Krugman Reviews The History Of The 1990s Partisan Wars

It is sad that it is even necessary. But Krugman provides it:
Whatever hopes people might have had that Mr. Clinton would usher in a new era of national unity were quickly dashed. Within just a few months the country was wracked by the bitter partisanship Mr. Obama has decried. This bitter partisanship wasnít the result of anything the Clintons did. Instead, from Day 1 they faced an all-out assault from conservatives determined to use any means at hand to discredit a Democratic president. For those who are reaching for their smelling salts because Democratic candidates are saying slightly critical things about each other, itís worth revisiting those years, simply to get a sense of what dirty politics really looks like.
Ezra Klein yesterday wrote:

At this point, there are two main electability arguments in the primary. There's Clinton, who assures us that she understands the smear machine, and can match whatever it throws at her, and there's Obama, who assures us that he can make Americans understand the smear machine, and condition them to reject whatever filth it generates. It's hard to believe the latter is viable, but it's certainly better. And, in South Carolina, it appears to have happened.
This is prime example of how the Media and the Progressive Big Media Bloggers (Marshall, Klein, Yglesias, Sullivan, etc) have been playing by the Obama Rules during the primary. It is ridiculous to argue, as Ezra seems to, that Obama is running this wonderfully clean campaign unseen in our history. But that is the entire premise of his post. And it is the entire premise of the Media coverage. The Big Media bloggers will keep doing it in a General Election I imagine, but will the Media? Will the Obama Rules stick? If the Media does, Obama will be a "transformative" figure (in the sense that he will shrewdly be perceived to have run a pristine campaign.) But it will be amazing to me if they do.
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    Some people really have forgotten the 90s (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by andgarden on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 07:50:00 AM EST
    and just enough seem to believe that Clinton was responsible for the partisanship.

    Well yes they are evil. EVIL! (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Molly Bloom on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:07:37 AM EST
    Understand they shot Vince Foster in Reno
    Just to watch him die
    When they hear that whistle blowin;
    they won't hang their heads and cry...

    This was a narative from the MSM? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Rojas on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:33:40 AM EST
    I don't think so. Me thinks perhaps Krugman spent too much time on usenet.

    Humorless? (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Molly Bloom on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:36:05 AM EST
    Krugman: Brilliant Economist (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Tano on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 09:34:38 AM EST
    really dumb political analyst.

    He seems to have completely missed the lessons of '93 regarding health care. The primary reason that the moment was missed was because Hillary and bill took the process private. Instead of working with the elected representatives of the people (a Democratic majority!), they went off and fashioned a thousand-page health care plan with their own private commission, then dumped it on the Congress for their approval.

    In other words, they guaranteed that the very people who would need to approve it had absolutely no buy-in to the process. There was no chance for actual legislators to put forth their ideas, to argue them out, to become persuaded that this piece or that was good or bad, to make compromises, to feel any ownership of the process or the product. That is why, when all the special interest groups attacked, there were precious few relevant people ready to go to the mats to defend it.

    Sheer political incompetence.
    Krugman seems to miss all this. He thinks the problem was that the plan came too late. Well yeah, in a sense. But it would not have been a problem if the senators and representatives had been spending all that time participating in the building of the plan.

    Krugman is a two trick pony here. He is really bugged about the mandates issue. He thinks it is a fatal flaw in an economic sense - but has zero ability to judge the role it might play in a political sense. Personally, I think the mandates might be an easy line of political attack,

    If you want everyone included, then include everyone in a single payer system. But the Hillary plan requires people to sign up themselves, or be fined, heavily if they dont. I can see the ads now! Either agree to participate in Hillarycare, or the IRS is gonna come after you and throw you in jail! (the truth doesnt matter here, of course, that will be the line of attack).

    Krugman's other trick is to evoke this constant fear of the VRWC and how they will attack - with the assumption that only Hillary is able to resist them. Ignoring the fact that political attacks are a constant, from all sides. Some gain traction, others less so. You cant pretend that the blame for successful attacks is wholly a function of the attackers. What are the qualities of the target that cause the attacks to succeed or fail?

    Reagan had teflon, and so did JFK. Obama seems to maybe have that too. The Clintons did not. Neither did Nixon, nor Carter, nor Papa Bush. It isnt an easy partisan divide. Krugman just seems out of his depth on these matters.

    so asking the insurance companies (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by hellothere on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 09:53:50 AM EST
    to the table even before he(obama) is elected is a good idea? i think not! obama likes to compare himself to fdr among many others, however fdr didn't ask repubs and insurance companies to the table to decide america's fate. he told them how it would be.

    so far running on unity doesn't seem to working so well and i don't believe it will work very well in the general election of thereafter. the repubs just aren't inclined that way.

    i haven't seen any health policy from obama that makes me very happy. his idea of social security is dismal at best.


    Re: (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Steve M on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 10:26:05 AM EST
    Clinton made a few tactical blunders but nothing was going to overcome 100% lockstep Republican opposition.  See the Bill Kristol memo.

    Sorry, thats ridiculous (none / 0) (#14)
    by Tano on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 10:32:37 AM EST
    The opposition is always absolute. Democrats were absolutely opposed to Reagan initiatives. Lots of them passed. The GOP was absolutely opposed to Clinton's tax increase, it passed.

    Absolute opposition is a constant. How does that play out - that is the arena in which a poltical leader's skills are measured.

    Cutting out all the relevant players is not just a "tactical blunder". Its a guaranteed recipe for failure.


    You make 2 mistakes (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Molly Bloom on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 11:01:29 AM EST
    1. There was a specific strategy in the way the Clintons did the commission. It was an either or issue. You had to chose. You can argue they chose wrong, but you at least have to argue the point and consider what would have happened if they did it more openly.

    Namely a tremendous lobbying pressure.  

    2. In fact Bob Dole was prepared to deal on the issue- until the Kristol memo. Remember it was Newt's revolution that took the no prisoners approach and it was their success of the Healthcare wars that convinced them not to deal. Before that, the GOP was more likely to deal. That is why they dumped Bob Michael.

    In short Steve M is right.


    huh? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Tano on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 11:50:09 AM EST
    What are you trying to say here? That the commission was a strategic choice aimed at avoiding "tremendous lobbying pressure"? That worked out real well, eh?

    How dumb is that? Lobbyists exist. They will exert tremendous pressure no matter what. You cant avoid that. Your strategizing has to be focused on how to overcome it, not how to hide from it.

    You overcome it by building alliances, co-opting the opposition, making as many people as possible, friends and opponents alike, feel some ownership of the process, and hence the product.

    The notion that Bill kristol was pulling strings is ridiculous. There are always hardcore partisans in any and every political struggle who are advising people not to play along. Bob Dole did not take his orders from Kristol - he made his own calculations based on his sense of the evolving political dynamic. But all that was irrelevant anyway, since he didnt participate in a deal because he was never given the opportunity to do so in the first place.


    there was a strategic calculation (5.00 / 0) (#18)
    by Molly Bloom on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 12:05:22 PM EST
    you can argue it was wrong as you sort of did. But the calculation as I recall was it was better to deal with the lobbying pressure all at once rather than have it die in the committees by industry related amendments. You also forget that at first big business did participate. They wanted some sort of healthcare deal to relieve their healthcare costs.

    No one said Bill Kristol was pulling strings. He wrote a highly influential memo which was adopted by the GOP. I guess they liked it.

     I suggest you read EJ Dionne's book, They only Look Dead. He writes extensively about this subject. You might learn something new (then again it may all be old news to you).

    OTOH: Health care died. It was all Bill and Hil's fault and Obama can do it in a snap. Makes life easier.


    Re: (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Steve M on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 11:36:01 AM EST
    Democrats were not absolutely opposed to Reagan's initiatives.  In fact, Reagan had a bloc of conservative Democrats that voted with him pretty consistently.

    Obama never explains how he will break through the wall of partisanship other than to point to where he has worked with one or two Republicans on some minor matter or another.  Other than that it's a bunch of happy talk.


    Obama is too new adn untested (none / 0) (#19)
    by echinopsia on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 01:36:27 PM EST
    to have Teflon coating. His only advantage is that his past hasn't been publicly and nationally scrutinized yet - and given the Obama media rules, by the time he is, it may be too late to put up a candidate whose baggage has already been thoroughly searched.

    Some of the facts on record about his politics in Illinois are not terribly flattering - talk about someone who will stop at nothing, even walking over his early mentors.

    If anything, Hillary's been pulling her punches. With her oppo team, I'm sure there's a lot more and worse dirt on Obama than Rezko. She'd be foolish to throw the worst thing she's got on him at him this early.


    Careful what you wish for (none / 0) (#21)
    by Camorrista on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 04:09:57 PM EST
    "Reagan had teflon, and so did JFK"

    I realize it's not fair to attack a post simply because a single fact is woefully wrong, but anybody who thinks JFK had Teflon either didn't live through the Kennedy administration or has nostalgic amnesia.

    Kennedy became a successful president--and gained Teflon--only with his murder.  His actual record as president is about as weak as any of the 20th Century (and I voted for him).  And that actual record includes his campaign--Kennedy was the bright, shining knight mostly to his buddies in the press, who envied him his war record and his womanizing.  To at least half the country (there's still a question of whether he even won the popular vote), he was not the glowing, golden new thing, but the untried, bellicose Roman Catholic from the Northeast, the JFK of the missile gap, the JFK who adored Joseph McCarthy, the JFK whose father was trying to buy him the White House.

    And once in office, he tried little and failed often.  Were it not for Bay of Pigs crisis (and, of course, his assassination) what would he be remembered for?

    It seems to me that JFK is a terrible model for Obama (and his admirders) to invoke--good looks, fine talk, no action.


    The media continued in this behavior (3.00 / 2) (#2)
    by BernieO on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 07:57:43 AM EST
    and were a major factor in Gore's defeat. Why so few Democrats realize this is beyond me. (Read the archives at dailyhowler.com if you don't believe this.)The media obsessing about the Clinton's supposed racism is just more of the same. (Come on. Past drug use by candidates has been talked about in past elections, but it is somehow racist if the candidate is black - even if the person bringing it up is black?)
    As for working with the other side, every time either Clinton has done that, it has been disparaged by Democrats as "triangulating" but now many of those same Democrats want Obama because he can work with the other side. I thought it was the Republicans who did not live in the fact-based world.
    That said, Krugman better watch out or he will be labeled racist for defending Clinton.

    he had a number of verbal stones (none / 0) (#10)
    by hellothere on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 09:16:50 AM EST
    thrown at him on kos.

    BernieO (none / 0) (#20)
    by Kathy on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 03:29:39 PM EST
    So right.  I am sick and tired of white people saying that other white people are racist.  Then Jesse Jackson comes out and says, "uh, no" and they STILL don't let it drop.  Just shows they want this fight to be out there whether or not it is, and they don't care who it damages.

    Kelp (none / 0) (#3)
    by seabos84 on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:01:55 AM EST
    Since I have a 50+ hour a week job that runs me into the ground every work day, I don't have time to lexis nexus 1991/2, BUT

    thanks krugman.

    I remember how Clinton was gonna change the world and use the best ideas and and and how the lying cheating stealing minions of RayGun and BushI did their lying, cheating and stealing from the get go with clinton

    cuz (the following fact took me 10 years at the K-School to figure out!!)

    they're cheating stealing liars!


    When I was 12 in '72 I spent the summer living in the Berkshires with a bunch of characters from the day, several of whom had been in the real stuff after getting drafted during the 60's.

    One of the girlfriends was frequently whacked out on LSD, and I remember her telling me how Kelp fixed her hair and ... a zillion other things ... but I really remember the quarter size pupils and the 'new' hair.

    I also remember thinking about how to change the world and I remember sitting around the fire asking

    if we're all out marching and protesting, who is gonna grow the food and deliver it to the grocery store?


    Hillary going to fight the fascists is about as plausable as kelp and LSD being healthy.

    Barack and kumbaby ... kumbaya ? ... beating these lying stealing cheating ba$$$ds is about as likely as LSD and kelp fixing your hair.


    Thanks (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:09:58 AM EST
    I will.

    i sent mr klein an email (none / 0) (#9)
    by hellothere on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 09:15:23 AM EST
    regarding his comments. i invite others who don't agree to join me.

    these writers need to hear our opinions.