One More Time: Policy and Politics

John Cole writes:

[M]uch of our politics has devolved into this kind of nonsense. We don’t actually care what policies are enacted, we care how they are enacted. Did Obama stick it to the Republicans? Was he angry enough with BP? Is he showing enough emotion? Can he “connect” with the white voter and “joe-sixpack?” Is he throwing the base “a bone?” Did he say “climate change” and use the right code words? Was he “friendly” enough to Israel?

I wish it would all stop, but the idiocy of the conservative right is matched by the progressive left in this regard.

(Emphasis supplied.) This is an inaccurate attack on the "progressive left." One can argue that they have been unrealistic about the "politics" of what is possible, but if one group has been consistently policy focused, it has been the progressive left. Many (John Cole among them) have spent an inordinate amount of time yelling at the progressive left for being too focused on the "perfect" policy and not sufficiently appreciating the "good" policies the Obama Administration has achieved. Cole's latest critique is not consistent with the past criticisms of the progressive left letting the "perfect be the enemy of the good."

Speaking for me only

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    Is centrism and Amerocentric (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by observed on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 07:09:12 PM EST
    I have noticed the appeal to the center, or to "middle america", for decades, and not just in politics. If I'd read more classic American literature, I'd probably be able to state with confidence mindless centrism is at least 100 years old.
    I don't believe Europe is affected by the same trope.

    For me it has never ever ever been (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 07:22:19 PM EST
    about whether or not Obama is sticking it to Republicans.  Jesus Christ!  Has any thoughtful informed progressive who has known what they wanted actually had the time on their hands and the inclination to be concerned about whether or not Obama is "sticking it to Republicans".  Most of us are humanists and Republicans are human beings too duh!  And Cole is deliberately in my opinion yammering about a CNN created fiction that we all wanted Obama to emotionally show anger at BP.  Not what I wanted.  I wanted him to give a feck since he is the most powerful man on the planet and capable of doing many things when he wants to.  He can give a feck however he wants to do that, and I would really prefer authentic giving a feck and spare me theatrics.  And those of us on the Gulf Coast didn't see that he wanted to do chit about the BP devastation until just recently, and then all we see is smatterings at best.  There isn't much that is consistent that we can depend on yet in that department.  Hell, if people weren't upset at Obama over his response to the BP devastation what exactly would be going on with Obama and his administration right now concerning that particular horror?  I can answer that for you....nothing, they weren't going to do anything until they felt the fire and Boo flippin Hoo, they have felt the fire now.  Why do I have the feeling that this pathetic write up is really about the thing that was in my mailbox today from FDL and them raising $50,000 to be the fighting progressive wing of the Democratic party?  Boo Hoo John Cole, FDL doesn't want to be as ineffective as you have been and are happy to be in shaping the policies we must all live with.

    John Cole is just another example of (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Anne on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 08:30:36 PM EST
    someone delivering what Glenn Greenwald dubs the You-Leftists-are-so-UnSerious sermons:

    I highlight this today only because there is an obvious, concerted effort by a slew of Democratic Beltway pundits over the last month or so to attack the so-called "Left" for daring to express displeasure with the Obama administration, and to demonize those objections as unserious, shrill, irrational, purist and all the other clichés long used by this same cadre of party apparatchiks for the same purpose.


    The New Republic's Jonathan Chait -- vocal Iraq War cheerleader (from a safe distance) who works for a magazine whose declared editorial mission is to have Joe Lieberman's worldview "once again guide the Democratic Party" -- has written yet another lecture chiding liberals for unfair and irrational discontent with his beloved leader.  Peter Connolly -- a D.C. lobbyist and telecom lawyer for Holland & Knight -- published a screed this weekend at The Huffington Post condemning progressives who are mounting primary challenges against conservative Democratic incumbents for creating a terribly unjustified "civil war" in the Democratic Party, which, after all, is led by what he called that "unabashed liberal" Barack Obama.  Newsweek's Jonathan Alter -- the first known mainstream pundit to explicitly call for torture in the wake of the 9/11 attack and one of the creepiest Obama loyalists around -- has been running around the country promoting his book by spouting "the typical warmed over Village sentiments, particularly as it relates to liberal critics of the President."

    Lanny Davis published a column this weekend arguing that "the Left" is a threat to good Democratic principles and that Obama should "Sister Souljah" progressives who are criticizing him.  The New York Times' conservative columnist Ross Douthat even adopts their script today by pronouncing liberal disenchantment with Obama to be "bizarrely disproportionate" and grounded in unrealistic expectations of Obama.  And a whole slew of other, similar Obama-defending Democratic Party loyalists (Jon Chait, Ezra Klein, Jonathan Bernstein) -- for whom the excuses of "not-enough-time-yet" and "Pragmatism" are now dry wells -- have together invented a new one:  none of this is Obama's fault because the Presidency is so weak and powerless (though Klein, to his credit, accurately acknowledges that that excuse is "less true on foreign policy than on domestic policy").

    So the homogeneous Party loyalists who cheered for Bush's invasion of Iraq, who spend their time privately railing together against those misguided liberal critics, have all magically come forward in unison, with the same script, to decree that The Left's discontent with the President is so terribly shrill, unrealistic, unfair, and unSerious.  The same trite pundits who reflexively ingest and advocate whatever the political establishment spits out are announcing that criticisms of the President are so unfair.  Jon Chait, Jon Bernstein, Jon Alter, Lanny Davis, Peter Connolly, Ross Douthat and friends know what good Progressives must do -- with their track record, who could possibly disagree? -- and that's be grateful for the President we have and to refrain from all this chattering, irrational, purist negativity.  Meanwhile, the administration does one thing after the next along the lines of what it's doing to Mohamed Hassan Odaini, rendering these You-Leftists-are-so-UnSerious sermons no more impressive or worthwhile than when the same unfailingly wrong establishment spokespeople, driven by exactly the same mentality, were spouting them back in 2003.

    I guess Glenn is as tired of the constant apologia as I am.

    I don't always agree with Glenn Greenwald (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 08:47:14 PM EST
    either.  Sometimes I find myself on the exact opposite field.  But it is so easy to respect the man.  He is authentic, calls em how he sees em and is fully in touch with his humanity and all that the entails when he approaches our many problems.  He isn't even capable of pissing me off to any degree that equals that of the apologists.  All that sniffling and gasping and motioning to STFU because nobody on the party barge can stand on their own two feet and you are rocking it a little bit......everyone could fall down and Obama could fall off and drown.

    GG also (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 10:01:02 PM EST
    always extremely knowledgeable, on facts of issue he's writing about as well as factual and legal background.

    Another awesome Greenwald rant, IMO. (none / 0) (#12)
    by Dr Molly on Tue Jun 22, 2010 at 09:58:47 AM EST
    And if President Obama (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 09:05:01 PM EST
    had to meet the same standards that his fans hold Jane Hamsher to, they'd have hunted him down by now and burned him.  Apparently everyone of all stripes still loves a good witch hunt and burning.

    Maybe Cole is more an (3.00 / 2) (#6)
    by masslib on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 08:06:30 PM EST
    Obama voter than a liberal voter.  They seem rather dense on policy.  

    As if playing hardball with corporate thugs... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 06:51:31 PM EST
    ...is not a form of policy.

    One wonders how Cole expects "we the people" to force corporations to pay their fair share without a leader willing to stand up and fight the way BP is going to fight and contest every penny it is forced to give up.

    It's not just a bad critique, it seems oblivious to the strategy employed by the forces "we the people" are up against.

    Different point (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 06:55:04 PM EST
    And probaly valid. But I was struck by the disconnect between being accused of being a "purity troll" and ALSO unconcerned with policy. Makes no sense.

    Once again, with feeling (none / 0) (#11)
    by Farmboy on Tue Jun 22, 2010 at 09:01:32 AM EST
    The term "Progressive" does not equate to "Liberal." It simply means to advocate change or reform, and is equally at home on the left or the right politically.

    Pundits who misuse the term in their diatribes may as well be saying, "I counted to potato this morning," for all the value their reasoning demonstrates.

    The mask is coming off (none / 0) (#14)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 06:50:42 AM EST
    And I am referring to the mask that has shielded Administration after Administration. The Good Ol' Boyz network, that's been so successful in derailing true democracy in this country, is being seen through the cracking of the mask of 'legitimacy' it wears.

    In the past, real participation of the masses wasn't wanted.  Might upset corp-rat profits, dontchaknow? Can't have the hoi polloi actually getting what they  voted for! They should know their places!

    Like as not, those masses are finding their voices through people like GG...and those who want the mask to stay in place, who want those layers and layers of corporately-powered obfuscation and resistance to the expressed will of the people don't like that at all. Hence this disparaging of the (truly) progressive base.

    Keep this up, and it will become plain to all that unless every incumbent who's taken corp-rat money and is doing their bidding (in direct opposition to what their constituency needs) isn't booted out, then we will always be stuck with the corps running things to their benefit...and our suffering.