Is It Too Late For Lessons From FDR?

Jean Edward Smith, who wrote one of the best biographies of FDR, writes:

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S apparent readiness to backtrack on the public insurance option in his health care package is not just a concession to his political opponents — this fixation on securing bipartisan support for health care reform suggests that the Democratic Party has forgotten how to govern and the White House has forgotten how to lead.

This was not true of Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Congresses that enacted the New Deal. With the exception of the Emergency Banking Act of 1933 (which gave the president authority to close the nation’s banks and which passed the House of Representatives unanimously), the principal legislative innovations of the 1930s were enacted over the vigorous opposition of a deeply entrenched minority. Majority rule, as Roosevelt saw it, did not require his opponents’ permission.

[MORE . . .]

. . . Roosevelt relished the opposition of vested interests. He fashioned his governing majority by deliberately attacking those who favored the status quo. His opponents hated him — and he profited from their hatred. “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today,” he told a national radio audience on the eve of the 1936 election. “They are unanimous in their hatred for me — and I welcome their hatred.”

. . . Roosevelt was a divider, not a uniter, and he unabashedly waged class war. At the Democratic Convention in 1936, again speaking to a national radio audience, Roosevelt lambasted the “economic royalists” who had gained control of the nation’s wealth. To Congress he boasted of having “earned the hatred of entrenched greed.” In another speech he mocked “the gentlemen in well-warmed and well-stocked clubs” who criticized the government’s relief efforts.

Roosevelt hived off the nation’s economic elite to win the support of the rest of the country. The vast majority of voters rallied to the president, but for a small minority he was the Devil incarnate. Few today remember the extent to which Roosevelt divided the nation. . . . Roosevelt understood that governing involved choice and that choice engendered dissent. He accepted opposition as part of the process. It is time for the Obama administration to step up to the plate and make some hard choices.

This column reminded me of a piece I wrote in response to Cass Sunstein defending the Post Partisan Unity Schtick by claiming FDR was a bipartisan compromiser. But Cass Sunstein is wrong about just about everything.

Is it too late for Obama to change? Probably. More likely he'll be nominating the unacceptable Sunstein to replace Justice John Paul Stevens. I will unabashedly oppose that nomination.

Speaking for me only

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    That's (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 09:42:52 AM EST
    a great piece. Thanks for writing about it.

    Obama more and more seems to be playing the Hoover rule.

    Too late for Obama to change? (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 09:56:23 AM EST
    All indications are that he does not see a need to change and has no desire to do so.

    Senior White House officials, in conversations with reporters today, are floating the idea that President Obama is secretly negotiating with Sen. Olympia Snowe over a health care compromise that would phase in a government-funded health care alternative if private insurance companies fail to meet quality and cost benchmarks over a certain period of the time. The public discussion of the Snowe "compromise" is meant to test the reaction of House Democrats, who will pass a bill that includes an immediate public option added to a new health insurance exchange. The White House hopes that, having voted for a public option, House Dems would accept a "trigger" as part of a conference committee compromise rather than putting the kibosh on the entire health care reform project. In some ways, this strategy is old, and in some ways it's new. For months, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has been pushing the idea of a "trigger" internally, and he and Snowe regularly trade legislative and political intelligence. FDL

    A great comment from Jane Hamsher reflects how I feel about the whole deal.

    That is just great. In 2008, we put a Democrat in the White House, delivered a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate and a 79 seat majority in the House, just so. . . a Republican could write the health care bill. FDL

    Our first woman president (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Coral on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:00:55 AM EST
    Olympia Snowe. Of course, since she is just about the only sane Republican left, it could be worse.

    It's THE worst (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by cal1942 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:30:08 PM EST
    Capitulating to a minority, no matter which Republican, after receiving an electoral mandate is unacceptable and will throw Obama on the dust heap of history as a weak, ineffective President who squandered golden opportunities to bring about real, needed reform.  First it was maintaining the status quo in the finance industry, then it was the recovery act compromised to attract nonexistant Republican support and now it's meaningful health care.`

    "Capitulating"?! (none / 0) (#75)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:54:49 PM EST
    More like going along with the original, tacit understanding of the terms implicit in those humungous campaign contributions.

    Ralph "The Boogie man" Nader and quite a few others called this one from day one.


    Yup (none / 0) (#86)
    by cal1942 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:41:55 PM EST

    Maybe it's just me (5.00 / 4) (#11)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:01:28 AM EST
    but I would hope that a compromise this significant would have the goal of attracting more than just ONE Republican vote.

    Pretty sad huh (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:29:46 AM EST
    Letting a Republican dictate legislation to get one vote. Maybe. After the Dems agree to Snow's legislation there is no guarantee that she will actually agree to vote for it. She may come back and demand more after the Dems capitulate.

    That has been the pattern to date. The Democrats have agreed to change the legislation over and over and rather than getting Republican votes, they just get more demands for changes.


    It's not completely insane (none / 0) (#35)
    by brodie on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:01:16 AM EST
    to give one or more Repubs a key role in shaping legislation.  In 1964 cong'l Ds absolutely had to play ball with the Repubs to overcome the southern Dem filibuster.  

    They allowed Repub Minority Leader Dirksen to set up shop in his office (Ds actually met there to work on the bil, and not in the majority leader's office) and amend and amend the CR legislation (100s of amendments) -- but only on minor nonessential matters, and they never allowed him to gut the heart of the bill, which is what had happened with the badly compromised '57 CR bill that Leader Lyndon allowed to be gutted.

    In 1964, Maj Leader Mansfield et al drew a firm line in the sand -- what was the point of another weak CR bill?  Today, however, Reid and Obama, perhaps by natural inclination, seem more than willing to let Snowe and the corporatist Dems to set the agenda.  

    Too bad Obama and some of the more articulate and forceful pro-reform Dems weren't out there early and often really staking out a very strong, coordinated position.  Instead, nonconfrontational nice guy Obama allowed the sausage to be seen being made and let the opposition be the only strong voices on health care.


    Two completely different scenarios IMO (5.00 / 3) (#42)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:28:50 AM EST
    In 64 the Dems were being both smart and firm.

    they never allowed him to gut the heart of the bill

    Obama and Dem leadership has not shown either quality. They have never operated from a position of strength. There has never been any firm position and they seem willing to give up anything and everything just to say that they passed something. Even in today's NYT article this is what a WH official is publicly saying:

    "It's so important to get a deal," a White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid about strategy. "He will do almost anything it takes to get one."

    Not only do they not act from a position of strength, they publicly proclaim to all who will listen that a Democratic president is weak and ineffectual.


    I don't disagree -- (5.00 / 2) (#51)
    by brodie on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:50:15 AM EST
    just sayin' Dems need to work with Repubs on important legislation and accept some dilution, but only when necessary.

    Back then, Ds actually were well short of having anything close to the numbers req'd to invoke cloture -- but they were patient, were persistent and didn't wobble as they waited out the opposition while working Dirksen for more Repubs to come over (check).  Until the very end of a months-long process, the outcome was in doubt and complete failure a real possibility.  But all along they were working in a coordinated team fashion both inside and outside Congress -- one-on-one diplomacy and the public persuasion.

    Today, Obama and Dem leadership have dropped the ball in handling the PR effort (too little passion, too many longwinded details, too many committee bills, the entire process dragged out much too long) while they were either unwilling or unable to work quietly and patiently in moving votes to support what should have been at the outset a strong PO bill.

    We're likely to end up with a pig of a bill that Obama and his handlers will need to pretty up with some make-nice speechmaking and dinners and sleepovers in the WH for some selected disgruntled liberal bloggers badly in need of placating.  


    If we are talking just policy, (5.00 / 2) (#56)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:10:59 PM EST
    the Democrats SOP for the last several years is to start out asking for the minimum of they would like and publicly state from the beginning  that they are willing to compromise even that. Then they automatically make some concessions, then more concessions and even more concessions without ever getting anything in return. We either wind up with Republican legislation or legislation that is not worth the paper that it is written on.

    Now let's get past just talking about policy. A pig of a bill will do nothing to help real people get affordable health care. All it will do is provide the insurance industry more money and more power. Rates will continue to escalate with corresponding decreases in coverage. Real people will have to reach even deeper in their pockets to find the money for insurance premiums and the ever increasing out of pocket expenses. Real people will be denied care that they paid for and others won't be able to afford the care that they need.

    I'm in a position where I see sick people having to use their already extremely limited energy to fight their insurance companies for the care their doctors recommend. As a result, I have a real hard time just thinking about this in the terms of policy.  


    NO (none / 0) (#72)
    by cal1942 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:44:17 PM EST
    The Democrats don't HAVE to work with anyone.

    The example you cited (1964 Civil Rights Act) was during the Dixiecrat era when a significant number of Democrats couldn't be counted on to pass that kind of legislation.

    It's lunacy to bring in the current variety of Republicans on ANYTHING.


    True. (none / 0) (#83)
    by AX10 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 04:23:44 PM EST
    Obama is proving to as effective as Jimmy Carter.
    Carter started out with lofty promises and a 70% approval rating only to watch it collapse within the first year.  Once the second oil embargo and hostage situation came onto the scene, he was done for.  I do respect Carter much more and am not putting Carter and Obama in the same class.  Carter is much higher than Obama.  Carter actively sought to question the status quo of America and change course.  Of course he was defeated by many factions including the corporate southern Democrats in the congress (a problem that we have still).
    As where Carter fought to change the system, Obama is but paying lip service to that change.

    Yes, but according (none / 0) (#39)
    by KeysDan on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:17:53 AM EST
    to the NYTimes, President Obama may need those Republicans for support of the Afghan war. So it is a necessary tradeoff- good health care for a bad war, and therein lies the secret to the eleven dimensional chess game.

    too bad that while the administration (5.00 / 4) (#43)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:32:38 AM EST
    wants to play 11 dimensional chess, the insurance lobby and corporatists brought their bowling balls.

    Well, (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by KeysDan on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:49:49 AM EST
    Obama probably thinks chessmen and a good speech are a fair match, what with his bowling skills and all.

    Nobody needs to support a war (none / 0) (#68)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:27:51 PM EST
    in order for it to continue full speed ahead.  Bush proved that.

    This is so stupid to me (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:34:44 PM EST
    Does Obama really think that Republicans will support him in overturning the profoundly held American society belief that Democrats can't do national security or war worth spit?  What leader wears most of the shame about Vietnam? LBJ   If the Republicans wish to aid Obama in any sort of success in Afghanistan, that's the success they hope to encourage him to achieve.  Obama might as well just start throwing the dirt on top of his base.  He's already dug the hole and now tossed us in.

    So (none / 0) (#73)
    by cal1942 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:46:29 PM EST
    he may need Republicans to support another mistake, expanding a war in the graveyard of empires.



    My guess is that Collins and Snowe (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by andgarden on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:33:22 AM EST
    will vote together. They almost always do.

    Snowe is considerably more liberal than several Democrats, and I would not be opposed to making a deal with her, at least so we can get to the conference report stage.


    We're Screwed (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by SGITR on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:30:06 AM EST
    if this is true:

    ...that would phase in a government-funded health care alternative if private insurance companies fail to meet quality and cost benchmarks over a certain period of the time.

    Rely on the insurance companies? Trigger? Over time?!

    Reality check: The Health Care industry officially owns Obama.

    No one in their honest right mind would suggest such a thing. Voluntary compliance? Please. There are so many ways for the insurance companies to screw with the numbers it is mind boggling. Which btw they have told Obama exactly that.

    It really is time to cross the Rubicon and start talking about the previously unthinkable - and that is PRIMARYING Obama in 2012 while we still have a party with recognizable values.


    For that you need a candidate. n/t (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by oldpro on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:09:53 AM EST
    Three more years (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by SGITR on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:42:42 PM EST
    of Obama's performance ad public dissatisfaction and there may be more that one challenger lining up. It's not like a sitting President has not be challenged before.

    Do you know of ANY Democrat (none / 0) (#78)
    by oldpro on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 02:25:17 PM EST
    willing to relive Teddy's assault on Carter?


    It won't be a primary worth having.

    There are, however, other parties to vote for.


    Values? (none / 0) (#59)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:21:30 PM EST
    hmmmmmmm I hear those are overrated and you should sell them out for the best monetary offer you can receive. Viva la capitalism, where everything is for sale.

    For the record, your strategy would require the compliance of the party leaders that gave you Barack Obama to begin with. Good luck with that.


    Others (none / 0) (#74)
    by cal1942 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:49:36 PM EST
    have challenged in the past and made inroads much to the chagrin of party leaders.

    FDR would have had to explain (5.00 / 6) (#23)
    by ruffian on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:25:53 AM EST
    his capitulations to Eleanor. I imagine fighting the bankers seemed a lot easier.

    Wonderful line. And it actually does (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Cream City on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:59:31 AM EST
    provoke intriguing and more serious thoughts along those, given the considerable influence of presidential spouses.

    Eleanor Roosevelt's training was as a social worker and reformer (and later a teacher, journalist, and half a dozen other jobs, but social work was her training).

    Michelle Obama was a hospital administrator.

    This well may be an interesting chapter in the books to come about the Obama presidency. . . .


    Thanks for the laugh (none / 0) (#28)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:33:27 AM EST
    I needed it.

    Thank you for all your comments (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by ruffian on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:35:23 AM EST
    on health care. You say want I want to much better than I!

    Unlike most here (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:47:54 AM EST
    I can actually remember FDR... And trust me....

    Obama is no FDR.

    On that we agree (5.00 / 3) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:54:38 AM EST
    The chance was there though.

    And he blew it.

    I'm hoping he can avoid being a Jimmy Carter.


    Health care is the lodestone. (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:36:53 AM EST
    a weak, ineffective law, or a failure to pass one... i don't wish to ponder the consequenses right now.

    Wait til next Wednesday (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:37:29 AM EST
    before putting the final nail in the coffin.

    As you observed up thread, its more than just Obama - though he is due criticism.


    True. : look at the Clinton health care (none / 0) (#48)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:44:18 AM EST
    failure. We still got CHIP and then some years of good governance.

    I'll wait till Wednesday.


    Clinton was no FDR (5.00 / 3) (#49)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:46:01 AM EST
    True, also. (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:52:04 AM EST
    I'd like to have a partisan president, one who's agenda is obviously not 'more of the same.'

    Obama still has the potential, evenwith some failures, if (this is a large 'if,' however) he will stand up for something, and not nuance his approach.

    It's time to call the insurance company greedy gougers, or something. LEt their talking heads get irate. Then call them blood sucking leeches that are in the way of American progress, and watch the heads explode.

    Chicago rules time. I hope.


    Obama's never going to resort (5.00 / 3) (#61)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:32:34 PM EST
    to insulting and demonizing industry leaders and lobbyists whom he needs to help fund his second term - are you kidding?  He's got to keep those people happy - and even when he manages to say something with a tinge of negativity, it's almost like you know he made a phone call earlier and said - "just so you know, I might have to make some noise like I think you guys need reining in, but not to worry - we're still on track to keep these swwet deals going!"

    I'm not from Chicago, but I'm pretty sure they're masters of the art of knowing which side their bread is buttered on, and in this case, the little people - the ordinary citizen-types - can't begin to compete in the butter department.


    the chicsgo rules I suggest are (5.00 / 2) (#69)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:28:29 PM EST
    from the movie the Untouchables:

    "You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue."

    Health care reform, a public option, single payer, it's important. Time to stand on the line.


    I'd be happy with a brilliant (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:44:09 PM EST
    entrepreneaur launching a health insurance company that does what it is supposed to do. Take the premiums and wisely use them for paying medical costs while keeping overhead to a minimum by hiring some of the millions of unemployed to process claims from their home computers.

    Our society is capable of creating competition for these thieving insurance companies without the gov't controlling them. And, since it appears this administration wants little to do with providing assistance to millions of its people, we need to depend on ourselves to find the solution. The LAST thing I want enacted right now is something that is going to mandate we participate if the only beneficiaries to that will be the corporate insurance groups.


    I'd take either one. (none / 0) (#67)
    by Sweet Sue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:55:19 PM EST
    And Obama is no Clinton.

    Thanks for posting that piece, BTD. (5.00 / 7) (#38)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:14:09 AM EST
    You know - everyone knows - that I never saw Obama as a leader, or even someone who thrived on doing the hard work necessary to move from rhetoric to action to achieving goals, but this piece takes a measure of Obama by comparison that finds him woefully lacking in leadership ability and empty of true principle.  

    Can he change?  Well, I think that as long as we are breathing, we all have the capacity to change, but doing so usually requires being able to admit we actually need to do it, that we were somehow wrong about something, and that - the Ego-That-Is-Obama - is what makes it unlikely that we will see anything significant in the way of change from him.  I think too much of who he is - to himself - is tied up in being this larger-than-life, mythical, mystical, answer to what ails the world, that to change is to have to acknowledge his fallibility, and maybe that brings the whole construct down.

    If he were working for us, change would be easier; but he's working for himself, for his need to win, which makes us all expendable, I think.  He goes in whichever direction is likely to give him the win, and all the principle that was supposed to be behind the effort just evaporates - if it even was ever there for him.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who's worried about who Obama would nominate to replace Stevens; the only acceptable replacement - in my opinion - is someone who is liberal from head-to-toe, and I have this really awful feeling that that isn't what we're going to get.  I think the GOP fight over Sotomayor was a fake one, designed to set the stage for them to push for someone more acceptable the next time around, and I think the Obama who came "this" close to voting for John Roberts will give it to them.

    Honestly, I do not want Republicans back in control, but I am really tired of being expected to keep voting Democratic when all I seem to have gotten for it in the last three years is a whole lot of nothing or a whole lot of leftover Bush policies and no real leadership.

    Enough already.

    He doesn't even need to think he was wrong (none / 0) (#62)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:32:45 PM EST
    but doing so usually requires being able to admit we actually need to do it, that we were somehow wrong about something

    He can just say he wants to improve...everything has room for that...take good and make great, take great and make extraordinary.

    I'd settle for him not having to say he was wrong on anything if he would just be right about something. He has ready access to great leaders and great minds...I sure hope he is having some of his secret meetings with them.


    Trigger: Let's give the insurance industry (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by MyLeftMind on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:26:31 AM EST
    a chance to stop ripping us off, and if they do make some changes, well then, we'll let them continue to rip us off just a little bit less.  

    Kind of like how we gave the banks a bunch of tax money so that they could "help" homeowners.  Of course, they turned around and used our money to screw homeowners, but at least our Democrats had good intentions...

    Just a subtle reminder (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by mmc9431 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:16:48 PM EST
    This should be tattooed on Obama forehead so that everytime he looks in the mirror, he'll be remind of what the election was supposed to mean.

    Majority rule, as Roosevelt saw it, did not require his opponents' permission.

    Good bumper sticker and (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by oldpro on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 02:30:32 PM EST
    great line, alright.

    Majority rule doesn't require naysayers permission.


    On Obama's behalf... (4.57 / 7) (#13)
    by masslib on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:02:54 AM EST
    He has no experience.  A few short years ago he was working part-time for Illinois state leg..  He has spent most of his career campaigning for his next position.  He hasn't really had the time to learn to govern.  He also never promised anything policy-wise to anyone.  He was a blank slate that supporters right, left and independent defined by their own policy desires, so this is what you get.

    unfortunately (5.00 / 4) (#15)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:07:03 AM EST
    those of us who did not "define [him] by their own policy desires" get it as well.

    Oh we defined him alright (1.00 / 1) (#18)
    by SGITR on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:18:06 AM EST
    Schmoozer. Not a leader.

    Gives speech. Never meant a word.

    Plays race card.

    Anyone who has live at least 30 years has met hundreds of Obama's. But yet even some of those who have lived at least 30 years are responsible for what we are witnessing now. They rationalized away every glaring weakness. They said he could win. Well winning isn't the ability to governing (see: rationalized).


    Remind me never to have you speak on my behalf. (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:25:16 AM EST
    Heh. (none / 0) (#24)
    by masslib on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:27:39 AM EST
    A place where his "naivety" shows (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:53:38 AM EST
    His Rorschach candidacy that worked so to get him elected, is now becoming Rorschach governance (see healthcare).  By floating and sinking trial balloons right and left, he is attempting to make healthcare whatever you and I want it to be.

    And 67% percent of Americans are "confused".  They were fine with guessing about his candidacy, but they want to KNOW about his policies...the ones they understand at least.


    Obama did not invent Dem capitulation (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:13:15 AM EST
    so it is more than unfair to pretend Obama is the evil Dem in all this.

    The missed POTENTIAL is what hurts.

    This is Dem business as usual.

    And that is what rankles.


    but hopeychangey hope! (none / 0) (#44)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:35:18 AM EST
    Post partisain hopeychange! Change and hope, hope and change!

    Meh. I've also written about the lost potential, but not using those terms. the iron was hot, and the administration went on vacation. not literally, but certainly figuratively.


    Maybe the big tent (none / 0) (#63)
    by mmc9431 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:42:18 PM EST
    Has gotten too big? When so many of the party's elected official can't or won't support a key bill from the Democratic Party 2008 platform, there's a definite problem.

    I'm still not convinced that a true Democrat can't stand up and win against the hard liners that the RNC puts up. If the Democrat's lose what's the difference. They aren't exactly winning now and we control it all.


    "nominating the unacceptable Sunstein" (none / 0) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 09:41:02 AM EST
    or do you seriously believe this?

    I guess I would not be surprised at this point.
    they are afraid of their shadow.  

    Gene Lyons over at Salon offered this: (none / 0) (#2)
    by iceblinkjm on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 09:42:44 AM EST
    "You won't hear this on TV, but Obama's slumping approval numbers reflect that many Democrats now worry he's a gutless wonder."


    Honeymoon is over. Hell hath no fury than a progressive scorned.

    for example (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 09:44:44 AM EST
    The Obama administration is rethinking its course recommendations for students ahead of President Obama's address to the the nation's schoolchildren next week, rewriting its suggestions to teachers for student assignments on how to "help the president."

    White House aides said the language was supposed to be a inspirational, pro-education message to America's youths, but its unintended consequences were evident.

    gutless and stupid to the point of almost being unbelievable.


    even the whackjobs (none / 0) (#12)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:01:51 AM EST
    at north star are ridiculing this:

    I'd say it's pretty well established that I find President Obama to be an unqualified, ridiculous, B.S.ing president who should never have been elected.

    So perhaps you'll pardon my lack of outrage that he wants to speak to my son and millions of other K-6 students while they're at school on September 8, and I hope you're not too terribly offended that I'm laughing at yours.



    This kind of (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 09:45:34 AM EST
    stuff just makes me madder. Anyone who votes "present" from sitting in a safe seat in the IL senate screams "gutless wonder". A poster at Hullabaloo called Obama President Milquetoast Goodspeech.

    But the people who are going to be really scathing towards Obama are those who bought into the hype.


    "scathing" (none / 0) (#6)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 09:47:11 AM EST
    I hope thats true but as is so often pointed out here I dont see it happening much.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 09:49:43 AM EST
    I see it starting a little here and there. IMO, I was shocked that Kos would even take a poke at him so there's a beginning. I guess it remains to be seen whether they'll publicly take him on just privately complain about him.

    Not so far (none / 0) (#77)
    by cal1942 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 02:12:05 PM EST
    But the people who are going to be really scathing towards Obama are those who bought into the hype

    I haven't seen this yet.  I've seen all manner of excuses and one of the most common is changing the subject by saying that Roosevelt had it easier, a meaningless debate point.


    You and I can only say "we told you so" (none / 0) (#84)
    by AX10 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 04:33:30 PM EST
    It is those who bought into Obama's slick B.S that will end of "scathing" as you said.
    Though I still take a look at DU every now and then and it seems that they are hellbent on insisting that Obama's missteps are not his fault.  Yes, the blue dogs are trouble makers, but Obama is going along with them making him an accomplis.

    The only reason I give my votes to any Democrat these days is to keep the obviously reactionary/violent/tea party-mcveighite Republicans out of power.

    The Democrats really don't have much going for them except that they are not the extremist GOP.  That is not giving people much.


    Ah, but his seat (none / 0) (#85)
    by Spamlet on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 05:53:09 PM EST
    was never safe. He needed to leave as faint and equivocal a footprint as possible on his ascent toward a presidential run.

    I wish.... (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:08:25 AM EST
    there would be consequences from progressives for the corporate hand-jobbing by Democrats...but progressives just keep on voting for the next arsehole with a D after their name...thats not fury, thats insanity.

    Thanks for this picture... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by lambert on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:14:08 AM EST
    ... but isn't "hand job" just a little too mild?

    It is mild... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:22:45 AM EST
    corporate concubines with a penchant for r*mjobs would probably be more accurate:)

    Hey, I remember when we didn't care (none / 0) (#76)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 02:09:10 PM EST
    about "women studies issues" because they weren't important.  What was important was that a majority of people with a "D" after their name needed to be elected regardless of their passions, stance on issues, or motivations.  You just need a "D".  Now I'm probably getting Cass what's his name on the Supreme Court?

    From the article (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:19:55 AM EST
    Did I say "bill"? Which bill? Only 37 percent of voters in a recent poll chose a correct definition of "public option" health insurance -- slightly better than random guessing. More Americans know the GEICO gecko. Hence many congressional Democrats are leery of proposals their constituents don't understand.

    Also in the news today:

    For now, White House officials said, Mr. Obama remains committed to the goal of insuring all Americans and still prefers to foster competition for insurance companies by creating a new government insurance program, or public option.
    If Mr. Obama does not gain traction by making these concessions, his allies on Capitol Hill said, they may have to consider bigger changes. For example, they said, rather than requiring all Americans to carry health insurance, Congress might start by requiring coverage of children, or families with children. FDL/NYT

    I am really glad that the President has decided to clarify his plan. There are so many trial balloons floating over the WH it has become an environmental hazard.


    HAHHAHAH! (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:44:09 AM EST
    That's unbelievably rich!  They are explicitly announcing ahead of time that they will give in if they don't get what they want.  Absolutely incredible.

    I read that (none / 0) (#34)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:55:01 AM EST
    agree with it, but now all I can think is mmmmmm cake (reference to the cakeknife analogy).

    ...that's what I get for trying to cut out refined sugar...


    Jimmy Herbert Obama n/t (none / 0) (#9)
    by mikeel on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 09:57:10 AM EST

    As noted elsewhere, (none / 0) (#14)
    by brodie on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:06:36 AM EST
    the positive, strong example of FDR is much more within the capability of Obama than the harshly negative example of, say, LBJ (impossible to emulate anyway, especially for someone with Obama's benign and non-paranoid personality).  

    Unfortunately, to this point risk-averse Obama has seemed determined to govern as a moderate incrementalist, both in DP and FP, with the status quo left largely intact as he seems more interested in not making enemies than in standing strong for meaningful change.

    Well, he wasn't my choice in the primaries, and maybe it's true (as some colorful guy was saying on the radio early this a.m.) that he was elected too soon and will need the better part of one term to learn how to govern.

    Somehow though I think he'll muddle through on health care (mid-sized version to start) and enough formerly strong on PO progressives will cave for Obama by going along with some sort of weak (trigger) PO.  

    A few might even cite Bob Kerrey ca 1993 (Clinton's major economic package) to justify their shift -- "I don't want to be the person who destroys this presidency."

    No such thing as "strong" on PO... (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by lambert on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:18:09 AM EST
    ... because there's nothing there to be "stong" on.

    The "public option" is a marketing slogan. Being "strong" on it is like being "strong" on "things go better with Coke."


    Hard to out-cynical some (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by brodie on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:40:37 AM EST
    folks here.  Actually I think there's plenty of there there with the robust PO.

    But on single payer -- I agree with Larry O'Donnell:  SP, to have any hope of a chance in 2009, should have been talked up by Dems in a coordinated and sustained fashion starting about 1997.


    We already have single payer (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by MyLeftMind on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:19:53 AM EST
    We just need to fund it.

    Axelrod '06 memo to Obama (none / 0) (#53)
    by oldpro on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:55:30 AM EST
    via Haynes Johnson:

    "...In 2006, before Obama had even decided to run, Axelrod had wrote this incredible, prescient memo saying, "Look, the time is right for you: You'll never be hotter than you are right now, candidates wait too long to run," etc., etc. And he was right about that. But then he also said that the question is -- and he was very tough and very blunt about what he saw as Obama's weaknesses -- he said, "I wonder if you are someone that can take a punch. You care too much about criticism. You don't take criticism well. You care about what people say about you."

    The question is:  which people?  The voters?  Or the village?

    If the Rs can come up with a candidate, this is beginning to look like a one-term persidency.

    The R's (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:26:38 PM EST
    have a couple of candidates that could possibly win in '12 already. Now whether they're smart enough or not to nominate them is another story.

    Oh (none / 0) (#81)
    by cal1942 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 02:35:40 PM EST
    It's the Village, hands dwon.

    Yes, cuz the public doesn't have the stomach (none / 0) (#55)
    by vicndabx on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:08:45 PM EST
    for partisan bickering.  I remember the polls where people thought there was too much of it and not enough work getting done.  While this is of course largely a perception issue, perception is the reality the administration must deal with.  Hence all the talk of getting something done at the cost of all else.

    Whatever happened to "Yes we can!"? (none / 0) (#57)
    by oldpro on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:13:11 PM EST
    Bet we won't hear that in his speech to congress...unless the White House is just going to brazen it out with lipstick on a pig.

    People seem to be getting burned out (5.00 / 3) (#66)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:53:52 PM EST
    on the speeches. Seems the number of people viewing those decline considerably from one to the next.

    He did the townhalls on healthcare just a couple of weeks ago. If I watch it will only be to see if he has developed some passion on the topic.


    Could be a turning point for him. (none / 0) (#79)
    by oldpro on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 02:29:06 PM EST
    I'll watch it so I don't need pundits and others to tell me what it all means.

    We can? (none / 0) (#82)
    by mmc9431 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 02:47:36 PM EST
    Yes we can! Is double edged. Maybe he meant Yes we can.....cave or Yes we can........screw it up.

    That's the trouble with voting for a blank slate. You just aren't sure of what you're going to get.