Would FDR Have Been As Timid?

Kevin Drum writes:

I think the thing that surprises me is that anyone ever thought [Obama would bring transformational change. . . .] His nickname was "No Drama Obama," and his temperament was plainly cautious, sober, and businesslike. This was all pretty obvious during the campaign [. . .] Personally, I wish Obama would articulate the liberal agenda more full-throatedly, and I wish he'd take a few more risks and push his own caucus a little harder. I've thought that ever since the 2008 campaign. But the fact that he hasn't hardly comes as a surprise. He's as liberal a president as we've had in 40 years, but he's no starry-eyed idealist. Why would anyone ever have thought differently?

The reason anyone would have thought so is by looking at history. Was FDR some "starry-eyed idealist?" Or did he see huge problems that required innovative and transformational change? When Obama entered office, the opportunity and the IMPERATIVE for big EFFECTIVE change was there. I thought him a better politician and statesman than he has turned out to be. He is run of the mill, a President who has taken the biggest Congressional majorities and electoral mandate in 40 years to do what a 43% President would be able to achieve. Is Obama a bad President? Of course not. But his Presidency so far has been a squandered opportunity. What is surprising is that any self professed progressive Democrat would not express disappointment about this missed historic opportunity.

Speaking for me only

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    Cautious to a fault (5.00 / 8) (#2)
    by Alvord on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 10:28:16 AM EST
    If there are progressives out there who are satisfied with President Obama's performance I question whether they are really progressive.

    I agree (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 10:30:21 AM EST
    Nixon was more liberal than Obama (5.00 / 6) (#3)
    by Dan the Man on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 10:28:27 AM EST
    Kevin Drum: "He's as liberal a president as we've had in 40 years."  Sheesh.

    there is certainly an argument to be made (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 10:30:05 AM EST
    on that score.

    Perhaps you could argue that Obama was the most liberal Democratic President in 40 years.


    On what do you base this? (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by trillian on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 11:10:29 AM EST
    Obama was the most liberal Democratic President in 40 years.

    From his Senate tenure, on, I have seen very little evidence of Liberal tendencies in Obama.

    Do you really think he is more Liberal than BC?



    I think he has to date been pretty much the same (5.00 / 4) (#27)
    by BobTinKY on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:35:28 PM EST
    ideologically as Pres Clinton.

    What is disappointing is I think Clinton was a product of his times, Reaganism in high gear.  Obama did not have to be like this, he chose to.

    The times and conditions certainly allowed Obama every opportunity to be a more forceful progressive and he has declined.  Clinton never really had that choice though I doubt he too would ever have taken advantage.  Our Democratic leaders are corporatists for the most part.


    Hillary would have been better, of course. (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by robrecht on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 11:08:14 AM EST
    "I thought him a better politician and statesman than he has turned out to be. He is run of the mill ..."

    Do you regret backing Obama in the primaries?

    The way an automat (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by jondee on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 11:22:51 AM EST
    grill cheese is better than dumpster diving.

    "I voted for Obama (5.00 / 8) (#14)
    by jbindc on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 11:37:55 AM EST
    and all I got was this lousy dumpster to dive in."

    yup, we would have had to ride (5.00 / 6) (#34)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 03:03:34 PM EST
    her arse too.  But the whole blogosphere would have enjoyed it verses this bunch of Moonies we get stuck with trying to deprogram......sigh

    Oh random (5.00 / 3) (#37)
    by Socraticsilence on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 04:25:37 PM EST
    Hypotheticals are fun, Hey Jerry Brown would have been better than Bill Clinton, and John McCain would have been better than George W. Bush.

    No (none / 0) (#24)
    by BobTinKY on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:31:43 PM EST
    Of course, this is all unprovable w@nkery (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 11:16:36 AM EST
    though I agree--as you know. Obama isn't the only timid one. FDR's Congress sent him the FDIC, something he originally opposed.

    Obama isn't timid. He plays (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 11:24:39 AM EST
    by Washington's rules, per Adam Nagourney.  NYT

    Well Kevin is just CYA'ing here (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Radix on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 11:49:27 AM EST
    This is not what he was saying during the campaign.

    FDR was a leader (5.00 / 5) (#16)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:09:13 PM EST
    who probably didn't have an iPod, Facebook page, or dance to disrespectful Rap tunes (and, wouldn't have even had they been available). He related to the adults in the room, and cared enough to protect the youth.

    The attitudes, the maturity level, the sense of commitment and responsibility have nothing in common. The work that needs to be done by this administration is the only resemblance to the FDR administration.

    "dance to disrespectful rap tunes" (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Socraticsilence on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 04:27:15 PM EST
    Wow, that's some crotchety crap, what the hell is that even supposed to mean?  Is it a "those kids and there rock and roll." thing or what?

    This stuff drives me crazy! (5.00 / 8) (#17)
    by mjames on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:18:41 PM EST
    The starry-eyed idealists are the ones who voted for Obama (I'm not counting you in that group, BTD). Now they're rationalizing and excusing and sounding exceedingly anti-intellectual and downright dishonest. My kids, when they were 10 (they're now close to 40), came up with better excuses than these guys. My prediction: the fissure in the Dem party caused by Obama and his minions will become a full break in 2010. I know I'm gone. To get me back (a very difficult task indeed), start by admitting your mistakes (again, not talking about you, BTD), fellas. Say it loud and clear: I was wrong. I made a mistake. Jeez.

    Where have you "gone" to? Not the GOP (none / 0) (#23)
    by BobTinKY on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:30:55 PM EST
    I am certain.

    I am just asking because I am looking for a place to land also.


    I've gone home (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by mjames on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:32:39 PM EST
    And I'm staying there until someone gives me a reason for my vote!

    Gone back to principles (5.00 / 7) (#26)
    by Cream City on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:33:48 PM EST
    before party, and priorities among principles.  That's me, anyway, and a lot of others (on other blogs where this is discussed more).  

    I think our choices boil down to Democrats (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by BobTinKY on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:43:38 PM EST
    who are actually OK at enabling the corporatist, military-industrial empire that is today's USA, or the GOP who will drive it over the cliff.

    As one who opposes corporatism, militarism and empire, I sometimes wonder if the GOP doesn't offer the quicker road to redemption.  Is it better to let the system crash and burn quickly and rebuild from the remains, or stay stuck in system that because it is not capable of addressing the needs of its people is on a one way, slow boat to collapse?

    I had thought we reached that crash and burn point with Bush.  It is frightening to think it will take even more catastrophe than Bush to force leaders to attempt the type of changes we need.


    Maybe this is real cynical (none / 0) (#52)
    by christinep on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 06:33:08 PM EST
    or practical.  It goes like this: The context of jobs may well determine the mood in the months and year ahead. My dad used to say that a man cannot think about philosophy if his stomach is empty. Dad spoke from a Great Depression-growing up background; now, others speak from a "Great Recession" experience.  I've never subscribed to the ole "if it gets bad enough, there will be an uprising" routine. Sorry, but we actually have a long way to go before we talk Decembrists or Versailles.  When I was a youth, I kept expecting the great change around the corner. What I yearn for now is the same--justice & equality of opportunity & the dignity of decent work--yet, my focus is decidedly incremental. Bit by bit, move forward.

    I'm in the "throw the bums" out mode (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by MO Blue on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 01:38:24 PM EST
    IOW, I plan to only support primary challenges against existing Dems who do not support my positions. In 2012, there is a very good chance that I will cast my first ever Republican vote against my current Dem Senator in the hopes that if she loses there will be a chance in 2018 we could elect another Dem who would not vote in opposition to the issues that matter to me.

    A gamble (none / 0) (#54)
    by christinep on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 06:37:02 PM EST
    Now, that is a real gamble. What downsides to the underdogs, the unemployed, the underemployed do you see in the reliance upon a Republican to do anything of a positive nature?

    Those "but Republicans are still worse" (5.00 / 8) (#63)
    by shoephone on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 09:08:51 PM EST
    and "but where are you going to go?" arguments ring totally hollow to me. Nothing changes until voters are willing to change things themselves. There is nothing to be gained by voting in the same phony, corporate-owned a$$holes again and again.

    Some states have public financing of campaigns. Some cities have it too. That's how it starts. Vote in good candidates who are NOT beholden to  corporate donors -- because they run with public funding -- and who don't give a darn about party labels. Then move it up the chain to the national level. It's not going to happen overnight, but that's life.

    Frankly, I'm not scared of mean Republicans anymore than I am of spineless, useless Democrats.


    Downside of continuing (5.00 / 4) (#72)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 08:45:42 AM EST
    to vote for my conservative Dem Senator who prides herself on voting with Republicans? I can count on her to vote to eliminate more of my constitutional rights. I can count on her to support endless wars. I can count on her to support a commission that sets the stage to weaken or eliminate "entitlement programs." I can count on her to defeat any effort to establish a system that would provide real health care. I can count on her to make sure that any legislation will benefit corporations more than people.

    To: MO Blue (none / 0) (#80)
    by christinep on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:20:57 PM EST
    Good point. And, I'm fortunate that my two Democratic Senators--for the most part--act & vote like Democrats. If faced with your dilemma, I would be frustrated to the nth degree. One question that would have to be answered by me if I were in your situation--a frustrating question itself--is: What would the other person do? Any worse? Would it enshrine someone worse for 2 or 3 terms or would it not change across the board?

    Ah yes, we are going to enshrine a Republican for (none / 0) (#83)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:45:56 PM EST
    2 or 3 terms because I choose not to vote for a Democrat who vote exactly like a Republican. IMO the Dems say vote for us because we aren't as bad as the Republicans. And the Republicans say vote for us because we aren't as bad as the Dems. This is a great con game because either way the public get scr&wed big time. IMO, what we need is more one term members of Congress until they decide that they were elected to represent people.

    On the issues that are the most important to me a Republican would vote the same way. There would be no difference. If the so called Dem maintains her Senate seat, I can count on votes being casted indefinitely against my interest. If she loses her seat, there is a change that in 2018 we would be able to elect someone who would vote differently.


    And here we go with the (none / 0) (#39)
    by Socraticsilence on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 04:30:47 PM EST
    "those DFHs" crap-- Uh, for me and a lot of the people who voted for Obama it was due to Foriegn Policy- the Democratic Primary boiled down to two corporatists Dems with slight policy variatios (Hillary to the left on Domestic Policy to a degree, Obama to the left on Foriegn Policy to a degree), the decision was then down to which you valued more at the time. Now, if it had been a choice between Clinton/Obama and say Kucinich you could say a real idelogical choice existed.

    Since when is preemptive war a left (5.00 / 3) (#50)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 06:00:27 PM EST
    Foreign Policy?

    In what way is Obama's foriegn policy (none / 0) (#78)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 02:38:14 PM EST
    pre-emptive- he clearly laid out- greater emphasis on Diplomacy (both public and private), drawdown in Iraq, and refocusing efforts in Afghanistan- all things which he has done.

    What was (5.00 / 2) (#53)
    by jbindc on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 06:36:47 PM EST
    his foreign policy plan and philosophy - besides supposedly giving a speech at an anti-war rally?

    Hate to tell yout, but (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by christinep on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 06:38:49 PM EST
    most recent Presidents lack foreign policy backgrounds.

    Ok (5.00 / 3) (#73)
    by jbindc on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 08:51:29 AM EST
    then overall executive experience.  Most presidents have at least one or the other.  This time we got one with neither.

    They are not progressives, they're techocrats (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by esmense on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:24:49 PM EST
    The last time we had health care reform it was also, as Jonathan Chiat glowingly describes today's reforms in his TNR defense, "bipartisan technocratic reform."

    Remember what those reforms were? The legislation that created HMOs, PPOs, etc. Those technocratic ideas also promised to lower cost and broaden access. They did nothing of the sort. But they did help increase consumer disatisfaction.

    It's pointless to try to figure out the ideology of this bunch, because they consider themselves above and beyond both ideology and partisanship. While at the same time they consider the mere mortals who raise objections to their ideas as purely ideological or merely ill-informed.

    There is a difference between being technocratic and being pragmatic. Unfortunately, we all are going to have lots of opportunities in the real world to experience exactly what those differences are.

    The reasons why I think technocratic fixes have failed in the past are likely to apply to these new reforms; too much reliance on reforming the consumer rather than the product, too much emphasis placed on achieving solving political problems that don't contribute to providing better, more affordable, more accessible care, too much faith in and dependence on technocratic theory untested in the real world, and, perhaps most important, a studied disdain for political complexity that leads to a failure to fully respect the complexity of, and fully comprehend the unavoidably competing interests within, the consumer market for health care.

    This is the description (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by Cream City on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 02:59:47 PM EST
    and explanation I have been trying to figure out for a health care wonk I know.  This -- and the gamesmanship of counting votes gained, not principles lost -- have caused him to go against what he had deemed minimal.  Thanks for insights.

    The light didn't go on for me until I read (5.00 / 4) (#36)
    by esmense on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 03:10:12 PM EST
    Chaits defense of reform and his exuberant use of that little phrase "bipartisan technocratic reform."

    It's 1973 all over again, and the Democrats are making the same mistakes they made then. Only this time, Obama is playing the part of the Republican president.


    "Consumers" (5.00 / 3) (#59)
    by sj on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 07:09:23 PM EST
    too much reliance on reforming the consumer rather than the product

    In every aspect this is true.  Users of a service are now almost universally described as "consumers".  I was shocked when I rode the DC metro the first time and heard the recorded message about making room (I think) for other "consumers".  When did "passengers" become consumers?  When did "patients" become consumers?  When did "listeners" and "viewers" become consumers?  It's a perspective that is damaging to society as a whole, I believe.


    Kindred soul! (5.00 / 3) (#65)
    by mollypitcher on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 09:46:19 PM EST
    I shrink (shriek?) inwardly every time I hear my retarded daughter called a 'consumer' because she receives services from a county agency.  Maybe I will get irritated enough someday to point out that the agency is also a consumer--of my daughter's income.  She's a resident, by d--n!

    sorry, should be "they're technocrats" (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by esmense on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:26:15 PM EST

    Squandered opportunity (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by BobTinKY on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:29:19 PM EST
    sums it up nicely.

    Robert Kuttner on Moyers held out hope that by Fall 2010 Obama might realize his timidity is a problem and start acting more forthrightly as a progressive.  I think that unlikely and even if Obama does it will be too late.  He will almost certainly lose ground in Congress and he is perceived by the public [accurately with respect to HCR (by Leiberman et al), stimulus (Snow and Collins), continuing Bush big bank bailouts (Geithner & Summers), continuing/defending Bush detention policies & torture (by Cheney unbelievably enough)] not as a leader but as one who is led.

    Opportunity squandered, there is no second act.

    Is it really a squandered opportunity? (5.00 / 4) (#28)
    by mjames on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:38:04 PM EST
    Or did Obama accomplish precisely what his corporate masters dictated? I don't know the answer. He's either an utterly impotent hack, afraid to alienate anyone, or a Chicago pol paying back his masters at our expense. Whatever - as far as I can see, he is certainly not a progressive or a liberal.  

    From the viewpoint of this progressive (5.00 / 7) (#30)
    by BobTinKY on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:46:49 PM EST
    Obama represents a squandered opportunity.  I don't see any future, hope for epiphanies on his part as being of much value either.  He has blown it and "getting tough" in the second half will seem pretty Carteresque.

    He is easy to roll, opponents know it.  He can only get tough with friends/supporters, and he will find as a result he has less of those going forward.


    I think (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Cream City on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 03:01:28 PM EST
    he is a Chicago pol, through and through.  What you extrapolate from that, I agree with sometimes . . . other times, I'm not so sure.  A bit more time and a few more issues will tell for me.

    He's not a wimp (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by BrassTacks on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 09:53:14 PM EST
    I know that because he keeps telling us that he's not a wimp.  lol  

    i'm not surprised or disappointed. (5.00 / 6) (#40)
    by cpinva on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 04:35:27 PM EST
    obama's past predicted his present, as much as g.w's did. with g.w., you got massive incompetence, with obama, massive indifference. the only people obama seems to have any interest in tangling with are members of his own party, certainly not members of the minority party.

    had he really, truly been passionately interested in a public option, he'd have expended political capital on it. he might still not have gotten it, but his constituency would have been heartened by the effort. he couldn't be bothered.

    his political history, as came out during the primaries, told us this. people don't change what works for them.

    since obama (the putative head of the party) wasn't going to support it, why should reid, et al kill themselves over it?

    I'm quite tired (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by lilburro on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 07:14:33 PM EST
    of these revisionist commentaries.  Kevin is lying:

    Anyway, I realize that this stuff shouldn't matter, but it's all part of the mix. And while I still like both candidates a lot (which is what's kept me on the fence for so long), I guess I finally decided that Bill Clinton was right: voting for Obama is a roll of the dice. I still don't know whether Obama is likely to be the Democratic Ronald Reagan (my hope) or the next Democratic Jimmy Carter (my fear), but I like his temperament, I like his judgment, I like his foreign policy, I like his obvious ability to inspire, and I think he's more likely to be RR than JC. I guess I'm willing to roll the dice.[added emphasis]

    From his endorsement.  What a bunch of BS.

    One Thing About Being an Alist Progressive Blogger (5.00 / 2) (#61)
    by Dan the Man on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 07:26:57 PM EST
    is never having to admit you were wrong.

    Unless you need my vote (5.00 / 3) (#62)
    by mjames on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 07:45:36 PM EST
    I am looking forward to that day. First will come more lecturing and self-righteous posturing, alienating me even further. Then will come the desperation.    

    Not surprising really (5.00 / 2) (#70)
    by pluege on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 10:59:25 PM EST
    What is surprising is that any self professed progressive Democrat would not express disappointment about this missed historic opportunity.

    given that many self-proclaimed progressives are clueless as to what being a progressive means. They're as goofy sycophantish on the left as wingnuts are on the right.

    Except they're not sycophants to the left (5.00 / 3) (#76)
    by sallywally on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 10:00:24 AM EST
    but to the right, to Wall Street and to the corporations - just like the Republicans.

    As an aside, I think Bill Clinton is more liberal than Obama, and I'd love to know what he'd have done with the majorities, mandate, and situation Obama was handed. He had a very, very different situation, as others have said here.

    Clinton did, after all, propose Medicare for 55 and up, and I can't verify but I suspect it was a lot less restricted than the measly bit in the current bill. Granted, he couldn't get it passed, but I still consider it reflective of his desired policy.

    I think he could read the public and political moods, speak to the people, explain his positions, and outwit the Republicans. There's no comparison, and I'd rather have the Big Dawg's hands than Obama's on this situation any day of the week.  


    Obama is not a reformist (5.00 / 3) (#74)
    by KLCarten on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 08:57:00 AM EST
    Teddy and FDR were reformist, Obama is not, and frankly I do not see him ever being one.  He used what worked, if his message did not resonate, then he went a bit more to the left. He is not very liberal and not progressive at all, he is for whatever is good for big business.

    Heh, what do I know, I am just a blue collar worker that came from the working class.  I was brought up to believe in hard work, pay your taxes, and try and help people that were not doing as well as myself.

    Darn KL... (5.00 / 6) (#75)
    by DancingOpossum on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 09:46:20 AM EST
    You sound like a Democrat! Old school I mean, the kind the party doesn't want anymore.

    as a self-affirmed longtime Democrat, where would you go really?

    Can intelligent people please stop asking this question? See if this analogy helps: Think of the Democratic Party as an abusive spouse, and the voters as the beat-up, constantly taken-for-granted, humiliated and cheated-on abused spouse. Would you ask that person, "How can you leave your wife/husband? I mean, realistically, where would you go?"

    Of course not. Because the obvious answer is the same: Anywhere is better than here. And sticking around is not going to change anything, except maybe for the worse.

    Some people still don't understand the point of a protest vote. Or the point of entirely ditching a person, or group of people, who consistently oppose your interests and your values.

    After the primary debacle I happily left the Democratic Party and at this point I have no intention of returning. I voted Green. (I could also have voted Republican, Socialist, Nader, or Libertarian. See? Lotsa choices.) I still vote for Dems in my local elections but recently, just last week, a local Dem who I not only voted for but donated to and campaigned for, just voted the wrong (i.e., opposite of why we voted for him) way on a very important issue to a lot of people in this county.

    As a result I will vote for his opponent WHOEVER it is, I don't care if the Republican party runs a stuffed Geico gekko, that person will get  my vote. Why is this concept so hard for some people to understand?? What is the value in continuing to support/vote for people who act against your own interests?

    What do you think will happen (none / 0) (#1)
    by Saul on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 10:18:36 AM EST
    during the rest of his term?  Will he loose his majority in 2010?  Do you think he is looking like a one term president at this point?

    Quite importantly, FDR (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by jondee on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 10:53:01 AM EST
    HAD to seriously take into account the counterbalance to the corporatacracy which was a very vocal, very well organized working class constituency -- in some quarters on the verge of all-out revolt and definite force for ALL pols at that time to reckon with.

    I dont think the great-man/woman-of-history paradigm applies in the present political milieu because the power structure status quo has become entrenched to the extent that it is literally impossible for individuals who would radically alter it in any way to rise to positions of power. As it is, Obama with his tentative non-reforms has alarmed the conservative noise-machine to the extent that they're daily practically calling for his head as if  V.I Lenin had ascended to the presidency.


    THe right-wing noise machine (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 11:25:49 AM EST
    will say whatever it wants to, regardless of the facts, so the Dems should ignore that machine in determining policy.  Also, that noise machine is talking only to itself, to wit majorities that favor real health care reform, a public option, and financial reforms with real controls on banks and corporations.

    Yes, there is a very good chance (5.00 / 3) (#66)
    by BrassTacks on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 09:49:29 PM EST
    That Obama's actions will cause the loss of the majority in the House.  He won't lose the Senate majority but we will no longer have the necessary 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.  If the economy stays in the tank, if unemployment doesn't begin to turn around, we could lose the Senate too.  

    2012 is too far away to make predictions about Obama's second run but I would expect him to find a way to win.  Right now, I find that depressing.  


    No, for three reasons (none / 0) (#41)
    by Socraticsilence on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 04:37:04 PM EST
    1. As fractured as the Democratic Party is the GOP is far, far worse at this point-- the base is going to push for a Canidate (Palin) who is the subject of outright loathing by the moneyed and moderate sections of the party who in turn back a canidate (Romeny) who is viewed as a scumbag by the base-- the consensus builder canidate (Pawlenty) would make Gore and Kerry look like charismatic leaders.

    2. The economy-- while too late to likely save 2010, will according to virtually all estimates be in strong recovery by 2012-- this would vindicate Obama to a degree that people can't fully grasp (think Clinton in late 1993 vs. Clinton in 1996, or Reagan in 1981 vs. 1984).

    3. Obama himself-- as a pure politician he's incredibly skilled I can't see him losing a race with the power of the presidency behind him.  

    As a pure politician he's incredibly skilled??? (5.00 / 4) (#43)
    by mjames on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 04:49:35 PM EST
    What? He's driven me, as pure a Dem as ever was, away. He personally can do nothing to get me back - ever. Most women I know of my age (and we all vote) feel the same. What IS his foreign policy? What IS his domestic policy? And what about Jeb Bush?
    The economy will be strong in 2012? How is that going to happen? Where are the jobs? I  question whether you understand how bad off it is out here in the real world. What is his plan to create jobs? You may not see yourself as a starry-eyed idealist, but I do.

    In response (none / 0) (#44)
    by Socraticsilence on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 04:54:20 PM EST
    I question the "women thing" and frankly I think that overblown concern was disproved pretty decisively in the 2008 General when all of the supposedly disenchanted female voters came through Obama.  Jeb Bush-- is this a joke, seriously, there is literally no chance a Bush is going to get elected President in this generation. Finally the economy is turning around-jobs were actually added last quarter not a ton but some jobs, GDP growth has occured that's the start of a turnaround.

    All of the disenchanted female voters came through (5.00 / 3) (#48)
    by mjames on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 05:15:05 PM EST
    Really? You were in the voting booth with me? Because I did NOT vote for Obama. Now that Nelson/Stupak is AOK with Obama, others will leave. The economy is NOT turning around. I don't care how they massage the figures. The jobs aren't there. And the mandate - with no P.O., however feeble - will be a killer in my book.

    We all get angry with an incumbent (none / 0) (#56)
    by christinep on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 06:42:58 PM EST
    but tell me, as a self-affirmed longtime Democrat, where would you go really? You certainly cannot be thinking of the ole "burn the barn down to kill the rat" maneuver by voting Republican? If so, what type and length of satisfaction would that get you. Sorry to be so contrary...but, honestly, where do you go politically except a metaphorical corner?

    I go home (5.00 / 4) (#57)
    by mjames on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 06:53:35 PM EST
    How many times do I have to say it? You don't effect change by accepting this nonsense. I've been voting Dem for almost 40+ years. No more. These are not Dems. I will not vote for them.

    Hey it worked well in 2000 (none / 0) (#79)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 02:40:19 PM EST
    Showed those DLC type Dem's who was boss with Nader.

    Where would I go? (5.00 / 5) (#58)
    by sj on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 07:09:15 PM EST
    As a self-affirmed lifetime Democrat, I can realize that the lesser of two evils still leaves me with evil.  And I can be too dispirited to go anywhere.  Including a voting booth.

    A metaphorical corner can be preferable to deliberately and actively sabotaging my own goals and ideals by voting against them.

    I am beyond angry at an incumbent.  The entire party is leaving me behind.  And I'm not all sure what to do about it.  Years of activism seem to be going down the drain.  

    It isn't anger I'm feeling.  It's despair.


    Yes, that's the plan (5.00 / 2) (#71)
    by Spamlet on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 11:16:14 PM EST
    The entire party is leaving me behind.

    If you're old, if you're working class or poor, and especially if you're female, just hurry up and effin' die already so Teh Party can get down with its Hope-n-Change thang.


    I truly am sorry (none / 0) (#64)
    by christinep on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 09:38:32 PM EST
    It is extremely sad that you are despairing. Tho, let me ask--and, in doing so, I'm assuming that you have been active for some years--how is it that one year against all the years and situations that have gone before would bring about such despondency? Is it because you expected this man, this President, to resolve the issues of the years and decades within the space of one year? Of course, there are missteps (and, sometimes, more), but how is it that the expectations were so high as to plummet so low? Personally, there are certainly some things with which I disagree. But, from my point of view, I just newer expected all that much from anyone in less than a year. My expectations are relatively high for this Administration in the course of the 4 years--but, we have only seen less than a 1/4 of that term.

    Hardly (5.00 / 4) (#68)
    by sj on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 10:12:28 PM EST
    Is it because you expected this man, this President, to resolve the issues of the years and decades within the space of one year?

    From where I sit, you're looking at it completely backwards.  He's performing basically as I believed he would.  Only worse.  I didn't have high expectations of him to plummet. But as I say, it's the whole party.  From Obama to Reid to Pelosi on down.  Too, too willing to give up Democratic ideals and positions to maintain... what?  Their position?  My rep DeGette usually votes the right way, but doesn't talk the talk.  There needs to be talk to be walked.



    Oh good, an apologia (5.00 / 2) (#69)
    by mjames on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 10:22:04 PM EST
    Please save your comment and look at it again in 2012. At that point, you can ask yourself how you could have been so blind. Rest assured, I do not feel despair. I feel rage. Obama set the bar for insanely unrealistic expectations. He conned the public. It was all, every single bit of it, a lie. That makes me very angry. I expect things to get decidedly worse next year. You can make excuses all you want. It is extremely sad that you are NOT despairing.  

    OK (none / 0) (#81)
    by christinep on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:37:17 PM EST
    Mjames: The "despairing" concept was used because it appeared in your earlier comment. While I can understand the "rage" of someone who felt conned in a political situation, it was difficult for me to understand why the situation would lead to despair. Your explanation cleared up my misconception. As for me: I was a longtime Hillary Clinton supporter (healthcare reform being the longtime big issue for me--"a right not a privilege".) So, I approached it differently, and my perspective has actually been positive about the President in terms of overall legislation passed in the past year. Since I did not expect much but a strengthened Congress in terms of governmental relationships, I actually grew to see some positives which my primary affiliation had overlooked before. (Oh, because it would not be helpful for me to look back, my focus is on what can be accomplished over the coming years--not said in any judgmental way, only as a statement about my approach to politics and problems.) From a different perspective standpoint, I would also note that President Obama appeared to me to campaign as a moderate who reached out to Independents and Republicans. I believed at the time that he overdid the bipartisan talk, but assumed it was for the purpose of toning down  obvious attacks from the right. Nothing about his campaign suggested to me that he was the more liberal candidate in the campaign in terms of either his statements or political history.  So...my earlier comments were not an apologia nor a refusal to see. Instead: I began with a different slant and observation of the candidate and have now come to appreciate (for the most part) how he has handled an unusually tough set of issues for a President's first year. We appear to have switched positions.

    Correction (none / 0) (#82)
    by christinep on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:40:04 PM EST
    I reviewed the earlier thread more closely and discovered my error. You did not use the word "despair." Somehow else did. Sorry for my sloppiness. (The rest of my too lengthy last comment still applies.)

    I don't think Drum (none / 0) (#8)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 11:08:48 AM EST
    has ever considered himself a "progressive."  I think he'd call himself maybe a center-left guy, with emphasis on the center.

    The elephant in the room (none / 0) (#18)
    by s5 on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:19:09 PM EST
    What you're forgetting to factor in is the impact of the banking implosion on the public mood. By January, there was a mix of fear and confusion, along with the rise of weird conventional wisdom about government "tightening belts". Obama inherited the bailout, which, imho, was necessary, but clearly unpopular.

    I expect that without the banking crisis, we would have easily passed a better health care bill and a better climate/energy bill. The national conversation would have been entirely different.

    Yes, Obama campaigned on health care and green jobs during the election, and won. But between the election and the inauguration, the downturn went freefall.

    Am I disappointed? Sort of, but mostly not, given the circumstances. Quite a lot got done in the last year, though not as much as I wanted.

    What got done? (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by mjames on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 12:24:56 PM EST
    Please tell me, because I see a gigantic void. Perhaps my expectations are just too high for this wonder of a human being.

    Let's see (none / 0) (#42)
    by Socraticsilence on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 04:42:15 PM EST
    besides various progressive legistlative achievements like Leadbetter or the CHIP expansion:

    New Supreme Court Justice
    Gitmo winding down (he's gotten farhter on this than I ever thought possible)
    Iraq- pull back
    Afghanistan-- doubled down like he said he would
    NSF- moved back to science based education
    Lifted Global Gag Rule
    Oh yeah and while its not what we all wanted-- Healthcare- which is if it actually stands the test of time-- one hell of an achievement.  


    You're joking, right? (5.00 / 4) (#45)
    by mjames on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 05:02:16 PM EST
    1. Either version of the HCR (ha!) takes more away from women than Ledbetter gives them. And you might want to check out the fine print on Ledbetter.
    2. Our new S.C. justice is unproven to date.
    3. Gitmo is still open, last I checked. And he still intends to hold prisoners without any legal recourse.
    4. Iraq - pullback? What? Aren't we supposed to be gone? When is that going to take place? It's an illegal war or occupation - and he now owns it.
    5. Afghanistan - yes, he is doing what he said he would do. Fine reason to vote for him. A war criminal, he's doing just great killing innocent Afghanis.
    6. Science based education? What about the faith-based initiatives he's increased? What about pushing for charter schools that have been proven to fail? The opposite of enlightenment.
    7. There is no healthcare. It's welfare for insurance companies - and a couple of really crummy Dems. It doesn't take effect til 2014. There's no there there.
    No, you're no starry-eyed idealist.

    So basically (none / 0) (#46)
    by Socraticsilence on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 05:13:10 PM EST
    you're to the left of the Democratic Party, and believed in things no Democratic President would have supported- I admire that yet don't see how you could be disappointed considering Obama's done about what you must have expected-- governed in the way every single mainstream dem post-carter has either promised to, or actually done.

    It's make or break time for this country (5.00 / 5) (#49)
    by mjames on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 05:24:20 PM EST
    We needed an FDR. We need single payer universal health care. We need to throw some war criminals and Wall Streeters into the slammer. We need to reinstate the rule of law. We need to stop foreclosures. We need jobs. We need to stop with this war on terrorism nonsense and feed our own citizens. I'm no radical. I'm a realist. We have either a timid wannabe or a Republican corporatist in Dem clothing in the WH. He is precisely what I expected - which is why I did not vote for him. I don't vote Republican.    

    Oh (none / 0) (#47)
    by Socraticsilence on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 05:14:34 PM EST
    and I dispute the "war criminal" accusation about Afghanistan pretty strongly- as we had a clear international mandate to act post-9/11 and as of yet have not significantly overstepped the bounds of that mandate.

    Mirror, mirror . . . (none / 0) (#35)
    by anti supernaturalist on Sun Dec 27, 2009 at 03:10:11 PM EST
    . . . Obama can't resist his semi-divine status as POTUS

    * our wise POTUS needed no (Mc)Chrystal ball *

    Obama dared not reject the sunk-cost fallacy of continuing external warfare -- he had capitulated already by taking up his destined role as quasi-god POTUS. His military advisers only needed him to see in his shaving mirror Marcus Aurelius, wise guardian of the Empire.

    Could our semi-divinized POTUS cut the military budget by 50%, could his divine genius recall within our borders our far-flung military, could his nobly crowned brow conceive and make real a peaceful and provident life here? It cannot happen.

    POTUS can't hold on to power unless he embraces his Fate. Obama and the elites, military and civilian, must alienate most people and sacrifice the lower ranks of the military. Pfc Boots-on-the-Ground might just catch a whisper of Kipling's advice: To a young British soldier.

    When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

    Armies from Alexander's to those of the current incarnation of POTUS find in Afghanistan their non plus ultra.

    Look at the failing corporate state of Ameristan: its lobbyists fund brown shirts, its churches endorse xian thugs, its dominionist ("C" Street--Family) agents infest both House and Senate, its laws feed the avaricious instead of using power to "provide for the general welfare."  

    The Romans understood the behavior of all ensnared by the logic of power as an end -- "Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make demented."

    the anti_supernaturalist

    Oh awesome (none / 0) (#77)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 02:35:32 PM EST
    a reference to an entirely apocryphal event- awesome, hey if were going to believe that then we might as well give him credit after all he laughing in the face of the woman who iced Vince Foster.

    I agree (none / 0) (#84)
    by beowulf on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 10:05:29 AM EST
    Its like Thoreau said, "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."

    As Larry Lessig came to realize from lobbying for copyright law reform, public financing is the reform that'd make all sorts of other reforms possible.

    I'm sorry, meant to reply to Shoephone's #63 n/t (none / 0) (#85)
    by beowulf on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 10:07:27 AM EST