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Posted by on Sep 8, 2009 in Politics | 78 comments

Progressives are Killing Obama’s Presidency

The last two elections (2006 and 2008) were a rebuke to a Republican party that was running amok, and utterly without coherence, vision, or leadership. They deserved to be ousted, and their overheated rhetoric and deliberate misstatements about the new administration demonstrate that they are nowhere near ready to return to power; they need far more time in the political wilderness.

I don’t think, though, that the Republicans are going to be out for very long. It’s highly likely, in fact, that they’ll regain enormous ground in 2010 — not because of some newly-found coherence, but because the Democrats are blowing it. And the movement left, aka the “progressives”, own this.

Progressives are, in many ways, the yin to the far right yang. Their views are not mainstream; they’re seen as far to the left. And just like their counterparts on the extreme right, they don’t understand how far away they are from the massive moderate majority in the country.

This amazing disconnect was brought home to me fully this weekend in the aftermath of the Van Jones resignation, when Jane Hamsher wrote at firedoglake:

Now [Van Jones has] been thrown under the bus by the White House for signing his name to a petition expressing something that 35% of all Democrats believed as of 2007 — that George Bush knew in advance about the attacks of 9/11.

To her, evidently, Van Jones’ Trutherism is just normal and perfectly acceptable.

Yet that same poll found that only 22% of all Americans agreed with Mr. Jones. Can’t anybody do subtraction any more? Even a third-grader could look at those numbers and see that the vast majority of America are not “Truthers”. Tellingly, that 22% figure is identical to the percentage that identified itself as “Somewhat Liberal” or “Very Liberal” in a poll just a few days ago.

Folks, when 78% of the country disagrees with you, your views are not representative. Sorry.

The take-away is not that there’s a less-than-stable wing in the Democratic Party; the Republican right wing is just as out-of-step. The problem is that this left edge has an inflated ego and an out-sized sense of power.

Many hard liberals seem to think that they and they alone brought Obama to the presidency. Without them (the thinking goes), he’d never have been elected, and thus, “he owes them”…. and right there is the root of the fear of the Obama presidency springing up around the country.

Most people aren’t afraid of Obama individually. They are, however, extremely worried about a president who’s policies are driven by the hard left of the Democratic Party.

It was America who elected this president. The Democrats (much less their left flank) did not — and still do not — represent the majority of this country’s citizens. The Democrats are in the majority right now because we have an ‘either-or’ political system. There’s no consensus on liberal policy, and there never was.

Obama needs to start twisting some Dem arms of his own, and convince his party (and the country) that he’s his own man. As today’s editorial in the WSJ says:

Mr. Obama is falling in the polls because last year he didn’t tell the American people that the “change” they were asked to believe in included trillions of dollars in new spending, deferring to the most liberal Members of Congress, a government takeover of health care, and appointees with the views of Van Jones.

If Obama does not take up the reins, the result will be toxic. The conservative districts who sent Dems to Congress — who gave them the majority — will likely overcompensate with “representatives” who are very far to the right. The end result will be an impossibly hostile environment that will make the current strife look mild.

President Obama should tell Nancy Pelosi that her “my way or the highway” approach is impossibly divisive. He needs to tell Harry Reid that reconciliation is not an option for legislation in a divided nation. And he needs to definitively untether himself from the movement progressives. They are not representative of America… but Obama should be.

He must be.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • tidbits

    Thanks, Polymom. You pretty much nailed it with this post. Extremists, either side, do not represent the mainstream and it is delusional of them, left or right, to believe they do.

    That you make the most noise does not mean that you speak for those who quietly shake their heads in disbelief as they listen to your hysteria.

  • DLS

    You are correct, Polimom. Other than some naive kids and a few older fringists, the public did not vote for the radical left (“progressive” has always been a misnomer, in multiple ways), but against the GOP, and reluctantly to relievedly to give the “safe and sane” Democrats a chance. We always knew there would be the risk of the radical fringe emerging, but earlier in the the year, Obama muzzled these loony people (such as in his Gitmo speech) and gave us the (dishonest?) impression he was not radical, too.

    With Van Jones, we’re seeing examples of an alien, as well as alienating and repellent, extremist Left.

    Obama has done himself a disservice by increasingly siding with the lib Dems run amok in Congress (the climate bill being the best example before now, with the health care craziness) and insulting the better public in other ways (over the Gates affair, encouraging extremist freaks to emerge and claim all kinds of bogus institutional “sins” of our current society). He has to take control over the children or inmates running the asylum, and wrench the politics back to somewhere normal rather than radical.

    That is, unless he’s too willing to be one of them, as well.

  • CStanley

    That is, unless he’s too willing to be one of them, as well.

    All through the campaign, I couldn’t figure out which was true- that Obama is really far left in his ideology, or that he just associates with a lot of people who are due to political expediency in the environment he came up in. Eight months into his presidency and I still don’t know the answer.

    With his polling numbers falling though, I think the real Obama’s going to have to stand up soon.

  • shannonlee

    Nice article, nice comments.

    “I think the real Obama’s going to have to stand up soon”…ain’t that the truth!

  • DLS

    I fear that Obama’s address to the Congress will not constitute the Defining Moment for Obama (or for health care) that many believe should be that moment, or who hope will be that moment. I fear it will be too superficial and otherwise deficient, instead. (Prove me wrong, Mister President.)

  • tomjoyce

    This is NOT a good post. Since July people have been raving about “Death Panels” and other lies spread by the Right Wing. The Right Wing raised a campaign of guilt by association against Van Jones without ever showing what Van Jones, or Obama, would do or wanted to do with creating green jobs that would be wrong.

    The right wing assassinates every moderate, centrist, or supposedly “left wing” Democratic politician. It is the right wing that is killing universal health care, just like they will kill green jobs initiatives and other things that Americans elected Obama to implement.

    As far as Americans being “conservative”: when polls show that over 60% of Social Security recipients want “government to keep its hands off Social Security”, it is obvious that they are conservative in polls only. I would love to see old people cut off their priveleged status on the government dole.

    Eliminate Farm Subsidies, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Student Loans and other liberal programs, and we will see just how conservative Americans are.

    Republicans win because liberals are cowards and back down endlessly.

    • DLL83

      I think you misread the post. Polimom never claimed that the majority of Americans were conservative, but rather moderate. Furthermore, while you raise some topics that are worthy of discussion with respect to the far right, that’s not what this post was about. Yes, the far right has done some crazy stuff, but this post is about the far left. Pointing out that the left has some room for improvement is by no means a defense of the far right. Why is it that whenever someone criticizes our own side, we immediately point a finger at the other side as if to say, “at least we’re not as bad as them!”? It shouldn’t be about who is worse than who. “Really bad” is certainly worse than just “bad”, but I for one would prefer “good” as one of the options.

      • Lit3Bolt

        “Really bad” is certainly worse than just “bad”, but I for one would prefer “good” as one of the options.

        Sadly, this is America, so there are two choices, “bad,” and “very bad.” Take your pick. I’m not defending Van Jones or Trutherism, but I’d take them and the whole liberal toad, warts and all, over this current Republican party. It’s a fallacy that we all glibly engage in but Left does not equal Right and Democratic does not equal Republican in every way, shape and form. And I don’t think “moderate” and “independent” are acceptable alternatives because no one knows what they mean and they’ll never ever agree on a candidate (I’d love to be proven wrong).

        Plus, Polimom repeats some goofy Rightwing bylines and “facts,” like the consensus Obama needs to “rein in” Nancy Pelosi. Excuse me, but what the hell does that mean? But then again, this should be all the evidence I need to know where Polimom is coming from:

        “As today’s editorial in the WSJ says”

        • DLL83

          “. . .there are two choices, “bad,” and “very bad.” Take your pick.”

          I admit this to be true and am as frustrated with it as anyone. I don’t claim how to know how to fix it all, but I do think (speaking of fallacies) that it is a fallacy to justify one group’s mistakes by pointing out the mistakes of others, worse though they may be. And I believe that doing so does nothing to improve either of the two options, but only contributes to the poor quality of discussion going on across the country. My criticism of tomjoyce’s post had nothing to do with the views expressed, just their relevance and helpfulness (or lack thereof) to the discussion. I hope my criticism is not perceived as anything more than that.

          • Lit3Bolt

            I apologize, to both you and Polimom, I’m allowing my own frustration to show through.I mean, what exactly are the Progressives doing wrong? Fighting for what they believe in? There is plenty of consensus in liberal policy. What there doesn’t seem to be any consensus about is what Obama thinks and actually believes in. And Polimom’s evidence is atrocious. Somehow, a post at Firedoglake about Van Jones and a WSJ editorial belching Rightwing platitudes is evidence that Progressives are Killing Obama’s Presidency (I think he’s doing a fine job of that on his own) and hard left views are not mainstream (no evidence for this, just blanket assertion; hard right views are not mainstream, ergo, hard left views are not either). As tomjoyce pointed out, get rid of all the government programs and spending and give them back as tax breaks and vouchers and we’ll see how conservative America really is. Also, the poll Polimom cites uses the dreaded word “liberal,” which is still apparently a dirty word, a word no serious people in politics want to be associated with.And to say “America” voted for Obama and that’s who he should represent is meaningless. Little more than half the country voted for Obama, and no one knocked on more doors, gave more money they could ill afford, and yelled louder than progressives. And now, all of the sudden, the consensus is that Obama should ignore the Left and ignore his base at all costs if he wants to keep control of his Presidency? That’s Beltway-speak. I simply cannot recall an instance Bush was treated the same way; even during Terry Schivo, the backlash only happened after the fact and the media was slow in picking it up.Polimom’s advice is fine from a pure political perspective, but many progressives did not vote for Obama merely to grant Dems political power. There also has to be put up or shut up moments based on the ideals and campaign promises Obama has made. Also, every effort has been made to include Republicans in a meaningful healthcare debate. If reconciliation is used for the healthcare bill, well, boo hoo. It has a long history of being used before and it will be used again. The tyranny of the minority works out great in practice; just ask California. This article trots out the “hard left” as a convenient softball target and amusing boogeyman; you could just as easily say the Blue Dogs are ruining Obama’s presidency and be just as right.What I think is much more accurate and less demonizing of the left is that Obama is killing Obama’s presidency, as well as a lack of Democratic consensus. The Democrats need to compromise with themselves, not the Republicans. Obama could use his office as he did almost immediately after being elected for such things as the Stimulus package, war spending, and bank bailout bill, but he has not done so because he doesn’t want to make the “mistakes of Clinton.” Well fine, he’s just making mistakes all on his own then.

          • CStanley

            hard left views are not mainstream (no evidence for this, just blanket assertion; hard right views are not mainstream, ergo, hard left views are not either).

            I don’t see why anyone would need to provide evidence of this. By definition and according to an understanding of a bell curve, anyone who is ‘hard’ to one side or the other is not in the mainstream.

          • Lit3Bolt

            The thing is, left, right, moderate, liberal and conservative have been so chewed up as to be meaningless. What is the “mainstream?” Define it for me. Is it what “moderates” believe? Or independents? Or the Village? Or the MSM? Or is it the CW? Everyone insists they are the gatekeeper to the Mainstream; everyone insists that a moderate course is the best course. There is no evidence to back up these claims.

            If there is no liberal consensus, then I would argue strongly that there is no mainstream consensus either.

          • CStanley

            Oh, I definitely agree that there’s no moderate consensus, Litbolt, but there still are a huge number of people who fall within the middle part of the bell curve and much smaller numbers who fall to the extreme left or right. Those on the far edges have to understand that no matter how strongly they hold their beliefs, they’ll have to convince a large enough portion of the mainstream to go along with them in order to build consensus.

            I figured you might come back with a comment like this one which basically questions who falls into the extremes- but I was reacting to your original statement where you called these people the ‘hard left’- and in doing so you automaticallly defined them as the extremists on that side.

          • Lit3Bolt

            What bell curve? You make reference to things that do not exist. And besides, you seem to assume this is a perfect bell curve, but lo and behold, bell curves can SKEW to one side or another.

            As for extremists, I’m willing to call a spade a spade, and Van Jones is a spade…errr, extremist. But it proves Obama is a radical just as much as Michael Moore proved Saddam and Rumsfeld were secret lovers in Fahrenheit 9/11. And then to tie that into people (a large amount of people, let’s be fair) who call for a public option, and paint them as “hard left” is dishonest. Being progressive on health care is not an “extreme” position, and if Obama throws them under the bus, well, turning on your base is always a super winning strategy.

          • Lit3, I definitely agree that Obama has to pick up his game pieces and start to play. But I’m coming from the perspective of someone who voted for Obama but hoped the Dems would *not* take majorities… because I, like MANY people, was concerned about the Dem leadership and the strength of the direction they might tack together.I don’t know whether you were watching or participating in discussions at the time, but there was a LOT of debate and concern about the risks of combining Pelosi et al with Obama. Obama was much less known; there were no illusions anywhere about how far to the left some of the Dems are. And that ties right into the Van Jones bit. He’s not anywhere near mainstream, politically — yet he’s seen as “normal” by progressives. Did his appointment mean that we from the middle therefore read Obama altogether wrong?Perhaps I and others misread Obama altogether — but I haven’t given up yet. When I do, you can bet I’ll write a post along much different lines.“There also has to be put up or shut up moments based on the ideals and campaign promises Obama has made. Also, every effort has been made to include Republicans in a meaningful healthcare debate. If reconciliation is used for the healthcare bill, well, boo hoo.”At the risk of ticking you off beyond any hope of discussion, I’d like to point out that saying, “public option or bust, buddy” is hardly an inclusive approach. It does seem to be the preferred tactic, though, by those I’ve cited in my post, including the organized ‘roots and the Dem leadership (who evidently didn’t get the memo about using the term liberal, btw). And as to the ramifications of reconciliation? I guess we’ll just have to let that one play out to see if I’m right about the scale of the backlash if they do it.

          • Lit3Bolt

            Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. I’m objecting to laying this all at the feet of progressives and the hard left. I mean, you can’t have it both ways, where progressives are mind-controlling Obama but are also a powerless faction that can and should be brushed aside. It’s not that simple for Obama, and maybe we need to wake up and cut the man a wee bit of slack. By and large, he is a moderate politician, and I don’t think you and others were fooled by that. However, the Democratic party establishment outweighs him in experience and connections still, despite all he’s done for the Democratic party, and may be seen in some circles as Bush was to Republicans, as a useful idiot. He obviously as a Congressional scholar doesn’t believe in using the Presidency as a club to get his way ALL the time as Bush did (Congress was so afraid of Bush after 9/11 he could ask for the moon and get it). He’s also not as politically powerful as people like to believe, you only get that kind of power from terrorist attacks or decades in Washington. So Obama, to put it bluntly, is in a very tight spot and is finding he can’t speech his way out of it and win, and his political judo tactics don’t work on his fellow Dems.

            Bottom line is, yes Obama does owe something to progressives, but no, I don’t think your fears are going to be justified and Obama is going to veer “hard left.”

            If this is more of a referendum on the healthcare debate, I agree with you, Congressional behavior has just been flat out awful, and that goes for both Dems and Reps. Obama, in an ideal world, should set his foot down on some necks, but I don’t see Pelosi and Reed as out of control, they just have political tin ears. I don’t see how staying out of healthcare debate as helped Obama “avoid the mistakes of Clinton.” That’s a bit of CW that is suspect.

            Finally, Van Jones and progressive defense of him seems rather minimal and limited to the blogs. I see him more as a further example that the Obama team cannot vet staffers to save their lives. To use him as evidence of Obama’s judgment just plays into that political guilt by association game I thought we were all tired of, and if we’re going to play it, let’s play fair and demand no Republican staffers be “birthers” or “Trotskyites” (who became the neocons). Besides, the guy got sacked…what more do you want, or can Obama do?

            So instead of “Progressives are Ruining Obama’s Presidency” I think your headline really needs to be “I don’t know what Obama believes in and I’m afraid it’s more leftist than I thought.” That’s an opinion I can understand and empathize with.

          • TheMagicalSkyFather

            So what about the right saying “no government involvement no public option no trigger no nothing or bust buddy” I have been saying all along public option(and I will even go for a trigger I want costs down and I am not to picky how that happens short of them just covering less which in the long run just means we pay more out of pocket while prices continue to rise) and tort reform and every other Repub talking point. That is the middle taking a stance that we must continue to keep it in the corporate for profit system that it is currently in with no other options is little different than what we have now and isnt everyone saying that it sucks? “Gov takeover” is a slippery slope argument since we are not discussing a gov take over but a gov OPTION.

          • So what about the right saying “no government involvement no public option no trigger no nothing or bust buddy”

            MSF, Your first 3 things are redundant, and no government involvement pretty much covered them right out of the gate.

            As to the “No nothing or bust, buddy” — it’s true that there’s some real-live, knee-jerk, “NO. Just… NO!” going on — but you’re incorrect to say that that’s all there is on the Republican side. Several have been talked about here on TMV, including (though not specifically, maybe) the Wyden-Bennett bill, which is bipartisan.

            There are options between “government in it even deeper” and “nothing”.

          • TheMagicalSkyFather

            Good point I should have just said “a dem health bill no way.” How many votes does Wyden-Bennett have? Does it have 60 since that is the magic number that will overcome obstruction? If so are 60 Dem votes going to calm the “what about bipartisanship” calls? From recent history I would conclude any bill that looked like it would pass involving health care will not get beyond 2-3 Repub votes because if nothing passes they hope 2010 will be 1994 while the extreme left, the actual extreme left the single payer folks, are hoping that the pain of continuing rising prices will force people to go that way in another 10-20yrs. The public option is not extreme if between 50-70% of the public back it, single payer thats extreme but of course we seem to have forgotten who the actual hard left is. While we flirt with elected Repubs that largely speak like the hard right instead of the mid-right. Hillary backed single payer which again everyone seems to have forgotten. I cant say I am against single payer but it is the definition of extreme just as a corporate for profit system version is the other extreme even though we already nearly live in that one.

          • DLL83

            “. . .what exactly are the Progressives doing wrong?”

            Now that’s a much better approach.

            Well thought-out comment, some good points here. Good food for thought. If I get the time I might respond more.

          • Dr J

            “What exactly are the Progressives doing wrong? Fighting for what they believe in?” Yes, exactly. With Democrats in control of both the White House and Congress, progressives in the legislature or the blogosphere or wherever have more influence and are under more pressure to get the job done. We have a tough job to do, one that affects billions of lives. Unfortunately fighting for what you believe in—if that’s the only virtue you can claim—will get you fired from every job on the planet, from plumber to pope. Jobs have requirements, and running the country requires finding and selling solutions to all sorts of social, political and economic problems. Though progressives embody the best intentions and brim with solutions to social problems, they’re failing to find and sell the needed solutions to the other two. They’re consequently feeling their agenda stall and their influence recede.

          • Lit3Bolt

            The Republicans were perfectly idle bystanders during this time?

            I’m sorry, but I’m still seeing double standards. However, that aside, I think everyone can agree that there is no coherent strategy going on here on the Dem side of things and the onus is on Obama, hence the speech coming soon.

            Also, I want a lot of you to take a look at yourselves and check the pure glee you’re feeling at the Dems messing up. That’s not a good thing, folks. I mean, if you’re getting a thrill out of your political beliefs being reinforced, more power to you, but I thought we ALL agreed this country needed healthcare reform.

            But apparently not. We just need a “correction” in Congress in 2010 so we can return to more urgent business, like increasing troop levels for ill-defined missions in Afghanistan and tax cuts. Yeah, that’ll solve everything.

  • mikkel

    I disagree with the premise of this post. If you break down the “progressive” issues (of which being a truther isn’t one) then they all poll very highly. It’s only when the liberal label is attached that ID plummets. Similarly, the Republicans have much higher ideological ID than their issues are approved of.

    This result is consistent across polls, but the most dramatic instance was actually done by the RNC before the 2006 election where they had an internal memo that warned that Republican stands were becoming highly unpopular when presented by themselves, and it was only party ID that was keeping their polling as high as it was.

    Of course this was about ideal policies in isolation (do you think taxes should be raised for the rich, should health care be expanded to a public option/universal health care, etc. etc) that once they go through the legislative process are then opposed, but a lot of progressives argue that’s not because of opposition to their causes but that the Democrats aren’t suggestng them properly.

    • CStanley

      mikkel, I’d have to see the specific instances that you’re referring to, but from what I’ve seen of polling like that it always seems that general ideas are supported because they’re presented in a nonrealistic fashion, but when it comes to actual policy the issues lose support. For instance, on health care, people generally had a favorable view of universal coverage and public option, but once the discussion began of what that actually meant in the real world, the support has dropped dramatically. It’s like being in favor of world peace- of course everyone would say yes, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t think we sometimes have to go to war.

      • mikkel

        “it always seems that general ideas are supported because they’re presented in a nonrealistic fashion, but when it comes to actual policy the issues lose support. For instance, on health care, people generally had a favorable view of universal coverage and public option, but once the discussion began of what that actually meant in the real world, the support has dropped dramatically.”Well yes, that’s what I alluded to in my concluding paragraph, but (and to be fair conservatives argue the same thing) the actual policies proposed don’t actually do a very good job of representing the ideals. It’s not like political policy under Democrats has perfectly — or even generally — represented the progressive solutions and the country was against it then, they have been a very poor hodgepodge of ideology [and logically] inconsistent propositions.

        • CStanley

          It’s not like political policy under Democrats has perfectly — or even generally — represented the progressive solutions and the country was against it then, they have been a very poor hodgepodge of ideology [and logically] inconsistent propositions.
          Yeah, I figured that was what you meant in your first comment but I guess I disagree that it is even possible for many or most progressive ideals to be presented in a workable fashion. I was trying to be more tactful than “The Master” but pretty much agree with his comment:

          The fact that each issue in isolation polls well is not a good thing. It means ‘the children’ want all the good things right now–the ice cream, the cake, the cookies, the candy, and the sodas.

          • mikkel

            But they still do. My objection is with blanket statements like “And just like their counterparts on the extreme right, they don’t understand how far away they are from the massive moderate majority in the country” when on every single main issue [er, edit: economic issue. When it comes to torture/foreign policy this isn’t the case] it has the majority. This is an entirely different question than whether it should be implemented or what the acceptable tradeoffs are, or even whether on the whole people agree even if the majority do on each individual issue [although I should note I was slightly inaccurate in my summarization of the Republican poll…it showed the platforms in their entirety, not just issue by issue].So instead of a blanket statement that isn’t supported by polls, the question should be “Why?” Why do a majority of people support universal health care in the abstract but then pull away from the proposals? Is it from ignorance about the actual cost…is it due to disinformation campaigns…is it because no real universal health care has ever been proposed…is it due to party affiliation (agreeing in the abstract but the instant a label is attached then it changes)…do people just not know what the question was asking?This post was just too much vague punditry for my liking.

    • The_Master

      Polimom,

      Mikkel said:

      “If you break down the “progressive” issues (of which being a truther isn’t one) then they all poll very highly. It’s only when the liberal label is attached that ID plummets.”

      This may well be true, but IMHO it only reinforces the premise of your post. Ignoring the ‘Marketing’ aspect of how the choices are presented by pollsters, e.g. “universal health care for all” versus “Federal government takeover of the health care system”, or “tax cuts for the rich” versus “tax cuts for the people who actually pay taxes–with most of the ‘tax cut dollars’ going to the people who pay the most tax dollars”, the issues are not isolated. Things like “cap & trade” and “health care reform” are related, if only because they impose costs on society. Some, e.g. the proposed health care reforms, impose costs directly on the taxpayers. Perhaps, someday, there may be cost savings to partially offset these costs, but not for a while. The costs are here and now.

      The “progressives” inability to prioritize, either between components of an initiative, e.g. in health care reform, the ‘public option’, outlawing denial of coverage for preexisting conditions, etc., or between initiatives, i.e. health care reform versus cap & trade versus deficit reduction via tax increases. The unwillingness to take a partial success, such as health care reform without a public option, or to accept that the country cannot afford to implement the entire agenda all at once, is what’s driving the fear. It must be everything–or else!

      The fact that each issue in isolation polls well is not a good thing. It means ‘the children’ want all the good things right now–the ice cream, the cake, the cookies, the candy, and the sodas.

      If Obama can’t say no, and Congress clearly is being run by people who have no intention of saying no, then the fears are very rational, and Obama may well be negotiating with a Republican congress next year.

      Remember how well it work for W when he gave in to the “social conservatives” over the Terry Schiavo ‘intervention’? That arrogant high-handedness marked the height of Republican cluelessness and “out of touch-ness”, as well as the high water mark of Republican power. The slide started from there, and hasn’t stopped yet.

      Catering to the most vocal elements of ‘the base’ tends to be a bad move for presidents.

    • CStanley

      Also, mikkel, I don’t see PM’s post being about the nuts and bolts of policy anyway. It seems to me she’s pointing out the pandering to the fringe elements of one’s base- which Dems and moderates criticized Bush for with Christian conservatives, and now there seems to be a lot of mirror image to that from Obama and the progressive netroots. To some degree that’s mostly a separate thing from real policy (and as Litbolt points out, part of the reason these people feel the need to be pandered to is because they score so little on actual policy from the guy they feel they helped put in the WH) but to some degree it represents potential policy too when it comes to who gets appointed to key positions and who has the president’s ear.

  • shannonlee

    It is no shock that progressives here disagree with the premise of this post. Much like the far right, the far left believes the “core” of America supports their agenda.

  • Lit3Bolt

    Polimom, have more sympathy for the progressive wing than this. The reason progressives are ruining Obama’s Presidency is for the same reason the Christian Right ruined George Bush’s Presidency; they are disillusioned and disappointed in their man. Both are strung along by promises from their respective party to vote for them and their issues will be addressed, but they are ignored or are simply flat out betrayed.”They are, however, extremely worried about a president whose policies are driven by the hard left of the Democratic Party.”This is a Right-wing myth that is utterly without merit. Aside from the climate change bill and possibly Sotomayor, I cannot think of a “Far Left” feather in Obama’s cap. And I think to use the entirely blog-based battle over the Van Jones appointment as key evidence of Obama’s character or the Democrats at large is weak tea indeed.I’m also constantly amazed at the lack of memory concerning Congressional behavior during the Bush years. Republicans can go through 3 election cycles and ramrod anything they want through (with Democratic help of course), but when Democrats are in the majority they don’t even have a year before the dire warnings start coming out of the consequences of their reckless and “impossibly divisive” behavior. Republicans will never vote for any Democratic bill, no way no how and no matter how many concessions, but of course, it’s the Democrats’ fault.No matter how badly the Democrats have acted so far, the Republicans were worse. Far worse. And they have not changed in the interim. Bipartisanship for the simple sake of bipartisanship is foolish, and you are treating it like a golden idol.And if continue to peddle more hysteria about Van Jones, remember you’re helping Glenn Beck. Think about that.

  • I’ve been thinking about this for some time, but I chose today to write this post because of the enormous pressure progressives and the organized far left are putting on congressional representatives re: health care reform. So although CStanley’s right in that I wasn’t focused on nuts and bolts, hc has certainly been underscoring the problem I’ve been seeing for some time.Lit3 — I’m disappointed in you. You “know where I’m coming from” because I quoted the WSJ? Seriously? One can wander further afield than one’s echo chamber, and find things of value… but one has to be willing to do so.And anybody who thinks I’m giving the Republicans a pass here is totally wrong. I’ve hit their problematic wing before, did it here in this post, and no doubt will do it again. But in this context, DLL83 has it right: I see most Americans — or at least, the largest definable group therein — as moderates. Finally — and this is a crucial point — Obama AND the Democrats came to this current level of power on the wave of an economic crisis, generally perceived as the fault of the prior administration. It turned the entire election into another direction altogether. He responded to that crisis first, and although I don’t agree with how it was addressed, I absolutely agree that it was Job Number One. But there was a cost, in both $$ people are willing to spend, as well as in political capital. The failure of the progressives to see this is costing them credibility (and likely, their majorities as well).

  • pacatrue

    Well, tons of stuff here, but I will jump on my favorite: I think the current administration’s greatest failing so far has been an inability to prioritize. I didn’t disagree with the stimulus overall, but the actual bill created contained a whole bunch of “nice” stuff that surely had merits, but wasn’t warranted in the current climate. Again, I agree with the admin that health care and the environment should be on the top of the agenda. But for me that means you have to take other less important stuff off the agenda, and that is what we are not seeing.

    • Lit3Bolt

      Good stuff pacatrue. What would also have been better, much better, is to divide healthcare into chunks rather than some massive uber God-bill. I also agree with the conservatives that when someone wants to pass something through in a massive, unread, written-after-the-fact bill, someone is getting screwed, and that someone is in all likelihood the American people.

      Above and beyond all else, this is on Obama. The progressives are only one side, one faction of things, and to demonize them and claim they are irrelevant and not mainstream is foolish, IMO.

  • Progressives aren’t killing Obama’s presidency, Obama is doing that well on his own. Just because we have a view that is to the left, does not make it extreme, and it also does not mean we are unwilling to compromise. The problem progressives have with Obama now is that he does not know how to negotiate, he does not know how to compromise. We saw this with the stimulus when he gave the Republicans what they wanted right away, 40% of the bill be tax cuts, and still got close to no support from Republicans. Doing the same with healthcare, not even starting the bid with univeral healthcare, but starting at the public option. In both cases he should have started from the more progressive end of the spectrum and allowed negotiation from that point with the Republicans which would have led to a more moderate bill which would be acceptable to both extremes.
    Now instead you have the right going further right because they think they can get more and the left upset and demoralized because they see Obama giving into the right at almost every point.

  • tomjoyce

    What Progressive Agenda?

    The Republicans will kill Health Care Reform and use running against Obama’s radical agenda as their rallying cry.

    Meanwhile Republican senators like Grassley spread lies about Death Panels, and the whole right wing trades on Obama “not being one of us” and not even a citizen, and Moderates will call on iberals and Moderates to “Be Quiet and maybe they won’t hurt us.”

    It is sad. I would still like to hear one radical idea Obama or Van Jones suggested that the Obama Administration pursue. Guilt by association lives and progressives and liberals are NOT to blame.

  • tidbits

    People have short memories. In the campaign, Obama took a center-left approach to health care, refused to endorse single-payer, refused to promise “universal” coverage, got criticized routinely during the primaries for it, and once nominated ran a very effective ad about being in the middle on the issue, not endorsing either the left or right views.

    He also ran on post-partisanship, specifically promising to work with Republicans on bi-partisan governance. He also positioned himself as favoring civil unions but not gay marriage, and “agreed” with the Supreme Court on its Second Amendment interpretation.

    In other words, he ran center to center-left, not hard left.

    Those on the left who complain now seem not to have been paying attention during the campaign or didn’t believe what they heard.

    Please do not misinterpret this as an endorsement of Obama’s presidency, just a reminder that, in many respects, he is doing, or trying to do, pretty close to what he said he would do. That anyone is surprised is what surprises me.

    • Lit3Bolt

      So then why hasn’t Obama endorsed Wyden-Bennett, for example? His refusal to clearly support anything is what’s making people jumpy, and he looks like he’s unable to control his own party, be they Blue Dogs or progressives.I agree everyone’s wondering who the real Obama is. Maybe tomorrow will clarify things.

      • tidbits

        Lit3 – Your comment is very well taken.

        One of the problems with “Obama being Obama” is that he does not, or does not show, clear and defined directions to his party or to the country. He was elected as the calm, intelligent mediator of ideas. Good campaign tactic; maybe not so hot as a governance model. See my prior comments to other posts on Obama as the ultimately electable candidate who lacks the experience/toughness to govern effectively.

        In a very real sense, I believe he is being himself, sorting through ideas, letting others write the legislation, while he tries to “sell’ broad ideas as a delegating (almost figure head) leader.

    • Lit3Bolt

      Then why all the teasing from Obama about the public option? Why all the waffling? I don’t get it.

  • It’s Afghanistan that will kill Obama’s presidency and it’s not just the dirty hippies who want to end it.

  • DLS

    The only quibble with “Progressives Are Killing Obama’s Presidency” is the developing question about what this statement implies, and something I’ve listed already: We already know the extremism is the problem this year, but what’s affecting Obama personally is that he’s increasingly appearing to be one of the extremists, too. (As opposed to the “safe and sane” alternative he wanted most of us to believe during the campaign prior to the election.)

  • Zzzzz

    “. . .what exactly are the Progressives doing wrong?”

    I’ll bite… they are putting all this on Obama, instead of on the Congress and Senate who are supposed to write legislation. Seperation of powers and all that. Personally, I’m glad we don’t have an Obama plan. I don’t like how people, over time, have gotten it in their heads that a president is supposed to do everything.

    • Lit3Bolt

      In politics, the perception is often the reality. Presidents don’t control the economy, or gas prices, yet get blamed for that. Presidents declare war without Congress and are vastly powerful. To deny that is to deny reality, and to refuse to use power is just as consequential as using it.

      I don’t like it either, but if he doesn’t use his power, he’ll be damned, and if he does he may still be damned but at least he can affect the world around him. No US President can afford to be a mere figurehead anymore. Plus, if this past summer is what things look like with Congress in charge, then more power to the Presidency.

      • CStanley

        Plus, if this past summer is what things look like with Congress in charge, then more power to the Presidency.
        Indeed.

        I don’t think the president should write the legislation either, but there is a sense that he should be working with his party in Congress to pass something along the lines of what his mandate showed to be the majority will of the people of the entire country, as opposed to the individual Congressional districts or states that the legislators represent.

        And at the very least, there’s a sense that the president should know and understand the different versions of policy that are being debated in Congress, and to the extent that his party in Congress asked for him to go in front of the people to sell the bills they were writing he should have either endorsed one version or another. His speeches and Q&As have done more to obfuscate than to shed light on the debate- he repeats broad talking points that could be seen as supporting one version or another, without committing to any specifics. And mainly he falls back on the old standby lines about how the status quo is unsustainable and gives false assertions that those who oppose these plans are supporting the status quo or have no solutions of their own to offer.

  • DLS

    “they are putting all this on Obama, instead of on the Congress and Senate who are supposed to write legislation. Seperation of powers and all that”

    [APPLAUSE]

    Note that this is impatience or arrogance by the Obama people, if they simply decide (abruptly) to write the legislation, which should be done by Congress, only. What’s not only sad but sickening is that there are many people who are childishly impatient about health care “progress” or who know which branch of government does what, but they don’t care, as long as somebody Does Something.

    This, in addition to the effect the Obama personality cult may have, as well as the general view of the President as a surrogate parent and Leader of Everything.

    • Zzzzz

      I quibble with one thing, though. This isn’t a ‘Obama personality cult’ issue. The expectations were the same during the Bush administration. The only difference, in my mind, was that Bush acted the President should have the power to do almost anything it wanted; like the power of the executive branch trumped the others. This attitude is a problem. I want a president, as specified in the Constitution, not a king. I credit Obama with showing more deference to the congressional branch than Bush ever did. People shouldn’t be criticizing him for doing the right thing.

      • tidbits

        Zzzzz – The issue isn’t that Congress writes the legislation, it’s the issue of leadership by the President. CStanley, in an ealier comment, said this better than I could. Which version of health care reform does he support, House, Senate (Finance), Senate (Health), Wyden-Bennett, Health Coops? Nobody wants him to write the legislation (we already have plenty of lobbyists and special interest lawyers doing that), but it would be helpful to know where he stands.

        • Zzzzz

          I don’t agree. He stands on getting some reform and has stated the things he would like to see in it. I don’t think he should pick one bill and throw his weight behind it. I think he should let the legislative process work, not pick sides, and then be able to endorse what ever comes out of the process. If he picks this or that bill, then it IS a defeat if a different bill is the one that actually makes it out of committee. He is supposed to be the President, not the chief legislator, not the chief Democrat. It is people’s expectations of his role that are all screwed up.

          • tidbits

            Zzzzz – It occurs to me that the disagreement we have about the role of the President is one that has been ongoing at various levels for 220 years in America.

            Many great leaders have taken your position. A few dolts have agreed with me. Rather than propel the argument into its 221st year, I suggest we simply agree to disagree.

            Nah, on second thought, let’s continue the debate…example: Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation by Presidential fiat. By your theory, shouldn’t that have been an act of Congress, written by legislators? Hint. If you get by that one, my next examples will include FDR, JFK and LBJ.

          • Zzzzz

            I love this blog!

            Nah, on second thought, let’s continue the debate…example: Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation by Presidential fiat. By your theory, shouldn’t that have been an act of Congress, written by legislators? Hint. If you get by that one, my next examples will include FDR, JFK and LBJ.

            I don’t disagree with what many of these great leaders did, just how they did it. I think we would have gotten there legislatively, it just would have taken longer. However, once we got there legislatively, it would have been a lot less controversial and there would be less blow back. You may argue that this would mean a longer period of injustice and you would be right. However, what is so special about America and so enduring is our process (as outlined in the Constitution). It is about working to get consensus from the majority. Winning at all costs quickly just poisons the system. You get resentments that last for generations. Think about it. The bad behavior by Republicans over the last several years means an entire younger generation views them as inherently untrustworthy. We can’t have tit for tat politics. It is bad for this country. I would rather have delayed justice than endorse tactics that further tear us apart.

            As a personal note, I am a lesbian. So, when I say I would rather have delayed justice, I am speaking as someone who has experienced plenty of injustice. The thing is this, my side is winning the culture because all we are asking for is justice. I am patient. The military will stop kicking out gay soldiers. I will be legally married. This will all happen in my lifetime in my conservative state by majority consensus. Already, I am out and open and well liked at work. I wouldn’t have dreamed of that 20 years ago.

          • tidbits

            Zzzzz – Thanks for the reply. The issue you raise is very interesting, i.e. the limits on the power of the presidency and the legislative process. I think we still have nuanced differences, but perhaps not as much as I initially thought. Most of our great presidents have been those willing to wield their power. On the other hand, most of our worst presidents have also been those willing to wield their power. Consistently, however, those presidents unwilling to wield their power have tended to be ineffectual.

            As for waiting for justice, equality and social welfare, I guess I’m old fashioned enough to believe in the maxim that “justice delayed is justice denied”.

            But, I’m getting off point. You are correct that Congress writes legislation constitutionally. Our nuanced difference is that I believe there is a role for the president to get involved by stating a policy preference, twisting arms and making deals to get it done. LBJ’s sheparding of the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act are great examples. He insisted that the bills go through the Senate Commerce Committee, peopled by liberals who would get it to the floor for a vote, rather than through the “proper” committee (forget which one) where an anti-civil-rights chairman would have buried it.

            We do not need to usurp the legislative function, but we also should not deny the leadership role of the president in pushing legislation forward. My view. Btw, I would agree that Jefferson (Louisiana Purchase), Lincoln (Emancipation Proclamation), FDR (Court stacking scheme to intimidate the Supreme Court) technically exceeded constitutional authority though to good effect, as did President Nixon, President Cheney – er Bush, and Andrew Jackson all to bad effect.

  • DLS

    “No US President can afford to be a mere figurehead anymore”

    That doesn’t grant the President unlimited powers — or rather, overreach that is fine when libs get what libs want, but if it’s ever a Republican president rather than the worshipped FDR or Kennedy-Johnson “strong achievements,” then it’s the evil “imperial presidency,” as Schlesinger and other transparent libs and Dems call it.

    Technically, it’s not only actual members of Congress that may write legislation — they may have their staff members do this, and even might hire outsiders to help. But that’s much different than having the Executive branch arbitrarily arrogate these powers for themselves (or have Congress delegate them to the Executive branch). It’s no better for ObamaCo to illegitimately write legislation or have special interest groups draft it for them, to be given to an official sponsor in Congress to lend a patina of technical legitimacy in the end, any more than it would have been for a stereotypical Dick Cheney to get together with his energy industry buddies and draft, say, actual changes and additions to the US Code (federal law) as well as late-night announcements of subtle changes in the Federal Register (regulations coming from the Executive branch, themselves a truly questionable item since the 1930s).

  • DLS

    “I don’t like how people, over time, have gotten it in their heads that a president is supposed to do everything.”

    The growth of the President (as our Parent) has accompanied the growth and centralization of power in Washington. (How often goes “government” mean primarily state and local government, as it ought?)

    http://www.reason.com/news/show/126020.html

  • DLS

    “This isn’t a ‘Obama personality cult’ issue.”

    The subject of this thread? I’d agree. It’s an extremist-left-politics issue. Earlier this year, Obama muzzled the Code Pinkers in Congress who wanted their Bush-Cheney revanchism rewarded, saying No to their demands in his Gitmo speech. Subsequently he has not opposed the increasingly bad behavior by the liberal Dems in Congress, and has behaved similarly himself in joining them to agitate for bad legislation (and in insulting us about the Gates affair as a “teachable moment,” encouraging wormy lefties to come out of the shadows to castigate our “institutional racist” society and sputter similar radical myths). He has overreached again with health care. Some of his own administration’s behavior has been suspect, and at least one of his current top officials (at least in those positions that have actually been filled) has had to leave in disgrace over extremist lunacy. There’s a lesson here for Obama, the lefties like Sirota (the chump the following piece mentions), and those who are ignorant about the role of the czars:

    ” … [I]t’s a story that still deserves elaboration for what it says about the political coalition that helped to elect President Obama and whose demands are leading him into a cul-de-sac. …

    Mr. Jones wasn’t some unknown crazy who insinuated himself with the Obama crowd under false pretenses. He has been a leading young light of the left-wing political movement for many years. His 2008 book—”The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems”—includes a foreword from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and was praised across the liberal establishment. …

    Our guess is that Mr. Jones landed in the White House precisely because his job didn’t require Senate confirmation, which would have subjected him to more scrutiny. This is also no doubt a reason that Mr. Obama has consolidated so much of his Administration’s governing authority inside the White House under various “czars.” …

    Mr. Sirota is speaking for many on the movement left who believe they helped to elect Mr. Obama and therefore deserve seats at the inner table of power. They are increasingly frustrated because they are discovering that Mr. Obama will happily employ ‘movement progressives,’ but only so long as their real views and motivations aren’t widely known or understood. How bitter it must be to discover that the Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck, who drove the debate about Mr. Jones, counts for more at this White House than Mr. Sirota. ”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574399452969175732.html

    • Zzzzz

      You know, I am sometimes pleasantly surprised that we agree on a number of things… then you lose me with rants like this. Oh well. It is part of the fun of coming to this blog.

  • casualobserver

    Let’s see, did the liberals render Obama ineffectual or did Obama render the liberal agenda ineffectual?After carefully scoring the preceding debate, I am happy to inform the group that both sides are correct!A suggested debate question for tomorrow—which group rendered the presumed election “mandate” moot faster….the liberals of 1994 or the liberals of 2008?

  • Jim_Satterfield

    As to the “No nothing or bust, buddy” — it’s true that there’s some real-live, knee-jerk, “NO. Just… NO!” going on — but you’re incorrect to say that that’s all there is on the Republican side. Several have been talked about here on TMV, including (though not specifically, maybe) the Wyden-Bennett bill, which is bipartisan.

    Sorry, but there is more than “some” knee jerk NO! going on. That is virtually all that has been going on in the public arena on the Republican/”conservative” side. As far as their proposals go, aren’t their primary virtues from the conservative viewpoint their hewing to the conservative belief in free markets, not any proven efficacy? My prediction is this: if the enacted reforms inconvenience the insurance industry in any way they will be repealed the first chance the Republicans and conservative Democrats have to do so.

    As far as fraud goes, who defines fraud? Recission, anyone?

  • CStanley

    Also, I want a lot of you to take a look at yourselves and check the pure glee you’re feeling at the Dems messing up.

    Who is this directed at? I haven’t seen any comments that indicate ‘glee’. On the other hand, if one believes that a particular policy goal will have disastrous results, and that the party that is pushing that goal (and others) needs to have some checks placed on its power, then of course one will hope that the party in question continues on a self destructive course.

    But to frame it as though there’s a childish, ‘root for the home team’ mentality is really offensive. I am, in a sense, rooting against the Democratic party because I think the policies they’re working toward will be destructive for the country and because I think there are some serious ethical problems that are not going to be addressed as long as they yield so much power. The combination of the big govt solutions to all problems and the unethical conduct of some of the party leaders is especially troubling, and instead of blaming Republicans for wanting them demoted it would be wise for Democrats (or Indies who lean that way) to start holding to account the people they elected (just as the GOP should have done, and failed until things got really bad, during the last cycle.)

    • Lit3Bolt

      My comment was mainly aimed at Dr J, casualobserver, and DLS. I hate seeing the fermenting CW of “Ho-hum, Democrats overreached again and America said, No!” and people forgetting the pure obstruction of the Republicans, as if the Democrats acted in a vacuum.

      Beyond that, big government is here to stay, along with the Imperial Presidency, and corruption in whichever party is currently in power. The only way I see to even begin touching those issues is a Third Constitutional Convention or another Civil War which I don’t think will happen in my lifetime.

  • “I disagree with the premise of this post. If you break down the “progressive” issues (of which being a truther isn’t one) then they all poll very highly. It’s only when the liberal label is attached that ID plummets. Similarly, the Republicans have much higher ideological ID than their issues are approved of.”QFT.Ending the Iraq War, ending the Afghanistan war, closing GTMO, universal health care, investigations into Bush-era government abuse, rights for abortion, etc. all poll very highly.Meanwhile, no one who isn’t already independently wealthy wants to follow the Republican platform which calls for us to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Public School system, while we spend all our remaining tax money on occupying Muslim countries half way across the world.

    • CStanley

      Chris, both your polling summations and GOP platform synopsis are highly distorted.

  • CStanley,
    Not true. Everything I mentioned in my polling summary either has majority or plurality support. And everything I mentioned in my Republica platform paragraph has been endorsed by the Republican party with in the last few years, with maybe the exception of Medicaid (my apologies on that one).

    • CStanley

      Everything I mentioned in my polling summary either has majority or plurality support.
      In some polls, perhaps, while I could point to other polls that show the opposite for almost all of the issues you cited (the wars being the main exception- public opinion does seem to have shifted so that most everyone agrees that Iraq should wind down now and recently a slight majority has begun to favor pulling out of Afghanistan.)

      Please show your work on the assertion that the GOP platform has endorsed dismantling of Medicare, SS, and public schools.

  • “In some polls, perhaps, while I could point to other polls that show the opposite for almost all of the issues you cited.”
    In any case, the progressive platform is hardly “fringe” if we’re talking about nearly half or more than half the country.

    As for the GOP platform:
    Republicans have recently voted for a budget which would destroy Medicare as we know it, and have long said it was a bad idea to begin with.
    George W. wanted to “privatize” aka gamble away Social Security by giving it to Wall Street.
    Republicans have long called for the creation of school vouchers to facilitate the move from public to private schools financed by tax payers.

    • CStanley

      I apparently missed that GOP vote on an alternative budget, and I guess all I can say is that it appears to be a posture toward acknowledging that current Medicare spending is unsustainable (so, a proposal to continue paying out to those who are retired or nearing retirement while privatizing the plan for young people.) I think it’s an unwise way to go about things, but it’s just as bad to keep pretending that we can continue on the current course or pretending that the Dem’s healthcare reforms will fix the cost problems.

      As for the rest, those are strictly your opinions about where the policies would lead. That would be like me claiming that the current Dem platform is to dismantle the private healthcare industry. It may be my opinion that that’s what they’re after, and I can support that with some fact, but other people can connect the dots in different ways.

  • CStanley,
    I can only hope the current plan is to dismantle the private health insurance industry. It does nothing of value. No one that I’m aware of has ever talked about dismantling the system of private doctors and hospitals.

    • CStanley

      private health insurance industry

      was actually what I meant to write. And I’m not surprised that you’d support this, but I’m sure you know that Obama and most of the Congressional Dems who’ve participated in the public option bills will deny that this is their goal.

  • Yes, because the health insurance industry is lining their pockets and they’re afraid of charges that they are trying to nationalize doctors and hospitals as you mistakenly said.

    • CStanley

      Right, Chris, because it takes a lot of political courage to state what your real goals are when there are always plenty of people who will distort and demagogue. Just like you do when you rephrase proposals to privatize SS and Medicare as ‘dismantling.’ I’ll grant you that those proposals are game changers, but by using the term “dismantle’ you intentionally imply that nothing will take the place of the current programs, which isn’t what was proposed in either case, at all.

  • To be clear, I think it’s more about insurance industry money than any genuine fear. Democrats are facing the sort of distortions you’re talking about even with their weaksauce plans.

    I still think “dismantle” is the proper term. Handing our grandparents off to the private insurance industry wolves doesn’t solve any problems in terms of costs, unless you’re ready for onerous regulations or reduced subsidies. And handing off Social Security to Wall Street would have destroyed it if we went through another stock market crash like we just went through.

    • CStanley

      Why do you completely discount Obama’s stated reason, which was that we can’t throw millions more people out of work during this economy? How does it remotely make sense to purposely kill an industry that employs so many people, even as we’re bailing out other huge industries like the automakers?

  • “How does it remotely make sense to purposely kill an industry that employs so many people, even as we’re bailing out other huge industries like the automakers?”
    A couple things… these health reforms are due to phase in. Hopefully in three years we wont be in “this economy.” Second, even if the economy has improved we should certainly offer them jobs at the Public Option and give others generous unemployment benefits (which is what we should have done for the auto industry and really all workers, but that’s another argument).

    But the thing is, and as a capitalist I know you’ll appreciate this, if an industry – especially one that already is the beneficiary of substantial government subsidies – isn’t working we don’t have some moral obligation to preserve it in perpetuity even if it results in short term pain.

  • Leonidas

    Agree 100% with the original post.

    One of my issues with the Obama/Biden team going into the election was that they voted 96% and 97% with their own party and I felt they would have trouble standing up to a Congress led by the progressive wing of the democratic party. it turned out that my concern was merited.

  • DLS

    “Zzzzz”: What’s relevent and noteworthy is just that — not a rant.

    * * *

    “So what about the right saying ‘no government involvement no public option no trigger no nothing or bust buddy'”

    What has actually been said is the obvious(!) truth, that reforms don’t require an expansion of federal health care, in fact are completely separate from the former (which is what the Dems want, not “reform” [sic]).

    “There are options between “government in it even deeper” and “nothing”.”

    Note that the pair of choices you list, the false dichotomy that only fools proponents, is not the choice we currently face, though obviously there is no obligation to Do Something, Anything.

    “Do nothing” and “status quo” by themselves also have been routine false charges accompanying those with concerns about what the Dems have been doing (about more than just health care). The extent and rapidity of change (and shifting of Washington well left of the mainstream) is at the heart of all the issues this year.

    It only is gratuitous (but merits mention here) that adults already know “change” is not the same as “improvement,” by definition.

    * * *

    “if an industry – especially one that already is the beneficiary of substantial government subsidies – isn’t working we don’t have some moral obligation to preserve it in perpetuity even if it results in short term pain”

    Tell that to the people in Washington who paid off the UAW and propped up GM and Chrysler if not also viewed them as their “Green” toy boxes, and now we learn (unsurprisingly) that they are unlikely to repay all the money of ours that was given to them. It only adds to intelligent wariness about what Washington wants this year so far.

  • DLS

    “Beyond that, big government is here to stay, along with the Imperial Presidency, and corruption in whichever party is currently in power.”

    I’d like to see reform that, ironically, the farthest lefties are often the ones who want — partition (break up, fracture) the two major parties and create a system with four to six or more parties instead, with proportional representation in multi-seat bodies, where this is appropriate. Accompany that with the kinds of “mechanical” constitutional reforms like revising terms in federal office, term limits, etc., and we’d be in much better shape than we are in now.

    I don’t have faith in many to be able to handle the bigger, more modernist tasks like reorganizing and reconstituting the states (including defining what they are, what sovereignty if any they would have, selecting physical or natural as well as political boundaries metro-area orientation as well as possible metro area unification), and so on.

  • DLS

    “standing up to a Congress led by the progressive wing”

    What’s hurting Obama separately and additionally is that he is siding with these people, as well as being subject to tarnishing of the embarrassment and disgrace related to the Van Jones exposure.

  • DLS

    “We do not need to usurp the legislative function, but we also should not deny the leadership role of the president in pushing legislation forward.”

    “Fusion of powers” has periodically been considered by people dissatisfied with “divided government,” which was exemplified by liberal and Democratic frustration with having a Republican in the White House in the 1980s who wasn’t acting as if he were another of the Congressional Democrats.

    Such “fusion of powers” was addressed, for example, in Sundquist’s work.

    [Note: “Fostering Inter[-B]ranch Collaboration”: “Modifying the Separation of Powers”]

    http://books.google.com/books?id=K7yvhNxY0DkC&dq=%22constitutional+reform+and+effective+government%22&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=uf7vCDkDnf&sig=zN3v1Tfg0SQQNpk9gPm4-WMEoLw&hl=en&ei=5hCoSo-mFZO8MPKM6aUI&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    Concern about FDR’s overreach (the motive for the original edition of the book) and later, about the Watergate affair with Nixon (the motive for a new edition and new remarks in the book) led to the writing of a book advocating a change to a parliamentary system of government:

    http://www.amazon.com/new-Constitution-now-Henry-Hazlitt/dp/0870002775

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