The Missing Left Flank

Harold Meyerson:

The reasons for the stillbirth of the new progressive era are many and much discussed. [. . .] But if there's a common feature to the political landscapes in which Carter, Clinton and now Obama were compelled to work, it's the absence of a vibrant left movement.

[. . .] In America, major liberal reforms require not just liberal governments, but autonomous, vibrant mass movements, usually led by activists who stand at or beyond liberalism's left fringe. No such movements were around during Carter and Clinton's presidencies. For his part, Obama won election with something new under the political sun: a list of 13 million people who had supported his campaign. But he has consistently declined to activate his activists to help him win legislative battles by pressuring, for instance, those Democratic members of Congress who have weakened or blocked his major bills. [. . .] [I]n the absence of both a free-standing movement and a legion of loyalists, Congress isn't feeling much pressure from the left to move Obama's agenda.

(Emphasis supplied.) Harold Meyerson is, like Katrina Van den Heuvel, a sort of Beltway Leftie. Consider my highlighted excerpts. Meyerson talks of "Obama's activists" to move "Obama's agenda." This is absurd. Obama's agenda is not particularly progressive. It is centrist, if not center-right. As a Centrist myself (Afghan War supporter, free trader, opponent of the reenactment of Glass-Steagall, defender of a Constitutional preventive detention regime), this is not so very troubling. But for Meyerson and Van den Heuvel, people well to the left of me, they should realize that Obama is not their champion. More . . .

Indeed, it is the failure of the Beltway Left and the Blogger Left to understand their role as a non-Obama attached Left Flank that is indeed the biggest failure of the New Progressive movement. Obama is not their leader. He is not their friend. He is not even their ally. He is their target. For pressure. Until that is absorbed, there is little hope for a progressive era.

Speaking for me only

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    Agreed. (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:08:47 AM EST
    There is no parallel between a highly motivated LBJ using a movement to pass the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act here.  None.  Obama isn't interested in liberal legislative initiatives.  Why anyone keeps pretending that he is at this stage in the game is beyond me.

    I don't even think that the party seats (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:19:11 AM EST
    he loses in 2010 really concern him, and that in fact having less of a Dem majority will bring him some personal relief and a much better place to hide his often center right goals behind.

    I think you're absolutely correct. (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:21:24 AM EST
    Losing Democratic seats gives him cover for moving the Democratic Party to the right.

    Agreed (5.00 / 7) (#56)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:18:42 AM EST
    Nothing will bother him now. He's already achieved his goal. He's president. It was really the only thing he campaigned for. Issues were never allowed to get in the way of that objective. Way too many people on the left followed along blindly. Questions weren't answered and any criticism was dealt with severely.

    If nothing else I hope that Democrats learn that the current primary system is totally flawed. But since the winner gets to write the rules, I doubt if there's going to be any positive changes made.


    Unless we're going (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:46:48 AM EST
    to go with some sort of coalition system I don't see any way a left canidate would have won- the only progressive canidate with legitimate creds was Kucinich and lets be real no primary system would have made him the nominee- the 3 major democratic canidates were 3 flavors of center-right.

    Conservatism (none / 0) (#5)
    by lilburro on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:14:46 AM EST
    can only be failed.  Obama can only be failed.

    There's the difference in the parties right now.  The line I keep hearing is "is there any doubt that Obama would sign liberal legislation if it came his way?"  And as dk points out about LGBT rights, there is certainly doubt there.  But it's also a completely meaningless question to ask.


    Contrary to popular belief over at (5.00 / 6) (#10)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:19:41 AM EST
    Orange, liberal legislation wouldn't likely ever make it to his desk because he doesn't support it.  His agenda has great influence over the nature of the work product coming from the legislative branch.  But pretending that he has nothing to do with what comes out of the Congress is the only way that the most hopey hopefuls can bear what they are witnessing.

    Even if it were true (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:21:10 AM EST
    it is silly to waste time defending Obama. He has a whole political party to do that.

    Fight for the policies you believe in, which means not wasting time defending Obama.


    Agreed. (5.00 / 5) (#16)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:26:08 AM EST
    But a lot of people got into this process based on personality politics - not based on any real policy values.  There are far too many comments along the lines of "I am not feeling good about this, but Obama is so much smarter than I am that I trust his judgment."  There are a lot of people who are incapable of forming their own opinion and even when something strikes them as being "off", they will opt to follow someone they've identified as trustworthy rather than form their own opinion and god forbid challenge that person.

    Come on BTD (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:30:22 AM EST
    It isn't that easy.  I fight for decent healthcare legislation all day long while big blogger Booman shows up to tell me to my face that I'm actually hurting my own child because I won't see the Congress that poor Obama must work with for what it really is.  That would now be the Congress that is all "retiring" now.

    Who cares what Booman (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:33:51 AM EST
    or anyone says for that matter?

    You have a mind of your own and you reach your own conclusions.


    That I do ;) (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:40:10 AM EST
    Getting such an attempted shot at b.s. guilting me from him super chaps me though considering other b.s. guilting I've gotten from him in the past.  God he's so full of it

    We're all full of it (5.00 / 3) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:46:55 AM EST
    in one way or another.

    Booman is for Obama. End of thought. There is nothing else he does.

    I do credit him for retracting his hatred of Bill Clinton though.

    But of course he never would have had his Obama love not forced him to.


    why do you say that (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by lilburro on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:55:40 AM EST
    I think we both agree that Ezra Klein for example hurt the healthcare debate from a liberal's POV anyway.  

    I meant people like me (none / 0) (#78)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:07:59 AM EST
    and booman, who are nothing more than pimples in the scheme of things.

    I've always had a problem with your concept (none / 0) (#20)
    by steviez314 on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:33:18 AM EST
    of fighting for policies, not pols.

    We do not pass policies in the U.S. by popular vote, aside from the odd Proposition.  We do, however, elect pols.

    At some point, one can't be a purist.  You have to accept  marginal improvement instead of wholesale change.  You have to look at a whole gamut of policies you are interested in, and if you need to trade some against others, for now, you do it.  You just keep trying to move the ball downfield.

    At some point this means you have to fight for a pol--for the one who gives you a 60% chance of what you want, instead of a 0% certainty.


    I of course disagree (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:35:13 AM EST
    We support pols to forward policies.

    Of course the fight for policy is not disconnected to the electoral process.

    I have long said that I am for every elected official facing primary challengers, no matter what the odds are.

    Just having the discussion forwards the policy.


    That's true, but at some point the discussion (none / 0) (#30)
    by steviez314 on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:42:34 AM EST
    as to degree on the same side has to give way to fighting for whoever is left on you side against the other side.  I mean, what do you do after the primary is over?

    I know there an enthusiasm gap left afterwards, but that's so self-defeating too.


    After the primary (5.00 / 3) (#35)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:45:22 AM EST
    You support the best option.

    I have always been clear about that.

    My problem with Ralph Nader has ALWAYS been his unwillingness to compete in a Democratic primary.

    Kucinich does it the right way. He just is not a very good spokesperson for his policies.


    Thats what I like about Ralph... (none / 0) (#44)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:58:39 AM EST
    he sees the Dem party for what it is and wants no part of it.

    Kucinich...I can't figure that guy out...why be in a party run by people who snicker at you behind your back when you run for pres?  Is he a glutton for ridicule?


    Department of Peace and UFOs (none / 0) (#83)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:53:20 AM EST
    As to issues, I have always liked Kucinich because he has supported the closure of the School of the Americas--and whatever it is now named....He actually went to the annual protest at Ft. Benning....

    He did get a lot of attention, although not much respect...



    Well it's not like FDL (5.00 / 5) (#39)
    by lilburro on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:49:32 AM EST
    didn't support Obama when he ran for President.  But then they moved to supporting the Public Option which really had nothing to do with him.  The people they "fought for" were dictated by the policies they supported (with the exception of Alan Grayson).

    At this point there's no reason to "fight for" Obama , particularly considering that he's not in front of healthcare policy.  If he were and I agreed with the policy that would be different.


    I think viewing it as (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:50:18 AM EST
    "fighting for" the person as opposed to the policies and worldview he is championing is a mistake. It is a distinction that needs to be kept in mind.

    BTD, how do you (none / 0) (#105)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:19:21 PM EST
    reconcile your theory that all incumbents should be primaried with 1968 and 1980?

    As brodie points out in this thread, a challenge from the Left on Vietnam didn't move HHH and the establishment Democrats to the left on the war....(Nixon had a secret plan for peace)....HHH was, as I recall, going to continue the war....The primary resulted in a complete disaster for Democrats...

    1980 didn't move Carter to the Left....

    This is my concern with all-out challenges of incumbents...Too much Robespierre and not enough Danton.  

    I agree with your view regarding bloggers and those on the Left generally challenging incumbents....and, I suppose the bloggers and the Left have no teeth without the threat of a primary....But in actual practice primaries tend to be destructive and result in the election of Republicans....


    Ummmmm steve is obviously not a (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:45:56 AM EST
    woman or gay or anything like that. It must be nice to be the default setting that has never actually had its face stepped on or its arse mowed down in the name of progress ;)  Who was that Daly chick again?

    In a way (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:20:04 AM EST
    Obama has been failed by the Missing Left Flank.

    If there was a non-Obama attached Left Flank, Obama would be pressured to better policy imo.

    The apocryphal FDR "make me do it" idea.


    I don't think that the left flank (5.00 / 7) (#26)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:40:07 AM EST
    has really failed.  I don't think that they have a remotely willing dance partner.  If we were talking about Bill Clinton, I'd agree that the left failed because I believe he was open to more progressive legislation than his record ultimately belies.  But, Obama, I don't think he is open to progressive or liberal legislation.  The structure and tone of both the Bank Bailout, the Stimulus and the HCR bill basically illustrate to me that Obama's theory of government intervention is totally different from mine.  He prefers giving middle men a cut and I believe in going direct.  Obama seems to think that even in this time of great need, this non-intervention policy for government should still stand with respect to the people - he'll hand out anything to a corporate interest, but to the average working person?  He or she is on their own.  The non-job producing job summit silliness is a perfect example. He's not at all interested in departing from his center-right ideology; and until his personal political legacy is at stake, I don't think he will be either.  Until that time, the left flank will be irrelevant - and even then - his response to this Great Recession has proved to me at least  that he is potentially going to look in all the wrong places for solutions to his political problems.

    We disagree (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:43:17 AM EST
    Obama is a pol. He'll go with the flow.

    I used to think that about him, but (5.00 / 3) (#46)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:58:57 AM EST
    I now think that he is a lot more ideological than anyone really thought he was.  Anyway, we shall see.

    Actually (none / 0) (#54)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:13:23 AM EST
    we won't see. It will remain an untested hypothesis.

    In a way, I think it has already been (5.00 / 4) (#64)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:38:06 AM EST
    tested.  Going back to your post about "Cynical Suckers", you said that you thought that the situation that the nation faced would push him to take bolder action.  I thought that he would too.  I believed that he would see the political need for bolder action at the very least.  And yet he didn't seem to feel the heat at all.  To me that suggests that he is a quintessential ideologue and less of a skilled pol.  

    Not too sure about that. (5.00 / 3) (#77)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:05:22 AM EST
    He didn't go with the flow on HCR, FISA or Iraq. Maybe it the flow of money rather than the flow of public opinion?

    Ah the (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:48:45 AM EST
    apocryphal- "Bill Clinton would have been more left if he could have"- you know the belief that requires one ignore his record not just as a President but as a Governor, that never fails to amuse.

    I was not a big fan of Clinton. (5.00 / 6) (#74)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:57:49 AM EST
    In fact, I was pretty irritable about him during his tenure, but I do think that it is safe to say that he was/is more liberal than Obama is.

    nah (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:58:43 AM EST
    Obama doesn't give a damn.  with the media and corporations behind him he can and has told us Non Obama lefties to go to hell.

    So it is (none / 0) (#53)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:13:17 AM EST
    his Sister Soulja, moment then? Funny how only dem's have to do this, the last Conservative to denounce the fringe and triumph (without backing down) was Buckley with the Birchers.

    We may find out, if the speculation (none / 0) (#15)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:25:29 AM EST
    about Dean is on target. I hope it is.

    what is the speculation? (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:00:52 AM EST
    that he might run? Hmnnnn, he would do better to first apologize for either rigging or standing by while others rigged the primary rulz for Obama.
    He really lost a lot of people there.  
    However I hope there is a woman in the race somewhere for me to vote for.  That is my party now.

    Yeah I know (none / 0) (#55)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:16:54 AM EST
    He did not exactly cover himself with glory there. I'm not sure he would be a serious threat, given that the press acts like they think he's a crazy angry screamer and they love the post-partisan Obama. Interesting to think about anyway, and I would welcome any serious pressure on Obama from the left.

    Kurtz sums up the speculation


    thanks (none / 0) (#57)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:20:09 AM EST
    for the link.

    Awesome (none / 0) (#70)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:50:14 AM EST
    pressure from the left worked so well in 2000.

    Huh? (none / 0) (#76)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:05:17 AM EST
    There was no incumbent in 2000.  What on earth does 2000 have to do with this?

    What pressure from the left? (none / 0) (#131)
    by sallywally on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:58:23 PM EST
    There was virtually nothing but false, incredibly vitriolic smearing of Gore and that was all the better for the Repub candidate, whose blaring and serious failings were totally ignored by the media and every other Village and right-wing source.

    Us poor liberals were trying our buts off, but that onslaught from the many non-liberal sources out there carried the day. They are still out there and stronger than ever.

    It seems Obama was their plant after all.


    A reference to Nader? (none / 0) (#132)
    by Spamlet on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:56:51 PM EST
    Would be fun to watch! (none / 0) (#22)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:34:37 AM EST
    Kudos to Bowers for mostly picking up on this (none / 0) (#17)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:27:35 AM EST
    I missed it (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:32:56 AM EST
    Is there something new? Because nothing I have read lately says what you say it says.

    I mean the retelling of the Sanders/Clinton 1993 (none / 0) (#31)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:43:10 AM EST
    story. He did so recently somewhere.

    Missed it (none / 0) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:43:38 AM EST
    Linked at the end of (none / 0) (#38)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:47:49 AM EST
    Sanders and Clinton (none / 0) (#79)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:08:45 AM EST
    for those who don't want to click through twice to find out what's being referenced, it's an anecdote about somebody overhearing Pres. Clinton telling then Rep. Bernie Sanders at the 93-94 budget signing that he wished Sanders and others had pressured him more from the left so that he'd have room to move in that direction.

    Huey Long was to the left of FDR (none / 0) (#84)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:56:49 AM EST
    But those were different times--and the country had endured absolute disaster....

    Because it's easier ... (none / 0) (#8)
    by Yman on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:18:19 AM EST
    ... to look for other excuses, than to admit you were duped.

    Well a movement (none / 0) (#51)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:10:24 AM EST
    and the death of JFK- you can't forget that, JFK's death helped LBJ do more than Kennedy himself ever did in life.

    Abosulutely correct. (5.00 / 3) (#66)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:41:20 AM EST
    LBJ used that national tragedy for all it was worth.  But the key point is that he was committed to the "liberal" legislative action and committed to being bold in scope.  I don't think that Obama is committed to either liberal advances or being particularly bold.  So, without his participation, it is hard to make the claim that the left has "failed" imo.

    The Left hated LBJ (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:03:16 PM EST
    He has only achieved esteem among the Left lately....He got very little credit at the time for any his social legislation.

    Eugene McCarthy was the Left's candidate in 1968....

    "Hey, hey, hey, LBJ, how many babies have you killed today?"


    Coupla reasons come to mind (none / 0) (#89)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:43:10 PM EST
    -- first, LBJ, in the same month (Jly 65) he was signing the VR and Medicare landmark bills, was quietly beginning the escalation in Nam, and not being forthright with the public about why all the troops were being sent.  Second, Johnson was not the most personable of presidents, and didn't come over well on teevee.

    Very overrated as a president, imo, as I see some of the revisionist surveys of presidents in recent times.  But then, I've never had much respect for these types of (political and trendy) surveys.

    As for McCarthy, he was the "left's candidate" only if we define that as the youngish, middle-class, and well-educated white liberal elite left.

    Bobby got the rest of the left of course, a rather more diverse bunch of folks.


    I've heard that hardcore McCarthy supporters (none / 0) (#91)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:51:47 PM EST
    hated Bobby and never forgave him or his supporters--Bobby rode Eugene's coattails....Eugene challenged LBJ and only when LBJ refused to run again did Bobby enter the race....

    From our vantage point, the Eugene/Bobby vitriol seems hard to fathom.......


    True, there were bitter feelings (none / 0) (#93)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:10:42 PM EST
    against Bobby from the McC camp, including the candidate himself, who was never (pre-68) a Kennedy fan of any sort (he'd endorsed Adlai, from the podium, at the 1960 convention, for instance).

    RFK though had a much tougher and more personal set of issues (i.e., assassination) to deal with, compared to back-bencher McCarthy, in deciding whether to run in 68 against an incumbent president (especially in the pre-Tet period).  I don't fault him greatly for getting in late, though Gene never forgave him.

    As for your sequence, you're off slightly.  First Gene got in (late 67), then came the NH primaries (early March 68), then w/n a week Bobby announced his candidacy.  Two weeks later, March 31, 1968, Pres Johnson went on teevee to announce his withdrawal for another term as president.

    Iow, Johnson was reacting more to Bobby's entry into the race than McC's "win" (actually 2d place) in NH, with the fear (imo) that he'd once again have to face a Kennedy for his party's nomination and once again come out a loser.   LBJ feared RFK, not the one-issue flash-in-the-pan man McCarthy.  


    And, as a practical matter (unfortunately) (none / 0) (#92)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:57:10 PM EST
    Eugene was the only candidate of the Left at Chicago....Mayor Daley was suppressing his supporters...

    This idea of LBJ as the great Leftist is a recent invention.


    LBJ could really only be viewed as (5.00 / 2) (#98)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:36:08 PM EST
    a leftist in today's political landscape.  Civil Rights, for instance, were supported by a good number of Republicans and not so by a lot of Democrats.  His concept of the Great Society was in his day more solid Democratic politics than it was "left wing" as it is considered today.  Hell, Nixon's EPA would be considered a radical left wing conspiracy to destroy American business were it introduced in today's political environment.  There would be people on Fox News telling everyone that the smoke from the burning river was good for you.  They'd host picnics on the rivers' edges!

    In any case, the bottom line is that LBJ was a willing participant in getting those bills through and in that way his situation then does not parallel that of the reluctant if not totally disinterested Obama now.


    Times and parties have changed (5.00 / 4) (#109)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:33:22 PM EST
    By the standard of today's Democrat, most of the Democrat's from the sixties would be flowering wearing liberals now.

    Today's Democratic Party reminds me more of what the Republican Party was before the take over by the neo cons and Evangelicals. No wonder we have so many blue dogs!


    I think Obama is more conservative (5.00 / 2) (#117)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:03:59 PM EST
    than the Republican Senator I worked for in the early 80's.  Those Congressional Blue Dogs definitely are and on the Senate side Ben Nelson and that crowd are too.

    This is the legacy of the concurrent actions by the Gingrich/DeLay team to eradicate moderate Republicans from their party while the DLC pressed liberal Democrats out of positions of power in ours.  If either one of those things had happened without the other, I do not think that we would have seen such a dramatic shift to the right in our political landscape.  I am not absolutely sure, but I think that is probably true.


    "Totally disinterested"? (none / 0) (#100)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:50:36 PM EST
    One may not like Obama's version of the bill, but he was far from disinterested.  He gave a speech in front of joint session of Congress and has put his prestige on the line for passage of a bill...One could argue that he placed too much emphasis on passing anything....but that he was disinterestd??

    I think that "passing something" (5.00 / 6) (#101)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:57:21 PM EST
    is an indication that he didn't care about anything beyond the legislative notch in his belt.  That's my personal interpretation of how he handled this one.  That's the only reason he addressed Congress, imo.  He wanted to pass something.  But I don't get the feeling that he was picky about what as long as the title of the legislation had the term "healthcare" in it.

    Inclusiveheart, I too don't (none / 0) (#104)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:14:52 PM EST
    find Obama "disinterested" in HCR.  The bill was not something he could put off to a 2d term -- the Dem base would have gone freakin' nuts had Obama just sat on his hands and told everyone to be patient until the right time arose.  

    Though I do agree that he wanted to pass something.

    Pass something.  And then later go back and try to improve it.

    Iow, exactly the position that LBJ took in 1964 with the bare-bones, barely anything,  Medicare legislation sitting on the desk of the very patient and wise House comm'ee chairman.


    Obama may be able to claim (5.00 / 5) (#116)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:56:49 PM EST
    an insurance reform bill when this is all said and done, but he hasn't achieved healthcare reform with this bill.  He will call it healthcare reform, but he knows and so do people paying attention that that's not any more accurate than claiming that he never campaigned on a public option.

    From where I sit, Obama is turning out to be about as shallow and disengaged as I thought he was during the primaries.  What I didn't expect though was that he would turn out to be as politically inept and tone deaf as he seems to be.  You know, that failing to enact reform is one thing, but what distinguishes Obama in my mind is that he refused to even fight for it if only to advance the debate - and set the stage for "fixing" whatever got done down the road.  They aren't going to revisit this issue during his tenure unless there is some sort of complete breakdown in the system that forces them to.  Given the schedule, that breakdown won't be addressed until at least two if not three terms after Obama has gone off to plan his presidential library.  This hunk of junk insurance bill will be "given time" and it will be at least a decade before anyone will admit to its failings.  The irony is that his cracker jack economic team are probably counting on the great recovery they keep saying is underway to mask the flaws of the bill.  lol.  Too bad that that's a pipe dream and an even more remote possibility because his Administration is all but refusing to engage in any attempts at directly creating much needed jobs in this economy.  Oh well.


    Well, Daley and his cops (none / 0) (#94)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:19:16 PM EST
    went wildly overboard in suppressing the antiwar demonstrators outside the hall, but the more relevant fact is that inside, quietly before the convention formally began, LBJ the Leftist had arranged to thwart the attempt by antiwar Dems working with Humphrey to craft a middle-ground plank for the party on the VN War situation.  Johnson got wind of HHH working for the compromise plank, saw it as a betrayal of him and his VN policy of firmness, and nixed it (in cooperation with Platform Chair Hale Boggs, Cokie's dad).

    Iow, the convention was actually being run by Lyndon from the WH and the somewhat anti-HHH Mayor Daley on the ground.  The party nominee-to-be once again was outsmarted and outmaneuvered by his scheming boss and was forced to swallow Lyndon's VN policy.


    Our black-and-white TV (none / 0) (#99)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:42:09 PM EST
    with rabbit ears had such stuff on it 1968...MLK, Bobby,....and Mayor Daley giving commands on the floor--and wasn't it Dan Rather who got roughed up on the floor by Daley's enforcers?

    LBJ was universally hated by the Left and never really accepted by mainstream Democrats because he was....gauche...and not accepted by high society, wealthy types outside of Texas.

    And, when Hillary brought up LBJ as her role-model, as contrasted with Obama's comparison with JFK, one had to wonder just how literally was she taking that comparison to LBJ.  She was in tune with her inner Hawk so it would seem.


    Well, I was a strong Hill backer (none / 0) (#103)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:07:35 PM EST
    in the primaries, but when I read her comments about the 64 CR bill and how she elevated LBJ while (inaccurately) diminishing the role of JFK (who, after all, had been the one, with considerable political courage, to introduce the bill), well this Clinton supporter was a little miffed at his candidate.

    And it was politically tone-deaf for her (as she showed a few times that season) to identify herself so closely with the fuddy-duddy unlikable pol LBJ, as she seemed to want to distance herself from association with the more dynamic and appealing JFK.  When running for office from the Dem side, she should have known instinctively that she'd made the wrong pick, and should have found a way to make herself, with her own historic candidacy, the heir(ess) to JFK, rather than to warmongering Lyin' Lyndon.

    Just my dos centavos ...


    Remember (5.00 / 2) (#106)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:20:12 PM EST
    Bill Clinton too was compared to JFK....so not only was Obama not original in that respect, had Hillary done so, the fur would have flown that she was "imitating her husband".

    And JFK is a funny comparison anyway because we don't really know what he would have accomplished with regards to Civil Rights, Medicare, Vietnam, etc.  His legacy is that of a myth and is not necessarily always based in the reality of what really happened.


    I don't recall too many (none / 0) (#113)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:42:46 PM EST
    BC-JFK comparisons in a really tight sense, except as Bill had visited the WH and shaken hands with Pres Kennedy when in his youth.

    Point with Hillary was that her campaign all too often was running a Nixon '60 fuddy-duddy experienced pol vs youthful charismatic challenger campaign.  Didn't work for Dick.  She should have known better with the cringe-worthy Orthogonian optics.  Too much influence there, probably, from her wildly overpaid fuddy-duddy conservative campaign manager whats-his-name ...

    As for JFK, much less of a myth as a true liberal president -- both domestic and foreign -- as the record increasingly indicates.  Last liberal Dem president we've had, imo ...    


    And why run as the inevitable Queen (2.00 / 1) (#107)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:27:48 PM EST
    rather than Norma Rae?  What tone deafness was that?  She figured it out but way too late.

    Not sure what you mean (4.40 / 5) (#108)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:31:37 PM EST
    As she had the overwhelming support of working people, unlike Obama, who really does look his nose down at commoners (ala the Queen).

    Sure, by Ohio (5.00 / 1) (#111)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:41:36 PM EST
    but it was too late....

    Hill supporters should have a special place in Hell reserved for Mark Penn....


    You mean (5.00 / 4) (#114)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:43:42 PM EST
    All the way to the end - when she had more votes than anybody in the history of any primary season, Repbulican or Democrat?

    Why? (4.00 / 3) (#118)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:15:11 PM EST
    Did Obama lose the 2008 presidential election or something?  I thought he won and went on to name HRC as his Secretary of State?  Am I wrong in thinking that?  Why can't people get over the fact that she ran for President?  I just don't get it.  The anointed one won the big prize.  Isn't that good enough for his supporters?

    I would take that (none / 0) (#120)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:21:32 PM EST
    But it still comes up all the time here anyway....

    I was just kibitizing...not trying to lob any grenades....brodie has an interesting perspective....


    Just to be clear, (5.00 / 1) (#123)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:31:31 PM EST
    I am not picky about where Mark Penn ends up, but my Mother is a pretty nice person who has only ever done good things for other people and this country so that's where I take issue with damning all of the Hillary supporters to hell.  The only thing that disappointed her in the end was that the two candidates didn't team up.  She is an idealist - politically savvy - but still an idealist.  She loved the idea of a "dream team".

    Anyhow, thanks for the clarification.


    Because everybody knows (3.00 / 2) (#129)
    by jondee on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 05:58:14 PM EST
    blacks dont work.

    Or is there some other way to take that?

    Btw, Pimpin' aint easy. And your daughter is next.


    That was in responce to that (none / 0) (#130)
    by jondee on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 06:00:43 PM EST
    "overwhelming support of working people" comment.

    Tongue-in-cheek, dontcha' know.


    Better yet--compare herself to Bobby (none / 0) (#110)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:37:58 PM EST
    Tough, concern about economic issues, connection to the blue collar.  Continuing a family legacy was okay for Bobby, why not for her?

    But I think she did admire LBJ more than the Kennedys and was truly a hawk, and because of that was never able to get past the Iraq vote....Tactically, she made one too many comments trying to fix her answer on driver's licenses for undocumented workers during that 2007 debate....She had flubbed the question (she seemed very tired) but so what?, she should have moved on instead of going back again and again trying to fix it (her flaw of being too dedicated, too hard a worker to let it go--tragic in a Greek sort of way) ....To that point, Obama had been dreamily staring off into space during the debates...


    The last time she invoked Bobby Kennedy (5.00 / 2) (#112)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:42:27 PM EST
    She was accused of wanting O assassinated. When she bourght up LBJ she was accused of being racist.

    Seems like she couldn't win any way.


    A good pol should be (none / 0) (#115)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:55:33 PM EST
    able to do it smoothly and perhaps with some style....That's why they're pols....

    She could have answered a "legacy" question with something like Bobby wasn't rejected because of his brother but ran a good campaign because he clearly saw the needs of hard working Americans blah, blah, blah....Pundits could have taken the comparison from there, highlighting her connection to Blue Collar America, her toughness...

    Talking about June 1968 and Bobby had no chance of going anywhere good.



    Only when (5.00 / 3) (#125)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 05:00:52 PM EST
    You have an opponent and media ready to cry things like "racism" every time you want to talk about history or policy.

    No normal or rational person would have ever made the leap the Obama camp did with that comment.


    Moderately progressive (none / 0) (#127)
    by jondee on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 05:19:29 PM EST
    domestically and a full blown hawk abroad is all it takes to have genuine left-progressive credibility.

    Why does that sound so familiar?


    LBJ may have been "committed" (none / 0) (#82)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:39:56 AM EST
    on the 1964 CR bill, but not so committed that he didn't carefully arrange for a couple of other big Dem names -- RFK and Humphrey -- to take point on being the public face of the legislation and in shepherding it through the senate.  That's because Johnson was afraid it wouldn't pass and, in the words of RFK, wanted to be able to blame someone else (namely, Bobby) in case it fell short.

    Also, on the Voting Rights bill of 65, LBJ may have been committed but only after some negative pub when he was being called out as dragging his feet by CR leaders.  This would be more of a classic instance of an organized pro-CR liberal faction forcing a reluctant president to act.

    As for the other major piece of liberal legislation, Medicare, I've noted here a few times already that Johnson initially (mid-64) wanted only "something" basic -- a "starter" bill -- in order to have a bill to sign to impress voters by election day.  Wisely, the Dem House comm'ee chairman refused to fast-track it, and told LBJ that the environment for a much better bill would be available after a very favorable election a few months away -- which is exactly what happened.


    Yes and none of it would have (5.00 / 3) (#85)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:57:37 AM EST
    come to pass without his participation and commitment to making it happen.  I am not sure why you feel the need to school me on LBJ.  I know he was a snake.  But for whatever reason and through often dubious and nasty means, he participated in getting these bills through because on some level he believed in them - or he believed in the legacy that they would leave him - whatever his motives were are largely irrelevant for the purposes of this comparison between the left flank's influence then and the left flank's lack of influence now.  Obama is not a willing participant at the moment.  In fact, based on what I've seen, every time it looks like something has the potential to go leftward, his people step in and undermine the move.  Did LBJ stand in the way of the Medicare bill being bigger than he had envisioned it?  No, not really at all did he?  Fast forward to now, when the Public Option started really gainging traction and it looked like Congress may be forced to bend to the will of the majority of the people, Obama stepped in and said, "PO, no PO, doesn't matter to me."  Unless, he is a complete fool, the only reason that he would say that publicly would be to dampen the public enthusiasm for the option and to take the heat off of Congress when they chose to drop it.

    Hmm, not sure I agree that (none / 0) (#88)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:31:07 PM EST
    none of the 3 pieces would have happened but for Lyndon's backing, or at least w/r/t the 1965 VR bill and Medicare, which seemed to have post-election progressive momentum of their own apart from Lyndon.  Arguably, they would have gone through with minimal input from Johnson.  

    As for the 64 CR bill, that was a little more iffy, but was greatly aided by the grief and anti-RW sentiment in the land following Dallas.  LBJ did assist in putting a positive public spin out there -- a) it was JFK's bill and something he would want us to pass, and b) making Bobby the admin's point man in selling it.

    As to your point about LBJ not standing in the way of a bigger, better Medicare bill, it wasn't a matter of Lyndon having a choice.  The House chair, the crucial cong'l player there, put his foot down, and Lyndon had to back off and wait until after the election.

    Generally, comparisons between the LBJ time and now are a bit misleading -- note how with all the 3 bills, Johnson had a number of Rs to count on in favor of the bill/invoking cloture.  Not so today -- Obama has it much tougher with no Rs to count on his side, and must deal with a handful of corporatistDems to shape (i.e., water-down) the bill.  

    Could he and should he have come out right at the start, in the warm afterglow of a solid election win and all the warm and fuzzies with the historic Inauguration, with a more forceful attitude on the PO?  Yes, imo.  But still, with that Party of No to deal with, plus Lieberman and Nelson et al, there would have been no guarantees we'd have seen a different outcome.  


    Did you ever study Johnson's (5.00 / 3) (#97)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:26:25 PM EST
    Great Society?  His ego was completely wrapped up in that vision and the potential legacy it would yield for him.  Have you ever listened to the tapes of him talking about Medicare?  He was clearly invested in the concept.  In the tapes I've listened to of him discussing CRA and VRA, he discussed the pressure coming from people like MLK, but did so in the context of trying to convince others that it was something that they needed to be pursuing.  Johnson was of his own mind though.  He wouldn't have taken either up had he not had a personal stake in making either happen.  It is not like he could not have exposed MLK's affairs or engaged in some such other destructive game in order to scuttle the effort had he wanted to.  In fact, LBJ threatened and cajoled in order to get his agenda through.  He couldn't "count on" anyone - or at least he didn't - he was viscious in his dealings with his opponents.

    Obama stated that bipartisanship was the most important goal of any particular piece of legislation.  He empowered the party of no as you call them by so emphasizing that goal that the only people who would have to compromise on anything would be him and his own party - not the opposition.  I think Obama's priorities are completely misguided.  He will forgo good legislation in favor of appearing to be collegial.  I'd much rather have a full and complete Civil Rights Act than to compromise away that great piece of legislation in order to make some Senators feel good.  I think most Americans would agree with me on that too.  What if Lincoln, the Founding Fathers, FDR, etc. had decided that being agreeable was more important than anything?  We'd still be a British colony and modern democracy as we know it would not likely exist.


    We'll have to agree to disagree (5.00 / 0) (#102)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:59:37 PM EST
    about the value of the Johnson tapes and whether, given the deceptive character of the person heard on them, they can be taken at face value, though I don't doubt a) that Johnson wanted to pass certain progressive legislation, and b) he wasn't going to do it, with the partial exception of the less-certain 64 CR bill, unless he knew he had the cong'l and public wind at his back.  

    But, basically once Johnson announced loudly that he would continue Kennedy's progressive legislative program, he was no longer in a position to oppose the major item on that menu, the CR bill, and that would have been so even if word of MLK's dalliances had been strategically leaked via Lyndon's friend J. Edgar.  There was also not going to be a hugely watered down and toothless bill this time -- that was something Lyndon had already engineered in 1957 as ML, and by 1964 CR groups were no longer willing to play along with half-loaf legislation and post-Dallas an increasing majority of the public agreed.

    As for Obama, we don't disagree that he failed, in his naivete, to accurately gauge the uncompromising nature of his political opponents in Congress and probably lost valuable time in which to sell to key members of Congress, and the public, a stronger HC bill.


    Left To Right (none / 0) (#133)
    by norris morris on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:06:02 PM EST
    Obama's  weakness is his lack of interest in the left. As a right leaning centrist he obviously doesn't speak to their support.

    How can anyone delude themselves about Obama's disdain for the liberal left, or just plain liberals in his party?

    Ultimately this will put him in a weak bargaining position as there's a large movement out there whether active or inactive that's very important to the Democratic party.

    When the Obamatons get up from their dreams they'll realize Obama is not a progressive.

    He's followed Bush on many issues, and certainly supports lobbyists and corporate interests.

    Sadly this isn't a surprise anymore.


    the failure of the Beltway Left (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:09:29 AM EST
    and the Blogger Left seems to me to be they dont know who their friends are

    I'd say that they don't know who their (5.00 / 2) (#119)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:17:00 PM EST
    friends aren't.  But that's just me.

    The other problem is that (5.00 / 2) (#126)
    by jondee on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 05:04:49 PM EST
    they're not really Left.

    I was just talking last night to a friend in England who reminded me (not that he needed to), that this synthetic, natural ingredients & by-products sham that gets labeled "the Left" in this country, would be considered solidly conservative in the majority of other countries in the world.


    Yup, I've been saying this, (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by dk on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:11:46 AM EST
    for example, with regard to LGBT rights.  Obama is an obstacle, not an ally, in the gay rights cause, and I don't take any gay activist or gay rights organization seriously that doesn't accept that premise.

    Heck, anyone who knows anything about corporate America, at least, knows that that when the CEO holds his important meetings on the golf course, then gay people are not going to get meaningful chances for advancement.

    I would say (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:51:51 AM EST
    the appointment of a Transwoman and the lifting of the ban on visas to HIV positive individuals is a good step in the right direction.

    you would (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:56:34 AM EST
    its a step any sensible conservative republican would take

    HIV/AIDS is not now and never was (5.00 / 1) (#122)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:24:23 PM EST
    a gay disease.  Infectious diseases do not distinguish between gay and straight people contrary to what President Reagan told you.

    I think that to Obama (3.50 / 2) (#49)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:09:22 AM EST
    gay people are just icky and uncomfortable. It is just a guess.  But I think it is part of his culture.  But that is just a guess.  The fact that he would not have his pic taken with Gavin Newsome (too gay friendly)  was my first clue.

    speculation unappreciated. (5.00 / 2) (#52)
    by lilburro on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:12:50 AM EST
    and what does "culture" mean?

    Those notable gay-haters, the Unitarians. (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:58:28 AM EST

    don't relly give a damn (1.00 / 1) (#60)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:24:24 AM EST
    if you like my speculation, everyone on this thread is speculating... and the culture I am speaking of is the notably more socially conservative AA religious culture. You want to dispute that?
    Where is Icebergslim? She'll tell ya.

    oh well, (5.00 / 3) (#63)
    by lilburro on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:35:36 AM EST
    at least you're not stereotyping, right?  

    Well, while Obama is a (none / 0) (#81)
    by dk on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:22:57 AM EST
    religious convert (in the manner of W), and that probably helps him in his own mind to justify his alliances with McClurkin, Warren, and the gang, I don't see much evidence that he is really connected with the more socially conservative religious african american culture.  

    I still think he's just basically an ignorant straight guy who doesn't recognize his own privilege with respect to women and LGBTers.  And when a person reaches age 48 with that sense of privilege, I think it's too late for him to change.


    To be fair, (5.00 / 2) (#87)
    by Spamlet on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:13:10 PM EST
    Obama did challenge an African American religious audience about homophobia when he really didn't have to. I don't have a lot of positive things to say about Obama, but it's only fair to mention this one.

    Yes, he did do that. (5.00 / 2) (#95)
    by dk on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:23:15 PM EST
    I never agreed, however, with the argument that that was a brave action on Obama's part.  I mean, it was clear that he was going to get nearly all of the African American vote, and he did.  The religious people who heard that speech voted for him in spite of it, not because their minds were changed.  And Obama was aware of that, as we can tell in his pitiful behavior vis-a-vis Prop 8, McClurkin, Rick Warren, etc.  In the meantime, Obama ran around showing this speech to liberals to try to convince them how brave and progressive he was.  Suckers, imo.

    Yes, he was (none / 0) (#124)
    by Spamlet on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 04:29:26 PM EST
    going to get nearly all the African American vote. He was probably going to get quite a high proportion of the gay vote, too, no matter what he did, so he could easily have avoided bringing up the uncomfortable subject of homophobia in the African American community. But he did raise that subject, and I'm glad he did.

    Regardless of what else I may think about Obama as a candidate and as president, I'm glad he challenged that audience, no matter what his political motives were, and despite his deplorable association with Donnie McClurkin and his deplorable "states' rights" stance on marriage equality.


    Well, I'm not sure I agree (5.00 / 1) (#128)
    by dk on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 05:40:46 PM EST
    that he could have avoided bringing up the subject, as he might have alienated more than just gay voters with too hearty a public embrace of bigots during the campaign.  He waited for that until after he won election.

    You are aware that Warren is (5.00 / 2) (#121)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:22:30 PM EST
    part of the cult (sorry but this is my take on this faction of religious zealots) that is encouraging the Ugandan government to put gay people to death right?  I am not suggesting that Obama shares that view, but I am not convinced at this point that he finds it completely intolerable - which may be as simple as him not really caring enough about the issue to consider it worthy of his worry - which is the most charitable view I could come up with when he announced that Warren would participate in his inauguration.

    if Gavin Newsome (5.00 / 2) (#61)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:26:40 AM EST
    was your FIRST clue you must have missed Donnie McClurkin

    Clueless (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:50:23 AM EST
    His comments that gay rights had to be won at the state level should have been enough of a red flag for any advocate of gay rights.

    He's very lucky that LBJ didn't feel the same way about the civil rights issue.


    Obama At Golf (none / 0) (#134)
    by norris morris on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:08:21 PM EST
    you said it.

    country club politics.


    Was Meyerson suckered too? (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:21:35 AM EST
    Why does he persist in thinking Obama is any more liberal himself than the centrist Dems in Congress? Sometimes I think even Dems and liberals believe the Republican propaganda painting every Dem candidate as a big leftie from leftieville.

    worse than suckered (5.00 / 8) (#62)
    by souvarine on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:26:59 AM EST
    Harold Meyerson was the source of some of the worst smears against the Clinton campaign. I had read him regularly as a solid liberal advocate, but once Meyerson endorsed Obama he immediately set out to destroy any Obama opposition from the left. Now I see Meyerson as one of "the reasons for the stillbirth of the new progressive era."

    He could resolve the mystery of that stillbirth if he examined his own participation throttling a free-standing Democratic movement as it emerged.


    seriously (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:38:11 AM EST
    physician heal thyself

    Bravo (5.00 / 2) (#80)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:12:57 AM EST
    You said it.

    Amen! (5.00 / 1) (#90)
    by JoeCHI on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:45:57 PM EST
    He reaps what he sowed.

    Myerson's Mission (none / 0) (#135)
    by norris morris on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:28:19 PM EST
    Is to turn the Democratic party away from its liberal base.

    Gee, imagine a Democratic party with a centrist right leaning presidenr, Barack Obama, and no liberals, no leftists, no progressives.

    They'll be just like the Republicans who they're becoming more like every day.

    Then we don't even have to vote. Myerson is trying to move the Democrats away from any progressives whether right or left in the Dem party.

    He's a crappy influence, and liberals should stand fast and agitate against him as much as possible in this power grab for the soul of the Democratic party.

    If the Democrat leadership keeps moving right there will unquestionably be a force and movement toward a third party.  Don't laugh.  It could happen if the natives get restless enough.


    Bloggers cannot provide Left Flank (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Coral on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:10:14 AM EST
    Left Flank to be effective, to have a real impact on policy, must be physically as well as "virtually" active.

    In the 30s, when FDR & Congress enacted progressive legislation, the very active labor movement helped create the atmosphere where that could happen.

    In the late 1950s-1960s, the Civil Rights movement and anti-War movements led mass demonstrations, marches, people in streets, along with push in the courts and intellectuals and press.

    There has been an active environmental movement and a progressive left working very hard, especially since the 2000 election debacle, but nothing has coalesced into the kind of movement that allowed the FDR and Civil Rights agenda get enacted.

    When I witnessed the extreme excitement and very hard electoral work the young were doing during the Obama campaign I had a fleeting hope that this energy could be harnessed into a real force for change. And the rise of the left blogs has also given me fleeting hope at times.

    So far this movement hasn't produced the kind of leadership that is needed for it to be as effective as I would like.

    Despite my disappointment with Obama, despite my great dissatisfaction with the health legislation working its way through Congress, I can't help but compare where we are with the Bush years and the very real threat that a McCain-Palin presidency would have imposed on our nation.

    However, there are so many dire problems that urgently need to be addressed that this is simply not enough. Can people be mobilized to the point where a left movement can be as effective as it was in the 30s and the 60s?

    I think there is a possibility, but right now I'm not sure where the leadership will come from.

    That's right (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:23:03 AM EST
    A real movement has to be out there visible. Unfortunately the righties with the tea partiers have managed to sieze the initiative better than the left, for the time being anyway. Right now it seems that the necessary leadership will only come from a primary challenger, with that built-in organizational imperative.

    There is no real difference (none / 0) (#136)
    by norris morris on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:32:02 PM EST
    You are deluding yourself.

    The industrial military and corporate complex is alive and very well in Obama's hands.

    He is trying hard to move the party to the center right and even conservative.

    His actions and inactions speak for themselves, as with respect to his promises.......iut was all a sucker punch.


    'Core Values First' Voters were Public Enemy #1 (5.00 / 2) (#69)
    by Ellie on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:49:36 AM EST
    ... don't forget, for failing to clap louder during the annointing of Teh One as the second coming of MLK / JFK / FDR and Gandhi.

    It's all academic now anyway. I see virtually no reason to bother with The Clown Wars. I'm throwing every available political minute/$$$ to what keeps a roof over my head and my family healthy.

    John Steinbeck's theory of political leadership (5.00 / 2) (#96)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:25:11 PM EST
    In The Log from the Sea of Cortez, Steinbeck contemplates political leaders and compares them to amoebas....

    ...specifically the way an amoeba moves.

    A salient arm gets pushed by the rest of the amoeba in a certain direction.  The arm is then at the head of the amoeba and is "leading" its movement.  But the arm didn't pull the amoeba, the amoeba pushed the arm--which just happened to be in the way....

    Such as it is with political leaders.  They didn't pull the people with them--they were just at the right place and time, and were boosted to prominence and a leadership position by the people because they held views that the people had adopted on their own.

    BTD's and Steinbeck's theory are really very idealistic at bottom.  The people matter and push pols....

    So, borrowing from Steinbeck, BTD's theory becomes: pols will be--not pols--but...amoebas.  

    It is sad watching this go down (none / 0) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:08:24 AM EST
    But at least CedwynCo won't be showing up here to thump on the centrist blogger who feels sorry for the left flank ;)

    You mean "proponent" of Glass-Steagall's (none / 0) (#6)
    by catchy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:15:39 AM EST

    Else that wouldn't support your centrist bona-fides.

    Ok (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:18:03 AM EST
    I am a right winger on Glass Steagall if you like.

    Are you really a right winger on Glass Steagall. (none / 0) (#24)
    by steviez314 on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:38:44 AM EST
    I know you don't think re-instating it is necessary (or sufficient), but would have been in favor of its repeal were it still on the books?

    catchy is right (none / 0) (#28)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:41:26 AM EST
    I supported the repeal of Glass Steagall.

    I meant you miswrote (none / 0) (#25)
    by catchy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:39:09 AM EST
    you described yourself as an "opponent of the repeal of Glass-Steagall" which is a leftist position, not centrist.

    Just a lil' correction.


    You are correct (none / 0) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:41:44 AM EST
    Thanks for that.

    Also opposing free trade is centrist (none / 0) (#34)
    by Dan the Man on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:44:14 AM EST
    See the various polls here where the word "free trade" is mentioned in the poll question.  The more recent polls have been consistently against free trade or say free trade hurts the US.

    saying you are aginst free trade (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:50:53 AM EST
    is like saying you are against the jet stream.

    also centrist seems to be relentlessly moving right.


    Polls are polls (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Dan the Man on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:05:40 AM EST
    As wikipedia points out, NAFTA was passed by "132 Republicans and only 102 Democrats".

    Also, if you look up the democrats who voted for NAFTA, they were the right-wing leaning ones. So supporting free trade is certainly more right-wing than left-wing.


    certainly more right-wing (none / 0) (#58)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:20:17 AM EST
    but sometimes the left in this country reminds me of a line from a Lennon song.

    "no problems only solutions"


    You need Polls?? (none / 0) (#137)
    by norris morris on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:37:41 PM EST
    It amazes me that anyone needs polls to tell them what has been a fact.

    That free trade is a right wing position without question.

    Look at who,when, and why it has been supported by Democrats.

    Much of our current financial meltdown is attributable to the far side of free trade without regulations.  


    Free Trade. Free for who? (none / 0) (#138)
    by jondee on Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 12:15:32 AM EST
    They should call it Operation Free Trade, so that it could be even MORE like one of those other catchy "Operation" names: meant to lend a better odor to something that stinks when examined up close and in detail.