Krugman Debunks The Unity Schtick

One of his best columns today:

Yesterday The Times published a highly informative chart laying out the positions of the presidential candidates on major issues. It was, I’d argue, a useful reality check for those who believe that the next president can somehow usher in a new era of bipartisan cooperation.

For what the chart made clear was the extent to which Democrats and Republicans live in separate moral and intellectual universes. . . . All in all, it’s an economic and political environment in which you’d expect Republican politicians, as a sheer matter of calculation, to look for ways to distance themselves from the current administration’s economic policies and record. . . In fact, however . . . — the leading Republican contenders have gone out of their way to assure voters that they will not deviate an inch from the Bush path. Why? Because the G.O.P. is still controlled by a conservative movement that does not tolerate deviations from tax-cutting, free-market, greed-is-good orthodoxy.

. . . There’s a fantasy, widely held inside the Beltway, that men and women of good will from both parties can be brought together to hammer out bipartisan solutions to the nation’s problems. . . . In fact, however, it’s not possible, not given the nature of today’s Republican Party, which has turned men like Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney into hard-line ideologues. On economics, and on much else, there is no common ground between the parties.

People think I am insulting Barack Obama when I say his Kumbaya schtick is a put on. I think it is the only way to give Obama credit. For if he believes it, he is a naive fool who has no business running for President.

< NYTimes: Jonah Goldberg, Witty Man Of Ideas | Populism (Edwards) On The Rise In Iowa >
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    yeppers! (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by cpinva on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 09:29:08 AM EST
    i want democrats in office who not only will engage the republicans, tooth and nail, but will take great personal pleasure in ripping their spines out, and holding them up as trophies, for all to see and admire.

    in the alternative, they can just reach into their chests, and rip out their still beating hearts, and eat them in front of them. that's fine too.

    i want republican/conservative blood in the water, drawing the sharks into a feeding frenzy so energetic in its intensity, the surface literally boils.

    oh, did i mention i think this "bi-partisan" crap is, well, um............crap?

    Bipartisan (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by BDB on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 10:41:37 AM EST
    The only way such a bipartisan movement could work is if they based it around undoing the damage in the Bush years.  If offended Republicans joined Democrats to say - we're against torture, indefinite detention, illegal spying and we're for balance of powers and the Constitution.  That the few rational Republicans left know that their party has screwed up and agree to work with Democrats to fix it in exchange for some political cover for those Republicans joining the movement.  That idea has some merit, IMO.

    Unfortunately, that's not what any of this is about.  This is not some joint effort to restore the Constitution, it's just egomaniacs scared about losing power.  Funny how it comes as the Democratic candidates include a black guy, a woman, and a trial lawyer.  Are there any three things that scare these people more?

    yes indeed (none / 0) (#2)
    by tnthorpe on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 09:57:11 AM EST
    Wanting to create some sort of "bipartisan" center with the proto-fascist Republican party is like wanting to create a scientific consensus with evolution-deniers like Huckabee. It's too stupid to contemplate.

    So he's either a fake or a naive fool ... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Maryb2004 on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 10:49:03 AM EST
    If he gets the nomination I hope he's a fake.

    Which is really the same question with Edwards in my opinion.  He says he's going to do all these great things - almost none of which can actually be accomplished.  So is he a fake or is he a naive fool?

    Both competing for the same voters to be the anti-Hillary. Which is fake?  Which is a naive fool?  And can they both be the same?  

    How to judge. The problem is that neither of these have any history of governing by which to judge them.  Neither of them did much of anything as Senator except run for higher office.

    But this is a legal blog.  Let's look at their history as lawyers.

    One practiced and won big cases.  In front of juries, no less.

    One was an academic.  


    All pols are fake (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 10:50:56 AM EST
    Every last one of them.

    Of course (none / 0) (#6)
    by Maryb2004 on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 10:53:27 AM EST
    I should have said "just" a fake or "also" a naive fool.  

    My hope is there is more than just (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 10:54:59 AM EST
    No wonder you support Obama (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Maryb2004 on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 11:08:31 AM EST
    You really DO believe in hope :)

    It seems more likely, based on experience, that it is Edwards who is more than just ...

    All of this will be academic when Hillary wins it all.  


    I don't know about that (none / 0) (#11)
    by RedHead on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 11:42:28 AM EST
     There is no indication that Obama would change his campaign if he secured the nomination and there is no indication that Obama would govern differently (atleast initially) if he won the presidency.

     Why would BTD support a promised and present campaign (as opposed to the underlying candidate) that he OPENLY despises.

     I wouldn't personally insult BTD by characterizing him as a politician of hope - hopeful that Obama is engaging in a put-on.


    BTD is very tepid about Obama (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Molly Bloom on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 11:48:54 AM EST
    I think he would have supported Edwards, but cannot bring himself to do so,  due to certain positions Edwards has taken which BTD feels strongly about regarding immigration.  (I am not deliberately being vague- just too lazy to look up the exact one and my memory fails me).

    it's all academic (none / 0) (#15)
    by RedHead on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 12:27:26 PM EST
    Obama will be out of the race shortly.  I'll note I predicted Obama's defeat and Romney's victory in October.

    I follow his argument.  I know about negative branding and Richard Hofstadter.  BTD has even written about the subjects.  Therefoe, I agree with him.  In short, how do you eliminate your opponents (think Michael Corleone) by preaching unity.  Look at all the trouble Obama had at the start.  He started in 2nd place, and he boxed himself in, for the longest time, by promising to run a positive campaign. That's how Bill Bradley lost his NH lead in 2000 (by declining to fend off battling Gore).

    My point is that when BTD supported Dodd, he was STILL disgusted with Obama's campaign.  Hell, he should have been elated one of his leading opponents was engaged in self defeating campaign.  


    Going Negative (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by BDB on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 01:02:58 PM EST
    Obama didn't really start to move in the polls until he went negative on Clinton.  He got away with it because Edwards had already started and the media hate Clinton.  So, basically, Obama could hit her, then she'd hit back, then the media would talk about how mean Hillary was.

    What has hurt him is that he didn't try to knock Edwards out early and so now he's ended up having to fight both Edwards and Clinton at the same time.  What's also hurt him is that while Clinton's team struggled at first in how to hit back, stumbling from one thing to the next, often seeming out of sync (the kindergarten crap, which was a lame response, and the drug crap).  

    But Clinton's campaign eventually got their act together and went back to their narrative - experience - using the present vote attack and basically suggesting he's all talk.  Clinton's been helped because Edwards has joined in on the "you can't win with happy talk" criticism, which is why Obama should've knocked Edwards off early or at least tried to.  Add to that some Obama gifts, particularly the Axelrod Bhutto stuff and Obama's lame Blitzer interview about it.

    Obama has done a much better job going negative than responding to negative, IMO.  In the last few weeks he's gotten into spats over unions, lobbyists, and experience.  None of these are his strengths.  He's been put on the defensive and hasn't seemed able to take it back.  It took a double teamed effort by Clinton and Edwards to get him there, but that's where he is.

    He still might win Iowa, but if he'd weakened Edwards more earlier, it wouldn't even be a question.


    And that's the problem (none / 0) (#18)
    by RedHead on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 01:12:13 PM EST
    What has hurt him is that he didn't try to knock Edwards out early and so now he's ended up having to fight both Edwards and Clinton at the same time.

    Perhaps Edwards chief issue is to fight the system.  What Al Gore framed as "the people vs the powerful," in 2000.

    Obama's unity campaign was based (yes, past tense - he's done) conciliation, not confrontation.  By definition he ceded the issue to Edwards.


    Not Just Ceded It to Edwards (none / 0) (#19)
    by BDB on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 02:04:25 PM EST
    He hasn't just ceded it to Edwards, he's been put in the position of having to criticize Edwards for it.  That could come back to haunt him in the general election if he wants to try to adopt a more populist stance.  He can do it, but he'll have to back away from some of his own statements criticizing folks who want to fight.  Given how much the MSM hate the fight talk and love Obama's unity shtick, they'll probably make it difficult for him to change tacks.

    I don't really understand your comment (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Maryb2004 on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 12:05:58 PM EST
    He's the one who says he's supporting Obama.  

    But I'm sure if he thinks I've insulted him he won't hesitate to tell me :)


    It's about put-ons (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by RedHead on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 12:41:01 PM EST
    BTD says Obama's unity campaign is a put-on:

    People think I am insulting Barack Obama when I say his Kumbaya schtick is a put on.

    In other word, just because obama says he's for unity doesn't really mean he's for unity, it's a put-on.

    Yesterday, BTD implied (imo) that Bob Johnson's freak-out over Taylor Marsh's use of the word "cannibalize" was a put-on.

    In other word, just because Bob Johnson says he's for outraged doesn't mean he really found Marsh's post offensive.

    I'm saying, just because BTD says he's for Obama candidacy (as opposed to his campaign) doesn't mean he really favors Obama.  It's just my opinion. But it's based on the premises that in politics you can accept every statement at face value.


    Fake (none / 0) (#7)
    by RalphB on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 10:54:51 AM EST
    is virtually in the rational definition of politician.  Otherwise, it'd be awful hard to be elected and then where would you be?

    zactly (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 10:55:20 AM EST
    fake? of course they are! (none / 0) (#14)
    by cpinva on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 12:24:13 PM EST
    how else could any rational person kiss some snot nosed baby in public, and smile for the camera? geez, politicians throughout history have been fakes. so what else is new?

    of course, according to sean hannity, all the republicans are "authentic", in a fakey, plastic sort of way. except for fred thompson, he's still dead.

    obama is the candidate of the future, after he gets some real governing experience. edwards would make a great, post-presidency jimmy carter, minus the presidency.

    hillary is the only one of the major three dems who has it all: private sector experience, public sector experience and brains.

    don't get me wrong, i like both obama and edwards, just not enough to want to see them occupying the oval office. at least, not right now.

    the rest are just filler.

    and it really doesn't matter who the dems nominate, the MSM and right-wing shills will go after them, viciously.