The Return Of Lincoln 1860

Digby cites Rick Pearlstein:

Question: Has Obama succeeded on his promise of being a “post-partisan” President?

Rick Perlstein: Well, the problem with Obama’s post-partisan agenda is that he came into it, he came into his presidency at a time when millions of Americans, perhaps even tens of millions of Americans don’t consider a Democratic president legitimate, don’t consider liberalism legitimate, don’t consider the idea of the state forming new programs to help people legitimate. So, he’s in a situation a lot like Abraham Lincoln faced in 1860 when you had millions of Americans who didn’t even consider what was going in Washington to have anything to do with them. [. . .] If people say that you're illegitimate and your liberal agenda is extremist socialist destroying the America that we all grew up with, you have to be willing to say, “This is unreasonable. This is extreme.” And if you aren’t able to say, “This is unreasonable and this is extreme,” then you're granting your opposition an undue influence. You’re basically negotiating with the unnegotiatable. And as Abraham Lincoln said quite eloquently in his 1860 speech at Cooper Union, you can’t win that way.

(Emphasis supplied.) Lincoln 1860 was a theme Digby and I discussed a lot in 2003 and 2004, long before the emergence of Barack Obama, so these themes are not new to us. However, my first post at Talk Left applies the thinking to Obama. Digby recapitulates the point well:

[I]t remains to be seen if Obama has the will to blast past these barriers and take the win with an extremely hostile opposition getting ever more radical in deeply stressful times. We just don't know yet. [. . .]

But that doesn't mean he doesn't also see the value of placing his political adversaries in the role of unreasonable extremists. His administration has done that with some success, I would say (and a lot of help from the crazies) but they haven't yet explicitly positioned their policy positions as the reasonable, mainstream alternative and I think it's because they are flummoxed without any bipartisan support. The political establishment can't see anything being "reasonable" if the Republicans are rejecting it.

He needs to say it anyway, as Perlstein prescribes. I would predict that citizens in the middle are well prepared to see total obstructionism as an unreasonable position, even if the Villagers see it as a sign of liberal extremism. After all, to them all partisanship is a sign of liberal extremism.

(Emphasis supplied.) The center of the debate about Mark Schmitt's Theory of Change was precisely that Obama never defined change in policy terms. It was very much "Obama= Change" disconnected from any actual policy change. Of course in the general election, Obama defined change negatively - to wit, he defined McCain as Bush and himself as Not Bush. This was effective politically and given the magnitude of the financial crisis and his electoral win, it was enough to create a mandate for policy change.

The problem is Obama has squandered that mandate for transformational change. His change agenda was simply too timid for the problems and for the political and policy opportunity. And he could well sink his Presidency because of his timidity on the economic situation. But he can still define change in terms of policy and by defining his policy opponents as extreme -- the way Lincoln did in 1860.

Speaking for me only

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    Obama ain't no Lincoln (5.00 / 5) (#2)
    by Dadler on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 10:15:44 AM EST
    Period. We will get from Obama more of what we have seen: an utter unwillingness to lead in any manner that might get him drummed out of the insider's club. He'll make a little wave here and there, but mostly the big waves will be made by the disloyal opposition, whom Obama, apparently, cannot recognize as such.

    He is a man with a serious personality flaw that conflicts harshly with the supposed job of being POTUS, and especially with what is needed by that leader in this climate.

    Not Lincoln (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by kaleidescope on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 04:00:10 PM EST
    Lincoln was in a totally different situation.  The southern states had left the Union and their representatives were no longer in Congress.  So the logjam had been broken.  Work could begin on a trans-continental railroad, land grant colleges could be established, the Homestead Act could be passed. All these had been stymied for decades by Southern opposition in, you guessed it, the Senate.

    I submit that Obama would act very differently if, just before he took office, all Republicans had resigned from the Senate, and all Republican justices had resigned from the Supreme Court.

    It's clear that Obama has decided not to lead a mob to take on the elite who control our economy and our politics. But it's not clear that Lincoln was going to do that when he took office either.  Lincoln was willing to let slavery continue in the states that maintained it.  It is unclear whether he would have tried to abolish the Fugitive Slave Act and the Supreme Court had made it clear the Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories.

    Lincoln had civil war thrust on him and his one radical step was to actually fight it to win.  Lincoln was not McClellen or a Copperhead.  Whether Obama is of that nature is hard to determine given present facts.


    Obama said: (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by robotalk on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 10:19:07 AM EST
     "Change You Can Believe In."

    Obama meant:  "Change You Can't See."  

    Worst slogan ever (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by ruffian on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 10:27:50 AM EST
    Subject to infinite parody and derision, by both his left and his right. Someone should have seen that coming.

    He had an agenda? (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Pacific John on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 10:39:07 AM EST
    In my nearby college town, the most popular bumper sticker says, "Yes We Did!," with that creepy iconography. They're done. Everything from now on is ponies, even if the bumper stickers are disappearing fast.

    All snark aside, I really do think Obama sees himself as a great figurehead, the rational voice in the room that will make everything work better. As RonK pointed out almost two years ago, Obama's policy team believes that the current system just needs more virtue and everything will be great, from economic growth to health insurance to race relations to education. As a guy named Armando pointed out in 2005 along with a lot of us Obama really is what he said he is in "Tone, Truth, and the Democratic Party," a believer in compromise as an ideal. It's hard to find a better example of laissez faire.

    I'd love this guy to dig out a couple of overwhelmingly popular policy proposals, say, making college free to working class kids, opening Medicare to 55 or ending No Child Left Behind - it would be great for his presidency - but he won't. It's not who he is. It's not who he tells us he is. He told us who he was in 2005, and sooner or later we'll have to believe him.

    I think he has things inside out (none / 0) (#7)
    by ruffian on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 10:55:07 AM EST
    He thinks the "tone" and "way of doing business" in Washington is what is broken and needs to get fixed before any real policy change can happen. I think with Democratic majorities and the POTUS, we should be getting the policy changes regardless, and worry about the tone when the country is back on track.

    But you're right - he does not see it that way, and maybe never will.


    All true, but we're stuck with him for (none / 0) (#16)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:28:43 AM EST
    the moment and he needs to be different.

    It is funny because Obama very early on struck me as being just like quite a few very smart, very charming people that I've known over the years who particularly in college were the ones who sat in the back of the class, didn't work that hard, got great grades and adulation from professors and peers for being so smart - but never really had to work that hard.  When they needed to they could turn on the charm, produce an otherwise lack-luster paper with a few choice paragraphs and get their A's.  All that works great in the context of a political campaign.  Playing the part of the "it girl" to perfection is a winning strategy.  The problem is that that has nothing to do with actually governing a country effectively and successfully.

    He's got to do much more than just show up and sit in the back row now.  He's got to lead and he's got to go much, much deeper in his thinking and approach.  He's got to actually take a stand that may for a few minutes rob him of his "it girl" status, but ultimately make him into a real leader who can do something more than just keep people happy as they are driving over a cliff.  Starting with putting the breaks on this going over a cliff thing - no matter how many lunatics are upset at him for robbing them of the opportunity for destruction.


    Interesting, as I see it as the problem (none / 0) (#20)
    by Cream City on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:40:08 AM EST
    of so many people I know (and I'm one) who spent their time at the front of the room, lecturing.  It can be humbling, then, to see what the audience thinks you said -- to listen to them, instead.

    I wonder whether he actually graded papers for his classes?  I suspect he may have had a TA or grader, as he apparently has not had that humbling experience that can counter tone-deafness.  Of course, some dismiss such results as just the students being stupid.  We have seen that, too.


    He may have sat in the back (none / 0) (#21)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:41:39 AM EST
    and gotten passing grades, but I sure don't get the image of his being smart.    

    There's different types of smart (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by hookfan on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:08:07 PM EST
    GW is not, by any means, a rocket scientist. But he was very effective in getting done what he wanted. Obama is undoubtedly schoolbook smart. And, unless one views him as a corporatist republican lying his arse off in Democratic clothing, he's floundering. He floundered as a community organizer too. Even his big success on the asbestos case didn't last when the money ran out.
       However, if he's viewed as a republican corporatist, he's been very, very effective. From the wall street giveaway with no strings attached, to the current hcr giveaway to big pharma, to the potential for another giveaway to big insurance-- especially with a public option being so watered down and still being endangered, and not much of anything of substance done for main street nor workers, no card law for Unions either, gays, women, and effective help for working class minorities can be chucked too.
      And this all done mind you with a Democratic controlled house and Senate.

    Mr. Obama seems to be (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by KeysDan on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:59:01 PM EST
    made of the stuff of a good former president.

    "Do Bush right" (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by lambert on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 04:22:14 PM EST
    > If he's viewed as a republican corporatist, he's been very, very
    > effective.

    As Stirling Newberry wrote, Obama's mandate was to Do Bush Right. So far, he's done very well.


    I think he is smart. (none / 0) (#26)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:50:05 AM EST
    He hasn't achieved what he has by being some sort of idiot savant.  I think what he lacks is depth and dimension neither of which is required in the context of an American political campaign these days.  But both of which play heavily into the success or failure of running any organization whether it be government or private enterprise.  He is the model for the modern American CEO - a detached "thinker" - "high-level strategist" - who really doesn't have a clue how the sausage is made and isn't even expected to.

    I think that a lot of people thought they were getting Steve Jobs (a CEO much more like the old style model), when really they were getting someone more along the lines of Robert Nardelli.


    You're entitled, I just don't see it (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:07:31 PM EST
    I see that he's good at choosing well-connected people who will work hard to open doors for him, and promote an image of him that will appeal to many.

    He requires a script to keep his image as that of being smart. The inability to response to crowd questions without a steady stream of ums and ahs while restarting his answer multiple times as new thoughts jump into his head is a key contributor for why I don't think he's smart. He doesn't seem to know where he stands on anything and that's really because he doesn't fully understand what most people are dealing with in their lives.


    Being principled and being smart (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:44:05 PM EST
    do not always go hand in hand.

    People who can't take a stand aren't stupid.  They're just people who can't or won't committ - often because they think it is "smarter" for their personal agenda not to.  That's the profile of the overwhelming majority of modern American politicians, imo.


    How smart is it to not be able to (none / 0) (#42)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:03:10 PM EST
    commit to a decision and think you are qualified to be POTUS? Doesn't seem the slightest bit smart to me.

    You think he doesn't know that he's incapable of making a firm decision based on analysis of a situation?


    I dunno - I know plenty of smart people (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:34:07 PM EST
    who I wouldn't trust to actually execute a plan.  They are often smart enough to understand concepts and can speak eloquently about them, but actually executing them would be impossible for them.  Professor smart doesn't necessarily equate to street smarts for instance.  The engineer who figures out some aerodynamic equation doesn't necessarily have the inate skills to actually build something using his or her formula.

    Besides, what you are really talking about is more in the realm of arrogance than smarts anyway.  Thinking that you're the person who can be anything - president or otherwise - is about ego more than anything else.  Those who are successful, imo, generally have as much of a sense of their limitations as they do of their strengths - those are the people who know how to use their own skills in concert with the team around them.

    The truth is that Obama would probably have been a perfectly adequate president in any other stable time in American history.  His problem is that he won at a time when his incrementalism and obsession with process over policy has real potential to be damaging.  This country is more in need of a strong and effective government than at any other point in my lifetime.  The thing is that I think Obama is ideologically opposed to strong government; and on that point I would grant you a big "not smart" point against him.  But that doesn't mean that he isn't generally pretty smart - even smart people play the fools to their own ideology.


    Well of course you (3.50 / 2) (#50)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:34:11 PM EST
    don't you're an irrational hater- to you Obama's a dumb guy who just got lucky- because god knows its easy for a guy from his background to raise up academically and politically the way he did.

    Wait (none / 0) (#52)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:36:30 PM EST
    the fact that he likes to think out his answers make him appear less intelligent to you-- seriously, let me guess to you Bush and Edwards are the smartest politicans of the last 8 years right.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 10:51:34 AM EST
    again we are back to the same problems. This was Obama's problem in the campaign that has come back to haunt him or either it's a severe personality deficit that cannot be overcome.

    Obama reran Bush's campaign of 2000 and 2004 basing it on personality and not issues. We saw what that did to the GOP. Even his defnining of the opposition is deeply flawed because the problem is Rush Limbaugh or John McCain when in the end it's not really them so much as their ideas. Obama has never tried to discredit their ideas and he has actually legitimized them so that they may live on longer than they should.

    Not, Lincoln, not FDR ... (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:08:02 AM EST
    Hoover is the President that Obama should be worrying about being compared to right now.

    And this is could lead to some frightening results.

    Right now Obama's strongest opposition is being effectively painted as a bunch of silly extremists.  An easy task because that's what the are. Emphasis on the silly.  

    But let the economy get more desperate and the American public could turn to these extremists for solutions.  And then they don't look so silly anymore.

    And though Obama has clearly squander a good opportunity, there's still time.  I think next year's battle over banking re-regulation will be critical.  

    Having lived through '94 and the... (5.00 / 5) (#35)
    by Pacific John on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:26:10 PM EST
    CA recall of Gray Davis, I think the economy is desperate enough for voters to punish the Dems heavily next year. It's an appearance/reality thing: the Obama base and Versailles crowd are insulated from the economy, and act like everything's fine, but the grinding distress in the working class will cause an eruption when it has a chance to vent.

    This is all on Obama, and we don't need right wing propagandists to gin up blame. Obama ignored Krugman's open letter, and the human suffering that's resulting will fall squarely on the golden boy.


    I don't think we're there yet. (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:26:15 PM EST
    And this won't be a replay of '94.

    In '94, the Republicans didn't present themselves as extremists.  In fact, they went the opposite way, presenting themselves as mainstream.

    Republicans currently seem to have no interest in doing that.  They're embracing the extremists.

    I think we have a ways to go before a majority embraces THIS Republican party.


    The GOP will have to wildly exceed (none / 0) (#54)
    by Pacific John on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:38:43 PM EST
    ...the incompetence of the McCain campaign to blow 2010. You're right about extremism, but casual voters have the attention span and memory of gnats - there's a long time for the GOP to cobble together a marketing effort.

    It's harder than it looks ... (5.00 / 2) (#57)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:50:40 PM EST
    currently Republican party identification is very low.  And the MSM is doing a good job of making them look silly.

    But my main point was if the public does turn to THIS Republican Party.  It will be turning to a party that's even more dangerous and extreme than the ones we've had in the past.

    I think the Dems believe this fact will save them, even if they continue on a timid, Wall Street coddling, course.  And it well might.

    But if it doesn't ...


    Its not the MSM (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 02:00:28 PM EST
    I mean Media Coverage is a factor but when your political leadership and your elected officials have a problem going a full week without saying something so embarrassing that it has to either be walked back or ignored entirely then you might have a problem clawing your way back into favor.

    I don't know (none / 0) (#56)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:43:40 PM EST
    I don't think this will be a replay of 1994- while Obama's fallen a bit two important factors differ:

    1. The GOP is far lower than it was in 1994
    2. Obama's still viewed better than Clinton was in November of 1994- if he can stay at this level losses will be contained.

    Right (5.00 / 2) (#64)
    by Pacific John on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 03:15:58 PM EST
    The Emerged Democratic Majority means there won't be a '94-style Southern Strategy tsunami, although there might be a different throw the bums out tsunami.

    There is a lot of unharnessed populism that our party strenuously ignores in the form of Brazile's workers and Hispanics (who also overwhelmingly want a sound social safety net, like open access to Medicare). The GOP is equally elitist, but they know how to at least pretend like they are populists, so if the parties are positioned as GOP = throw the bums out, and Dems = bums, that neutralizes the GOP's extremism problem. In '92 and '96, about 1/3 of voters supported Perot's attack on bums, and Jay Cost at RCP recently pointed out that his voters tended to be Dem-leaning independents. GOP party ID isn't going to skyrocket, but after a huge Dem year, ours will feel the gravity of an off-year election. Independents will continue their steady expansion.

    On your second point, we should agree that underlying economic factors were better for Clinton than Obama, and their public appearances don't balance. Media bias elevates Obama's and suppressed Clinton, but in the end, voters figure it out. That's why 70% of Americans supported Clinton during impeachment, and most Dems voted for Hillary, despite tidal wave negative press bias they both got. Obama's problem is that he's still somewhat buoyed by unrealistic expectations, as opposed to Bill and Hillary who always over-performed against expectations set by vwrc and OFA smears (extensive investigation reveals that they aren't commies or Grand Dragons after all). Obama's numbers have never had to face reality but as unemployment persists, they will.

    We can't precisely predict the future, but I see a lot of volatility ahead, and I can't see how Obama keeps his numbers up, no matter how much friendly media he gets.

    This stream of consciousness makes me think we'll get bloodied in 2010, and that 2012 could be a year for megalomaniac like Perot or Bloomberg to see their chance. Heck, if Obama continues to be Republican-lite and piss off everyone but Olympia Snowe, he's essentially begging for an insurgency like Ted Kennedy's attack on Carter.


    When you make the same post again (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Steve M on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:13:58 AM EST
    apparently you get all the same comments again!

    Yup (none / 0) (#24)
    by andgarden on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:45:55 AM EST
    For my own part, I feel like I've said my bit on this so far.

    But it isn't exactly "the same post." (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:24:46 PM EST
    The problem is Obama has squandered that mandate for transformational change. His change agenda was simply too timid for the problems and for the political and policy opportunity. And he could well sink his Presidency because of his timidity on the economic situation.

    You're right (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Steve M on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:00:23 PM EST
    but I just felt the need to snark at a few members of our community who seem to post the exact same "Obama sucks" comment every day.  I picture them punching a time clock.

    Many probably do (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:10:25 PM EST
    well, those who still have jobs, a home, a bank account, and know the difference between integrity and garbage.

    Did you see that those numbers, the 650,000 jobs this administration boasts it saved or created through the stimulus was pretty much a hoax. ABC Nightly News did an investigative piece that showed hundreds of posted districts claiming new jobs were non-existent locations, and in one case a $790,000 grant to a company with 317 employees gave their windfall to their employees in the form of raises, but the administration's appointee over tracking posted those as 317 new jobs...more and more being uncovered.

    I think people have a right to complain about this. They're hungry, cold, and don't see any interest from this administration in making things better.


    I think "hoax" is an overstatement (none / 0) (#51)
    by Steve M on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:36:12 PM EST
    but obviously there are serious PR problems with the self-reporting method they chose to use.

    Anyway I disagree with you that the daily kvetching is productive.  People can have whatever opinion they like on the issue of the day, be it pro- or anti-Obama, I don't mind either way.  But some people have been posting the exact same thing every day for the past year and I can only imagine what drives them.


    I agree with you (5.00 / 2) (#61)
    by NYShooter on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 02:20:50 PM EST
    That some of the comments/complaints seam to be on auto-pilot, but what can you expect? There are a lot of people who are profoundly hurt at what they now feel was a deceitful, calculated, and ultimately successful con-job. They are hurt, and don't know how to relieve the pain other than  repeating anti-Obama babble as if in a daze.

    As one who, unfortunately, was correct in sizing up Obama as a self promoting, marketing genius, and little else, I sympathize with those "true believers' who now are left with little more than repetitive, rote complaining.    

    Helpful? No, Understandable? Yes.


    I dunno (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by Steve M on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 02:45:30 PM EST
    I see a few people who are "now hurt."  I see a lot more people who considered it a con job from day one and just show up to say "I told you so!" every day.  It just seems so pointless.  At some point we need to move forward in the context of the world as it is, not the world as it would be if everyone listened to me.

    It's rather like Iraq, isn't it? (5.00 / 3) (#69)
    by lambert on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 04:35:31 PM EST
    Everybody who was wrong still gets to go on the teebee.

    Everybody who was right is a dirty hippie and gets marginalized.

    And so:

    I see a lot more people who considered it a con job from day one and just show up to say "I told you so!" every day.

    Dirty hippies! Sure they were right, but can't they shut up about it? Well, maybe it's because they can't get on the teebee (or onto the access blogs, which amounts to the same thing in our world).

    You say 'dirty hippy' like it's a bad thing! (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by allimom99 on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 06:55:58 PM EST

    Shrug (none / 0) (#73)
    by Steve M on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 06:59:48 PM EST
    if any other candidate had won, all of the people who were cynical about that candidate would have gotten to be right too.

    "This Obama guy is going to disappoint."  Gee, bold prediction there!  Got any lottery numbers for me to play, O Swami?


    Cynical? (none / 0) (#75)
    by lambert on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 09:31:10 PM EST
    Or realistic?

    both- all pols will disappoint (none / 0) (#76)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:41:02 PM EST
    Seriously, without exception- you can pretty easily argue that every president since Truman broke his campaign promises pretty severely. That's what happens in a Democracy- even if a canidate is being completely sincere in his desire to achieve something- he has to go through congress.  

    Pretty predictable, I agree. And Huff Post (none / 0) (#43)
    by oculus on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:07:31 PM EST
    had a piece last night on how to beat internet addiction. (Needless to say, I only read the headline.)

    But in reading the post we are discussing i was struck by the tepid supporter's fatalist assessment of his candidate's future.


    found the quote (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by kmblue on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:39:25 AM EST
    "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views."

    Still makes me laugh (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:43:43 AM EST
    when I read it. Yup, that's what I want in the oval office...a blank screen waiting for anyone and everyone to project something off him.

    I gather Axelrod thinks the President's (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by oculus on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:26:23 PM EST
    action/inaction to date has been effective politically.

    You have to dance with who you brought (2.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Manuel on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:11:53 PM EST
    Obama isn't going to change.  He is a mediator by nature.  Many of us wanted someone to lead the fight but that's not what we got.  Just because Obama won't fight doesn't mean that the other side has stopped fighting.  There are the tea baggers and Limbaugh and Palin taking shots.  They aren't just aiming at Obama.  They are aiming at us.  What I want to know is where the fighters on the Dem side are?  Where is Joe Biden?  Isn't it a VP's duty to take it to the opposition?  Where are the firebrand liberal senators?  The only way this is going to work is if we give Obama something to mediate.  Yes, Obama is doing less than we might want or expect but that does not excuse disengaging from the fight.  The battle for the center of American politics is going on and our side sis on its thumbs waiting for a leader.  Face it, he isn't coming.  Now, what are we going to do?

    What's there to fight (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by hookfan on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:16:59 PM EST
    when your corporate masters are so well served? Why be engaged, when disengagement is working so well?

    If you believe (none / 0) (#39)
    by Manuel on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:53:18 PM EST
    in meaningful HCR, in clean energey and green jobs, in inmigration reform, in better education for all, etc., etc., then we have to step it up.  Why is it that a search for birthers gets 52,000,000 hits in Google while single payer health care gets only 1,000,000?  The other side understands too well that we are competing for new and old media attention.  Unfortunately, our side appears to be camera shy.  We need to find other ways to mobilize.  On the other hand, if we think the fight is already lost, then never mind.

    Obama is naturally inclined to split the difference.  We need to give him something to split.


    Many of the fighters (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by cawaltz on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:19:51 PM EST
    left the party and it seems that those that are willing to fight for things like single payer(albeit not necessarily as Democrats) still get maligned as "ideological purists" rather than lauded as activists. So go figure why they aren't so anxious to put themselves out there.

    Compare Pelosi pulling single payer off the table to the Republican leaderships response to the teapartiers. Two very different responses.


    I was referring to Biden (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by hookfan on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:51:09 PM EST
    And also Obama. And by extension the leadership in the house, and Senate. 'Cause that's their mentality. They only need the public political theatre to avoid blame from voters they can con. Heck, this has been going on since the Dems were in the minority (remember all the caving to GW? the never ending capitulation?). Probably long before too.
      The erosion continues, and continues, and continues. And it won't stop either until there is election finance reform. Or a viable third party. Or some other way to organize the growing numbers that are being screwed. That's not going to happen anytime soon is it? Especially when it's so easy to play one faction of the screwed against another-- there is no sense of solidarity.
       I do know that constant compromise doesn't/isn't working for the ordinary people. That's how we got here. And the compromises are always in the corporatist/rightist direction-- seldom if ever the other way. So, as far as I'm concerned the democrats who want to continue to compromise can get themselves elected without my vote. I'd very much be willing for less to get passed, rather than supporting compromises that continue the erosion of principle.

    He's had mixed results (2.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:41:40 PM EST
    he still in all likelihood has 7 more years to change things and given the massive problems he inherited and the changes that have occured (especially in regards to Iraq and Gitmo) I'm not giving up on the guy yet.

    Who said anything about giving up? (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by lambert on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 04:43:26 PM EST
    I'm completely confident in Obama: He's doing an excellent job serving his masters while making the rest of us a lot worse off.  FISA and TARP were the giveaways in 2008, for anyone who was paying attention.

    Well here's what I don't get (none / 0) (#1)
    by lilburro on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 10:07:48 AM EST
    why the HELL is Obama giving an interview to Fox News, now, after that entire fairly successful anti-Fox campaign?????

    Don't you get it (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by cawaltz on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:37:00 AM EST
    Obama is all things to all people which means he BOTH agrees and disagrees with the premise that FOX News isn't really a news organization.

    He's still being the same cagey personality he has always been. I guess he figures this way it will be difficult for his opponents to pin him down on his position on anything in 2012. After all, it worked pretty well in 2008. He managed to convince a whole bunch of women he was a feminist while convincing the fundies that he was their kind of guy.


    Saw this post and thought this was a reference (none / 0) (#8)
    by vicndabx on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:00:25 AM EST
    to the comments in the open thread w/Palin.  :-)

    Re: the change.  For many it was merely, i'm
    changed, or we've changed in that I or we can vote for a black person as president.  Giving people the opportunity to demonstrate that change to themselves was IMO, the goal of the Obama campaign.  I.e. let's show ourselves and the world how much America has changed after 8 years of divise-Bush stuff.  

    Everything else was run o'the mill election campaign stuff.  People should not be surprised.  All this radical change stuff people keep talking about just. ain't. gonna. happen.  Not only because I don't think that's where Obama wanted to go from the get go, he can't because of 1. the economy, 2. he's black, and 3. vested interests.  Not necessarily in that order.

    All of those things were present (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by cawaltz on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:06:33 PM EST
    BEFORE his election. I'm not buying the "it's not his fault" meme. He wanted this job and he can darn well take credit for his performance during it. No one is forcing him to have meeting with PHRMA or stopping him from listening to Krugman or tons of other economists that are suggesting that he wants a different result economically that he needs to do something to get that different result. It's his own darn fault if he isn't willing to have a few names lobbed at him to actually deliver on the change he once promised. As so many are enamored of pointing out "this is politics, it's a bloodsport."

    Not saying it's not his fault. (none / 0) (#37)
    by vicndabx on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:36:41 PM EST
    I don't think I'm defending his actions either.  Merely, pointing out the realities as I see them.  I think he knows
    this is politics, it's a bloodsport
    and that's why you will not see radical deviation from the status quo from him.

    Ironically enough (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by cawaltz on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:13:05 PM EST
    It's also the reason many of us are content to see him pummeled(and he is being pummeled despite his sticking with status quo). If he isn't willing to fight for anything liberal out of fear that he might get called radical then I certainly see no reason to fight for him.

    So, Obama's the Zen hot dog vendor? (none / 0) (#70)
    by lambert on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 04:40:26 PM EST
    Guy gives the Zen hot dog vendor twenty bucks, Zen hot dog vendor gives the guy a hot dog.


    GUY: Where's my change?

    ZEN HOT DOG VENDOR: Change, my friend, must come from within!

    * * *

    So, that's what you're saying?


    You seem close to suggesting (none / 0) (#10)
    by Spamlet on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:09:46 AM EST
    that in some circumstances an African American president might be unable to do the job because of his or her race. Is that what you meant?

    All this radical change stuff people keep talking about just. ain't. gonna. happen.  Not only because I don't think that's where Obama wanted to go from the get go, he can't because of 1. the economy, 2. he's black, and 3. vested interests.  Not necessarily in that order.

    This was supposed to be a response (none / 0) (#11)
    by Spamlet on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:11:22 AM EST
    to vicndabx (#8).

    I assure you that is not what I meant. (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by vicndabx on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:15:36 AM EST
    I was referring to him appearing too radical and the intersection of that appearance w/his being black.

    Reading your question and my response again (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by vicndabx on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:20:25 AM EST
    I guess yes, you could say that.  However, to clarify my intent, that failure to do the job as you say wouldn't be because of any inherent lack of ability on the part of the president due to his race.  Rather, perception of his actions by others taking his race into account.

    Sure (none / 0) (#25)
    by Spamlet on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:49:25 AM EST
    I understood that.

    But think about it.

    You mentioned "perception of his actions by others taking his race into account."

    Where can you really go with that, other than saying that in some circumstances--in this case, circumstances in which doing the job means taking bold, radical action--a black (or female, etc.) president could not do the job because of his/her race (gender, etc.)? This formulation would seem to automatically disqualify certain candidates from consideration on the grounds that the prejudice of "others" would not allow them to exercise effective leadership.


    Automatically disqualify, no. (none / 0) (#31)
    by vicndabx on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:14:39 PM EST
    Make cautious, yes.

    Slippery slope, that (none / 0) (#41)
    by Spamlet on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:01:06 PM EST
    True. (none / 0) (#46)
    by vicndabx on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:14:54 PM EST
    Hopefully, not for long.  Since the mere fact that we have elected Obama is indicative of progress.

    Obama said it during the election. (none / 0) (#14)
    by kmblue on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:16:46 AM EST
    I can't recall the exact quote, but it was something about Obama being a blank screen that people projected their desires upon.

    Some people, that is.

    Now that screen is projecting a picture that many don't like.

    Perhaps that's why (none / 0) (#17)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:32:13 AM EST
    46% of the people who did vote for him now say they wouldn't do that again. Not sure what poll, just heard it on NPR last night.

    "Empty vessel." (none / 0) (#34)
    by oculus on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 12:25:13 PM EST
    Oh yeah the PUMAs (none / 0) (#53)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:38:17 PM EST
    were right man- I totally can see how Sarah Palin or a right in for Hillary would have been brilliant choices- man can you imagine the awesome things that could have happened if we'd all been as in touch and rational as a Rothschilde.

    Your guy has done more (5.00 / 3) (#62)
    by cawaltz on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 02:35:02 PM EST
    for conservatism then Palin and McCain ever could have done while simultaneously killing the liberal brand. When the Republicans win in 2012 it will be because of the lack of foresight and the inability of the left to have a constructive debate on how to get issues enacted. Every single one of the people who called PUMAs what they did ought to be ashamed of themselves. They WERE right with every single concern they had but instead of listening to them they were called "bitter, racist Republicans" Furthermore this was a simple as making sure every single Dem had their voice heard. Instead the party itself did everything they could to silence those that had niggling doubts on where Obama would lead us. Instead they rigged and manipulated a system straight down to ensuring she didn't even getting votes she EARNED. You go ahead though and keep pretending that the party split was a good thing.

    Not really a party "split"... (5.00 / 2) (#67)
    by lambert on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 04:24:11 PM EST
    ... when half the party is kicked out.

    Dr. Socks has the definitive post on this (5.00 / 2) (#68)
    by lambert on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 04:30:09 PM EST
    Here. Read all the comments.

    What I'd say is not "[PUMAs] WERE right with every single concern" -- again, read the thread, especially this and this from Dr. Socks -- but that "many who identified as PUMAs WERE right with every single concern." Big time for that one. And especially for the misogyny and the caucus fraud, which loom larger and larger as the "original  sins" of the faction that seized control of the party in 2008.


    I believe they plan to continue TARP - nice. (none / 0) (#74)
    by allimom99 on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 06:59:58 PM EST