Finally Understanding The Madman Theory Of Political Bargaining

A little late, but Matt Yglesias finally gets it (by contrast, Ezra Klein continues to shill for capitulation):

I think what you’ll see is that while the movement on behalf of the public option certainly wants a public option and believes the public option is important, the larger goal is to “to try and make the federal government more responsive to progressives in the long-term” by engaging in a form of inside-outside organizing and legislative brinksmanship that’s aimed at enhancing the level of clout small-p progressives in general and the big-p Progressive Caucus in particular enjoy on Capitol Hill.

That requires, arguably, some tactical extremism. If you become known as the guys who are always willing to be reasonable and fold while the Blue Dogs are the guys who are happy to let the world burn unless someone kisses your ring, then in the short-term your reasonableness will let some things get done but over the long-term you’ll get squeezed out. And it also requires you to pick winnable fights, which may mean blowing the specific stakes in the fight a bit out of proportion in the service of the larger goal.

(Emphasis supplied.) I am quite unconvinced that Beltway Progressives like Yglesias and Ezra Klein have it right on the policy of health care reform. The health care reform likely to emerge from President Olympia Snowe will mean next to nothing imo. But at least Yglesias is finally absorbing the lesson on political bargaining.

Speaking for me only

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    More Concessions (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by waldenpond on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:53:36 AM EST
    Apparently, the White House is consideringMORE concessions.....  New York Times.

    [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.]

    I prefer no mandate without a public option, but to indicate they will keep caving is just another sign Obama will not lead on this issue.  I guess dollars for Afghanistan is more important?

    Never mind (none / 0) (#24)
    by waldenpond on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:07:27 PM EST
    Already on other item.

    So, he's saying PUMAs were forward thinkers? (1.00 / 1) (#2)
    by goldberry on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:09:46 AM EST
    'Cos that's what it sounds like to me.  
    I will take this as an acknowledgement that the PUMA notion of not giving away the milk for free was a good idea that was ahead of its time.  
    Now, how can I snag a gig at The Atlantic?  

    Huh? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:11:02 AM EST
    O know you always want to bring everything back to the 2008 primaries, but I do not see how you did it here.

    Let's stick to day and not talk about last year please.


    The idea was good (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:20:34 AM EST
    The execution was awful.  There was no organized effort to extract anything concrete in return for PUMA support - probably because everybody wanted something different.

    As an individual, you can complain and threaten to vote third party in 2012 and whatever else, but it accomplishes nothing without organization.  When the House Progressive Caucus says they won't vote for any bill without a public option, that's an effective threat because they have something the White House wants.  When the unions threaten to withhold support from legislators, that's an effective threat because they also have something the White House and the Democratic Party want.

    There's a reason why interest groups get a seat at the table and individuals with opinions don't.  Organizing isn't easy, but it's a necessary prerequisite to getting attention from politicians.  They're not going to waste time making you happy unless they believe you hold the key to a lot of votes or a lot of money.

    My view is that withholding a vote or a contribution is rarely effective in and of itself, because a clear message never gets sent.  But the THREAT to withhold votes or contributions can be very effective.  The trick is getting a bunch of people to make the same threat for the same reasons.


    It's hard to organize (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Fabian on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:25:59 AM EST
    at that late stage of an election - or a bargaining process.  First come, first served.  Momentum is important.

    So who was first out of the gate WRT health care reform?  My impression it was the right wing "death panel" talking points.  Bold, gutsy and wrong but that didn't stop it from being effective.

    Obama is running out of time and opportunities.  If he can't create a new narrative to replace the currently unproductive ones, I can't see any effective reform taking place.


    Huh? (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:21:20 AM EST
    I'm still not getting it. Extract what from whom for what?

    For example (none / 0) (#36)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:42:03 PM EST
    "We, the eleventy thousand members of the PUMA Movement, pledge that we will not support Barack Obama in the general election unless he promises to support Hillary Clinton's health care plan."  Or... whatever other goal people might be willing to get behind.  That's the point of organizing.

    Otherwise, you can certainly refuse to vote for Obama because he didn't do X, Y and Z, but as a lone individual you're not capable of actually sending a political message.  It may be a principled act but no message is received and there will be no political consequences.  No one in the White House sits around thinking, "Hmm, Jane Smith of 123 Main Street is a registered Democrat, and yet she didn't vote this year.  I wonder what we could have done better."

    When you have people who feel the same way as you do, you have a great opportunity to make a political impact, but you have to organize.


    Hmm (none / 0) (#39)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:45:11 PM EST
    Well, that was I guess, an idea for 2008, but it is September 2009.

    It is a dated conversation as is the whole PUMA concept.

    Time to think of something new.


    Sure (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:00:46 PM EST
    Just an example.  But there is still plenty of relevance to the example.

    Resolving not to let your support be taken for granted is a first step.  But it means nothing, other than feeling good about oneself, unless you actually communicate it somehow.  Which generally means getting organized and making your conditions known.

    Let me put it another way.  The madman theory of bargaining is 100% about making the other guy think you're a madman.  Whether you actually are a madman or not is irrelevant.  And privately resolving to be a madman, without the other guy even knowing, is certainly of no use whatsoever!


    An entirely different opinion from the inside (none / 0) (#47)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:03:44 PM EST
    Why was it again that progressives chose not to start from scratch and figured to use the Democratic party as the means to their goals?

    I suspect it is the same reason that PUMA has not dismantled.

    The fact that they lost in 2008 is no more relevant than the first time the progressive block lost.


    I didn't withhold my vote (none / 0) (#34)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:38:51 PM EST
    I would say only a small portion withheld their vote.

    In the amount of time it had PUMA was incredibly organized and I would say the McCain camp actively courted us.



    We didn't have the impact we wished or succeed but saying that we were/are irrelevant is factually incorrect.

    As far as record of success the "progressive"block seems to have a similar record. They were ignored on FISA, ignored on Iraq, they are being ignored on health care....so I fail to see how calling another block of people who have similar goals regarding policy is smart or productive stratregy.


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:51:17 PM EST
    What of substance did McCain offer you?  As I recall, he simply had a few gracious (and really transparent) things to say about Hillary.  It's nice to be wooed but that doesn't count as actually accomplishing anything politically.

    If McCain had actually gone left of Obama on some issue in an effort to attract disaffected Hillary supporters, then I'd acknowledge the point, but I don't recall that happening.  It was just a few offhand comments.

    And Obama himself offered nothing to Hillary supporters that he wasn't already offering, other than making some efforts to help Hillary pay off her campaign debt.  Why?  Either he was supremely confident that all of her supporters had no place else to go, or else, as I said, he simply had no way of knowing what would please them because there was no movement, just a collection of isolated voices.

    I am totally not trying to put down the PUMAs among us.  What I am saying is, if self-identified PUMAs are truly content with the impact they had upon the 2008 election, they're failing to appreciate the importance of organizing - a point which has substantial relevance for the policy struggle we're currently embroiled in.  I'm citing the PUMAs as an example (because someone else brought them up), not saying the PUMAs were uniquely disorganized or anything like that.  Progressives are still struggling with the structural issues of banding together and making their voices heard.


    Of course they aren't content (none / 0) (#49)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:27:05 PM EST
    If they were content do you think you would be hearing "I told you so"

    Frankly, the fact that some of them are reaching out to a frustrated progressive block should mean something. For all the talk about how PUMAs are "bitter" I have to wonder if progressives might want to take a look in the mirror considering their response instead of "geez we could really use your help on healthcare" is "you're just bitter because Hillary didn't win." In the big scheme of things is the fact that Obama won more important than the actual policies he will enact?  Is that really the message that wants to be sent? Is your block so powerful that it would or should send voices away or call them irrelevant simply because it disagrees on the 2008 strategy? These are questions progressives need to be asking themselves.

    The PUMAs did very well organizing themselves in the small amount of time they actually had IMO. They still talk among themselves(and are actually okay with being "outcasts"). I'm not convinced that they aren't going to have an impact come 2012. In the interim many of them seem content to focus on issues rather than personality. None of it is done under the mantle of PUMA per se' but it doesn't mean the network isn't there or that it couldn't flex if need be.

    In the interest of respect for Jeralyn and BTD I think I'll leave it at that because PUMAs have a philosophy more in line with what Bill Clinton said then with the idea of placing all your eggs in one political basket.


    Whatever PUMA may actually be, (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Spamlet on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:57:52 AM EST
    what PUMA looks like is a collective obsessive grudge, and not a politically savvy one, either. PUMA's only program appears to be "Hillary in 2008." That makes PUMA effectively apolitical, and irrelevant except to those who live on resentment. (And btw I was for Hillary.)

    Precisely (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:59:32 AM EST
    Not just Hillary 2008 (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by waldenpond on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:09:44 PM EST
    On one PUMA site the program has become Palin in 2012.

    Considering (none / 0) (#43)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:55:58 PM EST
    how badly Obama is doing you might want to see if you can have an impact on finding a moderate Republican Option. I wonder if Snowe will be available?

    I'm a PUMA (1.00 / 1) (#27)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:14:41 PM EST
    and it's pretty clear you aren't since you sound like you have no idea what you are talking about.

    Yes, we believe Hillary was the best choice in 2008 and continue to believe that. No, we are not unaware that the DNC gave the election to Barack Obama. On a routine basis we discuss health care, the economy, sexism, and a myriad of other issues. How that is considered "politically unsavvy" I have little to no idea.

    Oh and for the record, every single member of PUMA is as relevant as you are(that's right their single voices are a collective voice too). That's how it works in a democracy.


    You are right (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Spamlet on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:22:19 PM EST
    I am not a PUMA.

    Bad political bargaining (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:24:00 PM EST
    is Spamlet's point.

    but you insist on not understanding the critique.


    Not everything (none / 0) (#32)
    by SGITR on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:34:05 PM EST
    in politics can be bargained for. Especially by those who are not in a significant bargaining position.

    Not everything can be put into the wrapper of good versus bad political bargaining.


    Well do it your way then (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:37:45 PM EST

    It's not about my way (none / 0) (#52)
    by SGITR on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:46:02 PM EST
    It's about everyone doing it the best they can with what they have to work with.

    I understand it completely (none / 0) (#35)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:39:49 PM EST
    and disagree with the assessment entirely.

    There IS a difference.


    You did not respond to the critque (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:43:45 PM EST
    Instead you attacked the commenter personally.

    If that is your idea of a good exchange, we certainly do disagree.

    I am extremely critical of PUMAs for one simple reason, they make EVERYTHING about the 2008 primaries.

    Whether that is good analysis, and on some level it is, it simply is not persuasive for changing the dynamic of today imo.

    Of course it will leave a lot of room for "I told you so" posts and comments. And do not get me wrong, I love "I told you so" post as much as the next person, but I have foregone them because they are not effective for what I want to do now.

    Perhaps for PUMAs, they are effective. For making them feel better. Certainly not effective for changing today.


    Calling people and irrelevant (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:51:14 PM EST
    is an attack. I responded in kind.

    Today is what it is because of yesterday. 2008 split the block. Is it irreparable? I don't know. I do know that it is absolutely wrong to call people irrelevant simply because I disagree with their strategy.

    Had I called you irrelevant because you felt Obama was the stronger choice because of his ties to the media I would have been called, correctly IMO, rude. I didn't. Why? It's called respect for other people's opinions and the inherent belief that others have a right to one different then mine.


    Obama won (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:02:43 PM EST
    so you have no I told you sos to toss at me.

    But let us be clear - the fixation on 2008 is tiresome and there is a limit to what we will tolerate at this site.


    Obama did win (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:31:28 PM EST
    So what? Does that mean the 40 plus million without healthcare have it now? Does it fix the fact that we have millions without jobs that are losing their houses on a routine basis?

    Congratulations on your "big" win.

    I wish you lots of luck with it in 2012.


    Nonsense (none / 0) (#53)
    by Spamlet on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:46:12 PM EST
    I did not call any person irrelevant.

    You, however, did reach for the ad hominem right out of the gate. Reflexive, defensive personal attacks on commenters who bring a constructively critical perspective to PUMA is what turned me off to the PUMA sites I used to read. And I used to read them because I am essentially in sympathy with the larger PUMA goals, such as I understand them, and I largely share the PUMA analysis of the corrupt 2008 Democratic primary process.

    Here is what I said in my comment upthread:

    PUMA's only program appears to be "Hillary in 2008." That makes PUMA effectively apolitical, and irrelevant except to those who live on resentment.

    Nota bene: "appears to be."

    I called the PUMA movement, such as it is, effectively apolitical, and irrelevant for that reason. And my observation (not an attack) that resentment is the movement's fuel can checked out by a visit to any number of PUMA sites. Such a visit would tend to give my observation the status of verifiable fact.

    There is nothing inherently wrong about fueling a movement with resentment, I suppose, but what are you going to do with it?

    From my vantage point outside PUMA, I see no forward momentum, just stuckness. Shouldn't PUMA be concerned about what sympathetic outsiders are seeing in PUMA? But that would take a willingness to look at the movement critically, with an eye to productive political strategy. The evidence so far is that PUMAs are not ready to do that.


    Whatever (none / 0) (#57)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 02:58:16 PM EST
    if you think prefacing something with "appears to be" as much better and less offensive who am I to stand in your way of reasoning(besides an actual member of said political group)?

    It's swell how you can tell what a movement is fueled by? I have ask if you are unable to extract any type of reform on health care or anything that reflects your particular values will it be apt for me to say the progressive movement will be fueled by resentment(or will it be fueled by a desire for change?)

    Oh and by nature PUMA is political(Obama is a politician, commentary on him and his policies are political), not apolitical. Just because you don't like or agree with someone's politics or political opinion doesn't make it any less political.

    Peace out.


    Just because you don't (none / 0) (#31)
    by SGITR on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:29:14 PM EST
    have something to bargain with does not mean you shouldn't protest anything you don't like. People on blogs do that exact thing everyday. Oh sure we have an individual vote and support to hold back but so do the PUMA'S. There is no difference between the two other that the issue itself. Besides if Hillary would have won the primary there still would have been PUMA'S. They just would have been Obama supporters.

    They have something to bargain with (none / 0) (#38)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:45:10 PM EST
    It's the same thing as everyone else has. It's their resources. It's their time, it's their money, their vote, and their voice.

    Will they be effective 100% of the time? Probably not. Then again, who has the perfect track record when it comes to getting what they want? No one that I'm aware of.


    I already summed up your list (none / 0) (#54)
    by SGITR on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:52:55 PM EST
    It's their resources. It's their time, it's their money, their vote, and their voice.

    That all comes under what I posted as "support".


    What I am suggesting (none / 0) (#42)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:55:18 PM EST
    is that the PUMAs, and other discontented folks who might not identify by that term, actually underrated their own potential for bargaining.  Historically, supporters of the losing candidate have been successful in extracting all sorts of concessions, be it Cabinet posts, changes to the party platform, whatever.  But isolated voices can't make that sort of thing happen.

    You're confused ;) (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by SGITR on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:57:01 PM EST
    Hillary did get a cabniet post that many including PUMS'a were saying she should get.

    How is negotiating (none / 0) (#44)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:58:46 PM EST
    with Obama working out for the progressive block thus far. I suspect YOU are running into the same problem PUMAs did. In order to negotiate, you have to have someone to negotiate with. I suspect that John McCain was the only one who came to the table.

    Working out poorly (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:03:49 PM EST
    but I agree with BTD that the reason is bad tactics on the part of progressives.

    You can't negotiate with Obama by saying "Hey, even if you give up on the public option, we're still going to support you."  And if that's all that progressives like Yglesias and Klein have to offer, and if Obama proceeds to shrug and go about his business, you can't conclude that it was because he was never willing to negotiate.  It could just as well be because no one ever really tried.

    Pols and pols and by and large, they all respond to the exact same things - money, votes - as all the rest.


    The point being (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 01:39:24 PM EST
    that the progressive party would need to say they won't support him because he isn't reflecting their values. Guess what? That is EXACTLY what PUMAs did in 2008. They rejected the primaries and caucuses, weighed the candidate and found him wanting and stayed home/ voted for the other guy.

    You all are pretty much now in the exact SAME position PUMAs were in 2008.

    You either suck it up and vote for him even though he doesn't reflect your values, stay home, or vote for the other guy.


    Incorrect (none / 0) (#56)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 02:00:48 PM EST
    those are the choices on election day for those who choose to stand by passively until then.

    For those who engage with the process, there are a great many options in advance of election day, all of which revolve around the express or implied THREAT of staying home.

    Nuclear deterrence works even though there are only two choices at the end of the day: either blow up the world or don't blow it up.


    They will be your choices on election day (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 03:09:24 PM EST
    regardless of how active or inactive you are.

    The point goldberry is making is that PUMAs basically did exactly what is being suggested, refused to capitulate.

    If you threaten someone with staying home and then don't follow through, how long do you expect to be politically effective as a block?

    If they know all you are doing is stomping your feet but will give in ultimately then why should you matter? The final outcome is what matters.

    Basically what you just said is that you will be in their camp no matter whether they represent your values or not. No wonder they aren't paying attention to you. When my toddler used to threaten me with all sorts of consequences they couldn't possibly deliver on I paid their threats no mind either short of a trip to timeout.

    I'm firmly in the camp of following through on what you say. Perhaps that makes me person non grata. Doesn't matter. I'm okay with that because I'd rather be known as the person who says what they mean and means what they say then the person who engages in temper tantrums.


    Yes, but (5.00 / 2) (#59)
    by Spamlet on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 03:31:29 PM EST
    many PUMAs assumed a stance of purity, which made any kind of negotiation impossible.

    The point goldberry is making is that PUMAs basically did exactly what is being suggested, refused to capitulate.

    Hillary Clinton didn't stay on the sidelines nursing her purity. She got something out of the whole fiasco. And we got a great secretary of state. We also got a Democratic president, and I think that's still important, if not a panacea.

    This is about the realities of power--now, not in 2008. When BTD points out that Obama won, he's not trying to rub anyone's nose in it. He is saying that no one gets anywhere by refusing, for whatever reason, to negotiate with power (or "capitulate," as you put it). It's the same failing BTD is calling out in Ezra Klein and some of the other so-called progressive bloggers, and in Obama himself.

    Now, if PUMAs are taking the position that Obama was an illegitimate nominee and is therefore an illegitimate president, the purity of that stance leaves PUMAs nothing to negotiate with the Obama administration (aka the administration in power now) or with the Democratic Party itself. But I guess the PUMA acronym says it all, doesn't it: Party Unity My Ass. A better acronym than a political program.


    Hillary Clinton (none / 0) (#61)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 04:28:17 PM EST
    chose the political strategy that worked best for her agenda. It suited her best. Just because she chose that route did not mean that her supporters were obligated to do the same. The simple fact of the matter is trust was breached. Is it any wonder that they(meaning PUMAs) did not believe the DNC had the same agenda as they did?

    I think we are talking past each other. I believe that it is the person who is not willing to walk away from the table that is in the weaker negotiating position then the one who says I will cave eventually. What the PUMAs did was walk away from the proverbial table.

    I'm not going to address the position of illegitimate candidate(by the way goldberry didn't even allow people who posted that blather to post it on her site)because I don't see it as productive.

    I do see a real discussion about strategy as somewhat different and I am hoping that BTD and Jeralyn are willing to humor me to a small extent(and I realize that it would have to be small because in the larger picture walking away from the proverbial table could sometimes means walking away from the party.)

    It is somewhat ironic because the PUMA position on the primary is the exact position BTD and a few others are agitating for from the progressive block on health care. It's kinda sad that he can't see that.

    Feel free to scoff at the movement but recognize that you scoff at your own peril. I have found that ridiculing people and what they stand for rarely gets them in your corner(and from where I am standing you desperately need everyone in your corner).


    Pretty broad brush you're using there (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by Spamlet on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 04:48:05 PM EST
    The only thing you know about my own political values and positions is what I've told you--that I essentially agree with you about the DNC's misconduct in 2008.

    And yet you insist on painting a picture that has saintly PUMAs on one side and, on the other, people who say, "I will cave eventually."

    "Cave" to what? To the need for negotiation with parties in power? If that's how you define "caving," then it's only a short step to saying that non-PUMA progressives are "caving" to Obama simply because we recognize the reality that he is the president now. In fact, the top post right now over at RD's place basically equates us with Nazi collaborators.

    As Steve M has pointed out several times today, you get nothing with empty threats, and individual actions, while laudable, ae empty threats in the absence of political organizing (as opposed to mere agitation). Apparently you disagree.


    When did I call PUMAs saints? (none / 0) (#64)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 05:25:45 PM EST
    I said they believed their position to be principled. That isn't the same thing. Please don't engage in hyperbole. I stated quite clearly that I felt it was wrong to basically paint them as people steeped in resentment and irrelevant.

    What the PUMAs did politically is no different than advocating that the progressive block walk away from the table if there is no public option. The only difference being that they actually DID walk away from that table. Which, by the way, means it wasn't an empty threat. How many times did the progressives lose now? Somehow though PUMAS are supposed to have a different standard and should be called irrelevant because they lost once? Yeah, that makes sense.

    It's great that you all seem to think you are so much more relevant and political. The view up there(from that moral highground) must be absolutely breathtaking

    Oh and I doubt I would have nice things to say about people who said I appeared to be irrelevant either.(Although I only saw the post where she pretty much says I told you so and agitates for an independant candidate.)

    I think we'll leave it at that because I really don't think this is adding anything at this point and either a) you can't see what I'm saying or b) you don't want to see what I'm saying. Either way, I don't see how it ends pleasantly or with a productive outcome.

    We'll just have to agree to seeing it differently.


    Here you go (none / 0) (#65)
    by Spamlet on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 05:34:03 PM EST
    I only saw the post where she pretty much says I told you so and agitates for an independant candidate.

    Steven Mather. Though it is RD/goldberry's site.


    I didn't say that (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 04:10:21 PM EST
    Basically what you just said is that you will be in their camp no matter whether they represent your values or not.

    Nowhere did I say that.  What I said is that focusing on what you will ultimately do on Election Day completely misses where the real action is.

    The idea is to make a credible threat so you never have to make the choice.  If you're not powerful or organized enough to make a credible threat, then it's foolish to think that actually following through on your ineffectual threat will matter to anyone.  Getting the influence in the first place is what counts.


    Threatening (none / 0) (#63)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 05:02:46 PM EST
    without the willingness to follow through is by its nature an empty threat(and the idea that you are never going to lose when you make political calculations is not exercising great foresight imo. Everyone loses at one time or another). Ultimately, you are always going to be faced with a choice and you should know some of your options before sitting at the table to begin with. The power you have at the table determines is going to have bearing on what kind of choices you face.

    I understand what you are saying but don't think it is very realistic to say that because I am willing to sit at that table the other guy is going to give me what I want a large percentage of the time. When they don't give you what you want then you have to measure what they ARE willing to give you and then decide if it is worth your while or if you should just walk away(and what it sounds like you are suggesting is that you should always be willing to just settle for what you can get at that table). PUMAs did that. They weighed everything and walked. You don't have to like it but ridiculing it or pretending they are less relevant or worthy politically because of their decision is wrong.

    At the end of the day losing the round didn't cost them that much because many truly believe the decision they were making was guided by principle.

    What I find really sad is many of them are people just like you and are politically active just like you, with positions just like you. Rubbing their noses in the fact that they lost a round in negotiations serves exactly what purpose? As far as I can see none.

    Then again I "appear to be irrelevant to anyone that isn't filled with resentment" and "apolitical". Who knew? I just figured I was a young woman who looks real hard at the decisions or issues I have before me, weighs them carefully to maximize the best possible outcome, and then acts. Sometimes my decisions work out well, sometimes they turn out to have negligible results. Regardless of how they turn out though I fail to see how the results lead anyone to believe that I am not actively engaged in the "real action" before the outcome(or any of my other fellow PUMAs for that matter).


    (((((goldberry)))) (1.00 / 1) (#23)
    by cawaltz on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:07:07 PM EST
    I don't think they are quite ready to acknowledge and recognize the strategy many PUMAs employed when they REJECTED Barack Obama and what was done by the Democratic Party. Jeralyn has made it pretty clear that she still thinks the placing all your eggs in the Democratic basket is the best strategy(shrugs).

    Yglesias (none / 0) (#1)
    by kmblue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 10:59:20 AM EST
    takes an awful lot of wishy washy words to state the blindingly obvious.

    Oh well, Ezra is still making excuses.

    Read Carefully (none / 0) (#26)
    by SGITR on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:11:01 PM EST
    as Matt is not exactly endorsing the public option here. He is arguing for the Larger Goal and is willing to sustain loses by giving in on un-winnable fights that are "out of proportion in the service of the larger goal".

    It's clear to me that nothing has changed in his argument other than he has a new tactic to try to pacify the masses that there are things more important than the Public Option.

    With his new argument it will be easy for him to drag out the larger Goal argument every time he wants to try to tamp down the base on a specific policy.

    He sounds a lot like Obama here trying to paint this meta-picture of Nirvana that will never materialize.

    I'm not buying it.


    Public option (none / 0) (#28)
    by waldenpond on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:18:16 PM EST
    I read it the same way.... public option is the extreme negotiating position for MY.

    more adroit bargaining: (none / 0) (#4)
    by kmblue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:17:01 AM EST
    "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."


    "speaking on condition of anonymity" (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Fabian on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:21:09 AM EST
    I hope someone grills Gibbs about these leaks.  If this is message control, the next three years are going to be very painful.

    I'm in (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by kmblue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:24:06 AM EST
     enough pain already, thank you.  ;)



    Ridiculous (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by eric on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:23:02 AM EST
    thing to say.  How about instead saying Congress has to fix the health care problem and I will veto anything without a public option.

    If Congress fails, then it is their failure, not his.  Why Obama lets his name get attached to this, I don't know.  Bush never did.  He just told the congress what to do and told them he would veto it if it didn't meet with his approval.  I seem to recall some Iraq funding bills...


    'Tis a sad day (none / 0) (#12)
    by kmblue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:25:43 AM EST
    when I see something to admire about W.

    Strong leadership doesn't have (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:30:13 AM EST
    to be strong stupid leadership.

    I admit (none / 0) (#17)
    by kmblue on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:33:35 AM EST
    to being a political naif.  In my simple, childlike fashion, I want my President to lead and do the right thing.

    Instead, I have a President who thought he could lay back in the tall grass while a plan was created and then swoop in and take all the credit.

    He'll get credit, all right.  For failure.


    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by eric on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:31:27 AM EST
    it's not that we should admire Bush, it's that he was decisive and effective in some ways.

    Want to put some conditions on the Iraq funding bill?  Then he says he will veto it.  Dems cave.

    Democrats won't vote for the funding bill without conditions?  Why do they hate the troops?  Dems cave.

    Want to fund children's health care?  To bad, he vetoed it.  Doesn't that sound like political suicide - to veto kids health coverage?  Not for Bush.


    Oy (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:19:50 AM EST
    But we knew that already (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:20:35 AM EST
    What needs to happen  is the "anything" he needs to do is placate the Progressive Block.

    I'm willing (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:31:22 AM EST
    to bet that he won't "placate" them. He'll just keep begging Republicans for support and they'll keep demanding more and more from him. He expects the progressive caucus to cave from what I've read.

    Howsabout (none / 0) (#18)
    by The Last Whimzy on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 11:45:02 AM EST
    A madman theory of political activism?

    Obama needs (none / 0) (#22)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:05:39 PM EST
    to grow his hair longer and bushier and get a few zits or something...and maybe lose a few night's sleep.  You can't be a madman with a pretty smile and well-kept hair....

    Just saying.

    Not that I ever thought he wanted to be a madman.  The whole "we must negotiate" schtick is cover for moving the policy rightward.

    Hoffa . . . (none / 0) (#66)
    by Doc Rock on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 12:29:01 PM EST
    . . . has sold working stiffs down the river!