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...Happy with the idea of a Democratic president—indeed, dancing-in-the-streets delirious—but not with the real thing
November 23, 2011 9:18 AM   Subscribe

If we trace liberal disappointment with President Obama to its origins, to try to pinpoint the moment when his crestfallen supporters realized that this was Not Change They Could Believe In, the souring probably began on December 17, 2008, when Obama announced that conservative Evangelical pastor Rick Warren would speak at his inauguration. “Abominable,” fumed John Aravosis on AmericaBlog. “Obama’s ‘inclusiveness’ mantra always seems to head only in one direction—an excuse to scorn progressives and embrace the Right,” seethed Salon’s Glenn Greenwald. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow rode the story almost nightly: “I think the problem is getting larger for Barack Obama.” Negative 34 days into the start of the Obama presidency, the honeymoon was over.
Jonathan Chait asks in New York magazine, When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable? posted by 2bucksplus (345 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Look, the guy said that torture was against the law and the Constitution, and that he'd fix the problem if he was President.

So we elected him, and his "solution" was to make torture legal.

The man is not fit for office. We were fools to elect him. He is George W. Bush in almost every sense.
posted by Malor at 9:20 AM on November 23, 2011 [25 favorites]


Malor wrote: The man is not fit for office. We were fools to elect him. He is George W. Bush in almost every sense.

And your better candidate is...?
posted by wierdo at 9:22 AM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


All we want is to stop fighting wars, stop torturing, stop treating lgbt's as second class citizens, and to get money out of politics... amongst other COMPLETELY OBVIOUS THINGS.

Liberals unreasonable? When are other people going to grow up and stop being so fucking insane.
posted by pwally at 9:23 AM on November 23, 2011 [82 favorites]


wierdo: "And your better candidate is...?"

That's not a rebuttal.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:23 AM on November 23, 2011 [57 favorites]


Look, the guy said that torture was against the law and the Constitution, and that he'd fix the problem if he was President.

So we elected him, and his "solution" was to make torture legal.


I'd like to have more information on this please!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:24 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


And your better candidate is...?

Miss Piggy. For the karate chop. Take that, Congress! HIIIIIIII-YA!
On preview, dunkadunc wins for brevity
posted by PapaLobo at 9:24 AM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry, I didn't realize that Malor (or any person) was personally responsible for electing the best candidate ever. I thought the job of the Democratic Party was to elect the most progressive candidate who could win the general election. Of course, I was wrong, but then again I could never be disillusioned by Obama because I was never "illusioned" in the first place.
posted by muddgirl at 9:25 AM on November 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


I just want to put this out there.
I supported Obama. I'm disappointed in him. I knew that would happen.

Why?

Because Presidents will not rescue us. Democrats will not rescue us. Politicians will not rescue us. That is not their job.

Master's tools and whatnot.
posted by entropone at 9:25 AM on November 23, 2011 [26 favorites]


He is George W. Bush in almost every sense

If you don't want to read the whole article, this moronic outburst sums up liberal unreasonableness in one concise sentence.
posted by Crotalus at 9:25 AM on November 23, 2011 [107 favorites]


If the Democratic leadership perpetually disappoints, clearly we must ask WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE PEOPLE? I'm totally not a tool. I'm pragmatic.
posted by Zed at 9:25 AM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Fisa vote.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 9:25 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


This appears to be part of a series at NY Magazine.

I happen to think they're both somewhat right. And the question is probably properly: when did Americans become so ridiculous?
posted by koeselitz at 9:26 AM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Indeed koeselitz I think you're right. I read that article too but didn't make the connection.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:27 AM on November 23, 2011


Malor: “Look, the guy said that torture was against the law and the Constitution, and that he'd fix the problem if he was President. So we elected him, and his ‘solution’ was to make torture legal.”

I really don't remember this happening, but it'd be great if you could correct me on that.
posted by koeselitz at 9:28 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


When did Jonathan Chait start punching hippies?
posted by DU at 9:28 AM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


when did Americans become so ridiculous?

That would probably be 1776. Before that, we were mostly ridiculous Europeans.
posted by muddgirl at 9:29 AM on November 23, 2011 [21 favorites]


What an utter load of crap.

Maybe liberals aren't happy because we've never had a truly liberal president.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:29 AM on November 23, 2011 [17 favorites]


dunkadunc wrote: That's not a rebuttal

Yeah, I know. It's called a question.
posted by wierdo at 9:29 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I look forward to a new wave of "Why won't you root for your team? You wanted them to win, didn't you? They won! What's the big deal?!" articles like these targeting people like me.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:29 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?

Have you stopped beating your wife?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:32 AM on November 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


When did Jonathan Chait start punching hippies?

At least a few months now: (New York Times Warning!) What the Left Doesn’t Understand About Obama
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:32 AM on November 23, 2011


I voted for Obama because I thought he'd be better than the other guy. I vehemently dislike pretty much everything that today's GOP stands for, which gets in the way of my considering Republican candidates. Obama has disappointed me in some ways, but what else is new? You can bet I'll vote for him again.

Why is this so difficult for people to stomach?

Sure, it seems like I don't have much control over my national choices, but I can put my efforts to much better use locally.
posted by Madamina at 9:33 AM on November 23, 2011 [38 favorites]


So we elected him, and his "solution" was to make torture legal.

That's exactly the opposite of what he did. The executive order he issued banning any and all "enhanced interrogation" was pretty damn clear. There have been rumors circulated in some circles on the web of a second secret order to the contrary, but nothing that's ever been verified that I know of.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:34 AM on November 23, 2011 [46 favorites]


Look, I fully understand that you not only don't agree with Obama on a lot of things, but you are actively repulsed by some of his positions. What you need to understand is that you're not going to get anywhere without taking the gains you can on the things you can get broad agreement on when the opportunity presents itself.
posted by wierdo at 9:35 AM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


From the article: "By that standard, Obama’s first term would indeed seem to qualify as gangsta shit."

Until this line, which seems jarringly out of place, I thought it was well written. Also, I have not heard of antisemitism in OWS. Is that a real charge?
posted by Renoroc at 9:35 AM on November 23, 2011


This guy begs to differ.
posted by Danf at 9:37 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look, people..the President is largely a symbolic figure who is supposed to lead his party, but it's Congress that does shit. I voted for Obama for the following reasons:

1) It's god damn time we show the rest of the world that we meant it when we institutionalized civil rights

2) He's not a republican

So....I got what I wanted.

I push agenda items and actual policy by voting at the congressional and local levels. Too bad.
posted by spicynuts at 9:37 AM on November 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


If it was unreasonable to expect Obama to, say, live up to his campaign promise on the public option (or at least to fight publicly for it), or to choose economic policy-makers and policies not plucked directly from the same Wall Street clique that wrecked the boat in the first place, then, sure, "liberals" (the article actually says moderates are just as disappointed as the real lefties) are unreasonable.

But it looks to me like concern trolling by a writer who thinks a D by a candidate's name should be enough.
posted by Buckley at 9:38 AM on November 23, 2011 [12 favorites]


Obama has disappointed me in some ways, but what else is new? You can bet I'll vote for him again.

Why is this so difficult for people to stomach?


I don't care who you vote for. Personally, I'm not going to vote for a guy whose platform is "at least I'm not a Republican". It's short-term thinking to do so, because it only enables the rightward driftsprint of the Democratic party.

If Obama wants my vote he can earn it by doing the things he said he was going to when I voted for him the first time.
posted by DU at 9:38 AM on November 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


More from the New Yorker about the four Executive Orders the Obama Administration issued reversing Bush era enhanced interrogation policies, since there seems to be such a huge gap between perception and reality on that issue.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:38 AM on November 23, 2011 [14 favorites]


Torture was and is illegal, but he declined to prosecute those who were responsible for torture. That makes it de facto legal.

The executive order he issued banning any and all "enhanced interrogation" was pretty damn clear.

That just means he hasn't made torture his administration's policy. The lack of prosecutions for something that is supposed to be illegal is the main problem.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:39 AM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


IIRC, Jonathon Chait was a leader among that cohort of reasonable liberals who rah-rahed us into the Iraq War.

So, without RTFAing...feh.
posted by notyou at 9:39 AM on November 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


He is George W. Bush in almost every sense.

GWB made some policy decisions that I don't like and wouldn't have been made under a Democratic president, like the big tax cuts. But above and beyond that he really dramatically screwed up the country, directly by starting two pointless wars and indirectly by letting the financial industry throw themselves off a cliff. Say what you will about Obama not being all Hope and Change, but I don't think his inability to live up to liberal ideals is in any way comparable to Bush's complete crash and burn of a presidency.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:39 AM on November 23, 2011 [43 favorites]


Everybody thinks they're immune to the "repeat a lie enough times and it becomes the truth" phenomena, but no one is. That's where the disappointment really comes from.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:39 AM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Much of the left is angry at Obama. They are not ONLY angry at Obama.

They are angry at New Democrats and Blue Dogs who have no use for liberal ideals and policy. They are angry at Democrats who continue to believe they can negotiate and compromise with an opposition that plays hardball and refuses to concede anything. They are angry at decisions to continue on with what they view as bad fiscal and bad foreign and bad domestic policies. They are angry that, seemingly, a true liberal voice seems to have no place in this Congress.

And they are angry at Obama because, well, he doesn't seem at all angry about any of that.
posted by delfin at 9:40 AM on November 23, 2011 [34 favorites]


So we elected him, and his "solution" was to make torture legal.

Malor, this is factually incorrect, so I'd really like to know what you thought you meant by that statement.
posted by spaltavian at 9:41 AM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


delfin wrote: And they are angry at Obama because, well, he doesn't seem at all angry about any of that.

Perhaps they should actually watch his speeches, because he seems pretty angry to me. I guess he could start cursing, but I don't know how much good that would do.
posted by wierdo at 9:43 AM on November 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


when did Americans become so ridiculous?

Its not that we're ridiculous, per se, it's that--frankly--we're dumb. When you have a vast, vast bloc of voters (the poor, the working-class, the lower-middle class) in this country who consistently vote against their own interests, it is difficult to keep pretending that the (moral, economic, legal) state of our nation is somehow the fault of one man who--if we are being honest--has governed exactly as we have wanted him to govern.
posted by Chrischris at 9:43 AM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Perhaps they should actually watch his speeches, because he seems pretty angry to me.

Don't say. Do.
posted by delfin at 9:44 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's a good article on why leaderless groups like Occupy Wall Street attract a fringe group of anti-Semites. It's still OWS' responsibility to challenge hate speech.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:45 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


My personal issue with Obama is this: Bank Fraud Prosecution Continues to Drop under Obama
posted by yertledaturtle at 9:47 AM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


When you cycle through whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com it's like a list of broken promises and toothless reforms with newspeak names.

If it's this or the crazies, at least the crazies are incompetent and will betray humanity in the most honest way possible.
posted by clarknova at 9:48 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Philosopher Dirtbike: “Torture was and is illegal, but he declined to prosecute those who were responsible for torture. That makes it de facto legal... The lack of prosecutions for something that is supposed to be illegal is the main problem.”

This seems pointedly and emphatically not true. When Gerald Ford offered an outright pardon to Nixon and his cronies, he did not by any stretch of the imagination 'make presidential crime legal.' When a governor offers a pardon to a woman who killed her abusing husband because she believes the case warrants it, the governor does not 'make murder legal.'

The apparent point here is that some people wanted to see blood when Obama was elected. They wanted to see Bush and company strung up. As satisfying as that may have seemed, the damage to the office of the President would have been irreparable; it was bad enough when it happened with Nixon. This was the best thing for the nation. And it was emphatically not a legalization of torture in any rational sense whatsoever.

delfin: “And they are angry at Obama because, well, he doesn't seem at all angry about any of that.”

wierdo: “Perhaps they should actually watch his speeches, because he seems pretty angry to me. I guess he could start cursing, but I don't know how much good that would do.”

delfin: “Don't say. Do.”

Anger is a really, really bad place to be in when making decisions. Anger makes people act purely in their own interests at the spur of the moment without thinking things through. Anger is especially bad in politicians. I mean, are you saying you'd like to see him break tables or something? Seriously, it is a very good thing that Obama doesn't act in anger.
posted by koeselitz at 9:48 AM on November 23, 2011 [18 favorites]


When did Jonathan Chait start punching hippies?

This is not an example of hippie punching.
posted by spaltavian at 9:49 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Don't say. Do.

Do what? Invent a mind control ray and blast Congress? "Liberals" became unreasonable when they forgot the President isn't a king.
posted by spaltavian at 9:51 AM on November 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


Here's a good article on why leaderless groups like Occupy Wall Street attract a fringe group of anti-Semites. It's still OWS' responsibility to challenge hate speech.

What the fuck?? Linking to a right wing Jewish mag apropos of... Nothing?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 9:52 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


The funny thing about this is the narrative that liberals are disillusioned by Obama's failure to deliver on liberal issues when they might be disappointed in him being a C- President who is not up to the challenges which confront the nation, who does not have a plan or an agenda for solving the country's economic crisis, and who seems powerless over his own government and his own party. In other words, a lot of liberals are unemployed in Mr. Obama's America and they are just as inclined to vote their pocketbook as anyone else.

Yeah, the other guy still scores an F, and that is pretty much the only thing that Mr. C minus has going for him.
posted by three blind mice at 9:52 AM on November 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


What's interesting we were all so helpless to resist giving Bush everything he wanted, yet now that Obama is in charge, the president isn't a king and is helpless in the face of Congress and can't be expected to do anything. Guess I'm just a stupid liberal and can't understand.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:55 AM on November 23, 2011 [21 favorites]


delfin wrote: Don't say. Do.

Shall he direct Congress to do his bidding by begging, pleading, or threatening?
posted by wierdo at 10:00 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


If every Democratic president disappoints, maybe there’s something wrong with our expectations.

Why isn't Clinton revered like Saint Reagan? Because no President should be revered that way.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:00 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


What the fuck?? Linking to a right wing Jewish mag apropos of... Nothing?

I looked at the magazine and it didn't look particularly right-wing, or, indeed, political. It had stuff about life in Israel but, hey, it's a Jewish magazine so that's hardly unexpected.

And whether extremists (be they anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists or the inevitable impeccably organised death-cult Stalinists) try to glom onto a leaderless movement, and what sort of immune response the movement has to attempts to hijack it, are important questions.
posted by acb at 10:02 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


What the fuck?? Linking to a right wing Jewish mag apropos of... Nothing?

Renoroc: ...Also, I have not heard of antisemitism in OWS. Is that a real charge?

2bucksplus: Here's a good article on why leaderless groups like Occupy Wall Street attract a fringe group of anti-Semites. It's still OWS' responsibility to challenge hate speech.

An article in a "right wing Jewish mag" written by a senior writer for Newsweek and The Daily Beast is probably the best place for a rebuttal to the attempted spin that OWS is somehow anti-Semitic. But if you want I found that article referenced in noted left wing Jewish mag New York magazine.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:02 AM on November 23, 2011


I think that a good part of the frustration with Obama, especially from the digital generation, is the feeling that the massive, grassroots community that worked so hard for his electoral success was almost immediately ignored after he took office. In that sense, they share the experience of many evangelicals during the drive to victory of a Republican president, at least over the last quarter-century: intensely pandered to during the campaign, but with their goals and concerns largely ignored once the election has been won. There’s a feeling that the effort has been squandered, that the internet is seen as simply another medium for solicitation, research and marketing, rather than a authentic vehicle for change.

And change was what people were promised: instead, it largely turned into business as usual. The White House may have opened up to suggestions from the people, but the response to popular movements like decriminalization of marijuana or enforcing the separation of church and state has been outright dismissal or the usual political boilerplate, which has caused its own share of frustration. (This, from a president who has openly admitted to his experiences with drugs, and who would have been completely unelectable if ever convicted of possession, as well as being a huge breath of fresh air in his embrace of atheists as citizens (in marked contrast to previous presidents)).

Obama had a People’s Mandate to transform the system, and instead worked within it. He was a little too in love with the concept of Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals”, and perhaps trusted that it would work.

Obama’s a geek, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s favored small, technological interventions (more Predator drone strikes, special forces). But he’s also an elitist: he believes that smart people can save the world, and the popular vote is a means to an end, not a source for change. That's contributed, in large part, to the disappointment in his administration, and the sentiment behind OWS.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:02 AM on November 23, 2011 [22 favorites]


Clearly the gap between the Right and the Left in this nation is wider than ever, and we see this in views expressed by voters these days ...But for elections to succeed, increasingly it will take the growing body of independents to decide outcomes...What we have, then, is the increasing need for huge sums of money to run for national office. And to get this, the GOP goes to its traditional source: the very wealthy and the corporations.The Democrats (or liberals) no longer have the unions--they have become much smaller in our country--and so the once-liberal party too much go to the corporations and the wealthy for funding.
Progressives imply are not going to get fa major voice in running things. The Tea Party and the older fiscal conservatives are in battle now to see who will run their cause.
posted by Postroad at 10:02 AM on November 23, 2011


three blind mice: who does not have a plan or an agenda for solving the country's economic crisis, and who seems powerless over his own government and his own party. In other words, a lot of liberals are unemployed in Mr. Obama's America and they are just as inclined to vote their pocketbook as anyone else.

Of course he has an agenda. We all the know the agenda, because we all know how the fix the economic crisis. Really, it's no mystery.

The agenda is:

-huge infrastructure investment
-minor marginal tax rate increases on the wealthy
-sensible cuts in entitlement spending
-curtail the toll of healthcare spending on the economy


Okay, so you say it's Obama's fault this isn't getting done. Alright, I'll give you any Democratic politician, living or dead. I'll throw in Teddy Roosevelt. Now, who gets this done with this Congress and electorate?

The answer is: no one.
posted by spaltavian at 10:03 AM on November 23, 2011 [32 favorites]


Uh, TBM, no plan, no plan at all? He was just wandering aimlessly around the country rambling about nothing calling for Congress to pass nothing for no reason at all? There is a big difference between having no plan and you not liking the plan.

With all the disinformation, I feel like I'm surrounding by fucking Tea Partiers.
posted by wierdo at 10:03 AM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's mentioned in the article briefly, but worth linking here to the ne plus ultra of "I'm disappointed by Obama" essays from this past summer. [NY Times]
THE real conundrum is why the president seems so compelled to take both sides of every issue, encouraging voters to project whatever they want on him, and hoping they won’t realize which hand is holding the rabbit. That a large section of the country views him as a socialist while many in his own party are concluding that he does not share their values speaks volumes — but not the volumes his advisers are selling: that if you make both the right and left mad, you must be doing something right.
posted by BobbyVan at 10:04 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


When Gerald Ford offered an outright pardon to Nixon and his cronies, he did not by any stretch of the imagination 'make presidential crime legal.' When a governor offers a pardon to a woman who killed her abusing husband because she believes the case warrants it, the governor does not 'make murder legal.'

Not so fast. It is a bit of a stretch to say that pardons make the crimes outright legal, but ...

It seems to me that pardoning Nixon made it more likely that a future President would be secretive and break the laws, saying to himself or herself, "I'll never actually be prosecuted." That is, the pardon served to institutionalize Presidential crime, even if it didn't actually make it legal.

Similarly, when a governor pardons someone, he or she has to weigh the effect on the actions of other citizens. If the governor pardons Mrs. X, then other women who have been abused may reasonably expect that they will be pardoned if they kill their abusing husbands as well.

Question: Would Bush's abuses have been more likely, less likely, or equally likely if Nixon had been prosecuted?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:05 AM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


"
Look, I fully understand that you not only don't agree with Obama on a lot of things, but you are actively repulsed by some of his positions. What you need to understand is that you're not going to get anywhere without taking the gains you can on the things you can get broad agreement on when the opportunity presents itself."


That's not how the Republicans do it. Hence, USA PATRIOT Act, Habeas Corpus, torture, Iraq War, Tax Cuts, deregulation...death by a thousand cuts - can anyone here remember the term, "Executive Order?"

What we hoped for was a fighter. What we hoped for was change - not in what we were doing legislatively, necessarily, but HOW we were doing it. This whole milquetoast bipartisanship was never going to work. You don't pet or feed rabid dogs, even if they might be helped.
posted by Chuffy at 10:06 AM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Jonathan Livengood: “Not so fast. It is a bit of a stretch to say that pardons make the crimes outright legal, but ...”

Yes so fast. Malor opened this thread with the outlandish claim that Obama made torture legal. This is emphatically not true.

Jonathan Livengood: “Question: Would Bush's abuses have been more likely, less likely, or equally likely if Nixon had been prosecuted?”

Less likely, but only in the sense that it's unlikely that we would still have a President or a government.
posted by koeselitz at 10:09 AM on November 23, 2011


Anger is a really, really bad place to be in when making decisions. Anger makes people act purely in their own interests at the spur of the moment without thinking things through. Anger is especially bad in politicians. I mean, are you saying you'd like to see him break tables or something? Seriously, it is a very good thing that Obama doesn't act in anger.

Shall he direct Congress to do his bidding by begging, pleading, or threatening?

Do what? Invent a mind control ray and blast Congress? "Liberals" became unreasonable when they forgot the President isn't a king.

No, but he's not a happy smiling Ronald McDonald mascot either. Like it or not, he is the face of the Democratic Party, and while he cannot bust through the walls of the Capitol Building like the Kool-Aid Man and get laws passed at gunpoint, there is certainly more he could be doing to make a case for something different -- if, in fact, he is displeased by what we've gotten so far.

A lot of this is buyer's remorse, pure and simple. Many people who thought the last election was Left Versus Right were alarmed to find out that 'Left' was strictly contextual. Center-right is to the left of So Far To The Right You Can't Even See It From The Center Any More, also known as the NotRomney wing of this year's Republican candidates.

And as for anger? When the Republican Congresses he's faced have been just short of hostage-takers all along, Give Us Exactly What We Want Or We Shoot This Country regarding economic issues? You're damn right I want to see SOMEONE angry. Obama's reflex response to any Republican proposal seems to be 'let's find common ground somewhere in the middle,' which is a nightmare when the other side keeps making ultimatum after ultimatum.
posted by delfin at 10:10 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, I have not heard of antisemitism in OWS. Is that a real charge?
Ask Patricia McCalister. Or this guy. This reporter mentions getting an anti-Semitic vibe at OWS. A zombie explains.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:10 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obama had a People’s Mandate to transform the system, and instead worked within it. He was a little too in love with the concept of Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals”, and perhaps trusted that it would work.

Given the sheer mass of the US ship of state, turning it around is not going to be a one-term proposition. Obama tried, and half of his plans were shot down (healthcare was watered down to something which, except for its potential as a stalking horse for further reforms, is arguably worse than the status quo, and the midterm Republican landslide killed everything from high-speed rail to demand-side stimulus; they even went after laws banning incandescent lightbulbs). It looks like repealing DADT was as good as it gets, at least unless Obama wins a second term and gets to govern without Republican spoilers.

Then again, the bulk of the ship of state also means that Bush didn't manage to ban abortion or turn America into a theocracy. The ship continues on its steady course, give or take a few degrees. The course, of course, is where Wall St. wants it to go.
posted by acb at 10:11 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, I have not heard of antisemitism in OWS. Is that a real charge?

The accusations of antisemitism in OWS come from two fronts. First, there's the undeniable fact that people have shown up at OWS rallies with antisemitic signs. Of course, these are the same antisemitic kooks who would show up at any rally with the same signs, so the only reason to call attention to them is to discredit OWS (i.e., if you're the mainstream media). Second, and I swear I've actually heard this, is right-wingers who reason along these lines: "Everyone knows Jews control the banks. OWS hates the banks. So OWS must be antisemitic!"
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:12 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Less likely, but only in the sense that it's unlikely that we would still have a President or a government.

Seriously? Now who's making the outlandish claims?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:12 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Instead of voting for the least evil person on the ballot (who usually has a D by their name), I'd like a Just Stay Home movement to pressure Democrats into being real liberals. You're going to take money from corporations and basically be a Republican in sheep's clothing? Fine. We won't vote for the Republican but we won't vote for you either. Since old people tend to vote R, and have higher turnouts, you're gonna lose.

I'd also like a You Didn't Keep Your Promises So We're Recalling Your Ass movement after half their term is completed.

I have no idea if this would work, but it's a thought.
posted by desjardins at 10:13 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chuffy wrote: That's not how the Republicans do it. Hence, USA PATRIOT Act, Habeas Corpus, torture, Iraq War, Tax Cuts, deregulation...death by a thousand cuts - can anyone here remember the term, "Executive Order?"

What we hoped for was a fighter. What we hoped for was change - not in what we were doing legislatively, necessarily, but HOW we were doing it. This whole milquetoast bipartisanship was never going to work. You don't pet or feed rabid dogs, even if they might be helped


I was going to enumerate the ways in which your view is misinformed, but I figure this is better: Your hyperpartisanship is killing us. Please stop. You're spouting the views of the Republicans. Dropping a bomb for the right reason kills just as many as dropping it for the wrong reason.
posted by wierdo at 10:15 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Question: Would Bush's abuses have been more likely, less likely, or equally likely if Nixon had been prosecuted?

This is obviously speculation, but I don't think that Bush's decisions on interrogation policy were influenced at all by Nixon's pardon. The Bush Administration had an DOJ/OLC opinion defending the legality of particular interrogation techniques. While the Bybee/Yoo memo was later criticized in some quarters, its existence certainly would have gone a long way to shield individual administration members from prosecution at some later time.

So no, I don't think Nixon's situation played a role at all, unless you want to say that since Nixon, presidents have been much more careful about making sure to consult the lawyers before doing something.
posted by BobbyVan at 10:15 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Second, and I swear I've actually heard this, is right-wingers who reason along these lines: "Everyone knows Jews control the banks. OWS hates the banks. So OWS must be antisemitic!"

The slightly more nuanced version of that I've heard is the claim that OWS focuses on banks with Jewish names; the specific example, I think, is Goldman Sachs (Those are Jewish names, right? I grew up in a land without many Jews, so I'm pretty bad at this).
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:16 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's the nonpartisan reason that so many people are disappointed with the administration, from this month's Harper's Index:
Percentage decrease in the median U.S. household income during the “Great Recession” : 3.2
During the subsequent “recovery” : 6.7
This, and zero bankers responsible for the financial crisis prosecuted.

Maybe he's not personally responsible, but he's the hood ornament on the gold-plated Cadillac that has run over the middle class, then backed up and run over it again.
posted by mullingitover at 10:17 AM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Second, and I swear I've actually heard this, is right-wingers who reason along these lines: "Everyone knows Jews control the banks. OWS hates the banks. So OWS must be antisemitic!"

I wonder whether anyone has tried to play the "criticism of Goldman Sachs (look at the name folks!) = antisemitism" card yet?
posted by acb at 10:18 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jonathan Livengood: “Seriously? Now who's making the outlandish claims?”

I'll be honest – I just don't think the question has any bearing. I don't think Nixon's pardon made presidents more likely to be criminals, no. Nixon was pushed out of office and turned into a lifelong pariah. The prospect of that is just as likely to discourage Presidents from petty crimes as any long prosecution; the only thing a long prosecution would have accomplished is a massive and rapid erosion of the office of the president, addition of many, many checks to 'make sure this never happens again,' and a gradual reduction of the office to a symbolic role.
posted by koeselitz at 10:19 AM on November 23, 2011


This is pretty much exactly why Nader ran for president on a 3rd party ticket. And the result was that most liberals trashed him (and continue to do so) for taking away Dem votes. If you want a progressive, stop voting for non-progressive Democrats.
posted by rocket88 at 10:19 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


delfin wrote: there is certainly more he could be doing to make a case for something different -- if, in fact, he is displeased by what we've gotten so far.

So he has been wandering around the country ginning up support for absolutely nothing? He's been out there making the case. The public agrees with him on most important issues. Do you think the Congressional Republicans give a shit what the public at large thinks? We could get 100% agreement from every person in the country not holding elected office and we'd still be fucked with Congress the way it is.
posted by wierdo at 10:19 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Instead of voting for the least evil person on the ballot (who usually has a D by their name), I'd like a Just Stay Home movement to pressure Democrats into being real liberals.

People stay home for a lot of reasons and the politicos won't be able to tell which one. You might as well vote for a no-hoper that fits your politics, at least that vote is countable.
posted by Winnemac at 10:19 AM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


He's done a lot, he's also missed out on a lot.

Looking at the things he's missed out on, we've all been wishing he'd act like the PM from "A Very British Coup" and not like Chamberlain. You just can't appease the Republicans, you cannot negotiate with the "Our most important goal is to make him a One Term President" Boehner/Mconnell team.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:21 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Shall he direct Congress to do his bidding by begging, pleading, or threatening?

Threatening seemed to work best for LBJ.
posted by ambient2 at 10:21 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is obviously speculation

Agreed. I probably shouldn't have raised the question in the first place, since it's so squishy. Still, I can't help thinking that Nixon -- and Ford's pardoning of Nixon -- facilitated later Presidential secrecy and institutionalized an attitude that the President was somehow above the law. Maybe that's just an overly rosy picture of Presidents before Nixon, too.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:21 AM on November 23, 2011


I think this brings to light one of the problems inherent to the American political system. If liberals are unhappy with the way the left-wing party in the states is operating, where can they turn? In Canada, voters unhappy with the Liberal's corruption turned to the NDP and sent a clear message. In the US, if you're unhappy with the democrats you have to vote... Republican? That doesn't seem right. Perhaps this leads to a system wherein a party can ignore the wishes of much of its' voting base and court the opposition without fear of losing too many votes because there's nowhere else for the demographic to turn.

Maybe it's time for a viable third party?
posted by dazed_one at 10:21 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Liberals." Hmm. Not "Democrats," but "Liberals." Suggesting that Real Democrats, and Obama in particular, are not Liberals.

Overton Window, shifted.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:21 AM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Instead of voting for the least evil person on the ballot (who usually has a D by their name), I'd like a Just Stay Home movement to pressure Democrats into being real liberals. You're going to take money from corporations and basically be a Republican in sheep's clothing? Fine. We won't vote for the Republican but we won't vote for you either. Since old people tend to vote R, and have higher turnouts, you're gonna lose.

I'd also like a You Didn't Keep Your Promises So We're Recalling Your Ass movement after half their term is completed.

I have no idea if this would work, but it's a thought.


It would work by ensuring Republican victories. And when republicans win you get what THEY want. Not some kind of chastised Democrat.

What we all seem to be ignoring is the fact that a few Democratic Senators and one "independent" ( Leiberman/Hartford) successfully derailed the 60 vote majority they once held in the Senate. Ad to that Norm Coleman's successful delating tactics in regards to Fraken's win and we are where we are today. Try to remember how many bills were passed during Dubya's tenure with 51 votes, Cheney casting the deciding vote. Then compare that to Obama's 60 vote necessity.
posted by Max Power at 10:22 AM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


The only thing a long prosecution would have accomplished is a massive and rapid erosion of the office of the president, addition of many, many checks to 'make sure this never happens again,' and a gradual reduction of the office to a symbolic role.

I'm probably missing something, but those all look like really good things to me.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:22 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


When did Jonathan Chait start punching hippies?

Chait isn't punching hippies here. He's actually confirming what they suspect: the political system has a long history of betraying their values to one degree or another. He's also correct that past victories that look like clean progressive triumphs with the gloss of time are actually a bit more complicated and that there's always been something to be unhappy with.

If you take that as a personal insult, you're going to be enduring a lifetime of "punchings", but more because everything feels like a punch to you than because you're constantly being abused.

And the idea that progressives are less easily satisfied with what leadership tends to be closer to them? It's hardly controversial in hippy circles that conservatives tend to be more fall-in authoritarian then progressives. Plus progressive disatisfaction itself is almost tautological: conservatives want conserve the status quo or the order of some golden past, progressives are practically defined by discontent with both -- by the idea that we could do this better (with the bitter sometimes-addendum "but we won't.").
posted by namespan at 10:22 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


People stay home for a lot of reasons and the politicos won't be able to tell which one

There's enough ways to get the message out these days. Letters, off the top of my head. I'm pretty sure that if I write to my congressperson to tell them my views on an issue, they put it in a pile for counting. No reason they wouldn't do the same here.
posted by desjardins at 10:23 AM on November 23, 2011


Instead of voting for the least evil person on the ballot (who usually has a D by their name), I'd like a Just Stay Home movement to pressure Democrats into being real liberals. You're going to take money from corporations and basically be a Republican in sheep's clothing? Fine. We won't vote for the Republican but we won't vote for you either. Since old people tend to vote R, and have higher turnouts, you're gonna lose.

Meanwhile, the greater evil gets in. The country will still be run for the benefit of the oligarchs, but they'll also step up persecution of gays, atheists and poor people. But hey, we all have to make sacrifices.
posted by acb at 10:23 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


It would work by ensuring Republican victories.

Exactly. Shouldn't Democrats be afraid of that?
posted by desjardins at 10:23 AM on November 23, 2011


I'm content voting for Obama, but I won't donate money or campaign for him.

Instead, I'll support movements that challenge the legitimacy of our government, and their corporate masters. In particular, Occupy Wall Street should not identify themselves with Democratic party, who are owned by the same corporations creating all the problems.

We aren't confined to supporting the lesser evil and wringing our hands about how it's still evil. We may simply vocally reject our oligarchs' legitimacy until the costs of maintaining their stranglehold on power overwhelms them.

There is an amusing quote from an RT interview with by Tea party cofounder Karl Denninger, which I think I've posted here before.

“The problem with protests and the political process is that it is very easy, no matter how big the protest is, for the politicians to simply wait until the people go home. And then they can ignore you. Well, Occupy Wall Street [is] a little different. Back in 2008, I wrote that when we will actually see change is when the people come, they set up camp, and they refuse to go home. That appears to be happening now.”

posted by jeffburdges at 10:24 AM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?

I'm guessing around the time they started finding that the people who claimed to represent them would consider Nixon's domestic agenda too "radical left" to be a Democratic candidate.
posted by rodgerd at 10:26 AM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm not American so perhaps I'm not really qualified to comment on all this, but I have been living here for the past four years and vividly recall the Obama campaign and the euphoria when he won.

Frankly it seemed to me that people were expecting too much from the very beginning and that this was almost bound to happen. Obama is only one person in the government, as someone said above, he is (fortunately) not a king. He can only work with the Congress and Senate that he has and like it or not, the votes to pass a lot of the things that he's tried to get passed just haven't been there. I'm not sure exactly what he's supposed to do -- he can coax and cajole and coerce and pull all the behind the scenes strings he can, but ultimately if people vote against a particular bill he alone can't do shit. On top of that, people seem to be expecting the economy to turn around instantly. It seems profoundly unfair to blame Obama for a mess that his predecessor caused -- this is just damage control, folks.

People say that the Republicans were much better at getting things passed with a slimmer majority -- but it seems that the Republicans are much better at voting as a bloc, perhaps because they're not pulled in two directions by corporate interests and the voting public.

Threatening to vote against the Democrats if they don't do what you elected to them to do is like cutting off your nose to spite your face -- what's that going to accomplish besides getting someone like Bush or worse than Bush elected and plunging the country even deeper into the mud? Ultimately there needs to be Democrat majority Congress and Senate, so you need more local elections won. There needs to be less money flowing in from corporate sponsors. Things can change, but not voting for Obama seems a counterproductive way to get that change, to me.
posted by peacheater at 10:28 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's fine to be pessimistic about my idea, but I think the basic concept is valid: either the politician moves farther to the left, or he or she is out of a job.
posted by desjardins at 10:30 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is a Just Stay Home movement. It's mostly run by Republicans, and it's somewhat effective at getting Republicans in to office.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:31 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I admit I don't have time to read this thread let alone the article. But based on the title only I have to ask, "When Did NY Magazine Become So Awful?"

On the heels of a lousy article on Giffords recently I'm getting a whole new picture of this publication I was once very fond of, way back in my starry-eyed, print-only, "I Love New York" youth.
posted by NorthernLite at 10:31 AM on November 23, 2011


Sometimes you have to stop the bleeding before you can effect treatment. Stopping the bleeding in this case meant defeating McCain/Palin. Treatment is going to be slow and painful, complicated by the ever-present possibility of renewed hemorrhage.
posted by No Robots at 10:33 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Frankly it seemed to me that people were expecting too much from the very beginning and that this was almost bound to happen.

Ya, but the poster said to "hope"!
posted by Hoopo at 10:33 AM on November 23, 2011


Obama has hinted, intimated, insinuated, suggested, coaxed, cajoled, and now actually begs the left wing electorate to to vote in democrats he can work with at all levels of government. If the people want progressive politics, vote for progressive politicians where they currently exist as viable candidates.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:34 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Liberals: We will let Obama lose on reelection because he's not far enough to the left, but if a OWS group interrupts him during a speech, they have gone too far.

At this point, I just don't think there is any person alive who could behave in a way that wouldn't cause liberal disappointment. Republicans are sort of notorious for eating their own, but, Jesus, liberals will let you starve to death if you don't exactly sync with their idiosyncratic worldview.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:34 AM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do you think the Congressional Republicans give a shit what the public at large thinks? We could get 100% agreement from every person in the country not holding elected office and we'd still be fucked with Congress the way it is.

And the very WORST possible way to get the Congressional Republicans to stop filibustering everything productive, declaring compromise a dirty word, making the Senate "50+1 to pass when our guy is in office, 60+ when he isn't," and otherwise controlling the floor is to treat their antics as legitimate political tactics, refuse to call them out publicly and vehemently for acting like toddlers, and reach out to compromise with them at every opportunity, in search of a mythical political 'middle ground.'

Compromise is only possible when both sides are rational actors.
posted by delfin at 10:37 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Threatening to vote against the Democrats if they don't do what you elected to them to do is like cutting off your nose to spite your face

Well, as a tactic, it worked for what used to be a fringe right of religious nuts and voodoo economics, which now runs the Republican party over there.
posted by rodgerd at 10:41 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, please stay home next November and let another Republican administration fuck us over for the next 8 years just so you can have your enlightened self-satisfaction that you weren't supporting someone insufficiently liberal. That will really make everything better, just like it did in 1980 and just like it did in 2000. Certainly nothing would be different at all if we had liberal justices in place of Scalia, Alito, and Roberts on the Supreme Court.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:42 AM on November 23, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'm going to watch the South Park episode Douche Bag vs Turd Sandwich episode once more...
posted by DreamerFi at 10:43 AM on November 23, 2011


Look, the guy said that torture was against the law and the Constitution, and that he'd fix the problem if he was President.

So we elected him, and his "solution" was to make torture legal.


It would be more accurate to say he and his administration legitimized past acts of torture. From a Glenn Greenwald column [emphasis mine]:

"Over 100 detainees died during U.S. interrogations, dozens due directly to interrogation abuse. Gen. Barry McCaffrey said: ”We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A.” Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who oversaw the official investigation into detainee abuse, wrote: ”there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

Thanks to the Obama DOJ, that is no longer in question. The answer is resoundingly clear: American war criminals, responsible for some of the most shameful and inexcusable crimes in the nation’s history — the systematic, deliberate legalization of a worldwide torture regime — will be fully immunized for those crimes. And, of course, the Obama administration has spent years just as aggressively shielding those war criminals from all other forms of accountability beyond the criminal realm: invoking secrecy and immunity doctrines to prevent their victims from imposing civil liability, exploiting their party’s control of Congress to suppress formal inquiries, and pressuring and coercing other nations not to investigate their own citizens’ torture at American hands.

All of those efforts, culminating in yesterday’s entirely unsurprising announcement, means that the U.S. Government has effectively shielded itself from even minimal accountability for its vast torture crimes of the last decade. Without a doubt, that will be one of the most significant, enduring and consequential legacies of the Obama presidency."
posted by BigSky at 10:44 AM on November 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Why we don't like him in no special order:
1. Giving up on single payer with out a fight and handing the insurance companies and big Pharma the biggest bonanza ever. When the problem is that insurance companies add nothing to to the healthcare process but cost.
2. Embracing the Patriot Act and the abuses of Guantanamo.
3. Going along with the defense establishment on every related issue.
4. He did not end the Iraq war he just followed established policy. He has made no effort to get out of Afghanistan.
5. Protecting the Banksters.
6. Leaving Elizabeth Warren slowly twisting in the wind.

Not all of them but certainly enough.
posted by shnarg at 10:45 AM on November 23, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yes, please stay home next November and let another Republican administration fuck us over for the next 8 years just so you can have your enlightened self-satisfaction that you weren't supporting someone insufficiently liberal.

Not everyone who is angry is voting for Donald Duck or staying home next year. Voting so that a barrel of rat shit doesn't become President doesn't imply that the guy we ARE voting for is acting satisfactorily, or that we should all just be happy that he's in charge and shut up and watch TV and eat Doritos.
posted by delfin at 10:47 AM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


WENDELL!
posted by symbioid at 10:48 AM on November 23, 2011


Obama is decidedly NOT a liberal or left-wing President, despite what the Fox News crowd say about him being a socialist. By all of the most common measures, Obama is pretty much a center-right President.

I voted for him in part because he is not a flaming idiot, and the alternative was. All indications are he will be up against another flaming idiot, and I shall very likely vote for him again.

Not only that, I think Obama is one of the better Presidents we've had in the last 30 years. Compare with Reagan (empty hat), Bush I (competent but uninspiring), Clinton (competent and inspiring but plagued by personal issues), Bush II (flaming idiot).

Anyone who thinks that Obama is equivalent to GWB, well, you're just a Fox News type for the left. They think he's a Socialist, and you think he's another GWB: that's a stupid, uninformed, and ultimately ahistorical understanding of his administration, and if you stay home on election day 2012 and the likes of Rick Perry gets elected, you will be partly to blame.
posted by chimaera at 10:50 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


me: “The only thing a long prosecution would have accomplished is a massive and rapid erosion of the office of the president, addition of many, many checks to 'make sure this never happens again,' and a gradual reduction of the office to a symbolic role.”

Jonathan Livengood: “I'm probably missing something, but those all look like really good things to me.”

We're getting further afield, I guess, but in my estimation balance of power is terrifically important, and the reduction of the office of the President would be disastrous on that front. For one thing, imagine a Republican-led Congress without a Presidential veto standing against it.

But that's really just a surface thing that it's easy to imagine. What is more difficult to consider is the whole host of functions the executive branch carries out that would likely fall apart entirely or take a completely different character if they were taken away from that branch. Speaking as broadly as possible: if the enforcement of Federal law were even partially placed in the hands of either (a) the Congress, which enacts that law, or (b) the Courts, which determine guilt – then the whole system would be in jeopardy of lapsing into incoherence and falling apart. If Congress could enforce laws as it saw fit, it would be in a position to defang the Judicial system entirely by legislating around them, and we'd find ourselves ruled by an oligarchy with very few controls or protections to ensure stability. If the courts could both interpret and enforce laws however they saw fit, essentially nullifying Congress's enactments, the same thing would happen.

It's my sense that these things could happen remarkably easily, I think – much more easily than it appears at first blush. We're not accustomed to think of a deadlocked government that can't 'get anything done' as a successful government, but in this sense it is. And for that reason I also believe that some of the best (and most underappreciated) presidents we've had have been of a particular character: they've been strong-willed individuals who chose goals and pursued those goals relentlessly and single-mindedly, pushing against Congress and the Judiciary in doing so, but keeping the government moving and giving it momentum. Some have argued, for instance, that James K Polk was actually a very good president in this regard. He had goals, he pursued them relentlessly, and he succeeded in all of them.

Actually, this might be more on topic than I realized. On this count, I think Barack Obama is a superb president, one of our best. But this is something anyone partisan (liberals, conservatives, etc) is unlikely to see, because when we see things from the perspective of partisanship, we have our own plans and goals and desires, and are ultimately disappointed that Obama doesn't share all of them. In fact, however, it seems to me that one of the chief functions of the President in our system is simply to vitalize our public institutions by having an agenda and vigorously pursuing that agenda. I don't share every single one of Mr Obama's goals and ideals, but I really do feel as though he's pushed hard to do what he believes is right, and he has done so more successfully and with more tenacity than any president in living memory. Simply for that, I think he's filled the office of the president quite admirably.

I guess the point is that achievements aren't a very good indicator of a President's success. Maybe we should be more interested in the state of the government as a whole. I think all branches have benefited from Mr Obama's presidency, even when they have disagreed strongly with his goals.
posted by koeselitz at 10:50 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


By all of the most common measures, Obama is pretty much a center-right President.

That's what the "hippie" types are saying, minus the inflammatory addenda. He campaigned as a liberal, won as a liberal, and governs as a centrist conservative.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:53 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


The reason why we don't have Progessives in positions of political power, is because Progressives don't constitute anything close to a majority of voters. Its not Obama's lack of leadership, or integrity. Jesus. If you want to change this, you need to develop a strategy that promulgates Progressive ideals on a massive scale.

The reason Obama has 'disappointed' is because most people who express this viewpoint have a seriously naive view of how the world works...sorry. Here's a hint, it doesn't work how we wish it worked, and no amount of 'but it shouldn't be like that' or 'its not fair' outweighs the 'this is the way it is' and changing cultural and people by the millions is a long and painful process, played out over generations, not years. Politics is a dirty business of back room deals and difficult compromises (even by the altruistic - and I definitely put Obama as far into that camp as I can imagine a real world person being) and taking what you can get, because the other side has cards to play as well. Pat answers and soundbites don't reflect reality very well at all. Its like they say, 'thats why we have two political parties, one for every 180 million of us.' Just think about shit for a secord, and realize that Obama plays the larger game (not to win the battle, but the war) better than anyone (I have ever seen) in public life, and if you think you ought not to vote for him because he didn't argue publicly for 'the public option' or some other specific issue; I'm sorry, you're misguided in this regard.

I have to say that I find 'truths' like these to be obvious, and am constantly adding opinions expressed on these topics by both sides to my ever growing list of 'shit I don't get.'
posted by sfts2 at 10:53 AM on November 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


Out of interest, who was the last left-of-centre US President? Roosevelt? Or were all politically viable US Presidents, by definition, centre-right?
posted by acb at 10:55 AM on November 23, 2011






sfts2: "The reason why we don't have Progessives in positions of political power, is because Progressives don't constitute anything close to a majority of voters."

The majority of voters want income redistribution, they just don't like to be called liberals.
Norton and Ariely also asked respondents what they thought the ideal distribution of wealth should be, and found, again, little difference among income groups, or between Bush voters and Kerry voters. Most favored a wealth distribution resembling that in … Sweden!
posted by mullingitover at 10:58 AM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Out of interest, who was the last left-of-centre US President? Roosevelt? Or were all politically viable US Presidents, by definition, centre-right?

If all US Presidents are considered center-right, you might want to consider reconfiguring the right-left metric, since there's obviously a lot of variation between the presidents, and these things are always relative. That said, I would call Carter and Johnson both left-of-center.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:03 AM on November 23, 2011


The majority of voters want income redistribution, they just don't like to be called liberals.

That link doesn't say that voters "want income redistribution." Rather, it suggests that, ideally, voters believe that wealth should be distributed more or less equally. It says nothing about voters supporting policies to confiscate and redistribute said wealth to force this "ideal" state into existence.
posted by BobbyVan at 11:04 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear Jonathan Chait,

If you are trying to convince people that they should support Obama, saying things like:

Here is my explanation: Liberals are dissatisfied with Obama because liberals, on the whole, are incapable of feeling satisfied with a Democratic president.

is probably not the best strategy. It's a little bit like, if someone says, hey dude I am not super happy with how things are going, and you're like, I'm not doing anything wrong! The problem is with you! You're just incapable of being happy!

For almost all of the past 60 years, liberals have been in a near-constant emotional state of despair, punctuated only by brief moments of euphoria and occasional rage.

And here you're basically saying that liberals are hysterical and unreasonable.

And you pretty much make that point explicitly when you say:

when you dig deeper, liberal melancholy hangs not so much on substantive objections but on something more inchoate and emotional: a general feeling that Obama is not Ronald Reagan.

So, basically, you seem to be saying, hey dudes stop being so emo. Also, you seem to be saying, I understand you better than you understand yourself, and I am smarter than you and this is as good as it gets.

Personally, I'm a lot more excited about the motto: "be reasonable: demand the impossible" than I am by "half a loaf is better than none". I'm also aware that I make decisions based on both my emotions and my intellect, like pretty much everyone.

I'm not going to stop being upset about the massively widening gulf between the rich and everyone else, or about the U.S. having military bases all over the world and bombing people for no good reasons or about queer people being marginalized or about the routine poisoning of the air and the water by factories or about the increasingly invisible line between corporations and government. I'm not going to stop being angry at any and all politicians who contribute to those dynamics, whether or not you think that's reasonable.

Love,
A Hippie
posted by overglow at 11:05 AM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


dazed_one wrote: Maybe it's time for a viable third party?

Triple the size of the House and go for proportional representation, and your wish will be granted.
posted by wierdo at 11:06 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Society with large number of poor people want income redistribution, I'll add that to my who woulda thunk it list. Let me know when the first politician gets elected with that plank as a significant part of their platform.
posted by sfts2 at 11:07 AM on November 23, 2011


I don't think he campaigned as a Liberal. Most of what he proposed and promised during the campaign were very centrist ideas, and much of what he's done since then has been.... very centrist. He's had some left-of-center moments (such as the healthcare reform act, though not as far left as many people wanted, including me), and many decidedly right-of-center moments (such as the Bank bailout without requiring banks to forgive consumer debt).

Obama for various reasons (mainly because he was such a fresh alternative at the time to normal politicians) has become the object of many people's misconceptions. Perhaps my view of him as always having been fairly centrist is mistaken, but I think that's how he's been governing. I think people who thought he campaigned as a liberal didn't see the Obama I saw.
posted by chimaera at 11:08 AM on November 23, 2011


Obama plays the larger game (not to win the battle, but the war) better than anyone (I have ever seen) in public life

How many dimensions of chess are we up to now? Twenty seven?
posted by overglow at 11:09 AM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Obama is the most progressive President we've had in my lifetime. Consider his work across a number of policy areas: education, regulation of industry, health care, employment law, consumer protection, civil rights, foreign policy and the environment. You will find that in each case he has delivered on significant, longstanding progressive policy and legislative priorities. If you share those priorities then there is no better alternative to Obama. If you want to advance on those faster you need to help clear the road at the state and local level with progressive candidates, political pressure groups and fundraising organizations.
posted by humanfont at 11:10 AM on November 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


I have my qualms with Obama, certainly. His let's-start-by-meeting-in-the-middle negotiating tactics have been supremely frustrating (though he seems to be getting past this). He could have done a better job selling health care reform. He has not gone far enough in dismantling Bush's post-9/11 security state. He hasn't done enough on global warming. There are, surely, things to criticize.

But when I hear anyone - liberals, or centrists, for that matter - going on about how 'disappointed' they are in Obama or how he has somehow governed in antithesis to how he campaigned, I can't help but think: were you actually listening to the man in 2008?

Here's what first attracted me to Obama in 2008: it was not the promise of "hope" or "change," it was not that I thought he would be some kind of progressive messiah. It was that he was the first major national politician that I can ever remember who actually had the guts to say that fixing America's problems would be hard. He said this over and over again. I'm 27 years old, and for most of my life all I've seen is the relentless, rose-colored-glasses optimism purveyed by the likes of Clinton and, tragically, Bush. It was incredibly refreshing to me - invigorating, even - to hear a Presidential candidate actually say that we have some serious problems in America, and that fixing them will be difficult and painful and requiring of sacrifice. After years of seeing a political culture which seemed to pretend that our very American-ness constitutes some kind of magic fairy-dust that can solve any problem by the very nature of its being American, well, it was just wonderful to hear someone ask his fellow countrymen to do, to acknowledge the difficulty and complexity of the problems we face, to not respond to a national tragedy (as Bush did) with an exhortation to go shopping. Maybe I'm alone in this, but if I had to pinpoint one reason why I supported Obama in 2008, it was that.

So, to anyone, regardless of political persuasion, who feels they have been betrayed by Obama, I ask this: what, precisely, did you think he meant when he said that change would be difficult? What did you think 'difficult' meant? Did you think meant that we would occasionally have to listen to people on Fox News say stupid things? Did you think it meant that sometimes Congress would put less-than-ideal amendments into good legislation? Did you think it meant that some Republicans would oppose Obama, sometimes?

I am under no illusions that Obama is any kind of savior, for the left, for the Democratic Party, or for America as a whole. I don't agree with everything he's done. But I do think he's trying to push things in the right (not political right, just right) direction, and I think people who believe - and liberals do not have a monopoly on this, centrists have made similar complaints - he is some kind of Judas just heard the 'hope' and the 'change' and filled that in with whatever hope and whatever change they may have wanted, without bothering to listen to any of the other things the man said or paying any attention to the life he led or his actions in prior political office. Because if you did that, you'd see that he's been pretty damn consistent.
posted by breakin' the law at 11:13 AM on November 23, 2011 [25 favorites]


Looking at the things he's missed out on, we've all been wishing he'd act like the PM from "A Very British Coup" and not like Chamberlain. You just can't appease the Republicans, you cannot negotiate with the "Our most important goal is to make him a One Term President" Boehner/Mconnell team.

When the left in America chose to sit out the 2010 elections (and yes, that is what happened--there was a much more noticeable drop in turnout on the left than the oft-claimed Tea Party "energizing" of the right) they ensured that Obama would have to try to deal with Boehner. The President has to deal with the Congress the people elect. If you think there's any mystery to the rightward shift and stalemate of the last two years you're simply not paying attention to the way politics works.

Unfortunately, the left in this country seems wedded to magical thinking when it comes to politics. Look at the difference between the Tea Party and OWS. The Tea Party immediately made its focus electoral: running candidates in Republican primaries, showing up at town hall meetings etc. OWS vehemently refuses to have any agenda and just bitches aimlessly about the fact that Wall St CEO's aren't nice people and how it's horrible having to pay off your student loans. Once the media side-show disappears, the movement will dissipate without anything to show for all their "activism."

If you want more left-wing policies to come out of Washington, work to get the most left-wing electable candidate in your district elected (and yes, be pragmatic about electability; serving up a patsy to a right-wing opponent doesn't help anyone's cause). Then recognize that the way the US system works, the most left wing legislation that will ever make it through Congress is whatever the 60th most liberal person in the Senate can be coerced to vote for. Just because the President would personally like to see an even more liberal policy in place and just because the average policy position of the average democrat is further to the left than the legislation that eventually makes it through DOES NOT MEAN that the party is betraying you or that the President is an evil turncoat. It means that politics is inevitably a game of compromise, of playing the long game, of taking incremental victories where and when you can.

But, of course, that's no where near as satisfying as donning a Guy Fawkes mask and dreaming about a sweeping revolution that will magically make everything perfect all at once. Because that has always worked so well every single time it has been tried in the past.
posted by yoink at 11:16 AM on November 23, 2011 [12 favorites]


Most US presidents in recent times have been center-right mainly because the US as a whole keeps electing center-right candidates. And let's talk about left-right in the global scale, not US. Because the US is decidedly far right of most other industrialized nations.

Here would be my "last few decades" list (where my spectrum goes thus:
Communist - Socialist - Far Left - Left - Center - Right - Far Right - Fascist):

Hoover: Right
Roosevelt: Far Left (bordering on Socialist)
Truman: Left
Eisenhower: Center-right
Kennedy: Center-left
Johnson: Left
Nixon: Center-right
Ford: Center-right
Carter: Left
Reagan: Right
Bush I: Right
Clinton: Center (with some Left moments like "Health Security" and Right moments such as welfare reform)
Bush II: Far Right (bordering on Fascist)
Obama: Center-right

Of all the above people, the only president who in my opinion really "betrayed" their general stance during their election was Bush II (he ran as Center, governed as Far Right). Everyone else more or less governed as they ran on the issues.
posted by chimaera at 11:16 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I still think he's certainly the lesser of two evils and to that end, I'd probably vote for him again, only because the alternatives are terrifying. But he did move way farther to the right than I ever expected (and more, I think, than was warranted). I am disappointed. But it wasn't immediate. My disillusionment didn't begin until about early 2010 when I began to see that he was trying a little too hard to make nice with the Republicans, abandoning the fight against torture, the environment, lgbt issues, etc. He redeemed himself a little bit on that last front when he finally endorsed a bill to repeal DOMA and started working towards allowing openly gay service in the military, but for a long time it seemed like he was going to do absolutely nothing on those fronts until some very loud complaining and the roasting the Dems got in the midterm elections (partly due to the fact that the base just wasn't inspired to turn out) finally seemed to motivate him to be on our side again. All of which demonstrates that he is in fact very much a "politics as usual" politician, despite his campaign claims.

peacheater: "Threatening to vote against the Democrats if they don't do what you elected to them to do is like cutting off your nose to spite your face -- what's that going to accomplish besides getting someone like Bush or worse than Bush elected and plunging the country even deeper into the mud?"

I understand your point, and believe me with the current crop of crays that are running for the Republican nomination, I'm not quite brave enough to try it, but part of me thinks this attitude right here is why liberals are betrayed again and again by the very people we elect. I mean, do you think Obama and other Dems don't know this? That we'll vote for them again and again, even after fundamental betrayals of core liberal/progressive values, simply because we're too afraid of the alternatives? Because of that they are free to bow to corporate and Republican interests, while spouting liberal platitudes, certain in the knowledge that no matter how much they betray us, we'll be on board because we're afraid of Michelle Bachmann and her crazy eyes. Part of me thinks that maybe we have to stop living in fear and let them take their licks for betraying us just once, and then maybe they'd see that they can't just schmooze us with promises and then climb into bed with conservatism anytime they feel like it. Then again, maybe they can.
posted by katyggls at 11:18 AM on November 23, 2011


Threatening to vote against the Democrats if they don't do what you elected to them to do is like cutting off your nose to spite your face

It's more like cutting your throat to spite your throat.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:21 AM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


But guys, you really just need to wait just a little bit longer, until he's in the best position politically from which to take care of these concerns!*

*The gays have been handed this line since practically the day after Obama was elected. Welcome to the club!
posted by hermitosis at 11:23 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


dazed_one: "I think this brings to light one of the problems inherent to the American political system. If liberals are unhappy with the way the left-wing party in the states is operating, where can they turn? In Canada, voters unhappy with the Liberal's corruption turned to the NDP and sent a clear message..."

And what did we get for that? At least four, maybe five more years of Stephen Harper's Conservatives. Trust me, you don't want a third party in a traditional first-past-the-post electoral system. In a European style proportional representation system an increasing number of parties more accurately captures the feelings of the voters, but in our system the NDP (or the Liberals, if you prefer) just acted as a huge spoiler, insuring a Conservative victory.

Obama isn't Reagan, but he is a competent manager. Most of his successes have come in the form of preventing disasters, but it's hard to use "Could have been worse" as a campaign slogan. If Obama was more of a Great Communicator in the Reagan style, and got the majority excited about his vision of a more progressive America, it would do wonders for his popularity.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:25 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


And let's talk about left-right in the global scale, not US. Because the US is decidedly far right of most other industrialized nations.

This is an idea that's popular with US progressive, but I don't really buy it. The "global" left-right spectrum runs from (generalizing broadly) Saudi Arabia to Norway; it's just too big to be particularly meaningful and it obscures real differences. We wouldn't call an opposition leader in a country like Iran or Egypt "center-right" just because he would seem conservative in the US.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:28 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


it's hard to use "Could have been worse" as a campaign slogan

It's pretty easy to use "Brought us health care, ended DADT, passed the hate crimes bill, appointed two pro-choice women to the aupreme Court, removed troops from Iraq, and ordered the death of bin Laden" as a campaign slogan, though.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:29 AM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


desjardins I'd like a Just Stay Home movement to pressure Democrats into being real liberals.

Great idea! You could call your group the "Hold-My-Breath-Till-I-Turn-Blue Dog Democrats."
posted by La Cieca at 11:30 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Obama may not have made torture legal as erroneously claimed in the first comment however Obama exempts CIA 'torture' staff.
Amnesty International said the Department of Justice appeared to be offering a "get-out-of-jail-free card" to individuals who were involved in acts of torture.
so if it look likes a duck etc...
posted by adamvasco at 11:35 AM on November 23, 2011


*The gays have been handed this line since practically the day after Obama was elected. Welcome to the club!

So the fact that DADT got repealed and the fact that the administration has declared DOMA unconstitutional and refused to defend it in federal court, the fact that for the first time federal benefit rights have been extended to gay partners etc. etc. etc. all that adds up to a big pile of nothing because....?

I'm trying to think of a single specific policy position on gay rights that the administration hasn't completely honored. If your beef is gay marriage, Obama's position on that has actually softened since the campaign, where he was much more emphatically in the "I'm not ready for that yet" camp than he is now. I'd be willing to be any amount you like that if he wins a second term he'll come out explicitly in favor of gay marriage.
posted by yoink at 11:35 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


If Obama was more of a Great Communicator in the Reagan style, and got the majority excited about his vision of a more progressive America, it would do wonders for his popularity.

Political scientists have studied the force of the "bully pulpit" for a long time and have generally concluded that Presidents have very little power to broadly influence public opinion. Reagan became a beloved figure when the economy improved rapidly in the second half of his first term. He was able to sell Americans on the "morning in America" idea because the economy was improving and people were feeling more optimistic. They didn't feel more optimistic because Reagan was good at cheering people up (Reagan and Obama's approval ratings--excluding Reagan's big post-assassination bump--track each other very closely over the first 2.5 years of their first terms. If the US economy were to stage a massive recovery over the next year--unlikely, alas--we'd see a meteoric rise in Obama's popularity and in people's sense that he was able to "connect" with them).
posted by yoink at 11:40 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't recall where I read it originally, but I quoted this a bunch during his election and just after:

Hope for change, prepare to be disappointed.

Obama's gotten a ton more things done then I imagined he would. Seeing as how the current crop of Republicans seem hell bent on destroying a bunch of things I view as important, and the Democrats seem to be more willing to protect those things, I shall be voting democrat for the foreseeable future. I have no interest in "teaching them a lesson" by making the country worse for me personally.

In the meantime, I think this song by Kermit and Rolf sums up my feelings about the Democrats.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:41 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


liberal dissatisfaction with obama is not rocket science. he campaigned as a progressive, but his record in office puts him to the right of reagan and even with the bushes. that article was nauseating bullshit - nothing but a recitation of the same old stereotypes about "left" and "right" we've been fed for the last dozen or so years. *barf*
posted by facetious at 11:43 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fact that Obama has somehow managed to take credit for the end of DADT (from the Republicans of all people!) is either an absolute triumph of public relations or the best example ever of post hoc ergo propter hoc. We elected Obama and then a Clinton appointee ruled that DADT was unconstitutional in a suit brought by the Log Cabin Republicans and the military got integrated!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:43 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


he campaigned as a progressive, but his record in office puts him to the right of reagan and even with the bushes.

Both his campaign promises and his record.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:46 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just checked the Obameter on gay rights. I see one broken promise and one stalled. Clearly he is history's greatest monster. It would obviously be exactly the same if we had a Republican president who promised to restore DADT and to veto the Matthew Shepard Act. Because if any bastard would fail to keep their promise to "use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws" (which isn't a nebulous judgment call at all, nosiree) then they might as well be rounding gays up and putting them in concentration camps.
posted by yoink at 11:47 AM on November 23, 2011


The fact that Obama has somehow managed to take credit for the end of DADT (from the Republicans of all people!) is either an absolute triumph of public relations or the best example ever of post hoc ergo propter hoc.

I know. It's so frustrating that he tries to take credit for the things congress accomplishes but refuses to take blame for the things congress fails at.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:47 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


liberal dissatisfaction with obama is not rocket science. he campaigned as a progressive, but his record in office puts him to the right of reagan and even with the bushes.

If liberal really believe that Obama is to the right of Reagan, then, yeah, explaining their dissatisfaction is not rocket science; I have trouble imagining that many actually believe that though.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:48 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


We elected Obama and then a Clinton appointee ruled that DADT was unconstitutional in a suit brought by the Log Cabin Republicans and the military got integrated!

If you care so much about this issue, it's surprising that you're not aware of how DADT got repealed. Hint, courts don't "repeal" laws.
posted by yoink at 11:48 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


When conservatives vote against their interests, they're called irrational idiots. When liberals refuse to vote against their interests, they're called...irrational idiots.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 11:48 AM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


When liberals refuse to vote against their interests, they're called...irrational idiots.

And when they become single issue voters, and institute purity tests for their candidates, and argue things without facts, and inhabit a world of invented promises and invented broken promises, and stay home and won't vote, they become de facto Republicans.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:51 AM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Repeal? No. Declare them illegal? Yes. When the "official" repeal of DADT was passed through Congress, the federal government was already under a court order not to enforce the policy, because it had been found unconstitutional. It's like praising an alcoholic for not drinking after he was thrown out of the bar.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:52 AM on November 23, 2011


Y'all have heard the capital-E evil shit that's coming out of the race for approximately half of the country's votes, yes?

Approx 50% of the country is lapping up the delicious evil.

I mean, yeah, I want Obama to get on a white horse and start smiting the evil left and right, but you know what we would need to do that?

Depression. Plague. Mass suffering in the U.S. Shit that would get 50% of this nation to get their head out of their asses and be like 'o hai we are all humans let's be reasonable'

I'm disappointed in humanity, myself. But I'm a misanthrope, so there you go.
posted by angrycat at 11:54 AM on November 23, 2011


And when they become single issue voters, and institute purity tests for their candidates, and argue things without facts, and inhabit a world of invented promises and invented broken promises, and stay home and won't vote, they become de facto Republicans.

That sounds pretty lame. Good thing no one other than the League of Strawmen Voters actually holds those views.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 11:55 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


liberal dissatisfaction with obama is not rocket science.

Indeed, most people are idiots (me included) and lack a basic understanding of politics or how the American system works (me included).

That said, while Obama is indeed disappointing, I'm astounded that people keep piling on him about everything. The Republicans have blatantly said they want to destroy his presidency, have completely refused to co-operate and yet somehow, that's Obama's fault.

The idea that some some liberals want to skip voting in 2012 and think that'll teach...someone...a lesson sounds immature and insane. Has this strategy ever really worked?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:56 AM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


That sounds pretty lame. Good thing no one other than the League of Strawmen Voters actually holds those views.

You might want to read the comments in this thread.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:56 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but reading the headline "Obama instructs the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA" rang a little hollow for me after several years of reading about how the JD was in fact still continuing to defend DOMA, regardless of Obama's outreach to gays during and after his campaign. It's not "a big pile of nothing" but it certainly isn't anything I'm willing to give him much credit for.
posted by hermitosis at 11:57 AM on November 23, 2011


Has this strategy ever really worked?

Sure. The Democrats look at who won, who voted, see that it was a right winger who won, and it was conservatives who voted, and decide they must swing even further to the right to win.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:57 AM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Republicans have blatantly said they want to destroy his presidency, have completely refused to co-operate and yet somehow, that's Obama's fault.

The fact that he lets it matter that the minority party wants to put its fingers in its ears and yell at the top of its lungs instead of doing anything productive is Obama's fault. And Harry Reid's, and Nancy Pelosi's, and so on. Somehow cooperation with the minority is only required for basic governance when Republicans are the minority.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:00 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somehow cooperation with the minority is only required for basic governance when Republicans are the minority

And somehow refusing to cooperate with the minority is only a problem when Republicans are in power. we hated it when Bush did it to us, and hate Obama because he refuses to do it to the Republicans.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:01 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh, Jesus.  It's another thread where people act like, if anyone criticizes Obama or is disappointed in his record both of actions and of inactions, we're either insane, unreasonable, stealth Republicans, or the reason why Democrats fared so poorly in 2010/why support is so low now/whatever.
For everyone in this thread just begging, pleading for someone somewhere to come up with something Obama could have done differently because everything is just big bad Congress's fault, here's my example:
  • Here is a graph demonstrating that the deficit is comprised almost entirely of the cost of our wars, Bush-era tax cuts, the economic downturn, and various bailouts and recovery measures.  MAJORITY due to the tax cuts, ~$300-400 billion due to recovery and economy from today onwards. (source) Important note:  Precisely zero of this deficit, not a single cent, is due to social benefits.
  • Here is a poll from April, 2011 showing incredibly broad opposition to cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits, including a whopping 70% of Tea Party members.  (McClatchy poll source)
  • As explained repeatedly by economists such as Paul Krugman (would search for relevant links, but on phone and this is taking enough time already), economic indications suggest the current problem is a fundamental lack of demand, rather than a deficit crisis (e.g. see low 10-year interest rates on U.S. bonds despite the "confidence" problems resulting from our "deficit crisis").  See also the utter failure of austerity measures to spur recovery in Europe over the past several years (since it was so recently, I do have a Krugman article to cite for this), the TOTAL SENSE that it makes that people who are indebted and unemployed cannot stimulate the economy vs. the make-believe of bond vigilantes and hyperinflation that mysteriously never materialize, etc.
  • However, witness the kabuki of the entire summer, where Democratic President Obama led a charge to make enormous cuts to social programs enacted by earlier Democrats, despite massive popular opposition and an utter lack of any legitimate need for such cuts for several decades.

So, humor me: Why did he have to do that?  He's not in Congress, so he has no ultimate vote in the budget details.  Even if he wanted to intervene in the negotiations, nobody was forcing him to repeatedly speak in favor of and release plans proposing massive cuts to popular, solvent social programs, especially in the middle of a giant recession.  But he did, all summer long, and he continues to advocate such cuts today, and now there are zero of two parties ruling American politics who oppose such cuts.  Is it wrong to be disappointed about this?
I don't claim to know the man's thoughts, but I'm sympathetic to the OWS view that it's probably related to the fact that he's a major recipient of Wall Street donations, that he selected Geithner, Summers, and other assholes from the exact same firms that created the economic catastrophe to create policy and advise him about the economy, etc.  
But that's not the point - regardless of his motivation, I reject the idea that I cannot be disappointed by his misuse of the bully pulpit, one of the few ways a President can influence public opinion (and, as a second-level effect, the direction of debate in Congress), to adopt and advocate harmful and unpopular policies originating from the Republican party, when instead he could have differentiated himself and the Democratic party in the eyes of the people even if the measures that would actually help them couldn't be successfully passed in Congress.
My initial disappointment came in the summer of 2008, when he broke his promise to filibuster the FISA Amendments Act and actually voted in favor of it.  I'd thought that, as a Constitutional law scholar, surely he wouldn't vote to retroactively legalize and cloak domestic warrantless wiretapping on an unprecedented scale.  Yet he did, and his DOJ has continued to fight efforts to challenge the program in court. And he's gone on to break promises to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the torture program, he's continued Bush Administration policies of seriously questionable constitutionality to the point that he's now lauded by Cheney and others for "seeing the light," and he's proposed policies that go even further into arguable unconstitutionality (indefinite detention without trial, due process-free execution of American citizens, etc.).  I reject the notion that it's unreasonable to be disappointed in these choices that were not out of his hands, that were not the result of an intransigent Congress, and that betray progressive ideals, either.
I voted Democratic in 2010, I'm voting for Obama again next year, I'm not a secret Republican, etc.  But I have many reasonable justifications for being disappointed by his performance, and I'm sick of being treated like an enemy or a child for feeling the way I do and having the audacity to type comments about it on the Internet.  And my comments, and those of several thousand other people posted to small, progressive-leaning blogs aren't the reason for his low approval ratings or the 2010 elections.  And holy FUCK would it be nice to have a candidate I'm eager to vote FOR instead of just a bogeyman I understand I must vote against.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:03 PM on November 23, 2011 [35 favorites]


Repeal? No. Declare them illegal? Yes. When the "official" repeal of DADT was passed through Congress, the federal government was already under a court order not to enforce the policy, because it had been found unconstitutional. It's like praising an alcoholic for not drinking after he was thrown out of the bar.

The act to repeal DADT was passed in December 2010. The federal appeals court ordered the US govt to cease enforcing it in July of 2011. The only thing the administration did after that order relating to the act was implement the provisions that the act had laid out.

In other words, the action of the court (which was a lower court, and therefore by no means the final say relating to the constitutionality of the law) came after Congress had repealed the law. The administration simply pulled the trigger (as the judge knew perfectly well they were going to do when he ruled) shortly after the judge's ruling. You have it, in other words, completely backwards.

And the notion that a court striking down the ruling as unconstitutional is equivalent to Congress repealing the law is also completely wrongheaded. If Obama and the Congressional Dems had been cowards they could easily have said "hey, look, this case is making its way through the courts and there's a pretty good chance that if it ends up in the Supreme Court they'll strike it down (not a sure thing, of course, but maybe 60/40)--let's just back off the whole repeal thing and let the courts take care of it--then we don't have to take any hit in the polls." Instead, they thought it important that the country explicitly and openly renounce the law as misguided and wrong, and do so through the voice of the people's elected representatives. Which they did. That, I think, is an infinitely better outcome than simply leaving it to the courts.
posted by yoink at 12:03 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a project implementing a "strategy that promulgates progressive ideals on a massive scale" called Occupy Wall Street, but making it affiliated with the rampant corruption in the Democratic party can only spoil it.

There are plenty of right-wing people perfectly happy to see progressive values implemented if you demonstrate the ability to hurt the corrupt. Just keep pummeling the banks.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:03 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I wasn't going to bring up problems where progressives seem to not have understood what Obama actually campaigned on, but since somebody brought up one quintessential example, I will.

4. He did not end the Iraq war he just followed established policy.

Which fortunately, more or less, about winding down the Iraq war. His behavior has been pretty much consistent with his promises here.

He has made no effort to get out of Afghanistan.

Yeah, that might be because he actually promised to escalate in Afghanistan as part of his campaign.

Now if you dislike his stance — if for some reason you have policy objections to his choices — that's one thing. But if you're disappointed in Obama for essentially sticking to the considerations on Iraq and Afghanistan he described on the campaign trail, it's probably your fault more than it is his.
posted by namespan at 12:05 PM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Referring to Carter's administration as a "vast gulch of failure."

Now that is a phrase, right there.
posted by codacorolla at 12:07 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


And somehow refusing to cooperate with the minority is only a problem when Republicans are in power. we hated it when Bush did it to us, and hate Obama because he refuses to do it to the Republicans.

Speak for yourself. I hated when Democrats couldn't peel off enough Republican votes to stop whatever craziness Bush and the congressional leaders were trying (or when they just went along with it outright, that sucked too), but I don't recall cursing their names for not making 41 votes more important than 59.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:07 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speak for yourself.

There has been more than one upcry of "Why doesn't Obama just bully this through Congress! Bush managed to do it!"
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:09 PM on November 23, 2011


Yes, that's my point. "Speak for yourself" referred to the "hated it when Bush did it to us" part. Just because the Democrats couldn't find their asses with both hands doesn't mean it was the Republicans' fault for not giving them a GPS.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:11 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I am going to speak for myself, I am actually glad to have a president who realizes he is president of the whole country, not just the liberal half of it, and that he isn't the boss Congress, but that they must make their own decisions. I didn't like it about Bush and I would not have liked it about Obama, even if it means my specific agenda suffers.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:14 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


As somebody said upthread, if one thinks Obama hasn't made angry statements, one hasn't been listening to his speeches. I don't think OBAMA HULK SMASH THROW THE PODIUM would do anything but amuse Boehner and McConnell --

It would be more meat for their 'oh we are not racists but LOOK AT THE ANGRY BLACK MAN' sausage grinder
posted by angrycat at 12:14 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but reading the headline "Obama instructs the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA" rang a little hollow for me after several years of reading about how the JD was in fact still continuing to defend DOMA, regardless of Obama's outreach to gays during and after his campaign. It's not "a big pile of nothing" but it certainly isn't anything I'm willing to give him much credit for.

It's a huge deal for the administration to simply refuse to defend an act passed by Congress. It's very rare and they have taken and will continue to take a lot of heat for it. The justice dept. usually regards it as its duty to defend the laws that Congress has passed even if the administration disagrees with them. The extraordinary thing here is the administration's willingness to take this stand, not its slowness to do so.

We on the left would have kicked up hell, I should note, if the Bush administration had refused to defend some Democratic act that we admired and thought indisputably constitutional.
posted by yoink at 12:16 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, I just RTFA and, I have to say, its worth taking some time to RTFA because the writer does a good job proving that, during the terms of every Democratic president since (and including) FDR, we liberals and progressives haven't liked any of them and, indeed, have virtually the same complaints about all of them - except Johnson who we hated because he was a warmonger.

So, the answer to the question "When did progressives become so unreasonable" is, essentially, we've always been unreasonable. Its our nature. The writer points out that, in Monty Python's Life Of Brian, all the various 'People's Front of Judea' groups that despise each other are essentially parodying England's progressive groups in the 70's - a criticism that holds true for us in he U.S.A. in the 10's, too.

We're unreasonable - but let's not be stupid and allow the country to get even worse by not voting, especially locally.

posted by Joey Michaels at 12:18 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not only are we unreasonable, some of us are incapable of closing tags properly.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:20 PM on November 23, 2011


peacheater wrote: People say that the Republicans were much better at getting things passed with a slimmer majority -- but it seems that the Republicans are much better at voting as a bloc, perhaps because they're not pulled in two directions by corporate interests and the voting public.

More importantly, there are enough sane Democrats who see the Senate for what it is intended to be that refused to use the filibuster against bills they didn't see as so terrible they risked the entire republic. The Republicans, on the other hand, will filibuster for no particular reason at all, just to deny the Democrats a victory on anything, even if the real victory would be the Republicans getting what they want.

delfin wrote: refuse to call them out publicly and vehemently for acting like toddlers, and reach out to compromise with them at every opportunity, in search of a mythical political 'middle ground.'

It's not a fucking mythical political middle ground. The vast majority of the electorate, including the radical Tea Partiers (as opposed to the folks on the payroll) wants money out of politics. Refusing to take that gain because you don't like the people you have to vote with to get it isn't going to get you anything. Ergo, that solution is not in fact the worst possible solution. It is in fact better than what we have now.

shnarg wrote: 2. Embracing the Patriot Act and the abuses of Guantanamo.

Embracing, really? The guy who ordered it shut down but was thwarted by Congress embraced Guantanamo. Reality based community indeed.
posted by wierdo at 12:23 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nothing wrong with criticism, cobra_high_tigers. That Grand Bargain was an awful idea from the get go.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:24 PM on November 23, 2011


Giving up on single payer

Perfect example. He didn't "give up" on single-payer. He was never, ever, ever going to try it. This was never on the table, at all, in any shape or form. At best, he "gave up" on the public option. But single-payer was never attempted, never was promised and was never on the agenda.

Kennedy: Center-left
Obama: Center-right


Kennedy was not more liberal than Obama. Are you adjusting for the time period (which might maker your FDR classification more plausible)? FDR could possible be considered far-left, bodering on socialist in the 30's, but he'd be in the center or slightly right today. But even scaling for era, I don't think JFK is more liberal than Obama.
posted by spaltavian at 12:24 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love how we can't get disappointed about broken campaign promises, but if we wish Obama would pull out of Afghanistan, then we're being silly! He made a campaign promise about that, and it's not like he would break one of those!
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:25 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


If liberals seem intransigently disappointed in Obama, it's because Obama has acted (and enacted) illiberally. He promised liberals peas, we got ketchup. If we complain about, that doesn't mean we don't like peas: it means ketchup is not peas.

And yet here is Chait saying that people who don't merrily accept ketchup in place of peas can never be made happy. (So, by implication, why try to make them happy at all?)

But this is effectively the same nonlogic that underlies the "eat your carrots, or you'll get kale next time" argument with which liberals like to bully each into submission. Both arguments defend mundane crap in relations to really bad crap, while ignoring the possibility that maybe crap is...well, crap.

When did liberals start measuring success against the base metric of abject failure? Why do we keep doing it? Really, it's stunning how immodestly self-identifying liberals embrace the role of enforcer/extortionist for the "moderate" conservative movement: a profound betrayal of the liberal ethos.

These weird, apologist strains of "Things could be worse" and "Things will be worse with the other guy" are both simply prescriptions for things to become worse with the current guy. When we, as a voter base, set rock-bottom as our quality threshold, we effectively sanction every manner of degradation between this and that. ...Which, really, is what we've received. Tax cuts for the rich, health care reform that disproportionately burdens and increasingly impoverished working class, further erosion of civil liberties, more government spying, less government transparency, blanket immunity for torturers, record military spending...well, and so on. Oh yeah, and even more of us are poor.

And, meanwhile, what's getting better?

If there is a problem with liberals, it's not that we're unhappy with our disappointing leadership. (What else would we be?) Rather, it's that we're so caught up in resisting the crapstorm that we forget to strive for progress. Where is the liberalism that defines itself by shooting for a better world? That's the liberalism that Obama exploited, then betrayed. IMO, it's OK for the liberal crap-o-meter to register that as negative.
posted by diorist at 12:27 PM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hey, kale is delicious
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:28 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do not think that means what you think it means.
posted by diorist at 12:31 PM on November 23, 2011


I don't wake up every morning thrilled that Obama has made my life better, but at least I can sleep at night knowing that he is not actively trying to make it worse.
posted by empath at 12:35 PM on November 23, 2011


When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable Principled?
posted by klanawa at 12:35 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I haven't read the thread yet (and may never, if the bottom 20 comments are indicative of its overall quality), but have read the article, and I agree wholeheartedly despite frequently lapsing in to liberal despair like the article mentions.

I especially love his distinction between the core mentality of Conservatism and Liberalism. If our politics are a sporting event and a game (and the way that they are intentionally framed by our capital driven media would suggest that for all intents and purposes they are) then the ideology that is concerned with tribalism, with feeling, with identity, and with xenophobia will always have the morale advantage. The same sort of person who can root for a failing baseball team just because it has the name of his city attached to it can reliably vote Republican because his father did and because it makes him feel like A Real American - even as these policies are robbing him blind and destroying the future of his children (I'm not conflating all sports fans and Republicans, just saying that tribalism is often more powerful than rationality).

The part of me that can root for the Orioles despite baffling management decisions is the same part of Racist Uncle Bob who can vote republican even as he makes non-union wages doing back breaking work for the benefit of kleptocratic, legacy-rich billionaires. It doesn't matter what the effects are, what the reality is, or the rationality, it matters how it feels. In fact, privileging the science driven view of reality is just proof of how elitist and foreign one is from the tribe, which serves to enhance the feeling of inclusion on the side of Righteousness and America.

The current mania of the right (mentioned at the end of the article) suggests that despite great internal consistency they are very weak. They have minimal youth support and even more importantly very little minority support as second and third generation immigrants, as well as Black and Asian minorities are poised to make up around a quarter of the voter population in the United States. Their base is literally dying, and I don't see how a xenophobic party like the GOP, or an outright insane party like the Tea Party can ever hope to reconcile their core beliefs with this changing population. Certain parts of the country will be hold outs and strongholds, and they may win a few more elections as desperation sets in and forces ever wilder and more insane stunts (the debt ceiling, for example) but given a continuation of the Democratic process (by no means a sure thing, especially since they're bankrolled so well by moneyed interests who are just as happy with dismantled Democracy in name only) I don't see how they can have any hope of winning 30 years out.
posted by codacorolla at 12:36 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Kennedy was not more liberal than Obama.

Kennedy was a red-baiting pro-war hawk.
posted by empath at 12:37 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love how we can't get disappointed about broken campaign promises, but if we wish Obama would pull out of Afghanistan, then we're being silly! He made a campaign promise about that, and it's not like he would break one of those!

No one is saying that you can't get disappointed about broken campaign promises. We're saying that he didn't break many and most of the ones he did break he "broke" because Congress thwarted him. He's the President, not the King.

He promised liberals peas, we got ketchup.

That simply doesn't accord with the reality of his record. He has very substantially delivered on the main thrusts of his campaign promises. Most of what has not been delivered has been blocked by Congress, not wantonly abandoned by the President.
posted by yoink at 12:37 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I seem to have more and less naive/optimistic moments regarding Obama, and did during his "Hope" campaign as well. I recently rewatched the "Yes We Can" ad/video, and if nothing else, those emotions will never be attached to Obama by those young voters again. I guess that could be part of the education process though.

Off the top of my head, here are some of the disappointments I know many people are feeling. I've put little, very-debatable stars next to the ones that seems somewhat less naive -- that one might (optimistically) have expected otherwise about a couple years ago. I'm sure many will disagree with this list, but I'm also sure many have a list like this in their heads. A catalog of past naivetes, if you like:
------
Didn't prosecute for torture. Acts on theory that the president can murder citizens abroad without judicial oversight or even admitting it was done*. Escalated hopeless war in Afghanistan*. Tried to keep troops in Iraq past the promised date, but was rebuffed by Iraqis. Escalation of drone attacks in multiple middle east countries*. Patriot act renewed. Guatanamo remains open*.

Bad or pro-Republican negotiating on public option, stimulus, pro-bank bailout, Bush tax cuts*. Repeated calls for social security reform, repeated appointments and praise for committees to reduce social security and medicare. A general tendency to compromise ever rightward whenever he is party to negotiations*.

The debt ceiling debacle now stands at half a trillion in cuts to domestic spending*. Escalation of presecution and ejection of illegal immigrants*. No reduction of war on drugs, and escalation in California. Silence on climate. Meager, merely charter-school/testing initiatives on education. Inaction on BP spill, coming immediately after opening up vast coastal areas to drilling*. Repeated public attacks on the left half of Democrats in favor of the bipartisan middle*. Hiring and retaining wall street executives and the right wing of the democratic party to staff his inner circle*. No prosecution of any bankers, no calls for major debt relief.
----
I do think Democratic voters might reasonably have expected to have elected someone who spoke, hired, and enacted policies somewhat to the left of what Obama has done. Perhaps not hugely so, but even many cynical political scientists I know grant that Obama is a bit to the right of non-naive expectations.
posted by chortly at 12:38 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have they no peas?

Let them eat kale.
posted by notyou at 12:41 PM on November 23, 2011


Can I just say that if you had asked me in 2007 if the left-wingers would begin to leave the reality-based community and go off into this lala land of complaining that Obama hasn't done things he has and that complaining that he has done things that he hasn't (along with a huge smattering of holding him to promises he never made) I would have called you fucking insane? But here I am, reading just that. Over and over again.
posted by wierdo at 12:41 PM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am disappointed, for sure, in the last three years. I wanted FDR II (The Electric Boogaloo) and I got This Is The Best We Can Get Right Now, (Shuddup Already, I Thought You Were My Friends). However, three things:

1) even his most centrist moments are read as Marxism by the other side. Other presidents have had an oppositional congress; this president has something else. We would be less pissed at him if the other guys were better guys.

2) I ain't done shit to help (after I worked to get him elected). I can't live like every year is election year any more than I can live like every week is shark week. I haven't fought for the America he promised. I have been too busy trying not to screw up my kid, live a life, etc. I know others have been active at a local level, but by and large the lefties I know have been EVEN MORE PASSIVE THESE THREE YEARS than they were under Bush. I know I have. We won. I got drunk that night and tried to have a life when I woke up. We would be less pissed at him, or at least I would, if I wasn't compensating for a tiny bit of shame.

3) That life is really hard right now. Most of us sleep with a sublime dread and anxiety that has everything to do with money. Maybe he could have made smarter moves to deal with the unavoidable collapse of an economy based on the exchange of money that didn't exist. But I don't think history will see this mess as is his fault. I think this dread and anxiety is a direct result of policies he very much opposes and fights daily. Still, we would be less pissed at him if our lives were better.

I think it's way too early to grade a president. We can't know the long term effects of political chess or even policy. We simply don't know enough. What we have now is a reaction. And while I get it and am having it too, the three things above (for me at least) mean that I need to have that reaction and then go get him a second term, not just because the other side is worse (though they are) but because my emotional reaction (as real as it is) is way more complicated than simple disappointment in him.
posted by Dromio_of_Columbus at 12:43 PM on November 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


Liberal complaints about Obama are based in reality, as documented in this thread and elsewhere. Expecting liberals not to complain about Obama might have been unrealistic, however.
posted by diorist at 12:45 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Liberal complaints about Obama are based in reality, as documented in this thread and elsewhere.

I would love to see when he promised single payer health care reform. Or when he promised to prosecute the Bush administration. Or when he promised to prosecute bankers. These seem to be the broken promises he is guilty of, but I see no evidence he made any of them.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:48 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Chortly, many of your "less naive" ones are things he expressly said he wouldn't do during the campaign or things that he actively tried to do and was prevented from doing by Congress.

"Escalated hopeless war in Afghanistan?" Apart from watching the "Yes We Can" video during the campaign did you ever listen to any actual policy speeches? He said over and over during the campaign that he would escalate the war in Afghanistan. Usually to wild applause from the crowd.

"Guatanamo remains open": FFS, he ordered it closed on the very first day of his administration. Congress has stymied all efforts to close it. They have made it the law of the land that the administration cannot spend any federal money to close Gitmo. What, exactly, is Obama's culpability there?

"Bad or pro-Republican negotiating on public option, stimulus, pro-bank bailout, Bush tax cuts" This is just a bizarre mish-mash. The bank bailout was enacted by Bush--Obama was supporting it before the election but could play no role in "negotiating" it. It was essential to save our financial system. The stimulus he delivered was very much that outlined before his administration took office and the Republicans had pretty much zero input into it. He has tried again and again to rescind the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The difficulty is that the only real power he has in negotiating with Congress (a Congress that the left gave to the Republicans in 2010) is the veto power. To veto a renewal of the Bush tax cuts means vetoing them on every income bracket, not just on the wealthy. No one, including Krugman, thinks it's a good idea to raise taxes on everyone when you're trying to recover from a recession. He managed to get a payroll tax holiday out of the Republicans in exchange for permitting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to continue. That was, overall, a win for the left, but somehow the left is completely uninterested in recognizing when it gets a win.

I'd be willing to take all these "Obama kicked my puppy" complaints a lot more seriously if it looked like people were actually paying any attention to how the political system actually operates.
posted by yoink at 12:49 PM on November 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


...but at least I can sleep at night knowing that he is not actively trying to make it worse [empath]

Most of us sleep with a sublime dread and anxiety that has everything to do with money. [Dromio_of_Columbus]

Just a happy side effect, then.
posted by diorist at 12:49 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


He had an American Citizen assassinated!!! How is that not enough for impeachment? And lest you say that Anwar al-Awlaki was an enemy of the state, what about the other American and two children in the car? What about due process? What about the $#*ing constitution?

What I fail to understand is how this has not elicited total outrage by everyone in the country? I am concerned about many many things in this country, but this is almost enough for me to vote for just about anyone else right now.
posted by jason says at 12:50 PM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think liberals that are complaining (rightfully) about Obama should mostly suck it up and beat whichever crazy person the GOP puts up against him this year and fight hard in 2016 for a more liberal candidate. Biden is not going to be the nominee in 2016, so the field is wide open.

Hell, you guys should probably be getting ready for Feingold 2016 right now.
posted by empath at 12:51 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


diorist wrote: Liberal complaints about Obama are based in reality, as documented in this thread and elsewhere. Expecting liberals not to complain about Obama might have been unrealistic, however

Yes, some of the complaints have been based in reality. If you read the whole thread, you'll note that there are several recurring themes that aren't actually true, along with a smattering of other nonfactual beliefs masquerading as fact and being used to criticize Obama. That's what I'm referring to.

You're not part of the reality based community if you claim that Obama promised things he didn't and then failed to deliver on this "promise" and are disappointed as a result. You are part of the reality based community if you wish that Obama had promised something and are disappointed he did not in fact promise that thing.
posted by wierdo at 12:53 PM on November 23, 2011


People are calling for Feingold to run for governor of Wisconsin if/when Walker is recalled.
posted by desjardins at 12:53 PM on November 23, 2011


And for people who complained about Obama not delivering single-payer, how exactly do you think that was ever going to happen in a million years with the congress he had to deal with?
posted by empath at 12:54 PM on November 23, 2011


We're unreasonable

I think it's also worth noting that this is not necessarily an insult: the old saw about the unreasonable man being the source of progress has a lot of truth to it. Chait closes with a nod to this, in fact.

But I do wish more progressives would be more reasonable about recognizing and celebrating measured gains/goods, while simultaneously maintaining those unreasonable expectations that move things forward.
posted by namespan at 1:00 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of course single-payer wasn't going to happen. But the debate should have started with it on the table as a left-anchor. Then maybe in the final bill we'd still be stuck with the ridiculous insurance mandate, but there'd be an option to go with some sort of government plan if we don't want our money to go straight to insurance companies. The plan that came up for debate was pre-compromised.

(If nothing else, acknowledging that single-payer IS an option would have made me feel like my opinions on health care weren't just being ignored right out of the gate.)
posted by Wulfhere at 1:02 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hell, you guys should probably be getting ready for Feingold 2016 right now.

I'm gearing up for the inevitable "why hasn't Feingold given us all those ponies he promised us" threads in 2018.

If anyone thinks a President Feingold would have got the public option through Congress in 2009, they're high. You needed 60 votes, and Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson weren't voting for any public option.

Gitmo would still be open under a President Feingold (what, he'd have signed the order to close it in red ink?).

The size of the stimulus would have been about the same under Feingold (the congressional Democrats simply weren't on board to go massively large on the stimulus; as it is, every empirical study suggests they saved the country from a catastrophic depression--which ought to earn them some respect).

What tires me is liberals' inability to understand the institutions through which policy gets enacted. It's this stupid dream that if only you can put someone who is a perfect reflection of your ideals into the Presidency, then everything will turn out great. All Presidents have to deal with the political limitations of their situation. We keep going on about Nixon and Reagan being "more liberal than Obama" because we fail to recognize that they were forced to compromise their positions by Congresses that were much more liberal than they were. There's this ridiculous meme around that Bush could get Congress to do anything he asked so "why can't Obama"? But that's just utterly false. Bush's major campaign platforms in his second election were immigration reform and privatizing social security. Neither of those things ever came close to legislative reality--the first because his own party revolted, the second because the Dems stopped him. That's the reality of being the President. If you're unwilling to try to understand that, you're dooming yourself to a life of political irrelevancy.
posted by yoink at 1:03 PM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Guatanamo remains open": FFS, he ordered it closed on the very first day of his administration. Congress has stymied all efforts to close it. They have made it the law of the land that the administration cannot spend any federal money to close Gitmo. What, exactly, is Obama's culpability there?

Perhaps the executive order the President signed lifting the stay on Military trials?
posted by jason says at 1:03 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, unreasonable is better than batshit imbecilic.
posted by goethean at 1:04 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, I just wish he had fought like hell for single payer, even if he knew it wouldn't pass in the end, before eventually compromising down to a public option. Because the Republicans have demonstrated that nobody in the media will ever call you out for being hopelessly impractical, and it sure is good at shifting the terms of the debate (not to mention the Overton window)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 1:05 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


yoink, yes, I did listen to many campaign speeches (though I gather you meant that question rhetorically). As did many of my friends and acquaintances. I don't recall us cheering for promises to be fighting this level of warfare in Afghanistan this late in the first term. Guantanamo: Obama could have begun to bring the people there into the US to be prosecuted, even without closing the camp per se. He hasn't done that. The bank bailout was not the only that that could "save our financial system" -- that is a very arguable claim, and the accusations are about the entire series of negotiations, not just the first bill. The size of the stimulus was in no way decided or promised during the campaign -- it was a subject of active negotiation in the White House right up until the bill was passed. Tax cuts: he "tried," but many of us have argued he could have negotiated this better. Arguing those details is a huge undertaking, but the congressional outcome was by no means a foregone conclusion.

Perhaps each of these compromises with Congress was necessary, but if you look at the reporting by experts right before the decisions, there were many experts who thought more left outcomes on the stimulus, health care, tax cuts, and the debt ceiling were possible. Perhaps they too were naive, but not out of ignorance of Obama's statements or the working of Washington.

And do you then agree with all the non-congress-related items? Citizen execution? Non-prosecution of torture? Drone attacks? Illegal immigrant policy? Opening up drilling? Staffing choices? Rhetorical attacks on the left and defense of bankers? Attacks on social security and emphasis on the dangers of debt?
posted by chortly at 1:05 PM on November 23, 2011


He had an American Citizen assassinated!!! How is that not enough for impeachment? And lest you say that Anwar al-Awlaki was an enemy of the state, what about the other American and two children in the car? What about due process? What about the $#*ing constitution?

And you think (in terms of succession) Joe Biden, Harry Reid, or John Boehner would improve on this? Or that Romney or Perry or any of the GOP candidates would not make this official, regular policy, possibly even on domestic grounds? Because a 3rd party is not going to magically grow in the next 11 months, meaning those are the only other options.

What I fail to understand is how this has not elicited total outrage by everyone in the country? I am concerned about many many things in this country, but this is almost enough for me to vote for just about anyone else right now.

Sure it pissed me off, scared me too. But a large portion of this country, likely a majority, support this because they don't know the ramifications. A substantially non-zero percentage of that group doesn't care, and would like to see it applied to OWS, abortion doctors, Muslims among other American citizen groups. That scares me a hojillion times more, so I vote to prevent that from being even close to reality.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:07 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps the executive order the President signed lifting the stay on Military trials?

He is banned, by law, from bringing them to the US for trial. He is in a situation where there are no "good" options. He can continue to hold them at Gitmo without trial. He can release them without trial (political suicide and probable grounds for impeachment). He can try them in military tribunals. There is no inherent problem with military tribunals per se--they are only objectionable if the rules they operate under are unfair. Defense lawyers regularly resigned from Bush's military tribunals in protest at the unfair rules. That doesn't seem to be happening under the rules Obama has set up. So far I have not seen any valid criticisms of the rules under which the trials are operating. Continuing with the trials seems to be the least bad option open to the administration.

chortly: Guantanamo: Obama could have begun to bring the people there into the US to be prosecuted, even without closing the camp per se

You are simply incorrect about that. Congress has made it illegal for the President to use federal money to transport any of the prisoners to the US. It was in all the papers, you know.
posted by yoink at 1:14 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


And lest you say that Anwar al-Awlaki was an enemy of the state, what about the other American and two children in the car? What about due process?

I'm pretty okay with killing sworn members of al quaeda on the battlefield. If he didn't want to get targetted by the military, he could have always surrendered. "Wanted dead or alive" has a long history in the US.
posted by empath at 1:19 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't help thinking that Nixon -- and Ford's pardoning of Nixon -- facilitated later Presidential secrecy and institutionalized an attitude that the President was somehow above the law.

Book excerpt: With Liberty and Justice for Some. This is from the section of the book examining how the Ford pardon of Nixon entrenched the corrupt precepts of modern elite immunity

Glenn Greenwald speaks about America's two-tiered justice system and why he wrote his latest book, "Liberty and Justice for Some"
posted by homunculus at 1:23 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Obamacare is actually a great case study for what I personally mean by Obama's failure. The failure isn't that Obama couldn't get compromise on single-payer. It's that:

1) My insurance company used it to raise my premiums, for which I get nothing in return

2) Insurance was already obscenely spendy and under any sane "reform" should have decreased

3) But I can't opt out of insurance. That was difficult before and Obamacare makes it illegal.

4) Obama did promise healthcare savings: $2,500 on premiums for the "average family." Instead, my premiums increased.

5) Health insurer profits are up.

So, when I say that Obamacare is an Obama failure, I don't measure that against some blue-sky if-we-lived-in-Marx's-Russia ideal. I mean that Obama worked really hard to enact a policy that penalized me while rewarding abusive corporations at a time when I could least afford it, and without giving me any corresponding benefit or options.

This is just not way a liberal president should perform.
posted by diorist at 1:24 PM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


If he didn't want to get targetted by the military, he could have always surrendered. "Wanted dead or alive" has a long history in the US.

Nice work, empath.

You've just let Lt. Pike off the hook.
posted by notyou at 1:28 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I doubt empath is comparing non-violent protesters to an Al Qaeda member.
posted by desjardins at 1:32 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Kent State: If they didn't want to get targeted by the military, they could always have just gone home.
posted by diorist at 1:37 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


And do you then agree with all the non-congress-related items?

Citizen execution?
I find it bizarrely contradictory that the left, under Bush, kept harping on the fact that the rights guaranteed by the constitution were basic human rights and not specific to citizens (re. Gitmo detainees, for example)--and that there's this uproar about Al-Awlaki. Either the State has the right to kill certain enemy combatants without trial under certain circumstances or it does not. If you are happy with the death of Bin Laden I do not see that you have any reason to complain about the death of Al-Awlaki, and vice versa. It is, in any case, by no means novel that the President permits the use of lethal force against American citizens in the event that they do not surrender themselves peacefully. Lincoln did it most flamboyantly, but I doubt there has been a President who has not presided over the legal killing of American citizens who have not received trial. Indeed the concept of the "outlaw" (you know, "wanted: dead or alive") goes way, way back in English common law. This strikes me as largely a non-issue.

Non-prosecution of torture?

Obama made it clear before the election that he would not be seeking prosecutions of torturers. You may disagree with him as a matter of policy (it would have, undoubtedly, left the rest of his legislative agenda in tatters), but it's hardly grounds for cries of "betrayal."

Drone attacks?

Infinitely better than invasions.

Illegal immigrant policy?

Which? You mean the crack down when he still had hopes of trying to get something done legislatively and was trying to maintain sufficient "strong on border security" cred to keep some negotiating room open, or the recent decision to ignore non-criminal illegal aliens and focus on deporting only criminals? I understand the rationale for both policies. If the first had led to a larger deal that gave illegal aliens a viable path to citizenship, we'd all be celebrating his political savvy.

Opening up drilling?

This is one of those issues where you really feel the cognitive dissonance. Everyone on the right is screaming about how he has "illegally" prevented anyone from drilling anywhere. And here on the left you have screaming that he raped mother nature and forced her children to watch. Yeah, he made some limited expansions to available drilling licenses. It was an attempt to respond to very strong public political outcry and defuse some that pressure early before the issue got taken out of his hands legislatively. Again, the President does not act in a vacuum. Nothing Obama has done has substantially altered the number of US oil wells. On the other hand, he has done as much as he can to push the States towards the development of alternative energies. In the long term, that is the far more important policy initiative.

Staffing choices?

Meh.

Rhetorical attacks on the left and defense of bankers?

Did he hurt your widdle feelings? Seriously, what are these swingeing attacks on the left? I mild peep from Axelrod a year or so ago? And "defense of bankers"? Again, the cognitive dissonance is just overwhelming, when on the right all you hear is about Obama's constant attacks on the "job creators" etc. etc.

Attacks on social security and emphasis on the dangers of debt?

The debt is a danger. No one thinks it isn't. The question is about the timing of when you should deal with it. When the debt is absolutely front and center in everyone's mind as a terribly pressing concern the President has to speak to that concern--again, he's not President in a vacuum. But if you actually bothered to pay attention to what Obama has worked to try to secure from all of his actual negotiations with Republicans over the debt it has been to defer cuts in the short to medium term and to protect Social Security and Medicare. The claim that Obama has been "attacking social security" is, frankly, divorced from reality.
posted by yoink at 1:42 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dear Americans:

You don't have to like the person you vote for. Really, you don't. Voting is not liking. You don't have to agree with everything they do. It's unlikely you'll agree with everything they do. Voting is not liking. Voting is saying which out of a set of choices you prefer. That's all it is. It doesn't mean you like, love, enjoy, wish good on, admire, or lust for someone. It's nice when you also feel that way, but it's not a requirement for voting for someone. I'm just repeating it over and over so we can establish is firmly. I'm holding off making snarky comments so this single message is unambiguously clear.

You don't have to like the person you vote for.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:43 PM on November 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Kent State: If they didn't want to get targeted by the military, they could always have just gone home.

Yeah, what Al-Alwaki was doing was exactly the same as what the protesters at Kent State were doing. And, oh yeah, they'd been publicly warned for months in advance that if they showed up to protest they were going to get shot. Why, there's simply no meaningful way of drawing a distinction between the two cases.
posted by yoink at 1:44 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's totally a fair comparison-- If the students from Kent State had gone over to a foreign country and declared themselves sworn enemies of the united states and recruited terrorists for attacks on innocent people and, no, wait, this is dumb...
posted by empath at 1:49 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


@Renoroc et al
Re: antisemitism in OWS, might there also not be tea party types doing creepy psyops shit, appearing at rallies and dropping hatespeech so as to discredit the movement

also, let me mention the Israel/Palestine problem: there, i mentioned it
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:52 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Disclaimer: I am on cold medicine, this will probably be long and rambly.

Simple question: does anyone here unreservedly support Obama while not being fatalistically resigned to the slow, inevitable collapse of the USA into a third-world country? Because every argument I read seems to be "well, how could he have done more?" or "with all those Republicans in Congress..." or "well he was as liberal as possible, given the electorate" or (what they basically all amount to, which is): "Well, he slowed down the GOP's pursuit of its agenda". Seriously, does anyone here strongly think Obama is awesome while also thinking that a liberal agenda can eventually win out in this country? It just seems like this argument is between people who think Obama should've been leading a charge forwards, and didn't, and people who think a forward charge would've been suicide and applaud his masterful commanding of the retreat.

Me, in my more pessimistic moments, I don't like Obama. I don't like Obama because he muddies the waters. I don't like Obama because I believe that much of this country's gradual decline is due to extreme right-wing policies and just as, now, people lay on Obama's door things that were properly Bush's fault, in the future the GOP will be able to lay at Obama's door things that are their fault. You give the GOP a long, unbroken chain of control over this country and when things get bad, really, really, intolerably, heinously bad, they cannot blame it on anyone else. But I say I think this in my more pessimistic moments because those are the moments when I believe that the only change possible will come after we've hit rock bottom. In that sense, I resent Obama because he is slowing the free-fall, but not reversing it - and in that state of mind I just want to hurry up and hit rock bottom already so we can start turning things around. "I voted for Obama because I'd rather the rebellion against the GOP's dystopian future to be something my kids or grandkids have to deal with, not me and my neighbors!" is a pretty terrible reason to vote for a guy.

In my more hopeful moments I look at Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movement and I think that maybe, just maybe, real change is possible before things get that bad. But Obama's not that change, either; he's absolutely beholden to Wall Street. He's another empty cup in the shell game of modern politics, the fake question you answer every election day: "Would you like to get stabbed in the front by Big Business and stabbed in the back by Big Government, or vice versa?" (And don't gimme that "but the electorate votes for them" business. Congress has 9% approval ratings, lower than converting to Communism. People know what they want - red state, blue state, people want to not get [metaphorically] stabbed - they just disagree on whose promise to not stab them is true.) Obama's implicit campaign promise, "Hope", "Change", amounted to a promise that no really, this guy was different - not just that he would do different things, but that he wouldn't be a puppet of the same ruling class of corporate elites.

In either frame of mind, I genuinely think that we need to stop supporting "least bad" options. "The world continued to get worse, but slower than it otherwise would have!" Rationalize all you like but accept this truth: the world continued to get worse, and you voted for it. It'd be hilarious, if it weren't so heart-breaking, to see the same people rationalize away Obama working against their interests who then turn around and condemn those working-class Republicans for voting against their interests. People aren't stupid; we all make the choice we think we will be the least bad out of the choices we think we're given. Those Republicans, like my Dad, who voted against Obama? They expected that Obamacare would work out the way diorist describes and they thought that a Republican president would probably just leave healthcare alone. That's the simple secret of keeping the electorate turned against itself - "the other guy would've been worse" is completely impossible to disprove.

There is no way out that does not involve, someday, somehow, refusing to accept the choices you are given. Occupy now, or pass the burden of fixing the broken system down to future generations. Build a functioning third party, regardless of the short-term consequences, because the long-term consequences of not having a functioning third party will be worse.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:54 PM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


In either frame of mind, I genuinely think that we need to stop supporting "least bad" options.

The realistic way to change the country is to work on the local level so you can get an actual liberal congress. Failing that, the president can't do very much. We'll see if he has coat tails this time around.
posted by empath at 1:57 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The realistic way to change the country is to work on the local level so you can get an actual liberal congress.

I live in Rhode Island. We didn't even vote for Reagan (in 1980 anyways). Thus, the illusion that "Democrats having control will fix everything" is maybe more transparent to me - never, in my entire lifetime, have the Democrats ever not had control over this state.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:06 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


The students at Kent State were also citizens violently opposing US policies...on domestic soil, no less, and they were actively engaged in recruiting additional "insurgents," and they were targeted by the military. I think it's fair to say that, even though the parlance of "terrorist" wasn't used as promiscuously in 1970 as today, the students were shot because the increasing violence in their protest actions were considered by the NG to be terroristic.

So, yeah, there are, of course, differences in the scenarios. But both cases, a US citizen engaged in a movement publicly and violently opposition to US (foreign) policies was killed by the US military. Is Kent State less excusable because the students had less (but some) warning, or because the military didn't violate another country's autonomy to shoot those students?
posted by diorist at 2:06 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


At base, Obama is bought out by the same interests that GOP candidates are. Get the money out of politics and this will start to change. That is job#1. If we fail to do that, we will continue to have conversations like these, from both sides of the political spectrum! Rather than write the whole thing again, see my thoughts, here.
posted by Vibrissae at 2:11 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


How many people did Ken State students kill?
posted by empath at 2:12 PM on November 23, 2011


How many people did al-Awlaki kill? Did he invent sermon bullets when I wasn't looking?
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 2:17 PM on November 23, 2011


A lot of people seem to forget the fact that as President, Obama has access to a tremendous number of advisors and so much more information about constraining legality, financial impacts, governmental resources, political realities, all of which are synthesized and summaraized for his decision making than anyone here. So much that individuals do not know, and cannot know about the issues being brought up here. Everything seems so simple as an individual, just use common sense you say, its not fair, its not right!

The best thing you can hope for is that someone has the ability to manage those resources (better than Bush), and the intellectual clarity and moral compass to make the best decision they can. I trust Obama's moral compass. its not perfectly aligned with mine, but I am just 1 of 360 million whom he is sworn to govern. He's not doing bad, in a very complex problem set, with a real hole to dig out of after 8 years of the Shrub.

You have to remember too, that the choice in voting is not a 2 person ticket versus some theoretical ideal, but against the other specific 2 person ticket. In 08, that was McCain/Palin. Now look me in the eye as from any side of the aisle, and tell me we would have been better off.
posted by sfts2 at 2:19 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


mstokes650 wrote: Simple question: does anyone here unreservedly support Obama while not being fatalistically resigned to the slow, inevitable collapse of the USA into a third-world country?

I don't unreservedly support Obama. There isn't a single candidate out there I'd unreservedly support. The entire concept is ridiculous. That said, I definitely support Obama over the apparent alternatives. And no, I'm not fatalistically resigned to to the slow, inevitable collapse of the USA.

I think that if both sides can't find room to compromise there will be a slow, inevitable collapse, but I hold out hope my rhetoric can win the day and people will get the idea that we have to work on the basics first. Luckily, the most basic and pressing issues are agreed upon by most of the political spectrum, just not necessarily the politicians.

Do you seriously think Washington would be able to resist the combined pressure of the Tea Party and OWS working together to get a real campaign finance reform amendment passed? Do you think the statehouses could? I say no way. And this is just one of several major issues where there is widespread agreement. Let's get that shit knocked out first and then we can resume our partisan bickering over stupid wedge issues after having actually left the country a slightly better place.
posted by wierdo at 2:23 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


How many people did Ken State students kill?

To hold them to the same standard for assassination, I think the question would have to be: how many people had protests killed, or had an influence or association in the killing of.

Or you could ask, how many people did al-Zawahiri kill? Personally. According to public documents? Or as presented in his tria... oh, right.

The bottom line is still no-trial assassination of us citizens.
posted by diorist at 2:23 PM on November 23, 2011


You know what? I'm a liberal. Just because a certain subset of angry liberals has a certain opinion of the president and wants more policies that sate that anger, does not mean we all do.

The amazing things people think the President promised are just out there: Pullout from Afghanistan (promised to increase U.S. Presence), medical marijuana in "dispensiaries" (wanted it inside, not outside medical establishment), a no-matter what public option (said he'd like to have it) etc. is mind-boggling.

The whole deal with Rick Warren, why the hell not? Just a tradition.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:26 PM on November 23, 2011


Meh.

Based on your responses, it sounds mainly like you are to the right of many of the people complaining about Obama, so it's no surprise these complaints lack force for you. Liberals care about social security, and do no consider themselves "divorced from reality" (whatever that means) to object to Obama's attempts to restrict it. Liberals do not consider the debt to be a pressing problem, including liberal economists. Liberals care about the center-right staffing, and care about the drones (and they don't say well, they're better than invasions). Liberals think Obama should do something about past torture, regardless of what he said earlier. Liberals care about trial-less execution of American citizens, and unhypocritically also object to trial-less execution of non-Americans. Liberals care about the huge escalation of immigrant deportations under Obama's regime, though many are not aware of it. And regarding Guantanamo, Obama promised to close it. Liberals can be forgiven, I think, for thinking he knew enough to think that he actually could do so. Liberals certainly didn't think he would sign the executive order enshrining indefinite detention. And they might even have hoped he would take action to close it before the Republicans took over congress. But these are just arguments that liberals are consistent and reasonable in thinking on various issues that Obama is to the right of what he might have been. For those who feel "meh" about these issues, of course, these sorts of arguments are irrelevant.
posted by chortly at 2:26 PM on November 23, 2011


I learned my lesson when they said there was no difference between Bush and Gore.
posted by Skwirl at 2:30 PM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


> You're not part of the reality based community if you claim that Obama promised things he didn't and
> then failed to deliver on this "promise" and are disappointed as a result. You are part of the
> reality based community if you wish that Obama had promised something and are disappointed he did
> not in fact promise that thing.

That one is a member of the reality-based community is a widely held fantasy.
posted by jfuller at 2:30 PM on November 23, 2011


Diorist, it's not illegal to opt out of coverage. You'll simply have to pay a fine. In return, this v the ery partially offsets the free care any one gets when they show up at ER because they don't have a doctor.
posted by spaltavian at 2:44 PM on November 23, 2011


Drone attacks?

Infinitely better than invasions.


This, to me, is the clearest indication of where I part ways with the Obama-is-doing-an-okay-job folks. Because, sure, I guess drone attacks are better than invasions (although I can't completely suppress my oh god dystopian when will the cops use drones against U.S. citizens who are protesting instinct). But to me that's saying "Democratic war crimes are better than Republican war crimes." To which I respond: Okay, maybe, but the point to me is they're both still war crimes!

Don't get me wrong. I voted for Obama. In all likelihood, I'll hold my nose suppress my urge to vomit and vote for him again in 2012.

But I'm not going to pretend like I don't see what I see, which is that Obama is a hell of a lot more concerned about protecting the bankers and the plutocrats than he is about protecting me or any of my friends. Which is that Obama has normalized torture and made it completely impossible to hold anyone in the Bush administration accountable. Which is that Obama intentionally created an image of himself that appealed to young people and communities of color and other folks who don't often vote and then listened to the same wealthy, connected interests who advised Bush a thousand times more than he listened to any of his impassioned supporters. Which is that Obama is continuing (or at the very least not challenging) the neo-colonial economic and military relationship the U.S. has to much of the rest of the world and the increasing militarization of the police at home.

Do I think that Obama promised all of those things? No.

Does that mean I'm not allowed to be upset about them?
posted by overglow at 2:47 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are we sure Malor wasn't making some sort of deadpan joke in his first comment? A perfect demonstration of the premise of the linked article? Because I can't believe he could actually believe what he wrote.
posted by Justinian at 2:51 PM on November 23, 2011


spaltavan: I'm not a lawyer, so you're probably right. Under the ACA, you just get few hundred dollars for not complying with the law (which might be different than a fine for breaking the law).
posted by diorist at 2:55 PM on November 23, 2011


fined a few hundred dollars, that is.
posted by diorist at 2:56 PM on November 23, 2011


yoink, since you seem to be genuinely befuddle by some of these positions, let me help you out.

Citizen execution?
A lot of progressives aren't happy that Bin Laden was capped, because a lot of us with strong feelings in favor of civil libertie> and the rule of law prefer to see terrorists treated as what they are: criminals, not insane superheroic invincible masterminds.  A lot of us are squicked out by the enemy combatant designation.  Most of the times that the use of lethal force is authorized against citizens is when they present an imminent danger of death or grievous bodily harm; al-Awlaki was a cleric who gave sermons.  Not really comparable.  When was the last time a dead-or-alive reward was offered for an unarmed American citizen with no history of violent crime?

Non-prosecution of torture
Without addressing the rest of your points, the idea that seeking prosecutions of torturers would have left the rest of Obama's legislative agenda in tatters cannot be described as "undoubted."

Drone attacks?
Better than invasions, sure.  Were those the only two options?  I'm not convinced that we absolutely had to bomb the shit out of a bunch of nations, and plenty of innocent women in children, one way or another.

Staffing choices?
A lot of people see this as deserving of more of a response than "meh," but I guess there's really no way to defend it, is there?  See comment above about the motivations behind Obama's horrendous decisions about the economy.

Rhetorical attacks on the left and defense of bankers?
...or Rahm calling progressives "fucking idiots," or the Administration gloating that unions had flushed their money "down the toilet" for attempting to primary Blanche Lincoln, a terrible candidate who lost in 2010 despite the Administration's support, or any number of other instances.  Three differences between progressive outrage at this kind of criticism and conservative outrage at his criticism of bankers: (1) Democrats are, at least theoretically, supposed to be on the same side as the people being criticized, (2) unlike bankers, individual progressive voters obviously have no political power, or else someone, somewhere in the government would care what we thought, and (3) documented actual attacks that progressive chafe at are worth more consideration than imaginary attacks that Fox News stirs up imaginary controversies about (e.g. "OH NOES HE CALLED THEM 'FAT CATS'!!! MARXIST CLASS WARFARE")

Attacks on social security and emphasis on the dangers of debt?
Just because the Republicans, who have vowed to make Obama a one-term President, keep talking about the deficit at the worst possible time to address the deficit, doesn't mean that it is "absolutely front and center in everyone's mind as a terribly pressing concern."  In fact, poll after poll shows that it ISN'T, and that fucking JOBS are. (support 1, 2, 3)  

The problem is that Obama's attempts at "defer[ring] cuts in the short to medium term and [protecting] Social Security and Medicare" have still involved cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  Enormously popular programs that are in no way responsible for the current crisis, and that we have decades to fix.  Cuts that don't create jobs or in any way improve the economy.  So even placing them on the table not only helped NOTHING, but it also gave the idea of making cuts to the social safety net the air of bipartisan support, when it used to be a fucking third rail.   And yeah, he's started talking about more about jobs now, great.  Some of us wish he had focused on that all along instead of pretending the deficit was a more pressing issue, just because the party full of people trying to make his Presidency a failure wanted him to focus on the deficit.  Because who could doubt the sincerity of their motivations???

Obama has said time and time that he wants people to hold his feet to the fire.  So let progressives try to do it, instead of telling them to shut up about the shittier things Obama has done.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 3:00 PM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


The left has been getting dissapointed about Obama an election like this for a looong time. Check out these comments on his election to the Presidency of the Harvard Law Review.
posted by Winnemac at 3:01 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


*after an election*
posted by Winnemac at 3:01 PM on November 23, 2011


You're not part of the reality based community if you claim that Obama promised things he didn't and then failed to deliver on this "promise" and are disappointed as a result. You are part of the reality based community if you wish that Obama had promised something and are disappointed he did not in fact promise that thing.

Alright -- I'll play this game. Where should I begin?

Off the top of my head, I'll go with his pledge for transparency. Belied by an uncritical renewal of the patriot act (twice!) Also by the Obama whitehouse's unprecedented attack on whistleblowers. If that's not working for you, how about the Obama justice department's assertion that it is allowed to lie to people requesting documents though the freedom of information act. While that article correctly states that the administration has retracted the rule change, they've done so because they are of the opinion that they dont need to change the rules because they are already doing this. Pretty scary stuff, huh? And I wrote all of this on my phone. Imagine I had a research friendly interface at my disposal.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:16 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where should I begin?

2016. For 2012, your choices are Obama and various shades of batshitinsane Republicans. You many not like the choice, but it's a simple one to make.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:38 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Elizabeth Warren 2016!
posted by Max Power at 3:46 PM on November 23, 2011


Elizabeth Warren 2016!

Or 2020, whatever. Point is, that the candidates for the 2012 election are more or less set, so deal with it and move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:49 PM on November 23, 2011


2016. For 2012, your choices are Obama and various shades of batshitinsane Republicans. You many not like the choice, but it's a simple one to make.

That has absolutely nothing to do with what I was saying. Nor does the fact that the current roster of candidates is less than ideal in any way negate or diminish what I was saying. I don't really understand your point.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:57 PM on November 23, 2011


I don't really understand your point.

Y'all are arguing minor points, IMO. If you want a more progressive candidate, gotta work ahead, 2012 is already spoken for.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:03 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


it sounds mainly like you are to the right of many of the people complaining about Obama, so it's no surprise these complaints lack force for you. Liberals care about social security, and do no consider themselves "divorced from reality" (whatever that means) to object to Obama's attempts to restrict it. Liberals do not consider the debt to be a pressing problem, including liberal economists. Liberals care about the center-right staffing, and care about the drones (and they don't say well, they're better than invasions). Liberals think Obama should do something about past torture, regardless of what he said earlier. Liberals care...

I think liberals believe that liberals get to decide what liberals believe.

Seriously, be disappointed. But don't you dare start carding folks on our side of the aisle. You want to ensure we never find our way out of the darkness? Start making people prove how liberal they are. I get why he pissed you off, but assessing (and dismissing) his exact location on the political spectrum is not the answer.
posted by Dromio_of_Columbus at 4:09 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think Obama has, through his relative inexperience at the national level, allowed himself to be overmanaged and overguided by the Beltway stalwarts. It's one of the things that worries me about Warren running in 2016 or even 2020; eight years from now she will just be into her second term, assuming she is elected and reelected in the first place, and she'll surely be competing against Hillary Clinton. It will be difficult to vote for exciting inexperience again.

I did not and do not like Clinton's approach to policy (I didn't like Obama's either, for the record), but I very much doubt she would have been run over by Geithner and Summers, the very architects of the derivatives crisis in the first place. Equal parts hindsight and buyer's remorse, I suppose. The Obama we're seeing is the Obama I expected, for the most part, but the thing that disappointed me is the way he campaigned on bringing new ideas to Washington and then immediately surrounded himself with the same old guys. I think he dissolved a lot of the momentum he had going into the first year with what, in my view, was a withdrawal into the comfortable cocoon of the Beltway while he was finding his feet, and I don't think he's really recovered since.
posted by Errant at 4:11 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The original article should link our discussion here as an example of exactly what he's writing about.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:11 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


The basic question, from the article: Why are liberals so desperately unhappy with the Obama presidency?

I reject the question as silly. "Liberals" covers a lot of ground and "desperately unhappy" is getting a long way out there, a lot further than "disappointed."

But to address the question of why some liberals are disappointed, I don't think people with much of a clue expected his election to be Christmas for liberals/progressives and feel like he should be fed to animals.

It was Obama, though, who aggressively set the bar real high, talked about not doing things the same old ways they've been done. Independent of the Republicans, he clearly hasn't taken that approach on more than a couple occasions.

By the way, I liked the guy a lot at first, liked him less the more I heard him, developed a sense that the only thing he had really fought for and accomplished was getting better jobs for himself, didn't vote for him in the primary, voted Green in the election.
posted by ambient2 at 4:26 PM on November 23, 2011


It turns out we educated liberals don't really understand how politics works. I know this by the fact that the word "primary" is mentioned precisely once in this thread. No matter how angry you get if you show up to vote exactly once every four years (2008) you're going to get crushed by those who show up for the primary election for dogcatcher (2010).

But no, let's talk about Nader some more, obviously we just haven't bloviated enough Surely another ten thousand words will convince everyone how right we are.
posted by Skorgu at 4:31 PM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't want to turn into a one trick pony, but if you're interested in this discussion and the linked article, you need to read Third Parties Don't Work: Why and How Egalitarians Should Transform the Democratic Party.

The article was written in 2005 and covers: the progressive mindset that requires unrealistic purity from democratic politicians, the reason a third party can't work in our current election system, the penchant for progressive voters to 'stay at home' or vote for 3rd party candidates who have absolutely no chance of winning in order to punish impure democratic politicians, the mistaken idea that progressives will be better off in the next election cycle if we let the republicans win this one, some of the reasons the democratic party isn't the bastion of progressivism that progressives like to think (or wish) it is, and, most importantly, it lays out a plan for progressives to move things in the right direction.
posted by syzygy at 5:26 PM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


If you are a disaffected voter what tangible policy action could Obama take to gain your support?
posted by humanfont at 5:30 PM on November 23, 2011


I did not and do not like Clinton's approach to policy (I didn't like Obama's either, for the record), but I very much doubt she would have been run over by Geithner and Summers, the very architects of the derivatives crisis in the first place.

Enh. Geithner and Summers' approach is basically in line with what happened under Clinton's husband's watch. Obama is barely different on policy issues than either of the Clintons.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:33 PM on November 23, 2011


It's one of the things that worries me about Warren running in 2016 or even 2020; eight years from now she will just be into her second term, assuming she is elected and reelected in the first place, and she'll surely be competing against Hillary Clinton.

Not only would I say that's not a sure thing, I'd be surprised if she ran for President again. She'll be 69 in 2016. Then again, many stranger things have happened.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:39 PM on November 23, 2011


I think liberals believe that liberals get to decide what liberals believe.

Seriously, be disappointed. But don't you dare start carding folks on our side of the aisle. You want to ensure we never find our way out of the darkness? Start making people prove how liberal they are. I get why he pissed you off, but assessing (and dismissing) his exact location on the political spectrum is not the answer.


So are you saying liberals don't believe these things? Or that "liberal" is a word that cannot be assigned specific meanings? Assessing Obama's "exact position" makes it sound like these issues are splitting hairs. But to many liberals -- and by this I mainly mean, what those who self-identify as liberals say when you ask them in polls -- these are not questions of some "exact location," but significant and voluntary shifts rightward by Obama, that are disappointing in part because of what he promised or implied, but more importantly, because of what could, and should, have been achieved.

And re voting, I'm not quite sure why Obama defenders keep bringing it up. No one thinks that quadrennial elections are the only, or even main, means towards progressive ends. OWS is not (primarily) about electing a better Democrat, it's about changing the terms of the debate. In part, that's what these criticisms of Obama are about as well. We all understand Duverger's law; the challenge is figuring out what to do about it.
posted by chortly at 5:40 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Spinning it back to OWS: this is why electoral reform is long overdue in the US. In the current winner-takes-all system, you wind up with situations where you're stuck voting for Lizard A, Lizard B, or throwing down a protest vote.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:50 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chortly: I was responding to your response to a specific mefite. I am oddly more comfortable with you questioning Obama's liberal street cred than I am someone on the street, so to speak, who claims to be liberal.
posted by Dromio_of_Columbus at 5:53 PM on November 23, 2011


Why Do Liberals Keep Sanitizing the Obama Story?
... Chait doesn't even allude to Obama's practice of putting American citizens on a secret kill list without any due process, or even consistent, transparent standards.

Nor does he grapple with warrantless spying on American citizens, Obama's escalation of the war on whistleblowers, his serial invocation of the state secrets privilege, the Orwellian turn airport security has taken, the record-breaking number of deportations over which Obama presided, or his broken promise to lay off medical marijuana in states where dispensing it is legal.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:12 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Chortly: I was responding to your response to a specific mefite.

Ah, thanks for the clarification; I suspected I might have been misunderstanding that bit.
posted by chortly at 6:15 PM on November 23, 2011


This seems pointedly and emphatically not true. When Gerald Ford offered an outright pardon to Nixon and his cronies, he did not by any stretch of the imagination 'make presidential crime legal.'

There's a big difference between pardoning one man, and not prosecuting what is likely hundreds of people who were involved in the acts in question.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 6:26 PM on November 23, 2011


Empath wrote: "Wanted dead or alive" has a long history in the US.

There's a recent thread about this on The Volokh Conspiracy and it turns out that there's actually very little evidence for this. In fact the US Army's Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare (PDF), says that article 23 of the Annex to Hague Convention No. IV, 18 October 1907
is construed as prohibiting assassination, proscription, or outlawry of an enemy, or putting a price upon an enemy’s head, as well as offering a reward for an enemy “dead or alive”.
So it looks as if your President, as Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces, believes that his actions as Chief Executive of the United States are contrary to international law. I look forward to an indictment being issued by him and to him.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:59 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Geithner and Summers, the very architects of the derivatives crisis in the first place

WTF?

A lot of progressives aren't happy that Bin Laden was capped

And that's at least consistent. I was addressing a widespread inconsistency. If you personally don't share it, I wasn't talking to you. However, the complaint "OMG, he killed a citizen of the USA" is expressly identifying that inconsistent belief: that it wouldn't matter if Al-Awlaki hadn't held US citizenship.

Without addressing the rest of your points, the idea that seeking prosecutions of torturers would have left the rest of Obama's legislative agenda in tatters cannot be described as "undoubted."

I don't doubt it. I'm the one offering my opinions in my posts.

A lot of people see this as deserving of more of a response than "meh," but I guess there's really no way to defend it, is there?

Any plausible person Obama could have nominated to those roles who would have been accepted by the requisite 40 Republican senators would have had extensive ties to the US financial industry. That's simply inevitable. The complaint is an asinine one that stems entirely from this desire for government to be made up of people of angelic virtue.

...or Rahm calling progressives "fucking idiots," or the Administration gloating that unions had flushed their money "down the toilet" for attempting to primary Blanche Lincoln, a terrible candidate who lost in 2010 despite the Administration's support, or any number of other instances.

And, again, this seems like screaming oversensitivity to mundane matters of political infighting. Was absolutely ensuring that Blanche Lincoln was replaced with a Republican really something worth devoting liberal effort to? Again, these are the sorts of stupid tactical blunders that we scream with laughter about when the other side makes them ("I'm not a Witch" anyone?) but which we then go ahead and replicate on our side.

As for your comment about "gloating"--that utterly misrepresents what was said. The comment was made in anger about the money the unions wasted which could have served a useful purpose:

"Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise," the official said. "If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November."

The problem is that Obama's attempts at "defer[ring] cuts in the short to medium term and [protecting] Social Security and Medicare" have still involved cuts to Social Security and Medicare

Please tell me what cuts have been made to either SS or Medicare? I must have missed them, somehow.

Liberals do not consider the debt to be a pressing problem, including liberal economists.

This is utterly and completely incorrect. There is not a single liberal economist who would say that debt is unimportant and shouldn't be considered. What they say (the standard Keynesian line) is that you bring debt down during times of economic growth and you let it expand during recessions. Which is what Obama has, in fact, done.

Try reading Krugman on the insanity of the Bush tax cuts some time. He's specifically angry about Bush's wanton ballooning of public debt at a time when such a thing was uncalled for.
posted by yoink at 7:49 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


So it looks as if your President, as Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces, believes that his actions as Chief Executive of the United States are contrary to international law. I look forward to an indictment being issued by him and to him.

I don't believe there's an international law against assassinations, can you identify one?
posted by empath at 8:02 PM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty okay with killing sworn members of al quaeda on the battlefield. If he didn't want to get targetted by the military, he could have always surrendered. "Wanted dead or alive" has a long history in the US.

He should have surrendered to the drone he didn't know was about to kill him? Sorry, but that's an assassination, and one of the scariest things that's happened under President Obama that isn't due to spectacularly intransigent Republican lawmakers.

But now that that Pandora's box has been opened, I certainly don't trust Romney or Perry or Gingrich or Cain or Bachmann to use less restraint in that area. So Barack Obama still has my vote in November 2012.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:04 PM on November 23, 2011


He should have surrendered to the drone he didn't know was about to kill him?

He could have surrendered to the US or Yemen when Obama publicly said he was going to target him. It's not like it was a secret order.
posted by empath at 8:06 PM on November 23, 2011


It's not like it was a secret order.

It's not like it was a legal one, either.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:10 PM on November 23, 2011


He could have surrendered to the US or Yemen when Obama publicly said he was going to target him. It's not like it was a secret order.

And he could have been sent to Guantanamo and tortured and never given a trial and no one would ever be prosecuted for it.

I really can't wait till the election so I can vote libertarian this time around. The current (way to early) polls here in PA show a competitive race too.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:23 PM on November 23, 2011


*too
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:23 PM on November 23, 2011


Liberals do not consider the debt to be a pressing problem, including liberal economists.

     This is utterly and completely incorrect.


If I had said "liberals do no consider debt to be a problem," that would have been incorrect. What I said was correct -- in the context of the current debates, which is what we are arguing about, it is not a pressing problem. And in the context of liberal priorities, whether the debt is the current percent of GDP or what it was in 1998 is very low on the list of worries, even by liberal economists.

Regarding the other points, it's perfectly consistent to object to killing a US citizen without trial, and to killing non-citizens by drone. Regarding bills passing congress, there was a long period when Obama had majorities in both houses and was only a vote or two away from 60 in the Senate; it is not remotely unreasonable to think he might have passed things that only required another vote, as evidenced by the before-the-fact plausibility assigned by huge numbers of pundits and political scientists to those outcomes (such as more stimulus or the public option). Heck, Lieberman was the one who torpedoed the medicare healthcare compromise. And Obama hasn't yet succeeded in making cuts to social security, but boy is he trying.

Returning to my earlier points, he spent two years avoiding taking any action to close Guantanamo until it was too late, and then signed an executive order enshrining indefinite detention. He escalated immigrant deportations. He opened up vast areas for drilling. He bargained an extension of the tax cuts instead of vetoing. He allowed the debt ceiling to be a hostage rather than using legal workarounds that many suggested. He tried his best to keep troops in Iraq, and is engaged in numerous voluntary military actions without congressional oversight, even now that Al Qaeda is largely dead. He badmouths the left in favor of right-wing Democrats and the mythical left-wing Republican. He staffed his inner circle with wall street bankers and center-right Democrats. He ignored jobs in favor the the deficit for an entire year. He prosecuted nobody on Wall Street avoided imposing more stringent rules during the bank rescue, while allowing millions to fall into debt without calling for any major programs to fight it. And more generally, though his power is limited, he has not exercised the bully pulpit in favor of any major liberal ideals, like education, climate, inequality, and all the myriad other things that cannot be changed without first building a movement of public opinion.
posted by chortly at 8:44 PM on November 23, 2011


A lot of progressives aren't happy that Bin Laden was capped

Really? My impression has been that they're a lot more upset about the CIA's fake vaccination program than the killing of bin Laden, and they're more upset about the killing of Awlaki’s 16-year-old son than of the cleric father himself.
posted by homunculus at 8:56 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


If anyone is upset with where the party closest to their leanings is going, I strongly encourage them to vote in their party's primaries.
posted by Jpfed at 9:54 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I believe that the only change possible will come after we've hit rock bottom. In that sense, I resent Obama because he is slowing the free-fall, but not reversing it - and in that state of mind I just want to hurry up and hit rock bottom already so we can start turning things around.

I don't know how old you are but history proves that you are sadly mistaken. People said exactly -- exactly-- the same thing in 68 and we got Nixon. They said exactly the same thing in 1980 and we got Reagan. They said exactly the same thing in 2000 and we got GWB. Each of those results were horrible for the country, the effects we still feel to this day. This idea that if we just give in to the worst that people will finally learn their lesson and see the light is a defeatist attitude and leads to real suffering by real people. What you are proposing is nothing new or radical. It is a tired old theme and we have seen its deadly results over and over again. It doesn't end well.
posted by JackFlash at 10:13 PM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


The idea that we can't actually accomplish anything good so we should settle for less-bad and be happy about how much worse it isn't is also defeatist and also leads to real suffering by real people. Pick your poison.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:17 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


chortly

He bargained an extension of the tax cuts instead of vetoing.

That veto would have meant no extension of unemployment benefits just before Christmas, and no chance for the Social Security Payroll tax reduction. A vast number of people were helped, or rather not horribly harmed, because of that compromise. Given the binary choice of sign or veto, I think what he did was on balance the right thing to do. It's not a move calculated to delight doctrinaires or fire up angry lefties who want revenge on the Right for kicking all that sand in their faces for the past ten years, but it may possibly be that another way the Left (at least the moderate Left) differes from the Right is that the Left genuinely thinks government exists to make people's lives better, even if it means eschewing the occasional opportunity to grandstand.

He badmouths the left in favor of right-wing Democrats and the mythical left-wing Republican.

If you can produce evidence of a pattern of this behavior, I'm happy to listen. I fear, though, that you are going to cherry-pick one or two random casual remarks from three years of speeches and interviews and pretend that they are the real key to Obama's soul, just because that's what you want to to believe.

And can we retire the bully pulpit until people start using the concept in some kind of sensible and historically accurate way, i.e., the expending of surplus political capital by a President who is extremely popular?

The rest of it I leave for smarter and better-informed minds than mine to address. But you have to understand that you could compare FDR or Julius Caesar or Cyrus the Great to your imaginary ideal and they would all come up wanting. Downtrodden people, and the hard Left has certainly suffered enough defeats over the past three decades they count among that number, tend to fall into a destructive habit of magical thinking which generally includes dreaming up a Messiah. Real men are never going to live up to the superhuman perfection of the gods of the mind, and in the meantime le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.
posted by La Cieca at 11:03 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


JackFlash The "rock bottom" idea as described doesn't even apply in the context of a 12-step program. Yes, some addicts are so hopeless that it takes a near-death experience to convince them to try a different approach, but that doesn't mean that such a dramatic (and dangerous) eventuality is necessary to change the habit. As it happens, the flashiest stories (suicide attempts, children put in peril, those icky Aronovsky sex scenarios) are the ones people remember, but it's a myth that an addict's turning point must be something so obvious and lurid.

And then there's the assumption that there is an exact one-to-one mapping of the characteristics of an individual and those of a political system, which is absurd. "Rock bottom" can be a useful metaphor for a turning point, but it doesn't make sense as a rationale for deliberately undermining a society with some vague hope that something better will spring from the ashes. That's nothing but nihilism.
posted by La Cieca at 11:19 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: The idea that we can't actually accomplish anything good so we should settle for less-bad and be happy about how much worse it isn't is also defeatist and also leads to real suffering by real people. Pick your poison.

That's an oversimplification. This country is a democracy, and not everyone in it is as progressive as you or I. Until that changes, you and I will probably, if we're going to be realistic, have to realize that we aren't going to get exactly the policy that we want from any president or congress. We're going to have to WORK to educate our fellow citizens, ORGANIZE to get more progressive candidates on the ballots at every level, VOTE for the candidates that are closest to our principles and celebrate the small victories, in the meantime.

Anything else smacks of magical thinking that isn't based on reality.
posted by syzygy at 11:57 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Three comments, one personal as a mefite, one in general on the issues at hand, one anecdote. I think the only thing new might be the third, so feel free to skip to that one.

1) I feel entitled to contribute to one of these ghastly rehashing threads for once. I promise to keep my contributions minimal, and hopefully relevant at least in part. But the Obama thing that has been at issue in the last seemingly several hundred comments is one that affected me personally.

2) I tend to feel that:

A. The advocacy of very specific policies in the context of an American general election is not really the best way to think about things. Because of the nature of our system, we are generally presented with two realistic candidates, one closer to our worldview, one farther. By the nature of the system, these two candidates will represent something like the consensus of the party that nominates them.

B. A better approach to issue advocacy would seem to be in more local elections, where the consensus is close enough to your own position for your efforts to stand a chance of being effective, or through support of pressure groups that advocate your position, or a more general moving of the dialogue (this last is one area where I think OWS has been fairly, or at least measurably, effective).

C. As an addendum to A., the legislative process is such that the ability of a President to make policy is fairly constrained. For example, the NIMBY approach of Congress toward housing terror suspects on American soil made it practically impossible to entirely close Guantanamo. As a liberal, my main complaints about Obama, who I generally support, have had to do with his approach to dealing with Congress (and some appointments, but I digress).

3) I was a very vigorous supporter of Obama in the last election. I didn't expect much for it, other than a brake on the pell-mell drive toward disaster that the Republicans have had us on. BUT I benefited directly from the Affordable Care Act. For various reasons, including a pre-existing condition, I have been completely uninsurable, for any amount of money, for several years (I work for myself). This has caused me a great deal of financial and even physical distress. But because of a little known aspect of that act, I am now insured (it's called the Bridge Plan) for a relatively reasonable amount.

I suspect that things like this and the payroll tax holiday have benefited a lot of people, I know they never would have passed under a Republican, and I just hope he can do more in another term.
posted by lackutrol at 12:14 AM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


A lot of people in this thread seem to want revenge on the Republicans, and are angry at Obama for not delivering it.

It's like they don't care what he actually does, as long as he takes it up to the GOP.

Revenge is a terrible way to govern the country. Just look at the Republicans. They're driving the USA into the ground for the sake of it. Why emulate them?
posted by dave99 at 1:21 AM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder how many of the people arguing in this thread actually read the article.

This guy hit the nail on the head and, as I've said a few times on the Blue this week, I'm very afraid it will end up with a Republican as president come 2012.
posted by Defenestrator at 2:58 AM on November 24, 2011


Most depressing thing about this thread is seeing how many people take bloody Jonathan Chait serious enough to be impressed by a bog standard "here's why liberals are smelly poopypants" article.

Meanwhile, the real reason everybody (not just liberals) who voted for Obama is disappointed in him? Dude said he would bring change but didn't. Wonkish bleating about how he did the best he could given the circumstances in bringing in a health care law marginally better for some but still doesn't make it affordable or available to most isn't going to help with that.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:06 AM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because of the nature of our system, we are generally presented with two realistic candidates, one closer to our worldview, one farther.

You are presented with either three or four realistic candidates, and then after the primaries, you are presented with two candidates.
posted by Jpfed at 8:31 AM on November 24, 2011


The realistic primary folks tends to be very similar politically, and the same folks who whine about not voting for the lesser of two evils in the general start whining at you to vote for the "most electable."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:15 AM on November 24, 2011


To keep beating my drum: even being active in the primaries is no substitute for having a nationally viable third party, and without electoral reform, there will probably never be a nationally viable third party. The Democrat machine, let alone the two-party system, does not produce viable progressive candidates. For progressives, this is what it's like trying to negotiate your needs in a system that is completely stacked against you.

I don't see a progressive snagging a major presidential nomination any time soon. What I can see is progressives putting their energies behind changing the national conversation - especially vis a vis electoral reform - and getting individual congresscritters elected. As for Presidents, in the interim, it helps to turn Chait's conclusion around: being a progressive means always being disappointed in the guy in charge. Make it a point of pride. Depressive realism as a source of political motivation.

Think about all the people who vote Republican, even though the Republicans are against everything that would make those voters' lives better. Shouldn't you be happy to have a more realistic outlook than that? It makes life a little less shiny to not be able to root for the President like you would a superhero, but that's life.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:44 AM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Primaries, general elections, the systemic weakness of the presidency, comparisons to Jesus or FDR -- none of those have anything to do with it. The claim is that Obama could have done more in his first 3 years, in specific ways. What he promised early on is really only relevant insofar as it indicated that he himself thought that those things were achievable, such as closing Guantanamo. I suppose it also related to the emotion of disappointment -- he promised X and then turned against X after winning the election (telecom immunity, say) -- but that's not the core moral issue. The moral issue is over what he should have done, as a normal human being, politically constrained by his office but far from powerless, in the exact conditions that obtained between 09 and today. Nor is this asking for him to act as an ultra-left or ultra-charismatic human being -- just to have acted as the sort of person he could well have been, but chose not to.

What we do about it is also a separate question, though an interesting one; obviously the general election offers little opportunity for strategy, as I'm sure almost every critic of Obama understands. But the point is, the criticisms -- right or wrong -- are logically separate from what we should do or who Obama isn't. He could quite reasonably have done a lot of things somewhat to the left of what he chose to do, and the left objects to that, and takes it as a motivation to strategize much more deeply than just general elections, as OWS indicates. It's strange how much ire this rather commonplace critique engenders.
posted by chortly at 10:05 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, the real reason everybody (not just liberals) who voted for Obama is disappointed in him?

Actually more than 70% of liberals are quite pleased with Obama. Just under half of Americans approve of his jobs performance. So the view that no one likes Obama is wrong.

Consider the alternative candidates carefully though. Would you really prefer the libertarian president who would elimate social security, progressive taxation and public schools? Do you want a civilization built in the idea that selfishness is the highest moral virtue? What is your expectation of how they would run Washington? How would try be any better equipped to deliver on their promises than Obama?
Let's here the case for why the third party candidate vote gets what you want done on civil rights and torture?
posted by humanfont at 10:53 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


the left objects to that, and takes it as a motivation to strategize much more deeply than just general elections, as OWS indicates

If OWS represents the left thinking "strategically" then God help the left.
posted by yoink at 11:34 AM on November 24, 2011


And in the context of liberal priorities, whether the debt is the current percent of GDP or what it was in 1998 is very low on the list of worries, even by liberal economists.

Yes. Current debt levels are not a high priority for liberals. I never said they were a high priority for liberals. I said that liberals, including liberal economists, do consider the debt issue important; they think the issue is one of timing: do we try to tackle it now, during an economic downturn (or the slow recovery from downturn) or do we try to tackle it later. If you bothered to look at Obama's actual proposals to Republicans during negotiations over the debt ceiling you'd see that in every case he was proposing increasing the debt in the short term (i.e. stimulus spending) and decreasing it in the long term (i.e. when the economy has started to recover). This is orthodox 'liberal' economics.

Here's Paul Krugman on the debt, for example:
America does have a long-run fiscal problem, driven by the combination of rising health costs, an aging population, and the unwillingness to raise taxes to pay for the programs we already have. If we don’t come to grips with that problem, bad things will happen.
it's perfectly consistent to object to killing a US citizen without trial, and to killing non-citizens by drone.

Where did I say otherwise? Try re-reading my comments as you've clearly misunderstood them.

Regarding bills passing congress, there was a long period when Obama had majorities in both houses and was only a vote or two away from 60 in the Senate;

Yes. A vote or two away. You do realize what the difference between having 60 votes for something in the Senate and being "a vote or two away" from 60 votes is, don't you? It doesn't mean they pass 90% of the bill or something. It means the legislation fails.

it is not remotely unreasonable to think he might have passed things that only required another vote, as evidenced by the before-the-fact plausibility assigned by huge numbers of pundits and political scientists to those outcomes (such as more stimulus or the public option).

How is what pundits speculate about "evidence" of the ability of the administration to bully that extra vote? That's simply absurd. Christ--I argued the toss about how to get Lieberman to vote for the public option with hundreds of people like you during the days of that debate, not one could ever suggest a single concrete act that would secure Lieberman's vote--they were all just sure, somehow, that if Obama just made a really impassioned speech Lieberman would cave. It's bizarre.

Heck, Lieberman was the one who torpedoed the medicare healthcare compromise.

And this, somehow, proves that Obama could have got him to vote for the public option?

And Obama hasn't yet succeeded in making cuts to social security, but boy is he trying.

And your evidence for this is your ability to read his mind, I'm guessing.

he spent two years avoiding taking any action to close Guantanamo until it was too late,

Again, would you people just actually bother once in a while to look at what is actually happening in Congress? Here, just read this, for example. The sources are mostly from Wikileaks, so I'm guessing you'll be willing to believe them. The administration tried over and over and over again to resolve the problem of Guantanamo. Congress made it impossible. Again, there seems to be this magical thinking that if Obama would just really grit his teeth and pound on a desk with his shoe Congress would immediately fall into line. The real world just doesn't work that way.

bargained an extension of the tax cuts instead of vetoing

Because, as has already been pointed out upthread, that was the only way to get Unemployment Insurance extensions, to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the non-wealthy and the Payroll Tax Cut (all liberal desiderata). Frankly by any sane calculation that one was a win for the left, not a loss.

He allowed the debt ceiling to be a hostage rather than using legal workarounds that many suggested.

Oh yeah. I can just imagine if a Republican president had used those "legal workarounds." I'm sure the tenor of the conversation on Metafilter would be "well, that surely seems unprecedented and a remarkable extension of executive power--but, well, gosh darn it, he really seems to think it's for the best of the country, so I guess it's fair enough."

The suggestion that the President should simply regard the House of Representatives--the duly elected representative organ of the people--as an inconvenience to be ignored and finagled out of the way is just shockingly antidemocratic. Frankly I think it's the bad conscience of liberals who simply sat out the 2010 elections and gave the House to the Republicans that fuels much of that rhetoric. If you want the conversation between the House and the President to come closer to reflecting your politics, then work to elect politicians to the house who share your beliefs.

He badmouths the left in favor of right-wing Democrats and the mythical left-wing Republican.

Amazing how he apparently does this all the time, but the only examples anyone has actually found for this thread turn out to bogus. Maybe there are just too many examples to choose from?

Ah well--I have to go start preparing for Turkey Day. Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone.
posted by yoink at 12:04 PM on November 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Are we sure Malor wasn't making some sort of deadpan joke in his first comment? A perfect demonstration of the premise of the linked article? Because I can't believe he could actually believe what he wrote.

He's said similar things before. Fucking weak sauce, though, dropping a freakout turd like that as the first comment in the thread then just heading for the hills.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:09 PM on November 24, 2011


MartinWisse wrote: Wonkish bleating about how he did the best he could given the circumstances in bringing in a health care law marginally better for some but still doesn't make it affordable or available to most isn't going to help with that.

Well, you know, other than the subsidies that help make health insurance more affordable for people who don't make much money and the minor structural changes that are expected to slow the rate of increase in health care costs there is nothing that makes it more affordable or available.

chortly wrote: he himself thought that those things were achievable, such as closing Guantanamo

Should Obama have expected that Congress would ban him from closing Guantanamo, given that that sort of thing is usually entirely within the executive's purview?
posted by wierdo at 6:12 PM on November 24, 2011


How is what pundits speculate about "evidence" of the ability of the administration to bully that extra vote? That's simply absurd. Christ--I argued the toss about how to get Lieberman to vote for the public option with hundreds of people like you during the days of that debate, not one could ever suggest a single concrete act that would secure Lieberman's vote--they were all just sure, somehow, that if Obama just made a really impassioned speech Lieberman would cave. It's bizarre.

Where is your evidence that there was no way to get the vote?

Would you really prefer the libertarian president who would elimate social security, progressive taxation and public schools? Do you want a civilization built in the idea that selfishness is the highest moral virtue? What is your expectation of how they would run Washington? How would try be any better equipped to deliver on their promises than Obama?
Let's here the case for why the third party candidate vote gets what you want done on civil rights and torture?


Why should I be scared of the bad policies if he can't get things done?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:40 PM on November 24, 2011




Where is your evidence that there was no way to get the vote?

Lieberman Digs In on Public Option:

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, speaking in that trademark sonorous baritone, utters a simple statement that translates into real trouble for Democratic leaders: "I'm going to be stubborn on this."

Stubborn, he means, in opposing any health-care overhaul that includes a "public option," or government-run health-insurance plan, as the current bill does. His opposition is strong enough that Mr. Lieberman says he won't vote to let a bill come to a final vote if a public option is included[...]Probe for a catch or caveat in that opposition, and none is visible. Can he support a public option if states could opt out of the plan, as the current bill provides? "The answer is no," he says in an interview from his Senate office. "I feel very strongly about this." How about a trigger, a mechanism for including a public option along with a provision saying it won't be used unless private insurance plans aren't spreading coverage far and fast enough? No again.

So any version of a public option will compel Mr. Lieberman to vote against bringing a bill to a final vote? "Correct," he says.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:39 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


So a politician said something so that means it's true? They posture all the time in these negotiations. PROVE he could not be convinced.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:43 PM on November 24, 2011


Why should I be scared of the bad policies if he can't get things done?

Maybe you should research Senate procedural rules, the voting records of the Democratic and Independent Senators, and remember that the supposedly filibuster-proof majority existed for less than 9 months (between Franken and Brown) and even then had to deal with Nelson, Lincoln, Webb, and others that left them far from anything that could get through both houses. You can't continually complain about him getting stuff done when arcane decades- and centuries-old rules prevent our government from coming even close to working.

So a politician said something so that means it's true? They posture all the time in these negotiations. PROVE he could not be convinced.

Seriously? First of all, "compel" and "convince" are pretty strong synonyms, figure it out for yourself. And second: What else other than what he said am I supposed to provide as evidence? I'm not Professor-fucking-X, so I can't read his mind, nor do I have special powers to magically prove a negative. You asked for evidence, I gave it. If you've got something other than "he's a politician" (an argument that I could just as easily use to support my point) proving that he could be convinced, by all means share it with the rest of us.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:54 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe you should research Senate procedural rules, the voting records of the Democratic and Independent Senators, and remember that the supposedly filibuster-proof majority existed for less than 9 months (between Franken and Brown) and even then had to deal with Nelson, Lincoln, Webb, and others that left them far from anything that could get through both houses. You can't continually complain about him getting stuff done when arcane decades- and centuries-old rules prevent our government from coming even close to working.

What? I was talking about humanfont's concerns for a hypothetical libertarian and pointing out exactly what you just did, there is no reason to be afraid because it is really hard to pass things.

Seriously? First of all, "compel" and "convince" are pretty strong synonyms, figure it out for yourself. And second: What else other than what he said am I supposed to provide as evidence? I'm not Professor-fucking-X, so I can't read his mind, nor do I have special powers to magically prove a negative. You asked for evidence, I gave it. If you've got something other than "he's a politician" (an argument that I could just as easily use to support my point) proving that he could be convinced, by all means share it with the rest of us.

Obama SAID he would not extend the Bush tax cuts. Are you new to following politics or something? They give and take in the bills and people sacrifice deeply held stances. Do you have any evidence Lieberman was serious this time?

It just sounds like you want to play both sides here, the fact is we don't know and it's pretty reasonable to fall on either side of the debate here since we can't read minds.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:09 PM on November 24, 2011


To be fair, I'm not sure how one would prove what Lieberman would have actually done without some sort of device that allows one to visit alternate realities.

Which of course, given the multiverse would include realities where he voted against any bills including a public option, as well as realities where he ended up voting for them, means the exercise in and of itself would be somewhat pointless.

And we'd also have to take into account the reality in which Lieberman was mauled by a rogue utahraptor on the way to the senate building, as well as the reality where that same utahraptor was actually a senator (UT-R) who filibustered the bill by eating the Senate majority leader live on CSPAN.

And also the reality where Obama actually is a sekrit Kenyan socialist muslim, with the secret agenda of forcing the decimal system on a wary American public.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:42 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


A lot of the things that Obama did accomplish (like the form of the bank bailout) are pretty uninspiring, and I can't help thinking that he could have simply refused to implement DADT, just as he has refused to implement other laws he disapproved of. But if his defense ultimately rests on the fact that he wasn't able to do his job, I can't help thinking that he should get out of the way and allow someone else to have a go.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:01 PM on November 24, 2011


PROVE he could not be convinced.

What actually happened is the strongest evidence. Unless you want us to develop mind-reading and time travel.
posted by spaltavian at 6:21 AM on November 25, 2011


Based on what regularly goes through my head, I would not recommend developing mind-reading or time travel. Recommend resources be allocated to sexbots research.

They posture all the time in these negotiations. PROVE he could not be convinced.

Furiousgeorge, do you have any ideas on what would have convinced or forced Leiberman to publicly state he'd vote for a public optionand then follow through on that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:20 AM on November 25, 2011


But if his defense ultimately rests on the fact that he wasn't able to do his job, I can't help thinking that he should get out of the way and allow someone else to have a go.

The problem is that no one to the left of Jim DeMint would have been able to "do [the President's] job." Clinton, Gore, Nader, whoever it was up there would have had to deal with pretty much the same shit, albeit without the dirty Moos-lim furriner undertones. I don't know how many times this can be repeated before people understand it.

And in the real world, the bully pulpit only works if the President already has the public on his side. Thus, on stuff like climate change and health care, he didn't have a lot of public support. On stuff like DADT and DOMA, public support is just now reaching the tipping point. And even when he does have the public on his side, the GOP and Fox News have had a decade to repackage it that he's had 2 1/2 years to push back on. And if you haven't noticed, every single major media outlet is parroting right-wing talking points and laying at most half the blame on the GOP. So even when the public has a lot of support for things like job creation, higher taxes on the rich, and making sure Medicare and SS are viable support options. But by the time the average citizen has heard it, job creation=stimulus (bad), higher taxes on the rich=attacking "job creators" (very bad), and Medicare and SS investment=insane government spending, and they're hearing it from everybody.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:57 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Furiousxgeorge: vote libertarian they will be unable to implement the parts of their agendas that scare you; but will shutdown Gitmo and end all the wars.
posted by humanfont at 9:03 AM on November 25, 2011


What actually happened is the strongest evidence. Unless you want us to develop mind-reading and time travel.

All what happened is evidence of is that he was not convinced, not that he could not be convinced. Or do you think every vote in the history of congress was the only way the vote could have panned out?

Furiousxgeorge: vote libertarian they will be unable to implement the parts of their agendas that scare you; but will shutdown Gitmo and end all the wars.

I haven't claimed anything in this thread about what I expect them to be able to accomplish, just pointed out that passing bills is hard. Sounds like you are the only one with the cognitive dissonance going on.

Furiousgeorge, do you have any ideas on what would have convinced or forced Leiberman to publicly state he'd vote for a public optionand then follow through on that?

We aren't mind readers, BB.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:06 AM on November 25, 2011


One last point. Anyone claiming that "Democrats and Republicans are the same" or that "elections won't matter until there's a third party" or what have you needs to just stop and think about what kind of political conversation we'd be having right now if the left hadn't sat out the 2010 election. Imagine a Democrat controlled House returns in 2010. No debt-ceiling hostage-taking: the limit just gets quietly raised. In fact, the whole debt "crisis" would have been quietly sidestepped: it simply wouldn't be on the political radar right now. We'd almost certainly have seen the Bush tax-cuts for the wealthy killed. We'd definitely have a jobs bill of some kind, including the infrastructure bank. Etc. etc. etc.

And, of course, the soi-disant liberal left would still be in threads like this complaining about how "elections don't matter" and "Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same."
posted by yoink at 11:02 AM on November 25, 2011


The Hill: Turnout fetishists, who interpret this and most every election in terms of who did and did not come to the polls, are again infesting the commentariat. Of course, almost by definition, if more Democrats showed up, along with fewer Republicans, Democrats would have performed better. But that is always true and therefore usually trivial.

The real question is: Were the results driven by an unusual set of suspects turning out or by voters shifting their allegiance? If it’s not already obvious, I’ll blow the surprise: 2010 was fundamentally about the failure to persuade, not turnout failure.

-

2006, the last midterm, not 2008, is the appropriate comparison. That hardly stacks the deck against Democrats. The 2006 turnout was sufficient to enable Democrats to wrest 30 seats from the GOP, along with control of the House.
Even a quick perusal of the exit polls (not perfect evidence with respect to turnout, but the best readily available) reveals that, despite all the talk of an unenthusiastic and deflated Democratic base, this year’s electorate looked very much like that of the prior midterm, when Democrats were bursting with enthusiasm.

-

Indeed, only one segment of the Democratic coalition appears meaningfully underrepresented in 2010 compared to 2006 — union households.

-

The real story of 2010 was the precipitous decline in support for Democrats across most segments.

-

Perhaps the most dramatic disintegration of Democratic support was among independents, who gave Democrats a resounding 18-point victory in 2006, but four years later backed GOPers by a similar 19-point margin.

Democrats lost in 2010 not because our voters failed to cast ballots, but because they deserted us once inside the voting booth.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:12 AM on November 25, 2011


We aren't mind readers, BB.

Of course, just wondering if you have any ideas on what you think may have convinced Leiberman. I'm not sure anything would have, but I I've love to hear a different idea.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:33 PM on November 25, 2011


Drone attacks?
Better than invasions, sure. Were those the only two options? I'm not convinced that we absolutely had to bomb the shit out of a bunch of nations, and plenty of innocent women in children, one way or another.


The fruits of liberation: The lives of six more Afghan children are extinguished with an air attack as the responsible nation yawns
posted by homunculus at 12:59 PM on November 25, 2011




I haven't claimed anything in this thread about what I expect them to be able to accomplish, just pointed out that passing bills is hard. Sounds like you are the only one with the cognitive dissonance going on.

So you support ending social security, public schools, child welfare laws, the minimum wage, food stamps and endorse a society built on an ethical framework where selfishness is the highest virtue? Let the millionaires trample the lives of regular workers. Condemn the elderly to utter poverty. Let the poorest starve.

That's the libertarian agenda. I find it obscene. Yet you argue a liberal should vote for their candidate over Obama. Vote for the party funded by the Koch brothers. I'm sure that will make a difference.

Obama enacted financial reform, health care reform, saved the auto industry, funded green tech, funded green transit, put billions into schools, and brought science back to EPA. He pushed through legislation improving equal pay protections for women, repealed DADT and sites the S-chip expansion that provided healthcare to millions of children.

I'm happy to vote for Obama next year. He has done a great job as President and he's the best candidate in the race.
posted by humanfont at 1:15 PM on November 25, 2011


That is quite the strawman of a fairly diverse group. If you look at folks like Paul a lot of the rhetoric is about returning power to the states. There is room to support ideas similar to social security at the state level.

Regardless, no candidate is perfect. It is extremely naive of you to think you will find a candidate that will agree with you on everything. The idea is to find the candidate who best represents your views.

Yet you argue a liberal should vote for their candidate over Obama.

No, I said *I*, a social libertarian, would vote for them.

Vote for the party funded by the Koch brothers.

Although the Democratic presidential hopeful has vowed to raise capital gains and corporate taxes, financial industry bigs have contributed almost twice as much to Obama as to GOP rival John McCain, a Daily News analysis of campaign records shows.

Everybody in politics is funded by people a lot of liberals won't like.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:35 PM on November 25, 2011


Conor Friedersdorf is a self described conservative and former writer for the America's Future Foundation a Koch affiliated libertarian foundation.

A former shill for the Koch industries bashes the President. And tells us we should be very concerned.
posted by humanfont at 1:42 PM on November 25, 2011


I think you are right it is a bit concerny, but he does make a good point:

"If we do not change our politics -- if we do not fundamentally change the way Washington works -- then the problems we've been talking about for the last generation will be the same ones that haunt us for generations to come."

"But let me be clear -- this isn't just about ending the failed policies of the Bush years; it's about ending the failed system in Washington that produces those policies. For far too long, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, Washington has allowed Wall Street to use lobbyists and campaign contributions to rig the system and get its way, no matter what it costs ordinary Americans."

"We are up against the belief that it's all right for lobbyists to dominate our government--that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we're not going to let them stand in our way anymore. Unless we're willing to challenge the broken system in Washington, and stop letting lobbyists use their clout to get their way, nothing else is going to change."

"If we're not willing to take up that fight, then real change--change that will make a lasting difference in the lives of ordinary Americans--will keep getting blocked by the defenders of the status quo."


Is it not Obama himself that is saying his accomplishments mean nothing if not matched by fundamental change in the way corporate power dominates the government? When the disappointment from the left has crystallized into something like OWS it seems like that hypothesis about how he has lost liberal support might be right on.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:49 PM on November 25, 2011


*lost some liberal support, I know the approval numbers.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:50 PM on November 25, 2011


Wait, is Lawrence Lessig a Koch shill too? Fuck.
posted by homunculus at 3:32 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Professor Lessig is a lawyer and part of the 1%. He doesn't need the Koch brothers $. He was super conservative with plans for a career as a Republican politician and clerkships with Scalia and Posner. Then he was for open source, file sharing and Wikipedia. He voted for Obama. Lately he has been hanging around with members of the Tea Party Patriots, suggesting we have a second constitutional convention. He's a rich white guy who went to Wharton Cambridge and Yale and lived a charmed life.
posted by humanfont at 5:31 PM on November 25, 2011


Okay, but not a concern troll? Can you address the arguments, they seem solid enough to be worthy of actual discussion.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:33 PM on November 25, 2011


Obama made several proposals during his campaign to change the culture of Washington and curtail the power of lobbiests. After taking office he implemented policies based on those proposals. These restrict the ability of lobbiests to take administration jobs and for ex-administration officials to lobby. He also placed restrictions lunches, travel and other activities used by lobbiests to gain influence and access to officials. New regulations have recently been approved which will extend these rules to the whole executive branch.
posted by humanfont at 6:47 AM on November 26, 2011


I'm perfectly fine saying Obama has done some good stuff, but I wish he had done more and been more openly aggressive on some fights.

He's done better than McCain would have. He'll do better than of the current GOP favorites. Admittedly, that's a low bar, but it's better than meeting that low standard as opposed to doing a little bit more.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 AM on November 26, 2011


Liberals are not uniquely unreasonable. A response by Steve Kornacki.

...Chait is overstating the current depths of liberal despair, given that the outspoken frustration of some left-of-center commentators hasn’t exactly trickled down to the liberal masses, and that overall support and enthusiasm for Obama has fallen more significantly among non-liberal Democrats than among liberals.

He then comapres Obama's situation to that faced by Reagan in 1983.

Also noted via same article Joan Walsh: Should liberals be more thankful for Obama?
He won healthcare and banking reform as well as the super committee standoff. Great. We have to keep pushing


I will also note that the first three years of Ovamas term have given the executive branch tremendous new powers to regulate health care, financial markets, green house gas emissions and even government spending via sequestration. The fact remains that the rules which implement this authority will be written over the next 3-6 years (executive branch rule making is a long process with lots of court challenges, public comment periods, etc).
posted by humanfont at 9:47 AM on November 26, 2011


The comparisons to first-term Reagan are apt. Despite the retroactive whitewashing of Reagan as this SuperConservative who ruled with a mighty fist, filled the Republicans' hearts with joy, and filled the Democrats' hearts with hatred, there was actually quite a bit of balancing, compromise, and failures in the Reagan administration, much to the chagrin of those who really did think that Reagan would actually shrink the government to a more drownable size.

Unfortunately, the legend of Reagan is much more powerful than the reality was. This leads us to ahistorical perspectives where some people think that Reagan was this pure idealogue who only ever cut taxes to extreme lows without ever raising them, while others think that Reagan was this all-powerful political whirlwind whom the liberals must emulate without fail.

It's easy to cook up post hoc narratives about iron-fisted presidents who were able to get all of their major policies of the ground, but in reality, even the most forceful presidents had to frequently crumple and compromise.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:01 AM on November 26, 2011


Obama made several proposals during his campaign to change the culture of Washington and curtail the power of lobbiests. After taking office he implemented policies based on those proposals. These restrict the ability of lobbiests to take administration jobs and for ex-administration officials to lobby. He also placed restrictions lunches, travel and other activities used by lobbiests to gain influence and access to officials. New regulations have recently been approved which will extend these rules to the whole executive branch.

Right, now we talk with the lobbyists across the street so...Washington is fundamentally changed, wrap it up.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:53 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]




Oh and the lobby rule? He broke it, several times.

here
posted by Shit Parade at 6:53 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Under Bush the the US Chamber and NRA had unofficial cubes in the West Wing. Lawyers for lobbying groups like those for Big Oil were allowed to rewrite regs before the public comment period opened. They could steam roll EPA, SEC and other regulatory agencies by getting their folks appointed to key political and policy positions. The DOJ was utterly gutted and stuffed with Republican hacks, even in the career civil service positions.

I'd say switching from that to the occasional meeting across the street is a pretty big step in the right direction.
posted by humanfont at 7:08 PM on November 26, 2011


Only cowards and natural slaves bicker over whose master is kinder.
posted by Shit Parade at 7:14 PM on November 26, 2011


Alternet: Broderick Johnson, a former Bryan Cave LLP lobbyist registered on the Keystone XL account, reported lobbying President Obama's legislative affairs staff in 2010

Daily Caller: Obama’s new adviser, Broderick Johnson, has an extensive history of lobbying for big banks and corporations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2007, he lobbied for JP Morgan Chase and in 2008 Johnson lobbied for Bank of America and Fannie Mae. From 2008 through 2010, he lobbied for Comcast and in 2011 he lobbied for Microsoft.

Politico: Broderick Johnson, a Washington lawyer and the husband of NPR’s Michele Norris, is joining President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign as a senior adviser and member of the senior staff to help provide “an ear to the ground,” Obama for America officials said Monday.

Johnson worked on the Clinton White House’s legislative affairs team and then went to K Street as a lobbyist for AT&T and BellSouth and most recently was a partner at Bryan Cave, the St. Louis-based law firm and served as chairman of its lobbying arm, Bryan Cave Strategies. He has been a registered lobbyist for clients such as Anheuser Busch Companies, Comcast Corp., FedEx Corp., and Microsoft as recently as 2010.


Obama Cancels Ozone Rules After Lobbying by Business: Business group representatives had met Aug. 16 with White House Chief of Staff William Daley to push their case for scrapping the ozone changes. They said the costs would be much greater than the administration estimated.

“The signal today was that message is being heard” by the White House, Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute in Washington, which represents companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp., said in an interview. “These are the kinds of signals that the economy and business needs to begin pulling money off the sidelines and start investing.”


The Daily Beast: NRA Passes on Meeting With Obama.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:30 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama recently delayed the Keystone xl pipeline.
posted by humanfont at 7:38 AM on November 27, 2011




Delay is the definition of fundamental change now?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:02 PM on November 27, 2011


How quickly you forget the old regime where decisions like this were made without any public input. Industry requests were just rubber stamped.
posted by humanfont at 1:08 PM on November 27, 2011


No, I think you have forgotten we are talking in context of Obama's statements that without fundamental change any small steps forward will be reversed by the status quo.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:12 PM on November 27, 2011


I don't understand US politics, so here's a serious question: is there any prospect of the Democrats choosing a different candidate? Or is it just a choice between Mr Mediocre and whoever wins the Republican nomination? Because if so, I'd call the election for Obama right now.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:08 PM on November 27, 2011


If Obama was caught in some massive scandal there might be a chance it isn't him, but no he is not going away via the standard primary process and is definitely the favorite to win the general.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:12 PM on November 27, 2011


Fundamental change takes a true Scotsman. Sadly there are no true Scotsmen.
posted by humanfont at 4:30 PM on November 27, 2011


That's fine, go tell 2008 Obama.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:47 PM on November 27, 2011


I don't understand US politics, so here's a serious question: is there any prospect of the Democrats choosing a different candidate?

Too late for a primary challenge. Obama hasn't had any real scandals, and hasn't done anything to really piss of the base, and nobody on the D side wants to piss off the black vote by running against the 'first black president' in what would be a vicious and divisive primary campaign, and Biden is a non-starter for 2016, so almost everyone is waiting for the wide-open primary in 4 years.
posted by empath at 5:25 PM on November 27, 2011


It's also just very rare in general to have a serious primary challenge of a sitting president. Ford(Reagan - 1976), Carter(Teddy Kennedy- 1980), LBJ (RFK-1968), Bush I(Buchanan-1992) were the most recent ones... if you'll notice, it didn't turn out very well for any of the candidates that got challenged...
posted by empath at 5:28 PM on November 27, 2011


Conor Friedersdorf is a self described conservative

Can we step back to this for a second, it's just the first of many deflections you went for in your obviously failed argument, but it deserves to be highlighted. He is the type of conservative who doesn't like to be called conservative because he has divergent views on issues such as foriegn policy. He is the type of conservative who the far right crap conservative press defines as a, "false-flag conservative useful idiot."

The fact that you used the exact same rhetorical tactic as a fucking BRIETBART site to try and discredit him with labels when pretty much all he did was quote Obama is fucking pathetic, dude.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:20 PM on November 27, 2011


Late to the party - but uh...

Most of you know I've been on the "Obama is a corporatist" bandwagon (though I wouldn't equate him w/Bush or say he's exactly the same as a Republican)... And until this past weekend I either figured I wouldn't vote for him or vote 3rd party (even though I didn't particularly relish the thought of a Republican) and I really hate the fearmongering that leads to the 2 party "but do you really want a Republican in office?"...

But I saw a thing about Turkey Pardons the other day. And they showed Clinton doing his thing and then I saw him... Bush II. And it all came flooding back. That smarmy cocky son of a bitch with that Republican 'tude. And it was then that the fear of dealing with another decade of that bullshit came flooding back into my veins.

I don't like Obama. And he's not perfect but GODDAMN if I have to deal with any motherfucking Republican in office ever again. There's a lot I don't like about Obama, and I'm getting dicked over either way -- but at least fuck me over with a semblence of a brain, jesus.
posted by symbioid at 7:21 PM on November 27, 2011


So, you would definitely not have a beer with him.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:26 PM on November 27, 2011


I wouldn't have a problem with a Republican president - bearing in mind that I don't live there and I'm not a US citizen - but oh my gosh, the candidates for nomination. I mean, are they competing for the crazypants award? I suppose it's good that the frontrunner is apparently Mitt Romney, who is half normal. I definitely think that should be his campaign slogan - MITT ROMNEY IS HALF NORMAL. It will distinguish him from the other candidates.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:34 PM on November 27, 2011


They aren't demons, I actually had a moment when I nodded in agreement with Rick Santorum in one of the recent debates when he was arguing in favor of the moral and practical benefits of humanitarian aid around the world. OTOH, he was arguing with Ron Paul who actually has the best foreign policy (IMO) of any of them including Obama.

I saw Michele Bachmann make some good points on the complex nature of our relationship with Pakistan, Rick Perry speak up for immigrant families in Texas, John Huntsman encourage people to accept science, Newt Gingrich look difficult problems in the face even when I disagreed with his solutions, and Herman Cain make me laugh and nod with some common sense wisdom.

Put any of them in a debate with Obama, and they sound a bit more sane, it's difficult to speak to the Republican base and earn their votes. None of them being elected will end the world though, okay?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:15 PM on November 27, 2011


It's less about "ending the world" and me not wanting to have to listen to unbearable tough-guy macho posturing. That's less of an issue, I think, if it were Romney or Huntsman, and maybe (very very tentatively maybe) Paul - but Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry or Cain all strike me (wait - Santorum is in the running? huh... well him, too) as a bit too batshit for my tastes to handle even 2 seconds of, even if they have a couple nice bones to throw us now and then.... Gingrich talks the talk of a technocrat, but look back to the 90s and remember all the bullshit he fought for and it's the same old shit, despite his "modern" sounding talk.

meh. time for bed.
posted by symbioid at 11:07 PM on November 27, 2011


Gingrich, he fought for balanced budgets and welfare reform, for example, which Clinton and other centrists dems will still tell you were great accomplishments of the administration.

Impeachment? Gingrich has some blame, but DeLay will have a lot more to answer for once the historians look at it objectively.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:18 AM on November 28, 2011


Gingrich has good ideas every once in a while. He wanted to give laptops to poor kids in schools, in the 90s, for example, and he got a lot of crap about it at the time. He was way ahead of the curve in promoting the internet in Washington (it was basically him and Al Gore out there by themselves in the early days).

The problems with Gingrich are A) he's a pompous windbag and B) he developed a method of talking about political opponents that basically makes me want to vomit whenever I hear him talk C) he's a gigantic hypocrite and basically a piece of shit as a human being.
posted by empath at 1:25 AM on November 28, 2011


So now you are trying to claim that Conor Friedersdorf isn't from the libertarian right, and that I'm Breitbart for pointing out his biases. The FPP suggests that liberals are abandoning Obama. Yet some of those voices cited such as Mr. Friedersdorf are clearly not part of the liberal left. Individuals such as he have a number of policy view that are contrary to Mr. Obamas. It is fair to ask if their assault on his record is simply a focused political attack to undermine the President's broader agenda.

You said earlier that you are a social libertarian. We might ask the same question. You also said:
Regardless, no candidate is perfect. It is extremely naive of you to think you will find a candidate that will agree with you on everything. The idea is to find the candidate who best represents your views.

From this stance I presume you beleive that the candidate who best represents your views is one who would end equal pay, child labor laws, Social Security, Medicare, unionization, public schooling, repeal of environmental regulations and provisions of the civil rights act pertaining to public accommodation and equal housing.

You've deflected on this repeatedly claiming it wouldn't get done or that I'm trying to scare you or others. So we can only presume that you do share those views. Those views are repugnant to most liberals. So as a liberal I'm forced to consider your statements in that light.
posted by humanfont at 3:56 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So now you are trying to claim that Conor Friedersdorf isn't from the libertarian right, and that I'm Breitbart for pointing out his biases

No, I'm telling you you are Breitbart for trying to push him into an ideological box and ignoring him on that basis. Conservatives that conservatives hate for not being conservative enough deserve a hearing.

From this stance I presume

And as you are an Obama supporter I presume that you think the Bush tax cuts should be extended, torture shouldn't be prosecuted, the drug war should continue, the banks shouldn't be prosecuted, social security should be cut to reduce debt...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:42 PM on November 28, 2011


(And I already addressed it, you just don't apparently don't like the answer)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:44 PM on November 28, 2011


I was going to enumerate the ways in which your view is misinformed, but I figure this is better: Your hyperpartisanship is killing us. Please stop. You're spouting the views of the Republicans. Dropping a bomb for the right reason kills just as many as dropping it for the wrong reason.

I don't know what you're talking about. Compromise does not mean abandoning my position for yours. I have never been accused of spouting the views of the Republicans until this comment. You actually help to make my point for me with your bomb analogy: I don't want the bombs to exist in the first place...and I was sort of hoping that somebody would step in and change the perspective of dropping them as a foregone conclusion. Instead, we've got the status quo, and I am not represented. It takes balls to stand up to the Republicans and conservatives of this world...what Obama is doing is like trying to reason with a charging hippo.
posted by Chuffy at 2:57 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a fairly good article (sorry if it's bee posted already) that covers similar territory to the FPP within the lens of OWS.
posted by codacorolla at 2:58 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]




That we know of, anyway.
posted by wierdo at 11:51 AM on November 30, 2011




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