Defining The Middle

Jon Meacham, the Editor of Newsweek, is catching hell from Left blogs for his typically obtuse nonsense. Meacham writes that "the nation is essentially "center-Right."

I think the reaction to Meacham is misguided. Meacham is a fool and will write foolish things. The key is the lesson of FDR:

[T]hat is FDR's lesson for Obama. Politics is not a battle for the middle. It is a battle for defining the terms of the political debate. It is a battle to be able to say what is the middle.

Consider Meacham's description of the New Deal:

FDR had a longish run (from 1933 to 1937), but he lost significant ground in the 1938 midterm elections and again in the largely forgotten wartime midterms of 1942.

Well sure, if you put it that way, FDR was "Center Right." What a load of nonsense. But consider the advantages of having The New Deal defined as "Center Right." (Besides driving the "Constitition in Exile" people nuts.) We are talking about a truly progressive and virtually revolutionary period. And consider the fact that a Democrat won 4 consecutive Presidential elections and dominated the Congress for 5 decades. For Meacham this was the sign of the limits of Progressivism. Heck, if that defines "Center Right" for Meacham, then give me some "Center Right."

Embrace the term "Centrism." OWN IT. DEFINE IT. Do not get mad at about it.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

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    I agree with most of what Meacham. . . (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:15:28 PM EST
    has to say.

    By any reasonable standard of judgment (that is, comparing us to other so-called developed countries) the United States is a center right country and Obama is running a center right campaign for President.

    I understand why this view isn't popular on the left, but it's lack of popularity doesn't make it any less true -- or any less obvious.

    That's the spirit (none / 0) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:22:13 PM EST
    A quick learner you are.

    Sorry. . . (none / 0) (#34)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:26:58 PM EST
    it's not clear to me based on your comment whether your post was meant as snark or not.

    Not meant as snark (none / 0) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:29:15 PM EST
    My comment either.

    I too declare Meacham a brilliant man.


    I certainly don't think. . . (none / 0) (#39)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:33:45 PM EST
    Meacham is a brilliant guy (and I never heard of him before this post).  The stuff he says in his article is pretty obvious.  Doesn't take someone with great imagination to draw the conclusions he drew.

    Interesting (none / 0) (#41)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:38:04 PM EST
    I think he wrote blindingly stupid stuff but if you judge ut by European standards,a s you seem to, then yeah, it is blindingly obvious.

    Since Meacham is not referencing Europe but American history - then it is idiotic drivel.

    FDR, by AMERICAN standards and for the time, was NOT Center Right and winning 4 Presidential elections in a row is hardly the proff of "Progressive" failure.

    I daresay it is one of the stupidest pieces of writing I have ever seen.


    See my answer to andgarden. . . (none / 0) (#45)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:42:35 PM EST

    I don't read Meacham's statement about FDR the way you do.  I don't believe he argues that FDR was to the right -- only that his liberalism cost him political capital after 1937.

    And, as I say above, if we're not judging America's polity based the scale of modern developed nations, what scale are we using?


    And you find that obvious? (none / 0) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:45:27 PM EST
    Here's a hint - explain how FDR won 4 elections in a row? How Dems held Congress for 5 decades?

    My gawd, you are taking this dope seriously?

    Good to see that the New Deal and Medicare and the supremacy of the federal government has been destroyed by the "Center Right" electorate.

    Sheesh. What nonsense.


    FDR won three elections. . . (none / 0) (#52)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:54:21 PM EST
    by digging the nation out of a hole -- and the fourth by being a war time President.  I might as well ask you how Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush won two elections each.

    Democrats held Congress for five decades with the help of a profoundly -- even wickedly -- conservative wing.  When that wing flew, the Democrats lost control of Congress.  They're regaining control now -- by electing people like Ronald Reagan's Undersecretary of the Navy.  As Democrats.

    The New Deal and Medicare have, in the last twenty years, been under threat.  But while the electorate doesn't seem to want to add new government programs they are (as Meacham points out) loathe to give up what they already have.  Even if they have the conservative belief that they can get all these goodies without paying for them in taxes.


    go ahead and ask me (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:58:26 PM EST
    In the 1980s, we wanted a strong leader.

    But Reagan himself could not make us a Right Wing country. When he tried to cut Social Security and Medicare, he was stopped in his tracks.

    FDR WON over Reagan.

    How George Bush won is obvious - he lost in 2000 and the election was stolen.

    He won in 2004 because national security was the paramount issue.

    He LOST on domestic issues.


    BTW (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:00:01 PM EST
    The country wants health care )of course they never want to pay for it.)

    You confuse the idea of conservativism with the real selfishness of humans.

    You think it is conservatism that tells people to vote for tax cuts. Foolish of you. It is selfishness.

    They will take any thing someone gives them for free.


    Now, now. (none / 0) (#64)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:16:36 PM EST
    You think it is conservatism that tells people to vote for tax cuts.

    It's obviously expedient of you to simply redefine conservative positions as not-conservative -- in which case, of course, no one is conservative.

    But of course an anti-tax position is conservative -- it's at the very root of conservative thought and politics.  Conservatism and selfishness may overlap a great deal, but I actually give conservatives credit for being conservative even when it's not in their immediate interest.  It pains me to bring him up, but Joe the Plumber is the obvious example.  He's "anti-tax" even when raising taxes on people better off than he'll ever be would get him a tax cut!


    Should have known. (none / 0) (#32)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:22:52 PM EST
    It's David Sirota.

    On a serious note (none / 0) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:30:43 PM EST
    Making Europe the metric for what is "conservative" in the US is sheer brilliance.

    I am pretty sure Meacham did not mean that at all.


    On what scale. . . (none / 0) (#40)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:36:22 PM EST
    are you grading the American electorate in terms of left and right?  I think the scale of so-called developed countries is a reasonable one.  If you have a different scale, let me know, and I might, with reference to that system of grading, agree more with you.

    On an American scale (none / 0) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:39:00 PM EST
    or I was until you hit on the brilliant idea of judging it on a European scale.

    Now, I use the European scale you propose. Well done.


    How do you construct. . . (none / 0) (#48)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:48:44 PM EST
    an "American" scale?  Assuming you're not referring to the Americas as a whole (which puts us back in the center right position), "America" is only one point.  On that scale, we're far left, center, and far right all at the same time.  At that point, really, everyone can simply invent their own center and the argument is without meaning.

    I think nothing could be simpler (none / 0) (#53)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:56:01 PM EST
    Tick off issues and tell me what the Conservative ( I call it Extremist) or Progressive (I call it Centrist) issue is on the following issues:

    1. The role of government as expressed on Social Security, Medicare, health care, college loans, hurricane relief, the economy, the right to choose and other number of domestic policy issues.

    Where does the country stand?

    Now, if you are talking about foreign policy, we are certainly a reactionary country on any metric.


    I will not use. . . (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:11:01 PM EST
    the word "progressive" in any argument I intend to be meaningful -- it is a word with no political meaning at all.

    I see your issues and raise these:

    • Taxation

    • Trade

    • Guns

    • Gays

    • Separation of church and state

    • Support for the unemployed and unemployable

    • Health care

    On your issues, tell me honestly -- if Social Security and Medicare did not exist, do you think they could be enacted today?

    Top of the 8th, bases loaded, (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:16:29 PM EST
    two outs, and you guys continue to argue politics. Boston 1, TB 3.

    I'm watching (none / 0) (#68)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:19:22 PM EST
    Good. It's not enough for Obama to win. (none / 0) (#71)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:26:31 PM EST
    The Red Sox have to lose.

    Only intelligent thing (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:30:15 PM EST
    you have written tonight.

    You 're both evil (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by CST on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:32:23 PM EST
    Here's to hoping for a 9th innning miracle...

    Backing the Phillies no matter what (none / 0) (#76)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:41:42 PM EST
    So you all can. . .you know.

    Social Security and Medicare (none / 0) (#65)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:17:35 PM EST
    were two "centrist" successes that even Reagan and Gingrich were not able to abolish--in spite of their efforts.

    Of course they WOULD be enacted today (none / 0) (#67)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:18:54 PM EST
    ESPECIALLY today. That is the point.

    But those type of coutnerfactuals are silly any way.
    As for trade, I do not concede that liberalism, if you think THAT word means something, does NOT equal protectionism, Sirota notwithstanding. Sirota represents the no nothing strain of populism which is something different.

    On taxes, we are where we always were - no one wants to be taxed PERSONALLY.

    Guns, civil libertarians will tell you that the right to bear arms should be the liberal position. As a political issue, it means nothing and frankly, it means little to me.

    On gay rights, the trend is OBVIOUS and progressive.

    On religion, the same. (By the way THIS is the point to Meacham's entire piece. He hates Dems because he perceives them as contemptuous of religion and he is a very religious person. It would not surprise me at all to find that Meacham is antisemitic.

    Support for the unemployed an unemployable is very much trending towards a Dem position,. And not because of the better angels of our nature - but because NOW (Joe the Plumber notwithstanding) people can more easily see themselves as unemployed than rich.

    Health care you have to be kidding me, the record is clear - no one would even have proposed universal health care 4 years ago.

    Now both candidates CLAIM to have a plan for it.

    I rest my case.


    I know nothing about Meacham. . . (none / 0) (#74)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:35:43 PM EST
    and have no intention of defending him personally, or anything else that he's written (never having read any of it).  I don't know after reading the linked article whether he himself is left or right.  I'll take your word for it that he's religious and possibly anti-Semitic, but nothing in the article touches on these matters.

    If Medicaid would be enacted today, how come there isn't a chance in hell of universal health care (and notwithstanding your statement, all the candidates propose to do is create the conditions under which more people could be covered by private health insurance)?  In fact, how come we can't fund Medicaid so that it will have a reasonably expectation of continuing?

    People won't give those up, but there's no way Social Security could be passed today.  A new 13 percent tax on everyone?  And you accuse me of writing nonsense?

    I see no evidence that there is strong support for a reasonable system of unemployment payments in this country.  The dems are occasionally able to extract a short-term, low-value extension to unemployment benefits in exchange for something the Republicans want.  But where's a major new program?


    Taxes (none / 0) (#83)
    by phatpay on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 04:30:11 PM EST
    On taxes, we are where we always were - no one wants to be taxed PERSONALLY.

    I disagree with that.
    I would allow that there is a massive resentment of the tax system. Imbalanced and easy to manipulate as it is currently.
    Tax revenues is how we maintain our infrastructure.
    I'm happy to be a taxpayer.
    I wish we would seriously work towards easier (to understand) tax codes and balanced taxpaying (eradication of loopholes).
    But, by and large, as I use so many publicly funded programs (buses, libraries, roads, etc.) I am happy to contribute as a working member of this society.


    + FISA, finding and (none / 0) (#69)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:23:43 PM EST
    exterminating bin Laden, surge in Afghanistan.

    I think I've heard this from you before..... (none / 0) (#1)
    by coigue on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:32:40 PM EST

    Indeed (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:34:09 PM EST
    Let Meacham call universal health care "center Right." I for one will be ecstatic.  

    When Universal Health Care becomes a reality (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by bridget on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:20:03 PM EST
    in the US I will change my mind -

    until then I believe that the country is most def.  Center Right. This has nothing to do with anything Meacham might come up with in his article because I have come to this conclusion long before and have said so.

    I wouldn't have thought so for a second in the 90s, of course. In fact, I believed we would end up with a progressive majority in future .... then everything changed with the 2000 election.

    Now we do live in a Center Right country and it would take a completely different Weltanschauung in just about every way, esp. War and Peace, in order to turn the Center just the slightest bit to the Left again. Despite the ongoing GE I don't see that happening, however. Sad but true :(


    Keep up the good work (none / 0) (#38)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:32:12 PM EST
    and add Larry's European metric corollary.

    thanks, BTD (none / 0) (#50)
    by bridget on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:50:32 PM EST
    fwiw I did write from the European point of view as well

    but just living thru the changes in the last two decades was enough for me to conclude: Center Right


    Me too (none / 0) (#12)
    by coigue on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:43:01 PM EST
    and I have thought quite a bit about your "defining the center" philosophy.

    I am not sure if I believe in it, because so far, no Democrat has been able to sell our ideals in that way. Perhaps we are too professorial, too downright geeky. Or perhaps we are indeed a center right country. How could we have voted for Bush over Kerry?

    On the other hand, the two parties are highly "branded". One as the party of economics, the other the party of foreign policy (to the point that a decorated war hero could not beat Bush). Why can't we sell the details of our brand all the time? Someone like Obama can, if he is so inclined. But we also need the Keith Olbermann's to help (odious as that is to many people).


    Too many people (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:43:58 PM EST
    want to win arguments with the Meachams of the world.

    I want to win the policy.


    Still, our ideas have to be sold (none / 0) (#19)
    by coigue on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:48:38 PM EST
    as "common sense" and "good for the country", rather than "socialistic" "leftist" etc. Obama has the rhetorical power to do this, if he will. He did a really nice job on addressing racism, of course, I like professorial.

    Obama is defining (none / 0) (#33)
    by Pepe on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:24:11 PM EST
    things exactly as he wants. Remember not long ago he ran from the Liberal label and is running as a centrist. He went on Fox and pretty much denounced Liberalism. And he is center right on a lot of things, take FISA as an example. So wishing for him to define anything other than the way he is will never happen.

    As for your comments on "defining the center" Meacham is actually being pretty clever but it is going unnoticed for some reason. Anyone who understands marketing can easily see it. What Meacham is doing is reaching outside of center right and pulling in some things that resonate with people and calling them center right. By doing so he makes center right OK and mainstream thus he and others are able to more easily sell other center right policies that are not mainstream but become palatable because he is redefining what center right represents. That tactic is used in marketing all the time. BTD doesn't seem to care what Meacham is doing but I don't think he understands exactly why Meacham is doing it. It's not a good thing for the Left to have the right redefine our issues or even FDR as one of theirs. It is all so obvious because if you hear what McCain has been saying lately he is doing the exact same thing. Take HOLC for an example. Obama left it on the table and McCain snatched it right up and relabeled it a GOP policy which by doing so makes other GOP policies look better. Marketing 101.

    I'm not so sure I'd be happy about that and what Meacham is doing.


    Heh (none / 0) (#35)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:28:02 PM EST
    Republicans adopt Dem policies and I am supposed to be upset?

    You REALLY miss the point.


    Oh I get your point (none / 0) (#49)
    by Pepe on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:49:19 PM EST
    on the issue thing. But I am talking politically it is not such a good thing for the Left. If we let the Right steal our issues as you seem willing to let them do then what do we have left to defeat them with in the future?

    I think you are familiar with Politics 101 and contrasting yourself against the opponent. If you let them steal and rebrand our issues as theirs then  where is the contrast in the future? That is what I am talking about and I think if you think about it in those terms you would have to agree that it is not such a good thing.


    I do not care about winning the election (none / 0) (#51)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:52:24 PM EST
    I care about the issue.

    If both parties adopt progressivism, as they HAVE, LArry and the silly Meacham notwithstanding (see the New Deal) then we win and the arugments move on to OTHER progressive issues.

    We were losing ground on defining the middle. Meacham now gives us a leg up.


    They have? (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by lentinel on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 06:24:28 AM EST
    I wish I could see it your way - that both parties have adopted progressive issues. But I see it the other way. Neither party has adopted progressive issues.

    Both parties sound the same with respect to Pakistan, Iran and Russia.
    Neither party is saying anything about undoing the abuses of the patriot act and restoring our civil liberties. In fact, with FISA, it seems like things could get worse.
    Both candidates announce their opposition to gay marriage.
    On Iraq, I have no clue who would do what with respect to honoring the wishes of the American people - so clearly expressed in 2006 - to get us out of there now. Not in 2011. Now.
    I know politics is politics, but Obama talking about being honored and "humbled" by Powell's endorsement makes my flesh crawl.
    On the economy, the bailout which has been defined as "socialist", has nothing to do with anything progressive. Whom does it benefit? It is not the kind of socialism that we need to rebuilt our infrastructure and our country.
    On the environment - both candidates are supporting "clean coal technology" - which is anything but clean.

    Where is the move to progressive ideology?

    I do think that most Americans want universal health care.
    And an end to endless war.
    And the planet to survive.
    And civil rights for all.

    These values could be described as centrist.

    But I don't see either major political party moving in any significant way toward fulfilling those goals. Their only accomplishments seem to be to find more efficient ways to win elections.


    Woo hoo! (none / 0) (#54)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:57:33 PM EST
    It's fantastic how both parties have adopted "progressive" values this election.

    Like fighting over who will cut taxes for the most people.

    Or who is the most pro gun.

    Or who is the most anti-gay marriage.

    Or whether it's better to care less about invading Iran or Pakistan.

    As I've written many times, "progressive" is a meaningless term that people define to suit their own convenience.  But is this really a progressive election?  I don't think so.


    You see tax cuts for (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:05:49 PM EST
    the middle class as a conservative issue. Cuz, last I looked, Obama was proposing a tax increase for persons like you who earn over 250k/year.

    As for guns, that has not even been an issue this year and you know that.

    And Obama AND McCain, as far as I know, support civil unions. And you think that is NOT a move towards progressivism from even 4 years ago?
    You are just being foolish now.


    Guns are not an issue. . . (none / 0) (#70)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:24:07 PM EST
    because Obama has made it clear that there will be no attempt to restrict the quantity of guns running around American society under his Administration.  The country is so firmly anchored to the right on this issue that it can't even be debated.

    Tax cuts are always a conservative position, at least when applied to people making over $80K per year (give or take 20K).  If you want to start discussing tax cuts for people making 150K as a liberal political position, we're not only not talking about the same country, we're not talking about the same planet.

    On gay rights, the country has definitely advanced from its own recent history.  I might even promote us from center-right to center on that issue.  It remains to see whether it has been a brief flowering of sanity or a permanent change.


    Oh (none / 0) (#66)
    by Pepe on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:17:52 PM EST
    So then we can do away with political parties and just have one big happy family? /snark

    Seriously. If you are willing to let the Right steal and redefine what they are today then would you let them redefine "OTHER progressive issues" too in the future just as you are willing to do now? And then when they own everything them what?

    You know as long as everyone loves chicken why should KFC worry about everyone else selling chicken and losing market share and closing stores? It's only about everyone eating chicken after all. Speaking in marketing terms.

    I get what you are saying. Issues only count and it does not matter who owns the market in them. Myself I want the issues, ownership of those issues, and a political machine ready to fight for those issues so they remain issues.


    Of course Meacham has long been an idiot (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:33:17 PM EST
    But that is not the point. He writes:

    The terms we use in discussing politics and culture can be elusive and elastic. The conservative label is often applied to people of all sorts and conditions: libertarians, evangelical Christians, tax cutters, military hawks. (There are just as many, if not more, varieties of liberal.) But in broad strokes I mean "conservative" in the way most of us have come to use it in recent decades: to describe those who value custom over change, who worry about the erosion of the familiar and the expansion of the state, and who dislike those who appear condescending about matters of faith, patriotism and culture. (In other words, think of figures ranging from Edmund Burke to Thomas Jefferson to David Brooks to Sarah Palin. It is an eclectic crew.) [It is a meaningless crew. Sarah Palin has what in common with Brooks exactly? OR Jefferson? The Louisiana Purchase was what exactly?]

    The argument I am making--that we are at heart a right-leaning country skeptical of government once a crisis that requires government has passed--is probably going to look dumb, or at least out of step, for many months to come.

    (Emphasis mine as well as bracketed statement.) Meacham wrote nothing. The labels mean nothing. If Health care is a right means "conservative" to Meacham, if "spreading the wealth" means "conservative" to Meacham, so much the better.

    If anything to the right of Communism is "Conservative RIght"  SO MUCH THE BETTER. It means we have won the argument, if not the label.

    Thomas Jefferson was on the right? (none / 0) (#6)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:35:19 PM EST
    I take back my comment below. Meacham doesn't even know what he means.

    FDR was Center Right (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:36:40 PM EST
    for Meacham.

    That's my point.


    OK, FDR was on the right, like you are a centrist (none / 0) (#10)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:39:48 PM EST
    Except this time you don't have to say it.

    I am a Centrist (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:43:03 PM EST
    All good Dems are.

    Colin Powell disagrees (none / 0) (#16)
    by coigue on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:46:03 PM EST
    He thinks that the GOP is narrowing, and is beginning to exclude those such as himself and David Brooks.

    Could it be that the GOP is defining the center yet again....as Democratic?


    Indeed (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:47:26 PM EST
    As I say above a Democratic landslide this year will be a "triumph of the Center."

    given that... (none / 0) (#21)
    by coigue on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:53:08 PM EST
    do you think Mccain/Palin are gaining ground using the new "redistribution of wealth" attack? Because that is something that the Democratic brand needs to redefine as center.

    (And David Gergen gave the perfect way to do this: he said today on CNN that the last 8 years has been a redistribution of wealth...a redistribution UP!)

    So we need to take these on, not let them pass by. Because the GOP pretends that there isn't money moving from one class to another under their plan. We need to call them on that lie and all the others with our own easy-to-understand explanations.


    I do not (5.00 / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:56:13 PM EST
    think McCain is getting anyone he was not going to get anyway. Or that Obama could get.

    Despite Powell's endorsement? (none / 0) (#24)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:59:35 PM EST
    Even if it does not hurt Obama (none / 0) (#28)
    by coigue on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:06:05 PM EST
    Obama should define his plan as centrist, rather than let McCain define it as leftist. I think he should address it, elsewise the GOP will attack him throughout his presidency as they did when Clinton tries to get some of our ideals realized.

    What? (none / 0) (#42)
    by Pepe on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:38:50 PM EST
    Obama already is running as a centrist. The only reason McCain is labeling him far Left is to appeal to his base to get out and vote.

    Meanwhile as I said upthread he is trying to take some of our issues and trying to make them his own. he is playing both ends which is maybe why he has gained a little in the polls.


    you are candidate focused (none / 0) (#59)
    by coigue on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:07:13 PM EST
    and this is an issues focused discussion. So we are talking past each other. What we are saying is that we take our liberal values and define them as centrist. It's PR.

    If the GOP becomes more progressive, we have better choices and we get to realize the fruits of that change.

    THe fruits of the change are what I want, even if the GOP adopts some of our issues.

    As to your poll comment, all I can say is "LOL"


    You are the one who (none / 0) (#77)
    by Pepe on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:51:28 PM EST
    mentioned Obama remember? I was just commenting on what you said.

    "What we are saying is that we take our liberal values and define them as centrist. It's PR."

    yeah except the Right has beat us to the punch and is redefining the issues as center right.

    "If the GOP becomes more progressive..."

    You can't be serious? You think the conservative mine is ever going to change, little on become progressive? Guess again.

    "THe fruits of the change are what I want, even if the GOP adopts some of our issues."

    Yeah well the other thing you and BTD are not considering is the GOP steals our issues but they don't put forth the exact same policy as we do. Look at the health plan differences.

    And do you really think they will vote for Obama's health plan? No they won't. Besides Obama's needs to still develop his and negotiate with the insurance companies and congress and that will take years. Meanwhile the GOP has co-opted health care and can do something tomorrow with a simpler plan. Will the public wait for Obama or want immediate relief of some kind? The GOP knows exactly how they are going to play this game. You see stealing our issues doesn't mean that they will want the same policies on those issues. That is the elephant in the room you are missing.

    So be careful when you are willing to hand over the keys to the issue kingdom to the GOP.

    The GOP becomes more progressive!!! LOL


    hand them over? (none / 0) (#80)
    by coigue on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 10:22:39 AM EST
    since when do they wait to be given things?

    Your political sense is rigid and blustery. I think it's more effective to bend with changes and push them in your direction.


    By hand them over... (none / 0) (#81)
    by Pepe on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 12:05:40 PM EST
    I mean that you are willing to cede the issues to them on any terms. That is what your posts have been saying. I don't read you saying we should fight to keep the issues. You are taking BTD's stance that it is good to let them have the issues.

    And I explained in my last post why that is bad but you failed to respond to what I said. Most likely because I am right and you are wrong. But if you have an argument against what I said please express it. And if not please consider thinking outside your box as to what is really best for progressive issues. I doubt that anyone here can make a good case for why it is good to let the GOP steal our issues and redefine them and then claim them as their own.


    You read wrong. (none / 0) (#82)
    by coigue on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 03:30:55 PM EST

    ...and I fail to see why you felt the need bring my box into it.



    Unfortunately I think (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:33:59 PM EST
    Obama thinks this really is a "center right" country by Meacham's definition.

    Meacham, BTW, is one of the stupidest, most infuriating, pundits there is. Joe Klein is less irritating.

    What was Meacham's definition? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:35:03 PM EST
    I saw him define FDR as Center Right. I'll take that. Won't you?

    I wrote this before I saw your comment above (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:36:22 PM EST
    I didn't understand from the body of your text that Meacham is saying that FDR was to the right.

    Meacham is a moron. QED.


    He does not appear. . . (none / 0) (#44)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:39:45 PM EST
    to be claiming that FDR was a rightist.  Here is what he said, edited to (I hope) make his argument clearer:

    it tells us that Democratic presidents from FDR to JFK to LBJ to Carter to Clinton usually wind up moving farther right than they thought they ever would, or they pay for their continued liberalism at the polls.

    . . .

    The pattern has deep roots. FDR had a longish run (from 1933 to 1937), but he lost significant ground in the 1938 midterm elections and again in the largely forgotten wartime midterms of 1942.

    I read Meacham as saying that FDR lost significant political ground as a result of his liberalism.


    FDR lost political ground (none / 0) (#46)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:42:49 PM EST
    while winning 4 consecutive Presidential elections and revolutionizing our theory of national government. Hell of a theory.

    And you call that blindingly obvious? Sheesh Lar.


    That's Meacham's argument. . . (none / 0) (#57)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:05:38 PM EST
    and I'll just assume that we agree that you misread it?

    In actual fact, the New Deal period was the only significantly liberal period in the nation's history (except for the founding and, in a limited sense Emancipation) until the 1960s.

    And the New Deal -- the period of expansion of government programs -- lasted about five years.  By that time new reforms had pretty much ground to a halt and, in fact, before the war was over various New Deal innovations had begun to be dismantled.  There was relative stability for a couple of decades and then a resumption of the dismantling.  In this decade we actually reached a point where we elected a President who seriously proposed eliminating Social Security.

    So Meacham is generally right when he says that Roosevelt had a decent liberal run in the 1930s but got set back after that period.

    And the factors that went into creating the New Deal are so unique that I hardly think we can draw any lessons from that five year period about the political tendencies of the country during normal times.


    Your comment is just nonsense (none / 0) (#61)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:09:12 PM EST
    It is wrong historically and misunderstands the IDEOLOGY that was triumphant in the New Deal.

    I tell you who would be shocked to discover that FDR lost the ideological battle - Conservatives.

    I tell you we need a lot more defeats like that.

    You are writing nonsense now. Sheer unadulterated nonsense.


    FDR won. . . (none / 0) (#75)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 10:41:22 PM EST
    a series of battles under unique political conditions.

    On the broader war, however, we have, at best, a draw.


    Center right? (none / 0) (#9)
    by blogtopus on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:37:41 PM EST
    Hola, conservative 'murkins.

    I think the reality is in the GOP strategy, to wit: Keep as many people from voting as possible.

    This wouldn't be such an important (and effective) strategy for Republicanism if this was a Center Right country.

    You are judging (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:42:04 PM EST
    whether Meacham is right. Of course Meacham is wrong. My gawd, the man is an idiot.

    But that is not the issue. The issue is how do we insure the passage of progressive policies? I say it is by defining them as the CENTER.

    Meacham will help us do that. Remember, for Meacham the New Deal was "Center Right."


    I think if you pressed him on that, (none / 0) (#15)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:44:21 PM EST
    he'd change his tune. Anyway, he apparently wrote it. . .

    Do not let him change it (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:46:41 PM EST
    Do not cajole him to change it.

    Declare a Democratic landslide a "triumph of the Center."


    Indeed (none / 0) (#20)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:49:12 PM EST
    From the party that brought you Social Security and Medicare, stimulus.

    Ding (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:55:26 PM EST
    Just like that.

    dday is wrong about one thing: (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:01:13 PM EST
    ideologically, Clinton and Obama are more-or-less on the same side of the Democratic party.

    On politics (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:02:37 PM EST
    D-Day is wrong about just everything.

    His heart is in the right place but it amazes me that Digby has co-bloggers who really have no understanding of politics.


    dday's posts I tend to skim through very quickly (none / 0) (#27)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 09:04:14 PM EST
    on my reader.

    Jeebus (none / 0) (#78)
    by blogtopus on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 12:26:33 AM EST
    I write one comment and someone starts a party. BTD, I told you no parties while Daddy's away. Same for you, Andgarden. :-P