Barney Frank On Obama And The Fights Of the 90s

Barack Obama has a very bad habit of denigrating the political battles of the past. A few days ago, Barney Frank wrote a terrific piece taking on Obama kneejerk swipes at the battles of the past. Here is a piece of it:

I think it is important to express my discomfort with a major theme of Senator Obama's campaign. I am referring to his denigration of "the Washington battles of the 1990's" and, usually implicitly but sometimes explicitly, of those who fought them.

. . . I cannot think of a cause that I cared deeply about then that I felt it appropriate to abandon as I aged, nor an important issue in which I had no interest then, but which now gets my attention.

This brings me to my particular concern with Senator Obama's vehement disassociation of himself and those he seeks to represent from "the fights of the nineties." I am very proud of many of the fights I engaged in in the nineties, as well as the eighties and before. Senator Obama also bemoans the "same bitter partisanship" of that period and appears to me to be again somewhat critical of those of us who he believes to have been engaged in it. . . .


I agree that it would have been better not to have had to fight over some of the issues that occupied us in the nineties. But there would have been only one way to avoid them -- and that would have been to give up. More importantly, the only way I can think of to avoid "refighting the same fights we had in the 1990's", to quote Senator Obama, is to let our opponents win these fights without a struggle.

It would have been nice in the nineties not to have had to fight to defend a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion, and I would be very happy if that fight ended tomorrow. . . . I would have been delighted in the nineties if our conservative opponents had been willing to recognize our rights to be treated fairly under the law, and I would have saved a lot of time, as recently as this past year, if there was not continued strong right wing opposition to the "radical" position that people should not be denied jobs because of their fundamental nature, or that hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be treated less seriously than those based on racial or religious prejudice. These are three of the major fights in which I was engaged in the nineties, and I literally do not understand what Senator Obama means when he says that he does not want to keep fighting them.

. . . In some cases, Senator Obama does not seem to remember what some of the fights of the nineties were. . . . Another major fight of the nineties which seems to me essential -- not simply relevant -- to the current election is tax policy. Few fights that we had in the period when Senator Obama is denigrating our battles was more important than the successful effort to pass President Clinton's tax plan in 1993. . . . I make no apologies for having fought that fight, and in fact I hope that whoever is the President of the United States in 2009 will take up the battle against excessive tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the country, both as a matter of fairness and as a matter of being able to afford fundamental programs essential to the quality of our lives. . . .

Read the whole thing. A wonderful piece. Obama has a lot to answer to in response to this imo.

Why the Clinton campaign is not making this argument is not clear to me.

< Senator Obama, You Are No Ronald Reagan | Hillary Plays Flight Attendant to Traveling Press >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Barney Franks Speaks For Me (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by MO Blue on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 05:11:36 PM EST
    More importantly, the only way I can think of to avoid "refighting the same fights we had in the 1990's", to quote Senator Obama, is to let our opponents win these fights without a struggle.

    I went to bed last night feeling better about (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Teresa on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 05:15:02 PM EST
    things. I felt that I would be well represented by any one of the three candidates at last night's debate. Now, I'm as puzzled as ever by Obama. How can he get the things done that I want done without fighting for them? Will the Republicans just be so charmed that they just go along?

    I guess that Obama feels like if he can win by a big bipartisan margin, he can force them to do his bidding by letting Americans see that he is truly trying to include them but they just won't compromise? It just makes me very nervous.

    hey - (none / 0) (#5)
    by Judith on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 05:17:07 PM EST
    actually doing stuff is the COO's job.  Please dont confuse that with being a visionary.

    Oops...I forgot. :) (none / 0) (#6)
    by Teresa on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 05:30:53 PM EST
    hee hee (none / 0) (#8)
    by Judith on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 05:39:01 PM EST

    The idea (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by BDB on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 05:42:26 PM EST
    that you can have any of the things that Obama says he wants - and I believe he does want them - without fighting for them is ridiculous.

    That he is probably the best agent to take that fight to Republicans and conservatives, but doesn't do it and instead chooses this unity crap is a huge disappointment.  It's ultimately why I don't support him for the nomination.

    Because Obama is running (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 04:59:23 PM EST
    against the 90s Republican caricature of the Clintons.

    No he's not. (none / 0) (#2)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 05:04:26 PM EST
    The 1990's revisited... (none / 0) (#7)
    by eddeevy on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 05:31:19 PM EST
    As a life-long liberal and a veteran of the Sixties Civil Rights struggle I was greatly disappointed with what happened in Washington during the 1990's. Lots of people in American society got rich but those who depended on welfare payments got screwed. And middle class workers saw hundreds of thousands of jobs outsourced to low-pay countries as a result of trade deals. This is not to take anything from the efforts of people like Barney Frank to promote a liberal agenda.  I didn't see Bill Clinton as a champion of the least advantaged in our society.

    Obama is taking away from their efforts (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 05:40:53 PM EST
    is Frank's point.

    Next time see if you can address it.


    Agree (none / 0) (#15)
    by Bob In Pacifica on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 06:32:55 PM EST
    It was sort of "We lost the good fight." The Democrats in Congress generally opposed NAFTA. Bill Clinton pushed it. I remember Al Gore debating Ross Perot about it, with Perot being on the correct side. Remember that sucking sound being American jobs. The exportation of agriculture products into Mexico, specifically corn, destroyed small farms there and caused a wave of illegal north. Ironically, the corn that went south provided an illegal workforce in America.

    I'm glad someone was fighting against the Contract on America, but they didn't win the the fight and the Clintons didn't help.


    By the way, I'm not sure that Obama is going to turn the ship around either.


    Frank is creating a straw man here. (none / 0) (#11)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 06:04:19 PM EST
    Obama is talking about the conflict of personalities, of refighting the culture wars of the 1960's.

    In his book, he talks about how the 1990's were a lot about whether people smoked dope, dodged the draft, etc etc back in the day.

    He doesn't believe that fighting over ISSUES and RIGHTS was futile.  He's talking about fighting over stuff that happened a generation ago.  

    Then Obama's the One with the Straw Man (5.00 / 5) (#14)
    by BDB on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 06:18:53 PM EST
    If Obama really believes the slurs about smoking dope or dodging the draft was about those things and not about discrediting the Clintons so that they would be weakened when the real fights came up then he needs a serious reality check.  The culture wars were also about discrediting the DFH and all of their associated causes like feminism and civil rights.

    In fact, I'd argue you could draw a direct line from the culture wars - which Democrats largely lost - to the AUMF for Iraq.  Want to know why anti-war voices were so often silenced by the media?  Because "the Left" became defined through the culture wars as irresponsible, unpatriotic, dirty f-ing hippies.  

    The culture wars were about the GOP trying to discredit the Democratic party so they could win in 1992 after the economy tanked on Bush I and he lost his 90% approval rating.  Just like they used fear of the gays in 2004 and are using immigration this year.  

    The culture wars cannot be separated from the other fights, they are part of them.  That we lost them is why we lost so many other things.


    Absolutely (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 06:42:16 PM EST
    Geek needs to take that weak crap back to dkos where they will lap it up.

    We do not play the s--t here.


    Who are you talking about? (none / 0) (#23)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:03:07 PM EST
    Those things resonated with voters because those voters were hung up on the 60's.

    Did rightwingers in Congress push those buttons to achieve a rightwing policy agenda?


    But, the reason they were able to push those buttons was the cultural hangover from the 60's.

    Heck, I talked to people in Iowa who were still pissed at Carter for pardoning the people who went to Canada instead of Vietnam.


    Resonated with voters? (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:09:47 PM EST
    Which things? The pot smoking? The womanizing?

    You must be kidding me.


    Of Course (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by BDB on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:20:58 PM EST
    Of course the culture issues resonated, Clinton lost didn't he?  Heh.

    Seriously, the fact that some Democrats insist on taking the GOP culture wars and other things seriously is one of the reasons why Clinton didn't accomplish as much as I had hoped (not the only reason, but one of the reasons).  As Digby reminded folks recently it took Sam Nunn, that bipartisan paragon, nine-days to kneecap Clinton over gays in the military.

    I have some problems with Hillary Clinton's political philosophy, but she reportedly complained in 1980 that Democrats were politically weak.   She was right then and she is right now.  We're weak because we fall for BS GOP talking points - we don't just fall for them, we repeat them and give them credence.  

    One of my many problems with Obama is how he doesn't seek to use his powerful oratory skills to rebut the lousy MSM mythology that's built up over the last 30 years.  Instead, as with his comments about Reagan today, he amplifies it and tries to use it.  We'll never win as long as we do that.


    The Assault Weapons Ban probably did more (none / 0) (#34)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:28:04 PM EST
    to cost Democrats control of Congress than any other piece of legislation.

    Seriously--do you think they hated Clinton for his centrist policies?  

    Of course, not everyone bought into it.

    many, many republicans are not rational and are backwards looking.


    Huh? (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:44:31 PM EST
    An Assualt weapons ban is centrist? In what universe? Heck, no one is even for it anymore.

    It was a LIBERAL policy.

    I can not  eve follow your argument now.


    Depends on what is is (none / 0) (#58)
    by Rojas on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 12:02:42 AM EST
    Bush 41 banned the import in 89. In 90 they banned the assembly and sale from imported parts.

    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 06:41:05 PM EST
    You gotta be kidding me.

    You THINK that is what the battles of the 90s were about? You think that OBAMA thinks that?

    I hope he is not seriously arguing that.


    Do you think the Republicans HATED (none / 0) (#21)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:00:53 PM EST
    Bill Clinton for his centrist policies?

    What was it--NAFTA?  A balanced budget?  DODT?  DOMA?  

    No, it was the fact that he was a draft-dodging, pot-smoking womanizer who wanted to take their guns away.


    They hated him (5.00 / 8) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:07:20 PM EST
    for Don't ask, don't tell, for raising taxes, for enforcing civil rights laws, for the EITC, for appointing Ginsburg and Breyer, for trying to get universal health care, for not agreeing to privatize social security, for being a DEMOCRAT AND for beating them.

    Do you REALLY think they will not hate Obama if he does all these things?

    Are you that freaking naive?


    Ginsburg and Breyer? Come on. (none / 0) (#36)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:42:44 PM EST
    Roll call votes:

    Breyer was approved 87-9.

    Ginsburg was approved 96-3.

    The EITC?  Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency ex post 2000?  They didn't try to repeal it.

    Not agreeing to privatize social security?  Again, I must have missed that raging controversy.

    As far as health care is concerned, the Clintons screwed that one up royally all by themselves.  Had they included Dole and Moynihan in the deliberations instead of doing fiat by Magaziner, it probably would have gotten done.


    I think you missed the entire 90s (none / 0) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:01:04 PM EST
    OF course they hated the appointments of Ginsburg and Breyer. You look at the vote counts and think that tells the story. You simply do not understand that Clinton's appointing ANYBODY pissed them off.

    And since you clearly DID miss the Social Security issues, and the tax cut issues regarding the surplus, I am convinced you did not follow the 90s battles at all.

    I guess neither did Obama.


    I do remember the budget debate (none / 0) (#44)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:06:26 PM EST
    during his first two years.  I worked in a Senate office for part of that time.

    And, yes, the raising taxes to balance the budget did catch some heat.

    But, that wasn't the reason for the hate.

    If anything, the Clinton hatred was an extension of the backlash that brought the Reagan admin into power in the first place.  Clinton was skillful at taking advantage of dissatisfaction under Bush, but didn't prove as adept at managing that same frustration one in office.


    They hated Clinton (none / 0) (#46)
    by ding7777 on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:20:12 PM EST
    because he was a Democrat who ousted Bush41.  The Republicans were not ready to give up power - not then - not now.

    Umm (none / 0) (#49)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:23:35 PM EST
    I really do not even understand what you are saying now.

    Are you really arguing that the issues the GOP had with Clinton were entirely about his pot smoking and draft dodging and womanizing and had nothing to do with policy?

    Wow. Just wow.


    Please (5.00 / 4) (#28)
    by BDB on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:10:04 PM EST
    You are making this too easy.  None of those things you mentioned were even part of the debate when the GOP started smearing Clinton as a pot-smoking, draft dodging hippy with his ball-breaking feminist wife. Those smears started during the 1992 election when Clinton was promising, among other things:

    • restore the middle class and fix the economy,
    • universal healthcare, and
    • allow gays in the military.

    He did not decide to try to fix the budget until he got in office and saw what a mess it was, yet they were smearing him for the other stuff throughout the campaign. NAFTA also came way after 1992.

    DADT and DOMA only proves my point.  They are a direct result of the all-out cultural attack on Clinton by the rightwing, aided and abetted by such "good" Democrats as Sam Nunn when Clinton tried to make good on his promise to allow gays in the military.  

    The Republicans couldn't care less about draft dodging, look at the current administration.  Nor do they care about drug use, look at the current president.  No, they only care about these things when Democrats do them because it's a way to paint the Democrats as out-of-step with American culture and discredit their programs.


    Shorter Version (none / 0) (#29)
    by BDB on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:11:00 PM EST
    What Big Tent Democrat said.

    Reality Check (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by MO Blue on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:13:51 PM EST
    Bush was a drunken, cocaine using failure who went AWOL from his Guard unit during Vietnam. But IOKIYAR

    Could it be they hated Clinton because there was a concerted effort by the Republicans establishment to have him seen as Satan come to earth? The fact that he was a well liked president whose centrist policies had the possibility of cutting into their voting base unless they demonized him might have had something to do with it.


    And by 'Republicans' I mean (none / 0) (#24)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:03:47 PM EST
    the voters out there, not the button pushers in DC and in the broadcast booth.

    Reread BDB's post (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:08:35 PM EST
    and try and see if you can understand politics a little better.

    Do you think they hated Kerry for his service in Vietnam? Or do you think they just smeared him for the heck of it?


    They hated him for his war protesting. (none / 0) (#32)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:25:21 PM EST
    If by 'they' you mean the people who were the target of those ads, as well as some of the a-holes they dug up and put in those ads.

    The financiers and political strategists used that hate for their own ends.


    They hated him because he was a Dem (none / 0) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:43:14 PM EST
    Honestly, I hope Obama win in part just so you folks will learn a lesson and then demand we help defend Obama against the vile smears he is going to face.

    At the least adopt Hilzoy's view on this that Obama makes it harder, not that it will stop.

    That at least is within the realm of the possible.


    "You folks" (none / 0) (#39)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:53:47 PM EST
    Not being me, since I probably will not be voting for either one.  

    Then not you (none / 0) (#41)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:01:45 PM EST
    Vile smears? Let's see: (none / 0) (#45)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:11:30 PM EST
    Black radical separatist

    Farrakhan Acolyte

    Drug Dealer

    Uncle Tom (the real ugliness of Billionaire Bob Johnson's remarks)

    Closet Muslim jihadist

    Baby killing abortionist

    Unpatriotic flag disrespecter

    Woman-hating rap-music listening thug

    Al Sharpton-style race hustler

    He's seen all of those--and more than one have come from people like Taylor Marsh who call themselves Democrats.


    Oh play me the violin Geek (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:25:22 PM EST
    The stuff you rec and cheeer at daily kos about Clinton is vile stuff.

    And you continue to cheer for the stone cold racist icebergslim who is a racist against Latinos.

    Do not put airs on for me.

    I appreciate that you leave that behind here but do not play the innocent.


    No (none / 0) (#57)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 10:16:01 PM EST
    No, it was the fact that he was a draft-dodging, pot-smoking womanizer who wanted to take their guns away.

    The culture wars were always nothing more than a weapon, at least to the movement conservatives.

    It wouldn't have mattered WHAT Bill Clinton proposed or did. He could have been left, right, or center. They were going to demonize him for it no matter what, in whatever way they could, in order to grab power for themselves.


    I found his argument a bit flawed myself (none / 0) (#12)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 06:08:11 PM EST
    I thought he would attack Obama head on - and it would be appropriate, but then Frank just goes into abortion and other subjects that are obviously not what Obama was referring to.  It's called playing to the base.  It worked on this site, but it is a counter argument without substance.

    A point not addressed (none / 0) (#18)
    by koshembos on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 06:43:08 PM EST
    Why the Clinton campaign is not making this argument is not clear to me.

    Not for the first time, Hillary's team seems ill prepared to fight Obama. In my view, had they started attacking Obama on time, he would have been out of it now. It might be the "genius" of Mark Penn.

    She's experienced. (none / 0) (#19)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 06:50:05 PM EST
    Didn't you get the memo?

    It a vacant word like "change," but different.


    Maybe she wants him as a VP candidate (none / 0) (#48)
    by ding7777 on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:23:35 PM EST
    Under her experience - he will grow into the Presidency in 8 years.

    Anyone who takes the VP slot (none / 0) (#53)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:38:03 PM EST
    under Clinton will be tarnished and will not be winning anything in 8 years.

    It will be WWIII if Clinton wins.  No one gets out looking good, just like last time.


    I assume you are talking about the GE (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:31:01 PM EST
    as WWIII?

    No (none / 0) (#59)
    by DA in LA on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 12:43:21 AM EST
    I'm talking about the right wing if she takes office.  It will be as bad, if not worse than the Bill years.  Tons of crap thrown at them, something sticks, off we go..

    I really think she'll fling it back. (none / 0) (#60)
    by oculus on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 12:55:43 AM EST
    Hence my reference to WWIII (none / 0) (#62)
    by DA in LA on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 01:05:32 AM EST
    I don't think so (none / 0) (#64)
    by ding7777 on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 06:53:00 AM EST
     #1  is that the Republican Party is probably just as relievced to see Bush43 leave as most Democrats are - which wasn't the case after 12 years of Reagan/Bush41.

    #2 is Hillary has gained the RESPECT, if not the support of many Republicans.


    Good luck with that opinion. (none / 0) (#66)
    by DA in LA on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 12:13:17 PM EST
    I'm not saying its going to be (none / 0) (#67)
    by ding7777 on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 01:16:00 PM EST
    a love-fest - but it will not be WW3, that's all

    Why (none / 0) (#20)
    by chemoelectric on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 06:51:48 PM EST
    Why the Clinton campaign is not making this argument is not clear to me.

    Perhaps it would make them look like wizened adults beating up on a naive young man.

    Franks article (none / 0) (#22)
    by CanyonWren on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:01:34 PM EST
    solidified why I suspect Obama is the quintessential establishment Dem and why he would work beautifully with Pelosi and Reid. (Loud groan and eyeroll) I don't want to believe that he possesses the same cynicism that those two do, but I fear it may turn out that way if he indeed is trying to attract disenchanted Repug's.  I just don't get how he can examine the history of the Gingrich GOP and come out equalizing the two parties, and neutralizing the vitriol that went on back then. Kinda creepy, actually, like rewriting history.

    ps, what BTD, no h/t? ;D

    Instead, Clinton is putting out yet more (none / 0) (#33)
    by kovie on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:27:11 PM EST
    crap that exaggerates his admitedly less than stellar but still far less than awful social security statements:

    Obama Slams Clinton for Nevada Mailer
    January 16, 2008 4:18 PM

    ABC News' Sunlen Miller Reports: Senator Barack Obama slammed Sen. Hillary Clinton Wednesday for sending out fliers to Navadans that he said misstates his health care plan and position on social security.

    The Obama campaign supplied reporters with a copy of the Clinton campaign mailer, that reads: "We need a President that will help hard working families keep more of what they earn."

    Inside the mailer are contrast images of Clinton and Obama. "Barack Obama. A plan with a trillion dollar tax increase on America's hard-working families," it reads, "Hillary Clinton. A blueprint to rebuild the road to middle-class prosperity."

    At a campaign event at a convention center in a Las Vegas suburb Wednesday, Obama chided Clinton for sending out the mailer.

    "Some of you may have been getting these, a flier lately from Senator Clinton's camp that says that they are gonna solve Social Security just by showing fiscal responsibility and 'Obama is going to initiate a trillion dollar tax cut (sic) on hard working families,'", Obama told the crowd, "I want to be clear about what the social security debate is ... we don't have an immediate crisis, but we do have a long term problem."

    (Later the campaign said Obama misspoke, that he meant to accuse Clinton of accusing him of a tax increase -- not a tax cut.)

    Obama said his plan would bolster social security coffers by removing the current cap on the very highest of earners  -- not a general tax raise implied by the Clinton mailer.

    "This is what I proposed, this is what Senator Clinton is calling a trillion dollars on hard working Americans. Now maybe she thinks that the top 3 percent of the population is the average, middle class America. It is not. Just so you're clear. So if you get that flier, I just want to make sure that everybody understands what my plan is."

    He admits that it's not a crisis, which is good. He claims that there's still a long-term problem, which is not necessarily definite since we simply cannot know at this time, but not a lie, either, so I give him a pass on that one. But for Clinton to claim that lifting the payroll cap would be "a trillion dollar tax increase on America's hard-working families" is just plain dishonest and wrong.

    One can certainly criticize the idea of lifting the cap in terms of its present necessity (according to Krugman) or wisdom (because, as Marshall and others have argued, it might make it easier for congress to borrow and spend yet more money unnecessarily, although I'd argue that if that's what's keeping congress from being fiscally irresponsible, we've got far more serious problems to resolve).

    But to criticize it as a harsh penalty on "America's hard-working families" is simply dishonest and a cheap shot. We're talking about INDIVIDUALS, not FAMILIES, who make more than $97,500 a year or so. Middle-class, perhaps. Hard-working, probably. Financially struggling, and likely to be dealt a horrible financial blow by having to pay out a bit more each year in FICA, I think not.

    Again, this isn't about whether we need or would benefit by lifting the payroll cap, but rather about the dishonesty of calling it an unfair burden on "America's hard-working families", and using this to attack Obama, rather than other, more salient criticisms of him. I have to wonder, is her camp really getting this desperate? Or are they merely trying to make Obama think that they're this desperate, to make him feel too confident yet again (as he appeared to be post-Iowa) and perhaps make some stupid mistakes of overreaction?

    I put nothing over them--and politically, it might be smart, however ruthless. Would that they had employed such tactics against the other side all these years. Gotta wonder about people who only attack those whom they view as weak, vulnerable and naive. Especially as president...

    Differing opinions is not dishonesty (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:41:32 PM EST
    Please see if you can see the difference.

    Raising the cap on people (none / 0) (#42)
    by kovie on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:03:18 PM EST
    making over $97,500 is an excessive burden on hard-working families? Ok, she didn't explicitely say hard-working working and middle class families, but the implication is pretty clear. And the fiscal worries of people earning this much, while not nothing, are hardly ones shared by most Americans. Why is she pretending that defending the interests of the upper middle to upper class is the biggest priority facing the country right now or more than what it actually is?

    I don't see this as a difference of opinions in terms of what she was clearly implying here (that lifting the cap would be hard on most Americans), as opposed to what she wasn't (that lifting the cap is a bad policy ideas for other reasons). The latter is a difference of opinion, but not what she was saying. The former, though, is just plain dishonest.


    I see (none / 0) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:21:27 PM EST
    Implications and definitions of middle class families are what you are basing your charge of dishonesty?

    See, that is truly what is wrong with some on the blogs.

    Why not just disagree? Why irresponsibly accuse someone of dishonesty?

    This is daily kos territory you are approaching.

    It does not play at this site.

    I criticize everyone but I make sure it is understood that I am stating an opinion unless I have hard facts that enable me to accuse someone of dishonesty.

    For example, Michelle Obama dishonestly stated that the clinton campaign called the Obama campaign a fairytale.

    That was clearly dishonest. Because the Clinton campaign did NOT call the Obama campaign a fairytale.

    Do you see the difference?  


    I was not referring to the fairytale incident (none / 0) (#52)
    by kovie on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:31:34 PM EST
    on which I agree with you (along with his dishonestly and/or stupidly calling social security a crisis as I've stated already), but rather on this specific matter. And on THIS matter, she is being dishonest if she's calling (or implying that) raising the payroll cap would be an unfair burden on MIDDLE CLASS (and not UPPER middle class) families, which is what she's clearly doing. This is in the same approximate league as dishonestly calling the estate tax a "death tax" and claiming that it unfairly hurts middle class families (which it does not). She is adopting RW memes here and I find that troubling. Along with "Madrassah", "Shuck and jive" and "cocaine", I find it all to be extremely troubling. None of which means that Obama hasn't tried to pull some pretty awful crap that he needs to be called on, but I'm talking about Clinton's crap here, not Obama's.

    I agree. (none / 0) (#54)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:39:16 PM EST
    She didnot say that (none / 0) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:02:07 PM EST
    You did.

    She said it would increase the tax burden on hardworking families.

    Now, you can hold the opinion that families who make more than 97k arenot hardworking or even impliedly middle class, but that is YOUR OPINION, not a fact.


    But I DIDN'T express such an opinion (none / 0) (#61)
    by kovie on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 01:02:16 AM EST
    Certainly people who make over $97.5 are (or can be) hard-working. And certainly the upper end of what's considered to be "middle class" encompasses people who make more than this. But when you say "hard-working" and "middle class", it's generally understood that you mean people making less than $97.5k. I don't know anyone who'd dispute this, not credibly at least. Which means that Obama's solution (to what may or may not be a problem, but certainly is not a crisis) would not affect the people whom this appeal by Clinton appears to be intended to target. Or are you suggesting that she sees people making over $97.5k as being an important enough constituency to target thusly? If so, more power to her, but it hardly positions her as the champion of the bulk of the middle class--i.e. the people most likely to benefit from raising the payroll cap.

    Sorry, but I see dishonesty all over this appeal by Clinton. I.e. trying to scare one, large, important (in its voting power) and struggling constituency--the heart of the Democratic party and America--about something that will only affect another, smaller, less important (vote-wise, but certainly not donation-wise) and not so struggling constuency. Not unlike how the right has been trying to sell the estate tax repeal (or, I'd say, the supposedly now retired dogwhistle gambit).

    I would call this out no matter how tried to pull it. Hillary just happens to be doing it here.


    It gets worse, actually (none / 0) (#68)
    by kovie on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 01:42:40 PM EST
    From TPM:

    As the Obama campaign has argued in response to previous Hillary attacks on this topic, this involves Obama's proposal to create a "donut" in the taxable income for Social Security payroll taxes, which as of this year's indexation would affect people making over $102,000 per year -- something akin to keeping the current cap, creating a "donut" to a $200,000 or $250,000, and then taxing income above that level at the same rate.

    Getting rid of the cap completely would indeed raise revenues by $1 trillion or more, but over the next ten years, according to both the centrist Tax Policy Center and the right-wing Heritage Foundation.

    There just one problem: Obama has only proposed raising the cap, not scrapping it.

    Late Update: It's worth highlighting some of the phrases in this mailer. "New Hampshire families need to keep more of their hard-earned dollars -- not less..."

    And: "We need a President that will help hard-working families keep more of what they earn..."

    There's also a reference to New Hampshire families sending more of their "hard-earned dollars to Washington."

    Noted without comment.

    If he's proposing such a donut hole, and Hillary is trying to portray people making over $200k a year as being in need of our sympathy on matters financial considering how much tougher things are for people earning far less than this, then yes, it's dishonest, and to call it a matter of opinion is to strain the limits of credulity. I've got nothing against people making $200k or $200m a year, or claiming that they don't work hard. But they're not the kinds of people who've most suffered at the hands of Bush and the GOP. Just the opposite, in fact. If she's going after the affluent vote, fine, just don't make it look like this is about the majority of people in the middle class, who would in no way be NEGATIVELY affected by this--just the opposite, they'd eventually BENEFIT from it (making it a double lie).


    In fact she made the link (none / 0) (#50)
    by kovie on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:24:01 PM EST
    between "hard-working families" in one sentence and "middle-class" in the very next one, without explicitely stating (but clearly implying)that raising the cap would be hard on the middle class, which it would not be because the definition of middle class does not yet extend to families in which at least one member is earning over $97,500. Upper middle class, yes, but that's not what is generally meant by "middle class". Dishonesty by implication, but still dishonesty.

    Just as Obama's calling it a crisis not long ago was dishonest (or at least stupid and ignorant, policy-wise), to make it clear that it's her dishonesty that I'm having a problem with in this matter, not her specifically (although I clearly do have other problems with her). I have a problem when ANY of them are being dishonest (or stupid or ignorant or weak or anti-progressive and so on).


    Barney Frank is right on about B.O. and his get (none / 0) (#43)
    by Grandmother on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:04:35 PM EST
    along message.  The reason the Clintons are hated by so many people is that they WON. You see the Republicans stopped the other Democrats before they could be elected. If Bill had not won in '92 and Bush would have gone onto a second term, we would not have had eight years of Republican bashing the Clintons on everything that happened - good, bad, or indifferent.

    McGovern was characterized as nutcase liberal.If Carter had somehow won a second term, he would have been pulverized even more than he was by Reagan. Michael Dukakis got Willie Horton, Al Gore got the Love Story and Internet and John Kerry got swiftboated out of Viet Nam. If any of these individuals had been elected they too would have been the victims of the "vast right wing conspiracy." And they too would have been sliced and diced by the MSM. And all of the Clinton haters could instead be McGovern, Dukakis, Gore and/or Kerry haters. However, these guys didn't make it out of the starting gate.

    The Republicans have framed the issues and framed the rhetoric for 40 years. I want someone who will stand up and fight back. Obama cannot and will not do this. He will never get my vote. Like them or not, the Clintons beat them at their own game and they are the only ones who have done it in my lifetime.

    Fights of the Nineties (none / 0) (#63)
    by bob h on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 06:10:57 AM EST
    The reason we had those fights in the nineties is that the Republicans chose to have them in an attempt to destroy Bill Clinton.  And they will choose to fight them all over again in an attempt to destroy whoever gets to be President next.

    because they cant fight (none / 0) (#65)
    by Judith on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 09:47:41 AM EST
    the now.  The Bush years are all their responsibility and they dont want to talk about it.  We need to MAKE them talk about it.