Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sunday Reading

The Central Issue — Charles P. Pierce on the Democrats’ identity crisis.

I may have mentioned once or twice that the single most dispiriting political event I ever attended—prior to Election Night 2016, that is—was the 1982 Democratic Midterm Convention in Philadelphia. This was the first gathering of the party since the disastrous 1980 general elections and it was prior to the party’s partial legislative comeback in the midterm elections later that year. Mainly, it was an ensemble exercise in performance-art terror at the prospect of dealing with the electoral juggernaut that was Ronald Reagan. Bold strokes were readily dismissed. “We have concluded,” said a great Texas progressive named Billie Carr, in summing up the first day of this fiasco, “that crime is really bad.”

The chairman, a banker buddy of Jimmy Carter’s named Charles Manatt, was ever alert to any signs that the party’s left flank would be tempted to color outside the lines. In that event you could see the sprouting seeds of what became the Democratic Leadership Counsel and every attempt thereafter to restructure the Democratic Party along a more corporate-friendly, less-civil-rights-conscious lines—from the DLC, to the Concord Coalition, to “neoliberalism,” to Pete Peterson’s assaults on Social Security, to No Labels, to the cult of Simpson-Bowles, to the Problem Solvers Caucus and right up to the present day. In 1982, the entire gathering was so deadeningly cautious that I wound up spending most of the first afternoon and evening in the hotel bar with Christopher Hitchens and Alex Cockburn, drinking many funereal toasts to any politician to the left of Scoop Jackson.

So, anyway, I’ve been watching these folks for a long time. And one of the things that consistently drove me around the bend was the refashioning of the word “centrist” to suit the agenda of the DLC and its many descendants. What we had here were conservative Democrats—in truth, some of them were more Eisenhower Republicans—but there suddenly was no such thing as a conservative Democrat. There were liberals and “centrists.” For decades, the dialogue shifted inexorably that direction. (One of the side effects was that, as the Republicans slid steadily off the right edge of the political world, some Reaganauts found themselves referred to as “moderates,” which did not help matters, either.) Now, though, “centrist” has taken on a whole new meaning and a whole new purpose within the Democratic Party. It is now a club to beat people with.

In the long view of history, a lot of people who are being accused of being “centrist”—or, more often, “centrist corporate Democrats”—hold positions well off the port beam of the 1972 McGovern campaign, and almost over the horizon from the left side of most Democratic presidential candidates of the past 20-odd years. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 platform was the most progressive Democratic platform since McGovern’s. That’s not deniable. Neither is the fact that the most conservative member of the prospective Democratic field in 2020 is Joe Biden. But if, as a lot of people seem to believe, anyone who is not full-tilt behind the Green New Deal and/or Medicare For All is unacceptably “centrist,” then the word has lost all meaning and the Democratic Party is in danger of losing its way.

Bernie Sanders had a moment with Stephen Colbert on Thursday night that is worth studying in this regard. They were talking about Medicare For All, and Sanders said it is no longer a fringe idea, which is true. Colbert asked, logically, what the political path to achieving this laudable goal might be, particularly through a Republican-controlled Senate. Sanders replied:

If the Democrats in the House move us in the direction of Medicare For All, and Mitch McConnell chooses not to do anything, there will be enormous pressure all over this country on Republican senators to do the right thing, do what the House did.

Now, it is not being “centrist,” or “corporate,” or in any way “neoliberal” to point out that Sanders here is being almost preternaturally optimistic, to the point of being unacceptably glib, about the difficulty of getting McConnell and the Republicans to do anything of the sort. And swinging those words around like a baseball bat to any Democratic politician who points out that’s a short route to chaos and a return to general minority status.

The fact is that there is a natural center in American politics that is not neoliberal, or corporate, or “centrist,” in the ever-changing meaning of that word. My politics don’t happen to reside there, but that doesn’t make it any less real. It’s been obscured by decades of dishonest politics, personal agendas, and rhetorical sleight-of-hand. It happens to be the solid place whence can be launched real progress. Political patience is the most lost art of all.

Teachable Moments — Humor from Andy Borowitz in The New Yorker.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Pushing back against criticism of her lack of diplomatic experience, Donald J. Trump’s choice to be the next United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Heather Nauert, said on Friday that a memorable visit to the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World made her eminently qualified for the U.N. post.

“When people look at me, they think Heather Nauert, former Fox News anchor,” Nauert told reporters at the State Department. “What they don’t realize is I’m also Heather Nauert, who went on ‘It’s a Small World’ three times when she was nine.”

Nauert said that, while career diplomats might spend twenty to thirty years learning about only one country, “I learned about twenty-five countries in fifteen minutes.”

Laying out her objectives for her tenure at the United Nations, the prospective Ambassador said, “Right now I’m just looking forward to seeing all of the other Ambassadors wearing their festive costumes and doing their dances. That’s going to be amazing, I think.”

Nauert bristled when a reporter asked about her controversial comment that D Day was evidence of the long-standing bond between Germany and the United States. “At the end of the day, there is just one moon and one golden sun, and a smile means friendship to everyone,” she said.

Doonesbury — Message delivered.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Just Stop

Lawrence Lessig has an plan straight out of “House of Cards” to put Hillary Clinton in the White House.

It involves getting Trump and his entire White House to resign, then get Paul Ryan in as president who then appoints Hillary Clinton as VP, then he resigns.  Easy-peasy.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Sorry, You Lost Me

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is running for the open Senate seat here in Florida.  But if this is how his campaign is going to run, I sure hope he doesn’t get the nomination.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) says he will file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) presidential bid if Cruz wins his party’s nomination.

Grayson said Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, is “unqualified” to be president “because he’s ineligible.”

Mr. Grayson is very entertaining on TV, but so is Gallagher, and I wouldn’t want either of them representing me or my state to the rest of the country.  Florida has a bad enough rap as it is.

Friday, September 12, 2014

No Moore, Please

I spend a lot of time here pointing and mocking the silly and derpy things that conservatives and wingnuts do and say, but it’s also necessary to remind ourselves that there are people on the left who say and do silly and derpy things, too.

Take Michael Moore.  Please.  The gadfly filmmaker was interviewed by the Hollywood Reporter about his hit Roger and Me which took a look at the destruction of the auto industry and decided it was as good a time as any to tell us how disappointed he is with President Obama.

I think Obama sadly has been, you know, has done many, many good things, but he has also been a huge disappointment. And I really feel like — I wish someone would say to him — maybe I’ll say it in case he’s watching.


When the history is written of this era, this is how you’ll be remembered: ‘He was the first black president.’ Okay, not a bad accomplishment, but that’s it. That’s it, Mr. Obama. A hundred years from now, ‘he was the first black American that got elected president.’ And that’s it. Eight years of your life and that’s what people are got to remember. Boy, I got a feeling, know you, that you’d probably wish you were remembered for a few other things, a few other things you could’ve done.

I suppose I could haul out the list of accomplishments that President Obama has done from genuine health care insurance reform to the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the end of the Defense of Marriage Act; bringing back the economy from the worst recession in 85 years to job growth and low inflation; reforming the college loan system and instituting consumer protection laws; yeah, I could list all of those and add that he did it all while facing a storm of opposition from the Republican leaders who were drawing up their plans to stop everything he wanted to do before the inauguration parade was over on January 20, 2009, not to mention the blatant racism displayed by some of the more crass members of the opposition and a cable news network.  But Michael Moore is disappointed, so it all means nothing.

You know what, Michael?  We’ve all had our disappointments.  That list of accomplishments could be a lot longer, I’m sure, and I know a number of progressives who think that Barack Obama is far too establishment and cozy with the intelligence agencies and Wall Street robber barons.  But let’s also face reality.  No president is ever going to accomplish everything they set out to do, especially when there are some things that you expect him to do that were never promised in the first place.

It’s also a tad ironic that Mr. Moore, who became famous for chronicling the decline of the auto industry, would be so dismissive of the administration that basically saved it from total collapse.  Why doesn’t he make a movie about that?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Frankly Speaking

Last week Thomas Frank wrote a piece in Salon in which he went all in on calling Barack Obama a weak and gutless leader and labeling his presidency an abject failure.  The Hope and Change president promised so much and delivered so little, he didn’t stand up to the crazy Republicans when he could have and should have, and worst of all, there’s no pony with rainbow ribbons and no sprinkles on the ice cream.

Why, the visitors to his library will wonder, did the president do so little about rising inequality, the subject on which he gave so many rousing speeches? Why did he do nothing, or next to nothing, about the crazy high price of a college education, the Great Good Thing that he has said, time and again, determines our personal as well as national success? Why didn’t he propose a proper healthcare program instead of the confusing jumble we got? Why not a proper stimulus package? Why didn’t he break up the banks? Or the agribusiness giants, for that matter?

Because, to quote Elliot in E.T., this is reality.  Governing in a democracy means working with other people, people who for some reason or another — I’ll let you fill in the blanks — have no interest in a president succeeding; people who in fact were plotting against his every move before the president had spent his first night in the White House.  Add to that a well-oiled and well-funded noise machine of unprecedented lung power and a TV network that can take the smallest thing and turn it into a 24-hour breaking news blitz, and getting things done becomes a bit of a challenge.

But to Mr. Frank’s charges of failure after failure, let’s think about the ones he’s listed:  How does a president persuade a college or university to lower their tuition and make it affordable?  Someone’s gotta pay for it; it’s not like the alumni are going to pick up everything else after football.  What about healthcare?  Well, the “proper” way would have been a single payer plan with the government picking up the tab and raising taxes, much in the way a number of industrialized nations and Canadian provinces do it: Medicare for all.  Yeah, try and pass that; I dare you.

The same could be said about the rest of Mr. Frank’s laments: the stimulus package that was passed was done in the first moments of the Obama presidency and while we were still under the weight of the crapfest left by the previous administration.  What we got would not have passed three months later, and certainly not through a Senate that was barely under the control of the Democrats.  Break up the big banks and agribusiness?  Sure, if you don’t think anyone with any influence or money will object, go ahead.

We expect to hear this kind of whining and pearl-clutching from the Republicans; they’ve mastered the art of crocodile tears and fear-mongering even when they’re in control.  In the last thirty years they have done a fine job of making the case that no one else but a true American conservative should be running the country and then providing us with laboratory-grade examples of exactly why they shouldn’t.

The biggest failure of the Obama presidency isn’t in what it didn’t accomplish or the “tepid” answers it gave to the problems at hand.  It’s that Barack Obama believed — and probably still does — that he was facing opposition from a political party that shared his basic goal of running the country and making it better for all the citizens, not just the ones who voted for him or contributed to his campaign.  He didn’t realize that their sole purpose in life was his personal destruction.  But if a genius like Thomas Frank can’t figure that out, how could anyone else?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ideal Delusions

Melissa Harris-Perry wrote a piece for The Nation that has got a lot of people talking.

President Obama has experienced a swift and steep decline in support among white Americans—from 61 percent in 2009 to 33 percent now. I believe much of that decline can be attributed to their disappointment that choosing a black man for president did not prove to be salvific for them or the nation.

In other words, a lot of white liberals voted for Barack Obama out of a sense of guilt and now they are seeing him as just a guy who was elected president.

Bob Cesca does a fine job of responding to the critics of the president who say he hasn’t lived up to their ideals of the liberal leader riding to their rescue from the wilderness of the Bush years and how, echoing (deliberately or not) the arguments of the GOP, he hasn’t accomplished anything.

According to Politifact, the president has kept 147 of his promises in just under three years, and broken 47. In other words, he’s batting around .750. In baseball, a .300 average is Hall of Fame worthy. Additionally, and I repeat for the umpteenth time, try to name a single president in American history who kept all of his promises and with whom you agree on every policy. I can’t think of a single one. To impose a different standard on this president seems dubiously motivated — a key point in Harris-Perry’s column.

This is also a sign of one of the worst things about progressives: we are our own worst critics and seem to feed on our own self-doubt. It’s a paradox that has haunted us for generations; we have always been able to publicly and proudly proclaim our ability to waver. To many, that’s a feature, not a bug. Many believe it shows us as being open-minded and willing to listen to other ideas, but far too often we come across as wimps whose core convictions can be rattled and changed by having someone yell at us on cable TV.

Perhaps the most important element is that a lot of progressives and liberals deluded themselves into thinking what they thought they were getting when they voted for Barack Obama. I’ve noted this many times before, but it still seems to elude: he’s not the great liberal savior. He never sold himself as one, he hasn’t governed as one, and anyone who thought he would be one just because he’s black and a Democrat is as guilty of race-tinged assumptions as those on the right who looked at him and instantly saw Malcolm X and Robert Mugabe. Even a skimming of his books — you can still buy them — reveal a rather centrist and pragmatic thinker who doesn’t do the Rick Perry “Fed Up!” routine at all. As Bob Cesca notes, “[n]evertheless, many progressives have unfairly superimposed their own politics onto the president. I’m not sure why, but then, when the president doesn’t follow through with your agenda, he’s suddenly a disappointment.”

I don’t want progressives or liberals or centrists or anyone else to lock-step support the president, and I don’t want them to stop criticizing and analyzing the job he’s doing. But I want them to at least be fair about it, be aware of the agenda they’re bringing with it, and acknowledge that perhaps the wrong place to appreciate what Barack Obama has done would be from the bleachers as Rick Perry’s inauguration parade heads down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reality Check

Jonathan Chait of The New Republic had an op-ed in the New York Times this past weekend that pretty much sums up the situation that President Obama has in dealing with critics from his left flank.

The most common hallmark of the left’s magical thinking is a failure to recognize that Congress is a separate, coequal branch of government consisting of members whose goals may differ from the president’s. Congressional Republicans pursued a strategy of denying Obama support for any major element of his agenda, on the correct assumption that this would make it less popular and help the party win the 2010 elections. Only for roughly four months during Obama’s term did Democrats have the 60 Senate votes they needed to overcome a filibuster. Moreover, Republican opposition has proved immune even to persistent and successful attempts by Obama to mobilize public opinion. Americans overwhelmingly favor deficit reduction that includes both spending and taxes and favor higher taxes on the rich in particular. Obama even made a series of crusading speeches on this theme. The result? Nada.


Liberal critics of Obama, just like conservative critics of Republican presidents, generally want both maximal partisan conflict and maximal legislative achievement. In the real world, those two things are often at odds. Hence the allure of magical thinking.

What Mr. Chait leaves out is the fact that Mr. Obama was not dealing with your father’s Congress, either, nor was he dealing with rational discourse outside the halls of Congress. Considering the rank insanity of the birthers, the tenthers, and an opposition party that would veto a Mother’s Day resolution because HE proposed it, it’s a wonder that he was able to get anything done at all, much less a stimulus package that was nearly double the size of the original Democratic proposal, the rescue of the American auto industry, the most sweeping overhaul to healthcare since Roosevelt, the end of the pernicious Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law, the removal of a dictator who has been in power since 1969 without one American casualty, and — oh yeah — the killing of the mastermind of the attacks that we’re commemorating this week.

And for all that, the some on the left wants to mount a primary challenge. They don’t say exactly who they will get. But if history is any guide, it will come to naught. Every imcumbent president in living memory who has faced a serious primary challenge for their second term has gone on to win the nomination and lose the general election. So if you want Rick Perry in the White House, by all means Go Tom Harkin 2012.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In Other News

As a public service to those of you who might have missed them during the carnival of the debt ceiling debate, here are two stories that are worth noting.

First up: free birth control and breast cancer screening for women.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was expected Monday to announce new guidelines that would require health insurance companies to cover women’s health care services, including birth control and and breast exams, without a co-pays or deductibles.

The new rules, made possible by President Obama’s Affordable Care act, would begin Aug. 1, 2012.

Second, the White House reached an agreement with the auto industry to raise fuel efficiency standards and reduce pollution:

These new standards will cover cars and light trucks for Model Years 2017-2025, requiring performance equivalent to 54.5 mpg in 2025 while reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 163 grams per mile.

But the president must be primaried so we can get a real Democrat in there to get things done.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rude, Crude, Lewd, and Socially Unacceptable

Ed Schultz, the MSNBC talk show host, is off the air for a week on unpaid leave after calling right-wing talker Laura Ingraham a slut.

Left-leaning Ed Schultz has been suspended from msnbc cable television for referring to radio talk show host Laura Ingraham as a “right-wing slut” and “talk slut” on his syndicated radio show Tuesday.

In a statement released Wednesday, the cable channel said: “Msnbc management met with Ed Schultz this afternoon and accepted his offer to take one week of unpaid leave for the remarks he made yesterday on his radio program. Ed will address these remarks on his show tonight, and immediately following begin his leave. Remarks of this nature are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

To his credit, Mr. Schultz went on the air before taking his leave and gave Ms. Ingraham and everybody else he’d ever met an unconditional apology. There were no “if I offended” or attempts to excuse his behavior. Good for him. But it’s still way over the line, and I’m glad to see that he got his ass kicked for it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

No Credit

A commenter at Balloon Juice gets my vote for the “Wish I’d Said That” of the day.

I think the frustration that supporters of the president have (at least it is for me) is that his critics give him credit for nothing. NOTHING.

He gets a health care reform bill passed that is sweeping in scope and more than anyone has done in decades. And the left-wing critics say “Not enough.”

He gets a stimulus bill passed that pretty much kept a massive recession from getting worse and all the left-wing critics said was “Not enough.”

He’s on the verge of getting DADT repealed through law as opposed to using a reversible executive order and all the left-wing critics say is “Not enough.”

He gives a speech that talks about peak oil, points out how government corruption played a role and begins to lay out the way forward towards an alternative energy future and all the left-wing critics say is “Not enough” while having orgasms to Rachael Maddow’s satisfying-but-completely unrealistic “Fake President” speech.

Never mind Lily Leadbetter, killing the F-22 (something BUSH couldn’t do), expanding SCHIP, credit card reform, tobacco regulation…but no, it’s not enough. It’s NEVER enough with some people.

There is legit criticism to be made when it comes to President Obama, especially in the civil rights arena. But to hear the WATBs on the left tell it, he hasn’t done a damn thing. And that is simply not true.

John Cole’s follow-up is also spot on.

I’m not saying lay off the president. When he does something I don’t like, I say so. But if you’re going to do it just to show that you’re not like those lockstep Republicans who fawned over every move that a Republican president made — “Oh, look, he can wave bye-bye!” — then it’s all about you and your independent streak and not much more.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pelosi vs. The Shouters

Talk about your tough rooms: Dana Milbank reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi got a ration from progressives at a meeting in Washington, D.C.

For 17 months, anger at President Obama and congressional Democrats has been pooling on the left. On Tuesday morning, it spilled onto the floor of an Omni Shoreham ballroom and splashed all over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The celebrated San Francisco liberal took the stage to greet what should have been a friendly audience: the annual gathering of progressive activists organized by the Campaign for America’s Future.

Instead, Pelosi was eaten by her own.

Just three minutes into her speech — right after she gave the triumphant news that “Change is here!” — two men stood up and spread out a large pink banner in front of the podium demanding “Stop Funding Israel Terror.”

At that moment, a wheelchair-bound woman named Carrie James began to scream from her table about 30 feet away: “I am not going to a nursing home!” At that cue, about 15 people in the crowd — who, like James, wore orange T-shirts demanding “Community Choice Act Now” — unfurled bedsheet banners and struck up a chant: “Our homes, not nursing homes!”

Bodyguards rushed forward and formed a six-person ring around Pelosi and the lectern. Leaders of the conference tried to take the speaker backstage until the disturbance could be quelled, but she brushed them off: “I’m not leaving. I’m not leaving,” she said. “You have made your point. I’m going to give my speech over your voices.”

It seems that some people didn’t learn a lot from the lesson the teabaggers taught us last summer at the town hall meetings: shouting doesn’t make your point. Second, despite Mr. Milbank’s observation of the Speaker being “eaten by her own,” Ms. Pelosi did not retreat and stood her ground, and just because there are obnoxious people out there regardless of their politics doesn’t mean the progressives are “imploding.” If the GOP was held to that standard, they’d be at the bottom of a sinkhole. At least none of the demonstrators at the Pelosi meeting punched one of their own in the stomach.

HT to Oliver Willis.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This Is Reality

There’s a great moment in the film E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial when Elliott is trying to help E.T. get back to his home planet by taking him back to the woods where his mother ship will land. One of his friends says, “Can’t they just beam him up?” Elliott retorts, “This is reality, Greg!”

For some reason I was reminded of that when I read this post by Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog:

[…] while I’d like a president (and subordinates and appointees of that president) to be principled progressives rather than eager-to-please seekers of common ground, I prefer eager-to-please semi-progressive seekers of common ground to the sociopaths of the GOP, who’d happily burn this country to the ground if it meant they’d be the lords of what smoking embers remained. So I’ll continue to voice objections to what displeases me about the Obama administration, but I’m not forgetting who the real enemy is. I’m not going to attack Elena Kagan using GOP frames, as Jane Hamsher does. I’m not going to declare this administration indistinguishable from the Bush administration, as Glenn Greenwald so often seems to do.


Part of my frustration with Firebagging in general is that progressives simply lack the muscle to drag not just the administration but Congress and the country all that far to the left by sheer force of will, and Firebaggers don’t seem to understand that. Unlike the teabaggers, we don’t have a multimedia news organization at our disposal that’s endlessly fed money by hit Hollywood movies. We haven’t had a Wurlitzer in operation for thirty years persuading the mainstream press that attention must be paid to us because we’re the really really authentic Americans. Our propagandists don’t dominate AM radio on every square mile of U.S. territory. We haven’t even begun the work of persuading — not hectoring, but persuading — heartland swing voters that our ideas aren’t scary, aren’t hostile to American values, and in fact are in sync with their values. We certainly haven’t persuaded enough to heartland voters to make heartland members of the House and Senate sit up and take notice, the way they carefully notice whether they’re protecting their right flanks.

We’ve got a lot of work to do to get our message across. We’re not going to get there by regularly joining right-wingers in Obama pile-ons.

Aside from the fact that the GOP and the tea partiers have a built-in and well-run support mechanism, they have the luxury of being out of power. They’re not a majority in the House and the Senate and they don’t have a president in the White House. Therefore they can let the loons on the fringe get all the attention and air-time because it provides entertainment without consequences other than showing up on Fox News at all hours and Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Persons” segment. They are enabled by producers on Sunday morning chat shows where people like Liz Cheney and Michele Bachmann get air time. They can attend rallies with people carrying firearms and issuing not-so-veiled threats against the life of elected officials, and they can carry on about wanting their country back without having to explain what exactly is that they lost or stand up to the scrutiny of proposing to keep the government out of our lives while insisting on getting their Medicare checks and demanding that feds show up the next day after an oil spill. It’s easy to be pure and puritanical when there are no consequences.

Perhaps it’s because the Democrats are so unused to being in charge, but I actually think it comes down to the fact that they are willing to govern rather than rule. They’re willing to openly admit that someone on the other side might have a good idea. That really irritates the purists. (It’s a trait that runs on both sides, but the GOP is more than likely to have amnesia when they’re reminded that Ronald Reagan did work with Democrats, he raised taxes, he expanded the government, and he ballooned the deficit.) But when you actually have to run the zoo, you have to make choices and compromises. Reality has a funny way of making even the most doctrinaire see that just making demands doesn’t get the work done. Nor does the threat of taking your toys and going home. All that does is end the game. (If you’re serious about mounting a primary challenge to President Obama in 2012, remember how well that worked for President Ted Kennedy in 1980 when he overthrew Jimmy Carter and went on to beat Ronald Reagan.)

So, as Steve M says, feel free to grumble about the Obama administration when they mess up; I have never held back when I didn’t like what they’re doing. But subverting what little power they have doesn’t help. Unless you actually like the idea of Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty in the Oval Office, come up with a plan to make the case for moving us to the left that doesn’t involve self-destruction and delusion.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Calm Down

Oliver Willis offers some advice to liberals hyperventilating over the spending freeze proposal.

I’m not saying liberals should keep themselves quiet and rubber stamp the president – people who make this argument are simply making a down payment on the straw to run their farms. But what I am saying is that liberals to often treat Democratic presidents like Maury Povich just told them that he has in fact failed the lie detector test.

We saw that on Monday with the leaked story that the Obama administration planned some spending freezes. What we know about the proposal:

* It exists
* Defense spending is exempt
* If/when there’s a second stimulus or jobs bill it is exempt
* Health care reform would be exempt
* It is targeting redundancies, waste, excess, etc.
* The details of what will be targeted have not been released yet

That halfway story seemed to be all liberals needed in order to issue their own Fox News Alerts about the betrayal and then began the parade of frankly embarrassing hysteria.


How does one correct someone who is on your side but has bouts of straying like President Obama? Offer constructive criticism, rather than throwing his clothes on the lawn, for one. You’ve got a perfectly good right to bitch as well as moan about things, but the equivalent of crying “fire” in a crowded theater just makes for a crappy moviegoing experience.

Barack Obama is the center-left, charismatic politician he has been for most of his life in the public. There are numerous issues on which he should be much more progressive, not just for the overall fortunes of the progressive movement, but for the future strength of the country. But we won’t get there if every perceived misstep (especially one based on a less than clear story that is slowly being filled in) is greeted as if he kicked a puppy in the teeth. We shouldn’t help a media environment that already favors Democratic politicians wagging their finger at the base, nor should we allow Democratic pols to get away with conservative nonsense.

Measure pols like Obama on their words and hold them to high standards, but don’t profess anger at them for not holding up to a caricature you dreamily doodled in your Trapper Keeper.


The one thing that I will give the Republicans kudos for is that they have the lock-step routine down cold. When one of their guys goes and does something that is both unexpected and out of the groove that they put him in, they manage to gulp and swallow it and come up with — to them — pitch-perfect talking points to feed to the Villagers like Chris Matthews and David Gregory. Behind the scenes they may be seething, but they dare not show it in public lest they be seen as less than loyal and excluded from the next clam bake at Burning Tree Country Club.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Michael Moore Beckons Boycott

Michael Moore is threatening to boycott Connecticut unless the voters “recall” Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

People of Connecticut: What have u done 2 this country? We hold u responsible. Start recall of Lieberman 2day or we’ll boycott your state.

I’m not sure if he’s kidding or not, but neither Connecticut nor the U.S. Constitution have provisions for recalling a senator.