A Chance To Slam Bill Clinton Can Not be Missed

Theda Skopcol:

In such marked contrast to the timid triangulation of Clinton, Obama offers a strong, positive statement of the role of U.S. government in national development, past and for the future. Government does not "substitute" for business or individual action, but it is an essential "catalyst."

CDS is a strange thing. From Obama's speech:

As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by Presidents Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets, not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't -- not because I'm not mindful of the massive debt we've inherited -- I am. . . .

More . . .

I say this not in criticism of Obama, but in criticism of Skopcol's blind hatred of Bill Clinton. What Obama said in his speech last night is he is LIKE Bill Clinton, but the circumstances we face require bigger government. And of course, Obama is right.

What did Bill Clinton say about the size and role of government? Let's take what should be the most damning evidence of "triangulation" Skopcol could possibly find - Clinton's "the era of big government is over" 1996 State of the Union speech:

My duty tonight is to report on the state of the Union -- not the state of our government, but of our American community; and to set forth our responsibilities, in the words of our Founders, to form a more perfect union.

The state of the Union is strong. Our economy is the healthiest it has been in three decades. We have the lowest combined rates of unemployment and inflation in 27 years. We have created nearly 8 million new jobs, over a million of them in basic industries, like construction and automobiles. America is selling more cars than Japan for the first time since the 1970s. And for three years in a row, we have had a record number of new businesses started in our country.

Our leadership in the world is also strong, bringing hope for new peace. And perhaps most important, we are gaining ground in restoring our fundamental values. The crime rate, the welfare and food stamp rolls, the poverty rate and the teen pregnancy rate are all down. And as they go down, prospects for America's future go up.

We live in an age of possibility. A hundred years ago we moved from farm to factory. Now we move to an age of technology, information, and global competition. These changes have opened vast new opportunities for our people, but they have also presented them with stiff challenges. While more Americans are living better, too many of our fellow citizens are working harder just to keep up, and they are rightly concerned about the security of their families.

We must answer here three fundamental questions: First, how do we make the American Dream of opportunity for all a reality for all Americans who are willing to work for it? Second, how do we preserve our old and enduring values as we move into the future? And, third, how do we meet these challenges together, as one America?

We know big government does not have all the answers. We know there's not a program for every problem. We have worked to give the American people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in Washington. And we have to give the American people one that lives within its means.

The era of big government is over. But we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves. Instead, we must go forward as one America, one nation working together to meet the challenges we face together. Self-reliance and teamwork are not opposing virtues; we must have both.

I believe our new, smaller government must work in an old-fashioned American way, together with all of our citizens through state and local governments, in the workplace, in religious, charitable and civic associations. Our goal must be to enable all our people to make the most of their own lives -- with stronger families, more educational opportunity, economic security, safer streets, a cleaner environment in a safer world.

To improve the state of our Union, we must ask more of ourselves, we must expect more of each other, and we must face our challenges together.

Here, in this place, our responsibility begins with balancing the budget in a way that is fair to all Americans. There is now broad bipartisan agreement that permanent deficit spending must come to an end.

I compliment the Republican leadership and the membership for the energy and determination you have brought to this task of balancing the budget. And I thank the Democrats for passing the largest deficit reduction plan in history in 1993, which has already cut the deficit nearly in half in three years.

Since 1993, we have all begun to see the benefits of deficit reduction. Lower interest rates have made it easier for businesses to borrow and to invest and to create new jobs. Lower interest rates have brought down the cost of home mortgages, car payments and credit card rates to ordinary citizens. Now, it is time to finish the job and balance the budget.

Though differences remain among us which are significant, the combined total of the proposed savings that are common to both plans is more than enough, using the numbers from your Congressional Budget Office to balance the budget in seven years and to provide a modest tax cut.

These cuts are real. They will require sacrifice from everyone. But these cuts do not undermine our fundamental obligations to our parents, our children, and our future, by endangering Medicare, or Medicaid, or education, or the environment, or by raising taxes on working families.

I have said before, and let me say again, many good ideas have come out of our negotiations. I have learned a lot about the way both Republicans and Democrats view the debate before us. I have learned a lot about the good ideas that we could all embrace.

We ought to resolve our remaining differences. I am willing to work to resolve them. I am ready to meet tomorrow. But I ask you to consider that we should at least enact these savings that both plans have in common and give the American people their balanced budget, a tax cut, lower interest rates, and a brighter future. We should do that now, and make permanent deficits yesterday's legacy.

Now it is time for us to look also to the challenges of today and tomorrow, beyond the burdens of yesterday. The challenges are significant. But America was built on challenges, not promises. And when we work together to meet them, we never fail. That is the key to a more perfect Union. Our individual dreams must be realized by our common efforts. . . .

Read the whole speech. If anyone thinks Barack Obama, who has promised to halve the deficit by the end of his first term, who has promised to reimplelment Bill Clinton's tax policies, could not give this speech, then they are delusional. Or suffer from Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

Speaking for me only

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    The Bill Clinton SoTU (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:15:18 AM EST
    just makes me sad for what might have been. I think it was probably the first or second one I ever watched live.

    I don't know if this is what you mean, but (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:28:21 AM EST
    the Bill Clinton SoTU speech "makes me sad for what might have been" if the Clinton years were succeeded by 8 years of a Gore Presidency.

    I think, first and foremost, of all the national/global disasters and human suffering that would have been averted.


    Yup, the 2000 election (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:30:16 AM EST
    The Republican assault (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by NYShooter on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:39:17 AM EST
    on Bill Clinton, culminating in his impeachment was, in my opinion, a blood-stained, irremovable wound to our nation's soul, and will forever be the libelous scar on the Republican's heritage for which future generations of thinking Americans will never forgive.  

    If history is taught fairly and honestly, that obomination will be the answer to the students of the future when they ask their teacher, "what's the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans?"


    Indeed, but you must also include the (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by DFLer on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:39:09 AM EST
    co-conspirators in the "liberal" media, heh?

    Undoubtedly, (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by NYShooter on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:43:58 PM EST
    and while we're at it, toss in your fellow Democrats, whose tepid support gave stage to the phrase, "when you fall DOWN, you're friends rise UP."

    The rallying "Democrats" gave extra oomph to their support with statements that always began with, "Bill Clinton is a good guy, Bill Clinton has done a lot of good things, Bill Clinton is a friend of mine, but tsk, tsk, tsk, my, my, my, oh goodness, goodness. We know he MUST be punished somehow, but..... ....."


    Ah, memories (5.00 / 7) (#2)
    by lambert on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:22:47 AM EST
    Yes, remember the time Whoever Kidnapped Josh Marshall trotted out a Harvard sociologist to defend Obama against charges of elitism (!) -- by indulging in over-the-top CDS? Yes, that Theda Skocpol.

    It's exactly like the VRWC, except with the jerseys changed. The shouting heads figure out how to get on the teebee or the Op-Ed pages, and then do whatever it takes to collect the check. CDS still sells, even -- or perhaps especially -- among putative "progressives," since the rest of us have moved on. Simple as that.

    Someday, "failings as a moral man" (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:48:32 AM EST
    ....will not be just about the sex.  It will instead be about things that matter to our country.

    Of course, I'll be taking my dirt nap by then.

    Please, you must know (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by NYShooter on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:25:44 AM EST
    That Bill Clinton was the ONLY Head of State to have ever, ever, EVER had a little dalliance.

    Millions of jobs, a framework for peace, and a roadmap to  an optimistic future are results not worth having if accompanied by a Leader with a somewhat errant testosterone level.

    Rot in Hell, William Jefferson Clinton; You have sullied the names of all the morally pure, and mentally celibate Presidents who went before, and undoubtedly will go in the future.

    (BTW, I believe in most West European Countries. NOT having a mistress is an impeachable offense. I may be wrong about this, but I don't think so.)


    Wasn't it (none / 0) (#42)
    by cal1942 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:31:45 PM EST
    Mitterand who showed up at some public events with both his mistress and his wife?

    Or was it some other European premier?


    Sorry, my history (5.00 / 3) (#50)
    by NYShooter on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:41:47 PM EST
    is a little shaky. But I have read a lot about the phenomenon of powerful people and their uh, "significant others." In many W. European countries, notably, but not exclusively, Spain and Italy, the public is subliminally reassured knowing their Leader has got "it."

    Throughout the Caribbean, and Central & South America, "machismo" is practiced at levels that would make our Victorian keepers of morality here  commit mass self-immolation.

     Many years ago, as a young flight instructor at Roosevelt Roads Naval Base, Puerto Rico, I got a taste of their "macho Men" that will stay with me forever. Being a civilian flight instructor, I taught navy personnel (private, not military) how to fly at the flying club based at their airport. Well, we partied hard, and often (never will forget "Purple Jesus," an almost fatally potent rum) and many of the participants were Spanish speaking employees of the base. One time, in the wee hours of the morning, two brothers (one, a school teacher, the other, a bartender) and I almost had a seriously violent encounter.

    Throughout the night, they had been bragging how each of them had 8-10 children with their wives, AND 10-15 children outside the holy bounds of matrimony. That was fine; that was something to speak openly, and proudly, about. But when I, three sheets to the wind, was telling a story, and interjected the "f" word in one of my sentences, they went crazy! "NO, MON..., NO! There are ladies in the room and you will NOT use such profane language in their presence. Have you no respect for their dignity?" Even in my "diminished" state, the hypocrisy, and irony was more than I could take.

    I'll leave the rest to your imagination, but the fact that they were completely sincere in their outrage, taught me the huge difference in perception different people around the globe have in interpreting these sorts of things.

    One last thing; If you recall, right in the middle of Clinton's impeachment morass, he gave a speech at the United Nations. Veteran observers of the U.N. say the place was so packed, they were practically hanging from the rafters.

    Anyway, after the speech, in an absolutely, wonderful spontaneous show of support, the place erupted in a roar of applause, appreciation... and a standing "O" the length of which broke every record for applause.

    Its many years later now, but the Big Dawg's international appeal hasn't diminished a drop.

    Isn't it a shame, that what they "got" so many years ago, we here in America still haven't.    


    Great reply (none / 0) (#74)
    by cal1942 on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 07:09:23 PM EST

    "i'll take (none / 0) (#56)
    by cpinva on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:58:20 PM EST
    "failings as a moral man"

    for $500 alex! ding, ding, ding! it's the daily double! ok theresainsnow, for $1,000 and the lead: "it's a tossup, between the "liberal" media, and the republican party."

    gosh, i don't know alex, that's a tough one! ok, i have it: "who destroyed all the accomplishments of the clinton administration, and practically bankrupted the country, morally and fiscally?"

    that is correct theresainsnow. oh, wait, it's the end of the round theresa, and you are our grand prize winner!"

    show ends with theresainsnow giving alex trebek a big hug and kiss.


    Wierd (none / 0) (#64)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 05:33:26 PM EST
    People didn't actually read what I wrote before slamming me for it.  

    Another day on the internet.


    Actually, I thought people were playing (none / 0) (#66)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:11:57 PM EST
    off what you wrote and making it even more entertaining. I didn't think any of the comments were critical of what you said.

    Clinton did what he needed to do (5.00 / 7) (#21)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:24:21 AM EST
    to tackle the problems and issues he faced, and Obama needs to do the same (Clinton didn't hit a home run every time he stepped up to the plate, but he did a pretty good job with the economy).  

    I think most people would argue that the severity and nature of the problems determine how much strength and boldness and courage and conviction are required, so attempting to make Clinton look bad - even though his approach was successful - in order to make Obama look good, when we have little to measure or gauge or estimate his future success, might be the very definition of "deranged."

    I had trouble getting into listening to Obama. (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by jawbone on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:41:24 AM EST
    I usually prefer to read Obama's important speeches. I'm not sure why I don't get into his presentation--I know he's supposed to be really great. All the talking heads tell me he is.

    While Bill Clinton did not have the soaring rhetorical style, I did find him easy to follow, just listening. He had a way of presenting ideas that worked for listening. Perhaps it comes out of the oral traditions of the South, the repetition necessary to get ideas across in a primarily aural/oral approach.

    Anyway, appreciated your posting that part of the Clinton SOTU.  And, yes, I'd forgotten how he lead up to the line about "era of big government is over," which has often been taken out of context. I could hear him speaking as I read the words.

    Not showy, never got raves from the talking heads--but people would listen. And, most importantly, understand and remember what his points were.

    Topic sentence, details, examples, summary, conclusion. Oh, it does work!

    It's not just the content (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by Jake Left on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:14:00 PM EST
    and the construction. Obama's speech was well constructed, but I have problems with his delivery. I know he gets creds for loftiness and inspiration, but I have coached a few speeches before and I found that he kept stepping on his best lines. He sped up and soared where he should have paused and repeated. He dashed past really nice rhetoric that needed thought for assimilation.

    Bill's style was easier to follow. It was like he knew what the audience was thinking and how to move that thought. You followed Bill Clinton. I enjoyed the Obama's speech, but I fully understand how it reads better than it was delivered. When you read, you supply the stops and reflection. Last night, there seemed to be a time limit or something, like he was afraid to go on too long, so he rushed some of his best lines.


    Bill's style was to speak TO the people, (none / 0) (#48)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:58:19 PM EST
    not deliver a bunch of well-crafted phrases off the rolling screens. He was also much, much better at hiding the fact there were teleprompters guiding him along. Obama has not yet gotten that teleprompter thing down and it is really distracting to watch. He needs one in front of him so he isn't always looking either right or left....or, he needs to know his speeches well enough to be able to deliver some of the lines straight ahead.

    Yes! (none / 0) (#55)
    by jbindc on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:32:43 PM EST
    You always felt like Bill Clinton was speaking directly to you - you forgot he was speaking to the masses. It was like a conversation in your living room.

    Obama's style is that of a preacher - I always feel I'm being lectured when I listen to him.


    although, his delivery style is that of a preacher. I never even hear the words he is saying because it's like he's reading to me and I don't have the attention span for that. I drift in and out knowing I can read it later myself.

    He's so impressed with his crafting ability that he reads word for word.


    I think the problem is (none / 0) (#60)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:51:57 PM EST
    that Obama writes his speeches (or directs the writers) for his love of the craft. He tries to keep to the subject, but gets caught up in the soundbites that, to him, sound profound and smart.

    Clinton communicated. He told the people what they could expect from him.


    One of the reasons people felt that (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 04:26:08 PM EST
    Clinton was speaking to them was about body language, and if Obama wants to enjoy the same benefits Bill did, he needs to work on that.

    Obama has a habit of lifting his chin and looking down his nose at the gathered masses in a way that does not help people to connect with him; it contributes a little, I think, to the sense that while he may be connected to the words he is saying, he is detached from the people to whom he is saying them.


    I Agree WJC Is A Great Communicator (5.00 / 0) (#63)
    by daring grace on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 05:19:15 PM EST
    But that he is--and that Obama has a different style doesn't mean Obama isn't connecting with people.

    Indeed, the president's favorability numbers and his strong electoral performance speaks to how well he reaches people.

    In fact, in a Pew Research Center poll conducted Feb.4-8, 92% of those polled agreed Obama is a good communicator, in the same ballpark as the percentage (87%) who characterized Bill Clinton that way in January, 1993.


    Actually... (5.00 / 0) (#65)
    by BigElephant on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 06:18:24 PM EST
    You can't believe WJC is a great speaker and also think Obama is too.  It's either or. Either you like Clinton or Obama.  Can't like both.  Hasn't this site taught you that yet?  You must always denigrate Obama while praising Clinton.

    Indeed, for some people Obama is a thrilling and (none / 0) (#70)
    by jawbone on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:53:47 PM EST
    moving speaker. Not for me, but that doesn't mean he doesn't reach others.

    I Was Responding To Things Anne Wrote (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by daring grace on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 10:02:03 AM EST
    about Obama becoming a better speaker a la Bill Clinton so that he can 'enjoy the same benefits Bill did', and her implication that it's hard for people to connect with Obama's speaking style.

    I know some people are left cold by his oratory, but I figure that the fact that so many rate his communication skills so highly means many others feel connected with him.

    Myself, I've felt 'thrilled' by some of his speeches and okay with others and left cold by others; sort of the way I respond to any decent speaker, Clinton included.

    Clinton was speaking to them was about body language, and if Obama wants to enjoy the same benefits Bill did, he needs to work on that.

    Obama has a habit of lifting his chin and looking down his nose at the gathered masses in a way that does not help people to connect with him; it contributes a little, I think, to the sense that while he may be connected to the words he is saying, he is detached from the people to whom he is saying them.


    Preview, Preview, Preview (none / 0) (#73)
    by daring grace on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 10:03:33 AM EST
    Sorry about that.

    I cut and pasted Anne's piece so I could address my response to her more accurately and then posted before I took it out. Didn't mean to plagiarize!


    Waaaaay better than BushBoy. n/t (none / 0) (#71)
    by jawbone on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:55:32 PM EST
    Someone here, iirc, did say Obama tends to not (none / 0) (#69)
    by jawbone on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:45:31 PM EST
    connect with the TV audience, tending to look right and left, but not at the camera.

    Yes! The phrasing and arcs are not as well con= (none / 0) (#67)
    by jawbone on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:37:09 PM EST
    structed lately. Well, now that each speech is a discrete speech and not a riff on the original.

    Yes, he speeds up when he should slow down, doesn't leave the pause for the audience to react, absorb.  

    T/U, that's definitely part of what loses me.


    Also Clinton would ... (5.00 / 0) (#54)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:29:12 PM EST
    go off the prepared text.

    The MSM hated that.  Meant they had to actually listen to the whole speech.  They couldn't file their stories early, and get a good night's sleep.


    yeah, cuz ya no, (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by cpinva on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:02:29 PM EST
    we dun red so gud doun hear:

    Perhaps it comes out of the oral traditions of the South, the repetition necessary to get ideas across in a primarily aural/oral approach.

    I didn't mean it as an insult-afterall, Homer used (none / 0) (#68)
    by jawbone on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:41:55 PM EST
    repetition, identifying phrases, etc. Aids to memory and to listening.  

    Good speakers all do it, but I think there is something about the Southern oral culture which leads to great speechmakers. Talent has to be there, as well.


    Is the subtext of all this (none / 0) (#4)
    by coigue on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:32:09 AM EST
    what happened with Monica Lewinsky? Is there some kind of mass psychological attempt to reconcile the fact that he was a great president with his failings as a moral man? Is this what this is all about? Because I cannot understand it otherwise.

    And on the flip.... (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:56:27 AM EST
    Is there a mass pyscholigical attempt to assign credit for the innovation and explosion of the internet and naturally occuring economic cycles to a particular president?

    I'll give you competent, but not "great", not by any stretch.  An increased focus on marijuana prohibition w/ increased arrests, the detrimental crime bill, the random bombings of Iraq...this is not greatness, at best a little better and more competent than usual.  Maybe that is the best we can hope for within the confines of a corrupted two-party duopoly...that's a sad thought.


    naturally occurring is a stretch. (none / 0) (#11)
    by coigue on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:03:07 AM EST
    government and the federal reserve definitely have roles to play in the economy.

    but I take your point about the war on drugs.


    As well connected as you might think he was (5.00 / 6) (#14)
    by esmense on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:11:27 AM EST
    with his relationships with other Governors and the DLC -- he was an upstart and outsider to Washington's "liberal" democratic establishment -- who ran in a year when Democrats weren't suppose to win and the DC "heavyweights" who saw themselves as more deserving of the presidency sat out.

    Remember, in the primaries his competition was the terminally ill, likeable but obscure Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts and off the wall Jerry Brown of California. Only "outsiders" ran that year and only Clinton, who was frankly a more conventional and experienced candidate than either of the others, had a snowball's chance in hell. Tsongas, who focused on deficit reduction, was to the right of Clinton (he labeled Clinton a "pander bear"). If anyone knows what Brown's campaign was about I'd like to know. He always spoke in such airy abstractions that I found it hard to pull any real policy from whatever he was saying.

    Frankly, I think a lot of people who saw themselves as more liberal than Clinton, but were too cowardly to run themselves, were pissed off when Clinton did win. In a sense the liberal Democratic establishment never forgave him for winning when they were too cowardly to try. Add to that the fact that he offended convention by making his wife so prominent in his campaign, offended the media with his town halls, came from a little backwater state that no one in Washington took seriously, etc., etc.


    Also Bob Kerrey (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by 1040su on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:08:34 PM EST
    I actually started out as a Bob Kerrey supporter back then.  Wasn't too keen on WJC (mostly because I didn't know much about him), but came to really appreciate him.  Mostly because I was totally disgusted with the VRWC & couldn't believe what lengths people would go to.  With me, if I believe you're being unfairly railroaded, I'll become you're biggest advocate in a New York second.  Been that way since I was 9 years old (1963) & fought my parents to be friends with a girl that they didn't want me to hang around with because her parents were drunks.  I didn't think it was fair to judge her because of her parents.  I guess I haven't changed all that much :)

    I wanted Tsongas (I am no Santa Claus) (none / 0) (#16)
    by coigue on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:19:42 AM EST
    to win. I was really concerned with the budget deficit back then and I liked his straight talking.

    But I remember celebrating hard when Clinton won.


    Al Gore ran that year!!!! (none / 0) (#49)
    by mogal on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:38:28 PM EST
    Actually (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by Steve M on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:07:37 PM EST
    Al Gore ran in 1988, but not in 1992, due to a near-fatal accident involving his son.  I believe he spent the time writing Earth in the Balance instead.

    I think that's the one he sat out because of (none / 0) (#51)
    by Teresa on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:57:30 PM EST
    his son's accident a few years earlier. I think it was 1988 that he ran, not 1992.

    Ironically, Gore would have been a media (none / 0) (#62)
    by esmense on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 05:05:05 PM EST
    darling if he had run for the presidency in '92 (which he didn't). Clinton picking him for VP was one thing the beltway actually approved of (about the Clinton campaign).

    I worked as a writer for a local Democratic campaign consultant in '92, on the local and state campaigns of a bunch of women in Washington and Oregon (the only male was De Fazio in Oregon's 4th District) -- they all won. (Yeah! Year of the Woman!) We were handling Tsongas' Washington state campaign -- but he never made it to the primary. I was for Tsongas in a lukewarm way to start, but, really wasn't excited about anyone who ran that year. Clinton finally won me over with his answers to questions posed by the Seattle Times -- his thoroughness blew me away. (He was the only one of four primary candidates -- the other 3 were Bush, Buchanan and Brown -- who even bothered to answer all 10 questions. Brown answered 7, Buchanan 5, Bush 3, but all their answers were boilerplate non-answers.)

    As for Kerry, Mr. Foot in the Mouth, he blew his chances during his very first campaign speech when he somehow thought it was appropriate to tell a lesbian joke. One reason why I always thought it was unfair to blame Hillary Clinton for any inappropriate comments he may have made during this last primary. The guy's kind of an idiot.


    I remember Jerry Brown... (none / 0) (#53)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:19:15 PM EST
    talking flat tax back then, or was that '96?

    I remember prefering Brown...but was still too young to participate in '92.


    it's possible (none / 0) (#58)
    by cpinva on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:04:41 PM EST
    He always spoke in such airy abstractions that I found it hard to pull any real policy from whatever he was saying.

    that obama is jerry brown's long lost, younger brother.


    Skocpol always surprises me (none / 0) (#6)
    by ricosuave on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:47:19 AM EST
    Bill Clinton greatest legacy was in bringing about a change in how Americans viewed their government.  He is personally responsible for changing our country from Reagan's "Government is the Problem" rhetoric to a place where the government is considered a relevant source of solutions for society.

    At the same time, Skocpol's book "Bringing the State Back In" was arguing for largely the same thing.  Maybe she didn't like what he brought the state back in to do, but I would think she could recognize that they had a parallel, if not common, agenda.

    Well, it seems sometimes (none / 0) (#8)
    by KeysDan on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:53:16 AM EST
    that we just need to consider President Clinton to be a good name to drop--while not a name that represents a successful leader for these myopic types, never-the-less an obsession of some sort.  Even late night comics bereft of good jokes still rely on the Clinton name.  By contrast, Mr. Bush has been out of office but a very short time and he holds little interest save for recurring nightmares or fantasies of him enjoying the sights at the Hague.

    Well, it seems the national sense of humor (5.00 / 4) (#18)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:21:57 AM EST
    is arrested at a stage where there's a great laugh to be had from jokes about wee-wees, hoo-hahs, and ta-tas and such. Ergo the endless, juvenile mirth-making about Clinton's "moral failings": which primarily involved a failure to disclose the truth of inappropriate sexual conduct.

    If the national sense of humor were considerably more evolved, we would have an appreciation for the mordant black humor that's required to make fun of the fall-out from Bush's "moral failings": pre-emptive wars; extraordinary rendition; indefinite detention; torture; illegal wire-tapping; war profiteering; etc.


    Interesting: (none / 0) (#17)
    by coigue on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:21:14 AM EST
    I wonder if he is mentioned specifically so that they cannot be said to be partisan in their analysis. As in: "see, I can also criticize Dems"

    Greg Sargent (none / 0) (#9)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:56:22 AM EST
    Makes a similar but somewhat more eloquent point as Skopcol and I didn't see it as slamming Clinton.

    It may be eloquent, (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by dk on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:09:52 AM EST
    but is it true?  Obama and radical change?  Other than speeches that lack specifics, is there any evidence of such?  So far as president he has pushed through an inadequate stimulus bill, and refused to even accept reality with connection to the banking crisis, letalone get behand solutions that are anything but radical.

    So, Greg may be eloquent, but sounds like a lot of wishful thinking and hope to me.


    Lily Ledbetter? S-Chip? (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:11:58 AM EST
    Forgot about those two things?

    Go back and read what Greg wrote about his use of the term "radical."


    S-Chip started under Clinton, (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by dk on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:23:13 AM EST
    and Ledbetter was widely popular...even among a decent number of republicans.  

    Both are good things, but they are not radical in the context of American politics.


    Maybe it's just me (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:34:10 AM EST
    but it would seem that getting an $800 billion bill passed that seeks to significantly expand government could be seen as radical change even with it's issues.

    Go back and read what Greg says when he describes radical as I think it is spot on. I think the difference here is how we interpret "radical."

    I do agree with you about Ledbetter but my point was to counter you in your assertion that Obama hadn't done anything other than sign an inadequate stimulus bill. Credit where credit is due.


    Better examples (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:36:34 AM EST
    are his executive orders on torture and Gitmo.

    Great things those.


    Sure, those are great, (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by dk on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:50:59 AM EST
    but even those are only "radical" insofar as they eliminated Bush administration policies.  They are not radical in terms of the American political spectrum.  I find it hard to see how eliminating policy that is only a few years old can be particularly radical.  The Bush policies in those respects were radical (in a bad way).  

    And there was some squiggly language which may (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by jawbone on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:57:57 AM EST
    permit extraordinary rendition to other countries so we can outsource out torture....

    "Squiggly language", aka weasel wording (none / 0) (#45)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:47:16 PM EST
    Thank you n/t (none / 0) (#33)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:47:28 AM EST
    I thought those two ... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by sj on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:24:24 AM EST
    ... things were initiated in Congress.  Did the Executive branch submit a bill to Congress for them?

    Charitably, those are low hanging fruit. (5.00 / 4) (#23)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:24:40 AM EST
    Charitably, dem fruit wuz on the ground (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:48:39 PM EST
    The Lily Ledbetter law doesn't radically (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:41:02 PM EST
    alter the immediate terms of any woman's employment.

    The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is an improvement only insofar as it extends the statue of limitations that had severely restricted the time during which a woman could sue over unfair pay.

    What is most urgently needed is a modernization of The Equal Pay Act of 1963, as was promised in the Democratic party Platform of 2008. We need tougher laws to prevent the crime of unequal pay before it happens. After all, most working people don't have the resources to sue their employers and extending the statute of limitation is no guarantee of a favorable outcome.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, yadda, yadda, yadda.


    Yes. wishful thinking and hope (none / 0) (#19)
    by coigue on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:22:47 AM EST
    is what you get i month into a presidency.

    Sorry, I missed the memo (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by dk on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:25:00 AM EST
    on the exact date upon which we are allowed to judge elected officials by their actions as opposed to their speeches.  Could you please dig that up for me again?  Thanks!

    Is this a joke? (5.00 / 0) (#27)
    by coigue on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:33:29 AM EST

    Nope. (none / 0) (#37)
    by dk on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:59:24 AM EST
    I guess it depends on your perspective. (none / 0) (#38)
    by coigue on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:03:38 PM EST
    It's not a "joke", but the (none / 0) (#47)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:52:33 PM EST
    dripping sarcasm is funny to anybody who believes it is warranted, as I do.

    Because it wasn't a slam of Clinton (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:08:32 AM EST
    Greg wrote:

    "To be sure, Obama is enjoying a major assist: The economic crisis has left the public as desperate for domestic governmental assistance as at any other similar point in history. But the point is, Obama is seizing this moment to finally accomplish what has eluded other Dems: Transcending the "big versus small government" argument and, by extension, leaving it behind for good."

    BTW, Greg's analysis is simply faulty in that he ignores the very quote I provide in my post.


    The quote (none / 0) (#31)
    by Dadler on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:40:52 AM EST
    "The era of big government is over. But we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves."  These are two largely contradictory sentences, when pertaining to a nation of hundreds of millions of people, unless you believe charitable organizations, without any government aid, should take care of everyone who needs help.  It's called wanting to have your cake and eat it, too.  While I agree CDS exists in strange forms in strange places, we still have the inclination to engage in CDR, Clinton Romanticizing Syndrome.

    "These cuts are real. They will require sacrifice from everyone." The wealthy never suffer or sacrifice anything, ever.  Nothing he did made them sacrifice, and nothing Obama do will probably either.  I wish we would stop lying to ourselves like children about this.  The only people we ever make suffer or sacrifice are those who, usually, already have.  Even that CEO that Obama pointed out in the crowd, who gave millions to employees, he did a great and noble thing, but NOTHING that required actual sacrifice on his part.

    Speeches are nice, they are almost always a load of steaming b.s..

    Obama was good last night, not great, and, like Tent has said, it won't matter unless he gets bold enough to actually effect positive change.  For now, he has yet to move us significantly in that direction.  

    Huh? (none / 0) (#36)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:58:58 AM EST
    "The era of big government is over. But we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves."  These are two largely contradictory sentences

    I don't see the contradiction at all. I see the intent to make sure nothing that gets cut from gov't impacts the well-being of the citizens.

    "These cuts are real. They will require sacrifice from everyone." The wealthy never suffer or sacrifice anything, ever.  Nothing he did made them sacrifice, and nothing Obama do will probably either.

    Why in the world is it necessary for you to know that the wealthy are being made to suffer? For what? They exercised their ability to establish wealth for themselves. Some actually did it honorably. Why the need for suffering? Personally, I don't think ANYONE should suffer. Rich or not.


    I guess I am impatient (none / 0) (#39)
    by lilburro on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:07:51 PM EST
    with this kind of stuff -

    from Theda -  

    Government does not "substitute" for business or individual action, but it is an essential "catalyst."

    Substitute or catalyze.  UM OK.  Who gives a crap!!  To me it is like "nationalization" v. "temporary take over."  

    Have the right, well-explained policy drive the words.  If you are explanining something, it's not the catchphrase that matters, it's how it works.  You could call my car a "doohangy" or a "rollie" and I would not care - just tell me how it works, and I will think it's a marvelous invention.  In this case, a rose by any other name will smell just as sweet.