Post Mortems On The Theory Of Change

Back in December 2007, I wrote about this E.J. Dionne column, where he wrote:

Obama is running as the candidate who can transcend these fights.[. . .] "There's no shortage of anger and bluster and bitter partisanship out there," he said. "We can change the electoral math that's been all about division and make it about addition."

Today, E.J. Dionne writes:

[T]he truth that liberals and Obama must grapple with is that they have failed so far to dent the right's narrative, especially among those moderates and independents with no strong commitments to either side in this fight.

The president's supporters comfort themselves that Obama's numbers will improve as the economy gets better. This is a form of intellectual complacency. Ronald Reagan's numbers went down during a slump, too. But even when he was in the doldrums, Reagan was laying the groundwork for a critique of liberalism that held sway in American politics long after he left office.

Progressives will never reach their own Morning in America unless they use the Gipper's method to offer their own critique of the conservatism he helped make dominant. It is still more powerful in our politics, as we are learning in Massachusetts, than it ought to be.

This was perfectly predictable when Mark Schmitt and other Village Dems were hailing Obama's Theory of Change. Indeed, it was predicted by a lot of us - that if Obama believed the Schtick, political trouble was sure to follow. And it has come.

Robert Kuttner writes:

[T]he Massachusetts surprise should be a wake-up call of the most fundamental kind. Obama needs to stop playing inside games with bankers and insurance lobbyists, and start being a fighter for regular Americans. Otherwise, he can kiss it all goodbye.

Was this not the case at the beginning of last year? What was hard to understand about that?

Speaking for me only

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    Duh (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 08:20:21 AM EST
    double-duh and triple-duh! I'm sorry but this just wants to make me scream. I spent may hours trying to tell the Obots that the GOP is basically something that must be destroyed and not held hands with. Perhaps living in the south and in the belly of the beast gives me a unique perspective on all this but it shouldn't be that way at all.

    It's like they never saw Mitch McConnell (5.00 / 7) (#21)
    by ruffian on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:20:17 AM EST
    or John Boehner speak. What would give Dionne, Obama, or anyone else one minute of hope that they could work with these guys? Only a vast well of Dem self-loathing that tells them that Reagan, Bush, McConnell, Cheney, Rove and the whole crew might be right and have "good ideas".  All we have to do is give in to them and they will love us.

    I think Dems are really seriously disturbed.


    The "obots" (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by MKS on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:06:25 AM EST
    Well, with that level of insult and condescension, I am sure that you really got "their" attention....

    And the anti-obots have been cheering the bonfire......

    This is why the Left cannot govern....  Their strength is their weakness--their idealism becomes rigid and unworkable--Robespierre, anyone?  Their independence prevents them from forming lasting coalitions....The Left always does better as armchair critics....

    The FDR coalition was an anomoly borne of extreme cirucumstances....Fortunately, much of the New Deal has stuck.  LBJ rode the wave of emotion after the assassination.....Progressive eras do not come along often....

    The Right never has such problems.  They fall in line; the know how to win and exercise power.  It is about maintaining discipline--authority, heirarchy and order....Never mind they often don't know or care what the actual policies are--it is about "winning."  It has never been about health care for the Republicans--it was about beating Obama....  

    Progressives will remain out of power because they are ahead of the curve.....But as the center moves......as it has and will continue to do on social issues (but on economic ones, not so much it would seem), society does change over time.  


    MKS... (5.00 / 4) (#38)
    by Romberry on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:23:56 AM EST
    You wrote:

    The FDR coalition was an anomoly borne of extreme cirucumstances...

    I assert that Obama came to office under extreme circumstances. We had massive (and rising) unemployment, a financial system on the brink and wars in at least two nations. We also had just turned out an eight year disaster in an election that amounted to a repudiation. Do you not think that if Obama had hit the ground running with some bold initiatives and seized on the first hundred days with a strong narrative that made his case directly to the American people and put massive pressure on Republicans who were in disarray that he might have actually been able to ram a lot of things through? I think that he could have. And I think he dallied.

    He who hesitates is lost. Obama hesitated.


    Obama didn't hesitate (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by hookfan on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:38:42 AM EST
    He's enacted exactly what he wanted. He's just exposed as a fraud and not really wanting what the majority want. He's been bold in serving those he has deemed as important, and he's sold those he's deemed not. Unfortunately, those he's sold have more votes.

    Maybe, who knows (none / 0) (#86)
    by MKS on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:40:22 PM EST
    But WWII and the Great Depression were a lot worse than 2008.  There was 25% unemployment and the Republicans had been on the hook for that for three years....Here, the Republicans skipped town before the chickens came home to roost.

    Look (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:45:23 AM EST
    I use that term loosely as a description of the cultists. There was a real dearth of Obama supporters who could discuss his shortcomings with out screaming or calling anbody who didn't see Obama as "the one" as a racist or a dried up old hag or tons of other horrible names.

    No, the left CAN govern but the problem is that candidates like Obama run and duck like there's something wrong with the ideas from the "left" and they are too married to the opinions of Versailles.

    The reason the right sticks together is that they built that coalition around ideas. I've been making this point for quite a while. The left needs to start selling our ideas instead of worrying about electing another empty suit "american idol" president.

    Unfortunately for the Dems in '08 I can say the same. The party was more concerned with silly stuff than advancing policy that would make the lives of the average american better.


    The party (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by hookfan on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:44:14 AM EST
    was (is) more concerned about becoming moderate republican and chasing the gold rather than serving the people. That's not silly. It's very serious, and damaging. The silly was the con to allow them to pursue it.

    The Right's ideas (none / 0) (#73)
    by MKS on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:15:58 PM EST
    are well-understood by the right wing insiders but not necessarily articulated all that loudly during general elections....

    The real glue holding the Right together is religious fundamentalism and the fear of social change....Tea baggers often talked about abortion during the health care town halls last August...

    The "ideas" of Newt Gingrich's Contract with America did not matter--at all.  Hardly any of them were enacted....and the base didn't care that they weren't, as they still worshipped Newt....It was not about ideas that were articulated during the campaign....That was window dressing for foolish Indepedants....1994 was a purely reactionary o*gy....

    You don't defeat the Right by defeating a Democratic President....

    We are very close to defeating the religous and social conservatives for good.  There is this commentator over at RedState, Mike DeVane fka Gamecock.  He was a Democrat, then became a Republican--after his divorce and then finding God and becoming a born-again evangelical--I think you get the picture.  An in-house lawyer for a real estate brokerage, he writes the most bizarrely over-the-top diatribes...Comic in their simplicity.....

    Well, good 'ol Gamecock was a bloggin' over at RedState about a month ago that perhaps religious conservatives should abandon politics as Cal Thomas suggested during Bill's administration.  

    Actively cheering the defeat of a Democratic President won't get you a win over the right wingers...

    No, not Versailles; but Lafayette had potential, and that he was not firmly co-opted by the Assembly early on, and before he took a wrong turn, was a missed opportunity and ultimately tragic.....Not offing Danton would have been very helpful too.



    Yes (5.00 / 3) (#87)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:41:40 PM EST
    religious fundamentalism is what is holding them together NOW but it wasn't built on those ideas years ago. The GOP has digressed to being little more than a southern fundamentalist party.

    Actually they know that they weren't enacted and the idiots want to bring them back and campaign on them again or at least that's what the majority of Republicans I speak to say.

    The sad thing is that we WERE very close to ending them but Obama with his bipartisan crap has given them life again. Obama is setting us up to have complete GOP control of the country AGAIN with someone that could be even worse than Bush. Obama is helping the GOP every way and every day. It makes me mad but then I realize that he really does think that the GOP is the party of ideas that Reagan is to be enshrined.


    I think the flaw in your view (none / 0) (#93)
    by MKS on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:05:04 PM EST
    is that you don't look at how the Republicans were reacting to Obama.....Beck, Palin, birthers??  They were out of it....More Obama would mean fewer and fewer credible Republicans.....

    The old phrase "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."  The difference between Republicans and Democrats can boil down to how they view that phrase.  Republicans view it as anyone who opposes the Democrats is their friend--so they embrace a Lieberman....

    Too many Democrats view the enemy as less than ideal progressivism, or Obama, and that is the enemy.  So who is the enemy of Obama--the Republicans....Thus, McCain and Brown are okay, tolerable, preferrable (or however you want to phrase it) to Obama.  It's about teaching Obama a lesson....


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:14:27 PM EST
    it's not about "teaching Obama a lesson" with me because I believe he can't be taught. The part of the party that fell in love with him has let him get away with doing all kinds of things they would have opposed from someone else. People complain about how the left gets stepped on yet these same people have let Obama roll the bus over them time and again and come back for more. Why would anyone respect anyone who lets that happen?

    He can't be taught, because (5.00 / 1) (#105)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:31:49 PM EST
    He really doesn't care.  I came to that conclusion, as awful as it is, when I listened to Clinton's speech this weekend and then Obama's.  Obama has no passion, not for Martha Coakley, not for health care, and not for the people of the country.  He's The One, The Candidate, The Empty Suit.  
    Like the old time country preacher, he can stir up the masses as a candidate, but underneath, there's nothing.  He's nothing without a teleprompter and a good script.  This is making me so sad, but we fell for a preacher with a good line and not much else.  The man does not care about us.  He only cares about himself and his future.  He wants Martha Coakley elected so that he can have bragging rights on having passed a health care bill that fewer than half of Americans want.  Other than that, he couldn't care less about democrats in the Congress, or anywhere else.  

    Teaching him a lesson indeed (none / 0) (#113)
    by jondee on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:44:50 PM EST
    to the extent of glossing over recent history and making it sound as if Obama were some sort of radical departure from the way the way the Democrats have been operating on the national level for decades.

    The politics of imaginary contrast.


    Thanks MKS (none / 0) (#76)
    by christinep on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:17:41 PM EST
    My friends & I--all life-long liberals--have been having a similar conversation. The relationship between principles and party--the knowing when to impose and adhere to party discipline (see parliamentary systems for pointers a bit different from the maudlin Republicans)--the knowing how to state simply and succinctly the principles that do not change--the having of a strategy allowing for a true big tent rather than mudslinging "purity" baths, etc. A dilemma always; but, a special puzzle for parties vis-a-vis movements.

    Ahead of the curve (none / 0) (#78)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:20:16 PM EST
    the problem with your formulation is it presupposes there is a curve occurring.

    To be clear, I reject the reasoning in most of your comment.

    I certainly agree that pejoratives are not persuasive to the person to whom they are directed at though.


    Actually, BTD, I hope you are right (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by MKS on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:34:48 PM EST
    Your views carry more idealism than mine....

    I believe your view assumes that progressives are a lot stronger than they are, that they are strong enough to survive infighting (as I would call it), or healthy pressure from the left (as you would call it.)  I think progressive ideals when in favor are very fragile and must be nurtured against the inevitable backlash from the right...

    Your view also requires a certain threading of the needle.... Criticizing the incumbent Democrats but not arguing for their electoral defeat.  You may be dexterous and talented enough to pull that off, but politics is not all that susceptible to that kind of nuance....You often end up with Fire Dog Lake and others tearing down the whole thing...

    But I do hope you succeed in persuading others....I agree that your views are of course theoretically correct--dissent and criticism are  needed to keep pols on target.....but in practice--there is 1968 and 1980....


    That "anomoly" (none / 0) (#122)
    by cal1942 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 06:02:38 PM EST
    was hardly an anomoly, it lasted for half a century and though the southern component is lost the rest of it can be resusitated.

    So far as LBJ is concerned, post assassination emotion was only a very minor if any factor at all.  That was the year, 1964, when I cast my first ballot. The sympathy thing was what some of my Republican aquaintences claimed as the reason for a major a$$ kicking.

    A growing economy, a strident call for further action and Barry Goldwater were the factors.


    even in the north (none / 0) (#54)
    by noholib on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:25:11 AM EST
    Even up here in the north, even in Massachusetts, I always felt this way!

    Not just in the south (none / 0) (#106)
    by cal1942 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:34:06 PM EST
    I absolutely agree that so many people suspended reality regarding Obama's message.

    The only way to turn the tide in this country is to utterly destroy the Republicans.  Obama was and is the antithesis of that need.

    The opportunity's been lost, I see no way that Obama, even he wanted, can effectively change course and I don't think he really wants to change course.

    What's still frustrating is that at least some of Obama's "liberal" supporters knew that eviserating the Republicans was necessary.


    Off topic (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:00:11 AM EST
    since I an not going to write a post saying this - I think Coakley loses on Tuesday.

    If she wins, I will happily eat crow. If she loses, I told you so will be empty.

    This post is still right even if she wins narrowly (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by andgarden on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:02:52 AM EST
    It should not be a close race.

    the broad card (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by jedimom on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:15:03 AM EST
    I find it awful that some talking heads are playing the sexism card in this race claiming oh MASS has a deep dirty secret they dont elect wimmun

    I call BS

    MASS went for HRC over O despite all the pull of Teddy

    they dont mind a woman they mind this Administration and the crxpulent healthcare bill and big giant nanny govt stomping all over us

    O didnt do himself any favors at that rally yesterday IMO saying if Martha loses we cant finish the job we started


    nina easton (none / 0) (#14)
    by jedimom on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:15:31 AM EST
    to be specific I saw it in Politico and Nina Easton of all people bought into it hook line and sucker

    cards (5.00 / 4) (#17)
    by jedimom on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:17:13 AM EST
    I mean it is a rehash of every O primary loss in 08, oh those WVA KY folks are just racist
    oh those MASS folks are just sexist

    nah it is in the governance, they rolled the dice on Deval didnt like it voted HRC she lost they rolled the dice on Obama and the economy is tanking and they spend like the wind and create ever more entitelements and tax hikes and Martha said we need to get taxes UP

    O couldnt even fill his rally yesterday and some SEIU are demonstrating FOR Brown, its the policies stoopid!


    Obama hasn't raised taxes one cent (none / 0) (#90)
    by MKS on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:50:51 PM EST
    Taxes are at their lowest level in a long, long time--something like 19% of GDP when 22% was more the norm....

    Some HCR bills proposed raising some taxes but nobody's taxes have been raised yet....An important distinction because the conservatives will argue that high taxes caused this economic downturn.


    Didn't do (none / 0) (#107)
    by cal1942 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:37:13 PM EST
    himself OR Coakley any favors and maybe done the opposite.

    PPP says down by five (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by MKS on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:42:16 AM EST
    The photo of Obama and Coakley together at the rally yesterday said it all really.  They know.

    The fall out will be a mess....


    Given the current climate ... (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:58:14 AM EST
    and Coakley's numbers that's the logical prediction.  Even if she were leading by a couple of points in recent polls, wise heads would predict a loss.

    I have a weird feeling (none / 0) (#41)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:40:45 AM EST
    she may pull it out.  but I have been wrong before.

    It's possible ... (none / 0) (#47)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:50:35 AM EST
    if enough base democrats turn out who understand the importance of losing this seat.

    But conventional analysis says she loses.


    It's the Dem base (5.00 / 2) (#68)
    by hookfan on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:53:31 AM EST
    that understand the importance of this race that are staying home. The self defeating stupidity of constantly voting for people who reject you, con you, and constantly reject what you want may be coming to an end. Doesn't mean they'll vote for the other side, who also rejects them. Just means that many more are tired of Democratic pretense as the party actually acts to serve the same interests as the Republicans.

    amen (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:18:44 PM EST
    that is and will be exactly the problem.
    contrary to the MSM CW that we have gone off the deep left end.

    But bet (5.00 / 1) (#110)
    by cal1942 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:40:10 PM EST
    that the Democratic leadership will interpret such a loss in exactly that manner. They'll eat the media CW bones and all.

    Obama as the party leader (5.00 / 1) (#108)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:37:39 PM EST
    Has to take the blame for much of this.  He's not a leader.  He has not lead his party.  He's a great campaigner, for himself, just not much of a leader.  Not much of a politician either, he's only good at the campaign end of it.  He has no clue how to politic like LBJ and Clinton.  No clue.  Nor does he seem to care, which I find even more disturbing.  

    I agree (5.00 / 1) (#112)
    by cal1942 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:43:53 PM EST
    Nor does he seem to care, which I find even more disturbing.

    I think I begin to know (5.00 / 1) (#119)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 03:52:09 PM EST
    how Cassandra felt.  

    Remember (5.00 / 1) (#120)
    by cal1942 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 05:08:56 PM EST
    Cassandra was right.

    that was my (5.00 / 3) (#121)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 05:11:19 PM EST

    Her losing (none / 0) (#8)
    by lilburro on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:07:32 AM EST
    could be the wake up call that makes the Dems braver, more partisan, more effective.  Bipartisan Obama needs to go; budget reconciliation Obama needs to replace him.

    Magic 8 ball says. . . Unlikely (5.00 / 6) (#9)
    by andgarden on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:08:08 AM EST
    they may have no other choice (none / 0) (#31)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:04:53 AM EST

    I don't know (none / 0) (#34)
    by andgarden on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:07:21 AM EST
    The latest attacks on Wall Street have me hopeful.

    It does require magical thinking (none / 0) (#91)
    by MKS on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:52:19 PM EST
    to believe that a Republican's defeat of a Democrat in Mass. will make the Democrats more progressive....

    If they are willing (5.00 / 1) (#118)
    by lilburro on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 03:23:31 PM EST
    to get around the filibuster with reconciliation, they can be more liberal.  And having 59 Senators instead of 60 means that may happen.  Otherwise, Snowe will be delivering the SOTU.

    Does Budget Reconciliation Obama exist? (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by ruffian on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:11:42 AM EST
    Cuz I would totally buy that version of the action figure.

    Unfortunately, wake up calls and messages (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by tigercourse on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:16:49 AM EST
    never really seem to work. Things just can keep getting worse. And over the past 9 years, they have been.

    Obama is attempting to govern (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by andgarden on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:19:28 AM EST
    as a cautious, steady, technocrat. I.e., the Ezra Klein Presidency. But in a deep and painful recession, that's insufficient as a matter of politics and policy.  

    I don't know. I think he's trying to govern (5.00 / 4) (#26)
    by tigercourse on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:41:47 AM EST
    (as he said he would) as an aloof figure head who inspires those around him to act. That doesn't work under the current conditions either.

    Bipartisan Obama? (5.00 / 1) (#109)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:38:59 PM EST
    Where's he?  Honestly, I don't see him being bipartisan.  He's not getting republicans on board for anything.  He's not leading democrats or republicans.  

    It should be, but it won't (none / 0) (#94)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:05:11 PM EST
    The Dems went corporatist a couple of decades ago.  That is what they are now.  It will take several cycles of Democratic primaries to right the ship leftward.

    If Democrats will learn the correct lesson.... (none / 0) (#36)
    by Romberry on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:18:05 AM EST
    ...from a Coakley loss* (and I would not be so naive as to think that they will), it might not be a disaster. If they would learn the right lessons (People come first. We need jobs. We need a health care bill that doesn't line the coffers of skimmer industries. We need STRONG leadership, not the post-partisan unity shtick.), it could actually turn out to be a good thing. But they won't learn that lesson. They never do.

    *I think that somehow, Coakley pulls it out. Narrowly. I just can't wrap my head around the bluest of blue states electing a Republican to take Ted Kennedy's old seat.


    The Dems will have to abandon (5.00 / 2) (#92)
    by MKS on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:53:55 PM EST
    HCR and turn to jobs, jobs, jobs.....That might save them....Otherwise, it could be 1994 all over again...

    Hmmm...Krugman's Been Telling Us For Months (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Dan the Man on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:11:51 AM EST
    how popular the Massachusetts HCR bill was in Massachusetts.  Since the Congressional HCR was based on that  bill (mandates and all), shouldn't Brown be losing because the center piece of his campaign in Massachusetts is opposition to the Congressional HCR bill?  If Brown wins or is even close, I believe Krugman should re-evaluate his view on how popular the Massachusetts HCR bill is in Massachusetts (No, I don't expect that to happen).

    Incidentally, if the Congressional HCR bill passes, Massachusetts residents could be penalized twice if they don't have insurance - once by the feds and once by the states.

    MA residents (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by Coral on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:31:34 AM EST
    are not particularly happy with MA health bill, especially those who face fines or have been forced to purchase inadequate insurance.

    But larger than that are two things:

    1. MA cities and towns are facing huge budget shortfalls and big cuts in public spending, especially on schools. Lots of people, including liberal/progressives, are angry about this.

    The stimulus may have saved some jobs, but the financial crisis still has hit hard. Obama's compromises have really hurt.

    2. MA voters have voted for Republicans when fed up with bad or corrupt Democrats, notably for governor. There is a strong libertarian trend, plus an active "pox on both their houses" Green vote here.

    I hope Coakley wins. If she loses, it may be a wake up call, but as they say, too little, too late.


    IIRC, Krugman's been saying ... (none / 0) (#117)
    by FreakyBeaky on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 02:38:21 PM EST
    ... that the idea of repealing MA's health care plan is unpopular.  That's not the same thing as saying the plan itself is popular.

    That's what I got out of it, anyway.


    mod Dems (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by jedimom on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:12:51 AM EST
    nah the proof is in the pudding

    and we mod Dems and Indies see it all over the walls

    corporatist shills in this Admin

    we are allllready gone to quote the Eagles

    Lost Opportunities (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by mmc9431 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:16:30 AM EST
    The mess we're in is an accumulation of eight years of destructive governing. I didn't expect things to improve overnight.

    What I did expect was that Democrats would seize the opportunity to govern as the majority party and implement the changes that the people put them in power to make.

    People were more than willing to accept change. Thats what got them elected. By trying to appease all the obstructionists, Obama has wasted what should have been a great era for the American people.

    Obama has appeased no one (none / 0) (#111)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:41:21 PM EST
    One vote Ping (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by jedimom on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:18:54 AM EST
    so when Martha loses and the House is pushed to vote Aye on the Senate bill as is, what will Labor do?

    I will laugh all the way to the doctors office to treat my twisted funnybone

    but anywho the union exemption for the excise tax will not be in the Ping vote....heh, they will have to deal with it like the rest of the Middle Class

    poor poor Obama! without that labor exemption carrying past his imaginary second term how oh how will he GOTV!

    Given that Obama has already (5.00 / 11) (#23)
    by Anne on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:23:01 AM EST
    announced that he wishes to spend the next year working on our "shared values," I would guess that Obama is ignoring the increasingly loud ring of the wake-up call, and still believes he can just crank up the grassroots campaign with a snap of the finger, and all will once again be right in his world.

    "Shared values" seems like code for "fixing" Social Security and Medicare, and finding some acceptable middle ground on abortion rights; hasn't the man done enough damage on the health care front?  President B+ wants to mangle those, too?  

    He's getting terrible advice.  Axelrod can run a campaign, but since his boss has never stayed in one office long enough to run for re-election, he seems to be pretty clueless about how hard it's going to be to for Obama to make rhetorical magic this time around, when there's a real record that, so far, reads - and feels - more like Bush III than "Change You Can Believe In."

    Of course, nothing would help like good governance, and that has, in my opinion, been in dreadfully short supply.  Can't say that I am surprised, since there were no signs evident in Obama's background that he was much interested in that part of holding office.  The combination of incompetent governing and ignoring the mandate he was given to change the conservative policies of the previous administration is losing him both liberals, "progressives," and, I suspect, independents.  Now that there is both a Democratic president and a majority Democratic Congress, the American voter no longer sees them as separate entities, but as working hand-in-glove, with the result that declining approval ratings for either are working against both - and, unfortunately, rightly so; neither has distinguished their offices with stellar performance to the benefit of the American people.

    As for offering a critique of conservatism, well, that's hard for the party to do when the president is embracing more than a few of conservatism's policies, so that's not likely to happen; the "not a dime's worth of difference" now appears to be apply more as between Obama and true conservative policies, with little sign of Obama separating himself in any significant way.

    Which is the real problem: the party leadership and the loyal OFB have allowed Obama to continue to run away from core Democratic ideology, and are resisting liberals' attempts and pleas to move him leftward out of their misplaced loyalty to a person, and the need to save face.  

    I'm not expecting much to change, only hoping somehow it doesn't get any worse.  Not particularly optimistic on that front, either.

    You can't play to the middle with coherent policy (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by esmense on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:04:51 AM EST
    Because the middle's political desires are incoherent.

    George W. Bush campaigned in the middle, but he governed from the Right. And he was very effective at serving the powerful interests he actually represented.

    Obama has done something like the opposite -- he campaigned from the Left and is now trying to govern from the middle.

    But you can't govern from the middle, because there is no there there.

    Mostly, I agree (5.00 / 1) (#104)
    by christinep on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:24:24 PM EST
    But, it sure looked to me and lots of others that President Clinton governed from "the middle." Notwithstanding some failures (as every Presidency has), I believe Clinton's terms are regarded as a successful Presidency. I do think that finding "the middle" is tricky--e.g., years ago in "middle-loving" Colorado during a US Senate campaign with multiple Democratic candidates, the winning candidate (Gary Hart) adroitly maneuvered to the "middle" because others assumed he was "left" and responded by going "right." Also: As you have indicated, the "middle" and those in it can by "mushy,"  swinging with the periodic fads. Looking back at President Clinton's various SOTU addresses, he confounded the pundits who would immediately respond that his talks were filled with "laundry lists" of what he planned to accomplish that year. Guess what? The "middle" loved those lists, those specifics, because the pocketbook issues--as many are finding out--trump philosophy in challenging times. Its the ole' "Don't talk philosophy until there is food on the table and the stomach is full."

    Clinton was a much better politician (5.00 / 1) (#114)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:45:32 PM EST
    And a much better leader.  He knew what he wanted and where he wanted to go.  I just don't see that with Obama.  I have no idea where he wants to go.  

    The difference is that Clinton had a genuine, (5.00 / 1) (#123)
    by esmense on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 06:27:14 PM EST
    personal sympathy with and commitment to traditional Democratic constituencies; minorities, women, the striving middle class and working poor. (As a Southerner, he was less attuned to Labor.) So while he may not have pursued traditionally "Left" policies, he did seek to serve the same constituencies and work to find effective solutions to the problems faced by those constituencies.

    I think the public expects ... (none / 0) (#45)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:47:34 AM EST
    different things from the two political parties.  Like they're choosing the right tool for the job at hand.

    They choose Republicans when they want strong foreign policy rhetoric and bit of governmental streamlining.

    They pick Democrats when they think there are deep systemic problems which need wonky fixes.

    And when they're not sure what they want, they flip a coin.  As we saw at the Presidential level in '60, '68 and 2000.  


    I think you are right to a certain extent, but (none / 0) (#62)
    by esmense on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:42:40 AM EST
    this doesn't account for the angry "independents" (low tax deficit hawks) who have played such an important part in critical elections over the last 20 years. They get angry with Republicans when they are inevitably disappointed by conservatives' absurd, false promises about smaller government and the magic of lower taxes. And even angrier at Democrats for not being able to meet those impossible demands either.

    But, I should add that BTD is right (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by esmense on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:49:17 AM EST
    what even these "independent" idiots want is effective governing.

    The Democrats make a huge mistake when they try to pander to them in terms of policy -- because effective policy can't be delivered on their terms.


    True ... (none / 0) (#88)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:42:39 PM EST
    but I think the public expects more from Democrats.  And this makes sense, because Democrats believe in the power of government, and promise more.

    However, despite all this, many Democrats seem confused that they're held up to a different standard than Republicans.


    Not so much confused as resentful (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by esmense on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:22:44 PM EST
    After all, serving corporate interests over those of the traditional Democratic base pays better.

    President Obama's remarks (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by KeysDan on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:37:41 AM EST
    Sunday at DC's Vermont Avenue Baptist (as reported in the NYT) seemed oddly distant in regard to his post-partisan governance: "There were those who argued that because I had spoke of a need for unity in this country that our nation was somehow entering into a period of post-partisanship".  "That did not work out too well," Mr. Obama continued.  Another nugget in that address was his critique of liberals who complain that he has not done enough. Of course, this was 'balanced' by a broadside of conservatives who say he has taken on too much.  Guess he sees himself in some other, more lofty political zone.

    Oh no. The passive voice (5.00 / 4) (#43)
    by Cream City on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:45:25 AM EST
    is indicative, isn't it?  And yes, the distancing from himself -- the one of "those" who, above all, push the post-partisan shtick -- is odd.  It's almost disassociative, which can be a sign of shock.

    Or a sign of bad speechwriting, yet again.  What happened to the Dems' Great Communicator?


    He was never that great an orator (5.00 / 3) (#46)
    by lambert on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:48:26 AM EST
    Except the press and the OFB kept telling us he was, getting tingles down their legs, and so forth.

    I have to part ways with you... (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by Romberry on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:46:52 AM EST
    ...on that judgment. Obama can flat give a speech. If great speeches were all it took to govern, he'd be the new FDR. But speeches are...well...mere words.

    I agree, President Obama (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by KeysDan on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:44:53 PM EST
    is a very good speaker.  The touchstone to good oration, however, is that you persuade audiences to your policy or point of view. This infers that there is more than rhetoric well-delivered, but an objective other than keeping supporters at bay.

    That's not a speaker. That's a performer. (5.00 / 2) (#101)
    by Cream City on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:20:21 PM EST
    Speaking of passive ... (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:01:45 AM EST
    what's the point of this bit of passivity?

    Each season, the frost melts, the cold recedes, the sun reappears; so it was for earlier generations and so it will be for us,

    A more poetic version of Herbert Hoover's "prosperity is just around the corner"?


    Poetry? Pretty sophomoric stuff (5.00 / 3) (#51)
    by Cream City on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:07:13 AM EST
    but maybe it's an attempt to be timely, as it's Groundhog Day that's just around the corner now, not prosperity.

    Puxatawney Phil says it far better, and he doesn't have to say a thing.


    Heh ... (none / 0) (#53)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:21:24 AM EST
    I said "more poetic" than ...

    But ... point taken.


    Please tell me... (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by Romberry on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:45:18 AM EST
    ...that he didn't actually use that line. It's like something right out of Being There. See this clip. And this one.

    If Obama used that line, either his speech writer is a fan of old Peter Sellers movies, or they have a twisted sense of humour, or...something less nice.


    Or, can we say Obama is Palinesque? (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by Cream City on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:57:21 AM EST
    Remember her, in her resignation speech, waxing poetic about Alaska?  And then was it Leno who had Shatner intone Palin's phrasing to bongos in the background?  That's it!  We're way past styrofoam pillars now, and Nu Dems want to hear bongos!

    It was on Conan's show n/t (none / 0) (#95)
    by shoephone on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:08:38 PM EST
    There's always been ... (none / 0) (#84)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:32:00 PM EST
    a bit of "Chance" in Obama.  In both meanings of that phrase.



    Unity always needs to be about something, (5.00 / 3) (#57)
    by Anne on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:36:19 AM EST
    and Obama seemed more driven to unify the country around himself than he was interested in unifying the country around better policies.  It would have been unbelievably easy to unify a huge percentage of the populace around real health industry reform, whether that was Medicare For All or single-payer, and use that unity to essentially force Congress to do the right thing.  Instead, Obama distracted us with empty talk that changed from day to day, while he was making deals with pharma and schmoozing with industry CEO;s, giving Baucus his marching orders, and courting Olympia Snowe and others who knew that the more they resisted, the more he would give them.  

    But, as the saying goes, live by the sword, die by the sword: just as he wanted us to unify around him, so are people beginning to unify against him, AND the policies that have either been carried over in full from Bush, or have been watered down to the point where they do more harm than good.

    I don't for one minute believe Obama gives a hoot about good policy and good governance, and even if he did, he doesn't have the first clue how to implement or lead on either of those fronts.


    It was always going to be hard (none / 0) (#71)
    by Manuel on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:06:17 PM EST
    It would have been unbelievably easy to unify a huge percentage of the populace around real health industry reform, whether that was Medicare For All or single-payer, and use that unity to essentially force Congress to do the right thing.

    You are underestimating the strength of the opposition and the difficulty of the process.  Just take a look at the slog in the house to end up with Stupak.
    I don't for one minute believe Obama gives a hoot about good policy and good governance, and even if he did, he doesn't have the first clue how to implement or lead on either of those fronts.

    Obama is flawed but I don't see enough evidence to question his intentions.   He may indeed be incapable of governing effectively in the current political climate but that isn't a reason to not encourage him to try.  After all, we are stuck with him for the next three years and perhaps longer.

    I didn't say that it would be easy to (5.00 / 6) (#82)
    by Anne on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:26:19 PM EST
    get good reform enacted, I said it would be easy to unify a large percentage of the populace around the policy; all the polling reflected this, and rather than stand with an army of citizens at his back, Obama chose to more or less ignore them in favor of doing what the industry wanted, and conceding on major points to Republcans who were never, ever going to support the final result.

    As for Obama's intentions, I think those are pretty clear, and were from the beginning; he was once again only concerned with (1) winning, (2) being able to claim another "first," and (3) making sure Democratic campaign coffers would be stuffed to overflowing for the next election cycle.

    As for encouraging him to try, give me a break.


    Polling schmolling (5.00 / 1) (#96)
    by Manuel on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:09:53 PM EST
    all the polling reflected this, and rather than stand with an army of citizens at his back

    I don't see the evidence for this.  Sure, the polls suggested a reasonable level of support for a "public option" but that is easy to do when the details aren't filled in.  As more details get added, supporters fall off.  Ever since early last year all the enthusiasm has been on the other side.  They know what they are fighting for and it is to defeat Obama.
    As for Obama's intentions, I think those are pretty clear, and were from the beginning; he was once again only concerned with (1) winning, (2) being able to claim another "first," and (3) making sure Democratic campaign coffers would be stuffed to overflowing for the next election cycle.

    I would expect those would be concerns for any politician.  I don't agree that those are his only concerns.  People made similar comments about HRC during the primaries.  Without the ability to see into people's hearts, I prefer to assume incompetence and not malice.

    The Republicans consistantly demonize (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by MO Blue on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:40:12 AM EST
    the Democratic Party. At a time when people could and did see how destructive conservative policies were to their lives, Obama lead his party in the rehabilitation of the Republican party. From his rhetoric during the primaries that the Republicans were the party of ideas and Reagan as a transformational President, maintaining or nominating Republicans to key cabinet posts, senior WH officials joining in to put down the left, to allowing corporations and conservatives to write actual legislation, the misguided rehabilitation of conservatism and the Republican Party has been accomplished in less than two years. NJ, VA and Coakley should be no surprise.

    It will be interesting (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by robotalk on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:16:04 PM EST
    to see if Obama deals with the reality of what "the schtick" has wrought or whether it will be spun.  Odds are not good for the former, imho.  One of the hardest things to do is, once you have set down one road, turn back and try another.

    Has anyone considered (none / 0) (#2)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 08:39:57 AM EST
    that the citizens have listened to what the Democrats have had to say and looked at what the Democrats have done and just said:



    Bad explanatiion (5.00 / 5) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 08:50:14 AM EST
    in that they listened in the 2006 and 2008 elections and said Yes.

    Now, having watched what they have done and said No? yes, that seems right.

    But what do they want in terms of action? Successful governing.

    Dems have not delivered it. Indeed, they have not delivered much of anything really.


    The Dems have delivered plenty (5.00 / 5) (#44)
    by lambert on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:46:05 AM EST
    1. To the health insurance companies: Making failure to purchase junk insurance a federal crime

    2. To the banksters: $22 trillion in guarantees and no financial reform

    3. To the defense industry: A whole new war

    4. To Versailles: No rollback of Bush's aggrandizement of executive power.

    So, the Dems and Obama have delivered plenty. It's only a question of to whom.

    their pretend theatre (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by hookfan on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:33:11 AM EST
    just isn't working anymore, and people are tired of the con. The Dems have no clothes and are being seen for what they are and actually prefer.

    Yes (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by ricosuave on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 08:53:58 AM EST
    I think many of us are complaining that this may be happening, and that it need not have been the case.  That there was plenty of opportunity over the past year (I say over the past decade as well) for the Democrats to have stood up for their professed ideals and for the people they claim to protect, and many people would have looked at what they have done and said YES.

    What do those citizens want? A return to the (5.00 / 4) (#24)
    by esmense on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:25:08 AM EST
    policies that got us into this mess? I presume you count yourself among them, so perhaps you can tell me?

    For the last 30 years, it seems to me, the so-called "independents" and "moderates" have been asking for the impossible -- to see conservative policies enacted but reap progressive results. They want to maintain a strong domestic consumer market and economy while destroying worker and consumer representation and power in the political process. To maintain a broad and expanding middle class AND a low wage workforce. To keep inflation in check and enjoy ever greater returns on their assets. To maintain the world, and history's, most expansive, powerful military establishment, indulge in massive corporate subsidy and for-profit privatization of basic infrastructure and services, and a constant state of war, all while paying as few taxes as possible and without running a deficit. Plus, they want to deregulate every aspect of the economy, most especially the financial system, while still reaping the consumer protections once provided by all the regulation they disdain.

    This mess isn't Obama's fault, he inherited it. But it isn't really Geoge W. Bush's, either. After all, the voters empowered him to pursue the policies he did. Policies that profited him, and his class very, very well. If, on the other hand, those policies didn't work as well for the average voter, that, frankly, is their fault -- for buying into the lazy notion that if they take care of the rich the rich will take care of them, and for constantly hoping to get something for nothing.


    Here's the thing,,, (5.00 / 5) (#29)
    by Romberry on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:02:15 AM EST
    ...and E.J. Dionne gets at it in his column: The right and their Republican leadership has gone all out for years to sell their extreme positions and make them not only mainstream but accepted as conventional wisdom after years and years of having them rejected as extreme and unthinkable. They moved the Overton Window.

    Democrats have not had a defined narrative. Their MO has been to compromise, to "meet in the middle" and be "centrist" while working people took it in the shorts. But the center kept moving and now, Democrats occupy a middle that's so conservative that Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater are lefties.

    Obama ran on his hope and change marketing campaign and a LOT of Obama voters, reading into his lofty rhetoric what they wanted to hear, came away thinking that the man is an actual progressive. Obama's history is...well...let's just say that how progressive Obama is or isn't is far from clear. What is clear to me is that prior to being elevated to the most powerful leadership position in our nation and the world, Obama never actually led on much of anything. And he's continuing that pattern now.

    Bill Clinton once said "When people are insecure, they'd rather have somebody who is strong and wrong than someone who's weak and right." Well, Obama is coming across as someone who is not only weak, but often wrong (at least as far as the people who voted for him are concerned) as well.

    A strong Democratic leader needs a strong Democratic message. What is Obama's message?


    Not to bad (3.67 / 3) (#32)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:06:17 AM EST
    an explanation... But the Democrats took control of Congress 2/2007. At that time gasoline was around $2.00, unemployment below 5% and the DJIA stock market average around 12,500.

    By summer of 2008 gasoline was over $4.00, unemployment around 6% and going up and the market was falling past 10,000.

    The voter, failing to recognize that the Democrats had no energy policy, had no housing policy and thought Fannie and Freddie were good corporate citizens, elected Obama to fix things that the Democrats had ignored in favor of the special interests of the environmentalists, poverty groups and sundry wall street types.

    He has fixed nothing and the Democratic Congress is telling the voters that the wishes of the voters, especially in health care, mean nothing while the price of gasoline has gone up a dollar a gallon in the last year.

    And yesterday Juan Williams of NPR and FNC's token Leftie, described those Americans in opposition as "barking dogs."

    Woof! Woof! dear Juan and all your insider buddies in the Congress and at NPR. The grim dis-elector comes.


    The Democrats are enthralled by the notion (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by esmense on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:23:27 AM EST
    of "the middle" and disdainful of their actual base. They believe that to govern in the interest of their most loyal constituencies will turn off "moderates" and "independents."

    But moderates and independents what the impossible; to get progressive results from conservative policies.

    Republicans make smoochy noises in the direction of the middle in national campaigns, but once in office they make sure their conservative base is taken care of first and foremost. That, in fact, is one of the ways they have managed to move our notion of what is "moderate" policy so far to the Right.

    "Moderates" are perpetually disappointed in the Right, it's true. But the Right doesn't care because they get what they want. Then the Democrats come in and try to govern from "the middle" and NOBODY ENDS UP GETTING WHAT THEY WANT.

    So, inevitably, the Right gets stronger while the Left, never having a chance to demonstrate policies that work, gets weaker.


    Disagree slightly (none / 0) (#77)
    by hookfan on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:19:08 PM EST
    I think it's clear: corporations get what they want from both parties.

    True, but corporations really don't expect (5.00 / 2) (#99)
    by esmense on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:16:20 PM EST
    that getting what they want will also be "deficit neutral." Nor do they think that no one will have to pay for what they want -- they are content to just make sure they aren't the ones who pay for what they want.

    The Democrats haven't, for instance, just tried to give corporate interests what they want in terms of health care policy, they also have pandered to "moderates" by promising to be "deficit neutral" and refusing to tax the affluent. Choosing, instead, through the excise tax, to tax one of their own most important constituencies (in the belief that they will have nowhere else to go).

    Pandering to the incoherent and impossible desires of the "middle" has become the untouchable excuse for abandoning pragmatic governance and the best interest of their most faithful constituencies.

    In terms of serving corporate interests, "moderate" voters with their impossible demands and expectations provide good cover for both parties.


    Here's (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:50:58 AM EST
    what I tell Republicans? tell me when the Dems in the house or the Senate ever told George W. Bush no? Frankly, I can't think of a time and Obama is continuing failed conservative policies.

    What about privatizing social security? (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by Manuel on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:39:53 AM EST
    It will be a long time before the Republicans try that again.  Just like it will be a long time before anyone tries HCR again if it goes down in flames now.

    You assume (5.00 / 4) (#61)
    by jbindc on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:41:44 AM EST
    The Democrats won't try that.

    I would bet any amount (none / 0) (#75)
    by Manuel on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:16:35 PM EST
    that they won't.  Partcularly after the Great Recession.  People won't soon forget what that did to 401K plans.  It is obvious even to the right wing that it isn't smart to put all the eggs in the marhet basket.

    They are unlikely to privatize (5.00 / 2) (#97)
    by KeysDan on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:11:20 PM EST
    social security, as Bush attempted, but be on the lookout for changes---not improvements.  For example, reduced benefits, eligibility advanced to age 72, means testing and increased payroll taxes.  Watch for the talk about social security going bankrupt  (with data provided by  independent expert consultants on the WH payroll)

    Okay. (5.00 / 2) (#67)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:51:15 AM EST
    Yes, they did stand up to Bush on that but it might have been the only time.

    If this goes down in flames I doubt it will be a long time before anyone tries it again. Things are only going to get worse. The current bill does nothing to address some of the real problems in health care. With the cost of insurance rising 10% or more every year, the problem is going to continue to fester.


    There is an alternative (5.00 / 3) (#81)
    by Manuel on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:25:39 PM EST
    Don't try to do a big bill and fix things incrementally.  

    Admit failure.  Blame Republican obstructionism.  Pick off the special interests one by one.

    Start with insurance comapany regulatory reform.  No one likes them.


    Will the health bill help? (none / 0) (#3)
    by lilburro on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 08:47:23 AM EST
    Probably, but Obama is not so far defending it in any coherent way.  Here is his speech to the House of Representatives.  He goes through the advantages item by item because there really isn't a coherent vision that it all hangs on.  If there were it would've been a lot easier to defend.  An excerpt that shows what I mean:

    And that's why I'll be out there waging a great campaign from one end of the country to the other, telling Americans with insurance or without what they stand to gain -- (applause); about the arsenal of consumer protections; about the long-awaited stability that they're going to begin to experience. And I'm going to tell them that I am proud we are putting the future of America before the politics of the moment -- the next generation before the next election. And that, after all, is what we were sent up here to do: standing up for the American people against the special interests; solve problems that we've been talking about for decades; make their lives a little bit better; make tough choices sometimes when they're unpopular. And that's something that every one of you who support this bill can be proud to campaign on in November.

    That's not exactly ideological.  Also, I hope these benefits start kicking in early, otherwise Obama is going to be in a rock and a hard place discussing how awesome things are.

    also digby:

    I think those things are important, but they aren't the whole story. If the Republicans make a comeback -- a big "if," in the short term -- they will do it because they have spent the last thirty years indoctrinating the American people into a certain way of thinking. It doesn't give them a permanent hold on power,obviously, because at some point their bad ideas have consequences. But unless somebody explains why those bad ideas were the reason for the bad consequences, they can manipulate the electorate into believing that the problem wasn't the ideas but the implementation. Since the people are comfortable with those ideas --- and nobody's offering a real alternative --- when a crisis hits they naturally gravitate to the ideology they have internalized without even knowing it.

    Will it help? Are you kidding? (5.00 / 5) (#22)
    by Romberry on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:21:30 AM EST
    No, the "health bill" won't help. This monstrosity stinks more than a three day old dead carp left out in the sun, and Dems want to wear it?

    Have you looked at Obama's job approval poll numbers on health care lately? How about the polling on the health care plan itself?

    In Massachusetts, Brown is making opposition to this health care plan the centerpiece of his run. Have you looked at the Massachusetts polls in the last few weeks? Worse, take a look at the internals of the last PPP poll (PDF) that was released yesterday.

    President Obama came into office at a moment when magic was possible. But magic would have required that there be some actual partisanship, or at the very least it would have required beginning negotiations from a partisan point on the left rather than opening with compromise first. He failed at negotiation 101. You always (ALWAYS!) ask for much more than you will settle for and make the other side drag you kicking and screaming to the middle. When you start in the middle, the other side kicks and screams and drags you to their side because you have no room at all to maneuver.

    Obama and Emmanuel are not dumb. They knew that when the went all "post-partisan" and opened with a stimulus package that was too small and loaded with ineffectual tax cuts that there was no place to go but down. And how many Republican votes did that advance capitulation net? How many Republican votes have been netted with this monstrosity of a health care bill?

    No...the health care bill won't help. If Democrats want to wear that rotting fish, Republicans will be happy to fan the aroma towards the electorate.


    Yes (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by jbindc on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:11:33 AM EST
    And meanwhile they try to paint the Republicans as "the party of No", but folks aren't buying it.  Why wouldn't the Republicans say "no" to everything? Obama and his royal court are going to give them everything they want anyway so why would they expend the effort to compromise?  Say "no" and the Dems will answer with, "Ok, you don't want this - how about this? Not this, how about that? Just please don't hurt us."

    Obama didn't sign up for that class in law school - "Negotiation 101"


    Change You Can Agrieve In (none / 0) (#19)
    by Dadler on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:19:03 AM EST
    And nice pick with the Jets yesterday, Tent. As dominant a defensive performance as you're likely to see. And as stupid a Chargers team, as well. So many dumb penalties, and Vincent Jackson kicking the challenge flag back at Rex Ryan, what a phucking idiot. When Ryan just smile back at Jackson, like "Thanks, asshat, you just helped us some more," I almost started pulling for the Jets.

    So far Obama has done a great job ... (none / 0) (#39)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:30:59 AM EST
    at ruining his political brand.

    But the best politicians are phoenixes.  And Obama is a good politician. However, he'll need a lot of grit and determination to regain his favor with the public.

    This isn't the kind of thing he can fix with one grand gesture.  It will be a slog.  He'll have to claw himself back one day at time.

    The Saturday speech showed he understands the basic course to his political recovery.  It was abysmally written and delivered, and had deep conceptual flaws.  But it was a baby step in the right direction.

    If he sticks with this idea, honing and sharpening it as he goes, he could not only regain his political shine but also create a compelling narrative for the rest of his presidency.

    Since (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:56:16 AM EST
    when is Obama a good politician? People keep making these statements but his actions sure haven't shown it. He's delivered those speeches before and then did nothing.

    All in all it might be a blessing that Obama tried to hide from being a Dem and maybe he'll end up ruining his own brand only and not drag the entire party down with him.


    He is a good politician ... (none / 0) (#52)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:20:23 AM EST
    the last year required a great politician.  An FDR-level political juggernaut. He isn't that.

    Of course, the presidency isn't graded on a curve.  And there's no reason for anyone to cut him any slack.

    But there is a road to his political recovery.  But will he be like Hoover or Carter and never even see it?  Or will he be like Reagan or Clinton and take it?  

    I worry that he's built more in the Hoover/Carter mold.  But that course isn't set in stone.  There is another course he can take.


    The recurrent "where is FDR?" mantra (5.00 / 2) (#79)
    by jondee on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:20:18 PM EST
    would be laughable if it weren't so pathetically ahistorical.People might as well complain about not being able to get a good five cent cigar any more.

    When FDR ran, half of the American workforce was a vociferous, very well organized constituency on the verge of out-and-out revolution; it had yet to be neutered and sold down the river by the Wall St owned-and-operated "masterful politicians" who've dedicated themselves to pushing through things like Taft Hartley, NAFTA and the WTO.

    Both parties have, systematically, over time, waged a war of attrition on the power of the working class in the U.S that, to an extent inconceivable today, MADE FDR be FDR.

    To keep talking as if it were even POSSIBLE for a pol today to run on an FDR-like platform and have any chance of raising the requisite $500 mil flys in the face of realit  


    His history (none / 0) (#55)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:30:49 AM EST
    has shown no ability to do what you are suggesting. Read the remarks that he made at the Coakley ralley. He still doesn't get it. I think a large part of his problem is that he's not experienced enough to handle the job. It's like hiring someone right out of college to the CEO of a company.

    Agreed ... (none / 0) (#83)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:26:50 PM EST
    but he also has very little political history.

    But there is one bit of his history which might be informative.  His actions in 2007.  When he stuck to a strategy even though it didn't seem to be working, his poll numbers remained fairly stagnant, and pundits suggested another course.

    So he can show a strategic determination when he wants to.  Hell, he essentially gave the same speech every day, with only minor alterations, for two years.  That's not easy to do.

    Obama certainly hasn't shown that type of message discipline as president. But if he finds it again ...


    Obama is not a good politician, (none / 0) (#115)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:55:38 PM EST
    He's merely a good campaigner, and only for himself.  A good politician is a leader, someone who convinces people to follow his vision.  A good politician can persuade people to see things his way.  I've seen none of that with Obama.  

    Query: assume the Dems. don't have (none / 0) (#70)
    by oculus on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:03:49 PM EST
    enough votes to pass either the House or Senate bill.  Given GOP members of Congress probably also benefit financially from insurance, big pharma, and others who would gain from passage of one of these bills, what will GOP members of Congress do?  Will the biggees who would benefit by passage of HCR pressure GOP members of Congress to save the bill for them?

    Fascinating -- but fat chance (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Cream City on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:15:20 PM EST
    because Repubs up for re-election and/or trying to save seats actually need the tea-baggers.  So Repubs in Congress cannot support the current bills.

    If these bills go kaput, could the Repubs in Congress come up with their own versions?  Maybe, and such bills wouldn't be much worse, but how could Repubs get the 60 votes?  Not enough Dems to back Repub bills and buck Obama (and Rahm, the real danger).


    I am riffing off an e mail I received from (none / 0) (#80)
    by oculus on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:25:29 PM EST
    my GOP Rep.  I e mailed him to implore him not to vote for Stupak/Pitts (knowing he would, in fact, do so).  Weeks later his office sends a "reply" telling me he is all over HCR, just not this HCR, and why.  Pretty persuasive as to the latter, I might add.  Could have been a comment here.

    Huh. Very interesting, very clever (none / 0) (#102)
    by Cream City on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:22:18 PM EST
    so thanks for tipoff.  Time for me to head back to the local conservative blogs to look for this here.

    If I'm not back in 24 hours, send a rescue crew!