Jon Cohn Is Happy So You Should Be Too

Here is a winning strategy, calling folks who are disappointed with the Democrats stupid:

The Stupidity of Liberal Apathy

Jonathan Cohn

This seems totally nuts, purely on the merits. Obama and the Democrats passed a major stimulus that cut taxes for the middle class and invested heavily in public works. They saved the auto industry, created a new regulatory framework for the financial industry, and enacted comprehensive health care reform. Compromises watered down each of these initiatives, to say nothing of the ideas (climate change!) that arenít going to pass. And still this was the most productive liberal presidency in a generation or maybe two. But liberal ambivalence isn't just foolish substantively. It's also foolish strategically.

(Emphasis supplied.) You know what is foolish strategy? Calling people you are trying to persuade foolish. Leave aside for a moment Cohn's thesis that if you do not agree with him about the Dems, you are stupid. Think about the "strategery" of attacking people you are trying to persuade as stupid.

First rule for Dems, do not hire Jon Cohn as a political consultant. That whole "the beatings will continue until morale improves" thing does not work in democracies. See also Kevin Drum.

Speaking for me only

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    Circular firing squads (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by BTAL on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:28:43 PM EST
    Results guaranteed every time.

    Since I guess I must be stupid (5.00 / 5) (#10)
    by scribe on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:58:01 PM EST
    for being less-than-satisfied (or ... shudder ... disagreeing) with Obama and his policies, I guess I'm also too stupid to find the polling place come November.

    Or to remember the day of the election.

    And Democrats wonder why it is so (5.00 / 3) (#37)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 06:04:21 PM EST
    easy for the GOP to portray them as elitists.

    What the really do NOT get is that when the right hears these comments, they don't think, "Hey, they are right about those 'lefties'!"  They hear them and think, "They're calling people stupid."

    The Democratic leadership thinks that they are scoring points with the opposition's audience who will NEVER like them, but really all they are doing is alienating their natural constituence AND contributing extremely useful ammunition for the opposition's offensive strategy.  PERFECT!


    Alternatively, maybe folks just have a different (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by vicndabx on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:03:11 PM EST
    opinion and should be afforded the respect and courtesy that goes along w/that.  Posts over the last few days referring to a "left flank" and such make me think.....if only we respected one another enough to actually you know, work together.

    Talk of sellouts and similar tripe isn't productive.

    That is why Republicans are successful, a united front regardless of internal differences.

    You're stupid (none / 0) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:15:56 PM EST
    This is a joke (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:18:32 PM EST
    for those who might have missed it.

    Hater (none / 0) (#15)
    by vicndabx on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:20:13 PM EST
    As is this..... (none / 0) (#16)
    by vicndabx on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:21:01 PM EST
    I was about to start (snif) crying....

    If there is ambivalence (4.50 / 4) (#5)
    by Anne on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:44:50 PM EST
    (and I would argue that for many, ambivalence has already moved to outright opposition, and is headed there for many others), it might be because this is not a liberal presidency by any stretch of the imagination - not even Cohn's.

    There is an irony here, of Cohn calling out as stupid and foolish those whose vision is a whole lot clearer and whose grasp on reality is a whole lot stronger than what Cohn's appears to be.  There's more than a hint of superiority - misplaced, in my opinion - that is trying to appeal to those who get anxious about what others think of them (if you want to sit at the Cool Kids' table, don't be stupid!").

    I, for one, am mightily tired of this kind of gamesmanship.

    The other irony is that they keep (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 05:23:08 PM EST
    saying that it is the most liberal presidency in decades - could the bar be any lower considering Obama's predecessors?  I would argue that they are measuring against a pretty low bar on the liberal front, particularly if you consider the extreme right nature of the Bush presidency.

    I would also argue that people voted for "real change" not "a little bit above the low bar".


    Apathy? He wishes liberals were apathetic (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by ruffian on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 05:58:20 PM EST
    Apoplexy is more like it.

    Why call liberals stupid, Mr. Cohn? If you are happy with what has been done so far, go ahead and be happy. Looking at it through the prism of 'at least he's not Bush or McCain or Pailn', I can feel good too for whole minutes at a time.

    Leave us alone, and let us keep agitating for better. But don't call me stupid and expect me to come out and help further your political goals.


    "outright opposition" (3.50 / 2) (#6)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:50:50 PM EST
    what refreshing honesty

    I'm honest enough to admit that I have (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Anne on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:13:14 PM EST
    no ambivalence about the Democrats' efforts to reform the health system, because it's clear to me that they did no such thing.  They haven't made it more affordable, they haven't made it more accessible, and the delayed implementation of much of it has only given the insurance companies more time to game whatever weak regulations were passed.

    There is nothing liberal about this health-whatever reform, and there are too many people still struggling to get affordable care, to pay still-increasing premiums, to get the coverage they need, for me to put too much stock in the polling you smugly linked to that suggests people are hating the reform effort less.

    The stimulus was too weak.  The emphasis on deficits is misplaced at this time in our economic struggle.  The signals that Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid cuts are coming.  Weak financial reform.  Embarrassingly bad efforts to restructure mortgages.  This is not a symphony of liberalism: there isn't much good in the "other hand" to balance the bad of "on the one hand" - hence, little ambivalence.

    I do pretty much oppose policy and legislation that hurts most the people who have the least, so think of that what you will.  Just don't expect me to buy into Obama-as-liberal-president, please; that's just beyond ridiculous and heading toward barking mad.


    like it or not (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by CST on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:23:48 PM EST
    this "they haven't made it more accessible" is just simply not true.  Tell that to someone with a pre-existing condition.  Or an umemployed 25 year old who can now stay on their parents plan.

    Well, how accessible depends a bit (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by dk on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:27:04 PM EST
    on whether you consider affordability as part of the definition of accessibility.

    for someone (4.00 / 3) (#20)
    by CST on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:30:43 PM EST
    who can get no insurance, some insurance is more accessable.

    Or if you don't like that reasoning we can talk about the large expansion of Medicaid.

    Either way, that statement is wrong.

    The huge issue with the bill is that it does nothing to keep rising insurance costs down for the average person.  But it absolutely expands access for people who have no insurance, and for really poor people.

    It's a mixed bag, but it's not an empty bag.


    Similarly, (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:46:20 PM EST
     if you paid for a Mercedes and they hand you a Yugo, your defense would be ( I presume) "shut up, you could be walking"

    I don't think anyone suggested the bill had nothing. If we're going to be able to talk intelligently and productively, I think a little poetic license, and/or hyperbole,  should be tolerated.


    no (none / 0) (#23)
    by CST on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:53:24 PM EST
    I never told anyone to shut up.  I just said don't pretend like you're still walking when you're not.

    I don't find that to be intelligent or productive.  

    If you want to complain about the Yugo, complain about the Yugo, but don't tell me your feet hurt from walking too much :)

    btw. what's a Yugo??


    Just because they offer you (none / 0) (#24)
    by dk on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 03:27:31 PM EST
    the Yugo doesn't mean that you can afford the Yugo.  That was my point.

    I hear you, and (none / 0) (#27)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 04:39:22 PM EST
    it's a very important point.

    I used to point out that very "catch 22" Advocates would shout, wow! if you used to pay, say $2000, now you'll have to pay only $400.

    If you're umployed or otherwise restricted, and don't have $400, you're still, as they say, "S.O.L."


    CST, I read your posts (none / 0) (#26)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 04:34:22 PM EST
    So I know you're way too smart to not understand the points being made here. (BTW, the "shut up" was an obvious example of what I referred to as "poetic license" or "hyperbole." I really hope you`re not saying that you believe I accused you of saying the words, "shut up.")

    It's just that I think we sometimes get caught up arguing redundancies.  

    "For someone who can get no insurance, some insurance is more accessible."........The prior poster expressed (implied) that we paid so much, (actually, at least twice that of any advanced, modern country) and received relatively little for our sacrifice. (by almost all measures, America falls into the lower quadrants in actual health benefits received)

    So, where's the argument?

    Oh, and a "yugo" was Yugoslavia's ill-fated attempt at manufacturing an automobile. It was, for want of a better term, junk.


    I understand what people are saying (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by CST on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 04:47:36 PM EST
    and yes, i realize you were not saying i said those words.

    I'm just... frustrated at times by the pervasiveness of the hyperbole invloved with discussing this health care plan.

    Do I think it's the greatest legislation ever?  No.  Do I think it will solve the health care crisis in this country?  No.  Do I think it will help some people?  Yes.  I do, honestly, think it will help people.  And I try to outline here what specific aspects of the bill I think will actually help people - so that others are aware that there is, in fact, some actual solid good in here.

    That's the argument.


    Other than that Mrs. Lincoln (none / 0) (#30)
    by BTAL on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 04:52:08 PM EST
    did you enjoy the play?

    what part of (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by CST on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 04:55:26 PM EST
    help people means death panel?

    Death panels were not part of the (none / 0) (#34)
    by BTAL on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 05:30:36 PM EST
    comment I replied to.

    Did you cross-reply?


    i was being snarky (none / 0) (#36)
    by CST on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 06:00:31 PM EST
    I figured that.was a logical response to a Lincoln reference

    Touche (none / 0) (#38)
    by BTAL on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 06:21:50 PM EST
    I was actually referring (none / 0) (#21)
    by dk on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:37:54 PM EST
    to your example of providing "accessiblity" by allowing 25 years olds to be on their parents' plans.  

    Will some people take advantage of that?  Yes.  Of course, this was already law in many states I believe.  But, the bigger point is that just because it is legal doesn't mean that parents will be able to afford the extra premiums.  Hence, IMO at least, talking about accessibility without factoring in affordability doesn't make a lot of sense.

    The large expansion of medicaid is the one short term good thing about the bill.  However, the increases in coverage won't keep up long with the increase in cost of healthcare generally due to the fact that the bill cements and extends the power of for profit insurance companies.  Hence, the bill was (a) a net negative and (b) the positives are only fleeting.


    I'm not saying that some people (5.00 / 5) (#25)
    by Anne on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 03:57:29 PM EST
    have not been able to take advantage of some of the immediate changes, but I am hearing about too many instances of parents thinking that, at last, help is at hand, only to find out that the cost is too high, or the coverage is not commensurate with the cost, or there is some wrinkle that will still leave a kid without insurance, to be entirely accepting of the glowing reviews of this aspect of the reform.

    One thing people still keep missing is that having insurance does not guarantee care.  It just doesn't.  By the time premiums are paid and co-pays and deductibles taken into account before the first dollar of care is covered, too many people are going without because they can't afford the care on top of the insurance.

    On the one hand, we have expansion of Medicaid; on the other, we have a commission that is likely to recommend cuts to Medicaid.  Right now, the feds are giving money to the states for expansion - what happens when that cash dries up?

    Subsidies are alleged to be part of this plan: what happens when the government decides it can't afford them?

    The wonderful marketplace that America is all about has made all kinds of things available to me, but the fact that they are available does not mean I can afford to buy them.  If I can't afford them, they aren't accessible to me.  Health insurance and health care are no different.  If you have the money, you can have whatever kind of care you want or need; if you don't, you sometimes have to settle for someone else deciding whether you deserve it, you have to prioritize your expenses and see if you can fit care into that picture, and sometimes, you do without - at great risk.

    The thing is that if I can't afford a Mercedes, or a McMansion, or to take lavish vacations, or send my kids to high-cost schools, I can still get where I need to go, have a place to live, take some time off and educate my children - but it makes no sense to me that with the opportunity to truly reform the health system, our leaders chose to continue the disparity in the quality and accessibility of care based on how wealthy or poor we are.  If my heart is failing and I need a transplant, but I don't have good insurance, and I don't have money, my life may be deemed less worthy than someone who has good insurance and lots of money.

    This happens all the time, and it makes no sense to me that we say to people: your life is not worth saving if you can't pay.  Forcing people to buy garbage insurance is not going to change that, and that's not right.

    Democrats used to be about lifting people up, about securing the safety net that protects those who have little means to do so for themselves; I don't see that anymore, not in this "new" Democratic party.  I just can't rationalize the shift to the right because it is hurting too many people, and is not about a "greater good," but about sharpening the distinctions between rich and poor and working too hard to secure the fortunes of the elite at the expense of the unwashed.

    So, pardon me if I object to this president and this new Democratic party being proclaimed "liberal," because they most assuredly are not.  


    Hey Anne (none / 0) (#17)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:23:34 PM EST
    Don't know how old you are but, maybe you recall something like this Cohen idiot's defense during Nixon's impeachment days.

    In trying to gather public support in his battle with the Special Prosecutor, "Tricky" would show up on TV in the evening, from the Oval Office, with piles and piles of official looking binders stacked on his desk. He would look into the camera, and with a forlorn look on his face he would point to the "thousands and thousands" of documents he voluntarily turned over to the SP's office. Shaking his head with the "what more do they want" look, he went on with his bull crap story.

    1. Nixon...... "thousands and thousands" of documents.....(but not the incriminating ones, of course)
    2. Bush......."tax cuts for the American people".....(only for the richest 5% of course)
    3. Obama......"we passed the greatest...everything....evah!!".......(while guaranteeing the rich get richer and the poor stay in their place.)

    Ah, yes (none / 0) (#1)
    by BDB on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:00:08 PM EST
    All of those "Obama" successes.  Or, you know, not.

    oh to be one of the (none / 0) (#2)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:03:33 PM EST
    Let's see (none / 0) (#3)
    by lilburro on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:22:34 PM EST
    we were/are/will continue to be screwed by health insurance companies, Wall Street, and Big Oil.  We can never stop this, because of "constraints" in our political system.  Ever.  Now be happy.

    You gotta admit (none / 0) (#7)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:53:01 PM EST
    The number of concentric defensive circles

    that form Obama's bubble is quite impressive.

    As Fernando Lamas used to say in his senior years, "remember Johnny, it's always better to look good than to feel good."

    The problem is that there were no (none / 0) (#9)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:57:38 PM EST
    "middle class tax cuts" That meant anything. There were several "tax credits" such as cash for clunkers, first time home purchasers, and even an income forgives of $2400 for the unemployed.. oh yeah and a $250 rebate that could be taken weekly... wow.... That sure primed the pump.

    Thank you, Donald (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by christinep on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 05:18:56 PM EST
    for saying what some of us are also thinking. Y'know, it is fun sometimes to go back & forth in glib notes, replies....But, at a point (as you suggest, Donald) the game of "your-Democrat-in-the-White-House-can-do-nothing-with-which-I-agree" transitted from intellectual ping-pong to tiresome Republican talking points. Maybe there has been a more open bent to jimakaPPJ's comments, but it is hard to find.

    IMO they are just talking to themselves (none / 0) (#39)
    by BackFromOhio on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 06:43:35 PM EST
    The Repubs will quote them when convenient in campaigning, but the people, if I may generalize, don't care what these pseudo-intellectuals write about on the blogs or pontificate about on Sunday talk shows.  

    TNR (none / 0) (#40)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 09:15:24 AM EST
    TNR has long been a joke. Why does anyone take them seriously?