December
15th 2009
Intellectual dishonesty: Ur doin’ it rite on the “left!”

Posted under: American history, unhappy endings, wankers

healthcarenowRemember back during the George W. Bush administration, when lefties laughed and laughed at the intellectual (as if!) contortions the right engaged in as they tried to reconcile their isolationism and defict hawkishness with Bush’s spending sprees and the invasion and occupation of Iraq?  And, remember back during the Dem primaries last year when we were told over and over again that Barack Obama was a magical healing presence who could bind up the nation’s wounds and banish partisanship to the ends of the Earth?

Well, some of us–or should I say more accurately, some of you–better sit up, grab your forks, and get ready to chow down on some Humble (or Umble) PieCheck out this embarrassment from Michael Tomasky:  apparently, because Obama hasn’t accomplished much in his first 11 months in office and because partisanship has only gotten worse, it means that the U.S. political system is ”broken.”  That’s right–Dear Leader is in fact powerless before a few determined loudmouths in the Senate.  (I’m speaking of President Joe Lieberman, President Blanche Lincoln, President Olympia Snowe, President Max Baucus, President Ben Nelson, President Chuck Grassley, and President Mary Landrieu–who all have more power than President Barack Obama because they’re not afraid to use the levers they have to get what they want.  Too bad Obama didn’t learn at their feet when he was their junior colleague!)

Sigh. If you’ve been watching the Washington healthcare debate, you know what that sigh was about. We Americans have always been proud of our constitution and the principle of separation of powers. The system has always ensured that the minority party has certain rights and that the executive branch cannot just muscle through Congress any old thing that it wants. Our founders wanted a system that moved slowly.

Do they ever have it. In fact, we now have a system that barely moves at all. Watching American politics through British eyes, you must be utterly mystified as to why Barack Obama hasn’t gotten this healthcare bill passed yet. Many Americans are too. The instinctive reflex is to blame Obama. He must be doing something wrong. Maybe he is doing a thing or two wrong. But the main thing is that America’s political system is broken.

How did this happen? Two main factors made it so. The first is the super-majority requirement to end debate in the Senate. The second is the near-unanimous obstinacy of the Republican opposition. They have made important legislative work all but impossible.

Sigh!  How did this happen?  (Does he realize how limp he sounds?  Are there any grownups–real women and men who aren’t afraid of a fight–left on the left?)  Funny how our last President, a man whom the left liked to laugh at for his bad grades at Yale, his incuriosity, and his provincialism didn’t find that “important legislative work [was] all but impossible!”  (I said he was the Worst President Ever–but I never called him ineffective!)

Yes, that’s right:  our beautiful U.S. Constitution which served us well–or at least some of us well–for 221 years is now fatally broken, because Obama hasn’t been able to accomplish what he promised, because the Republicans are big meanies, and they’re more united and are better at politics and parliamentary maneuvers!  Whaaaaaaaaaaa!  Call the whaaaaaaaaaambulance!  Who ever would have predicted this?  And while we’re waiting, let’s ask:  whose fault is this, really?  Who’s letting the Republicans threaten a filibuster without calling their bluffs and making them actually do the hard, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style old-fashioned filibuster?  Who’s spreading the meme that it takes a supermajority of 60 votes, instead of 50+ Joe Biden to get a bill out of the U.S. Senate?  And who was afraid to lead when his approval rating was in the mid-60s and let it melt down to the high 40s?

cowardlydems(For the record, I agree that the Senate is fundamentally undemocratic!  But–that’s nothing new, as I wrote here last summer.  To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld:  You have to govern with the Constitution you have!)

Somewhere–either from above or below–the ghost of Lyndon Johnson is laughing at these crybaby Dems and so called “progressives,” and crying for the rest of us.  WWLBJD?  I’ll tell you:  He would have phoned up those Senators, and talked to them about some up-and-comer D.A., mayor, or congressperson in their states he’d be inclined to support in a big way in a primary challenge if they didn’t play ball with the President.  He also would have let them know that their hometown crowd-pleasing porky pet projects would be stripped, defunded, and kicked to the curb, and that he would make sure their constituents knew whose fault it was.  (But of course, this scenario presumes that we have a President who wants to pitch for the home team instead of a President who wants to be the Umpire.)

Remember History’s Greatest Monster’s warning:  “When people are insecure, they’d rather have somebody who is strong and wrong than someone who’s weak and right.”  I fear that he’ll be proved right, yet again.

42 Comments »

42 Responses to “Intellectual dishonesty: Ur doin’ it rite on the “left!””

  1. Tom on 15 Dec 2009 at 11:06 am #

    I’m with you Historiann: all the Senate parliamentary rules do is outline the boundaries of the game. A threatened filibuster is perfectly fine, but, frankly, I’d be really delighted to see a good old-fashioned filibuster: to many citizens, I think that would look like something exciting and interesting was happening in the Senate. It’s ironic: the very tactic designed to keep anything from happening would look to most of us like something interesting, and would probably generate a lot of public interest. Certainly the same-old, same-old is hard to sell as something interesting.

    If a bill is so objectionable that a Senator is willing to stop all the other Senate business, then it probably deserves to be filibustered. The mistake in all of this was to present a bill on health care/health insurance, or whatever we’re calling it, that wasn’t too good to vote against.

    If life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights, it should be impossible for any member of Congress to vote against a very short and well-crafted legal guarantee of access to health care for all–as lack of such access clearly imperils all three.

    Pass that and work out the mechanics of delivery later.

    But I’m probably just a dreamer, with no understanding of what we all call “politics.”

  2. Historiann on 15 Dec 2009 at 11:16 am #

    Tom: your two itty bitty kitties are better negotiators than the vast majority of Dems in the White House and the U.S. Senate right now. My dumbass gray cat howls his fool head off starting at 4:45 most mornings, and guess what? Dr. Mister hauls out of bed to feed him breakfast. Then the cat comes back into the bedroom and howls at me until he can lay on my chest for his morning cuddle. Like I said: better negotiators than most Dems. (In this scenario, Dr. Mister and I are clearly the pushover Dems!)

    Does anyone remember that Tom Tomorrow cartoon about “President 10-month old baby?” from a few years back? Why does that cartoon continue to appear to me, as in a dream? (Sorry–it’s President 6-month old baby–I misremembered.)

  3. thefrogprincess on 15 Dec 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    I like this. A lot of good food for thought about the lack of tactical savvy and gumption from the moderate/progressive Democrats. I’ve said it before but I actually do think our politics are broken but not because the Constitution is flawed but because a certain religiosity holds too much sway on both sides and we don’t have a vocabulary to deal with race (and, to a lesser extent, class). The only problem I have with the system itself is that there’s no room for a viable third party.

    Tomasky’s move to view our system as inferior in comparison to the Brits is a move I would have made about a year ago. But then the British parliament ground to a complete halt over that expenses scandal. Forget the wars, forget the catastrophic economic crisis, let’s blame Gordon Brown for a 20-year-old system that everybody’s been abusing. All systems have flaws.

  4. Historiann on 15 Dec 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    Amen, sister frogprincess.

    Of course, many believe that Obama and the Dems, in being so ineffective at actual “change,” are only dancing with the ones that brung ‘em. As cynical as I am, I don’t think that’s the case. (At least not for all of them.)

    People used to laugh at Bill Clinton and mock him for caring how he was viewed by history. I think we’d get much better leadership if people worried more about history. I think many pols actually want to think they work for “the people.” But it’s so easy and so much more rewarding (literally) to work for the corporations who feather their nests.

  5. Barb on 15 Dec 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    I just saw an article in USA Today about how eleven centrist Dems are giving up their House seats in the upcoming midterms, all for “personal reasons” – i.e., they don’t want to get beat. Maybe if the Dems would pull together as a party, instead of each insisting on his or her own agenda, they’d get something done. To blame Obama is to misunderstand how the system works. As much as I despise the Republican agenda (and many Republican politicians), they do tend to operate as a united party, which lets them push things through when they’re the majority, and block stuff when they are the minority. Dems need to wake up and realize that no one person, much less one president, can fix all our problems, and that there is no such thing as an ideal government or an ideal platform. Real change tends to be incremental, so the big-name Dems who refuse to support the president’s agenda because “it doesn’t go far enough” or “it caters to [whatever group they dislike]” need to wake up.

    The point about pols working for the big corps instead of the people is true, and a big reason why things have gotten so screwed up, but it is also inherent in democracy – as Locke, Montesquieu, and all those other Enlightenment political theorists pointed out. But since the people who could fix the system are the same people who benefit from it, that battle was lost a long time ago.

  6. KoshemBos on 15 Dec 2009 at 12:42 pm #

    A generation of middle class, educated fat cats prefer to fight the holiday lines at Best Buy the get the 1/2 mile size HDTV TVs they must have than to fight for anything else. They elected their own type president who came to power not to achieve goals but for the trapping of the job – the HFTV of presidents. As the bible says in paraphrase: becoming fat makes you kick away the old values.

    Obama is the friendliest president you can get. Wall Street runs Treasury, Republicans run Defense, Moderates run health care. The Victorian behavior presidency.

  7. Historiann on 15 Dec 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    Barb, there’s plenty of blame to go around for sure, esp. in the Senate, but I disagree that “to blame Obama is to misunderstand how the system works.” Unless you believe that the president is impotent or irrelevant, that is.

    The lesson of the George W. Bush years is and should be that matters who is president and how he or she uses his or her power. For good or ill, the presidency matters. Like I said: we need a pitcher, not an umpire. If he wanted to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (umpire, that is), then he should have asked President Clinton for at SCOTUS appointment.

    Pitchers pitch–they don’t stand around scratching themselves and complaining about how hard it is to play baseball.

  8. Matt L on 15 Dec 2009 at 1:09 pm #

    Great Post Historiann. In the summer of 2003 I remember talking with friends in grad school. One of them made a great point: if the Clintons and the rest of the Democratic party had worked as hard on passing health care as the GOP and Bush did to start the Iraq War, we would all have health insurance.

    I think that could be updated to say that if Obama and the rest of the Democratic party had worked as the Republicans have on two wars for nearly eight years, we would have health care that covers everyone (not 94%, but 100%), and controls costs. But they don’t and we won’t. We will get a bill that is ineffective, and prolongs the agony of reform.

    Can anyone explain why Harry Ried is afraid of a filibuster? Wouldn’t it make sense to get the opponents out on the floor and make them talk? Wouldn’t it be great to have that drag on over Christmas? On TV?

  9. Historiann on 15 Dec 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    Reid needs his own come-to-Jesus moment. I wish he would govern like there’s no tomorrow and give up on his re-election. But, this is what the Dems get for picking a majority leader YET AGAIN who’s in a purple instead of a true-blue state. (And like the hillariously ineffective Daschle, he may get served the same way with his re-election bid next fall.)

    Do you see Republicans picking so-called “moderates” or “centrists” who are from Dem or swing states as their Majority Leaders? Puh-leeez. They wouldn’t be caught dead doing that.

    I agree with you, Matt (and with Tom above): make them do more than threaten a fillibuster. Make ‘em do it. We’ll all curl up around the warm glow of C-SPAN over Christmas vacation!

  10. Indyanna on 15 Dec 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    This is a blatant thread-jack, for which, apologies, but I note on Google’s portal that they’ve honorifically changed the logo today to celebrate the 150th birthday of one LL Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto. Which they couldn’t be bothered to do last April for the 250th of Mary Wollstonecraft. I’m missing the balance of the equities here. Those young’uns out at the ‘plex in Mountain View have a well-refined sense of triviography. Maybe it’s time to buy some Bing shares?

    To get back on-thread, I’d let ‘em filibuster, then lock ‘em in until they were done, one way or another. Then let ‘em out, inform them of the earlier (pre-Sam Rayburn) meaning of that word, send ‘em off to invade the Yucatan, and see how far they got on that one. Rayburn’s student, Lyndon Johnson wouldn’t have been above dimming the lights rhythmically in some key Congressional Districts served by the Tennesee Valley Authority.

    Sorry for the ‘jack, but this one was too much.

  11. Historiann on 15 Dec 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    “Rayburn’s student, Lyndon Johnson wouldn’t have been above dimming the lights rhythmically in some key Congressional Districts served by the Tennesee Valley Authority.”

    Indeed he would not have been above this. I want someone in the presidency who is not afraid to kneecap the opposition, to hold their heads in the toilet until they surrender (or drown.)

  12. human on 15 Dec 2009 at 2:23 pm #

    Hell yeah! I am not a big fan of LBJ but Obama could stand to channel him just a bit right now.

  13. Digger on 15 Dec 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    I would pay good money to see a politician actually stand up and fight for what they actually thought was right… not what their deep-pocket lobbyists thought was right; not what they think will get them re-elected; not what their handlers think they should do. Quit running sh!t up the flagpole to see if it will fly and yank it back in the minute someone suggests the wind might blow a different way. Take it to the dang mat! Even if I don’t agree with you, I’ll respect you for it. And these days, that might even get you my vote.

  14. a little night musing on 15 Dec 2009 at 4:17 pm #

    ping!

  15. Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » Quote of the Day on 15 Dec 2009 at 5:21 pm #

    [...] Historiann: Somewhere–either from above or below–the ghost of Lyndon Johnson is laughing at these crybaby Dems and so called “progressives,” and crying for the rest of us. WWLBJD? I’ll tell you: He would have phoned up those Senators, and talked to them about some up-and-comer D.A., mayor, or congressperson in their states he’d be inclined to support in a big way in a primary challenge if they didn’t play ball with the President. He also would have let them know that their hometown crowd-pleasing porky pet projects would be stripped, defunded, and kicked to the curb, and that he would make sure their constituents knew whose fault it was. (But of course, this scenario presumes that we have a President who wants to pitch for the home team instead of a President who wants to be the Umpire.) [...]

  16. myiq2xu on 15 Dec 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    Your reference to LBJ reminds me of when Hillary said “It takes a President.”

    Too bad we don’t have one.

  17. Roxie on 15 Dec 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    WWLBJD? Brilliant. I’m stealing that one ASAP. But, oh how I fear for your commenting privileges at Shakesville if the powers-that-be stumble into this thread and run across the line about wanting a president who is “not afraid to kneecap the opposition, to hold their heads in the toilet until they surrender (or drown.)” No torture jokes, Historiann! Besides, we already had that president. His name was Cheney, and we didn’t like him.

    You go, girl. You rock the blogosphere.

  18. KC on 15 Dec 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    Another perspective on the current Senate bill coming from Nate Silver at 538. He’s a progressive, and he doesn’t think the loss of the public option is that big a deal. Here’s his analysis of the Senate bill. Worth a read.

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/12/why-progressives-are-batshit-crazy-to.html

  19. Z on 15 Dec 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    A sudden thought: I wonder if he believes too much in all of that play by the rules, be good, and you win … or if he, like me in academia, sends things only to the most competitive journals because one has been told that is how one must do it, and then publish more slowly than people who send things other places … and don’t realize one has been taught a set of rules that will in fact hamper one, and that other people are taught a different set of rules?

    This, if true, would be evidence for the “he doesn’t have enough experience” argument.

  20. Historiann on 15 Dec 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    This post was not about President Joe Lieberman’s bill coming out of the Senate now. It’s not about whatever people say the next iteration of this bill is tomorrow. (Another policy-making FAIL: no one knows what the hell any “health care reform” bills really look like because they change from day to day.) This post is about the willingness of Democrats to play Charlie Brown yet again and trust Lucy (the Republicans plus so called “moderate” Dems) to finally let them kick the football.

    It’s about how Democrats these days feel like the Whig party right about 1846.

    And, Roxie: I was speaking metaphorically, of course!

  21. KC on 15 Dec 2009 at 8:55 pm #

    When, and why, did the current custom start of not forcing the minority to actually filibuster bills? I’ve never understood that.

  22. Blaine on 15 Dec 2009 at 10:23 pm #

    How did this happen? Two main factors made it so. The first is the super-majority requirement to end debate in the Senate. The second is the near-unanimous obstinacy of the Republican opposition. They have made important legislative work all but impossible.

    Wow, just wow. I’m not sure if Tomasky is just being dishonest here or if he really believes this. The first “point” is ridiculous, the super majority… as you pointed out… is hardly “necessary.” I believe someone *cough*Obama*cough* wanted bipartisanship though, so the super majority was a key to this political circus show from the start. It didn’t have to be though…..

    And his second point, come on… really? Why did Dems not plan this with the full knowledge that Republicans would be obstructionist liars? It’s not like this is anything new for them. Hell, you’d think with all the talk of Clinton’s failure to pass HCR Dems/Liberals would have stocked their ammo in preperation, but then again… I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, most of the leading Democrats are spineless.

  23. Joseph Cannon on 16 Dec 2009 at 3:06 am #

    A fine post. I am heartened to see how many readers here like the idea of a true filibuster with all the trimmings, including Joe Lieberman staying up all night to read from the book of Numbers.

    On my own blog, I’ve repeatedly made an important point which few people seem to understand. In fact, it may not even be understood by some in the Senate.

    A true filibuster would provide an occasion to re-write the Senate rules. If we re-write the Senate rules, we could be rid of the filibuster altogether, and we would return to the system envisioned by the founders: No more 60-vote majorities would be needed to get anything done.

    In a filibuster, a speaker from the minority party can — must — drone on as long as he likes. The senators from the majority party must stay in the room or at least in the immediate vicinity; the other minority party senators can go home and snooze. If quorum is not present, the question is tabled and the bill dies.

    The whole point of a filibuster is to make life more miserable for the majority than for the minority.

    This is where a little-noted provision of the Senate rules comes into play. Rule 22 provides the rules for cloture (voting to end the filibuster). The Presiding Officer of the Senate puts the following question to a vote:

    “Is it the sense of the Senate that the debate shall be brought to a close?”

    If three-fifths of all Senators say “yes,” then the filibuster ends, the voting begins, and that’s it. You need 60 votes to do that.

    Here’s the part everyone overlooks: There is an exception to the cloture rule.

    “…except on a measure or motion to amend the Senate rules, in which case the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the Senators present and voting….”

    Note those words: Present and voting.

    Let’s repeat it a la Kevin-Costner-as-Jim-Garrison: “Present…and voting. Present…and voting. Present…and voting…”

    For normal cloture, you need three-fifths of ALL Senators. All 100 of ‘em. But to amend the rules, you need only two-thirds of the Senators PRESENT AND VOTING.

    Again: The whole point of a filibuster is to force the majority party to stay in the building while the minority party senators gets a chance to go home and watch Leno.

    Reid can literally force — at gunpoint — members of his party to stay in the building. (Yes, he has that authority.)

    The Democrats will be forced to stay. The Republicans will leave.

    In their absence, those PRESENT AND VOTING will vote to amend the rules.

    And that’s how you get rid of the filibuster once and for all. A true filibuster on the health care question could thus be the filibuster to end all filibusters.

  24. Paul S. on 16 Dec 2009 at 5:44 am #

    People used to laugh at Bill Clinton and mock him for caring how he was viewed by history. I think we’d get much better leadership if people worried more about history. I think many pols actually want to think they work for “the people.” But it’s so easy and so much more rewarding (literally) to work for the corporations who feather their nests.

    It’s a little odd that you assume that all of the Republicans and moderate/conservative Democrats support their positions only because of the contributions from corporations. Surely people on both sides support what they do because of a mix of genuine belief and self-interest. This whole idea that “the only reason people could support the other side is because they are hopelessly corrupt” is one of the worst features of politics, I think.

  25. Historiann on 16 Dec 2009 at 6:13 am #

    I didn’t say this was party-specific–I think it’s party invariant. Dems are just usually craftier about hiding their “special interest” money, whereas Republicans are more up front about it.

    Welcome, all visitors from Suburban Guerrilla and Corrente. Thanks for your comments, and thanks to Joseph Cannon for the research into the rules on the filibuster. The filibuster is not in the U.S. Constitution, but a 19th Century innovation. (Kind of like the Midrash to the Talmud.)

    Above, KC asked “When, and why, did the current custom start of not forcing the minority to actually filibuster bills? I am not a modern U.S. political historian, so take this for what it’s worth, but I think it’s an innovation in the last twenty years or so, in part an artifact of the disappearance of “moderates” in both major parties who would cross lines to vote with the majority of the other party, and in part because of the very narrow margins by which the Republicans controlled the U.S. Senate (and briefly in 2001-02, the Dems, kind of) from 1999-2007. Here is a useful explanation of the history of the filibuster at History News Network–it shows that the modern filibuster has been around since the mid-1960s, although it’s only been in the 2000s that the threatened filibuster has been back, perpetuating this mythology that the Senate needs 60 votes to pass legislation.

    I think the filibuster is a useful and worthy tool, but it should be done right. Give the opponents of the New Deal and Civil Rights their due ((shudder))–but guys like Huey Long, Strom Thurmond, and Richard Russell stood and talked and talked and talked to stop debate. They didn’t just hold a press conference or send a polite note to the Majority Leader, and the Majority Leaders back in the day called their bluffs.

  26. KC on 16 Dec 2009 at 7:31 am #

    I think I would stay up watching C-SPAN if there was an actual filibuster. (And the Daily Show would definitely get some great material out of it as well…) Thanks, Historiann, for the information. I knew that Thurmond had used it in the past but never understood why the majority never calls the bluff of the minority and forces them to do it.

    Based on everything I’ve read, which isn’t that much, I also don’t really understand why Lieberman is doing this. Does he no longer care about reelection in Connecticut or is he going to switch parties or does he believe his current actions will help him in the long run? Maybe he’ll be able to say that he supported health reform while also presenting himself as a deficit hawk? I don’t know. It’s very strange to me.

  27. Historiann on 16 Dec 2009 at 7:38 am #

    Lieberman feels pretty invulnerable after losing his primary in 2006 and then winning the general. He’s also happy to stick it to the progressives who supported Ned Lamont’s primary challenge against him.

    Bottom line: he’s not a Dem, so why does he get to chair committees? That’s on Reid and the other Senate Dems. Their unwillingness to kneecap the opposition–whatever their official party designation–would be hillarious if it weren’t going to hurt so many people.

    All in the name of “bipartisanship.” Feh.

  28. Mark K. on 16 Dec 2009 at 8:40 am #

    I think something that’s being missed here is that the unified, take-no-prisoners Republican party created and installed W as president, not the other way around. I’m all for Democrats showing more spine, but I think the progression is party-with-spine produces leader-who-enforces-discipline.

    I am not a historian, of 20th century politics or otherwise, so I can’t say too much about LBJ. But my understanding is that he was formed by a very different Democratic Party in a very different political landscape, and so was a different kind of Democratic leader.

    From an institutional culture and organizational change perspective, where I do have more subject knowledge, my take on Obama is “could be better, could be worse.” My sense is that he’s doing okay at achieving his priorities. Whether his priorities align with mine or the Left’s is another question.

  29. dandelion on 16 Dec 2009 at 9:00 am #

    The great Anglachelg used to blog about this very issue — the unwillingness of the Dems to use the levers of power. And so Gore concedes to Bush without a fight, and so Kerry allows the Swiftboaters to sling the most viscious mud without fighting back because, as he said, he felt fighting back would only give dignity to their attacks and strengthen them by acknowledging them. I see two factors at work: this sort of intellectual-genteel wish to be above the fray, and, in other cases, a revulsion against power itself (perhaps an idea not held by Senators per se but definitely one held by Democratic activists.) Witness all the accusations against Hillary Clinton that she’d do ANYTHING to win. I posted a comment that I thought that was great, we needed a president who’d do ANYTHING to win and was roundly told off that principles mattered more than wins. Well, here we are. Anglachelg attributed all this to a longtime split between what she called the Truman wing and the Stevenson wing of the Democratic party, the Stevensons now ascendant as the Democratic party leadership and activits have more and more divorced themselves from blue collar America.

    Obama’s lack of fight was evident in the primaries when, after Hillary beat him roundly in the SC debate, he decided to have no more debates. For whatever reason, the DNC leadership did all the kneecapping for him. I don’t know why, though, the same people who so effectively launched Obama into the stratosphere now won’t fight Republicans as viciously as they fought the Democratic base who supported Hillary.

    I DO suspect it’s a matter of dancing with those who brung them: Wall Street and the insurance companies. I wonder when we’ll get a big push toward nuclear power, since Obama’s third biggest group of funders (as I understand it) was the coal & nuclear industry.

  30. michaelwb on 16 Dec 2009 at 10:22 am #

    “I want someone in the presidency who is not afraid to kneecap the opposition”

    Give generously to the Tanya Harding in 2012 campaign!

    More seriously. Dead right on all counts.

  31. KC on 16 Dec 2009 at 10:27 am #

    Dandelion,

    I don’t know. I think Obama will kneecap opponents. I don’t entirely buy the idea that he’s weak or doesn’t want to win. You don’t get to be president from where he came from as quickly as he did without having some serious ambition. Obama certainly deftly played the idea that he was somehow above the fray during the primaries to make Clinton look petty, but I don’t think that’s really accurate.

    I think Obama views a win as health care reform legislation passing. Whether its watered-down by all these compromises probably doesn’t matter very much to him. That’s my guess, anyway. It’s not that he doesn’t want to win, it’s that he doesn’t care that much about things like the public option.

  32. quixote on 16 Dec 2009 at 10:42 am #

    There’s another possibility besides weak-kneed spinelessness.

    These all could be experienced politicians who know that the blameless way to kill a popular program is to talk it to death. And that will keep the contributions coming which will enable them to buy the TV ads that will get them re-elected one more time no matter what they did.

    Admittedly, spinelessness is a less horrible scenario.

  33. steveeboy on 16 Dec 2009 at 11:50 am #

    All sorts of callers to Monsieur Hannity were freaking out yesterday cuz the rumour was that Rahm told Ben Nelson that if he liked Offutt AFB so much and he liked the 10,000 jobs it brought to his state along with the big defense bucks he better get his vote right.

    Seems to me this is some LBJ-style hard ball–if it’s true.

    But, if we recall the arguments of the dead-enders from just a few months ago Obama was a thug, a Chicago tough guy steeped in dirty politics, a wannabe dictator, a machiavellian personality of the highest order.

    Seems weird that such a person would be unable to control his own caucus…

    Still, I support the post vis-a-vis the need to force a real filibuster, the desire to watch such an event on CSPAN–while drinking heavily of course, the need for a bit more arm twisting, etc.

    And Lieberman needed to be purged a long time ago.

    But, I still have no regrets. The thought of McCain and that Palin nightmare in the WH–and that was the preference of a large number of the dead-enders– cures all regrets.

    And, I still don’t believe that HRC would have won the election had she been the nominee.

  34. KC on 16 Dec 2009 at 1:42 pm #

    And, I still don’t believe that HRC would have won the election had she been the nominee.

    Not to replay all this 2008 stuff over again, but, I think she would have. McCain was a weak candidate. She probably would not have won Virginia or Colorado or North Carolina or Indiana, but she would have cleaned up in the Kerry states, won Ohio, won Florida, won Arkansas, won West Virginia, and probably a few other states I’m not thinking of right now.

    She was a very strong candidate and McCain was nothing special. Plus, her nomination would have had the added bonus of sparing the country of the tokenism of the Palin phenomenon in the first place.

  35. Indyanna on 16 Dec 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    A real fillibuster, televised all day and all night on C-SPAN. That would be great, like on my first trip to England, when they were bringing 100-year old Labor Lords down from the mountains of Wales on stretchers, with oxygen masks, for the first time since WW I ended to denounce and vote against Thatcher on the Poll Tax bill. A real national catharsis. And then end the debate and roll with the bill.

    I think Hillary would have won in ’08 just fine, and we’d be having different kinds of discussions now. Like moving those Offutt jets and jobs to Watertown, NY.

  36. Emma on 16 Dec 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    Obama wasn’t doing all that hot until the economy tanked in Sept/Oct. McCain was neck and neck w/him in the polls.

    After the economy tanked, anybody with a D could’ve won. I think Hillary would’ve started pulling away right after the convention because she matched up better against McCain’s strengths. And would’ve rendered Palin an oddity. Too, I think HRC would’ve been smart enough to ask Obama to be her VP.

  37. KC on 16 Dec 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    I can’t imagine Palin even being on the Republican ticket if Hillary had been the Democratic nominee. And McCain being neck-and-neck with Obama in the polls came right after the Republican convention, when the shine hadn’t yet come off Palin’s star among independents.

  38. Comrade PhysioProf on 16 Dec 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    Anyone over the age of fourteen who writes “sigh” should be summarily executed.

  39. steveeboy on 17 Dec 2009 at 6:25 am #

    I think lots of people underestimate the level of so-called “clinton fatigue” out there…

  40. Historiann on 17 Dec 2009 at 8:28 am #

    Anybody running with the D brand last year was going to win. Emma is right: Obama didn’t pull ahead decisively until after the stock market cratered, and McCain started talking and acting like a dotty old man in response.

    Obama supporters would have voted for Hillary Clinton, just as Clinton supporters voted for Obama. But, it doesn’t matter now! Obama is President, not Clinton. It’s up to him to smarten up and lead, or to get steamrolled.

    His choice.

  41. Rad Readr on 17 Dec 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    Well, I can’t disagree on the filibuster. But too many dittoes on a blog are likely to be followed with someone pushing Oxycontin. So here it goes…I don’t think Obama’s leadership is the issue here. I would go back to the post on Tiger Woods. Obama has tried to make people aware of the importance of this issue, but really a lot of people want to know about Tiger. A lot who have insurance, don’t care. Some who don’t have insurance have been told Obama is Hitler. The drug and insurance companies are buying legislators, and Palin is going rouge, etc. etc.

    A few months ago he did a big speech — I believe it was on health care — but it got completely overshadowed by…Henry Louis Gates and the racist cop, one of the stories completely blown out of proportion. So the Tonya Harding metaphor might be appropriate here. In order for Obama to take the lead on the news, he would have to hire Jeff Gillooly.

  42. Emma on 17 Dec 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    And who helped blow the Henry Louis Gates incident out of proportion? Beer summit, anyone?

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