The Base

Joe Klein:

The denizens of the left blogosphere consider themselves the Democratic Party's base. But they are not. For Democrats, as opposed to Republicans, the wing is not the base; the legions of loyal African Americans, union members, Jews, women and Latinos are. In the end, the sillier left-village practitioners are stoking the same populist exaggeration—the idea that Washington is controlled by crooks and sellouts—that conservative strategists like Bill Kristol believe will bring the Republicans back to power. The perversity of this is beyond comprehension,"

(Emphasis supplied.) Setting aside the invective, as a defense of the health bill as responsive to the base, it seems pretty ludicrous. The health bill includes an excise tax - vigorously opposed by the unions, either the Stupak Amendment or the Nelson Amendment - attacks on a woman's right to choose, and excludes undocumented aliens from coverage -hardly a bone to Latinos. Oh BTW, it also excludes a public insurance option - favored overwhelmingly by all Democrats, base or not. The perversity in arguing that the health bill appeals to the Democratic base is beyond comprehension.

Speaking for me only

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    Joe Klein thinks that he is the base. (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 11:49:28 AM EST
    That's all.  He's always thought that about himself it seems to me.  The term "the base" is just code for "I/me/my" in Joe-speak.

    But he is correct here (none / 0) (#9)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:12:49 PM EST
    so what do you have to say about that -- about those voters, not him?  I mean, you take a nice shot at him here, but so what, when he is correct?

    esmense gave a great response (1.00 / 1) (#20)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:00:35 PM EST
    to your question with which I agree, but I would like to add that Klein lists a bunch of groups and then makes the claim that they all agree with him - which is something he has always done over the course of his career.  I remember when he was all over the airwaves claiming that Democrats didn't support Clinton, but (oops!) the polling didn't support his claims at all.  Anyway, my Mom thinks Klein is "okay", but she's not at all happy about the anti-choice stuff in this healthcare bill - and not nearly as supportive of the bill as she was two months ago - because she's not a moron and as she's learned more about what it really does, she has seen the betrayals of her liberal values.  So Klein can say anything he wants about the base in his imagination, but the real base is imo not quite as chipper and happy as he seems to think they are.

    I mean, he is correct about the base (none / 0) (#11)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:15:07 PM EST
    and maybe you're taking aim at the rest of it?

    Certainly he's correct about the demographics (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by esmense on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:42:46 PM EST
    of the base. But not their political alignment. Which he seems to be saying, now, is the same third way, neo liberal, "it's-political-suicide-for-Democrats-to-assert-the-interests-of-their-base-are-as-valid-and-deservi ng-of- representation-as-those-of-rural-and-rich-real-Americans," that he and various writers at The New Republic, The Washington Post, Slate, etc., etc., have always embraced.

    Frankly, I'm pretty sure the Democratic base is still as loony left as writers like Klein have, in the past, always accused them of being.


    I Am Not Loony (none / 0) (#39)
    by norris morris on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 07:41:52 PM EST
    I am not a loony leftist, and have been a Democrat for a long time.

    This hardly means I have to like sellouts from my party, incompetence,lying and/or corruption.

    It also doesn't mean I will accept anything from the Democratic administration, sellouts included.

    It's actually possible to be a Democrat without being labelled left,right,centrist.

    If the greater good is achieved fairly and with open compromise I can understand. Currently this isn't happening as Obama has not lived up to his word at all and the HC bill and the backroom drug/insurance deals made by Obama are hideous politics.  

    If Democrats hope to rule they must be able to govern and so far all I'm seeing is a swindle. It doesn't take a "leftist" to see this.


    Hear, hear. (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:11:24 PM EST
    But the idiot bloggers won't hear you.  Or me.  Until the base goes to the polls.  Or doesn't do so.

    They'll read that wrong too. (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:23:17 PM EST
    They'll figure they weren't being conservative enough. Sigh.

    How will the "base" feel about (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by oculus on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:28:02 PM EST
    the estate tax lapsing Jan. 1/10? (See Digby.)   When the base is faced with health insurance mandate and/or penalty and possible loss of bargained-for health care coverage.  Because natch, HCR must be deficit neutral.  What a crock.

    Joe Klein (5.00 / 4) (#18)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:43:43 PM EST
    makes me think of Axelrod.  I saw an article at the Gallup site yesterday where A'Rod was asked some questions.  One was about the vast unpopularity of the health care bill, to which A'Rod replied that he was convinced that people just didn't understand the issues that needed to be resolved and if they did, they'd know that the bill would help them.  I usually don't like reading Gallup stories, but in this case they were straight on.  They pointed out that it would be understandable if A'Rod was talking about the geopolitics of a small tribe in Turkmenistan(sp) or something like that, but he's talking about something that people live and breathe every day of their lives -- healthcare.  People understand what their own issues are, much, much better than A'Rod does.  

    Anyway, A'Rod and Klein are just once again pointing out the abstract nature of their relationship with the little people.  We are not living, breathing human beings, we are voting blocks who are too stupid to understand our own pocketbook issues.

    To them, we are conceptual, the equivalent of a tribe in Turkmenistan.

    What amuses me (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:53:12 PM EST
    is that Congress has gotten it wrong on numerous occasions and has told us "I had no idea when I voted for that that A or B would be the result". Yet somehow or another, it's the "electorate" that must not grasp the complexity of the health care issue. How many times does Congress have to be wrong before the beltway starts to admit that maybe, just maybe there might be some validity to criticism put forth by the "not complex or overly bright" constituency Congress was elected to serve?

    Outside of the 10% (none / 0) (#23)
    by jondee on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:06:31 PM EST
    that's unionized, havnt the thugs pretty much hi-jacked the white working class over the last couple of decades?

    You cant suck up to the NAFTA - WTO pimps and simultaneously expect to galvanize the working class in this country -- unless you make a concerted effort to fill the void experienced by the great outsourced by expressing faux-concern for their emotional needs in the form of return-to-"traditional values" and "sanctity of life" campaigns the way the right has.

    Speaking of FDR, how do we get back the base that HE had? THAT might be a good question to ask.


    So-called Free Trade (none / 0) (#25)
    by jondee on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:14:39 PM EST
    split the left from the working class more thoroughly than Joe McCarthy ever dreamed of doing.

    Tell that (none / 0) (#29)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 02:30:32 PM EST
    to Axelrod.  He's your audience.

    Respecting America's Workers (none / 0) (#45)
    by norris morris on Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 05:00:10 PM EST
    Left us in the 80's. Union busting employed both by right and so called er,left meaning the Democrats.

    Outsourcing America's greatest strength, its workers- has produced disastrous results.

    But Banksters and Corporate America wanted cheaper labor and more profits. These short sighted and counterproductive policies are causing havoc now and will continue to prevent our growth and our power.

    When organized labor took a hit, and deregulation became du jour our economy was headed towards financial irrelevance, and diminished creative output.

    At this rate we only produce Wall St.$$$$$ and mostly importing other country's creative and manufactured outputs. That's what we should be
    creating with our own workers here and exporting the goods and quality that were respected throughout the world, inspite of Milton Friedman.

    Blaming unions for management failures in the auto industry was illusory as no matter how much money and how many tax breaks, the real issue is poor creative output and non visionary management policies.

    So what's up now? Both parties trashed American
    workers and they ain't got no respect.

    Republicans and Democrats are both responsible for this exercise in greed and poor planning.


    We Must Be Stupid (none / 0) (#38)
    by norris morris on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 07:33:33 PM EST
    To have voted for Obama and friends who see us as so stupid we poor things cannot understand the backroom secret deals made with BigPharma, and the Insurance Monopoly.  You see, we weren't there and the daylight promised by Obama to hold it all on C-Span so we stupid dolts could understand it........NEVER HAPPENED!  Imagine that.


    Er, Mr. Axelrod, do we get it now?  I am a woman who will no longer have the option of abortion without [if anyone carries it] separate insurance apart from the regular policy that insures abortion.   Yes, providing that there are no federal funds- not even if a spec is involved in my union or employer policy, as you know, 'cause federal funds mean in the House bill, THAT I CANNOT HAVE ANY ABORTION EVEN IF I WANT TO PAY FOR IT PERSONALLY.

    You must thin I am very stupid as I did not ever in my stupid mind believe that you and Obama and the rest of your ilk would do and end run around RoevWade and it's in BOTH SENATE AND HOUSE BILLS, ONE A BIT MORE EVIL THAN THE OTHER.

    I think I must be stupid to have believed the HC bill would have been explained lucidly and clearly as Obama promised.  Nevertheless, we can still figure out enough of it to know it delivers 30 odd million people to the Insurance Oligarchy as a present from Obama to our Ruling Class.

    As far as fiddling with Medicare in coded jargon like "necessary spending cuts", and "wellness awareness", we know you are screwing someone to be sure.  The only endorsement from a union was the SEIU who made many trips to the WHouse among the lobbyists, etc. I am currently too stupid to know what they got, but I do know that this union donated $600,000.00 to Obama's election campaign.

    You are right that we must be stupid as we do not understand all the details, er like not allowing the White House log to become public. Remember when Obama said that would never happen ala Bush?

    Well I must admit I only know that Billy Tauzin chief lobbyist for BigPharma made his sellout deal with Obama back last Spring and Summer while we stupidly thought we'd get a good HC bill. So there have to be lotsa names of lobbyists and others you don't want to reveal so the log as with Bush, is SECRET.

    I guess I was truly stupid to have voted for Obama.


    Am I the only one (5.00 / 5) (#31)
    by Pacific John on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 02:37:10 PM EST
    ...who noticed that the people BTD highlighted voted for the other candidate by 70/30?

    The utter exertion to ignore the base mystifies me. And it doesn't. The base got outspent in the '08 primary many time over and therefore is to be strenuously ignored.

    Yeah, the only the base won in 2008... (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by lambert on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 07:03:30 PM EST
    ... was a majority of the voters. Oh well.

    The Base Rejects "Corporate" Healthcare (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by willia451 on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 06:33:55 PM EST
    The United States is #37 on the planet to the quality of HC it provides to its citizens in relation to cost.  Right behind Costa Rica.


    Healthcare is not a commodity to be profited from; like a car or boat.  It's fundamental to human dignity.

    As long as we retain this "for profit" HC system, we are less of a nation than is our potential.

    The PO was not optional.  It was fundamental.

    I understand why we lost it.  It was the corruption.  We just couldn't get around it when push came to shove.

    But it's inexcusable to say the "base" of the Democratic Party supports the Senate Bill.

    It may have been the best we could do given the corruption at hand.  But its just false to intimate anything otherwise.

    [a|the] [strong|robust|triggered] public... (none / 0) (#36)
    by lambert on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 07:05:27 PM EST
    ... [health insurance]? [option|plan] was not only not fundamental, it was a FAIL by design.

    A simpler word perhaps (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by good grief on Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:16:35 AM EST
    Anyway, A'Rod and Klein are just once again pointing out the abstract nature of their relationship with the little people.  We are not living, breathing human beings, we are voting blocks who are too stupid to understand our own pocketbook issues.

    To them, we are conceptual, the equivalent of a tribe in Turkmenistan. (TeresaInSnow2)

    Although I like your more sophisticated rendering, Teresa, may I offer that Axelrod and Obama speak to us like we're children. The disingenuousness drips from nearly every paragraph of patient explanation. I loved especially the part about how he worked so patiently to earn the vote of (President) Snowe so he could achieve "bipartisanship" when in fact (imo) he was using that whole time-devouring exercise to let Baucus (better named Bacchus?) grind the PO out of the Finance bill so he (Obama) could ultimately deliver a nice fat profit generator to the insurance/drug industry, arguing when the PO fell out of the Senate bill (and will likely stay out of the House if all folds according to plan) he "did his best." Then saying when he got hardly anything he originally said he wanted a few months ago that he never really wanted it, as if he was the only one wanting it (here's the flaw of "pol worship," to your point BTD, rather than commitment to policy -- Obama put it in his personal terms and we bought it because we bought him and have to defend him), as if the American public didn't really want a PO (but polls said we did) and if we did want it we shouldn't have it, as  children should know better than to want things they can't have ("We can't have everything," the president personified as young father tells us in so many words when we wanted a No on FISA -- non-partisan rule of law; when we wanted a PO -- non-partisan economic competition), and letting the media imply (and outright repeatedly say) that the PO was a "liberal" idea (where were our bloggers to counter this, where were our talking heads?), as if the entire middle class and working class of all political stripes would not benefit from the PO's competitive presence to be protected (somewhat) from sky-high premiums (were the PO big enough which Baucus and his K Street staff writers made sure it wasn't, assisted by the signal sent by the back of O's shoulders turned away).

    We were set up and suckered right down the line. Obama's incessant "bipartisan reaching across the aisle" struck me as a cover for reaching to corporate interests, not partisanly but economically. Do I have proof of this? No. I'm just watching it happening.

    Policy rather than pols, that's the ticket -- I vote (now that I'm retired and just for the rest of my personal life) to work on campaign finance reform and media reform in a non-party public interest movement to lay a groundwork for achievement of reasonable policy in areas like single payer, environment, energy, education, etc.

    Thanks for your brilliant comment, Teresa.

    I'm getting confused (4.00 / 4) (#1)
    by esmense on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 11:48:54 AM EST
    Is Joe saying that union members, loyal African Americans, Latinos and women are "real Americans" now? When did that happen? And when did they get so conservative and politically aligned with the likes of Nelson, Baucus, Stupak, etc?

    Must have missed the part where (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 11:51:59 AM EST
    that coalition elected President Snowe, but apparently that might have actually happened according to some.

    You ain't the only one... (none / 0) (#24)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:13:15 PM EST
    the America I see, and especially the American government I've seen the past 30 years...shee-it people, you could say the only real Americans left are the people often dubbed anti-Americans.

    The stupid emanting from the beltway (3.66 / 3) (#8)
    by robotalk on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:12:12 PM EST
    is so stupid it is painful.  And yet, you know, they've really convinced and enamored themselves of it.  

    There is really something seriously wrong with the ruling class in this country and until that's fixed, nothing's going to get fixed.  

    Seriously, seriously wrong (none / 0) (#21)
    by sj on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:00:52 PM EST
    Starting with the whole concept of a "ruling class".

    Hey, even Broder... (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by lambert on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:19:25 PM EST
    American Idol ala Chicago (none / 0) (#41)
    by norris morris on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 09:11:39 PM EST

    it is very stupid,but the ruling class has not really seen pushback as there are only 2 parties that are almost the same on many issues, and certainly alike in political maneuvering and bartering.

    As long as lobbyists control Congress we will be in the control of corporate America.  Chicago is just more of the same.


    And by your response you've proved Joe Klein right (none / 0) (#4)
    by DaveOinSF on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 11:59:06 AM EST
    Part of the disconnect is that liberals think that union leaders, pro-choice organizations, and Latino politcal leaders actually speak for union members, women and Latinos.

    Right (5.00 / 5) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:00:56 PM EST
    It's actually Joe Klein and YOU who speak for women, union members and Latinos.

    Heh. (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:13:21 PM EST
    I actually beat andgarden to saying that, for once!

    The rank and file union members will just love (5.00 / 11) (#12)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:19:48 PM EST
    losing their good health insurance coverage. They will run eagerly to vote in November for the Democrats who chose to take their benefits away from them. They will have to be careful though. They just might get stampeded by all the pro-choice women who just love the anti abortion provisions in HCR.



    The stupid hurts (5.00 / 9) (#14)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:26:31 PM EST
    We actually had people arguing yesterday that I should worry because Sarah Palin might take away my reproductive rights still?

    Uh hello? Conscience clause, taking out low cost birth control provisions, Stupak Nelson......by the time the Democrats are done I'll have little to worry about in regards to my reproductive rights.....


    Pro Choice Bye Bye From Democrats (none / 0) (#43)
    by norris morris on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 09:59:17 PM EST
    Seriously did we women ever think that RoevWade would be demolished by a Democratic majority in both Houses?

    It took American Idol to pull this swindle, this betrayal?  This is political bartering  most evil and deceptive.

    And Nancy Pelosi a sworn upholder of progressive legislation from a liberal San Francisco district allows the Council Of Catholic Bishops to dictate to congressman Stupak?   The Stupak amendment that abolishes women's rights to equal protection, and right to choose remains in the House bill?  Where was she and all the rest who voted against women's rights?

     Stupak goes beyond  the Hyde bill which forbids federally funded abortions, but goes one better in it's evil intent to forbid any woman who works for or whose company or organization gets any federal funds, no abortions.  But he goes further. No woman CAN EVEN PAY FOR AN ABORTION FOR HERSELF WITH HER OWN FUNDS in these cases.

    Now of course we have Ben Nelson from that great big important state of Nebraska who hijacked women to add an abortion caveat in his own Senate version of the HC monstrosity posing as Reform!

    Providing of course that weak leader Reid and our feeble leader Obama allowed Nelson: TO RECEIVE HIGHER MEDICAID BENEFITS THAN ANY OTHER STATE TO BE GIVEN TO NEBRASKA IN PERPETUITY.  AT THE EXPENSE OF COURSE OF ALL OTHER STATES AND ALL OF US TAXPAYERS. $300 Million at present and counting.

    All this for his vote, because he sensed their weakness and RUSH and already knew that Obama had done big time corrupting compromising. This is slime.

    The kicker is how women's rights have been abused by the cynical attempt of our administration and our congress of bartering our rights away.

    Rights that were fought for by women and Democrats for decades for women's right to choose, that reproductive freedom belonged to us and our bodies, and that we receive equal protection as provided by the constitution.

    I do not excuse the Democratic establishment, the legislators, their leaders, and those in Congress in both Houses who voted for Stupak or Nelson.

     Team Chicago and Obama in their end runs around the Healthcare bill have been a deceptive abomination and have abused  any promise of the decent kind of legislation Obama promised.  The current offer by Nelson to have  insurance companies providing a separate rider for abortion paid each month by separate check from the woman insuree is demeaning and irresponsible on its face.

    How many insurance companies will find it profitable or practical to even do this? And just imagine how demeaning we as women are regarded by the Democratic establishment?  We know how the Republicans view this, but it took Obama to allow a Democratic majority to permit this?

    Women will have to unite again and no matter how many more decades it takes we will fight to exercise our freedom to choose and demand equal protection.

    As for the polls be warned that women will not forget this, and find their way again to fight as hard as we did to vote, and for freedom of choice,as well and for as long as we live.  This is the most cynical and regressive legislation ever imposed by a party that pretends to be on our side. They will have to find their votes elsewhere if either of these "take backs" prevails.


    I agree (none / 0) (#6)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:09:40 PM EST
    I agree with Joe as to who the backbone of the party is. Maybe he should convey this great revelation to Obama, Emmanuel, and the rest of the Democratic politicians. They seem to be the ones that have redefined the "base".

    When I hear Democrats talking about cutting Medicare, scrapping womans rights and adding an additional tax burden on middle class union workers, I have to wonder if the powers that be have any connection left to the real world.

    They appear to think (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:29:27 PM EST
    that they don't need voters if they have money.

    Do they know something we don't?


    Wow. You have hit the nail squarely (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by esmense on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:03:54 PM EST
    on the head. Voting participation and income are closely linked -- the more affluent you are the more likely you are to vote. Democrats learned from Republican successes that who you motivate to vote (and who you discourage) can be more important (in terms of gaining and holding power) than how many.

    Of course, this means both parties are competing to served the interests of the same voters. It's easier, and more lucrative by far, than serving the Democrat's traditional base or the country's broader interest.


    I wasn't (none / 0) (#30)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 02:32:30 PM EST
    actually talking about even affluent voters.  I was speaking of BIG money, as in corporatist money, ala pharma, banking, insurance.

    Affluent voters traditionally have been, (none / 0) (#32)
    by esmense on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 04:17:46 PM EST
    and still are, likely to see their personal interests as aligned with big money interests.

    But, in recent years, a split has developed -- the affluent "creative class" increasingly sees its interests differently (and is increasingly trending Democratic.)

    But, that does not in any way mean that they see their interests, especially economic interests, as in any real way aligned with those of the traditional Democratic base.


    They know that what won in 2008 (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 08:24:32 PM EST
    was more money and fewer voters, so why not do it again?  It's the Nu Dem Way.  Do we think it will work more than once?

    The backbone of the Democratic Party... (5.00 / 4) (#27)
    by lambert on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:26:06 PM EST
    ... is Big Money (banksters; health insurance companies).

    That will change in 2012. By that time, the Dems will have finished throwing the base under the bus and driving back and forth over the bodies, and it will be time to bring in a right wing populist to deal with any ensuing disorder. At that point, Big Money will become the backbone of the Republicans.

    Both legacy parties are owned; neither legacy party is accountable through elections (Florida 2000; Ohio 2004; Texas Dem caucuses 2008). We need to do something new.


    Something new.......like? (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by oldpro on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:47:23 PM EST
    "The way out... (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by lambert on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 07:10:10 PM EST
    ... is the door."

    Don't know yet, but the opportunity cost of giving money, time, or attention to either of the two legacy parties is figuring that out. I like the way Violet's thinking, at least. So I'd keep an eye  out there. Probably elsewhere too; I'm guessing there's a ferment that the party line access bloggers are capping, the way they did with their news blackout on single payer. Can't know 'til we try, though!


    I already slammed the door... (none / 0) (#42)
    by oldpro on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 09:54:01 PM EST
    thanks for the link.  I like Violet's thinking, too.

    Justice.  Imagine that.

    Sometime in the 60s I stopped ending the pledge of allegience the usual way.  Mine leaves out the Eisenhower Gawd and ends with reality:  "liberty and justice for some."

    Heads sometimes turn when I am overheard...


    Feingold/Kucinich (none / 0) (#33)
    by Lora on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 05:52:16 PM EST
    Run as independents.