovery, and quite possibly a recession, in mid-to-late 2012. This deal ensures that he will not be reelected, because, as has famously been said before, it's the economy, stupid.

Macro 101: C+I+G+(X-M)=GDP. G is Government Spending. The first order effect of reducing G is GDP drops by that amount. The second order effect is you also lose the G multiplier in C (Consumer Expeditures.) The only argument point is only the G multiplier -- when the government spends money, the people it gives money to when it spends then spend that money, so increasing G increases C as well, and decreasing G decreases C. There are arguments on how much that multiplier is, but nobody competent in macroeconomics doubts that the multiplier is there. It's also why tax cuts are much less a stimulus than spending. Tax cuts, at best, increase C only by the amount of the cut, and in the real world, only increase it by a fraction, because personal savings goes up, it's not spend. If the tax cut results in less spending, it then often results in a very bad stimulus -- you get little for the cut, and lose G and C in the bargain as well.

This is why the 2009 Stimulus (ARRA) was of only limited use. Everyone says "$787 Billion in stimulus", but $288 of that was tax cuts. So really, you had $500B, not $787B, when pretty much everyone was saying we needed more on the order of $1-1.5T to stop the vicious cycle -- worker stops buying (dropping C), so firm stops making (and thus, buying supplies, dropping C, laying off workers, who without income, stop buying (dropping C), and people see their friends and family without work, so they slow spending (dropping C), which means more companies react to the lower demand by buying less supplies (dropping C) and laying off workers, who can't buy as much now (dropping C), which worries people even more, and they put off more spending (dropping C).....and on and on and on. It's a classic macroeconomic vicious cycle.

The point of stimulus is to break that. Government spends (raising G), those who it spent on need supplies (increasing C) and workers (who now, with jobs, start spending again, increasing C). That extra demand causes the suppliers to need more supplies (raising C), and hire workers, who now can afford that new X (raising C.....) and they vicious cycle is replaced by a virtuous one until you're back at equilibrium. But not enough stimulus doesn't reach the point of self sustainment, and you slip back into recession. See 1937 and, well, 2011.

"But we can't afford it!" Nonsense. As to the "bond vigilantes?" 10Y US T-Bonds are at 2.47%. 30 year is at 3.70%. 30 year fixed mortgages are about 4.6% Despite the "enormous" debt the US has, the markets considers it safer to give the US an *unsecured* 30 year loan than it is to give you, Mr/Ms. GoodCredit, a 30 year loan backed by a lien on the property.

Right now, commercial credit is close to free on short terms. Many large companies are absolutely stuff with cash. If you need $100M to build a new plant, you can get it at incredibly cheap rates.

Nobody's doing that. It's not a money problem, it's a demand problem. You fix this by increasing demand, which will cause more spending.

And, of course, what else does more people working and more spending bring in? More tax revenue! The reason cities, state and the US are seeing a lot of red ink now is that *revenues decrease dramatically in a recession.* The best way to sort out the cities and states is to get the economy humming again, which will increase tax revenue, which will quickly sort those states out. Well, except California, but there are underlying political issues.

Right now, the markets are telling us that they are dead certain that the US credit is good. What we should do is borrow the hell out of that, and drop the Bush tax cuts, which mostly affect the rich. Between the increased revenues and the loan, we then seriously spend.

I could easily see the debt hitting $16T. So. Fucking. What? By that time, with the economy humming, we'll be damn close to $16T GDP, and even better, between the humming economy increasing tax revenues and the Bush tax cuts gone, we'll almost certainly be running an annual surplus once we get the economy back on track.

In good times, you pay back the debt. In bad times, you spend. Doing the opposite allow the macro vicious cycle to eat you alive.

And that's what Congress and Obama explicitly set out to do -- cut spending in the midst of a faltering recovery after the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

God have mercy on us all.
posted by eriko at 11:13 AM on August 5, 2011 [48 favorites]


Just how do you propose pushing through a revenue bill in this situation?
Let the Bush tax cuts expire as they naturally would anyway. Ta-da! I solved the deficit. Can I collect my pension now?


So you'd have been cool with cutting off unemployment assistance last December and raising taxes on the middle class as well as the rich, yes? It's OK if you are, I'm willing to entertain the thought that that might actually have been a good idea. I just want to be sure that I understand your point of view.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:13 AM on August 5, 2011


The blogosphere's subsequent adoption of the term "hippie punching" is a shorthand to describe how Democrats like to debase the left in order to appeal to so-called Real Americans.

This is strawmanning in its worst form. Guess what. I'm not trying to appeal to any "real Americans." I disagree with the things that these people are saying, and mostly on practical grounds. All this shouting for X Y and Z but no votes to pass it! You aren't helping. Get us the votes first! That's all I ask. And if you don't have the votes, don't weaken our guys by stabbing them in the back!
posted by Ironmouth at 11:14 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


How does a political faction get a party or president to tilt their way? They make a lot of fucking noise. That's how the fucking Tea Party did it, and they managed to drag the rest of the country to the right with them. That's what we liberals are doing now. You know, working the fucking process. And as usual, we get called fucking traitors for it. Meanwhile the economy and the fucking country goes down the fucking toilet.
posted by vibrotronica at 11:15 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Don't say "our guys," Ironmouth. I'm a leftist. I don't have any guys in the US government, save Bernie Sanders. And I'm not stabbing them in the back. I'm stabbing them right in the front.
posted by rusty at 11:16 AM on August 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


This is why the 2009 Stimulus (ARRA) was of only limited use. Everyone says "$787 Billion in stimulus", but $288 of that was tax cuts. So really, you had $500B, not $787B, when pretty much everyone was saying we needed more on the order of $1-1.5T

DIDN'T HAVE THE VOTES FOR 1.5 TRILLION IN STIMULUS.

Two GOP Senators had to vote for that bill to get it over the cloture hump.

So what's a president to do? Get no stimulus, or what he can?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:16 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


How does a political faction get a party or president to tilt their way? They make a lot of fucking noise.

Exactly wrong. They have votes. That's how you get listened to. The GOP freshman class is 83 reps. 83! The entire Progressive Caucus is only 75 members.

This about the votes. From day one its about the votes. Yelling does nothing. Nothing. Votes are what is needed. Real, actual votes. Yelling a lot means zero.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:19 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is strawmanning in its worst form.

You don't remember, do you? You don't remember where the term "Dirty Fucking Hippies" came from?

It came from the Obama Administration.

How does a political faction get a party or president to tilt their way? They make a lot of fucking noise.

And they throw out those who won't hew their line. The Tea Party made it clear that they'd gladly hand the seat to a Democrat if you wouldn't toe the line -- they could take back that seat later, but the important thing is the RINO would be gone. They primaried, and they ran in the general. They lost the GOP a few seats -- and won complete control of the party.
posted by eriko at 11:19 AM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Don't say "our guys," Ironmouth. I'm a leftist. I don't have any guys in the US government, save Bernie Sanders. And I'm not stabbing them in the back. I'm stabbing them right in the front.

Ok everyone but you then. Who is stabbing the President on your side of the aisle, helping Mitt Romney get elected.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:20 AM on August 5, 2011


OK, Ironmouth. I'll pipe right down then and do what you, the Serious Guy, says.
posted by vibrotronica at 11:20 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


This about the votes. From day one its about the votes. Yelling does nothing. Nothing. Votes are what is needed. Real, actual votes. Yelling a lot means zero.

Yelling a lot got those folks elected.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:20 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


This about the votes. From day one its about the votes. Yelling does nothing. Nothing. Votes are what is needed. Real, actual votes. Yelling a lot means zero.

Where do you think progressive votes come from? How do you expect to get the votes you want? Hint: it's not by shutting up and smiling.
posted by mek at 11:20 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


[This thread needs to not become Ironmouth v. Everyone. Thanks. ]

So that went well.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:22 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


And they throw out those who won't hew their line. The Tea Party made it clear that they'd gladly hand the seat to a Democrat if you wouldn't toe the line -- they could take back that seat later, but the important thing is the RINO would be gone. They primaried, and they ran in the general. They lost the GOP a few seats -- and won complete control of the party.

They got the votes. You don't have them. You wonder why the President doesn't do what you want? Because you do not have the votes to get it done. You lack the power. You make demands without bringing the means to make those demands work. This is why your agenda is not advanced as much as you like. I would like you to succeed without attacking the President, who is the only person who is going to help you. But you have to put the tools in his hands. He cannot vote on any bills. Read the Constitution.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:22 AM on August 5, 2011


Ok everyone but you then. Who is stabbing the President on your side of the aisle, helping Mitt Romney get elected.

Who cares? Democrats could fillibuster everything the Republicans try until a debt ceiling raise requires only tax hikes, and evil alternate universe Ironmouth will be over on Free Republic telling all the complainers, "But we didn't have the votes!"
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:22 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait, we have Obama now, and I'm supposed to be scared of getting Mitt Romney elected? Laughable. Mitt Romney was responsible for a far more liberal health care plan in Massachusetts. As far as I can tell, Mitt Romney would be either a wash or an improvement. I wouldn't vote for him, personally, but it might be worth noting that I wouldn't vote for him for the exact same reasons I won't vote for Obama again.
posted by rusty at 11:24 AM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wait, we have Obama now, and I'm supposed to be scared of getting Mitt Romney elected? Laughable. Mitt Romney was responsible for a far more liberal health care plan in Massachusetts. As far as I can tell, Mitt Romney would be either a wash or an improvement. I wouldn't vote for him, personally, but it might be worth noting that I wouldn't vote for him for the exact same reasons I won't vote for Obama again.

If you think that Romney would be more left-wing than Obama, have at it. You thin
posted by Ironmouth at 11:25 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


(regarding Hillaryis44 tactics of the 2008 election) Looks to me like some of them are still at it.

Yes, that's it, everyone who disagrees with Obama is a Hillaryis44 nut, clearly. This type of broad conspiracy theory is not at all a sign of someone who feels they are losing an argument pre-emptively.


That's a pretty ridiculous mischaracterization of what I said. I call that dishonest.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:25 AM on August 5, 2011


It came from the Obama Administration.

What was the context? Who said it? I can't track this down, although it sounds like a Rahm Emmanualism, who couldn't be considered the defining voice of the administration and is no longer with them.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:26 AM on August 5, 2011


And let's be frank, quite a few of the class warriors here on MeFi who break out the term 'hippie punching' on a regular basis have a massive hard-on for the Tea Party. It reminds me of the lunatic fringe of Hillary Clinton supporters back in the 2008 primaries that turned out to be be part of the GOP campaign, clustered around websites like Hillaryis44.com - not to support Hillary Clinton at all, but to demonize Barack Obama from the left for the benefit of the right. Looks to me like some of them are still at it.

Please identify which users here you feel are Hillaryis44 users who are still at it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:27 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay Ironmouth, I see your point. I'm not sure I agree with it completely.

The GOP didn't want revenue increases. There haven't been revenue increases. No, they aren't off the table, but I've heard a number of people say "All we have to do to repeal the Bush tax cuts is do nothing" (i.e. they time out) and make it sound like a fait accompli. All we had to do in December to repeal them was do nothing and we didn't then. I'm not confident about our chances in the future. Tax increases might still be on the table, but there is no guarantee that they will happen. I'd call this at least a slight victory for the GOP.

The Super Congress has to close the gap through spending cuts - period. No revenue increases. If they fail then the automatic cuts excluded Medicare (I think), but there is nothing, as far as I know, stopping the SC from cutting Medicare manually (as it were). Given that they have to come up with $1.5 trillion in cuts, it seems likely to me that some social services are going to get axed. What else is there?

Or I could be completely wrong about this. This was a pretty complex deal. I'm going to agree that the Tea Party got reamed, but they wouldn't have been happy unless taxes were dropped to nothing and every Democrat was shot, but it still seems like the GOP has a deal focused around what they claim they've always wanted - cutting spending (not that they've ever shown the slightest interest in actually doing that, of course).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:27 AM on August 5, 2011


The Super Congress has to close the gap through spending cuts - period. No revenue increases. If they fail then the automatic cuts excluded Medicare (I think), but there is nothing, as far as I know, stopping the SC from cutting Medicare manually (as it were). Given that they have to come up with $1.5 trillion in cuts, it seems likely to me that some social services are going to get axed. What else is there?

Incorrect. Revenue is on the table.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:29 AM on August 5, 2011


Incorrect. Revenue is on the table.

But not going to pass the committee in your opinion, right?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:30 AM on August 5, 2011


For better or worse policies that make sense from an economic perspective don't always make sense from a political perspective and vice versa. So sometimes things get done in a half-assed way in order to actually get the votes needed to get legislation passed. The stimulus was pretty half-assed but it's what we got.

Keep in mind that from the moment they get elected, elected officials are pretty much already campaigning for their next election. That's the simple fact of the matter. Apparently Republicans can still do pretty well by riling up their base and getting out the vote. It doesn't appear that works for Democrats to the same degree.

It would be interesting if rather than shifting to the center Democrats moved to the left after a failed election (and 2010 was a failure) but Democrats don't do that. Election failure is seen as a reason to shift towards the center.

Also keep in mind that just because a liberal policy might play well in some areas of the country does not mean that those policies can get people elected in other areas of the country. As a result we have Democrats that are extremely liberal and some Democrats that are very centrist or even conservative because they represent the will of the voters in their district or state.

It sounds tempting to use the Tea Party and CFG policies of running primary candidates to the right of elected officials in order to maintain party cohesion but honestly is that really a good model?

I'd rather have a party that is inclusive to various opinions rather than monolithic in party cohesion. Big Tents work. They might not deliver the 100% optimal solution but they are better than the Republican solution.
posted by vuron at 11:33 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is pretty clear that Obama is either weak, or a liar. If he really cared about fufilling his campaign promises he would simply disband the legislative branch and write all the laws himself, the fact that he has failed to do this is proof positive that he has sold us up the river to the Tea Party.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:33 AM on August 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Three days ago the left was all up in arms about how Obama got played. Now they are accusing him of being the evil mastermind. You can't have it both ways, people.

True, but either of those theories proposed by the "left" is much better than the idea proposed by hardcore Democrats who think this deal was either a win or just the latest move in the President's awesome n-dimensional space chess strategy. And that the GOP is the loser in the deal.
posted by formless at 11:33 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please identify which users here you feel are Hillaryis44 users who are still at it.

Why, so you can flag it and thunder that personal callouts are unacceptable and should be taken to MetaTalk? No thanks.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:36 AM on August 5, 2011


Why don't you both post under the assumption that MeFites are contributing here in good faith. We're a community, after all, and this sort of bickering is idiotic and does not add to the quality of the site.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:39 AM on August 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


Please identify which users here you feel are Hillaryis44 users who are still at it.

Why, so you can flag it and thunder that personal callouts are unacceptable and should be taken to MetaTalk? No thanks.


I described it as a more general attack and you called that dishonest so clearly you have individuals in mind, right?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:40 AM on August 5, 2011


Incorrect. Revenue is on the table.

Oh, hey. Yeah. Shit. Okay, now I really don't know what to think.

I'd be much more interested in this political train wreak if I weren't currently riding the train.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:40 AM on August 5, 2011


Ironmouth has made my points more artfully than I could. The allegations of hippie punching are just as crazy as Greenwald's column.
posted by humanfont at 11:44 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


As for the people that are promoting the Romney is more liberal than Obama please keep in mind that the demographics and electorate of Massachusetts is pretty different than the demographics and electorate of the US. Policies that might pass the smell test for Republicans voters in Massachusetts aren't going to pass the smell test in more conservative areas of the nation.

That's why Romney has been running away from his record as governor ever since he's focused his eye on national office. He's consistently shifting to the right because that's what is necessary to get through the Republican primaries. Then in a general election the hope is that he'll be able to run on a record of being able to reach across the aisle because independents like that compromise stuff.

Make no mistake he'll still pack the bench with conservative justices, promote right wing business interests, etc. He'll just look more "moderate" while doing it. Fortunately for the Dems it seems unlikely he'll escape the Republican primaries (support for him is incredibly soft and he's simply got way too many negatives to survive the caucuses and primaries). So Republicans will nominate either Governor Goodhair or a tea party loony.

I'm not a massive fan of Obama but he's lightyears better on a whole host of issues than the Republican alternatives.
posted by vuron at 11:46 AM on August 5, 2011


Obama doesn't know what a bully pulpit is. FDR did (yay!). George W. Bush did (boo!).
posted by entropicamericana at 11:49 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The lesson here is that the progressive left needs a wake-up call. They believe that they have a winning policy and political message that Obama could simply adopt, but chooses not to because he's a sell-out. But the reality is that it couldn't be done even in European countries with a much stronger social democratic tradition and a whole lot more outrage and street protesting.

The left needs to drop the fantasy that the problem is localized to specific political actors like Obama or the Tea Party, and start thinking bigger.
posted by AlsoMike at 11:51 AM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Obama doesn't know what a bully pulpit is. FDR did (yay!). George W. Bush did (boo!).

Part of Obama's campaign was that he was not going to do things that way.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:54 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Romney is the same as Obama" is the new "Bush is the same as Gore."

You think it's bad now? It could be so much worse.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:55 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What Were They Thinking? Obama, the Republicans, and the debt ceiling
The question arises, aside from Obama’s chronically allowing the Republicans to define the agenda and even the terminology (the pejorative word “Obamacare” is now even used by news broadcasters), why did he so definitively place himself on the side of the deficit reducers at a time when growth and job creation were by far the country’s most urgent needs?

It all goes back to the “shellacking” Obama took in the 2010 elections. The President’s political advisers studied the numbers and concluded that the voters wanted the government to spend less. This was an arguable interpretation. Nevertheless, the political advisers believed that elections are decided by middle-of-the-road independent voters, and this group became the target for determining the policies of the next two years.
posted by homunculus at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2011


Why don't you both post under the assumption that MeFites are contributing here in good faith.

Because this is the umpteenth time that someone has suddenly taken a dive to the floor and started complaining about hippie punching. It's not a simple miscommunication, it's a pattern that reappears in thread after thread after thread, I'm sick of it, and I'm not the only one. One minute you're focused on a discussion of the Presidency, Congress, and legislative procedure, next minute someone is saying 'Oh I know that you secretly consider me nothing but a hippie, go ahead and punch me again, I'm used to it' when nobody had even mentioned it.

I described it as a more general attack and you called that dishonest so clearly you have individuals in mind, right?

Wrong. I invite other people to read the exchange for themselves and draw their own conclusions about the quality of your syllogism.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Wrong Worries: Washington has been obsessing over deficits and debt ceilings while the economy crumbles.
posted by homunculus at 11:57 AM on August 5, 2011


Did Obama get what he wanted?

No. He got what he could get.


And then he looked at me with those big brown eyes and said...

You ain't seen nothin' yet.
posted by GuyZero at 11:59 AM on August 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Aravosis noticed that the White House web site felt compelled to dispute the "myth" that "Obama caved".

They say Congress came out looking even worse. But Obama won't be running against Congress. He'll be running against Romney - who smartly stayed as far away from this as he could.

Even if you think the deal fooled those dumb Republicans into making it mostly harmless, I don't see that Team O has much to celebrate here.
posted by Trurl at 12:00 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think people focused on different messages during Obama's election campaign. While some people seem to think that Obama promised to be some sort of great liberal crusader the central theme I thought he focused on was this promise of post-partisanship. That he was going to be the President not just for the percentage of the electorate that voted for him but also those who didn't vote for him. He seemed to promise to take the good from both sides of the aisle in order to form consensus.

It's a very community organizer model of governance. Everyone shares their ideas and we focus on the commonalities between us rather than differences. I think it's a model that resonates with a pretty sizable percentage of the electorate.

He definitely promotes a vision but he's willing to let go of the specifics in order to achieve a politically expedient solution.

From a liberal perspective that generally means that he's unwilling to take a hardline perspective in which he villifies his opposition through the bully pulpit. In contrast his opposition is willing to turn him into a villain at the drop of a hat. I think he focuses on this role because it works for him from a political and electoral perspective (moderates love compromise) but also because it would be so easy to distort him as hyperpartisan if he adopted a more antagonistic approach towards congress. He'd be the embodiment of the angry black man. Hell he's about as centrist as they get and he still gets referred to as a socialist, the hip-hop president, etc. Dog-whistle after dog-whistle. I'm simply not sure that taking a more aggressive stance wouldn't just isolate him politically and doom him in the electorate. Obviously his senior advisors seem to agree.
posted by vuron at 12:02 PM on August 5, 2011


I think people focused on different messages during Obama's election campaign. While some people seem to think that Obama promised to be some sort of great liberal crusader the central theme I thought he focused on was this promise of post-partisanship. That he was going to be the President not just for the percentage of the electorate that voted for him but also those who didn't vote for him. He seemed to promise to take the good from both sides of the aisle in order to form consensus.

The thing is, you don't have to be a liberal crusader to do loudly support things like the public option that had 60% support. The true post-partisan move is to side with the people on that even if you can't pass it.

If you don't have the votes, you don't have the votes, but that particular issue deserved more of an effort. That isn't the type of bully pulpit I expected him to avoid.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:08 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


[If callouts need to be made, they can be made in MetaTalk. Please do not harangue people to name names here. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 12:08 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just to point this out: the Republicans have called the shots from the position of 'no' since 2008. Their large enough minority was used to prevent votes on anything they didn't want. With that said, the Republicans have now played their grand hand, and find themselves having pushed through enough of their hand that they have put themselves in a vulnerable position: they now must compromise quickly on budget details, or the president will be able to veto a proposal, and then the draconian cuts will fall in place, affecting the military... that is one place the republicans have not wanted to appear soft. Moreover, the president has already gotten to rachet the tension up for compromise by having pinettta talk yesterday regarding this... the republicans are officially surrounded.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:12 PM on August 5, 2011



But Obama won't be running against Congress. He'll be running against Romney - who smartly stayed as far away from this as he could.


Romney is a hostage to the tea party. That is what matters. They're already grumbling with the realization that they got rolled in the deal. Moderate Republicans have no sway with the party. If the tea party follows through on the bid to double down on the crazy, Romney will have to follow or get trampled. In the end, Romney is trapped.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:15 PM on August 5, 2011


Romney is a hostage to the tea party. That is what matters. They're already grumbling with the realization that they got rolled in the deal. Moderate Republicans have no sway with the party. If the tea party follows through on the bid to double down on the crazy, Romney will have to follow or get trampled. In the end, Romney is trapped.

Obviously too early to call an election either way, but Romney is now leading the head to head polls against Obama here in PA. I would expect the tea party folks to fall in line behind him just like we all know the liberals will. Obama will have to defend his record and the state of the economy to win.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:17 PM on August 5, 2011


Salon.com What we wish Obama had said.

There was another Salon article the other day, which essentially said that those holding up the debt deal were pretty much all rich white southerners. If so, maybe you could chuck them out of the union and have a better country all round?
posted by marienbad at 12:24 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


furiosxgeorge I'm predicting a 1992 style election, with a crazy person taking nearly 20% of the Republican vote. I think we see the break of the voting-coalition the Republicans have built, following the ideological break that has been apparent for years.
posted by karmiolz at 12:25 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would expect the tea party folks to fall in line behind him just like we all know the liberals will.

I honestly couldn't say either way, but I wouldn't be especially surprised if the Tea Partiers utterly rejected Romney as not Tea Partyish enough, no matter how much he will inevitably try to position himself as such. They seem pretty hard-line and more focused on ideology that strategy, although again I could be wrong.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:25 PM on August 5, 2011


The thing is, you don't have to be a liberal crusader to do loudly support things like the public option that had 60% support. The true post-partisan move is to side with the people on that even if you can't pass it.

If you don't have the votes, you don't have the votes, but that particular issue deserved more of an effort. That isn't the type of bully pulpit I expected him to avoid.


But every time you fight and lose, you lose the capital that can be spent on other issues, or even on that issue later on when circumstances are more fertile. It is a finite resource.

The complaints really come down to style and emotion. You did not emotionally fight for what I wanted enough, even if you could not do it.

The President does not have that luxury.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:29 PM on August 5, 2011


You've also got to wonder how much his Mormonhood will hurt him with evangelicals. Of course, that hasn't done much to lower Glenn Beck's standing. And it would be the height of irony for the Christian Obama to get more flack for his supposed Muslim faith than Romney would get for his actual divergence from mainstream Christianity.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:29 PM on August 5, 2011


furiosxgeorge I'm predicting a 1992 style election, with a crazy person taking nearly 20% of the Republican vote. I think we see the break of the voting-coalition the Republicans have built, following the ideological break that has been apparent for years.

This is quite possible. If the Teahadists can put an arguable case that the fix was in, then it might happen.

And we would find a proper place for all the money in Colbert's PAC.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:30 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


PA is definitely a battleground state but Romney has to survive early primary state in order to make it to the general election.

I think he'll do well in NH and possibly the NV caucuses (enough Mormon votes can probably shift the result there). Iowa is going to be a challenge for him especially because so many competitors will be on the ground there early.

I think he's going to be savaged in the SC primaries (DeMint wants to play kingmaker and SC is shifting really towards the Tea Party).

I can't tell how he'll do in Florida but honestly if he hasn't effectively locked up the nomination by Super Tuesday I can't see him winning the Republican nomination.

He already looks like a flip-flopper of epic proportions, he's Mormon in a party that is increasingly focused on the evangelical vote and he's got a "liberal" record as governor that will likely doom him with the Republican base.

I'm not saying he's a total no go but I think he's definitely at the high water point in terms of his election chances and if Perry decides to get into the match I think his chances drop precipitously.
posted by vuron at 12:31 PM on August 5, 2011


I just checked Intrade and Perry and Romney are pretty close to even, with ~30% chance each to get the nomination. Which is weird because I feel like I've heard very little about Perry-- he doesn't have nearly the name recognition for me that Romney does.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:35 PM on August 5, 2011


But every time you fight and lose, you lose the capital that can be spent on other issues, or even on that issue later on when circumstances are more fertile. It is a finite resource.

I know, it's much better to fight when you can win and I would expect him to eventually capitulate on the public option, but you can't win if you don't play.

He should have made a more credible run at the public option as he did with revenue in the debt ceiling debate.

The complaints really come down to style and emotion. You did not emotionally fight for what I wanted enough, even if you could not do it.

You can't convince legislators that way, but you can convince people, especially when you are as skilled an orator as he is.

I have the same concerns with how he handles gay marriage. He can't make a federal law that it is legal everywhere, but he can add his voice to those calling for the states to make the right choice.

if the Tea Partiers utterly rejected Romney as not Tea Partyish enough

I think you underestimate how much they hate Obama. It's pretty vitriolic and makes the accusations that liberals hate him look pretty ridiculous. Think of convincing liberals to vote third party in 2004 if the nominee was even more centrist than Kerry.

The key to getting the extremes is always fear of the other side, it's how both sides work. The center is the concern and they are going to have to be convinced Obama is better on the economy.

He is strong enough on foreign policy that that won't be a major issue, it all comes down to the economy.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:35 PM on August 5, 2011


Ironmouth The mainstream Right abandoned the "tainted election" angle the moment the Tea Party started making headlines. This could have seemed strange as that would have ingratiated the official party to this offshoot. However it was a move motivated by the knowledge that no extreme candidate could win a nation-wide election, and they certainly needed their base to win one as well. They needed their base to believe the elections were real, fair, and had meaning. Allowing pure ideology to supercede prudence so openly would be devastating. I think this has happened, the Tea Party is emotionally invested in being outsiders as they believe they were unfairly beaten by a corrupt system, why would they play ball with that?
posted by karmiolz at 12:39 PM on August 5, 2011


My secret hope is that Perry flounders for whatever reason and Bachmann wins Iowa, carrying on from their on the backs of the Tea Party crowd. She's running surprisingly strongly in the polls as is, and even more so when you remove Palin as an option (it's increasingly looking like she won't run, and her voters largely default to Bachmann). She polls weakly against Obama, so hopefully a Sharron Angle/Christine O'Donnel 2.0 will be able to save us all a lot of unnecessary stress.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:41 PM on August 5, 2011


I know, it's much better to fight when you can win and I would expect him to eventually capitulate on the public option, but you can't win if you don't play.

This is about votes. This isn't about making people feel better. We need Dem reps. We don't have enough.

I just get frustrated because he has done so much of what he set out to do, despite the problems he inherited and instead of being lauded, he's attacked because he hasn't provided everything everyone could have possibly wanted.

I can't think of a president who ever did that.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:42 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


My secret hope is that Perry flounders for whatever reason and Bachmann wins Iowa, carrying on from their on the backs of the Tea Party crowd. She's running surprisingly strongly in the polls as is, and even more so when you remove Palin as an option (it's increasingly looking like she won't run, and her voters largely default to Bachmann). She polls weakly against Obama, so hopefully a Sharron Angle/Christine O'Donnel 2.0 will be able to save us all a lot of unnecessary stress.

My hope is that she loses to Romney and the teahadists go all third party.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:43 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


All this shouting for X Y and Z but no votes to pass it! You aren't helping. Get us the votes first! That's all I ask. And if you don't have the votes, don't weaken our guys by stabbing them in the back!

and how do we get the votes without advocating for X, Y and Z?

no, the pressure needs to be kept on - the dems need to understand that they may endanger their election prospects by going too far to placate the right

it's a truly screwed up situation when they are listening more to their political enemies than their allies
posted by pyramid termite at 12:44 PM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


I know, it's much better to fight when you can win and I would expect him to eventually capitulate on the public option, but you can't win if you don't play.

This is about votes. This isn't about making people feel better. We need Dem reps. We don't have enough.


It's not about making people feel better, it's about making them feel like voting for the person who is standing up for what they believe.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:44 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge These extremists view more moderate Republicans as the "other side" they fear as well. You can get votes by having a sort of brand loyalty to your party, or by fomenting hatred against the other. The Tea Party will be proud to vote for a vetted Tea Party candidate regardless of outcome, and have a vitriolic hatred for almost all incumbents, carer politicians, centrists, or anyone who has ever compromised on anything at all. In short, they are emotionally invested in being outsiders and that does not bode well for the Republicans.
posted by karmiolz at 12:45 PM on August 5, 2011


Bachmann as the nominee would be crazy awesome but honestly I don't see it happening regardless of how well she does early on in Iowa and SC.

The establishment money isn't going to gel around her and baring some really unexpected effects I think either Perry or Romney could hold out against her. Romney has the ability to self-fund and Perry is enough of an establishment figure that he'll get enough funding to keep him in the game.

Best case scenario, Bachmann or Palin can wage an insurgent campaign long enough to drain the coffers of the establishment candidate and depress the tea party vote who will be disappointed a nut didn't get nominated.
posted by vuron at 12:47 PM on August 5, 2011


I'm not saying he's a total no go but I think he's definitely at the high water point in terms of his election chances and if Perry decides to get into the match I think his chances drop precipitously.

Agreed. I like Romney in a reasonable-people-can-disagree way, and I wished he had been the GOP nominee in 2008 because I thought he and Obama would have suited each other as opponents; it would have been a more substantive, policy-focused campaign that both candidates would have had to work hard at. The debates would actually have been educational and interesting, and the country would have been better off.

Unfortunately, the GOP was already heading down the lunatic path, with McCain as the least-unpopular candidate for the nomination and Sarah Palin as the Bride of Frankenstein. Right-wingers simply don't like Romney, who is more like Rockefeller than Goldwater. They'd put up with him as treasury secretary, maybe, but he's clearly a member of the political elite rather than a populist. Perry they could get behind, probably. I don't know what happens with Palin & Bachman; Palin may stay out and play kingmaker, but being the VP pick again just doesn't work for either the electorate or her base. Romney's best hope (and it's not a very good one) is that the Tea Party can't coalesce around another candidate before he pulls away from the pack due to his funding advantage.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:49 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


All this shouting for X Y and Z but no votes to pass it! You aren't helping. Get us the votes first! That's all I ask. And if you don't have the votes, don't weaken our guys by stabbing them in the back!

and how do we get the votes without advocating for X, Y and Z?

no, the pressure needs to be kept on - the dems need to understand that they may endanger their election prospects by going too far to placate the right

it's a truly screwed up situation when they are listening more to their political enemies than their allies


You are not an ally if you attack the president for not advocating for a policy for which there are not enough votes. You can go to the voters, fine. but don't attack the president in any crisis situation demanding x, y or z if you don't have the votes to pass your version.

Who are you keeping the pressure on? The President? why not pressure the fucking republicans who got us into this mess. Why shoot your own guy when you can't provide the votes to pass the policy!
posted by Ironmouth at 12:50 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge These extremists view more moderate Republicans as the "other side" they fear as well.

And isn't that what you are hearing from some folks on the left? In the end they fall in line, they are the most reliable partisan voters.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:50 PM on August 5, 2011


He definitely promotes a vision but he's willing to let go of the specifics in order to achieve a politically expedient solution.

I disagree completely, and it's his abandoning of vision that is the most disappointing and destructive part of his Presidency.

Obama could have said:
"The stimulus didn't do enough because the problem was bigger than we thought, but it is the right approach because x, y, and z. What I want is stable government spending that's balanced over the business cycle, which means we should be deficit spending in the recession. We can make it up when times are good. The GOP disagrees, so we need to find a compromise."

Instead he said:
"The GOP is right. The government is like a household, so we need to tighten our belts." subtext: "Keynesianism is wrong, and when I espoused Keynesianism before I was wrong."

I'd rather have him simply disagree with my positions than take them then abandon them. It makes those positions look weak and shallow. Maybe not "hippie punching" but "hippie undermining" at least.
posted by bjrubble at 12:51 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


And if you don't have the votes, don't weaken our guys by stabbing them in the back!

Is that what you think this is? We're stabbing him in the back?

The left isn't the ones who need votes, it's the candidates.

If you think the left represents enough votes to threaten the Obama presidency, and you think we're at risk of abandoning him, then it's YOUR responsibility to earn those votes.

Our job isn't to get Obama elected, it's to push our progressive agenda.

It's hilarious, there's all this talk about Obama not pursuing a progressive agenda because he doesn't have the votes. Then it turns around and becomes the progressives stabbing him in the back because we have too many votes.
posted by formless at 12:51 PM on August 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


That’s the broad view -- a perspective that sees our country in extreme debt and extremist “debate” because the leaders of the two teams collaborated in putting it there.

But this would NOT be your view if you were a mainstream reporter. Because reporting in elite U.S. media is not so much about relaying obvious and important facts as it is about positioning.

It requires placing yourself equidistant between the two opposing teams.

It means your vantage point is not an elevated or broad view, but down on the field. At the 5-yard line.

From down on the field, you easily miss how the two teams had collaborated to push the game toward the edge. Instead, you see real rancor and animosity between the two teams. You see differences in rhetoric and strategy.

From down on the field, you wouldn’t want to irritate either side or you might get hurt yourself.

With you in the middle of all the heated rhetoric flying back and forth, you might believe you’re somewhere in middle of the field and not off on the right edge.

In fact, you’d be writing headlines like this one from AP that so annoyed economist/columnist Paul Krugman: “Obama, Republicans Trapped by Inflexible Rhetoric.”


You’d be reporting claim and counterclaim over whether Reid’s Senate plan or Boehner’s House plan cuts spending by a couple hundred billion more than the other (neither gets tax revenue from the wealthy). But you’d be unlikely to step back to report on how bipartisan consensus, compromise and corruption racked up the trillions of debt in the first place. VIA

posted by infini at 12:51 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


A third party conservative would be awesome as well. Maybe we could convince Ron Paul to run as a libertarian, but no he's really just a douchebag. Bachmann is insane but I think push comes to shove she'll stay within the Republican fold.
posted by vuron at 12:52 PM on August 5, 2011


why not pressure the fucking republicans who got us into this mess.

Oh, they can be pressured? Maybe the President has a role in helping with that?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:53 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


In short, they are emotionally invested in being outsiders and that does not bode well for the Republicans.

This is my impression as well, and I think that Boehner's failed budget last week is the opening chord to the violent disagreement the GOP is about to have with itself.

I wished he had been the GOP nominee in 2008 because I thought he and Obama would have suited each other as opponents; it would have been a more substantive, policy-focused campaign that both candidates would have had to work hard at. The debates would actually have been educational and interesting, and the country would have been better off.

That would have been a beautiful thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:54 PM on August 5, 2011


the dems need to understand that they may endanger their election prospects by going too far to placate the right



I don't think you are paying attention to what the people you are responding to are saying - the far left isn't numerous enough, doesn't vote enough, doesn't spend enough cash - that your threat is a viable one. That's why "successful" democratics for the last 30 years have run to the center.

If you want to make your threat real you need to create a Tea Party analogue on the left. DINO's et al. Until then simple game theory tells politicians the far left doesn't win elections, doesn't pay for elections - so who cares.
posted by JPD at 12:54 PM on August 5, 2011


Guys stop fighting about who stabbed whom in the back and whose votes need to vote to vote the votes. You didn't resolve this in the last thirty-two threads, and you won't resolve it in this one.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:56 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you think the left represents enough votes to threaten the Obama presidency, and you think we're at risk of abandoning him, then it's YOUR responsibility to earn those votes.

This and exactly this is why they beat us. Because they see voting as a responsibility not as something some other person makes you do. There is no vote earning. Obama can't come to your house and hold your hand to get you to vote. It is your civic duty. Always threatening to withhold the votes. While the GOP turns them out year after year.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:56 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think you are paying attention to what the people you are responding to are saying - the far left isn't numerous enough, doesn't vote enough, doesn't spend enough cash - that your threat is a viable one.

Some might point to Nader.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:56 PM on August 5, 2011


Guys stop fighting about who stabbed whom in the back and whose votes need to vote to vote the votes. You didn't resolve this in the last thirty-two threads, and you won't resolve it in this one.

We're only a few comments from getting a hold on this.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:57 PM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Realistically a year from now people are only going to care about the mess the tea party made of this congress if they don't have the economy to worry about. The math is really pretty simple - Unemployment above 8% or so, GDP growth below 2.5% or so, and any Republican that doesn't scare the shit out of the center will wipe the floor with Obama. If the economy is growing again, then Obama is basically unbeatable.

This is where you could get into conspiracy theories about why the Repubs are so anti-Keynesian stimulus - but frankly most of the Tea Party-ites are so dogmatic, I can't believe this is just politics.
posted by JPD at 12:58 PM on August 5, 2011


This and exactly this is why they beat us. Because they see voting as a responsibility not as something some other person makes you do. There is no vote earning. Obama can't come to your house and hold your hand to get you to vote. It is your civic duty. Always threatening to withhold the votes. While the GOP turns them out year after year.

It's not civic duty to vote at all, much less for your preferred candidate, but I'm glad we agree they will fall in line behind Romney.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:58 PM on August 5, 2011


Obama can't come to your house and hold your hand to get you to vote. It is your civic duty.

It's definitely not our civic duty to vote Democrat. Talk about a sense of entitlement, wow! You're exactly what's wrong with the party.
posted by mek at 12:58 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


To be fair, my analysis doesn't include the fact that pursuing a progressive policy may also lose voters in the middle addition to picking up left votes as JPD points out.

Because they see voting as a responsibility not as something some other person makes you do.

I have voted in every election since my 18th birthday, both local and national. I didn't say I wouldn't vote, just that I wouldn't vote for Obama.
posted by formless at 12:58 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


You are not an ally if you attack the president for not advocating for a policy for which there are not enough votes.

fine, i'm not an ally, then

and people wonder why the term hippie punching gets used so much around here
posted by pyramid termite at 1:00 PM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


We're only a few comments from getting a hold on this.

I'VE GOT IT!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:00 PM on August 5, 2011


[The "you're letting the side down for saying x" rhetoric needs to stop. It's toxic to discussion and a remarkably effective derail. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 1:03 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I no longer know what to make of any of this. I envy you your certainty, everyone.
posted by Kwine at 1:04 PM on August 5, 2011


To be fair, my analysis doesn't include the fact that pursuing a progressive policy may also lose voters in the middle addition to picking up left votes as JPD points out.



I actually think this is why the Tea Party is so great for the "left". The success of the Repubs has been keeping this sort of incoherent mix of fiscal conservatives and social conservatives together, basically under the central idea "politics is about winning." As a result you had some sort of amusing stuff go on - the abortion litmus test for example. The fiscal conservative, social liberatarian crowd was fine with this because they knew the lunatic fringe lacked the ability to enforce things like that. Same with immigration "reform", etc, etc. Now with the Tea Party calling more of the shots all of a sudden that compact breaks down, and lots of the guys writing big checks to the Repubs are sort of repulsed by all this. It was ok to have the lunatic fringe on board when they could be ignored once you were governing, but when you actually have to do what the lunatics want it becomes a whole different set of issues.
posted by JPD at 1:07 PM on August 5, 2011


by the way, there are many instances of leaders advocating for positions that they did NOT have the votes for at first, but managed to persuade enough people in time

that is why we call them leaders
posted by pyramid termite at 1:13 PM on August 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


they will have to do a tax hike only bill if they want to raise the debt ceiling.

And if they don't want to raise the debt ceiling... then what?
posted by Jpfed at 1:13 PM on August 5, 2011


What the hell - did the mods just delete a bunch of comments? I said something incredibly innocuous asking what the california rule was?
posted by JPD at 1:15 PM on August 5, 2011


[Quite a few deletions in an attempt to cut off the aforementioned derail. Please refresh the thread and then oh my God let it drop. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 1:16 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am saying until that majority is here, you hurt us by demanding things he cannot provide with the reality we face. I am saying the way to win is to get a lot of liberals, a majority of liberals.

sir, you are no liberal and we will not have a lot of liberals with your "you hurt us by demanding" rhetoric

that is NOT liberalism

bye
posted by pyramid termite at 1:18 PM on August 5, 2011


Here's what I am saying.

I am saying that when you do not have the votes, attacking someone for not doing what is not possible is counter productive.

This is America, you can say what you want. But it isn't helping move your own agenda forward. The idea of holding the President responsible for what others are doing makes no sense to me. They control the House. They are the ones doing all of the bad things. No matter what Obama says or does, the fact that they control the House will be true until January 2013.

And it is one thing to say these things here. But its another to say them to opinion pollers, to people that we are trying to convince that the GOP is bad. And when we do that we weaken the chances we have to move the ball in the direction we want it to go.

You can't move Obama to some place where he can get what you want done without those votes in congress being there. That's why GG's crap is the worst iteration of this stuff.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:21 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


And if they don't want to raise the debt ceiling... then what?

Game Theory suggests there is no choice but to cave.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:21 PM on August 5, 2011


Deepak Chopra, of all people, has some advice for liberal supporters of the President.
One of the virtues of being on the liberal side of politics is that total obedience isn't required. There are no hidden agendas. Ideology doesn't lead to unreason. In a political climate where it feels as if the inmates are running the asylum — as in the current Republican threat to default on America's debt — the prevailing sanity of President Obama is something that others and I have taken for granted.

We cannot afford that luxury any more, I'm afraid.

...all of us who have taken advantage of our liberal heritage to question and criticize President Obama need to step back and consider the radical nature of the opposition, from the Supreme Court down to the local precinct....

If ever there was a time to stand behind the captain, this is it. Not because pluralism and free expression are wrong. They aren't and never will be. But like Churchill calling upon a coalition cabinet in the depth of the war years, it’s paramount that we see the greater danger for what it is.
James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal had some good fun with Chopra's argument.
If one accepts Chopra's premises, this seems self-defeating. He proposes to sacrifice liberalism's putative advantages--thoughtfulness and reason--in the name of electoral victory. But what's the point in voting for liberals if they're just going to ape the right-wing sheep?

Of course this column rejects Chopra's premises, particularly the first one. If we learned anything in college, it is that the claim that liberals in general are open-minded, tolerant and thoughtful is a combination of fraud and self-delusion. Chopra refutes his own first premise by asserting his second one. If he were really the freethinker he claims to be, he would not describe those who disagree in such crudely dismissive terms.

To be sure, not all liberals are as thick-headed as Chopra, and some conservatives are. But we have to wonder if Chopra hasn't gotten the general trends backward. Perhaps conservatives have tended to win elections over the past few decades precisely because liberals have allowed themselves to be outsmarted by already acting in accord with Chopra's advice to be stupid.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:24 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Personally I don't think monolithic party unity suits the Democratic party. It's nice having a big enough tent that we have competing voices trying to influence policy. I honestly feel that part of our strength comes from our differences and our ability to compromise.

I can understand being disappointed or mad or frustrated with Obama and the Dems. You have every right to be disappointed and let your feelings known. Being active and involved in the system is a good thing.

However I think there are times when our idealism needs to be tempered by political reality. With the nature of our electoral system (first past the post, bicameral legislation with one chamber largely designed to protect states rights, etc) it's generally best to align yourself with the party that will fight for more of what you want in terms of policies than it is to vote for an opposing party or a third party candidate.

If there was a legitimate shot that the Democrats could be supplanted by a third party to the left of the current party I think the calculus changes but I don't think anyone sees any likelihood that will happen. That being said I fully support an effort to elevate a third party challenger from the right of the Republican party.
posted by vuron at 1:25 PM on August 5, 2011


This is where you could get into conspiracy theories about why the Repubs are so anti-Keynesian stimulus - but frankly most of the Tea Party-ites are so dogmatic, I can't believe this is just politics.

The situational irony here is that tax cuts are also a Keynesian policy insofar as they are meant to add liquidity (in C rather than G). Of course the downside is that the multiplier for C turns out to be much lower than for G because C is necessarily diffuse, part of it is frittered away on exports, and I has not increased to match.

The problem with Keynesian economics is that people need constant reminders about the need to reduce G during the boom. The Democrats dropped the ball to some extent when they recaptured Congress in 2006 because they didn't immediately put the administration on a diet before the financial crisis hit.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:25 PM on August 5, 2011


And it is one thing to say these things here. But its another to say them to opinion pollers, to people that we are trying to convince that the GOP is bad. And when we do that we weaken the chances we have to move the ball in the direction we want it to go.

Ironmouth, I think the disconnect here is you expect people to think strategically about election prospects and congressional maneuvering. First off, I don't consider the chance of success for my candidate even in the voting booth. Second, I don't care about the strategic implications of my opinions.

Asking someone to think like this is, you would admit, counterintuitive. I think your inside baseball experience in things like astro-turfing has obscured that for you a little bit.

Now, I do understand the logic of your argument, I just disagree that pushing forward the agenda is a higher consideration than being honest about how you feel about the performance of a leader.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:30 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


But every time you fight and lose, you lose the capital that can be spent on other issues, or even on that issue later on when circumstances are more fertile. It is a finite resource.

On the other hand, one can fight and win.

Too, I've never agreed with the view that this capital is finite. If someone make it clear they will work hard, communicate effectively and attack the other side's shortcomings, distortions, etc., how do they suffer for doing so?
posted by ambient2 at 1:34 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


First off, I don't consider the chance of success for my candidate even in the voting booth. Second, I don't care about the strategic implications of my opinions.

Well-explained though its still depressing that the far-right benefit so greatly from the fractious nature of the left. Divide and conquer still works.
posted by jeffen at 1:38 PM on August 5, 2011


Don't worry, I'm a crazy outlier. As in 2010, liberals will show up in 2012 and vote for Democrats. The concern for anyone who wants to see Obama elected again has to be the economy, nothing else.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:40 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


furiousxgeorge: Game Theory suggests there is no choice but to cave.

If the game is the one pictured in the very first graphic in that article, then caving is not an equilibrium strategy. In fact, the only equilibrium involves random actions by each side. The article even notes as much: "Obama and the House Republicans, says Steven Brams, were playing chicken this summer, a noncooperative, non-zero-sum game in which both players can lose. A compromise outcome is difficult to achieve in chicken, because it’s not stable." (emphasis added).
posted by dilettanti at 1:42 PM on August 5, 2011


Three days ago the left was all up in arms about how Obama got played. Now they are accusing him of being the evil mastermind. You can't have it both ways, people.

You can if you're an ill-defined, amorphous political faction with many thousands of individual member. Some on the left think Obama got played, and some think he's playing them. Is that really so odd?
posted by steambadger at 1:42 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, I think the disconnect here is you expect people to think strategically about election prospects and congressional maneuvering. First off, I don't consider the chance of success for my candidate even in the voting booth. Second, I don't care about the strategic implications of my opinions.

Thank you for making this explicit. As someone who has a lot of difficulty not thinking strategically, you're highlighting the need for me to figure out how to bridge this gap in mindsets.
posted by Jpfed at 1:43 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


MeTa.
posted by mlis at 1:55 PM on August 5, 2011


I don't consider the chance of success for my candidate even in the voting booth. Second, I don't care about the strategic implications of my opinions.
Asking someone to think like this is, you would admit, counterintuitive.


I believe that is an ideal way to vote, but I also believe that may people do think strategically in voting, I'm not sure how counter-intuitive it really is. Thus the saying "hold my nose and vote for the lesser of two evils" especially when there are more than two choices on the ballot.

Non strategic thinking at the ballot box got us Bush Jr. I, unlike many, am not actually mad at Nader, I'm upset at the structural problems of our system and that there is functionally no real way to correct it.

At minimum we need 3 parties, left, right and center. And we could actually have that if the GOP had the strength to expel the racists and fundamentalists from their ranks to form an official Tea party (or whatever). It would reduce the GOP party numbers, but, I also wager they then would get a lot of former centrist Democrats, leaving the Democrats to be much more progressive.

Currently we have a right and a party that tries to encompass both left and center because there is no room for centrists in the GOP. The Dems suffer because they are trying to hold so many people in their tent, and doing so they get pulled back and forth. A party with Ben Nelson and Al Franken is just untenable in the current climate.

Now, ideally, I love the notion of big tent parties, especially if you only have two viable parties. But to work they have to exist across the board. When it is one sided, with one party demanding lock-step politburo voting, and the other is herding cats that puts the cat herders at a huge disadvantage.

If the Dems where nearly as unified as the GOP the first two years of Obama's presidency would have been nothing short of radical.

blah blah blah, IRV, multiple parties etc etc
posted by edgeways at 1:58 PM on August 5, 2011


^ Lesser of two evils makes some sense, the more counter-intuitive part there was Ironmouth implying you should be lying about your true feelings to opinion pollers. I don't think that makes sense for a lot of reasons, one of them being that your own politicians are informed by polls as well and it's a mistake to give them a skewed perspective.

Thank you for making this explicit. As someone who has a lot of difficulty not thinking strategically, you're highlighting the need for me to figure out how to bridge this gap in mindsets.

It's an interesting question, because part of the disconnect is that political media almost always talks strategically now.

I remember Greenwald (I think) tossing a fit way back in the day because Chuck Todd (I think) commented that not prosecuting Bush officials for torture was the right choice because there would be a huge political backlash.

That is accurate. However, how about we discuss the point of view that even though there would be a backlash leaders have a moral obligation to enforce laws against torture? It didn't even come up in that particular discussion.

Now, you can make an argument that Obama has done enough about torture even without the prosecutions, but in this particular case no one even thought to bring it up.

It is human nature for politicians to be concerned with political implications, so the responsibility to care about everything else falls on the media and the people.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:03 PM on August 5, 2011


> The presidency is a shit job
> posted by edgeways at 1:13 PM on August 5 [3 favorites +] [!]

If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.
posted by jfuller at 2:05 PM on August 5, 2011


Ironmouth, I think the disconnect here is you expect people to think strategically about election prospects and congressional maneuvering. First off, I don't consider the chance of success for my candidate even in the voting booth. Second, I don't care about the strategic implications of my opinions.

That may be why you keep finding yourself out on the political margins.

your inside baseball experience in things like astro-turfing has obscured that for you a little bit.

Which astro-turfing would that be?

Now, I do understand the logic of your argument, I just disagree that pushing forward the agenda is a higher consideration than being honest about how you feel about the performance of a leader.

Are you saying that you vote to make yourself feel good rather than in pursuit of any particular results? That seems a peculiarly masochistic approach to politics, since it virtually guarantees you won't get any of the things you want. It suggests that you don't have any real objectives, but just react to whatever's put in front of you.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:27 PM on August 5, 2011


I am saying that when you do not have the votes, attacking someone for not doing what is not possible is counter productive.

Obama seems to be counting on the left attacking him for making compromises. It's what makes him look moderate and reasonable. It raises the question of why Obama's supporters want everyone to close ranks behind him.

The commonsense idea (repeated by Chopra above) is that Republicans are much more disciplined and coordinated than Democrats, who are fragmented and have lots of different views. There may be some truth to this, but Democrats have their own kind of homogeneity, which is that our differences are a reflection of intellectual/cultural diversity but in the end we're all part of the same team. We see an effort to deny the existence of any substantial differences among liberals, so that even naming one provokes rage or accusations of editorializing. To note a real ideological difference is a partisan position, because for centrists, there are none, there are only reasonable liberals plus a few fringe characters. Only for a leftist is there a difference between a centrist and a leftist.
posted by AlsoMike at 2:28 PM on August 5, 2011


WENDELL!
posted by symbioid at 2:29 PM on August 5, 2011


I think that the "take the political reality into account beforehand" approach leaves a lot on the table. It's an argument that admits defeat right out of the box.

Congress is gonna do what Congress does. The president's job is to poke and prod and wheedle and cajole. Votes are not his problem; setting the agenda is his job. Having a vision and constantly pushing for it. Losing the battles isn't really that important.

People want a leader. In fact, I'd argue that they are hungry for one. What we get now are poll-watchers and triangulators. That is not lost on the public. If Obama would just grow a spine and not back down, I'm certain he would gain more respect on the left and, more importantly, in the middle.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:30 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


That may be why you keep finding yourself out on the political margins.

Oh, I'm sure. The thing is I don't particularly care.

Which astro-turfing would that be?

He discussed his experience in the other thread.

Are you saying that you vote to make yourself feel good rather than in pursuit of any particular results?

I vote to express support to the candidate I find most deserving of the office. I hope others agree with me but it does not decide how I vote.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:33 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Funny, I thought that was exactly the sort of thing we disliked about Bush - his lack of respect for process, his bullying 'my way or the highway' approach, his consistent lowest-common-denominator approach to politics, and so on.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:33 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


> the vicious cycle -- worker stops buying (dropping C), so firm stops making (and thus,
> buying supplies, dropping C, laying off workers, who without income, stop buying
> (dropping C), and people see their friends and family without work, so they slow spending
> (dropping C), which means more companies react to the lower demand by buying less supplies
> (dropping C) and laying off workers, who can't buy as much now (dropping C), which worries
> people even more, and they put off more spending (dropping C).....and on and on and on.
> It's a classic macroeconomic vicious cycle.

Can't help observing that it's also what downsizing and simplifying, weaning ourselves off of what's usually called "hysterical corporate-sponsored consumerism", and of course reducing our civilization's carbon footprint, will inevitably look like to a macroeconomist; and those are usually (in other threads, anyway) considered Good Things. All things considered, it strikes me that your paragraph may describe a direct path to the greatest good for the greatest number.
posted by jfuller at 2:37 PM on August 5, 2011


Funny, I thought that was exactly the sort of thing we disliked about Bush - his lack of respect for process, his bullying 'my way or the highway' approach, his consistent lowest-common-denominator approach to politics, and so on.

I didn't like Bush because I disagreed with his policies and his worldview. And I voted against him. But he obviously impressed enough people to be a two-term president.

Obama may be playing super-genius long-ball here. He might even be winning. But he looks like a loser to too many people. I think if he got his back up - showed some righteous indignation at least now and again - he would benefit greatly.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:41 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever he does, people call him a hypocrite.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:43 PM on August 5, 2011


He compromised some, got the next debt fight shifted until after the election, and exposes the tea party for right wing radicals.

Bingo! Exactly!
As Tea Party Reshapes GOP, Cheer And Worry -- "The grass-roots movement is pulling Republican debate to the far right."
posted by ericb at 2:59 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So Obama walks into a car dealership...
posted by fuse theorem at 3:14 PM on August 5, 2011


I'd feel much better about accepting the arguments by people saying that the Democrats actually came out relatively well from the debt deal if I had assurances that this:

Security of Defense pushes for entitlement cuts over cuts to defense spending

is not an indication of where the administration stands on the negotiations over the Super Committee. I've heard too many reports that President Obama prefers some sort of cuts to entitlements (beyond measures to lower costs or make programs like Medicare more efficient) to feel completely at ease.

I'd also like to push back at the idea that all of the elements that those to the left of the administration's stated positions advocate are somehow poison to voters.

At the beginning of his term, the number one concern of voters was the collapsing economy and corruption on Wall St. On the first issue, he did enough to prevent a repeat of the Great Depression, but he did not do enough to restore growth and bring down unemployment to the satisfaction of voters. The reason was mechanical, the stimulus he pushed was too small and poorly designed. I understand that the composition of the Senate made it impossible for him to get a bigger bill, and that the idea was somewhat unpopular with voters anyway, but I don't see how selling the stimulus as sufficient when his advisers told him it wouldn't be helped him politically. All it did was discredit the only available method to alleviate high unemployment and low economic growth, as well as make the administration look stupid. The fact that the economy did not start to improve during his first term, as well his pivot to other issues like health care, probably played a large role in the Democratic losses in 2010, as well as hurt his approval rating. For the second issue, he didn't completely let Wall St. off the hook, but he did adopt a conciliatory tone, which ceded populist anger on the issue to right wing groups such as the Tea Party. I would argue that this was a dangerous development because however un-american and socialistic you might argue those advocating stronger re-regulation of Wall St. were, they were much more responsible and educated than the Tea Party proved to be. I think we all saw the results play out during the debt ceiling debacle.

As for the health care debate, from what I've seen the public option always polled well. I never saw any polling about expanding medicare to create a single payer system, but given that Republicans campaigned against Democratic "cuts" to the program, I can't see how it would have been that unpopular.

Finally, during the current debate I would argue that the Obama administration is well to the right of the vast majority of the public. Voters still list job creation as a greater priority than deficit reduction, even after both parties adopted the idea that deficit reduction was important. Frankly, President Obama probably played a role in increasing concerns over the deficit in the minds of voters. As for specific ways to reduce the deficit, voters consistently favor raising taxes to cutting programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They'll even prioritize retaining those programs over reducing the deficit. It is only when the most general, and least specific, questions about the deficit are asked, without mention of where the deficits are coming from, or where the cuts would be coming from, that even a "balanced approach" gets any support. It takes a very specific and facial reading of the polling to get public support for any of the alternatives currently being offered in the Washington political debate.

(Please spare me any lectures about congress or the constitution. I'm talking about public support, not the poltical mechanics of what actually can get passed.)
posted by eagles123 at 3:30 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


First off, I don't consider the chance of success for my candidate even in the voting booth. Second, I don't care about the strategic implications of my opinions.

I'll disagree with this actually.

The reason I'm so vocal in these threads is that for too long the Democrats have assumed the left will vote for them regardless of outcome. By stating, and being ready to back up with action, that I will note vote for a candidate who continually pushes anti-left policy, I'm taking a strategic action.

These posts are a signal (along with letters, donations and calls) that if a candidate wants my vote, they should do more to support my policies. Not voting for them is another strategic act, that signals to David Axelrod and other Dem strategists that the threat is serious, and in the next round they should take it into consideration.

It's similar to the Tea Party and GOP game of chicken in the debt ceiling debate.

But we are not sekret Tea Partiers like some stated upthread. I'll assume that was a reference to people like Trurl, Joe Beese, furiousxgeorge and myself. While some of our beliefs may align with stated Tea Party talking points about civil liberties and freedom, we know that the Tea Party is a racist GOP front pushed by Fox News. Social programs and infrastructure are as important to us as civil liberties.

While there is no real organized movement of progressives passionate about civil-liberties, and other progressive values, there are several highly visible leaders, including Glenn Greenwald. Given the passionate attacks on him by many, I'm guessing the numbers are large enough to form a PAC or other voting bloc.
posted by formless at 3:44 PM on August 5, 2011


FWIW, there are some who think the Tea Party is starting to shrink. Wonder if they will last long enough to influence the GOP primaries enough to put out a distasteful enough candidate for the election
posted by edgeways at 3:47 PM on August 5, 2011


Whenever he does, people call him a hypocrite.

And whenever they do, some people deny it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:14 PM on August 5, 2011


They used fear of terrorism to get the TSA all over us like a cheap suit - now they’re using dread of default to get at Social Security.

The whole thing was a disgraceful charade, calculated to flog the public into a panic... to make the poor bastards grudgingly accept almost any solution, no matter how rotten. In the recent past the government used fear to pave the way for unprecedented government intrusion into our lives. Now they want to use it to dismantle a hugely popular program, so that they can ramp up raids on the Social Security trust fund to finance corporate welfare and the ongoing follies of Department of Defense.

I was behind Obama during the 2008 campaign, but a friend of mine kept saying that it was all just a standard good cop/bad cop charade. I said no, its different, the Republicans are insane. Now it looks like we were both right.
posted by Huplescat at 5:31 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


a friend of mine kept saying that it was all just a standard good cop/bad cop charade.

yes, i've been meaning to use this phrase, too - it really seems to fit
posted by pyramid termite at 5:45 PM on August 5, 2011


For anybody still reading this thread (and only this thread) in real time: Uh, shit.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:52 PM on August 5, 2011


In a money-fed election system, the last stand among voters could be to dissolve congressional districts state by state and elect representatives from an open party list instead. A typical state would have five congressional seats up for election, and their political makeup would best match the state voting demographic. The least funded party could run statewide and hope to catch a seat every two years. Note that congressional districts are not mentioned in the constitution.
Whoever funds the Tea-party may be worried when the average Tea-partier thinks this might be a good idea for their separate cause, and studies show that more women and minorities tend to be elected this way.
posted by Brian B. at 6:07 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


More Greenwald: The administration's stated budget priorities: Leon Panetta demands cuts to Social Security and Medicare to avoid cuts in Pentagon spending
posted by homunculus at 8:36 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Leon Panetta isn't President. He is entitled to his opinion. Team of rivals, lots of voices in the cabinet, different from Bush remember?
posted by humanfont at 8:41 PM on August 5, 2011


Guys stop fighting about who stabbed whom in the back and whose votes need to vote to vote the votes. You didn't resolve this in the last thirty-two threads, and you won't resolve it in this one.

"Let's not bicker and argue about 'oo killed 'oo!"
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 11:53 PM on August 5, 2011


Uh, shit.

Considering the S&P can't even come within two trillion dollars on their own calculations I trust a high school pom pom squad for ratings as much as the S&P. Seriously, if the bank failures proved nothing what they proved it the ratings agencies don't know whit about ratings. It's like the best job in the world. You get to totally suck at what you do and people still pretend you're relevant.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:19 AM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Starting the hippy punching early this thread, eh? Democrats approved of this plan more than anyone else, there is no imaginary liberal "they" for you to accuse of hypocrisy, there is a disagreement among some people on the left.

Actually, in the House, the Democrats split 95-95 on the debt bill, while Republicans went 174-66, which is a greater than 2-1 margin. You can't just call it hippy punching simply because somebody disagrees with your argument.
posted by jonp72 at 10:05 AM on August 6, 2011


I was referring to the polls, not the congressional vote.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:08 AM on August 6, 2011


Wait, we have Obama now, and I'm supposed to be scared of getting Mitt Romney elected? Laughable. Mitt Romney was responsible for a far more liberal health care plan in Massachusetts. As far as I can tell, Mitt Romney would be either a wash or an improvement.

I remember similar arguments before the 2000 presidential election. I heard quite a few people advocating a vote for Nader, because George W. Bush "would be either a wash or an improvement" in relation to Al Gore. Dude, I've seen that movie before. And it sucked.
posted by jonp72 at 10:23 AM on August 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Bush only accomplished what he did because at key moments Democrats gave him the votes. It's easy to blame Nader instead of Bush voters from each party and the people who passed his legislation, but it doesn't tell the whole story.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:52 PM on August 7, 2011


Rumsfeld's Legacy: Torturing You
posted by homunculus at 8:37 PM on August 9, 2011


Ack, that was supposed to go here.

But what the hell, since the Obama administration is defending Rumsfeld, I guess it fits here too.
posted by homunculus at 8:42 PM on August 9, 2011


Symptoms of the Bush-Obama Presidency: The Saved and the Sacked
posted by homunculus at 2:45 PM on August 19, 2011


Obama Goes All Out For Dirty Banker Deal
posted by homunculus at 2:38 PM on August 24, 2011


It really isn't a terrible deal. The banks are pointing a gun at our head. Obama can shoot the banks, but you and I will perish.
posted by humanfont at 4:59 PM on August 24, 2011


it's a criminal deal - and if that's what obama wants to do, then he's a criminal, too

but you and I will perish.

being enslaved for the rest of our lives by venal ratfuckers is not quite the same as perishing
posted by pyramid termite at 9:46 PM on August 24, 2011


Independents WANT Obama to fight GOP harder
posted by homunculus at 12:06 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Job-approval ratings by income level:

Less than $30,000 41 51 8
$30,000 to $50,000 37 60 3
$50,000 to $75,000 41 55 4
$75,000 to $100,000 42 50 8
Over $100,000 50 47 2
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:27 PM on August 30, 2011


What the Left Doesn’t Understand About Obama: Mistakes were made, just not the ones that his liberal critics keep shouting about.
posted by homunculus at 12:35 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


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