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June 15, 2012 3:12 AM   Subscribe

Der Spiegel has two interesting recent articles about America. The President of Disappointments - How Obama Has Failed to Deliver (single page)
Barack Obama entered the White House as a savior. But he hasn't delivered. The ideological chasms in the US are as deep as they have ever been, with Republicans blocking the president at every turn. Who is responsible for his failure?
'Our Political System Is Basically Dysfunctional' an interview with David Gergen who was Ronald Reagan's PR Director
posted by adamvasco (117 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Bipartisanship" is just a catch-phrase at this point. It's something you invoke to make it seem like you're a good politician for willing to break down barriers, but it's either a well-crafted trap for the opposition or speedily converted into an impassable quagmire (see: healthcare). Both sides have far too much to gain by turning every action by the opponent into a negative talking point.
posted by a debt owed at 3:44 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Barack Obama entered the White House as a savior. But he hasn't delivered.

That's inflammatory crap. The word "savior" is loaded for Americans. Obama never promised to be Jesus. I don't like it when external commenters frame the American political dialog in a way that suggests that anybody who voted for Obama was voting for a savior. Some of us just voted for him because the alternative was vastly more stupid. I voted for somebody who wasn't as stupid, and the fact that he didn't "save" me doesn't make me want to vote for somebody more stupid.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:46 AM on June 15, 2012 [54 favorites]


Why is it that Obama is blamed for the psychotic behaviour of another political party who is holding the country and the world hostage for their own extremist, megalomaniacal ends??? He's middle-of-the road. The republican party is a bunch of total lunatics exploiting a broken system.
posted by peacay at 3:48 AM on June 15, 2012 [35 favorites]


I disagree with the assertion that Obama deserves any blame for not "healing ideological chasms". Is he suppose to stop the racists religious crazies from being crazy?

I completely agree with the sentiment that Obama has been an enormous let down though. We imagine the commander and chief has extensive power to direct the executive branch. I'd hoped that a president with extensive constitutional knowledge and experience doing social justice work might reign in numerous abusive law enforcement practices, but that hasn't happened.

Instead, we're happily goose stepping along towards a police state : TSA graft continues apace, FBI continues entrapping people, as well as trying to get in on the mass surveillance game, our drug war continues screwing up Mexico, military drones are being sold to police forces, etc. etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:49 AM on June 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


You can't rightly blame the man for not living up to your own preconceived notions.
posted by crunchland at 3:52 AM on June 15, 2012


You can't rightly blame the man for not living up to your own preconceived notions.

You can when his public image and campaign teams deliberately engineer you into thinking that way.
posted by a debt owed at 3:53 AM on June 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


Barack Obama entered the White House as a savior.

Obama didn't enter office as any great savior. That's a caricature that appeals to the American right wing, and sure it applies to some rosy-cheeked fans, but it's not a fair picture of America in 2008. Obama entered office as the only thing that looked like an alternative to McCain. Recall, dear friends, that McCain had a slight edge over Obama in the polls in August 2008. It took the banking crash of 2008 (and the suspension of his campaign to get back to Washington) and the naming of Ms Northern Lights as his running mate to give Obama the edge. And even then "hope and change" didn't win by anything like a landslide.

He ran a decent campaign against a tough campaigner, Hillary Clinton, but "great savior"? C'mon. It that's the starting point of expectation. der Speigel, then of course he's a disappointment, but the truth is probably even worse.

I think most Obama voters had a pretty guarded view of the guy. I think expectations were equally guarded. And the sad truth is that Mr. Obama has failed to meet even these diminished hopes for change.

The failure of the Obama administration is that he was elected as the alternative to Bush and yet we have the same "Bush" tax policies, an amp-ed up "Bush" war in Afghanistan, and a hugely muscular "Bush" War on Terror, and what appears to be a Bush-like square jawed attitude towards Iran.

And a moribund economy.
posted by three blind mice at 3:56 AM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


What exactly did they do to make you think he was anything more than a normal human?
posted by crunchland at 3:56 AM on June 15, 2012


But he hasn't delivered.

This is not my problem with Obama. It's hard being the President and he's got obstructionists to deal with.

My problem with Obama is he didn't even try. No public option for healthcare, a complete about face on drug policy not to mention civil liberties, completely failing to lead on the OWS front, only making LGBT noises before elections and/or after it's a fait accompli. Etc.

He's a conservative with a shiny happy exterior.
posted by DU at 3:57 AM on June 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


It's President Obama, not President McCain. That's a hell of victory right there.

It may not be enough for some people and that's understandable. The man ain't a saint, but he's vastly better than any other viable candidate at the moment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:58 AM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Like I give a fuck what Germans think.
posted by spitbull at 4:03 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the second link this, But Chinese leaders are currently perceived like US generals -- they are competent and they get things done.

made me think of this thing I read the other day, musings on Chinese Kleptocracy.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:12 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The man ain't a saint, but he's vastly better than any other viable candidate at the moment.

Oddly enough, Brandon Blatcher, that's the same thing a lot of people on the right are saying about Romney. I don't think it's correct in either case. Obama is not "vastly" better. He's barely better. And sometimes even worse. That's what his record shows. A "conservative with a shiny happy exterior" as DU says is maybe a bit too kind, but it's not far from the mark.

Like I give a fuck what Germans think.

Pity that the Germans do so much "give a fuck" about what happens in the United States. The American election is front page news across all of Europe and in many parts of the world. For how much longer, one might ask, but at the moment the world still cares about what happens in America - even though the world is quite well aware that the interest is not returned.
posted by three blind mice at 4:14 AM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Obama campaigned on Hope and the idea that there aren't Red States and Blue States... There's one United States.

Every single thing he did was opposed completely, even insanely, by Republicans. With their new Tea Party Overlords they managed to oppose him even on issues that they themselves were advocating a few years before. A health care system with an individual mandate? We oppose that! Never mind that you were in favor of that a few years ago. How about allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the top 1%? When Bush proposed those tax cuts he said it was just a way to share the Clinton era surplus, but now, with no surplus to spare, it's just a given that rich people need more money, because that way some of it will rub off on the rest of us. When Obama gave the executive order to kill Osama Bin Ladin, and they actually did kill him, Republicans were quick to ignore the fact that they pushed through trillions of dollars to kill other people in Iraq, at the cost of thousands of American lives, without any sane connection to the mastermind of 9/11.

I can't think of a greater abnegation of social responsibility than I've seen from Republicans during the last few years. They've engaged in the most puerile abandonment of any sense of social decency, all in the name of handing over our resources to their corporate benefactors. They've been willing to sell the soul of the country to the Devil, all the while wrapping themselves in the flag.

The soul of the country is healthier than that. It's really true that there aren't Red States and Blue States... There is a United States. This is a time when people should pull together.

Take your negative energy and go home. We don't need you now.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:23 AM on June 15, 2012 [43 favorites]


Why should we care about what David Gergen thinks (or says he thinks) about Obama? He's a republican political operative and he's critical of the Democratic president? Shocking.
posted by octothorpe at 4:23 AM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Like I give a fuck what Germans think. -- You might want to reconsider. It's crucial what the Germans think, especially when it comes to what they think about helping the other countries in the Eurozone. If Germany were as insular as we Americans can be, then the world economy would quickly go down the drain. Obama's re-election relies very heavily on what happens to the Euro, and, like everything else effecting his re-election chances seems to be, there is pretty much nothing he can do about it.
posted by crunchland at 4:28 AM on June 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


It's not basically dysfunctional, it's comprehensively fucked.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:29 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I can't think of a greater abnegation of social responsibility than I've seen from Republicans during the last few years.

Well, there's the one from Democrats.
posted by DU at 4:30 AM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Why should we care about what David Gergen thinks (or says he thinks) about Obama? -- Maybe because Gergen is a political insider and has worked in DC forever. Whatever his political stripes, you don't suppose there's a chance he has something to offer? People complain here about the bullheaded political stalemate in Washington. The bullheadedness starts with you.
posted by crunchland at 4:32 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's crucial what the Germans think, especially when it comes to what they think about helping the other countries in the Eurozone. If Germany were as insular as we Americans can be, then the world economy would quickly go down the drain.

I know, right? It sure is a good thing that Germans are so open-minded and selfless that they don't relentlessly insist on draconian austerity measures in the periphery of the Eurozone, or indulge in stereotyped discourse about how they're thrifty and prudent, and Greeks / Spaniards / etc. are all lazy and shiftless...
posted by Yesterday's camel at 4:37 AM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Obama can be better than the alternative and still be an enormous letdown.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 4:38 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Obama can be better than the alternative and still be an enormous letdown.

He can also be better than alternative and still not a good idea to vote for.

Remember how everyone says we should have prosecuted the Watergate criminals back then to avoid problems now? How many more years of letting the Democrats take the left for granted will it take before the majority starts wishing we'd held their feet to the fire "back then" (i.e. now)?

It has to start sometime. They need to earn votes from the left, not scare them out by holding up conservative bogeymen.
posted by DU at 4:44 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


So you're willing to let them lose the election, subject us to 4 years of Romney -- give Romney 4 years to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court -- just to teach them Dems a lesson?
posted by crunchland at 4:49 AM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Both sides have far too much to gain by turning every action by the opponent into a negative talking point.

The Spiegel article (single page) has a section with the subheading "Zealots of All Stripes". But it's not using the false equivalence "both sides do it" trope here--it's specifically calling out the Tea Party. The money shot from this section:

Couldn't Obama and his team be expected to find his enemies' weaknesses and use them to weaken opposition?

Indeed. These people are lunatics. Stop playing nice, and hang them by their own craziness.
posted by gimonca at 4:49 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


So you're willing to let them lose the election, subject us to 4 years of Romney -- give Romney 4 years to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court -- just to teach them Dems a lesson?

Sad that they don't listen to anything but voting turnout (if that), ain't it?
posted by DU at 4:54 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't think of a greater abnegation of social responsibility than I've seen from Republicans during the last few years.

Well, there's the one from Democrats.


To me there isn't even a valid comparison there, however much the Democrats let you down. The Republicans have pursued the most egregious policies - bad for the country, bad for the world - and no amount of sniveling weakness on the part of Democrats can justify that.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:56 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


To paraphrase myself from before: Who is more to blame: the crazies or the people who are supposedly in charge but let the crazies make all the decisions?
posted by DU at 4:59 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


It has to start sometime. They need to earn votes from the left, not scare them out by holding up conservative bogeymen.

Agreed; but, the Democrats will only consider it necessary to work hard to earn votes from the left if the left is organized enough that the Democrats will consider it worthwhile and necessary to cultivate their support. I would like to think that the unprecedented assault on labor, education, and the public sector over the past four years will serve as the catalyst for a resurgent, bit-tent left, but it'll take some doing. And time.

And time is what we don't have a lot of, between now and November. There's nothing dissonant or incoherent in being profoundly disappointed with Obama and wanting more than anything that he remain President for another four years.
posted by Yesterday's camel at 4:59 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sad that they don't listen to anything but voting turnout (if that), ain't it? -- Have you ever pondered the phrase "cut off your nose to spite your face?"
posted by crunchland at 5:05 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I certainly agree with commentators in this thread arguing that Obama did not exactly enter the White House as a savior, but I must say I think he did enter the national political dialogue as something like (at least something presented as) a savior. Anyone who can recall the 2004 DNC saw that.

We bought it. Sure, they sold it, but we bought it. A lot of this is on voters.
posted by broadway bill at 5:08 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obama is not "vastly" better. He's barely better.

He's vastly better. His Supreme Court nominees were vastly better anything McCain would have done, based on who he picked for his VP. His ideas for reigning in the budget were vastly better than cut everything that isn't the military and then give the military more money. His ideas for healthcare reform were vastly better than McCain's "it's not much a problem, just do health saving account vouchers".

Obama is far from perfect, has definitely been a disappointment, but he's heads and shoulders better than the alternative.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:13 AM on June 15, 2012 [23 favorites]


Whatever [Gergen's] political stripes, you don't suppose there's a chance he has something to offer?.

The Spiegel piece is half self-justification (things were so much better back in the good old days when Gergen was Reagan's puppetmaster) and half received wisdom bromides (e.g., "He ran a campaign in which everybody could see in him what they wanted to see," "I think it would have made sense if he had reached out more to the Republican leaders in Congress.")

Gergen makes his living as a talking head, which means he is paid to be superficial and glib, speaking in single-sentence quotes that do not allow for nuance or, in some cases, even meaning. if he does has something to offer it is only "by chance."
posted by La Cieca at 5:13 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


When your house is on fire, you don't refuse to squirt water on it because you didn't get to pick exactly the kind of fire hose you wanted.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:17 AM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


You can when his public image and campaign teams deliberately engineer you into thinking that way.

This just means that the viewer wasn't intelligent enough to understand what was actually happening. Sorta like when the commercials for fruit loops or coooookie crisp tell you that these products are good for you because they're high in fiber, or that they have lots of calcium*.

*when combined with a half cup of milk.

If you're not seeing the implied asterisks everywhere, then I don't feel bad for you, it just means that you don't have a clue as to what's actually happening.
posted by Blue_Villain at 5:18 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I must say I think he did enter the national political dialogue as something like (at least something presented as) a savior. Anyone who can recall the 2004 DNC saw that.

I saw somebody who was saying that America can save itself. That's quite different than someone saying "elect me and I will fix everything", which seems to be the message of the Romney campaign.

I don't believe in the idea that one guy is going to save the country. I do believe that the country, working together, can save itself. If only they would let us...
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:19 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of this is on voters.

I'm not American, so I get that no-one cares what I think, but I am interested, so anyway:

Isn't this exactly the point? Didn't the congressional elections show that most Americans (or most voting Americans, I suppose) actually want the obstructionists in charge? Obama did some great marketing four years ago, but that got the Dems one of three branches of government. The other two are hard-right and seem, to this furriner, to be likely to stay that way for the forseeable.

Is there something I'm missing, apart from left optimism?

Also, while I'm here: in the next election, could the Dems actually get control of the congress? (I'm asking in terms of maths, not politics).
posted by pompomtom at 5:19 AM on June 15, 2012


Didn't the congressional elections show that most Americans (or most voting Americans, I suppose) actually want the obstructionists in charge?

See also: gerrymandering.
posted by Blue_Villain at 5:22 AM on June 15, 2012


Anyone who can recall the 2004 DNC saw that.

If I recall correctly, the message hey conveyed revolved around "change" and "hope".

He offered change, congress shot it down, hope was lost.

I do not fault the party of the president for this nearly as much as I do the party that held power in congress.
posted by Blue_Villain at 5:24 AM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


My problem with Obama is he didn't even try.

Yep. On all the things that really mattered to me -- particularly the rapid loss of civil liberties in this country -- he has either stood in place or gone backward. Not once has the man stood up and fought for anything that I considered important.

Everything that I hated most about Bush, Obama still does. He's far worse for civil liberties than even Dubya, if for no other reason than Democrats cheering him on because "he's on our side".

He is not. He is not on your side. He is on the side of the bankers, on the side of the corrupt whistleblowing prosecutions, on the side of the military-industrial complex. He serves the aims of the government and of corporations, not the people who voted for him.

Your welfare probably isn't even on the first page in his priority list. It might not be in the first ten.
posted by Malor at 5:26 AM on June 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


See also: gerrymandering.

So that's the public absolved then?
posted by pompomtom at 5:26 AM on June 15, 2012


Sad that they don't listen to anything but voting turnout (if that), ain't it?

"It became necessary to destroy the town to save it."
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:27 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sad that they don't listen to anything but voting turnout (if that), ain't it?

Exactly how is "I'm not voting for Obama because he's too conservative" distinguishable from "I'm not voting for Obama because he's not conservative enough?"
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:34 AM on June 15, 2012


Now, about that gerrymander - it seems that the popular vote in 2010 was heavily republican. I don't think I buy gerrymandering as discounting a popular desire for a hard right government.
posted by pompomtom at 5:36 AM on June 15, 2012


Gah... borked the link. I meant to say heavily republican.
posted by pompomtom at 5:37 AM on June 15, 2012


So that's the public absolved then?

Only if you want to put things into binary. The rest of us are living in the real world.
posted by Blue_Villain at 5:42 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't this exactly the point? Didn't the congressional elections show that most Americans (or most voting Americans, I suppose) actually want the obstructionists in charge? Obama did some great marketing four years ago, but that got the Dems one of three branches of government. The other two are hard-right and seem, to this furriner, to be likely to stay that way for the forseeable.

He actually got two of three (Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature for his first two years), and still couldn't do jack shit with that. Chalk it up to a combination of:

1) Inability to get his own party in line behind him; Measures like his early attempt to close the prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay failed because Democrats didn't vote for them. This despite the fat that Obama had way, way more cachet with the voting public than Congress. (approval rating: Lower than Dick Cheney's.)

2) Successful obstructionism by the Republicans; even though they had just 41 votes to the Democrats' 59 in the Senate, as long as all 41 Republicans voted together, they could block just about any legislation they didn't like. That in turn, goes in equal parts to the right-wingers' average jackass quotient being vastly higher it was than ten years ago, and the left-wingers in Congress being utterly unable to play politics even when they're in the majority.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:45 AM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Only if you want to put things into binary.

I'm sorry, I asked a question, and your answer was "it's the gerrymander". The figures I have to hand show that in 2010 the popular vote went 44.5M vs 39M in favour of the repubs. Gerrymander or no, that's a solid win in a system where there's no point voting for a third party.
posted by pompomtom at 5:48 AM on June 15, 2012


The President isn't unilaterally responsible for the lack of bipartisanship. The GOP has been obstructionist for any Democrat in power since Clinton. It's nothing new.

Which is not to say that there hasn't been things that the President has done that's disappointing. He's doing more drug raids than he promised to do, even and especially in places where it is legal on a state level. He's committed to the "secret" drone strike program. He took until last month to decide that he was okay with saying he was okay with gay marriage even though he probably thought that all along.
posted by inturnaround at 5:51 AM on June 15, 2012


To paraphrase myself from before: Who is more to blame: the crazies or the people who are supposedly in charge but let the crazies make all the decisions?

The Democrat party functions the way a political party ought to work in any sane climate. There's disagreement among members, individual politicians have different ideas about how voting ought to work, so there's occasional (frequent?) crossover as D congressmen vote for R policies when those policies make sense for them. The Republican party, meanwhile, is a rabid fucking conglomerate who's convinced its congressmen to vote as a bloc. Since the numbers of D and R in the Senate and House are pretty close to each other, this means that if even a handful of Ds like what's being proposed in an R bill, the right gets its way most of the time, even if it has a technical minority.

I can't even say that in my ideal universe, Dems decide the party outweighs self-interest, because I think that's an awful reductive way of doing politics, where the individuals don't matter, it's just two big buttons, one red, one blue, which voters hit every two years. I'd rather have individuals proposing nuanced views of issues, where individual voters are allowed to swing as they're persuaded on the matter. But when you have one party going batshit insane on the nation, the sane approach doesn't cut it. This will only end when the Republicans manage to burn themselves out and their approach stops working on the national level, but we're not there yet.

What the fuck are you supposed to do if you're an in-office Dem? Try to coerce the rest of your party into stooping to the Republicans' level? How do you motivate them? How do you convince them it's not a further degradation of American politics that ultimately hurts more than it helps? You can do jack shit on the political front. The real battles are fought via media, but the other party has a dedicated news channel with two decades' practice spinning stories to benefit their side, and all the Democrats have is, shit, Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow. One of whom's a comedian and the other of whom has been spun as such a far-left figure that I've got relatives convinced she's a Stalinist.

Democrats are disappointing, but they've been cornered very cleverly and over the course of 30-odd years. The other side changed the rules to benefit them, and if the Ds start playing that game too, the Rs win out on a deeper level than simply getting to push the policies they want. The struggle that Obama called out in 2004, and that he's been pushing ever since he became president, is not D versus R, it's alienation and isolation versus community. The Democrat party functions as a community, which means they lose out lots of the time (most of the time?) but they're doing politics in a way that might let the two sides of the nation resolve their differences and mend shit. Maybe they're wrong to behave that way, maybe we're truly past the point where the American right and the American left can function in unison, but if the only solution is for the left to become as militarized and vicious as the right, then the country loses something vital, maybe even fundamental. I'm not saying that because the left isn't correct about basically everything (and it isn't nearly left ENOUGH), but if there's no chance of reaching the other side diplomatically, what's left?

I'm frustrated by the Democrats, but they're doing (what appears to me to be) the right thing. They take losses along with the victories, but get to push the country in the right direction without severing ties with the nation's other half. I understand why there's such frustration with that approach, but I'm still not sure I want to live in an America that admits openly there will never be a resolution to this conflict, especially because I'm still optimistic enough to hope that there will be.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:59 AM on June 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


what a terrible article. here is where I stopped:
Todd, the chief White House correspondent for NBC News, is an important man in Washington. His alarm rings at 5 a.m., and if you meet him at 10 a.m., you will find a bearded man in his windowless office, sprawled exhausted in his chair with his smart phone flashing non-stop on the desk in front of him.

Todd is constantly receiving emails in his overflowing mailbox, including the Politico blog's Playbook, a chaotic collection of the most important events, facts and birthdays in the US capital.

Todd has to study the Drudge Report, a global overview of more or less relevant stories, and he has to see what the Huffington Post is doing and what the important bloggers are writing. He has to check in with Facebook and type into his Twitter feed. "If I were stranded on a desert island, the only thing I would want is my access to email and … the Twitter feeds." Then, he continues, "I (would) know exactly what's going on in the world on political news, national news."
Chuck Todd, a bearded man so exhausted from surfing the internet that he can only sit sprawled in his chair... he *has* to study the Drudge Report, he *HAS* to...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:00 AM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Some of us just voted for him because the alternative was vastly more stupid. I voted for somebody who wasn't as stupid, and the fact that he didn't "save" me doesn't make me want to vote for somebody more stupid.

Ain't it the fucking truth. At this moment I think the US is fucked. The center can't keep a rotten status quo together, the right can't wait to drag the country back to the 16th century, and the left is mostly happy to aid and abet the right over the center in exchange for a tiny morsel of political purity. Nice going guys. Happy fucking weekend.

And David Gergen is as useless as the rest of you lot. He should go back to making mouth music on The News Hour. It's nice work if you can get it, I hear.

P.S. I hate you all.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:03 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


When your house is on fire, you don't refuse to squirt water on it because you didn't get to pick exactly the kind of fire hose you wanted.

Yes, but you do have the right to complain when what you were told was a water hose actually squirts air instead.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 6:04 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obama is not "vastly" better. He's barely better.

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Supreme Court
posted by OmieWise at 6:27 AM on June 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


I like Barack Obama (and I plan to vote for him again) but I feel like sometimes his negotiation skills leave something to be desired. When any Democratic president does a backroom deal with Republicans, he needs to leave them some "wiggle room" to phrase the compromise bill as a victory - aka "Those evil dems were trying to pass those horrific provisions in that great bill, but we got them stricken OUT, hallelujah!" From what I have read (and heard on NPR), it sounds like Obama sometimes is right on the verge of reaching a compromise and then makes a public statement to clarify what he supports in the bill and why it's good for the public. This clarification approach would be a sensible approach in a business setting, but in politics it's the kiss of death for the bill because it eliminates any wiggle room the Republicans have to frame this as THEIR victory, thus ensuring unrelenting gridlock.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:30 AM on June 15, 2012


Wow, the Republican "Failed Presidency" meme has really taken root in the left, huh? If the most liberal of us are actively campaigning for Romney by denouncing Obama, it's pretty much over. The only way the Democrats were going to win this is by mobilizing the base, and the far left hasn't figured out that ideology is hashed out in the primaries and at the local level, or is simply too lazy or disorganized to put in the kind of work that requires.

Kiss the Supreme Court goodbye for your lifetime... save for the two Justices nominated by Obama, it will be stacked with reactionary and probably theocratic oligarchs in the prime of their life during 8 years of a Romney administration.

But, yeah, hey! Maybe OWS will call another general strike. That's always good for a laugh.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:33 AM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Pentagon to celebrate Gay Pride Month.

Just in case you were under the delusion that everything's gotten worse.
posted by schmod at 6:37 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


McCain had a slight edge over Obama in the polls in August 2008

Obama led McCain in the polls for most of the campaign except for a blip after the Republican convention.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:39 AM on June 15, 2012


The only way the Democrats were going to win this is by mobilizing the base, and the far left hasn't figured out that ideology is hashed out in the primaries and at the local level, or is simply too lazy or disorganized to put in the kind of work that requires.

The base got plenty mobilized in the primaries four years ago, and then Obama walked back all the stuff that motivated them. Scale back the drug war? Nah, let's make more medical marijuana arrests. Increased transparency? Fuck that, prosecute whistleblowers and classify everything. Eliminate torture? Pft, torture's for pikers. Let's go with extrajudicial assassinations.

It's tough to settle the ideology in the primaries when the candidates lie about their ideologies.

He has done well with the Supremes, though. Sotomayor and Kagan are, beyond being reliable liberal votes, pretty good at some things, like the fourth amendment, that judges on both sides typically have a blind spot for.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:45 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of course Obama was seen as a savior. He got a Nobel Peace Prize just for showing up for work - the bar for US Presidents is pretty low, but this was unprecedented. When you view his actual achievements in that light they have been disappointing: some sort of health care plan? Did that work out? And gays in the military, OK. And he made the decision to go in and kill Osama bin Laden, but I don't think that's the sort of thing you get peace prizes for.

I think it was a user of this site who suggested that when a new President of the USA gets elected they take him into a room where they show him an unreleased movie of JFK's assassination, filmed from an upper window in the Texas School Book Depository. Then they say "Now, this is how it's going to be ...."
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:58 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Joe in Australia, that's actually a Bill Hicks routine.

I heard the theory that the Nobel Peace Prize was meant to give Obama credibility and enable him to take bolder actions than if he was still seen as an unproven politician, but if that's the case the plan backfired, and the Nobel Peace Prize lost much of whatever credibility it had left.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:04 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


~Didn't the congressional elections show that most Americans (or most voting Americans, I suppose) actually want the obstructionists in charge?

~See also: gerrymandering.


Which was performed by representatives elected by the same people (i.e. voters) who put the obstructionists in charge.

However you want to spin it, America's problems are on the heads of the voters (and/or the non-voters). If it's the collective moral equivalent of hiring thugs to shoot you in the head, so be it.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:24 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


He is not. He is not on your side. He is on the side of the bankers, on the side of the corrupt whistleblowing prosecutions, on the side of the military-industrial complex. He serves the aims of the government and of corporations, not the people who voted for him.

That's some trenchant political analysis there...

Political power comes from two places - votes and money.

The left lacks both of these.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:32 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


See, Pogo, you're making the fundamental mistake of listening to what Obama says, instead of what he does.

Whether or not he's evil himself, he is fully aiding and abetting an extremely evil bureaucracy.
posted by Malor at 7:37 AM on June 15, 2012


Poor guy just can't catch a break. If I was Obama I would just throw up my hands and quit at this point. Move to Luxembourg, cash in on speaking fees and live the good life.

Like I said before, If he was handing out 20 dollar bills on the street corner people would be pissed he wasn't handing out 50s. I'm not saying he didn't promise 50s, but seems like the republicans burned all the 50s so nobody but them could have them. Now you want to vote in a guy who is going to demand all the 20s back and 10s back. My grandmother would call it cutting your nose off to spite your face.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:42 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


See, Pogo, you're making the fundamental mistake of listening to what Obama says, instead of what he does.

Right. That's what I'm doing.

My gay son can join the military now - which he couldn't do before - because Obama is the greatest most enormous and dismal failure of a politician ever.


I mean, don't get me wrong - Obama does not represent my platonic ideal president.

He's the best we've had in my lifetime, and far better than the alternatives.

I guess that makes me some sort of brainwashed hippie.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:49 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Whether or not he's evil himself, he is fully aiding and abetting an extremely evil bureaucracy.

Well, so are you for that matter.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:51 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama promised $50 bills, but the Republicans threatened to burn the $50s if he tried, so he's handing out quarters instead, and every third coin comes with a free punch in the face.

Forgive me if I'm not enthused.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:53 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe you are right and I am deluded.

I'd probably do pretty well under Romney. Unfortunately if I vote for him I can't tell anyone. I would get drummed out of the UWS.Fuck it, you guys convinced me. Not like it will matter because New York state won't go red, but I'm going to show those spineless dems what for.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:00 AM on June 15, 2012


To this and every other article like it, I am sorry you didn't pay attention to his platform during the campaign.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:00 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's crucial what the Germans think, especially when it comes to what they think about helping the other countries in the Eurozone. If Germany were as insular as we Americans can be, then the world economy would quickly go down the drain.

If???

The outright refusal of Germany to lift a goddamn finger to help any other country in the eurozone (for which Merkel and Westerwelle/Rösler can squarely be blamed), even though they have benefited greatly from the eurozone, often at the expense of other members, is largely responsible for what may now be the inevitable breakup/shrinking of the euro. If they'd relented and allowed some sort of eurobonds, or other assistance without unflinching and unreasonable demands for austerity (and even more austerity when that fails) six months ago or more, the situation would not be so dire.

And so here we are, and it may now be too late for Germany to do anything.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:08 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sad that they don't listen to anything but voting turnout (if that), ain't it?

The only lesson the Democrats will learn from a Romney election is, "more right rudder." A leftward shift, if it was even possible, could only be accomplished in primaries. Don't be a fool.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:36 AM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


The Left will be SO happy when Romney wins the election. They'll be able to complain about the legislation the Republicans pass, make dire predictions about the future of America, and maintain ideological purity without the messy compromises that governing requires. The Left's entire agenda involves wistful dreaming of how wonderful things would be if they were in charge, and actual power would get in the way of the dream
posted by happyroach at 9:19 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


The only lesson the Democrats will learn is, "more right rudder."

Primary or not.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:25 AM on June 15, 2012


This (LA Times story) is the sort of thing that makes me think that Obama has cynically blamed the Republican opposition for his failure to improve human rights in the USA:
The Obama administration will stop deporting young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and who do not pose a security threat, senior administration officials said Friday morning [...]
OK, this was a good thing - but why wasn't it done earlier? It seems obvious that deporting young people raised in the USA is both harsh and bad public policy. This remedy didn't need for legislative support, just an executive order. There are lots of similar things the President might have done, from reform of drug policy to the treatment of internees from the War on Terror. Even where he has moved forward with legislative backing, as with his treatment of gays in the military, I suspect that he could have done it earlier by executive fiat. The article continues and underscores the cynicism behind his actions:
Faced with a gridlocked Congress, Obama has used deportation policy to send messages to Latino voters about his views on immigration. But sometimes those messages are conflicting: His administration has boasted of a stepped-up focus on tracking down illegal immigrants with criminal records, and the U.S. has set records for deportations under Obama.

posted by Joe in Australia at 9:40 AM on June 15, 2012


I don't see how 4 years of Romney would send the message to the Democrats that they need to go more left to get votes. It looks like the message would be just the opposite. If Americans are voting for right wing parties, then why wouldn't the Dems move right to chase votes?
posted by Hoopo at 9:45 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


love how everyone blames obama's performance on the other party. i blame both parties all the time, and insisting that obama is a bad president just because the other party is "crazy" makes you sound like, well, the other party. i'm sure that's lost on those of you, though.
posted by Avenger50 at 10:13 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


So you're saying Republican obstructionism doesn't exist?
posted by Hoopo at 10:28 AM on June 15, 2012


Hoopo: If Barack Obama wins elections when he promises liberal things, and then loses them (albeit to a conservative) after delivering conservative things, is your response "people must want more conservatism"?

If you are a Democratic Party official, the answer is, of course, "yes."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:30 AM on June 15, 2012


So you're saying Republican obstructionism doesn't exist?

i'm saying it's not the sole reason Obama didn't do everything you wanted him to do.
posted by Avenger50 at 10:36 AM on June 15, 2012


It's not de Tocqueville by any stretch, but I found the der Spiegel article interesting for its German take on "America WTF?" Der Spiegel seems centrist to center-right-ish by German standards, but I think they're absolutely puzzled about America's current dysfunction. It's like they're saying, "America, you used to be cool. We were in rubble after WWII, and you saved our capitalist democracy and prevented another Hitler from emerging, and now you can't even avoid tripping over your own shoelaces."
posted by jonp72 at 10:54 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The big let-down of Obama is he just followed a Pres who could actually get things done. Unfortunately the things he did, I do not support.

I want Obama to stop compromising and just do it. Make the Republicans challenge him in court and legislate specific laws to limit his actions, then work around them and thumb his nose at them.

He could've at least closed Guantanamo.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 11:01 AM on June 15, 2012


"So you're willing to let them lose the election, subject us to 4 years of Romney -- give Romney 4 years to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court -- just to teach them Dems a lesson?"

It worked AWESOME in 2000. I voted for Royal Crown over Coke and Pepsi, and boy, did that lead to a real left shift in the Dem platform. Boy howdy, in terms of efficacy, there's nothing better than voting against a Dem to ensure liberal goals!
posted by klangklangston at 11:08 AM on June 15, 2012


Yeah, what the fuck has Obama done so far? [previously]
posted by filthy light thief at 11:10 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


spitbull: Like I give a fuck what Germans think.

Which is our American motto -- like we give a fuck what anyone else in the world thinks -- as we go on eating our corn fructose syrup products and belching ourselves into a speedier and speedier oblivion by the month.

We'll give a fuck what they think soon enough.

wolfdreams01: I like Barack Obama (and I plan to vote for him again) but I feel like sometimes his negotiation skills leave something to be desired.

His negotiation skills leave something to be desired? How, exactly, do you negotiate with a party whose leadership has declared as a matter of public record that their single most important goal is to make sure you fail at every turn and to get you out of office, by any means necessary? And who have done just that for the past three and a half years?

Avenger50: love how everyone blames obama's performance on the other party. i blame both parties all the time, and insisting that obama is a bad president just because the other party is "crazy" makes you sound like, well, the other party. i'm sure that's lost on those of you, though.

See above. Quoting Mitch McConnell, 24 October 2011: "They’re ashamed to mention any of the things that they do with Republicans, because it steps on their storyline. Their storyline is that there must be some villain out there who’s keeping this administration from succeeding."

Again quoting McConnell, 4 November 2010: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

Not "one thing we'd really like." "THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING."

McConnell once again, January 2011: “We worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off of these proposals. Because we thought — correctly, I think — that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan. When you hang the 'bipartisan' tag on something, the perception is that differences have been worked out, and there’s a broad agreement that that’s the way forward.”

psycho-alchemy: I want Obama to stop compromising and just do it. Make the Republicans challenge him in court and legislate specific laws to limit his actions, then work around them and thumb his nose at them.

Obama's not a king or a dictator. You seem to forget this. That reminds me of the woman in Colorado the other day who was part of a polling focus group and whined that she voted for Obama in 2008, but she wouldn't again. Why not? Because he didn't do "something huge" like lower the price of gas.
posted by blucevalo at 11:14 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Again quoting McConnell, 4 November 2010: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

okay, but how is this different from the other political party in what way, exactly? can you understand that as your average American voter i'm exhausted by these villain scenarios? every party in power is evil and bad. every party fighting the party in power is evil and bad. i've read enough just here on metafilter to convince me that's true.

it makes me not want to vote for anybody. i am no political scientist. i watch and read the news from as many sources as i can, just like many people. and i still remain thoroughly a-political. that anyone here at intellectual metafilter can so wholeheartedly throw their weight behind one party or the other, then, baffles me. really.
posted by Avenger50 at 11:38 AM on June 15, 2012


The big let-down of Obama is he just followed a Pres who could actually get things done.

And to think, all that it would take to for Obama to get that knack of "getting things done" would be a terrorist attack resulting in the deaths of a few thousand Americans! (If only he could somehow arrange for an invasion by flying saucers, I'll bet we'd have legal pot tomorrow!)
posted by La Cieca at 11:40 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


furthermore, when i was talking with my republican friends during obama's election, they were so confused that the intellectuals on the left were so easily swayed by obama's speeches. that he was promising things that would be hard to do in our political system. and now that it's happening, i see earnest folks like psycho-alchemy running around saying, well shucks why didn't obama just get more angry? why didn't obama just roll up his sleeves and get to work?

it's sad, really.
posted by Avenger50 at 11:42 AM on June 15, 2012


Avenger, is it really so hard to believe that I, for example, would be for Obama and the political party that DOESN'T want to remove my rights to my own body? It's not SAFE for me, or any other woman, to have Republicans in office.
posted by agregoli at 11:52 AM on June 15, 2012


If Barack Obama wins elections when he promises liberal things, and then loses them (albeit to a conservative) after delivering conservative things, is your response "people must want more conservatism"

No, I'm saying that the number of voters the Republicans manage to get with their absurdly right-wing platform, combined with a Presidential election victory and control of Congress, might suggest to the Democratic Party that maybe by moving right they can gain more votes from people turned off by the Tea Party beyond what they can expect to get from people considering voting for freaking Roseanne. And they're probably right. The Left is not currently a factor in American politics, and probably can't be given the 2-party system and the huge chunk of the population that for whatever reason identifies with Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul and the like. Handing a victory to Romney is not going to make the left any more significant. A lot of the people who voted for Obama did so because they wanted a change after 8 disastrous years of Bush, not because all of a sudden the US was looking to go liberal.
posted by Hoopo at 11:59 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


okay, but how is this different from the other political party in what way, exactly? can you understand that as your average American voter i'm exhausted by these villain scenarios?

This is the sad and lonesome sound of democracy dying - that someone actually believes that both sides act in similar proportion.

The Democratic Party, when it was in power in both the house and senate, generally worked with the previous administration, in the best interest of the country. They're not obstructionist - the worst they did when in power was hold up a few judicial appointments. What they did was moderate the presidency, through negotiation and compromise. They were usually rewarded by a slap to the face.

When it was the party in Opposition, it did its best to work with the Republicans, doing their best to keep their constituents and party platform in mind, in the best interest of the nation. They were usually rewarded by a slap to the face.

Now that Obama's in power, he continually tries to build consensus, but faces outright destructive obstructionism.

I ain't just whistling Dixie, here.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:02 PM on June 15, 2012


every party in power is evil and bad. every party fighting the party in power is evil and bad....it makes me not want to vote for anybody.

Is one less bad than the other? Hint: yes. SOLVED. You don't need to be a political scientist.
posted by Hoopo at 12:14 PM on June 15, 2012


every party in power is evil and bad. every party fighting the party in power is evil and bad....it makes me not want to vote for anybody.

Fine. Just so long as you don't vote for Nader.
posted by La Cieca at 12:19 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


furthermore, when i was talking with my republican friends during obama's election, they were so confused that the intellectuals on the left were so easily swayed by obama's speeches. that he was promising things that would be hard to do in our political system.

It's funny you should mention that because I recall a talk I had with my friends shortly after the election. I remarked that Obama would probably be lucky to get one big victory before the GOP circled their wagons and adamantly refused to work with him on anything. I must say that even I didn't imagine that Cantor, et al. were planning that campaign of obstruction on the night of the inauguration nor dream that the GOP's obstinacy would extend even to pushing the country into default.

You're right, it is sad that the GOP should care so little for the country their elected officials swore to serve.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:24 PM on June 15, 2012


You're right, it is sad that the GOP should care so little for the country their elected officials swore to serve.

It's sad that both our friends were right, proving my point.

Fine. Just so long as you don't vote for Nader.

I'll probably just avoid reading politics until after elections.
posted by Avenger50 at 1:30 PM on June 15, 2012


okay, but how is this different from the other political party in what way, exactly? can you understand that as your average American voter i'm exhausted by these villain scenarios? every party in power is evil and bad. every party fighting the party in power is evil and bad. i've read enough just here on metafilter to convince me that's true.

it makes me not want to vote for anybody. i am no political scientist. i watch and read the news from as many sources as i can, just like many people. and i still remain thoroughly a-political. that anyone here at intellectual metafilter can so wholeheartedly throw their weight behind one party or the other, then, baffles me. really.


Let me take a stab at answering this one, because I think your dilemma is at the heart of American politics today in more ways than one.

There's a famous quote by Andy Warhol that I love that the reason America is a great nation is that everybody in it, rich or poor, drinks Coke. You can't buy a "better Coke" for all the money in the world. It's a deeply ironic thing to say – equality means everybody drinks the same shitty unhealthy corporate beverage? – but that's why I like it. It asks a question about democracy, freedom, of/by/for the people, all those lofty words and phrases people memorize but don't think about, and the question it asks is one which we don't ask nearly enough nationally.

What unites the United States? If all men are created equal, then how deep does that equality run? You hear the attitude a lot, especially on the right, that "equal" just means we're all given equal choices, and if we fuck those choices up, then it's our fault for picking wrong. I don't like that use of "equal" – it sounds about as fair as a religious caste system telling a lower class that they're souls as much as the upper class, it's just their turn to live in shit for a while. Equality doesn't mean everybody has a chance to be a winner or loser, and it doesn't mean 51% majority rules. That's a damn shallow equality.

The right wing of America pushes for the "free market" for the same reason they push to deny civil rights: whether for religious or financial purposes, they understand "freedom" to mean freedom to judge, to fail, to rise above. The class system in America isn't strictly defined, so you've got a few people up top sinking to the bottom and a few people from the bottom rising up a few ranks, and to them that's freedom, the same as the freedom to be reincarnated as a better class of person if you do good deeds all your life. The ones who rise or fall have proven their "worth" or lack thereof. Never mind that such "worth" denies us any meaningful equality, and never mind that the class system is entrenched enough that there's no such thing as a "fair chance" for anybody above or below. In fact, they might argue that as the system reforms itself to keep the rich richer and the poor poorer, it's merely the results of our "freedom to choose" sorting us out into the winners or the losers.

Freedom to drink Coke. Never mind the question of whether or not Coke is what you want to be drinking, the point is that you can drink Coke the same whether you're on top or practically beneath. Whatever that freedom's worth, you've got it. That is a beautiful equality on some level, no?

The other way to define equality is to say that what makes us equal is something we can never choose away. No matter the choices, no matter the paths we take in life, we are on a very fundamental level more alike than we are different. And the best we can do as people is to search for that alikeness and cherish it, push to celebrate those samenesses rather than criticizing the differences, try to create a society in which we accept the strangenesses and difficulties of other people because we're capable of seeing past them. Even more, we understand that the strangenesses and difficulties all come in a way from those things we have in common. You can't sand away the rough parts of a human being, they'll just grow back again. What makes us such miraculous creatures is the strange and colorful ways in which we grow. Learning to appreciate those differences and to accept each other despite them is ultimately how we create a community which accepts everybody.

This is a much, much, much more difficult equality, because if you go by this definition, then the moments when you hate mankind the most – the moments when you want to yell and scream and punch somebody and watch aliens vaporize their bodies, or whatever your private fantasies might be – are the moments in which the system's working. And instead of hoarding those moments as proof that we're a fucked-up species that will never resolve anything (like it's so impressive that you've noticed how difficult being human is), you buck down and try to resolve things anyway. And maybe you fail some/most of the time, but the times that you succeed, you've forged a connection with somebody else, worked through a problem without denying that person the right to be themselves, and even if you didn't get to tell them how stupid they were or how their beliefs ruin things for the rest of us or all those things which are UNEQUIVOCALLY ONE HUNDRED PERCENT TRUE, you've instead shown them, and yourself, that it's possible to come to terms with another person without actually agreeing with them on everything. Those moments of honest connection can be profound and unfortunately rare, but they're what make our species fractionally less shitty, and what push us towards that hypothetical impossibility where we all understand each other and go to efforts to make each other happy and fulfilled and all those other cliche words which mask very real, very powerful feeling.

And the problem with this ideal is that you can't fake it. You can't force people to adhere to it. You can't strong-arm your positions of equality into being without them becoming unequal. You can't make progress but slowly, and uncertainly. And you can't even declare what you're trying to do without all the people who're pushing for a better society without the lofty ideals glaring at you for suggesting that their bitter enemies, who are doing hugely sucky things that hurt millions and millions of people, should be treated like equals instead of like human-shaped slugs. There's a gradient, of course, and things aren't one-or-the-other, but you've got plenty of people who try to strike a balance between the two and attract heaps of criticism. Barack Obama gets railed at all the time. Jon Stewart too. You can't criticize the people who're pissed off at Obama/Stewart, either, because honestly the voices suggesting bipartisanship are often not suggesting strongly enough the rightness of their side's policies for fear of alienating everybody else.

It is a wearying process. It never stops being wearying. There are no easy answers. There are touch choices and wrong choices and compromises and failures every step of the way, mixed in with the occasional rare happy breakthrough that might not even mean anything five or ten years from now. Endorsing that loftier ideal means committing yourself to a lot of frustration, misery, depression, and even if that's all for the sake of a deeper happiness and sense of purpose, well, deep purpose doesn't stop you from collapsing at the end of the day or breaking down or crying about how nothing makes sense anymore. The shallower sorts of happiness and purpose are way more fulfilling. Anybody who says otherwise has never tried it.

But the successes happen at random times and in random places. You never know what's going to endure for fifty or a hundred years, or last for the rest of a country's history. You never know what small little action's going to mean something for somebody in a big way. You notice the big failures long before you notice the big successes. And the successes usually happen in strange, unexpected ways. They're never the predictable stories, they're the weird ones that make you stop and think, shit, I ain't seen nothing yet. Probably I never will. Which is what reminds you in turn of how much those strangenesses matter, how poor we'd be without them.

Reject the simple explanations, the simple freedoms, the simple equality. Seek the weird. The explanations that gloss over vast swathes of our population, reduce millions of individuals to a catchy slanderline, those are the explanations that focus on our differences and not our likenesses. Push for the tough choices and tough scenarios and tough solutions, because that's the only way anything's ever changed for the better.

The Democrat party's more like that than the Republican party, though they're corrupt enough that I don't like them much either. But lots of the things people hate about them I view as net positives. The in-fighting and disagreements and inability to get things done en mass and reliably, those are what you get when you value the strangenesses over simple bloc policy. It's not always successful, but the successes show that parts of the system are still alive, that there's hope for people who push and work and struggle to pull things all together. If the Democrat party banded together and shoved leftist issue after leftish issue to the president's desk (an impossibility for more reasons than one, especially cos the Dems aren't all that left), you'd see more immediate change, but that would also be playing to the people who want to simplify and gloss the issues and turn politics into, well, what it's become year after year. I can't help but think that would be a net loss for the nation.

What we've got now, where the Democrats are constantly unsatisfying and the left constantly yells at them for not doing enough, is still making an impact. You can see it in how rabid the right's been getting for the last four years. I think that rabidity is a good sign, because the more rabid they get, the more Americans blink and shake their heads and realize that there are some lunatic fucking nutjobs over there, and I think that Obama's a shoo-in for a second term, and I'm certain that if he becomes president, he'll do a whole ton of things I wish he didn't and not do a bunch of things I thought he would've. But Obama seems truly committed to the ugly dirty frustrating process, and moreover he's charismatic enough that a lot of kids my age heard what he said and wrote and decided that the path of hard work and uncertainty beats the easy path that reduces the human soul. I was proud that he was the first president I voted for in my life. I'll vote for him again.

There is no "good guys" here. There are people who drink Coke. People who think that Coke is enough equality, people who think that Coke isn't nearly enough, probably people who think Coke is too much already. Coke is not the ideal. The ideal is that all those people, instead of drinking Coke in their own little segregated groups, see one another and get to know one another and start to understand the deep, stupid truth, which is that people are people and the only differences between them are either random or arbitrary or both, and start to think that maybe everybody deserves to be happy and to have a voice and all that other lofty crap, and maybe it's even worth working hard and bitterly to give everybody just that. We don't have that ideal. We are far from it. But we've made progress, we've learned to see people as equals in ways we didn't five years ago or fifty years or two hundred. And that progress was never easy or glib. It was furious and tough and compromised from that start. But it got us something we haven't lost yet.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:32 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I never expected that Obama would be more progressive than he is, but I hoped that he would have better success
posted by knoyers at 2:44 PM on June 15, 2012


I have never in my life seen a president pass more consumer protection legislation, more legislation that protects women in the workplace, more financial reform legislation, more health reform legislation, more green energy legislation, or more gay rights legislation.

People who think he hasn't done enough, or anything, sound to me exactly like single-issue voters. And they don't seem to have even researched their single issue to see what Obama could have done, what he has done, and what he was prevented from doing based on an extremely hostile congress.

You want your pet issue to take priority? Raise funds around it. Start lobbying. Get people for whom those are priorities elected.

Obama is almost exactly what he promised he would be when he ran for president. I cannot think of another president who has accomplished so much of what he has promised in the face of so much opposition. And I am not going to criticize the guy for being the president he said he would be, instead of the president I wish he had said he would be, and then call him a hypocrite.

If you look at a lot of his legislation, it's not even centrist. It's steadfastly liberal. Based on his actual accomplishments, he's the most liberal president we have had since Carter.

I mean, yes, gosh, I wish he weren't so militaristic, although he said he would be. I wish he would put more focus into poverty issues, although he never promised he would. I wish he would make the arts a priority, although he barely spoke of them during the elections.

But I'm not interested in dreaming up the perfect president for me. I'm interested in voting for the best president for America. And I want to vote for somebody who can win.

Obama's not the best? Let's do better next time, not worse.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:02 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


But I'm not interested in dreaming up the perfect president for me.

OH, I am. Mine, lived in Michigan and his dad told Lyndon Johnson "Fuck that, you declare civil insurrection"

and I think that Obama's a shoo-in for a second term

Ah, no. deals been sealed. For reference points-read wall.
posted by clavdivs at 4:05 PM on June 15, 2012


I don't know... on the one hand, I think it's a testimony to just how wobbly America's system of government is. Someone made the observation that the Republicans quite literally don't seem very interested in governing anymore - the work of politics, of compromise, of all the sort of ordinary give-and-take that governing requires in any system, from the most anarchic General Assembly to the corridors of Zhongnanhai. The fact that the President is now going around Congress is a very bad sign - very bad for those who remember the phrase "imperial presidency", very bad for those who believe in what they were taught in civics class, very bad for the deep structures of democracy.

However...

I think the blame for the damage being done to American democracy goes squarely on the Teabaggers. The Teabaggers seem determined to force Obama into using those pseudo-dictatorial powers they've been ranting about for years. If one party is simply not interested in actual governance, then I'm not sure I blame Obama too much for going around them. And as someone with a pretty direct interest in having the U.S. government be able to pay its workers, I hope he'll have the same chutzpah the next time the Teabaggers try to shut down the government - which should be coming around August or so. Yes, I realize what this sort of thing is doing to our democracy, but the GOP is fully responsible for this one.
posted by jhandey at 5:51 PM on June 15, 2012


The Democrat party

Democratic party.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:51 PM on June 15, 2012


There's a reason you're being corrected, Rory. You may not have intended it, or it may have been a typo, but "Democrat party" is an epithet.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:22 PM on June 15, 2012


That's inflammatory crap. The word "savior" is loaded for Americans. Obama never promised to be Jesus. I don't like it when external commenters frame the American political dialog in a way that suggests that anybody who voted for Obama was voting for a savior. Some of us just voted for him because the alternative was vastly more stupid. I voted for somebody who wasn't as stupid, and the fact that he didn't "save" me doesn't make me want to vote for somebody more stupid.
Hmm, I could have sworn his campaign slogans were "Hope" and "Change" and "Yes we can" not "vastly less stupid then McCain/Palin".

I didn't personally buy into it, I don't think, but I'm kind of amazed at the way some people sneer at those who actually believed what he was selling, as if believing that Obama was honest was some kind of character flaw.

I'm sure Gergen feels like Democrats and Republicans and democratic politicians just need to be nicer to each other so that they can pass bills that republican and democratic constituents both hate without anyone being able to vote for anything else, like cutbacks to social security or whatever.
Obama entered office as the only thing that looked like an alternative to McCain. Recall, dear friends, that McCain had a slight edge over Obama in the polls in August 2008.
Oh that's fucking ridiculous. McCain had been behind in the polls for the entire election. He got a brief bump when he nominated palin and had his convention, before anyone knew who he was. Pretending McCain ever had any chance of being elected is totally disingenuous.
I think most Obama voters had a pretty guarded view of the guy. I think expectations were equally guarded. And the sad truth is that Mr. Obama has failed to meet even these diminished hopes for change.
I seriously doubt that most voters had that view. I think people really belived him, for which the oh-so savvy now chastise them for as if they were idiots and oh how stupid are you for believing Obama, now vote for him again and don't expect him to do what he says! Republicans are pure evil and that’s why we need to compromise with them all the time!!
Pity that the Germans do so much "give a fuck" about what happens in the United States. The American election is front page news across all of Europe and in many parts of the world. For how much longer, one might ask, but at the moment the world still cares about what happens in America - even though the world is quite well aware that the interest is not returned.
Maybe the Germans should be paying more attention to the fact they are blowing up the European Union. I don't think they have much room to complain when it comes to dysfunctional government. Live in several EU countries is now significantly worse then anywhere in the US today, due to harsh austerity policies, which Germany and France had been demanding (although that will probably change somewhat with the new French president. We'll have to see)
If Germany were as insular as we Americans can be, then the world economy would quickly go down the drain.
Or maybe they are and it is? At least in Europe, anyway.
posted by delmoi at 8:44 PM on June 15, 2012


So you're willing to let them lose the election, subject us to 4 years of Romney -- give Romney 4 years to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court -- just to teach them Dems a lesson?
Right, because anyone who doesn't toe the democratic party line 24/7 is obviously voting for Romney.

Look at Obama's recent reversal on immigration, which happened because people actually occupied his campaign HQ. Then Obama comes out and acts like it was his idea all along, which is exactly what happens when he capitulates to the republicans.

Of course, Obama defenders would always say the president totally doesn't have the power to do something until he suddenly does, just like people said he didn't have the power not to enforce DOMA until suddenly he announced he wasn't going too.
Isn't this exactly the point? Didn't the congressional elections show that most Americans (or most voting Americans, I suppose) actually want the obstructionists in charge? Obama did some great marketing four years ago, but that got the Dems one of three branches of government. The other two are hard-right and seem, to this furriner, to be likely to stay that way for the forseeable.
He actually got two of three (Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature for his first two years), and still couldn't do jack shit with that. Chalk it up to a combination of ... Successful obstructionism by the Republicans; even though they had just 41 votes to the Democrats' 59 in the Senate
Heh. Apparently the need to excuse obama's poor performance now requires rewriting history. But, you've forgotten that the democrats technically had 60 votes, which is how they managed to pass the bulk of Healthcare Reform. It passed the senate 60-40. After Scott Brown was elected the passed the "Sidecar" with some minor tweaks 59-41 or something.

It's worth pointing out, though, that the filibuster isn't in the constitution and there's no reason they couldn't have just voted the rule out of existence with 51 votes.
The Democrat party functions the way a political party ought to work in any sane climate. There's disagreement among members, individual politicians have different ideas about how voting ought to work, so there's occasional (frequent?) crossover as D congressmen vote for R policies when those policies make sense for them.
No. It's not how political parties operate in any of the other major democracies in the world, and most of them are arguably saner then the US political system. In the UK, the members of the party always vote with the party. That way, when you vote for a party you know what you're getting. In the U.S, you have no way of knowing if a new candidate is going to stab you in the back or not.

It's ridiculous and a major reason why the US is so dysfunctional.

Most people who look at US politics seem to view it as if it existed in a vacuum and was the only other country in the world. It happens with policy as well (Universal healthcare can't work! Nevermind it works in every other country in the world! It's totally impractical!), but why would you assume that something that works in every country in the world would be an "insane" way to do things?
and the left is mostly happy to aid and abet the right over the center in exchange for a tiny morsel of political purity. Nice going guys. Happy fucking weekend.
Or it could be some people think that having zero political purity is what's causing all these problems in the first place, and that succumbing to political nihilism isn't a good way to improve things.

Anyway, I don't really see why I, personally, should support a bunch of nihilists anyway. Over in this thead a bunch of people were praising a totally dishonest campaign run by an advertising company taking advantage of citizens united to "save" a library (while ignoring the work of the actual library employees people who had honestly been campaigning to save it and did all the GOTV work, who disliked the work of the ad company)

People were saying that "progressives" need to be more dishonest and "fight" (with lies, apparently), and that was why they kept losing.

Except, obviously, the democrats won in 2006 and won even harder in 2008, without being particularly dishonest at all. They didn't need to be, since bush was an epic fuckup. All they had to do to stay in power was not fuck up, and they couldn't manage it.

But whatever, apparently they need to lie harder and give up give up even the tiniest "morsel of political purity"

Whatever. Why would anyone want to support a political party run by dishonest political nihilists?
He's the best we've had in my lifetime, and far better than the alternatives.
Doesn't seem very different from Clinton, except the economy sucks rather then is Awesome. (Not that Clinton had much to do with it, but Obama's initial stimulus was too small and he never pushed for any followup stimulus when that became obvious)
I don't see how 4 years of Romney would send the message to the Democrats that they need to go more left to get votes. It looks like the message would be just the opposite. If Americans are voting for right wing parties, then why wouldn't the Dems move right to chase votes?
Oh please. The democrats aren't stupid. They can do poling and focus groups to find out exactly why people didn't vote. They are not in a vaccum where they receive no information from voters other then through elections once every two years.

Seriously. This idea is completely ridiculous. They know exactly why people don't vote.

But here's the thing: You think their behavior has anything to do with attracting votes? DO you think killing the public option was appealing to independent voters because it was "Centrist"? Of course, not, the public option was more popular then the entire rest of the bill!

They did it because a few democrats, who called themselves "centrists" didn't like it. But it had nothing to do with voters. Joe Liberman came from a solid blue state, and he voted against it. it was all about lobbyists and their campaign contributions. Stuff like SOPA was a popular, bi-partisan bill before the internet protests, that's what Washington considers "Centrist". In the real world almost no one had heard about it and liberal and conservative voters who did hear about it completely freaked out (rightfully so)

But inside the beltway SOPA was the ideal bi-partisan "centrist" bill. What that really means is pro-corporate. The senators who opposed the public options weren't "Centrist", they weren't worried about votes. They were pro-lobbyist and they were worried about campaign donations and sweet lobbyist jobs for their own retirement.

---

Here's a serious question: if you believe the democrats are willing to go to the "center" to win votes, why don't you think they'd be willing to go to the "center" to get campaign contributions? which are obviously just as important?

All this talk about going after moderate voters is B.S. It has absolutely nothing to do with what independent voters actually want (which, if you look at the polling is actually stuff like legalized weed -- more so then partisan republicans or partisan democrats)

The whole thing with "moving to the center" is really about doing what lobbyists and major corporate donors want, so they can get money to run their campaigns in the first place.
Is one less bad than the other? Hint: yes. SOLVED. You don't need to be a political scientist.
Why support something that's bad? As I said, it's political nihilism. The idea that you're a bad person if you desire even a "tiny morsel of political purity". It's so absurdly twisted and morally debased - this idea that believing in something and having ideals or "purity" isn't just naive it's actually a bad thing

I just don't see much reason to support people like that, personally. I think focusing on structural reform, (i.e. overturning citizens united) is a better use of time the supporting some "less bad" party.
I have never in my life seen a president pass more consumer protection legislation, more legislation that protects women in the workplace, more financial reform legislation, more health reform legislation, more green energy legislation, or more gay rights legislation.
Exactly! Doesn't matter if it's effective or works or accomplishes anything. Look at all these boxes he's checked!
There's a famous quote by Andy Warhol that I love that the reason America is a great nation is that everybody in it, rich or poor, drinks Coke. You can't buy a "better Coke" for all the money in the world. It's a deeply ironic thing to say – equality means everybody drinks the same shitty unhealthy corporate beverage? – but that's why I like it.
That was probably true in Andy Worhol's day, but that was a totally different era. The fact is, there are "gormet" soft drinks you can buy (Jones Soda would be a cheaper example) that are expensive and probably taste better then coke anyway.

Okay, Jones Soda isn't that expensive. But I think it's a cute illustration of how we've moved away from a middle class society where everyone "drank coke" to one where the 1% really does live differently, from expensive colas to private jets to different application of the law.


---

Anyway, like I said the EU is more fucked then the US right now and Germany is a big part of the reason.
posted by delmoi at 9:34 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


A really excellent comment I spotted over on Gamers With Jobs:
The Obama administration:

On basic rights: On corporate power:
I think the most salient bit from that list, for me: Publicly established the precedent of assassinating US citizens without due process with the killing of Awlaki.

Yeah, it's totally worth the price to get people we like on the Supreme Court if the US is now openly killing its own citizens without a trial. It's not even exigent circumstances, where they're on battlefields and shooting at us.... he was never shown to be violent in any way, and was never shown to be a pressing danger. He had opinions the government didn't like, and did too good a job expressing them so that US citizens could understand the reasons for the Islamic fighting. So he had to die.

Obama is a fucking monster. Don't delude yourself. Don't you dare pretend this man is even vaguely better than his predecessor.
posted by Malor at 2:22 AM on June 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Really, what's the point in these threads?

No one convinces anyone. In particular, the consensus opinion is always the same:

"We have always voted for Democrats and we must always vote for Democrats, no matter how little they respect our values, no matter whether they keep moving in the wrong direction - because the Supreme Court, because the Republicans.

"It's unfortunate that by unquestioningly supporting the Democrats, we lose all our leverage and they have no reason to offer us anything, but it's better than the Republicans. The only way to effect change is to support grassroots Democratic candidates today. This hasn't worked for progressives in the last two generations, but this time it might work, and if it does, then 20 years from now we'll have a more progressive Democratic party."

So why bother having this argument?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:27 AM on June 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Obama is a fucking monster. Don't delude yourself. Don't you dare pretend this man is even vaguely better than his predecessor.

Well, assuming, arguendo, that what you say is true, then you must vote for Roseanne Barr or Mitt Romney. Only they can save America.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:08 AM on June 16, 2012


> Well, assuming, arguendo, that what you say is true, then you must vote for Roseanne Barr or Mitt Romney.

Roseanne Barr mathematically will not get the Green Party nomination.

I assume you mean Jill Stein, who is an excellent candidate that any American, particularly an American who lives in a state like ours where game-theoretically a vote for R or D is meaningless, should be proud to support.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:23 AM on June 16, 2012


grr, that "I assume" comes off as snarky. Oh, for even the 60 second edit.

I should have said: "If you want to support actual change, consider Jill Stein, who..."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:27 AM on June 16, 2012


> Anyway, like I said the EU is more fucked then the US right now and Germany is a big part of the reason.

I'm sitting in Germany right now, and I have to say that I dispute this claim rather heavily.

Germany is simply a better place to live than the United States for the 99%. Germans value hard work and achievement, but they also understand that you need to live, and that sometimes it's hard to find a good job, and sometimes you need to be supported by your neighbors through no fault of your own.

I don't see any time in the future where you can rationally say that Germany is more fucked than the USA. I'd say that the current newspaper headlines reflect the crisis in the EU more, simply because the United States is completely unwilling to consider that they might be moving in an entirely wrong direction, and also because the whole Eurozone concept has made the chickens come home to roost a lot faster than they will in the United States (by which time the whole chicken coop might be on fire...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:33 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rand Paul reveals that his anti-TSA stance is just fluff
posted by jeffburdges at 9:29 AM on June 16, 2012


I don't see any time in the future where you can rationally say that Germany is more fucked than the USA.

First the eco comparison between the two countries is stupid. Like the pocket money of the mouse and gorilla.

Germany Cuts 2012 Economic Growth Forecast as Crisis Dims Export Outlook.


Trade surplus slipped and imports are down.
posted by clavdivs at 10:03 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


HuffPo: One of President Barack Obama's former professors appears to have turned against him, according to a recent YouTube video.

"President Obama must be defeated in the coming election," Roberto Unger, a longtime professor at Harvard Law School who taught Obama, said in a video posted on May 22. "He has failed to advance the progressive cause in the United States."

posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:31 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I assume you mean Jill Stein, who is an excellent candidate that any American, particularly an American who lives in a state like ours where game-theoretically a vote for R or D is meaningless, should be proud to support.
Yeah, Barr already lost the green party nomination.

Anyway, it's funny how the self-proclaimed cynical realists don't seem to understand that voting in non-swing states doesn't matter much at all.
posted by delmoi at 1:07 AM on June 17, 2012



Germany is simply a better place to live than the United States for the 99%.

I tried to make the same point in the "Welcome to America"/'Tipping' thread the other day. I don't think it's exclusive to Germany though.

We, Americans (even those of us currently living elsewhere), have an unproductively narrow view of how things can be and the bad habit of listening when people say, "You know, it can't work any other way." It can, and in other countries it does. Jokingly, I once compared it to living with an abusive spouse. There are moments of, you think, real love (all the opportunity! and there really is!) - but then he/she turns around and treats you so so so damn bad (I got sick, and now I'm homeless) your head spins so hard you start blaming yourself. What did I do wrong? How can I do better so she/he doesn't beat me again? Work fifty hour weeks? Give up vacations, except for two weeks a year, maybe?

I can't see this state of affairs continuing.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:38 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"He has failed to advance the progressive cause in the United States." -- Well, without another democrat running against him, this is just so much hot air, because Romney sure as hell isn't going to advance the progressive cause any better.
posted by crunchland at 6:48 AM on June 17, 2012


I believe Obama has advanced progressive causes, ala healthcare, partial decriminalization of marijuana upon state request, and income based repayment for student loans.

I believe he's also advanced the evil causes of the MafIAA by continuing ACTA and TPP, as well as the questionable causes of Wall St. through various investor bail outs, including the aforementioned, income based repayment for student loans. I haven't companied about those since I expected them.

I'm complaining that he specifically continued all the police state effort begun under the eight years of shrubbery, cracked down of whistle blowers, etc.

You could make the excuse that "well the bureaucracy is big, largely corrupt, very big, diffuse, and very very big, the guy only has limited time", all that's true. Yet, he never really hires anyone to address this particular stuff for him either. An FBI head who wants to end the fake terrorist entrapments? Nope. A DHS head who reigns in grants for stupid toys like drones? Nope. A DEA head who wishes to pull out of Mexico? Nope. An investigation into Michael Chertoff's nudy scanners boondoggle? Nope.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:37 AM on June 17, 2012


Interesting link about Roberto Unger, thanks furiousxgeorge.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:39 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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