Misunderstanding "Pols are Pols. . ."

My friends at corrente misunderstand what I mean by my refrain "pols are pols . . .":

In the thread to lambert's post "Hello to all that" I cited comments from TalkLeft to the effect that officeholders' principles belong at home, not at the office. Anne, whose comments at TL are the reason I read that site, responded:

I hate the “pols will be pols” framing, mostly because it just absolves them of any responsibility for their actions [. . .]

Let me first say that I too enjoy Anne's comments, but she mistakes my meaning. Let me quote again from the post from which the phrase originates:

As citizens and activists, our allegiances have to be to the issues we believe in. I am a partisan Democrat it is true. But the reason I am is because I know who we can pressure to do the right thing some of the times. Republicans aren't them. But that does not mean we accept the failings of our Democrats. There is nothing more important that we can do, as citizens, activists or bloggers than fight to pressure DEMOCRATS to do the right thing on OUR issues.

And this is true in every context I think. Be it pressing the Speaker or the Senate majority leader, or the new hope running for President. There is nothing more important we can do. Nothing. It's more important BY FAR than "fighting" for your favorite pol because your favorite pol will ALWAYS, I mean ALWAYS, disappoint you.

In the middle of primary fights, citizens, activists and bloggers like to think their guy or woman is different. They are going to change the way politics works. They are going to not disappoint. In short, they are not going to be pols. That is, in a word, idiotic.

Yes, they are all pols. And they do what they do. Do not fight for pols. Fight for the issues you care about. That often means fighting for a pol of course. But remember, you are fighting for the issues. Not the pols.

The point is not to absolve pols. It is to understand how to influence them, if you can. It is to urge liberals and progressives and Centrists like me to argue for their points of view, not in defense of pols or parties.

The message I hoped to impart is not to just shrug and sigh and say "oh well." It is to not put your faith in pols. Because they in fact do what they do.

In short, I want everyone to take Frederick Douglass' famous admonition to heart:

Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!

Don't wait for the pols. That is like waiting for Godot.

Speaking for me only

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  • Psst: Douglass, ending in ss (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Cream City on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 03:14:47 PM EST
    as you may well be quoted elsewhere again with this post.  Then go ahead and delete this comment. :-)

    Thanks (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 04:33:41 PM EST

    Pols will be pols - boys will be boys. (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 03:13:51 PM EST
    The former is so reminiscent of the latter, that it inevitably evokes some of the same apologist connotations.  

    Yikes...if I can - or need to - defend my (5.00 / 14) (#5)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 03:37:42 PM EST

    The problem was that the P-W-B-P framing wasn't being used in the way you use it; it was being used to get Obama off the hook for being all over the place on policy - for claiming to be pro-choice, but being silent on Stupak, for being for, against and indifferent to a government-administered health plan, to being opposed to the Bush policies on a list of issues, but extending and incorporating them in his own administration.  

    A commenter posited that Obama seemed to be lacking a core that forms the basis of Obama's actions and policies, and the response was, well, what did you expect - pols will be pols.  Did we think he was going to keep his campaign promises?  Didn't we understand that core values were irrelevant and policies were always being adjusted?

    I'm sure you've read that part of the TL thread, so you can see the evolution of the discussion.

    I know that politicians are apt to pander and triangulate, but they can do so and still retain a core ideology, but as squeaky was arguing for PWBP, it was little more than an excuse for why there seems to be no single issue to which Obama has committed, no bright line, no non-negotiable element.  

    I think, in fairness, you have to take my corrente comment in the context from which it was came out of that TL thread, and not juxtapose it with your own views on the subject.

    On the other hand, perhaps you do agree with squeaky, and with her contorted attempts to dodge the questions and issues, in which case, we will have to agree to disagree - not that pols will be pols, but with squeaky's contention that core principles and values are wholly irrelevant to a politician's actions.

    BS (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 03:51:01 PM EST
    I was never defending Obama, just pointing out that he is a pol and in order to get him to do what you want you have to get him to pander to you, aka agitate.

    Politicians shift to the prevailing winds for survival. To argue about a politician Core Values total BS imo. It was used here to call Obama an empty suit. It is nuch easier to write off someone as being defective (no core values, empty suit, immoral) than to agitate for policies that you like, and against those you do not.


    Yet again you argue my point has anything (5.00 / 4) (#55)
    by masslib on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 07:46:34 AM EST
    to do with my trying to make Obam do something.  I am making an observation, Obama has no apparent core principles, much like Mitt Romney.  It's not pols will be pols.  It's some people, we all know them, lack obvious fixed principles.  My point was that the Obama progressives are not necessarily deluding themselves where Obama is concerned because it's quite possible many of them also have no core principles. There is a reason there is no story line coming out of this administration.  It's related to the principles thing.  No one knows what they stand for, where they draw a line, what they will fight for.

    Oh, BS yourself. (4.76 / 17) (#9)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 04:01:35 PM EST
    That was never your point.

    It never is.

    Mostly, your points all revolve around some way to bring you-know-who into the thread and throw the word "cultist" around.

    But I think you are doing an admirable job of pandering to BTD.  :-p


    Whatever You Say (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 05:19:16 PM EST
    It is in the thread for all to read. Saying that Obama has no core values is about as insightful as saying he is an empty suit. It is simply name calling, no substance, imo. And obviously the you know who, would up having core values... as determined by you know who...lol

    But maybe you believe that Obama is a sociopath..


    Obama's certainly no empty suit! (5.00 / 3) (#34)
    by lambert on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 06:48:18 PM EST
    No empty suit could have:

    1. Normalized torture, and Bush's executive power grabs;

    2. Legitimized Bush's bankster bailouts by whipping for TARP;

    3. Bailed out the insurance companies with NHC (Higher Corporate Returns);

    4. Done nothing on housing;

    5. Put unemployment on the back burner.

    And much else.

    Disagree.... (5.00 / 3) (#58)
    by masslib on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 07:56:33 AM EST
    I think he's an empty suit.  :P

    There's no body politic inside the suit (5.00 / 2) (#64)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 03:27:46 PM EST
    that's for sure. But the suit isn't empty. "Some might say" it's stuffed with a corporate meat puppet. (Oh, that's harsh.)

    One Reason To Sleep (none / 0) (#59)
    by squeaky on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 08:08:30 AM EST
    The other reason to sleep is to be in love...

    The haters and the lovers are like two snakes eating each other's tail..


    Who is the hater and who is (none / 0) (#60)
    by masslib on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 08:12:51 AM EST
    the lover?

    You are too emotional about these things.


    It Is Obvious To All (none / 0) (#62)
    by squeaky on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 12:55:34 PM EST
    But the lovers and haters, evidentially.  For both, their respective objects are immutable.

    You are quite right... (5.00 / 2) (#65)
    by masslib on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 03:28:42 PM EST
    I know you are a lover.  That's why I say you are too emotional about this administration.

    Sorry (none / 0) (#67)
    by squeaky on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 03:47:49 PM EST
    Wrong blog. You are obviously fighting with those who caused you to flee whatever blog you became a refugee from in feb 2008. Me I am just allergic to hero worship of pols, that would be lovers and haters per my analogy, aka obots and hiltards.

    Squeaky, again: "Obots and Hiltards"... (5.00 / 2) (#70)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 04:06:02 PM EST
    OMFG - where is the adult supervision?

    He changed so much in a war zone (5.00 / 2) (#61)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 09:27:30 AM EST
    in so few months....there's no way that suit is empty :)

    MT, elaborate please - perhaps later on an open (none / 0) (#66)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 03:39:23 PM EST
    thread if it's considered OT here.

    Trying To Be Insightful? (none / 0) (#56)
    by squeaky on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 07:51:29 AM EST
    Or just trolling?

    You consider normalizing torture moral, then? (none / 0) (#33)
    by lambert on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 06:44:24 PM EST
    Since that's what Obama has done?

    Curious (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by jondee on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 07:12:10 PM EST
    If you can pinpoint that exact historic point when the U.S completely stopped torturing people, renditioning people to be tortured, or training others to torture people.

    Got any idea, Lambert?


    Obama has not normalized torture (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by MKS on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 07:47:57 PM EST
    You have to jump through a lot of hoops to get to that conclusion.....

    I am as conerned about torture as anyone, and I never thought Cheney would ever be put on trial....There is no precedent for that actually happening....the losers get put on trial.....


    Oh god (none / 0) (#44)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:37:57 PM EST
    its by not trying the Bush Admin folks- awesome- hey Truman (or Ike) normalized internment, Clinton normalized trading arms for Hostages (While Bush pardoned most involved in Iran-Contra he could not pardon himself), etc.

    How exactly did Obama (none / 0) (#43)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:35:51 PM EST
    normalize torture oh mighty Captain of the ODS squad?

    Obama "normalized" torture (none / 0) (#68)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 03:49:09 PM EST
    by his ongoing refusal to "look back" and support robust investigations, and prosecutions, of Bush/Cheney criminality (i.e. TORTURE) in the 'war on terror'.

    Obama has also suppressed evidence of torture by his noncompliance with FOIA requests to release torture photographs.


    Oh Well (none / 0) (#69)
    by squeaky on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 04:01:21 PM EST
    Then must be that Hillary has no core values either.. lol

    The SOS has power equal to the POTUS? (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 04:22:24 PM EST
    (i.e. when it comes to deciding whether there will be investigations of Bush/Cheney misconduct in the 'war on terror'?) I hope you've written Obama a letter to let him know that the SOS is now the Fourth Branch of Government.

    Certainly Not (none / 0) (#74)
    by squeaky on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 04:25:46 PM EST
    But anyone who works for someone who willingly normalizes torture, and has no core values, must have no core values herself..

    Anyone who worked for Hitler was considered guilty, no?


    The buck stops with the POTUS, right? (none / 0) (#75)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 04:47:38 PM EST
    So, if you so strongly believe the SOS is majorly responsible for normalizing torture in opposition to what you presume to be the President's core convictions - perhaps you should call on him to fire his SOS - maybe start a petition. <snark>

    Huh? (none / 0) (#76)
    by squeaky on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 04:56:10 PM EST
    If Obama has normalized torture, as your faction claims, then he is an International criminal and all those who are senior in his administration are collaborators aiding and abetting a crime.

    So to make it simple for you:  if Obama has no core values and is a criminal, Hillary also has no core values and is also a criminal.

    But Hillary, according to your faction has core values that imbue and inform her leadership, despite her being a Politician. Sounds like you have a problem with your logic here.


    Like I said, take it up with Obama. (none / 0) (#77)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 05:32:14 PM EST
    It takes a village (none / 0) (#72)
    by jondee on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 04:15:53 PM EST
    like the one in Bentonville, Arkansas, to truely instill core values..

    Fox (none / 0) (#71)
    by jondee on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 04:12:11 PM EST
    Do you think there's a way that we can continue to maintain the interventionist status quo thats been in place for decades and those 700 bases around the world, without it including, as part of the "eternal vigilance" package, things like extraordinary rendition and "harsh interrogations"?

    I dont. Any more than we're ever going to seriouly reduce collateral casulaties when "the terrorists use human shields" (as the spin goes)  


    I'm with you on this, Anne (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 09:00:47 PM EST
    IOW, seems to me, there are pols, and then there are pols.  There's Arlen Specter, and then there's Ted Kennedy, iow.  Some of them, I'd argue a fair number, actually do have core beliefs and principles that they'd at least prefer to stick with, all other things being equal, and to me it's helpful to try to figure that out.  It's somewhat less hard to push a pol to do something that's in line with his/her core beliefs than it is to push them to do something that isn't in line or is in opposition to them, and can certainly require very different tactics.

    I'm one of those at least who posted here that Obama seems to me to have no core ideology, no organizing principle for the way he approaches solving problems.  He sees himself totally as a non-ideological pragmatist, which means he's ruled by his "experts" and how articulate and confident a practical case they can make to him about this or that.


    Talk about "core beliefs" (none / 0) (#20)
    by jondee on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 05:04:33 PM EST
    how about this (seeming) prevalent core belief - based in mythology, imo - that people prone to subsuming personal ambition to their higher principals - rather than being hyper-ambitious careerists and power-seekers - are attracted to a career in politics in this country?

    Damn right, BTD. Agitate and keep agitating. And bend them to our will. And hope some of the major donors start modifying some of THEIR "core beliefs".  


    Isn't everybody (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by Emma on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 03:43:43 PM EST
    Oz, the Great and Powerful at their own blogs?

    Yes. It is a "Gemeinschaft" (soc.) (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by bridget on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 06:05:13 PM EST
    And as a newbie that fact alone is just about the first thing one learns when reading and/or posting on any blog on the net.

    Still searching for the right one ....


    P.S. and Corrente is looking better and better (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by bridget on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 06:11:46 PM EST
    to me every day

    Speaking only for myself, of course ;-)


    True (none / 0) (#27)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 06:09:42 PM EST
    Miners need to be close knit while sellers not so much..

    ergo the difference between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft


    Miners and Sellers ... LOL (none / 0) (#29)
    by bridget on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 06:16:26 PM EST
    Thanks for the laugh. Coming from you that was quite the surprise.

    Oh (none / 0) (#42)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:30:44 PM EST
    You must be relatively new here at TL... lol

    a pol = appall (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Dadler on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 04:09:16 PM EST
    generally speaking.  even the "best" disappoint.  as we do ourselves.  in agitating for issues that matter to us, and to our communities, we rock the boat (our own included, if we are really trying) AND the larger ship.  

    btd has it down on this issue.  kudos.

    Can you clarify something? Do you believe that (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by observed on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 04:10:30 PM EST
    pols have core beliefs which they act upon?
    This is my sticking point with your comment.
    It seems self evident to me that Dick Armey and Hillary Clinton believe different things, that I can predict which whey they will stand on any number of issues because I know their political principles.
    You seem to delight in pointing out that politicians break promises like water is wet, but if a politician makes 10 promises and breaks 3, you still know something about his positions, right?

    Personally, I have little doubt (none / 0) (#39)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 09:05:17 PM EST
    that if Dick Armey had to stand for election in Vermont every few years, he'd suddenly acquire entirely different core beliefs and voting habits.

    exhibit A: (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by CST on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 09:12:52 PM EST
    Mitt Romney

    Exhibit B (none / 0) (#46)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:45:55 PM EST
    John 'I never said I was a maverick' McCain

    Exhibit C (none / 0) (#50)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 11:48:06 PM EST
    Arlen Specter

    Broad applicability (5.00 / 5) (#13)
    by christinep on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 04:19:56 PM EST
    I've always like to applaud, urge on my "political pick" of the times and jump & shout. But, at the same time, not only were we taught early that "pols will be pols," but we also learned to hold the self apart just a bit to observe/study what motivates the particular politician. The winds, obviously, are the biggest motivator (and, so, source of influence.) For activists, knowing the geographical or historical or particular motivator is pragmatically helpful. For the broader groups, holding one's private self in check is a good buffer against personal emotional winds of "I love x, he can do no wrong" to the inevitable "I hate x, everything he/she does stinks." Understanding motivation and keeping in mind PWBP can help smooth out the downs and give one the perspective needed in any relationship (political, community, career/business, or personal.)

    It's very relevant (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by brodie on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 07:16:44 PM EST
    your raising the emotional or human aspect of politics.  

    As long as people are involved in the process -- voter and office seeker/holder -- you're going to have a significant non-rational factor in the equation that won't easily yield to easy, especially easily misunderstood, admonitions.  

    And the more a voter or activist has already been enthused about a pol, the harder it can be to distance oneself enough, or at all, to look at the situation objectively when that necessity arises.  Though I think the number of grown ups who are so completely personally invested as to think the pol can do no wrong is very small indeed, and accurately discerning motivation can be a very elusive and frustrating exercise with no consensus answer.  

    Yet it's true that these people we call pols, or some of them anyway, are often operating in a context that's a lot more complex than many outspoken online commentators give them credit for, and so speculating about motivation and those complexities is par for the course for most of us observers.

    In my view, not all pols are created equal.  The typical one might need more frequent maintenance than you've bargained for while largely staying this side of the law, and there are a few who've slipped through the checks and balances of the system who seem only out for themselves and/or their financial benefactors.  Then there are your exceptional self-starter pols, fewer in number, who rarely if ever need prodding and who even once in a while take a major political risk and do the courageous thing.


    Basic point - 'Pols are pols' (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 04:27:42 PM EST
    as BTD uses it is not the same thing as 'pols will be pols' which has the 'boys will be boys' baggage as an expression. That makes 'pols will be pols' easy to use in the wrong context. I know it is a nit, but it is important.


    saying "pols are pols". It suggests that, inevitably, pols will be crass and craven in pursuit of attaining, and retaining, status and power. So, there is no meaningful distinction between saying "pols are pols" and "pols will be pols".

    I'm not sure (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by lentinel on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 04:54:06 PM EST
    that I buy that.

    We deserve people in public life who are not pols.

    As I have previously mentioned, the person I admire most who was in public life was Malcolm X. He never bent. He was always serious. He was consistent. He listened. He grew.

    This mold of politician is the one I want to encourage.

    There is no way that we can influence "pols" like Obama.
    That should be clear by now. I am not interested in them.
    I simply hope for the best and cross my fingers that we may get through one more presidency without global nuclear conflagration.

    I recommend that people listen to the speeches of Malcolm X.
    You will hear and feel what a true politician sounds like. A person of the people for the people.

    Malcolm X (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Spamlet on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 05:05:11 PM EST
    didn't have to run for office.

    He (none / 0) (#53)
    by lentinel on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 02:57:28 AM EST
    was denied that opportunity.

    You do know (2.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:46:21 PM EST
    the President is the President of all the people right- that he has to represent more than just the ultra-slim segment of the populace X represented right? See its easy to have fixed never moving values when you don't have to appeal to anyone- its why the almost all of the partisan purist on either side of the aisle are in the House and not the Senate you can be a Bachmann or Waters in the House its rare for it to happen in the Senate (Sanders and Coburn- are the two real exceptions to this and the former was a virtual incumbent when he ran for the seat while the later is from Oklahoma a state without a liberal analogue).  

    Funny (5.00 / 3) (#51)
    by Spamlet on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 01:01:53 AM EST
    the President is the President of all the people

    Is that why he's "representing" moderate (cough) Republicans more than anyone else?


    This wasn't (none / 0) (#48)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:47:45 PM EST
    meant as an attack on X- who became a great man towards the end of his life but its very hard to compare a guy like Malcolm to someone who serves a much larger section of the populace.

    Malcolm X (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by lentinel on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 02:56:40 AM EST
    has been misrepresented.

    You are responding to a cartoon version - or a Spike Lee version - of the real man. He did not become a great man at the end of his life. He was always a great man.

    He did not represent a "sliver" of the populous.
    His focus was on the plight of black people in America. That's true.

    But if you follow the thought that improving the lot of those who are most oppressed in a society will result in the improving of the lives of everyone in society, you will see that his importance as a leader went beyond any racial boundaries.

    He expressed the sentiments of, and referred to, Patrick Henry.

    If you listen to interviews of Malcolm, you will hear someone speaking openly, candidly and in a manner that politicians do not. There is no hidden agenda. There is nothing concealed.
    It is worth listening to. I say "listen" because there are subtleties and power that are in his voice and inflection that do not adequately carry over to the written word.

    He was not a racist. He spoke the same way to white people that he did to black people. Today's politicians, including Obama, seldom if ever do that.

    To give you another example: If the world put as a priority the welfare of children there would be no more war. Representing their interests would benefit all of humankind, not a mere sliver of the populace.

    It is true that he did not run for office. But he might have, had he not been gunned down.

    But my point is that once you have heard the quality of intelligence, of intellectual capacity, of openness and love for people coming from a politician, it is hard - very hard - to settle for the drivel with which we are presented and are being encouraged to accept.


    Pols are "people"... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 05:06:26 PM EST
    Mortals with all the potential for triumph and failure...

    Ideas, goals, objectives and goals are different...

    This democracy was set up so that the people were interchangable, but the ideals and objectives - while not totally inflexible on every front - were more stable and constant than any people could ever hope to be.

    You must have a lot of friends..... (5.00 / 5) (#24)
    by apolitik on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 05:43:59 PM EST
    ....with your ad hominem attacks and such. Corrente is one of the few non-tainted blogs out there, IMO.

    Untainted? (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 05:59:07 PM EST
    Does that mean that there is a purity test for blogs, or that you agree with most of the opinions at corrente?

    Is TL a tainted blog?  

    Never heard that terminology, but then again I do not stray too far from here..


    As in... (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by apolitik on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 06:27:21 PM EST
    Tainted....co-opted by the Democratic Fundraising Machine Apparatus. Alsp known as Access Bloggers:


    As someone who has been around the blogosphere since 2004, and has watched the changes occur mentioned in the link above, the subjectivity of my opinion has validity to me. Not a great standard, but you can decide your own smell test. It's not that one 'agrees' more with a blog, its how that blog serves to shape and perpetuate political discourses and for whom/what.  Not all blogs aren't worth reading because they are tainted, for instance Open Left has the wonderful Paul Rosenberg and Natasha Chart and used to have Ian Welsh, but they are an access blog by every standard and that makes many of their authors suspect to me. Whena  blogs authors reach a point that supporting them with page hits and thereby advertising dollars is no longer innocuous, is when I can't visit the site (DKOS, OL, MyDd).

    That's all I'm saying on this. I'm not getting tied into a huge battle war here, and a lot of reading the blogosphere is understanding who has connections to whom and how do blogs interact with each other, so go explore.


    Oh my goodness! (5.00 / 4) (#31)
    by lambert on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 06:35:08 PM EST
    Well, with no links or evidence, I guess we'll just have to go with Donald from Hawaii's assertion. Works for me!

    * * *

    Incidentally, this comment is greatly to BTD's credit, since he and I both know I've tried to beat him up over here on policy (and tactics) a fair number of times.

    And fer fricks sake (5.00 / 3) (#41)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:29:03 PM EST
    Someone needs to play left field...  God knows I'm a rover and worthless as a dedicated left fielder playing the left game full hearted and full throated.

    It took my awhile to stay true (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:38:57 PM EST
    to the issues without getting broken hearted over the next promising pol sliming me the day after being sworn in, but I'm significantly recovered from my political codependency now.  They can all totally screw me over now and I go to bed just fine, I sleep a gentle sleep now too knowing that I can simply live with each breath I take to make them sorry for screwing me over every single time they do it.  I'm now well rested, and also mean and cold hearted now I'm told :)  But I'm so at peace within now it is sooooo worth it to wear the mean girl badge :)

    I think you use "pols will be pols" (5.00 / 2) (#57)
    by masslib on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 07:55:51 AM EST
    too liberally, although often you make the correct point.  

    Oh, I agree with you about agitating, sitting around hoping a given politician or political Party will do the right thing, whatever that may be, is an exercise in futility.  However, I think some of the current administrations biggest supporters are not going to agitate, not because they don't know this, but rather because they are too lazy and not that committed to their professed ideals.

    I too agree about agitating, but (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by ZtoA on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 07:03:58 PM EST
    How? Lefties have been agitating online, letters, phone calls and in occasional marches. All easily dismissed, and the $ has been flowing in from corporations. Pols do react to $. No way to agitate there. Voting could be seen as agitating and the last election (and on this site) saw some refusal to vote party loyalty. But worrying about votes can be backburnered for Obama, tho not congress members. He has the next election if he wants it. He has media appeal and the dems have the $.

    About core values, of course Obama has core values. Every human being (and possibly some other species) has core values. I would more say that the core values he has are not quite clear to me. Possibly basic values are changing socially these days.

    What does concern me is that the democratic party seems to have lost its core values - its party platforms. The attempts by Dean and Rahm to boost dem numbers after the disaster of 2000 has resulted in the dem party losing core values.


    Some human beings have less core principles (none / 0) (#82)
    by masslib on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 09:04:38 PM EST
    than others.  I think if Obama had many fixed principles, we'd know what some of them were by now.  

    As far as agitating, we will NEVER have the money of the corporations.  Money is not an option.  But boycotts and marches, etc.. we have not even really tried in that regard.  Further, it certainly doesn't help when major liberal organizations thank Congress for passing a piss poor health insurance reofrm bill rather than holding them accountable for dropping their support of public insurance.  Not only are we not agitating but we are taking some big steps backwards.


    After I read (5.00 / 4) (#83)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 09:25:46 PM EST
    this review of the new David Remnick book, I was struck by the concluding paragraphs:

    Obama's strategy everywhere before entering the White House was one of omnidirectional placation. It had always worked. Why should he abandon, at this point, a method of such proved effectiveness? Yet success at winning acceptance may not be what is called for in a leader moving through a time of peril. To disarm fears of change (the first African-­American presidency is, in itself, a big jolt of change), Obama has stressed continuity. Though he first became known as a critic of the war in Iraq, he has kept aspects or offshoots of Bush's war on terror -- possible future "renditions" (kidnappings on foreign soil), trials of suspected terrorists in military tribunals, no investigations of torture, an expanded Afghan commitment, though he promised to avoid "a dumb war." He appointed as his vice president and secretary of state people who voted for the Iraq war, and as secretary of defense and presiding generals people who conducted or defended that war.

    To cope with the financial crisis, he turned to Messrs. Geithner, Summers and Bernanke, who were involved in fomenting the crisis. To launch reform of medical care, he huddled with the American Medical Association, big pharmaceutical companies and insurance firms, and announced that his effort had their backing (the best position to be in for stabbing purposes, which they did month after month). All these things speak to Obama's concern with continuity and placation. But continuity easily turns into inertia, as we found when Obama wasted the first year of his term, the optimum time for getting things done. He may have drunk his own Kool-Aid -- believing that his election could of itself usher in a post-racial, post-partisan, post-red-state and blue-state era. That is a change no one should ever have believed in. The price of winningness can be losing; and that, in this scary time, is enough to break the heart of hope.

    What precedes that quote is equally thought-provoking.


    I don't think that Squeaky (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by ZtoA on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 10:14:13 PM EST
    has an obsession with Hillary. Rather an obsession with people who say "I told you so". And to be fair, it is really annoying to hear "I told you so" over and over and over. She seems to have had enough of it and now seems to see it around every corner.

    Also, to be fair, there are people who are actually and really suffering because of Obama administration's focus and decisions, so criticism of him is justified - for them. They have a right to say "I told you so".

    And they are probably right. And that is so annoying.

    This thread is closing (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 11:05:56 PM EST
    Please stop sniping with each other and calling each other names. Thank you.

    You might consider (4.40 / 5) (#3)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 03:15:41 PM EST
    formulating a new "catch phrase" then.  Because on it's face, without the long explanation, the Corrente interpretation can easily be made.

    Agreed, rather than a call to (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by KeysDan on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 04:32:10 PM EST
    get on your horse, agitate, or work to influence, pols are pols seemed to be resignation or hopelessness.  The context may have argued otherwise but it was not glaringly apparent.

    True. (none / 0) (#12)
    by talesoftwokitties on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 04:18:36 PM EST
    Because that's how I've made the interpretation in the past.  I do appreciate the explanation though, and will remember it later on.

    "Words strain, (none / 0) (#32)
    by lambert on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 06:43:18 PM EST
    Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
    Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
    Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
    Will not stay still." -- TS Eliot

    Meaning that I think I've always understood the connotation that BTD's talking about; not to accept pols for what they are, but to understand they are what they are and, if anything, to redouble our efforts towards our goals by influencing them or persuading them.

    And at one time, I might have agreed with that idea. But I don't think I agree with it any more; I don't think the legacy parties are responsive to the electorate (certainly not to my part of the electorate).

    So, it's also understandable how somebody who sees the legitimacy of the state as being, say, less than it has been would give the phrase their own interpretation, and not BTD's.


    Corrente is one of the counterparts (3.00 / 3) (#49)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:49:40 PM EST
    to the liberal blogs that went full Obama love- its a bastion of ODS, which is a shame because up through late 2007 it was a good read with interesting Ideas.

    If corrente is a bastion of anything, (5.00 / 8) (#54)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 07:19:03 AM EST
    it is of calling out the corporate monoliths that are screwing us all over, as well as the politicians who have aligned themselves so closely with those corporate interests.  Is Obama one of those politiicians?  Well, I think it's hard not to see the nexus, and calling it out - whether it's Obama or the many members of Congress who sell us out on a regular basis - is not ODS - or any DS - but a matter of no longer being willing to take much of anything at face value, of looking at the patterns and practices, of untangling the spider web of political/corporate connections.

    Corrente can be a little more in-your-face, it's a more free-wheeling environment, more mosh-pit than afternoon social; there's lots of energy there, a fair amount of anger, and it's less about hating on anyone for hate's sake, and more about calling out the BS for what it is - no matter who it's coming from.

    It's not for everyone, not always easy to keep up, sometimes a bit intimidating for the breadth of knowledge people there have, but I always learn something, even if I don't always agree with all the points of view presented.  And there are lots of viewpoints.

    If you read corrente for no other reason, you should check out vastleft's American Extremists daily graphic: they are unbelievably good.


    Crystal Clear (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 03:08:02 PM EST
    As it always has been. Seems hard not to get right, as so much of the criticism of yours, Greenwald, et al., has been leveled at progressive/liberals who fawn rather than fight, like a subscription audience that has paid years in advance..

    I think (none / 0) (#4)
    by lilburro on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 03:35:56 PM EST
    a good example of agitation was the beating down of John Brennan's potential CIA nomination.  Why?  Well because it is the only crusade on the blogs that actually worked (in my memory).  I don't see what the Progressive Left has won through agitation other than that (and as we know Brennan was appointed to a very important Homeland Security Adviser post anyway).  Despite the fact that Brennan is on the security team, we had Obama in a position where he could be influenced.  He did not want to resemble GW Bush.  That's my take anyway and yes I am biased because I participated!!  Everyone who asked the Left to shut up (John Cole, Spencer Ackerman) and wait was wrong.  I think you could argue that a message was sent to Obama that helped shape his early policies re: torture.

    The "shut down the ATM" movement on the part of LGBTQ groups also got some attention, although not much has been done for them.

    These two examples worked because they had the potential to embarrass Obama.  I think you'll see LGBTQ groups moving again soon since there's no plans to do anything with DADT this year.

    Yup - agitation works when it (none / 0) (#18)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 04:34:49 PM EST
    advances the pol's self interest, whatever that is at the time. No matter what strongly held core principles they have, they rarely act on them if they are not safe politically, and that changes with the situation and the risk tolerance level of the pol.

    Keep agitating and you give the pol cover for what he/she might want to do anyway. Hence the 'make me do it' FDR story.


    Realistic is often ... (none / 0) (#14)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 04:22:29 PM EST
    confused with reductive these days.

    But regardless the "pols are pols" refrain is always worth repeating.  Because us humans often confuse the similar for the same.  We often confuse political activists with politicians, just as we often confuse business associates with friends.  And such moments of confusion more often than not have lasting and disastrous results.

    BTD, my only occasional quibble with your use of the notion of "pols are pols" is you don't apply this same logic to other groups in the political sphere. Such as A-List bloggers.  Another group often confused with activists.