A Progressive Critique Of Obama's Choice Of Kagan

This is Monday Morning quarterbacking (not in a bad sense), and we are past this stage of the Kagan Debate now, but Scott Lemieux provides a progressive critique of President Obama's decision to nominate Elena Kagan:

When considering a Supreme Court nominee, a president should be looking for something more than merely "good enough." Kagan may be to the left of John Roberts, but that still leaves a lot of ideological territory open. [. . .]

[. . .] Given the incentives of Supreme Court nominees, it may be futile to hope that Kagan will break with the recent trend of saying nothing of value at the confirmation hearings. And if she fails to take the hearings in a more substantive direction, it will be difficult to avoid the conclusion that while Obama has not necessarily made a bad choice, he has certainly taken an unnecessary risk.

One of the problems I have with this piece is the unstated assumption that President Obama wanted a nominee that is reliably progressive. That may be so, but I am not much into mind reading. I take the pick at face value. Obama chose the type of nominee he wants for the Court.

We can not know for sure now, or even after forthcoming testimony from Kagan at her confirmation hearings, if she will be a strong progressive voice on the Court. Obama may know.

But on the record we have, she was not Obama's most reliably progressive option. It is time to stop the "If Only the Czar Knew" approach to evaluating these decisions. This is who Obama is. Indeed, I argued that this is who Obama was throughout the primaries. He is a Bill Clinton Third Way Democrat.

Speaking for me only

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    IMO (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by lilburro on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:33:08 AM EST
    Progressives in this battle need to make it clear that they will not accept Merrick Garland as Obama's next choice for SCOTUS.  Because I have no reason to believe Obama would not pick him if faced with an otherwise more difficult confirmation hearing.

    the odds (none / 0) (#5)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:40:16 AM EST
    do seem to be on him for the next one.

    Yup (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by lilburro on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:46:45 AM EST
    which selection next time around is more likely:  Wood or Garland?  I don't think it's Wood.

    One article I read sd. Obama picked (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Wed May 12, 2010 at 11:39:18 AM EST
    Kagan now to keep Garland in reserve for when more of the Senate is COP.  Awwk.

    NYT Writers Opinion (3.00 / 2) (#12)
    by squeaky on Wed May 12, 2010 at 11:51:54 AM EST
    Worth a lot..... of nothing.  

    In fact your opinion is just as valid.


    Right (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by lilburro on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:13:42 PM EST
    because the previous SCOTUS shortlist had no bearing on this selection.  None at all.


    Mr. Obama telephoned Judge Sotomayor at 9 p.m. on Monday, officials said, advising her that she was his choice to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Later Monday night, Mr. Obama called the three other finalists -- Judge Diane P. Wood of Chicago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Solicitor General Elena Kagan -- to inform them that he had selected Judge Sotomayor. [bold supplied]

    And politics and the perceived ability to confirm a Justice has nothing to do with the selection, at all.


    Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, privately made clear to the president that he considered Judge Garland a good choice, according to people briefed on their conversations.

    Huh? (none / 0) (#21)
    by squeaky on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:19:48 PM EST
    You may also share the opinion of the NYT writer. My point is that it is a NYT writer's opinion. Just because he is from the NYT, and he included it in his reporting of the Kagan nomination, does not make it actual reporting of a WH strategy.

    It is opinion, not fact.


    There is no doubt (none / 0) (#40)
    by lilburro on Wed May 12, 2010 at 01:18:54 PM EST
    that Garland was on the shortlist.  This should be a concern.  Whether he was or was not being framed the way the author says, who knows, but he was interviewed.

    No Doubt? (none / 0) (#41)
    by squeaky on Wed May 12, 2010 at 01:22:58 PM EST
    That is not the issue. It is an obvious fact that Garland was on the shortlist.

    Why, thank you. (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:02:38 PM EST
    Well (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by squeaky on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:27:46 PM EST
    Apart from the implied insult, what I really meant is that it is not fact, just someone's opinion. You cannot bank on it so it is worth zero.

    That is not to say that your opinions are worthless, oculus, even if they are not bankable.


    When I read that part of the article, I (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by oculus on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:29:45 PM EST
    thought, Says who?

    My Exact Reaction (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by squeaky on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:47:20 PM EST
    I re-read only to surmise that the reporter was opining, not reporting. Sneaky, no?

    Or the anonymous WH source (none / 0) (#38)
    by oculus on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:51:59 PM EST
    couldn't even be termed "anonymous."

    Nah (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by squeaky on Wed May 12, 2010 at 01:04:01 PM EST
    That is from an anonymous WH source, is the implied assumption most educated readers would make, the uneducated would just assume it as fact.

    That is why it is so sneaky. Non attributable comment, even to an unnamed source, is opinion. Very bad journalism, imo. Reminiscent of Judy Miller who mixed her opinion with WH dictation, all presented as factual reporting.


    read (none / 0) (#9)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed May 12, 2010 at 11:44:22 AM EST
    the same

    I could go for that if Garland (none / 0) (#17)
    by MKS on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:07:56 PM EST
    were picked to replace a conservative or Kennedy.  Ginsburg?   No way.  But that may be what he has in mind.....Oy.

    Another spot is likely to (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by lilburro on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:16:32 PM EST
    open during Obama's time in office.  My point now is that progressives should make clear that Garland is not acceptable.  He wasn't at this time and he won't be in the future.  Kagan should be the most centrist candidate progressives will be willing to accept.  2 cents.

    Sure, let it be so (3.00 / 2) (#24)
    by MKS on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:26:53 PM EST
    But I like Walt Disney movies too....

    Actually, now may be the time to really try and steer this process in a different direction.  If a handful of Progressives in the Senate decide to vote against Kagan, because she is too much of blank slate and because she refuses to answer any substantive questions, then with the Republicans in opposition, it would not take much to reach 51 votes in opposition.

    Are there a dozen or so Progressives in the Senate who would do this?  Add Ben Nelson of Nebraska and voila! poof! no more Kagan.

    Stranger things have happened.  If the Liberal Democrats and the Tories can form a coalition government in Britain, then we could have a coalition for the limited purpose of ditching Kagan.


    We need a new Wayne Morse (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by MyLeftMind on Wed May 12, 2010 at 02:47:41 PM EST
    "We gotta back our President? Since when do we have to back our President? Or should we, when the President is proposing an unconstitutional act?" (Sen Morse attempting to stop Congress from letting the Prez invade Vietnam.)

    Perhaps we can call on another Oregon senator for this task, like Wyden who cut his political teeth driving Morse around.


    Ron Wyden stick his neck out? (none / 0) (#71)
    by caseyOR on Wed May 12, 2010 at 06:59:01 PM EST
    I don't think so. Jeff Merkley, maybe, when he gets a little more Senate time under his belt, but not Wyden.

    Someone said, maybe John Stewart, (none / 0) (#28)
    by MKS on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:28:47 PM EST
    that Kagan is like Harriet Miers only not dumb.

    The Republicans got Bush to dump Miers, so the same could happen again...


    The way Bush I sought liberals (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by BobTinKY on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:29:45 PM EST
    to replace Brennan and Marshall, the way Bush II sought a moderate to replace O'Connor?

    Should any of the Conservative, activist 5 leave the Court Obama should pick the best availabli progressive.


    Sounds good to me (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by MKS on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:35:28 PM EST
    The way to get that kind of leverage is to TKO Kagan because she refuses to answer substantive questions at the confirmation hearings.

    Force Obama to withdraw Kagan, just as the Republicans (who still loved Bush) forced Bush to withdraw Miers because it wasn't clear she would be a conservative Justice.


    Now, oculus, you really must (none / 0) (#26)
    by Cream City on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:27:59 PM EST
    get over that DFRW mantra.  Fall in line now; based on differences between Wood and Garland on partial-birth abortion, Fox Nooz finds Garland the most acceptable.  Gotta woo those voters, y'know.

    Ok. (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by dk on Wed May 12, 2010 at 11:32:03 AM EST
    He is a Bill Clinton Third Way Democrat.

    Excellent.  So I should be expecting something like the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 any day now, right?

    Yep. And he will propose expanding Medicare to 55- (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by Dan the Man on Wed May 12, 2010 at 11:45:02 AM EST
    64 year olds just like third way Bill Clinton did also.

    Bill's record on the environment was (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by MKS on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:05:01 PM EST

    He appointed Bruce Babbitt as Secretary of the Interior--the dream candidate of environmentalists for the job; so much so, that Babbitt was taken off the short list as a potential Supreme Court nominee.

    And, Bill used the Antiquities Act to unilaterally designate hugh swaths of the West as national monuments forever closed to development and drilling and mining....Republican anti-environmentalists howled for a long time.   Too bad, Bill did it anyway....

    Considering he had a Republican Congress to deal with, Bill's environmental record was very, very good. And needless to say, Bill avoided the unforced error of conceding that more off-shore oil drilling was necessary.  Bill held the line on more offshore drilling and ANWR.

    Obama could have learned a thing or two from Bill in that regard.....

    Bill did tack to the center to survive politically, e.g., welfare reform--especially after the GOP took over Congress.  Obama, however, has become a centrist offering unilateral compromises with the GOP--even though he enjoys large Democratic majorities in Congress--because he thinks it is "transformational."  

    Bill would have done wonders with the large majorities that Obama enjoys...


    Thanks for reminding us (none / 0) (#35)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:41:32 PM EST
    And, Bill used the Antiquities Act to unilaterally designate hugh swaths of the West as national monuments forever closed to development and drilling and mining....

    So instead they drilled in the Gulf.....

    BTW - How did that work out??


    Jim, they have been drilling in the Gulf (none / 0) (#36)
    by MKS on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:46:12 PM EST
    for more than a little while now.   Under no scenario would drilling in the Gulf have been abandoned.....

    If you allowed drilling and mining on the protected lands in the West, you would have gotten BOTH despoiled lands in the West and befouled ocean in the Gulf.  


    yup (none / 0) (#89)
    by TeresaInPa on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:50:55 AM EST
    and healthcare reform with a public option.

    "He is a Bill Clinton 3rd Way Democrat." (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by BobTinKY on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:24:04 PM EST
    Which is what used to be known as a Rockefeller Republican.

    I don't know about the cutesy labels... (none / 0) (#53)
    by christinep on Wed May 12, 2010 at 03:55:23 PM EST
    What I do know is that things were quite progressive in the federal employ compared to former President Clinton's predecessors. Starting with the federal appointments (as in Plum Book's top SES positions--the ones that make the wheels of policy work or not in the federal government.) The Secretaries like Babbit and Browner and Shalala etc. weren't the only stellar appointments. One thing I'll always remember is the incredible increase in diversity (and the related talent, merit, & high qualifications) both in the executive civilian force and in the judicial branch. The steep increase in these qualities did not just happen or evolve. The Clinton Administration ensured that the talk for once translated to the hires. Why the emphasis? Because staffing is key to good decisions and results.

    Not only has this administration ... (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by Robot Porter on Wed May 12, 2010 at 04:27:19 PM EST
    proved it's not progressive.  But progressives seem to have little interest in taking this administration on.  At least not in an organized or effective way. As the HCR debate proved.

    Kagan will sail through with a few boo's from the the cheap seats.  End of.

    He's gone way beyond Third Way Dem (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by joanneleon on Thu May 13, 2010 at 07:17:10 AM EST
    IMHO. Look at the sum total of all of his actions.

    I have to say, BTD, that you've been one of my "go to" people on the SCOTUS for years now, but I think you are falling down on this Kagan nomination, big time.  The "meh" attitude toward all of this is not working for me.  

    What can I say (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:22:39 AM EST
    I am calling them as I see them.

    I am not anybody's Progressive Champion.

    I am the champion for my own views, which are decidedly Centrist.


    rofl (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by TeresaInPa on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:43:15 AM EST
    Hillary a timid hand maiden.... idiotic POV.

    Obama isn't even remotely Bill Clinton (4.25 / 4) (#65)
    by Bornagaindem on Wed May 12, 2010 at 05:05:39 PM EST
    and I take umbrage with that characterization. Bill Clinton when he had a  democratic majority raised taxes on the wealthy in order to stop the hemoraging of the budget that Reagan/Bush policies left us. He lost the Congress as a result. Only at that point did he became a third way president- out of necessity. I  do not agree with Clinton on some of the things he did but he has  more progressive policies in his little finger than Obama has in his whole body.

     More importantly Clinton made excellent progressive choices for the Supreme court when his turn came and he could only ever dream about the democratic majorities that Obama has.

    I totally agree Obama's choice could have been a real solid progressive but it was not and actions always speak louder than words. We didn't get a solid progressive because Obama doesn't want a solid progressive. Just like he didn't want single payer healthcare and just like he doesn't want to really rein in the banks.

    Get over it Obama is not your friend if you are a progressive.

    Really? (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by squeaky on Wed May 12, 2010 at 05:15:42 PM EST
    but he has  more progressive policies in his little finger than Obama has in his whole body.

    Nostalgia, not to mention love...  

    But anyway we know where you are coming from.


    Nothing says Progressive (none / 0) (#80)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:26:39 PM EST
    Like adopting Don't Ask Don't tell while having a Democratic Majority.

    Unless maybe its taking time off (5.00 / 2) (#81)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:27:23 PM EST
     the campaign trail to back home and execute a mentally retarded man.

    Exactly (3.66 / 3) (#4)
    by david mizner on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:35:11 AM EST
    "One of the problems I have with this piece is the unstated assumption that President Obama wanted a nominee that is reliably progressive."

    How relentless un-progressive does Obama have to be before progressives accepts that he's not, in fact, a progressive?

    Why would a president who's adopted an expansive Bushian view of executive power (and a dim, Bushian view of civil liberties) pick someone likely to take a different view?


    Lemeiux (he's not alone) is like the guy who's tries and tries to figure out why his girlfriend isn't nice to him without recognizing the fact that his girlfriend isn't a nice person.

    Oh (1.00 / 1) (#11)
    by kaleidescope on Wed May 12, 2010 at 11:48:44 AM EST
    And what makes you think that "progressives" still think Obama is progressive?  Since he started to name appointments before he took office the progressives at Firedoglake and Open Left have been pointing out just how pro-business and un-progressive Obama is.  

    But for those of us who think Obama is just an opportunistic pol like everyone else in Washington, we're torn.  Really going after Obama tends to play into Republican hands and they are scarrier than ever.  Plus there is a bit of a Democratic Party war room that has been set up to besmirch the character of influential left-of-center critics of Obama -- people like Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Jane Hamsher, Glenn Grenwald.

    Obama is an opportunistic pol.  He is Hillary Clinton with a prostate gland.  But we don't really get a lot of mileage out of constantly harping on that point.  And harping on the point does tend to help Republicans.


    Why is EVERY (4.50 / 8) (#13)
    by Emma on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:00:28 PM EST
    comparison to Hillary Clinton an unfavorable one?  Keee-rist.  The woman is a formidable politician, with a top-notch intellect, and an iron will.  Every f*cking politician in the f*cking world is "opportunistic" but it's only ever Hillary Clinton that gets the negative slam time and time and time again.

    Adding to Emma's remarks-- (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by christinep on Wed May 12, 2010 at 04:14:40 PM EST
    Hillary Clinton is a strong, smart, dynamic woman. Elena Kagan is a powerhouse in her own right--strong, smart, dynamic as well. I definitely respect and admire Secretary Clinton. And, the more I read about Solicitor Kagan, the more I grow to respect her. Opportunistic or ambitious?? Who cares? It must be the life's work that counts in government. And, the label that we attach to Kagan...well, if good and liberal (or progressive) people who work now or in the past with her (starting with the late Justice Thurgood Marshall and Judge Mikva)regard her highly, the mumbo-jumbo of who tracks 10 or 20 degrees left of this or that begins to resemble so much noise to me. Frankly, what I find quite troubling is the unusual interest in her sexuality demonstrated by the likes of Andrew Sullivan and other scalawags--the same kind of obdurate interest previously directed at Hillary Clinton by the same types of individuals. Ever curious, this form of criticism that seems to be levied against the strong woman.

    Sully is really boosting the "ick" (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by MKS on Wed May 12, 2010 at 04:19:20 PM EST
    factor over on his blog....He has gone back to the Blacks have lower-IQs discussion....



    please (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed May 12, 2010 at 04:38:07 PM EST
    while I agree with most of what you said only the most ardent dittoheads were whispering about Hillary orientation.  there is a lot more whispering than that going on here regardless of how we feel about dealing with it.

    personally I think the interesting part is that in spite of the persistence of it, it has really seemed to have no effect at all on the momentum of her nomination even in the most right with quarters.  no one really seems to care much beyond morbid curiosity.  
    a good thing afaiac.


    Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by squeaky on Wed May 12, 2010 at 04:44:54 PM EST
    Might also be that the attack, when it is based on nothing but scant hearsay, would blow up in their faces.

    And I do not think that being an activist is for everyone. IOW, whether or not a gay SC appointee or public figure is open about their sexuality or not, has little bearing on either their qualifications or job performance.


    I completely agree (none / 0) (#64)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed May 12, 2010 at 04:49:23 PM EST
    but I honestly dont think most of the flap was, at least originally meant as, an attack.

    the guy who seems to have started it says he honestly thought she was "out" because he had heard it so much.

    I dont think that is unbelievable since I know he is not anti gay.


    That guy was Ben Domenech (none / 0) (#66)
    by MKS on Wed May 12, 2010 at 05:10:41 PM EST
    of RedState repute....He lost a gig at a major publication because of past plagiarism.....Arch conservative....

    Not sure how pure his motives were....


    well (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed May 12, 2010 at 05:18:53 PM EST
    conservative does not necessarily mean anti gay.  I have read a lot of what the guy has had to say since this flap and he seems pretty sincere to me.

    I agree with and believe this statement:

    As Yglesias notes, "I'd like to think we're past the point where saying someone's a lesbian counts as a dastardly 'accusation,'" and it certainly was not intended as such.

    And, I Would Add (none / 0) (#70)
    by kaleidescope on Wed May 12, 2010 at 06:45:56 PM EST
    That is especially true after confirmation to lifetime tenure.

    Speaking of tenure, academe and all (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Cream City on Wed May 12, 2010 at 07:09:31 PM EST
    . . . would that were true at the university that broke a contract for a deanship, offered to and accepted by a lesbian scholar -- but withdrawn when the new archbishop went ballistic about it.  

    It's a travesty.  I have many colleagues on faculty there, and this is so not over. . . .


    A bit more Capt Howdy (none / 0) (#61)
    by christinep on Wed May 12, 2010 at 04:43:17 PM EST
    Maybe I'm still bristling from Sullivan's innuendo about anything Clinton. (I do take your point, tho.)

    Sully is a fat hairy tool (none / 0) (#63)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed May 12, 2010 at 04:46:18 PM EST
    I am not here to defend him.  at all.

    lol (3.00 / 2) (#15)
    by squeaky on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:04:44 PM EST
    The fact that Hillary was compared to Obama makes it an unfavorable comparison....



    Frankly, I am very nostalgic for Bill (3.00 / 2) (#19)
    by MKS on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:13:44 PM EST

    I was really big on Hillary until she started talking about having some panel of bureaucrats at the State Department stip people of citizenship based on their associations....Joe McCarthy could only dream of such power....


    Not being flip (4.00 / 2) (#31)
    by BobTinKY on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:32:33 PM EST
    but surely HRC's position on that did not surprise you?  She's always been a hawk and promoter of the national security state.

    Uh, it did (1.00 / 1) (#34)
    by MKS on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:39:03 PM EST
    The idea is so off-the-charts reactionary (even John Boehner thought it unconsitutional), that it would never have occurred to me that a Democrat, even a hawkish Democrat--aside from Lieberman--would ever go so far.

    yeah (none / 0) (#86)
    by TeresaInPa on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:41:15 AM EST
    except that is not what she proposed.  In fact she didn't propose anything.  She simply stated that we already have the capability of stripping someone of citizenship.... and we do.

    Vacuum? (none / 0) (#91)
    by squeaky on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:03:19 AM EST
    When asked about Lieberman's bill that would automatically strip US citizens of their citizenship for, among other things, donating to a charity that was declared a terrorist organization, or associating with either persons or organizations deemed terrorist,

    She voiced her opinion in support of Lieberman's bill. She did not say, as you repeatedly imply, that Lieberman's bill is not needed because we already have laws in place that will protect us. Instead she voiced support for the new draconian measures that Lieberman proposed.


    What? (1.00 / 1) (#27)
    by kaleidescope on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:28:42 PM EST
    Who says that comparison is an unfavorable one?  It would be reasonable to think that, at this site, comparing Obama to Clinton would be a compliment that Obama probably doesn't deserve.  

    Pols are pols.  They are the kids who wished for briefcases for their twelfth birthday present. They were born to love Big Brother.  There's no real shame in that, at least amongst that class.  

    Ms. Clinton would probably agree(at least in private over a couple shots of Chivas).


    Don't Get The IRony? (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by squeaky on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:34:42 PM EST
    Hillary always gets presented in a negative way. Wahhhh, sexism, CDS, and a host of other diagnosable illnesses...

    Obama, on the other hand is an empty suit, arrogant, stealth Republican, looking to set the clock back 100 years..

    Using him in a comparison Hillary is tantamount to comparing her to the Devil.


    all politicians (3.00 / 2) (#22)
    by cpinva on Wed May 12, 2010 at 12:23:23 PM EST
    are opportunistic, it's the nature of the beast. opportunistic is not, by definition, a bad thing. see: FDR

    for that matter, we're all opportunistic; we avail ourselves of the opportunities made to us. again, nothing inherently wrong with that.

    BTD, i'll take a Bill Clinton Third-Way Democrat, over a Barack Obama Nebulous Democrat any day of the week. clinton was hardly perfect (who is?), but considering he had an antagonistic republican congress for 6 out of his 8 years, and faced a constant onslaught from the "liberal" media, the man did a pretty decent job.


    Obama manages to be (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by TeresaInPa on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:48:41 AM EST
    far to the right of Bill Clinton and as of now he doesn't even have a republican majority to out smart.  He seems to be outsmarting himself. He compromises before even being asked because that is his claim to fame, being the guy who brings two sides together.  
    Clinton on the other hand signed objectionable legislation to keep much worse legislation from being passed.  
    Was he too corporatate friendly for me?  Hell yeah, but he was a commie compared to Obama.
    And for those who think Hillary is Bill, get a brain cell.  She has always been more liberal and more populist than Bill.

    Did you see... (none / 0) (#1)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:06:05 AM EST
    ...your thoughts on this whole matter being lauded in the commnets over at T-Bogg's place yesterday?  

    No (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:08:55 AM EST
    I'll take a look.

    I wish (none / 0) (#42)
    by brantl on Wed May 12, 2010 at 02:38:09 PM EST
    I bought everyone's mindreading of Obama, and this is more of it. To say that "this is what he is" one year into his presidency, with a foaming-at-the-mouth opposition party that is plainly determined to simply gum up the works as much as possible, is crap. I'm sorry, but this may easily be the best that he thinks he can get through.

    Get over it.

    a point I have (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed May 12, 2010 at 02:41:50 PM EST
    made several times myself

    Talk about mindreading (5.00 / 3) (#51)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed May 12, 2010 at 03:31:34 PM EST
    I might be able to buy your argument if (5.00 / 10) (#52)
    by Anne on Wed May 12, 2010 at 03:44:47 PM EST
    Obama was working with a Republican Congress, but he isn't, remember?  He has a Democratic Congress, with a majority that, while not filibuster-proof, is at least large enough that better leadership and more forceful and focused management ought to have been able to push through the kind of agenda many Democrats have been waiting years for.

    It's not "mindreading" to look at (1) what he says and (2) what he does, is it?  Of course, on that score, he is often at odds with himself, leaving many to wonder whose side he really is on - that's been kind of a problem for many who take him at his word and then find out that - oops! - he really didn't mean it.  It's been a little too Lucy-and-the-football for a lot of people.

    I don't know that many people are buying the "best he thinks he can get through" argument, mainly because there doesn't seem to have been a lot of effort to start the negotiations from the desire to get everything on the list; Obama has started almost every time from a position of concession.  For example, it may not have been realistic to think we would be able to get a single-payer bill, but wouldn't it have been helpful and instructive to have at least allowed it to be part of the discussion, especially because Obama himself said that it was probably the ideal?  But it was off the table from Day One, and that wasn't because it was impractical or too expensive, it was because the threat to the industry was not in the best interest of those politicians - including Obama - who depend on the big fat contributions that are funneled their way.

    I don't disagree that the opposition party has a bit of foaming going on - but doesn't that make you wonder why Obama has been so amenable to that party's ideas, has conceded so much to them, has listened to them when he hasn't been able to find the time or interest to listen to members of his own party?  If they are that crazy, why is Obama so enamored of their ideas?  Why does he care so much what they think of him?

    It saddens me no end to read comments like yours, which seem to suggest that we should all just be happy with the thin and tasteless gruel Obama deigns to slop into our bowls because, if the Republicans are allowed to be in charge, those bowls will be filled with thin and tasteless gruel...oh, wait - somehow, the gruel would be worse or the bowls would be empty?

    Yes, the other guys are worse, but tell me something: do you consider it a reward for your loyal and stalwart defense that your president  sells out long-standing Democratic principles without batting an eye?  When did selling out those who support you become something worth defending?  Today, Obama is looking for "limited flexibility" on the Constitution with respect to Miranda - seriously, this is something we should support?

    Whatever we have seen and been subject to for the last 18 months may be enough for you; you may be willing to settle for that, and be happy for it to continue, but those of us who are not are not likely to give up our desire for better, even if the scary Republicans are waiting in the wings.

    I'm really just not interested in "getting over" my standards; I'm pretty sure you will one day be sorry you did.


    I REALLY enjoy your writing & POVs. (none / 0) (#77)
    by seabos84 on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:52:10 PM EST
    rmm, seattle.

    Thank you for such kind words... (none / 0) (#79)
    by Anne on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:21:22 PM EST
    I sure wish I could be writing, "Yay, Dems!" though...some would say that I should be writing  that regardless of what theDems and Obama are actually doing, but I just can't see the point of that.

    Brava (none / 0) (#78)
    by Spamlet on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:12:59 PM EST
    Well said brantl (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by christinep on Wed May 12, 2010 at 04:26:04 PM EST
    The nothing-is-ever-good-enough types could drive so many in just the opposite direction. I keep thinking about the "crying wolf" lesson with a bit of updating for this situation: The climate of the Sirotas and Hamshers and other daily disagreers may start off well-intentioned (and even accurate); but after hearing/reading the unending routine refrain of "everythings bad" or "its all wrong" for months, the words and complaints lose their effect. I know it is a lesson we all--myself included--could learn. I used to think that the more hammering on something disagreeable the better to address it. Not so. Unending anything takes on a metronomic quality.

    nonsense (5.00 / 2) (#90)
    by TeresaInPa on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:54:30 AM EST
    you are saying he is abjectly stupid as far as I can see.  With an overwhelming Democratic majority there is no reason for him to think this is the best he can get.  Please, lol!

    And BTW, it is a year and a half.  He said he was going to be ready on day one.  What's the hold up?


    More like (4.20 / 5) (#44)
    by sj on Wed May 12, 2010 at 02:41:59 PM EST
    it's the best that he can easily get through.  With his level of effort anyway.  A workhorse he isn't.  Never has been.

    Barack Obama (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by brantl on Wed May 12, 2010 at 02:50:37 PM EST
    Got a bill through the Illinois legislature that got cameras in all police interviews. It passed with a unanimous vote. How many people can do that? As far as I know, just one. I don't have any idea how much time he and his staff are spending on this stuff, and I'm sure you don't, either.

    Point of order (5.00 / 5) (#47)
    by Cream City on Wed May 12, 2010 at 02:58:59 PM EST
    -- he took the credit for it, but you might want to research more about who was behind the bill to that point, and then who got it through.

    Lord love a duck (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by MKS on Wed May 12, 2010 at 04:17:11 PM EST
    I just got a "1" from an Obama supporter on several of my comments for being too critical of Obama....

    Yeah, that's me--just trashing everything Obama does....


    If that blll was his doing (5.00 / 3) (#57)
    by Democratic Cat on Wed May 12, 2010 at 04:20:59 PM EST
    then that is awesome.  So has he lost his nerve and arm-twisting abilities now that he is in the White House?  Or is he still fighting for what he really beleives in, which is pretty milquetoast, in my opinion.  (Perhaps there is a third option, oh yes, that he is just warming up and any day now he's going to bust loose a progressive agenda after having lulled the Repubs into being all bipartisan and sh*t.)

    At this point, after his US Senate term and more than a year into his Presidency, it is a bit sad that we are citing to a legislative accomplishment from when he was an Illinois state Senator as proof of how good he is at advancing a policy agenda.

    Yep, kinda cranky today.


    Really? (5.00 / 2) (#73)
    by sj on Wed May 12, 2010 at 07:20:44 PM EST
    That's your position?  That only one person has ever gotten a decent measure passed with a unanimous vote?  In the State Legislature. Let's just rest on that laurel.

    Good point (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:29:52 PM EST
    I mean Healthcare- man that was easy any president could have gotten that done- I mean c'mon Clinton passed his healthcare bill in 2 weeks, Carter and Truman only took a month to get there's through!

    And he did exactly what heavy lifting? (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by sj on Wed May 12, 2010 at 10:53:00 PM EST
    We didn't get a health care act (5.00 / 4) (#84)
    by Cream City on Wed May 12, 2010 at 11:58:01 PM EST
    of course, but you knew that.  It just doesn't work for your argument to call it like it is . . . and to think that health insurance companies didn't even ask for a bailout.  But they got it, anyway.

    Anyone who still sincerly believes (none / 0) (#49)
    by jondee on Wed May 12, 2010 at 03:07:01 PM EST
    our "best and brightest" gird their formidable intellects and iron wills and go into politics these days, is due for a serious wake up call, imo.

    Yes (none / 0) (#50)
    by squeaky on Wed May 12, 2010 at 03:11:13 PM EST
    Pretty obvious to all save those addicted to kool aid in all its splenderous flavors.

    An Apology (none / 0) (#69)
    by kaleidescope on Wed May 12, 2010 at 06:39:44 PM EST
    I didn't mean to hijack this thread with a discussion of whether Barack Obama can beat up Hillary Clinton, or vice versa.  My main point is that it is quite clear to most politically aware people that what BTD says is obviously true -- Barack Obama is not a progressive.  He is a mainstream Democratic corporate pol.

    And that's what we should expect from Elena Kagan.  I don't have much to go on, but I expect her to be pretty much in the mold of Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, especially in the mold of Justice Breyer.  These two justices were corporate Democrats appointed by Bill Clinton, who, like Barack Obama, was yet another non-progressive corporate Democrat.

    I can generally live with the way justices Ginsburg and Breyer vote. And I expect that on most of the important issues before the court, Justice Kagan will vote pretty much as did Justice Stevens.

    The real problem with the Supreme Court is that we don't have the votes, and haven't had them for some time.  It is a horrible tragedy that Justice Marshall was replaced by Uncle Justice Thomas and that Justice O'Conner was replaced by Justice Scalito, especially that an attorney and jurist of the caliber of Justice Marshall was succeeded by a pissant like Thomas.

    There's nothing that Barack Obama -- no matter who he would appoint this time around -- can do about the fundamental problem that instead of two swing votes, there is now only one and that GHWB replaced a giant of the law with a pipsqueak hatchet man.


    Can't resist (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by christinep on Wed May 12, 2010 at 08:30:02 PM EST
    ya know, throwing around the adjective "corporatist" this and that doesn't really tell me that much. We don't like something, we call it "corporatist?" (I know... my comments sound picky.) But, while we are throwing charges around, let us consider Justice O'Connor. Certainly, in her capacity as the first woman Justice, I have tremendous respect for her. But, it is important to point out that a principal reason that we had Bush II as president is courtesy of that same Justice O'Connor. In the 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore, she made it 5 to 4. Lesson: Political fealty has always counted for a lot "when push comes to shove." (J. O'Connor, of course, was a lifelong Republican.)

    Fine (none / 0) (#75)
    by kaleidescope on Wed May 12, 2010 at 08:56:16 PM EST
    But I didn't call anyone a "corportist."  I called Obama and Clinton "corporate Democrats" and I was fairly explicit by what I meant by that in comments up-thread.

    As for Justice O'Connor, you're right about her on Bush v. Gore.  But unlike what Scalito is, O'Connor was a swing vote on many matters, including reproductive rights.  Just one example from my world.  In Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw, which defined standing for purposes of citizen enforcement of the Clean Water Act, both O'Connor and Rehnquist voted with Breyer, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens.  It was seven to two to give standing to citizen enforcers simply because they were harmed when they avoided a polluted stream and would have used the stream if it weren't polluted.  

    There is no way in hell that Scalito or Roberts would vote that way.  Which means that right now the balance is five to four.  And Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion expressing skepticism as to whether it violated separation of powers to allow citizens to seek civil penalties that go to the government.

    So as bad as O'Connor was in Bush v. Gore, she is nowhere as bad as Scalito is now.  Nowhere as bad.


    Good point Kaleidescope (none / 0) (#76)
    by christinep on Wed May 12, 2010 at 09:07:50 PM EST
    Having lived in the world to which you refer--FOE v. Laidlaw--in that I served at EPA in legal, management, and strategic capacities for most of my 30 years government career, I understand your point about Scalia, Alito, & the Chief Justice. That is why I so look forward to one who understands the ins & outs of all apsects of government every bit as much as CJ Roberts (and more)--his perfect intellectual counterpoint and potential opposite, Elena Kagan.

    yeah... (none / 0) (#93)
    by DancingOpossum on Thu May 13, 2010 at 11:00:42 AM EST
    I keep wondering when Obama isn't going to be "new" anymore and when opposition parties are going to stop, um, "opposing" so our Dear Leader can finally get things done. Obama went into this job knowing full well that the economy was in the crapper, jobs were evaporating, the wars in the ME were wasteful quagmires, and the Republicans were mean people. He wanted the job anyway=--he fought for it, he begged for it, hell, he lied and cheated his way into getting it.

    OK, so he got it. Now what? How come there was no jobs plan, health reform, etc etc BEFORE he took office? WHy didn't he come into office with a plan, with an idea, with something? Why is it all "learning-as-he goes"? Actually, of course, it isn't: Obama is enacting the policies he is because those are the policies he wants, and has always wanted. Obama has always been a Republican -- not even a moderate Republican, hell, Nixon enacted more progressive legislation than Obama ever will.

    All the defenses of Obama's actions seem to come down to: He's a nice guy who's doing the best he can. Well, no. He isn't a nice guy (and in any case, his niceness is irrelevant), and his "best" is a series of actions that are immensely destructive to our country. Every single day I'm afraid to read the news to learn what new atrocity Obama has heaped on us, or what new heaping pile of s**t we're being asked to eat. Every damn day. It never ends. And yet we are supposed to refrain from "piling on" him. We are supposed to keep saying the other guys are worse and Palin is stupid and the Republicans, gee, they sure are crrrazy aren't they?

    Except the Republicans (at least not the official GOP) aren't the ones running things. Obama is. The Democrats are -- yeah, those lousy Democrats who fail to stand up for their own stated principles time and time again, like the members of the Progressive and Out-of-Iraq caucuses who voted for more war funding. Like Obama and the Dems who have stretched the unitary executive theory beyond Cheney's and John Yoo's wildest wet dreams. I could go on, but we all know the facts.

    I still think that poster at John Caruso's put it best: "Too many liberals think Obama is an ally to be persuaded, rather than an enemy to be opposed." I got a lot of flack for quoting that before, but I'd really like to know from anyone who objects to that statement, in what way exactly, if you are a liberal or a "progressive," is Obama your ally? Because I--and people much smarter than I--can list a lot of ways that he is inimical to everything that you stand for. So I'd really like to know, how is Obama in any way a friend to liberal values (forget Democratic Party values)? How is he not your enemy? And no, "the other guys are worse" is not an argument.