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Leftists Should Take Credit for Bringing Down Democrats

2010 September 29
by Ian Welsh

Peter Dauo has a pair of well received articles on how the left, and specifically bloggers, have brought down the Obama administration.  This is in contrast to what many see as the attempt by the White House to portray left wingers as responsible for Democratic losses.

What?

Look, if the left is so powerful that is is responisble for Democratic fortunes, well, that’s not something we should shrink from.  We should say “Yes, we can destroy Democratic prospects.  If you don’t do what we want, we WILL do so.”

Powerful groups get what they want, weak groups don’t.  If the White House wants to portray us as that powerful, we should embrace that description, because it is a blade which cuts both ways.

And there is an argument for it.  While certainly the economy is factor one, the people whom left-wing bloggers reach are the sort of folks who traditionally don’t just vote, they volunteer, they give money and they are themselves influentials, who convince others to be enthusiastic, vote, volunteer and give.  When, last year, I felt parts of the blogosphere lose their patience with Obama, I knew it would cost him, and it has.

Don’t run from this, embrace it, wrap yourself in it.  You are part of the left, and the left is capable of destroying governments which don’t do what it wants.  And this is good, because objectively Obama has not fixed the economy, has presided over further destruction of civil rights, has reduced access to abortion, and so on.

Powerful people and interests give away nothing they don’t want to unless they are forced to by others with power.  The left is either powerful and willing to use that power or it is nothing.

68 Responses
  1. Albatross permalink
    September 29, 2010

    The White House/Democratic Party line seems to be “We abandoned you, and you would be foolish not to vote for us so that we can abandon you again, otherwise the Republicans will abuse you.”

    I see the issues as, first and foremost, cowardly blame-shifting in advance of the November election results; and second, the difference between a partisan worldview and a principled worldview.

    The partisan worldview is that party is what matters, the power to be effective only emerges from groups, and that it is better to be effective and yet directionless than to have direction but no effectiveness.

    The principled worldview is that principle is what matters, and it is better to have direction without effectiveness than to be effective without direction.

    The pragmatic view would fall somewhere in between these, and it’s ironic that the partisans are using pragmatism to sell their position. If they were pragmatic themselves they would have tried to find a balance between principle an party, rather than abandoning the principled Left in the name of trying to appease the unappeasable Right.

    Frankly the whole U.S. political system is so wrecked right now it’s hard to see America do anything except meander along under inertia for a few more decades before the growing authoritarianism of the population makes a quiet military takeover of government seem natural and right. Keep an eye out for when a right-wing Christian military general is elected President.

  2. anon2525 permalink
    September 29, 2010

    Some historical context is in order:

    – In 2003, despite all sorts of reasons not to, bush&cheney&rumsfeld attacked Iraq. When even rumsfeld&bush (but not cheney — his denial lasted much longer) could no longer claim that Iraq had any means to threaten anyone, the many crimes, fiascoes, disasters, failures, and outrages that were the bush policies were rejected by the majority of the population.

    – In all elections since then, the politicians who supported the bush/cheney policies have been rejected one-by-one by the electorate.

    – In 2007, Obama says that he, too, rejects those policies and claims that “yes, we can” “change” them.

    – In 2009, Obama&co proceed to carry on with the bush/cheney policies. The democrats get in line behind them and march to the Obama drummer.

    – In 2010, the electorate continues to live with the consequences of those policies and still does not like them.

    Now, at this time, it does not matter what the left or obama&co or anyone else has to say. People are losing their houses, they are fearful of losing their jobs or have lost them and are fearful of running out of unemployment payments. People are falling into poverty and losing their health “insurance” (even more than the number of additional people who have fallen into poverty). People are seeing their health “insurance” costs rise, or will after the annual review that many corporations undergo in November (after the election and before Thanksgiving).

    If the left came out and said, contrary to reality, that everything was fine and that we should just “buck up,” no amount of their “power” would change people’s minds about the bush/cheney/obama policies.

  3. September 29, 2010

    They hate us for our freedom.

  4. anon2525 permalink
    September 29, 2010

    Frankly the whole U.S. political system is so wrecked right now …

    The political system is not wrecked. It is representative democracy that is wrecked. The political system is working as intended by those who are controlling it. It is the logical consequence (although it preceded it) of the Citizens United court decision — namely, that money is speech. Even prior to that decision, it has been true that the people who decide which legislation, with respect to the economic system, is brought up in Congress are those who pay for a vote in the legislative process. The legislation is written by lobbyists (the payers) and “voted on” and passed by the elected politicians (the payees).

    You do not have a say in this legislation because you have not paid for it. And by “you,” I mean the democratic majority.

  5. September 29, 2010

    I think Dauo is probably wrong, though. The Democrats destroyed themselves. They didn’t understand who voted from them and why and the Dems made no effort to find out. (And of course it is also “The economy, stupid.”) Apparently, the Dems simply didn’t realize what “hope and change” meant to the public; it was just a campaign slogan to them. Now they wonder why the public is so unhappy with them. Well, they flirted with the public and then the banks, the militarists, big oil, and so on took the Administration home. The public feels jilted.

    The Democratic leadership is using us as scapegoats, that’s all. It could be a good strategy for winning the next election.

  6. September 29, 2010

    Dauo’s essays were thoughtful ones, but I think in the end he doesn’t quite have it. Assuming he’s interested in maintaining power, Obama’s mistake was that he believed that all he needed was the backing of the rich and the financial sector, and he could maintain power by punching his base. His base, BTW, isn’t just progressives, but gays, unions, minorities, etc. He’s disappointed, and in the case of unions weakened, all these groups, and now it turns out that they either can’t or won’t help him, and it’s not enough.

    In short, Obama miscalculated. He needed to do more for at least some of his constituencies, and didn’t. Now, of course, he’s blaming this on his constituencies, because they were foolish enough to believe he might actually do the things he said.

  7. September 29, 2010

    The Raven writes:

    The Democratic leadership is using us as scapegoats, that’s all. It could be a good strategy for winning the next election.

    Do you mean the 2012 election? I suspect you’re wrong even then, but it’s certainly not true for the fall elections.

  8. September 29, 2010

    anon2525 writes:

    If the left came out and said, contrary to reality, that everything was fine and that we should just “buck up,” no amount of their “power” would change people’s minds about the bush/cheney/obama policies.

    There is a substantial portion of the “progressive” punditry doing just that, and you’re right, it’s not working. Not having the left fully on board isn’t what’s hurting the Obama Administration the most, but it’s another problem they’ve created for themselves, along with not helping any of those other things you’ve mentioned. Not to mention that, if he had attended to those other things, a lot of progressives wouldn’t be harping on Obama so much right now.

    So you might say our dissatisfaction is more a symptom of the problem than a cause.

  9. September 29, 2010

    I mean 2010, right now. There’s a month to stir up conflict and create headlines, and all this will increase attention, and increased attention will increase turnout. Can it be done in a month? I don’t know, but I think there’s a chance.

    2012, who knows?

  10. gtash permalink
    September 29, 2010

    I think the succinct way to put it is like this:

    “Mr. Obama, the Liberals didn’t leave you. You left them.”

  11. gtash permalink
    September 29, 2010

    President Zero is such a big fan of Reagan, I am certain he would appreciate that.

  12. anon2525 permalink
    September 29, 2010

    …they were foolish enough to believe he might actually do the things he said.

    “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

    They weren’t foolish to believe — they were lied to. Now they should be angry at being lied to. Those who were lied to who continue to support him are foolish.

  13. anon2525 permalink
    September 29, 2010

    …increased attention will increase turnout. Can it be done in a month? I don’t know, but I think there’s a chance.

    The only chance they have expires when Congress shuts down to go campaigning, starting at the end of this week. If they were to pass a large jobs bill and have Obama sign it into law and they were to pass a right-to-rent bill (or something similar) to halt foreclosures, then they would get the attention of people whose lives are affected, and the support of the left. They will not do either of these. All of the words, shouting, and headlines won’t make a difference to those people who are living with the consequences of the democrats decisions and failures over the past two years.

  14. September 29, 2010

    The Raven writes:

    increased attention will increase turnout

    Not this kind of attention. When the party leadership, in essence, says that the coming defeat is not their fault, then they’ve signaled that they’re really more interested in not being blamed than in fixing the problem. Leadership not having confidence in a candidate doesn’t increase turnout for that candidate, as Jane Hamsher points out, the more likely scenario is that it does the opposite.

    They’re not interested in this election. If they were, they’d at least do some things that make it look like they’ll govern more effectively, or more humanely. Instead, they’re trying to blame anyone who isn’t in their inner circle for the upcoming defeat.

  15. anon2525 permalink
    September 29, 2010

    Not having the left fully on board isn’t what’s hurting the Obama Administration the most, but it’s another problem they’ve created for themselves, along with not helping any of those other things you’ve mentioned.

    But it is not the “hippy punching” that has created the problem for them. The left would still not be supporting them even if the left were not being punched because the left is concerned about people being killed, living in poverty, unemployed, foreclosed-upon, uninsured, etc., and it is the b/c/o policies that brought these circumstances about.

    So, whether Obama&co were criticizing the left or not, the left* would not be supporting them. (Liberals might still be, however, as you have written.) In that case, perhaps it makes sense to them to criticize the left in the manner that the DLC-ers since clinton’s “Sister Soulja moment” was thought to be politically advantageous.

    *”Misrepresenting the Left” — http://www.counterpunch.org/jacobs04072010.html

  16. September 29, 2010

    Powerful groups get what they want, weak groups don’t. If the White House wants to portray us as that powerful, we should embrace that description, because it is a blade which cuts both ways.

    It actually doesn’t cut both ways. The Administration will portray the left as the nutbar fringe that cost them the House, say (quite correctly) “The people have spoken” by the increased number of (R) seats, and pivot further rightward.

    To be politically powerful, you not only have to be able to cost people elections, you also have to be able to win people elections. The Tea Party is now ***ostensibly*** powerful in the (R) party because it is perceived as being able to elect people—though we’ll see how far this is really true in Nov.

  17. Ian Welsh permalink*
    September 29, 2010

    He won an election running as a progressive. He’s going to lose one running as a conservative.

    And the Tea Party will be powerful as long as it can cost Congress members their seats, whether it wins or loses the election. But the larger point is simpler, the Tea Party is willing to cost Republicans some seats to get their people in, so that when Republicans win they can do what they want to, instead of getting in wimps who won’t do what they want.

    Learn, or don’t.

  18. anon2525 permalink
    September 29, 2010

    To be politically powerful, you not only have to be able to cost people elections, you also have to be able to win people elections. The Tea Party is now ***ostensibly*** powerful in the (R) party because it is perceived as being able to elect people—though we’ll see how far this is really true in Nov.

    I generally agree, but it is a minor point. The larger point is the other Golden Rule: Those who have the gold make the rules. Democrat, republican, tea party, it will still be the same, namely, that representative democracy will not have been restored. The gov’t. will not be reflecting the will of the people in the legislation that is passed. That legislation will be decided by the people who pay the lobbyists that write the bills. That is, for those bills that effect the economic system that we have.

  19. jcapan permalink
    September 29, 2010

    Daou: “But they were not prepared for a determined segment of the left to ignore party and focus on principle, to ignore happy talk and demand accountability.”

    IOW, they weren’t prepared for their base to stray beyond stenography. We speak (or doublespeak) and you regurgitate, got it? Sadly, a good number of liberals are OK with this arrangement.

    I get the shit-on-the-base to attract the middle tactic (though it’ll fail). It’s logical in that the dem leadership doesn’t share its base’s interests. At this late date, Daou seems to believe the preposterous: that Obama’s a liberal. That the administration or party’s failures are about moral rectitude? Please.

    I always come back to consequences. If someone’s not meeting your expectations, you either change your expectations or walk away. Partisans seem to fancy the first. Against all evidence (like another type of faith), they imagine validating neo-liberal policy will lead to progressive utopia decades hence. OTOH, liberals-first seem poised for a major walkaway, this year and in 2012. As someone said on the previous post, the long/arduous struggle to fashion a 3rd party ought to have begun yesterday but there’s no time like the present.

    Or we can all unify to defeat the forces of Sarah (i.e. return to our fine daddy who beats us, b/c surely that’ll lead to a change in his behavior).

  20. zot23 permalink
    September 29, 2010

    Taking it further, the logical next step is to threaten and start pushing the possibility of a third party made up of progressives alone. It reminds me of Longshank’s line from Braveheart:

    “If he can sack York, he can sack London…”

    The ability to destroy the party is the ability to control it. What would we have to lose by just the threat (if not the action)?

  21. jcapan permalink
    September 29, 2010

    “He won an election running as a progressive. He’s going to lose one running as a conservative.”

    I’d say he (& his party) are going to lose one b/c they’ve been governing like conservatives.

  22. anon2525 permalink
    September 29, 2010

    …when Republicans win they can do what they want to…

    As far as I can tell, the republicans (and their overlords) are already getting all of the policies that they want through a Democratic majority. They appear to want to hold the chairs of the committees and to assign themselves the best offices and parking spaces. To be a chairperson is to have the ability to tell other people to shut up and to decide what’s going to be on the committees agenda. I’m not sure there’s anything else substantive to it than that.

    If anything, as has been argued here by Ian Welsh, among others, having the Republicans in power is detrimental to republicans getting the policies that they want because it means that the Democrats will oppose those policies, while, when the democrats are in power, they will support those same policies.

  23. September 29, 2010

    “He won an election running as a progressive. He’s going to lose one running as a conservative.”

    Why? The popularity of Tea Party views is about an inch deep, but that’s what the Republicans have tied their wagon to. Given a place to jump, I think conservatives might go Democratic. The Dems have access to professional polling and marketing services. Chances are they’ve tested their pitch.

  24. September 30, 2010

    Good post. I hope you’re right, but I firmly believe that the progressives will be used as an excuse for the 2010 losses. And I think jcapan hit the nail on the head. Obama, right out of the box, continued the bailout and the war on terror just like the last guy. Obama only seems to care about big banks and corporations. The economy is still lousy for the rest of us. The voters that showed up in 2008 just don’t see any reason to make an effort in 2010.

    I’ll say this, Obama has firmly convinced me that there is no longer a significant difference between the D’s and the R’s, and for a lifetime Democrat, that’s a tough thing to say. I will continue to participate in progressive blogs and keep banging away at a Democratic President to start acting like a Democrat. That will not change, but my voting will.

  25. September 30, 2010

    Sorry to go against the grain, but I don’t really care how disdainful everyone feels toward Obama or how disappointed everyone is with him.
    Anyone who thinks the United States is better off with the Republicans in power rather than the Democrats does not have the best interests of the American people at heart, nor of the world.
    The present Democratic party in the US may not be particularly progressive, but the Republicans and their hangers-on and acolytes and lobbyists and appointees are stupid or evil or both.
    Bush and Cheney and the Republicans almost destroyed the US economy, and they almost took the rest of us down with them. There is no country in the world — particularly Canada — which should want to see a Republican administration in the United States.

  26. anon2525 permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Sorry to go against the grain, but I don’t really care how disdainful everyone feels toward Obama or how disappointed everyone is with him.

    I’m not disappointed in him. I did not have good expectations of what he would do ever since he lied in early 2008 about how he would not support a bill that provided retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that had broken the law. He then supported that bill later in the year (July 2008). The bill that was signed in to law violates the 4th amendment to the constitution which requires that the government provide a just cause for a search to a court before the court will issue a warrant allowing the search.

    He followed that up later in the year with his pushing for a bill to bail out the banking industry instead of the population.

    I cannot be disappointed in him. I can only be surprised when he does something good.

    But you are correct — I am disdainful of him. He has shown himself to be a liar who while campaigning misrepresented what he would do when he got into office. He’s continuing that lying while in office.

    Anyone who thinks the United States is better off with the Republicans in power…

    I don’t think that the U.S. will be better off with republicans in power. I’m disdainful of them, also. I think that neither party represents the interests of the majority of the people in the U.S. They represent the interests of the people who fund their campaigns by having the lobbyists of those people write the legislation that the democratic and republican parties pass into law. Both parties have been corrupted by people with large economic interests.

    We don’t have a representative democracy in the U.S., except in name and in superficial form: we hold elections. But once people have taken office, we no longer have a say in what legislation is passed, and the legislation that is passed is not what we want and is not in our interest.

    The present Democratic party in the US may not be particularly progressive, but the Republicans and their hangers-on and acolytes and lobbyists and appointees are stupid or evil or both.

    The Democrats are stupid and evil, too. Perhaps you think that they are less evil and less stupid. But they still represent their interests and not mine. And their interests are against mine. And because they are stupid, they’re even acting against their own interests.

  27. DancingOpossum permalink
    September 30, 2010

    “Learn, or don’t.”

    Too many pwoggies have chosen Option 2 there.

    They forget that the willingness to pull votes, money, and support–to use their muscle–is what got the crazy fringies into the GOP. The religious right, the tea partiers, the birthers, the crackpots…Those of us who are old and bitter (as Obama said) recall very well the early days of the religious right, the way they fought and clawed and laid the groundwork for their takeover of the party. Their chief weapon: The threat to stay home–or vote for someone else.

    The next “fringe” element that will probably take over the GOP is the libertarians–and that could actually be a good thing, if they end up following through on things like ending the wars and massively cuttign defense spending, bank bailouts, the student loan fiasco and so on. An early RNC gathering early this year was stunned to discover that Ron Paul–not a teabagger or another neocon–was the favored presidential candidate among the base. They totally didn’t expect it.

    Indeed, if lefties were smart we would join forces with the saner side of the libertarian right–there is an active anti-war, anti-bank bailout, anti-religious right element there that lefties could easily find common cause with. If you read former Reaganite Paul Craig Roberts’s essays about the state of the U.S., they sound like they should be published in the left-wing rag Counterpunch (oh wait, they were–he used to have a column there). Personally, I’d much rather see a Ron Paul take the presidency than another neocon–and let’s face it, there is not a breath of difference in the Democrats’ foreign policy or the GOP’s, they are both pure imperialist/neocon. (A major reason I would not support another Hillary run, although I did support her in the Dem primary. I was also still a Democrat then).

  28. cathyx permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Anyone who thinks the United States is better off with the Republicans in power…

    There is no real difference between the two parties anymore.

  29. bob mcmanus permalink
    September 30, 2010

    I agree with most of what is said here, but worry that it still looks a little too much like a generational war to be comfortable with conclusions about what Obama is doing or whether he will lose. I have always thought Obama was working and intensifying a particular generational divide. Chris Bowers I think got it. If Obama can lock in the loyalty of smart kids like Matt & Ezra, all his failures can be blamed on boomers, and they will outlive us.

    The lame duck is gonna be trippy.

  30. John B. permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Bob says:

    The lame duck is gonna be trippy.

    More please…

  31. September 30, 2010

    To be politically powerful, you not only have to be able to cost people elections, you also have to be able to win people elections.

    Concern troll is concerned.

  32. bob mcmanus permalink
    September 30, 2010

    “More please…”

    http://news.firedoglake.com/2010/09/28/the-fattest-lame-duck-in-captivity-20-bills-possible-for-lame-duck-session/

    David Dayen at FDL 20 bills, now 21 or 19 if Net Neutrality is abandoned

    Dayen thinks this is incompetence. I think it is shock-and-awe where the flack and shrapnel will be so heavy that the Catfood Commission and Tax Cuts For All will slip through. If we do get a Republican House, do not underestimate how much lameduck Dems will want to pad their resumes for jobs in January. Anyway…

    I’ll repeat, I think the Obama plan all along, since 2002, has been to split under-30s from boomers within the intellectual Democratic Left, and split them viciously. I think December and the lame duck and the Catfood Commission are part of that plan. When Obama slashes SS and Hamsher and Digby scream and Yglesias and Ezra Klein and John Cole cheer and we are facing two years of Republican Congressional Investigations of Obama…well, it’s gonna be a struggle to fight a disfavorable re-alignment. Think about Bill Clinton, he managed to go all neo-liberal and keep his popularity in the party after 1994. “Circling the wagons.”

    Axelrod is out there planning the 2012 campaign already. Obama will have no real difficulty.

  33. bob mcmanus permalink
    September 30, 2010

    IOW, Daou and Hamsher thinks Obama is losing with the current attack. I am not so sure. Yglesias and E Klein and Coates and the masses they represent are going to pick a side, and it won’t be ours. Obama wants a permanent neo-liberal re-alignment.

    When the Impeachment Hearings start, whatcha gonna do?

  34. someofparts permalink
    September 30, 2010

    I noticed the part of the RS Obama interview where he recalled that his people figured the Republicans would negotiate in good faith, given the dire prospect of economic collapse if they failed to act. That surprises me. I know better than that, and I didn’t spend years in Congress watching those crooks operate at close range.

  35. September 30, 2010

    Very true. It is the flip side of the need to disown Obama as forcefully and rapidly as possible, lest he continues to stand for “the left”, “progressives”, “liberals” and whatever other labels you may hold dear.

    Hostis humanis generis. It has long ceased to be a question of whether he might jsut do the right thing one of these days.

  36. Pepe permalink
    September 30, 2010

    smart kids like Matt & Ezra

    Methinks you doth o’erestimate their smartitudiness.

    See, HCR.

  37. September 30, 2010

    See here as well:
    http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/09/29/a-battle-of-ideolgies-not-cults-of-personally/

    On the merits, I think Daou is dead wrong about nobody wanting to “bring Obama down”. Ian makes the case that if “the left” is credited – rightly or wrongly – for affecting Democrit incumbency prospects, it should embrace this credit.

    Or as I would put it: If the Constitution needs the equivalent of an NRA – or a Tea Party – that focuses on the other 26 amendments – esp. the Top 9 – then that is what has to be done. As long as the ACLU does not have the leverage the NRA enjoys, “the left” should be mortified – esp. after the veal-pinning of MoveOn, NARAL et.al.

    But I believe Ian is also only half right: claiming the success of “bringing Obama down” makes only sense if one acknowledges that the objective is to bring him down – unlikely – or at the least be seen trying. Because a politician – esp. one with an ego and a position as his – is not reformable.

    This is the flip side of taking credit: Principled opposition inevitably results in the need to disown Obama as forcefully and rapidly as possible, lest he continues to stand for “the left”, “progressives”, “liberals” and whatever other labels you may hold dear.

    Hostis humanis generis. The torturer – the tyrant – is every human’s enemy. It has long ceased to be a question of whether he might just do the right thing one of these days. Pace Atrios – notably not listed by Daou – food stamps and mortgage cramdowns should not be enough to buy off principled support for decency and the rule of law.

    *They* work for us, and the constitution tasks us with holding them accountable, lest we be implicated in their many crimes.

  38. September 30, 2010

    It’s fine to embrace the narrative that “the left” has taken down the obama presidency … … a narrative that the OBAMA PRESIDENCY created and is propagating … but the fact of the matter is is that damn near NONE … if any … of the democratic politicians believe this shit or would even care if they did. It’s a bunch of fucking nonsense and the behavior of the people this narrative is supposed to pertain to (democratic politicians) know it’s nonsense and will continue to spit in the face of the left. If they believed it, they wouldn’t be spitting in our face right now. It’s all about scapegoating and laying the groundwork for future corporate servile sellout legislation.

    Z

  39. Ian Welsh permalink*
    September 30, 2010

    The left must be SEEN to take down Obama. That’s one of the essays coming soon. This is a necessity for anyone who is a left winger first, and a Democrat second.

  40. John B. permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Z, I beleive, has nailed it…

  41. CEO permalink
    September 30, 2010

    BO is setting up to blame the left since he can’t stand to be blamed himself. Parts of the right are apt to agree with the left on things like privacy, stupid wars, the personal mandate, financial industry bailout, and grabbing evermore presidential powers. If BO doesn’t get the nomination or doesn’t get reelected, the left will be cussed at and hated but feared. It will be the left’s fault. The left needs only to embrace it. I will await the promised essay.

  42. anon2525 permalink
    September 30, 2010

    the fact of the matter is is that damn near NONE … if any … of the democratic politicians believe this shit or would even care if they did.

    Even if what you have written about democratic politicians is true, the old expression “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” applies. Getting more people to be aware of and reading Greenwald, FDL, etc. will be good.

    Bruce Dixon of the Black Agenda Report made a point about Obama&Co on the radio some months. His view is that O&Co have been successful at preventing any view to the left of O&Co from getting heard (“overton window”?). This leads to the population thinking that the range of possible responses to problems extends from the Tea Party/Republicans on the right wing to O&Co — no other responses are possible or permitted. Ian Welsh is correct — O&Co are foolishly giving the writers on the left publicity and that will lead to more people reading them. The more people who are aware of and read these writers, the fewer people there will be who think that the Tea Party is the only possible response to the Democratic/Republican duopoly.

    To the extent that the writers on the left have any influence it is that they are telling the truth. If someone in the population is telling the truth and being heard, then the propaganda spread by those with power is less effective.

  43. September 30, 2010

    anon2525,

    I agree that it is not a bad thing that these voices are called attention to and I think in that respect it could very well backfire on the whiny, self-absorbed, deceitful pope of hope. I just don’t agree that embracing the narrative that the left brought down obama really has any currency or relevance. But hey, the more I think about it, maybe it will. If it leads to attracting more people to “the left” and that helps build up a critical mass maybe it can lead to civil disobedience actions that rattles the foundations of the corrupt party and leads to the dispelling of the dlc dickheads.

    Z

  44. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    September 30, 2010

    I always harp on this, but what is wrong with Americans? Why does it take a Canadian to point out that putting party above principle, on account of fear of “the other party”, makes you a slave? This all too common behavior leads me to believe that Americans are not individualistic as advertised.

  45. jcapan permalink
    September 30, 2010

    OZ,

    Are you honestly saying no Americans are capable of coming to such a conclusion on our own, that without our fair neighbors to the north we’d be lost in a partisan fog? Cuz, I gotta tell you, that’s some patronizing shit right there.

  46. September 30, 2010

    @Ian:

    “The left must be SEEN to take down Obama. That’s one of the essays coming soon. This is a necessity for anyone who is a left winger first, and a Democrat second.”

    This quote, and your post in general, is quite stressful, really. I’m sure Mandos is heartened somewhat that you’re swinging back towards engagement with the Democrats – albeit a negative engagement (with possible positive outcome… eh…) Me, not so much because I am drifting firmly away from trying to find anything useful in this top-down, organized political world, and getting to the personal and local for survival, historic “winners” and “losers” be damned. And here you come along offering something rather sweet and tasty to “pull me back in.”

    I mean, if I could just be SEEN as taking down The Man, then it’s just a skip until I put in the Right – er, Left – Man, right?

    Just to let you know, Ian – I’m always over here because you’re one of the sharper of the unadulterated minds out there, and I always want to take your temperature on things that come up before I finish my analysis. And I agree with you more often than not – and I’m actually agreeing with you on substance here, my snarking notwithstanding.

    I just think that we’ve been out-gamed at this point and at this level.

    A good President is simply not permitted anymore, if one were ever, period.

  47. anon2525 permalink
    September 30, 2010

    I always harp on this, but what is wrong with Americans?

    What is wrong is that it is a large country with a large, diverse population that has a lot of wealth.

    Because there are over 305 million people in the country, although there are over 45 million people living in poverty and over 50 million people without health insurance, you can still find, say, 10 million people who would join the Tea Party and 10 million people who directly or indirectly make money from the media complex, and 10 million people who think cheney was always right, and 10 million who think that obama is a great president, and still have 150 million people left over. (I expect that if you asked the average Chinese why their country burns so much coal, his response might be, “Look, buddy, there are 1.1 billion chinese in this country. Do you really think I have any say in what goes on here?” but in Chinese)

    Because there is so much wealth in the country, millions of people can indulge their beliefs that Iraqis were responsible for the attacks on 9/11/01, for example.

    Glenn Greenwald – American, Marcy Wheeler – American, Jane Hamsher – American. No Canadians told them to react as they have to the events of the past decade (no offense to Canadians intended).

  48. September 30, 2010

    Hey, Canadians. What’s with the round bacon?

  49. September 30, 2010

    As far as “the left” being “seen” to have taken down Obama, I’ll repost a comment here that I made at Corrente:

    One thing that concerns me about the series of Daou articles is that one can well imagine the opinion leaders quoted there — Greenwald, Hamsher, Aravosis, Digby — lining up behind some sort of (SEIU-funded) run. It’s even more interesting because Daou worked for Clinton, Hamsher and Digby essentially caved to the OFB, and Aravosis was a Hillary hater. So there is, one might say, a full spectrum of “progressive” opinion. One can see them in 2012 coalescing behind, say, an Elizabeth Warren candidacy. Or an “insurgent” candidacy from fetish object Alan Grayson.

    I admire GG’s work on executive power greatly, but Hamsher was a blatant, bought-and-paid-for shill on the so-called “public option,” which is still doing its destructive work, and Aravosis… Well, he’s the guy who has a hard time making it on $75K a year. Oh, the humanity!

    So there’s very little for the ramen noodle constituency in any of this, which is why these guys focus their attention on executive power (with a side order of gay marriage) instead of lunch bucket issues. Danps’s platform of:

    1. Medicare for All

    2. End the wars

    3. Soak the rich

    would get very, very little traction with these guys, and Hamsher’s betrayals, censorship, and shilling during the HCR debacle — where, let us remember, 45,000 peasants a year are dying — is the “tell.”

    So, again, we’re seeing a career “progressive” moment that won’t be able to deliver the goods, and will merely kick the can down the road toward collapse.

    And modulo the lunch bucket issues, there’s nothing to choose between GG, the best of ‘em, and Bruce Fein, now is there?

    NOTE The “lunch bucket” metaphor is old-fashioned, I know. For one thing, it assumes that people actually get lunch breaks these days. And that they haven’t already used their bucket for something else….

  50. scott permalink
    September 30, 2010

    We call it bologna, but what the hell, we’re Americans. I do agree with what Ian and one or two of the commenters have said – it really is time to dissociate the left in the public mind from Obama and his backers. As in, the left wouldn’t sell you out to the banks and to the health insurers/providers/Big Pharma, and it wouldn’t cut your unemployment benefits and threaten to “reform” (cut or eliminate) SS in the middle of a recession. Phyllis Schlafly is a conservative nutburger of 50 years vintage and counting, but she did have a snappy slogan back in the day that caught the imagination of people like her and helped mobilize them – “a choice, not an echo.” Time for people to say loud and clear that folks like Obama, Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and Nate Silver and their cozy establishment style “progressivism,” that won’t even pretend to help average people, don’t define what the left is or what a real liberal is. Any way of communicating that as loudly and clearly as possible is welcome. Out with the faux liberals and in with the liberals who might actually give a damn about someone lower than the top 5% of the income pyramid.

  51. dugsdale permalink
    September 30, 2010

    I agree that the Left “must be SEEN to take down Obama” to have an effect, but I’m afraid the “effect” will be to move the country still further to the right. That’s the eternal response of the bobbleheads that run the Democratic party. I’m sadly concluding that we’re more of a distraction around the margins, and a convenient excuse for Obama to start (keep?) moving to the right by way of courting “independents” and “moderate” Republicans disenfranchised by the crazy farm that is the GOP. Since the antiwar movement of the sixties, I have never in memory seen our leaders move anywhere but to the right as a result of pressure from the left, and that’s where all this is going, I think. It’s not the left’s fault, it’s just that we’re so effectively and decisively drowned out by vast and powerful right-wing forces–outgunned, outspent, outshouted.

    I suppose we can take pleasure here on the margins from putting a kink in Obama’s strides to the right, but I’m afraid it’ll be momentary at best.

  52. anon2525 permalink
    October 1, 2010

    I’m sadly concluding that we’re more of a distraction around the margins, and a convenient excuse for Obama to start (keep?) moving to the right by way of courting “independents” and “moderate” Republicans disenfranchised by the crazy farm that is the GOP.

    If you were able to take your knowledge of Obama back to early 2008 and give it to the rest of the Democratic primary voters, do you think that he would still that he would have made it through the primaries and gotten that party’s nomination?

    In other words, why is it that candidates believed that they had to campaign as though they would change from the bush/cheney policies (right-wing policies) if “moving to the right” is the best electoral strategy? Why did Obama present himself then as progressive/liberal, and why does he do that even today? (See his Rolling Stone interview)

  53. anon2525 permalink
    October 1, 2010

    …do you think that he would still that he would…

    That second “that he would” is a typo.

  54. October 1, 2010

    strether,

    I’m not entirely sure what you mean by this:

    “And modulo the lunch bucket issues, there’s nothing to choose between GG, the best of ‘em, and Bruce Fein, now is there?”

    Glenn Greenwald writes about a lot more than just executive power issues.

    As far as Hamsher is concerned, at least she didn’t segue from the public option to fervent support for the health care bill w/o the po like so many others did. I think that it is only fair … and important … to distinguish her from digby in those regards. Yes, she may have compromised and fought for the public option instead of single payer, but at least she fought hard to try to make that a reality and did a lot of valuable work exposing obama’s duplicity on the matter.

    Off the top of my head, Hamsher has gotten involved in “lunch bucket issues” such as recently fighting for Prop 19 and she was actively involved in student loan reform … and I’m pretty sure that there were others. Are these not “lunch bucket issues”? Is student loan reform not important to the “ramen noodle constituency”? I think that you are way too harsh on Hamsher. Indirectly, laying 45K deaths on her a year is completely irresponsible, inaccurate and fucked up IMO.

    We all make mistakes for God’s sake … and I think she made one for not pushing for single payer … but you tend to promote yourself and your site (corrente) as a bastion of open debate when it is … and you are … in my experience, far from that. You threw me off primarily to play up to the rabid hillary fandom that frequents your site. It was all pretty disgusting and hypocritical for someone who tries to portray themselves as an open debate alternative to the “access” blogs.

    Z

  55. October 1, 2010

    Actually, Z, tropes like “rabid Hillary fandom….” So 2008, eh? I heard all I needed to hear of that kind of crap in the trenches of Kos, and I don’t need to hear any more of it. Sorry things didn’t work out for you.

  56. October 1, 2010

    anon2525 asks:

    If you were able to take your knowledge of Obama back to early 2008 and give it to the rest of the Democratic primary voters, do you think that he would still that he would have made it through the primaries and gotten that party’s nomination?

    Of course. Two words: caucus fraud. Happened, and allowed to happen (allowed, though not commited, by the Clinton campaign as well, I might add).

  57. dougR permalink
    October 1, 2010

    Anon2525, I’m not sure universal prior “knowledge” about Obama among the dem electorate would have meant squat. Not in the face of a voter saying, after so many years of pillage by the R’s, “I need to make a difference by voting for a candidate who CLAIMS he’ll make a difference” …and then there’s always, “Well, maybe he means it THIS time.” Hope can trump logic and even experience, under the right circumstances, not news to anyone here I’m sure.

    Far as I can see, Obama is lately presenting himself as a progressive in order to demarcate himself FROM progressives, as he tries to offload responsibility for looming election losses onto the left. I think, as I indicated above, that the entire anti-progressive PR campaign emanating from the White House is exactly that, a shrugging off of responsibility, a setting-up of the fall guy/punching bag, which is basically us, to be followed by a fervent rush to the right in order to replace progressives slipping out of the Big Tent with disaffected R’s looking for a tent to go to.

    The one glimmer of utility in all the progressive-baiting from the WH is that it might get teevee bobbleheads to take progressives a little more seriously–maybe book more Janes and Glenns and Digbys (and, God wot, Ians) onto their programs, and perhaps thereby jack the narrative a tiny increment to the left.

    But the corporatist/rightist agenda is so dominant today that fringes and margins are all we’re gonna get, unless/until progressives can pare down and unite behind a program of bullet points. (I know how fatuous this may sound, but I’m sorry: as long as progressive policy points win among voters over conservative policies, WHEN the policies are correctly explained, then I think we need to keep to simplicity of argument, unite around core principles, and push back with one voice–which makes arguments about whether Digby said this, or Hamsher said that, fine for backrooms like this, but ultimately destructive if that’s as far as we get.)

  58. October 1, 2010

    strether,

    Would you care to respond to the crux of my post above instead of responding to some small part of it by attempting to be a smart ass? Are you contending that Glenn Greenwald only writes about executive power issues? That Jane Hamsher doesn’t get involved in “lunch bucket issues”? That student loan reform is of no interest to the “ramen noodle constituency”? Do you want to take a step back from indirectly linking Hamsher to 45K deaths a year?!!!!!!!!!

    Nah, probably not … just some silly snark about “hillary fandom” and Kos, which I don’t recall ever posting at and have only rarely read. You’d probably rather spend your time emailing Ian to try to get me removed from this blog becoz you can’t intelligently deal with the substance of my post. From my experience, that’s much more your style.

    Why don’t you link to the series of posts that led to you tossing me off of your site so that people that are thinking of giving you money can see you at your finest. The post was on 1-16-1010 and is titled “The call for progressives to STFU and be good little obedient democrats”. I’m sure that they’ll be very impressed.

    Z

  59. October 1, 2010

    He won an election running as a progressive. He’s going to lose one running as a conservative.

    Well, sure, but the main$tream still calls him the liberal progressive.

    He and his Party will lose this mid-term $election as liberals. Yes, it’s a lie, but only some of us see it. It’s part of the plan.

    And Hillary would have done the same thing.

    We are fighting the Company propaganda machine, and all of them are owned by it, or they wouldn’t be there.

  60. anon2525 permalink
    October 1, 2010

    …as long as progressive policy points win among voters over conservative policies, WHEN the policies are correctly explained, then I think we need to keep to simplicity of argument, unite around core principles, and push back with one voice…

    My observation (and I’m not claiming special insight) has been that getting the majority of the public to support a position has not mattered. Both the health “insurance” bill and the financial regulation bill showed that the people who get to write the legislation are those who paid to write the legislation, namely, the economic interests who would lose if they didn’t write the legislation. The majority gets to vote in elections, but they have no vote or representation in the content of bills — it’s “pay to play” and “money equals speech.” Since the majority of people are not paying (either for lobbyists or for campaigns) and since they don’t have much money, as Scalia might say, you don’t count.

    On social issues, what you are saying is correct — the majority can get what it wants — DADT, for example. Those doesn’t effect the economic interests of the wealthy minority.

    Mr. Burns from The Simpsons: “Let them have their tar-tar sauce!”

  61. anon2525 permalink
    October 1, 2010

    He won an election running as a progressive. He’s going to lose one running as a conservative.

    Yeah, I would disagree with Ian Welsh on this one, too. Obama’s actions — the bills he has signed, the policies he has put in place or continued from bush/cheney, the legislation that he has pushed for or declined to push for — those are the actions of a neo-liberal (on economics) and a neo-conservative (on domestic and foreign policy). But his rhetoric* has been that he is the reasonable (not a “purist”), responsible, serious liberal, not like those dirty fucking hippies. Those people are crazy, foolish, irresponsible — they should be tested for drugs.

    It is what makes the whole campaign since Labor Day so bizarre. One minute, Obama&Co are calling us crazy, foolish, and irresponsible. The next minute, they are saying “Vote for me.” Other people have called their campaign strategy “insane” or they have explained that O&co are not campaigning at all — they are just laying the groundwork for placing the blame. But that brings us back to this post — accept the “blame.” Take credit for bringing down democrats. (Or, more realistically, be glad that the left is getting the publicity.) The Tea Party is doing just that with the republicans, and the republicans are doing what they can to please the Tea Party. Well, that is, during the campaign. After the election, it’s back to business as usual with the lobbyists writing the bills, the politicians not reading the bills and rubber-stamping them.

    *See his interview in Rolling Stone

  62. October 1, 2010

    They’re not campaigning to win. They’re campaigning to get paid.

    I wish more people would realize that.

  63. October 1, 2010

    kb:

    They’re not campaigning to win. They’re campaigning to get paid.

    Ding!

    * * *

    anon2525:

    On social issues, what you are saying is correct — the majority can get what it wants — DADT, for example. Those doesn’t effect the economic interests of the wealthy minority.

    Which would seem to indicate that a form of “slow politics” that makes usury (for example) a social issue has some chance of success. Imagine “Move your money” on a much larger scale.

    * * *

    Z:

    To answer your question, no.

    What I find puzzling is that you’d even expect a response from a known associate and enabler of “rabid Hillary fans” in any case. Let alone from a “smart ass.” So why would I or anyone invest a single second of time wading through crap like that to get to your good stuff, if any? (To be clear, by “crap” I mean the hackneyed language. “Smart ass” and “rabid Hillary fan”… Sheesh.) Sorry, again, that things didn’t work out for you, and sorry that I can’t live up to your expectations. Life is very short, and I think your best option is simply to move on.

    * * *

  64. anon2525 permalink
    October 1, 2010

    They’re not campaigning to win. They’re campaigning to get paid.

    Has anyone seen any polling on why voters are choosing Tea Party candidates over republicans? (I have not.) Are they choosing them because they like/support what the candidate has been saying, or are they protesting against the corporate republicans because they (the voters) have been screwed and don’t want to support the corporate republicans with their votes?

  65. October 1, 2010

    strether,

    You rescinded my posting “privileges” on your blog over 8 months ago and I’ve never made a mention of it since, so, thanks for the advice, but I’ve obviously already moved on. However, when you post complete bullshit about people … unfairly criticizing them, indirectly linking Hamsher to 45K deaths a year, insinuating that Glenn Greenwald only writes about executive power, and that Hamsher hasn’t done any work on “lunch bucket issues” or any work that benefits the “ramen noodle constituency” … it pisses me off and I’ll call you on it which was the reason that I responded to your post. But again … true to your character from my previous experiences with you … you can’t admit that you are wrong or respond intelligently to the meat of the post so you look for some excuse, some diversion … a title line, a term … to skirt away from the trash you wrote. A little return advice to you: don’t post bullshit about people and you won’t have to snark your way thru the criticisms and the facts that come back at you.

    I don’t disagree with all of your opinions and not all of your work is trash, but when it is, don’t expect me to stand aside and let you spread it as the truth. I’m certainly not always right … who the fuck is? … and when I’m not, I appreciate people pointing it out to me. That’s how we get smarter … if that’s truly one’s goal. The reason that I responded the way I did is that I suspect that accuracy wasn’t your goal at all. And your response hasn’t disabused me of that notion.

    Z

  66. October 2, 2010

    They’re not campaigning to win. They’re campaigning to get paid.

    Eeesh. This is a favourite talking point in the American left, but most people who run for office in the USA don’t run because they need the money. Lots of other ways to get paid.

  67. anon2525 permalink
    October 9, 2010

    Even prior to that decision, it has been true that the people who decide which legislation, with respect to the economic system, is brought up in Congress are those who pay for a vote in the legislative process. The legislation is written by lobbyists (the payers) and “voted on” and passed by the elected politicians (the payees).

    You do not have a say in this legislation because you have not paid for it. And by “you,” I mean the democratic majority.

    Apparently, the people are taking some action (h/t Naked Capitalism):

    “The goal is to make it seem politically advantageous for legislators to keep the American people in mind when making laws,” Weldon said. “Lawmakers are going to ask me, ‘Why should I care about the American people? What’s in it for me?’ And it will be up to me and my team to find some reason why they should consider putting poverty and medical care for children on the legislative docket.”

    Though Weldon has only been on the job for three days, legislators have already seemed to take notice.

    “Before today, I’d actually never heard of this group,” Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) told reporters. “But if Jack says they’re worth my time, I’ll take a look and see if maybe there are some areas where our interests overlap.”

  68. mike permalink
    October 12, 2010

    I read Peter’s comments. Frankly, I found them rather amusing. Especially this part:

    “As president, Obama has done much good and has achieved a number of impressive legislative victories. He is a smart, thoughtful and disciplined man. He has a wonderful family. His staff are good and decent people trying to improve their country and working tirelessly under extreme stress.”

    This is just wishful thinking. I don’t see that Obama has done ANY good at all. A couple of good Supreme Court nominations, and that’s it. On all other fronts, things have and are getting worse. I can’t think of a single “impressive” legislative victories. And I definitely don’t this that he or his staff are very “smart” at all; they seem rather idiotic, especially regarding political savvy. And they definitely aren’t “good and decent people.” They are warmongers, terrorists, gangsters, liars and thieves. They have deliberately engaged in a policy of stealing money for their corporate buddies, and have repeatedly and deliberately ignored the law on a wide range of issues, the foreclosure frauds for instance. The repeated refusals to enforce the law are not just bad policy choices; they are criminal and impeachable offenses.

    As far as the bloggers bringing him down, I’d love to think so, but I don’t. Very, very few people read the bloggers he mentions, and they have very little real influence. I doubt very much whether 98% of the people in the country have ever heard of them, even professional politicians and policy wonks. Their influence is zilch as far as I can see.

    Obama has brought himself down, mostly because he’s not really all that bright, he’s not really very educated, and quite simply because he’s basically incompetent, not to mention corrupt. He’s had absolutely no experience managing anything (for instance, has never been responsible for a budget before), and it shows. He’s made many horrendous appointments, beginning with Hillary as SOS (she, like him, has absolutely no background in, understanding of, or training in international relations). He’s appallingly uninformed on many basic issues. Claiming that China is manipulating the currency (which he apparently really believes) shows a marked lack of understanding of economic fundamentals. Claiming that Israel’s settlements have any connection with the war there or that a moratorium on them would have any effect on the peace process demonstrates a striking ignorance of the conflict and its causes. Any knowledgeable person would have pressured the Palestinians, who are clearly responsible for the conflict, not the Israelis. And so on. He has no one to blame for himself.

    Sorry, but as a long-standing leftie myself, I have to say that the lefties are quite useless and irrelevant at this point. Very few people pay attention to them. I personally find them more a source of amusement than I do anything else.

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