Michael Wolraich's picture

    Republican Debate Shocker! No One Turned Into a Werewolf

    Herman Cain discusses Islam

    Political experts across the nation burbled approvingly after Monday's Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire. The candidates surpassed expectations by maintaining human form and refraining from howling, salivating excessively, or biting moderator John King on the leg.

    CNN commentator Wolf Frisker remarked, "I was sure that Tim Pawlenty would lunge for Mitt Romney's shanks at least once, but he just sniffed around the anus a little bit, like he was checking him out or something."

    Mitt Romney, a veteran shapeshifter, managed to sustain a single form for the entire two hours. NBC pundit, Lou Rex Pectations, gushed, "Watching Mitt work the stage like that, I almost believed that he was human." Romney particularly impressed analysts by rejecting the idea that the U.S. is about to be taken over by Muslim fanatics.

    The most surprising performance came from Michele Bachmann, who wowed analysts by declaring that she had filed her candidacy papers that very morning and then went so far as to refrain from advocating armed rebellion against the Obama administration. "Not only can she hold human form," raved CBS commentator E. Z. Sell, "Her human form is even kind of appealing

    A few of the candidates stumbled at points. Herman Cain could not help snarling when John King asked him about Muslims. Newt Gingrich, who has suffered from erratic shapeshifting during his brief campaign, unexpectedly reverted into a Medicare watchdog. Rick Santorum leashed his inner wolf but failed to distinguish himself as a human. And Ron Paul was unable to recover any shred of his long lost humanity.

    Despite the almost human quality of the debate, wolf lovers remain optimistic. "This can't last," predicted ABC's Gore Hunger, "You can't win a Republican primary these days without getting your muzzle bloody and howling like a crazed beast."


    Didn't watch the debate.  But it's depressing that I am going to have to put up with those clowns running around my state for several months while Obama runs boringly and frustratingly unopposed.  It looks like the whole country will spend all its time discussing nothing but various shades of Republican ideas until at least next summer, while progressives are locked in the closet and the economy-killing Obama floats above the fray in do-nothing cruise control.

    Easy, tiger. This is some complex shit we're talkin'.

    Progressives locked in the closet? Quick, someone save these poor suppressed souls from asphyxiation.

    Dan, I'm sorry to say, that closet is empty. The progressives that exist are hardly gagged, even if they're not running for president. And if a leftie were to run for president, it wouldn't change the debate about Democratic Party priorities any more than Nader's campaigns have. It would simply devolve into a angry dispute about spoilerism, ego, yada yada yada.

    There is a very simple and obvious reason why progressives have been reduced to Quixotic third-party candidacies and Dennis Kucinich whining about not getting equal air-time in debates: Progressives have no constituency.

    As long as that's the case, they will never get any respect--not from the media and not from the Democratic Party.

    I've written before that progressives have to build political infrastructure and attract more voters if they ever want to influence politics again. You rejected the advice, saying that we can't afford to wait that long. But it's not a matter of choice. The urgency of the need does not obviate the time required to reconstruct an institution.

    2012 is a done deal. Forget about it, and focus on the future.

    OK, Genhis, now you're scaring me.  What do you mean, 2012 is a done deal?  

    He's saying Obama, not someone more progressive however defined, is the Dem nominee for 2012, that the choice will be Obama or the GOP nominee.  (at least I think that's what he's saying--please correct me if I've misinterpreted you, Genghis.)

    Sorry to scare you. I just meant that there is little chance of effectively pressuring the Democratic Party from the left in the next presidential primaries or general election. Waiting for some golden progressive to shake Obama is like waiting for the Messiah. If progressives want to challenge Democrats, they need to build a popular constituency from the bottom up, and that will take time.

    I should add that there are opportunities in Congress and the states in 2012. If progressive candidates can harness discontent in order win more local elections and spawn an effective political movement, they can establish enough clout to influence the 2016 presidential primaries.

    PS For the record, I think that Republican White House aspirations remain slim because of the weak field of candidates, but the economy does pose a real threat to Obama.

     Progressives have no constituency.

    That's quite incorrect. There are many elected officials in the House and Senate who are progressives. If, as you suggest, progressives have no constituency, that would be a political gravity-defying phenomenon.  Nor are the ideas of elected progressives some sort of fatal impediment to their electoral success, obviously.

    "Left" and "progressive" do not mean the same thing to most folks at this site, it seems to me.  It may be, going back and rereading what you wrote to try to reconstruct how you could end up writing something like that, that conflating the two is how that happened. 


    I'm using the term loosely and apologize for that. I've avoided writing "far left" and "left wing" because I think they're pejorative, but I mean to refer to those who feel that the Democratic Party has gone drastically off-course and no longer represents classic liberal ideals.

    One can debate about whether that's true, but regardless, I take it be fairly obvious that the American left wing is disaffected and lacks political muscle, in contrast with the right wing, which is energized and politically powerful.

    "There are many elected officials in the House and Senate who are progressives."

    Define "many."

    Not to speak for AD, but there are 83 self-declared progressives in Congress. That includes one person (Sanders) in the Senate. There is no Senate progressive caucus, though that might be an idea...

    I think from national political perspective, one can see where part of the issue is at when one looks at where they reside from...A large percentage come California (mostly from coast) and the northeast.  In Illinois all of their representatives come from Chicago only.  Looking at the "former members" listing, a number were defeated in 2010 and some of who resigned were not replaced by new members for the caucus.  If I remember correctly, of the three seats that the Dems took from Republicans in 2010, none of them were progressives. 

    So while there are pockets where progressives hold sway, mainly in urban areas, they don't seem to have much pull statewide or nationally.  Oregon for instance has probably the most progressive city in the country in Portland, but once one travels a few miles outside the city limits, not too many progressives to be found (until one gets to Eugene). 

    Look, this is in the context of a horseshit claim that progressives lack the organizing chops of the Tea Party. There are 60 members of the Tea Party Caucus versus 83 members of the progressive caucus. It's simple. They're hugely successful at getting reps elected, but then those reps just cave and-or sell out.

    Yes, progressives are mostly from the city. But given that 83% of Americans live in cities, that's just par for the course - most Americans live in cities. I.e. not an interesting feature of progressives.

    83 members of the progressive Caucus?  how much legislation do you expect to pass with 83 out of 435 members in one chamber of a bicameral legislature, and one progressive member in the other chamber of 100 members?  Do you really not see this as a problem?  And are you really blaming everyone other than progressives for failure to get their message out in a way that persuade a moajority (or at least a bloc of size enough to influence the dynamics in Washington) of american voters?

    As a professor mine used to say, 83 congresspeople, One Senator, and $2.25 will get you a ride on the CTA.  It will not geet a single bill favored by rank-and-file progressives enacted into law.

    I'm not blaming anyone. I'm just countering the impression that the Tea Party is so fucking amazing at organizing and that progressives aren't. Again: 83 to 60.

    I do think the Progressive caucus could do more to present an independent cohesive message to have their voice heard. They're more successful electorally than the Tea Party, but they don't have the media presence that the Tea party has. Then again they don't have the Fox News megaphone that the Tea Party has.

    Progressives are going to make an attempt at ginning up jobs creation; Conyers' calm lilt while saying "Let's get maaaad, you guys..." is pretty funny. 'Getting corporate America to invest some of the trillions they're sitting on' is one of the big rubs; do they have to be rewarded financially? Maybe; Presidential begging hasn't helped. The ethanol subsidy vote was sad but predictable. But go, Progressive Caucus!        

    The October2011 folks are trying to make A Movement, too.  Hope the national Labor Unions join in; they need to show they're seriously tring to be an outside force pressuring government. 


    The CPC has been around for 20 years and the Tea Party caucus just emerged, and its 83 to 60.  I would think with nearly two decade head start they might have a slightly larger lead.

    Really? You see the Tea Party expanding from where they are now?

    Don't claim to know them well, but I thought they'd peaked.

    That's my impression as well.  A lot of the tea party energy seems to be fizzling as Republicans gradually drift back toward Romney and the more electable alternatives.

    I doubt it. The bulk of Republicans may be moving towards Romney (and to a lesser extent Pawlenty), but the bulk of Republicans are not Tea Partiers. Bachmann, Santorum, Cain, and Palin (if she runs) represent the Tea Parties.

    When the losers drop out, I expect a bloody contest between the establishment candidate (probably Romney) and the right-wing candidate (Bachmann is my best guess at this point). The establishment candidate will surely win but may feel pressured to pick a right-wing VP.

    All I know is that I have talked to several of these tea party folks recently, and their views seem to be getting less strident and more standardly Republican.

    The question is whether the CPC has peaked (for the moment)?  Is there any potential in 2012 elections for new members while retaining the ones already? 

    This is a serious question for someone who follows the house races closely - where are there opening for a progressive to take a seat (and which ones would require the sitting Dem to be primaried) and where are they in danger of losing their seats?

    And with Bachmann's performance at the debate, one of the now perceived front runners, the Tea Party now has a national figure head so it might gain momentum. 

    Then there is the counter that is one thing to get a progressive elected to the house in a district that leans liberal and whole another matter to out a setting establishment Dem with a progressive Dem during the primaries, such as what happened with O'Donnell.  When the progressives can do that then they cannoy claim to have the same organizing chops as the tea party folks in some states.  There is definitely states out there where the progressives, given the low turn out in primaries, could swamp the polls and replace one the corporate-leaning Dems with a progressive.  But until then...

    Yeah, and that O'Donnell thing turned out great for them.


    More seriously, what i see as the Tea Party's "strength" is their willingness to sink the GOP for the sake of their (odd) principles. Delaware and Nevada should have been solid GOP wins, but the Tea Party would rather have the GOP lose than reward moderates. By a pure party-line maximization strategy the GOP should have 49 senators (plus Lieberman) right now. That would make a big difference.  But the Tea Party's insane suicide-bomber kinda commitment is what scares moderates. The result is a smaller party - 47 seats - but far more cohesive and partisan.

    Progressives don't have that, which means moderates don't fear them. And when a few stragglers on the far left decide to sit out the next election, they get treated like worse than scum. Case in point: the way reasonable main-stream Dems like A-man despise Nader more than they hate Bush. I was shocked by that initially. But it makes sense of a lot of things. I think mainstream dems get away with beating the left into line in a way that GOP moderates don't always manage with the far right. Different in-group dynamics. When the right revolts, moderate conservatives move right in fear. When the left revolts, the center-left ... moves right in disgust.

    In short, I don't think it's an organizing deficit among progressives. It's an excess of 'reasonableness', or rather: a lack of balls.

    I guess I'm partly agreeing with you. But when they finally do trot out unelectable O'Donnell types to scare the moderates, I expect to see you there on the sidelines. Cheering!



    Here are a few things in no particular order:

    • The Republican party and moderate conservatives had lost all credibility after Bush. They needed the Teabaggers and a "back to basics" approach to get back in the game at all. Boehner et al saw they needed the TBers to advance THEIR OWN political agenda, i.e., to get back into power.

    • Republicans realized back in the late 70s that they would be a permanent minority part without the addition of the "values voters," which have some overlap with the TBers, at least in terms of zeal, if not always in terms  of principle. TBers aren't always religious, but "values voters" agree with them on fiscal and defense issues almost always.

    • It's in the conservative DNA to stand on principle regardless of consequences, whereas liberals, at least these days, are more pragmatic. You exemplified this yourself when you said that Obama's economic plans suck, but if they work, you'll admit you were wrong. This is not a conservative way of thinking. They are less concerned with the consequences or results IF the principle is right. The principles don't get modified because of their impact on people; people have to modify their behaviors and lives to bring them into accord with the principles.

    • Life, liberty, freedom, security, prosperity, private property. These are transcendent principles conservatives hold dear and interpret via particular policies and issues. Abolishing abortion is the right thing to do regardless of the consequences. Women who get pregnant will just have to figure it out and take responsibility for their actions. What price freedom? How can we put a dollar figure on this priceless possession by cutting defense--cost be damned. I have a right to keep the money I earned; after all, I earned it. Keeping taxes low affirms the sanctity of private property.

    John Chait wrote an interesting article about this in TNR a while back: principle vs. pragmatism.

    • I heard Richard Viguerie talk at a DM conference once. He said that conservatives had a built-in sales advantage because they could fit all their principles onto bumper stickers. Liberals are left to explain why the government's finances are different from a household's finances and such like.

    One way out of this problem would be for liberals to recapture some of these transcendent principles.

    I think of it in terms of specific votes, not limited to who is a member of the Progressive Caucus.

    Pelosi's House passed a large public jobs bill.  Passed.  The Senate passed a puny one and that was basically what the compromise was. The White House pretty much sat this one out even though Pelosi begged it to weigh in strongly to help the party for the midterms.

    33 Senators voted for the Kaufman-Brown amendment to the financial reform bill to break up the megabanks.  33 members--of the millionaires' club. The White House opposed the amendment.

    Pelosi's House passed a cap-and-trade bill.  Sure, it was a baby step, very much a flawed bill. But it was a baby step in a progressive direction.  I thought you are among those who regularly sings the praises of incrementalism?    

    The initial stimulus bill passed.  Here the White House fought hard.  Had Obama asked for a bigger number, the inevitable compromise number could well have been higher, maybe even approaching adequate.  When Bush II pegged $1.7 trillion as the size of his initial tax cut, that was reduced by a few hundred million IIFC.  That's generally how the process works.  

    Those are not insignificant facts if one is assessing past performance and potential future prospects for passing progressive legislation, if progressives continue to support members of Congress who are doing good things and persist for the long haul instead of giving up in frustration, and actively support solid candidates who are progressive on economic issues in particular as the party's nominees and/or in primary contests..  Not all, but too much of the good done in the first two years was despite the White House more than because of it.  I would say a yes vote on any of the above is a progressive vote for the purposes of the point I am making.

    There is a lot to build on.  I hope that is not thrown away on account of progressives forgetting about the good work many, yes many, House and Senate members did on these among other bills, out of frustration or disgust with Obama or just the end results of the first two years.  

    Like I wrote in Dan K's walkout of the Democratic party post, I try to remind myself that the members who voted the right way on these bills are, almost all of them, Democrats just as much as Obama is.  They are just as much what the Democratic party is as he is.

    Funny, brew. I would have thought that the point of view expressed in this comment is one you would strongly support, based on what you write at dag.

    "Reject" is too strong; I don't think he commented.

    But I say again, you're right.

    I think it was a different exchange from the one you're thinking of, but I can't find the link. It doesn't really matter though.

    There is actually a large constituency for most progressive initiatives.  Progressives have a constituency; they juts have little power.  And that's because in America in 2011, power has nothing to do with the number of people who agree with you, but the number of dollars you can stuff in politicians' pockets.

    But if progressives have no constituency, then Obama can surely do wll without progressive participation in this election cycle, right?

    "There is actually a large constituency for most progressive initiatives."

    Yet, oddly enough, progressives can't seem to win elections of any consequence.  But they do kick serious ass in public opinion polls. 

    And that's because in America in 2011, power has nothing to do with the number of people who agree with you, but the number of dollars you can stuff in politicians' pockets.

    Dan, this is an excuse for the impotence of progressive politics. It's a self-defeating victim's game. As long as you and others believe it, you will never get anywhere.

    I don't say that to shut you down. Quiet the opposite. I'm sure that there is potential for many Americans to embrace progressive ideals and policies. But they have to be persuaded, organized, and mobilized.

    Read What's the Matter with Kansas if you haven't. Thomas Frank documents how grassroots right-wing insurgents operating on shoestring budgets overturned the corporate-financed Republican establishment in Kansas. They didn't need much money, and their opponents' large campaign chests did not slow their charge. This is what you have to do on the Democratic side if you want politicians to reflect your ideals.

    But if progressives have no constituency, then Obama can surely do wll without progressive participation in this election cycle, right?

    Even a small number of votes makes a difference in close races. But Obama's independent constituency is larger than his progressive constituency, so in a contest between the two, he's going to go with the former. Any politically strategic Democratic would--and almost all politicians are strategic.

    If you can reverse the calculation so that the wing is more important than independents (as the right-wing has done for Republicans), you will find Democratic politicians to be much more responsive to left wing priorities.

    He can't afford to "go with" just one or the other.  He needs the whole coalition.  My hope for this particular cycle is that progressives can generate noisy and politically embarrassing dissatisfaction with the present direction of the Obama administration, and use the internal Democratic dispute to articulate a progressive agenda that attracts some media attention.  Only if his left flank becomes enough of an irritant and potential political threat will Obama be forced to trade consideration for support.

    But here's a caveat:

    In my discussions with conservative friends, they frequently say: "No one likes the health care bill. It's a lousy bill."

    But the distinction they aren't making, perhaps knowingly and perhaps not, is progressives don't like the bill for entirely different reasons than conservatives don't like the bill.

    But what I worry about is that all criticism gets lumped into one big ball of dislike or disapproval--especially when gross polling numbers are shown--say, "Do you like the bill or don't you?"

    So the task for progressives, as I see it, is to pressure Obama to pay attention to his better angels.

    So the task for progressives, as I see it, is to pressure Obama to pay attention to his better angels.

    Right. Pressure him, but make sure you (i) don't criticize him or his policies, (ii) continue to contribute to his campaign, and (iii) get out the vote, and (iv) vote.

    Because if you don't, you're just a jerk like Nader.

    (this is how I understand your and A-man's position)

    Did you forget (v) Bend over? .....  Bow down  Be thankful for the crumbs they may throw you

    Maybe (vi) dont vote YOUR conscience, follow blindly you sheeple.

    I voted for Winona LaDuke in 2000.    Innocent  I just Wiki-ed her for the year.  Did you know her ma was Jewish?  If I ever did, I'd forgotten. 

    Well, I think there are two options:

    Tell Obama he has to move your way or you don't show up in 2012. Then you really have to not show up if he doesn't move our way at all or enough. Otherwise, you're just a putz.

    • This means risking letting the Republican win. This might not be so bad if you really don't think there's a difference between the two or you think it's worth the sacrifice to teach the Democrats a lesson. Of course, it's pretty hard to interpret these electoral signals because, as Quinn has pointed out elsewhere, a lot of factors go into every win and loss.

    • Or, it could mean finding out that you're not all that important to Obama's re-election if he says, "sorry to see you go," and wins anyway. Then he's called your bluff and you're out.

    The second option is to find a way to criticize and apply pressure as an ally. This means being willing to find win-wins with Obama when he wants to go one way and you want to go the other way. Sitting behind this has to be the understanding that if either side doesn't feel he's winning something important a split is inevitable--but not the desirable thing.

    The second option would be my position.

    A third option would be to build the liberal equivalent of "movement conservatism," which is kinda sorta what Genghis is suggesting, I think. There are two parts to this: 1) Getting your ideas to become the "common wisdom" on various issues, and 2) getting a lot of people to think the way you do. Friedman did this with those excellent videos he produced in which he explained his ideas in simple and compelling ways that made sense to the average person (even if they were inimical to their interests).

    Yup, number three. I've said for a long time that progressives - at least economic progressives - need to detach themselves as a movement from the Democratic party label which is hurting them. I.e. people trust big government even less than big corporations because they fear getting ordered around by social-issues liberal elites. At least that's my running theory.

    And progressives already have been hugely successful in making things like the public option and a tax hike on the rich the common wisdom amongst 75% of the population even majorities in the GOP - though of course you can't expect the corporate media coverage to reflect that. And labor now seems set to decouple from the Democratic party. So things are in motion. Obviously not enough to make a difference in 2012, but lets hope the GOP don't nominate a total nutcase.

    I doubt that "noise" matters very much in political calculations. Votes matter. Noise is only relevant insofar as it signifies the risk of lost votes.

    Thus, the power that dissatisfied progressives have is to refrain from voting. If enough voters threaten to bolt, it could hypothetically draw Obama's attention. But it won't work in 2012. Here's why...

    The best example of effective third-party pressure in recent presidential elections was Pat Buchanan's 1992 campaign. His threat to run as an independent pushed Bush Sr. to throw some bones to the right wing. More importantly, Buchanan dropped his bid in return for the keynote convention speech, which he used to deliver his famous Culture War speech that raised the profile of cultural conservatives.

    But Buchanan was only able to pull it off because the size of his constituency gave him a lot of negotiating power. And it's wasn't just numbers. Buchanan was popular in the South, the Midwest, and New Hampshire at a time when these states were in play. Bush needed him to deliver votes in these states.

    By contrast, Ralph Nader never had anywhere near Buchanan's support, and what support he had was clustered in reliably blue states. He only had an impact in Florida because the race was so incredibly close there.

    One might conclude that any threat has an effect; maybe the risk of another Florida debacle will force Obama to pay attention to the left. But it's not that simple. Obama and his pollsters believe that placating the left carries more political risk than marginalizing it--especially in swing states like Florida. They will weigh the number of votes that Nader or some other progressive insurgent would draw against the number of independents Obama would lose if he were to offer him a convention speech, and they will tell him to go to hell.

    In short, it comes back to votes. Mobilize the votes, and you will get respect. Without them, you've got nothing but sound and fury.

    I doubt that "noise" matters very much in political calculations. Votes matter. Noise is only relevant insofar as it signifies the risk of lost votes.

    Correct.   But bad publicity reduces enthusiam and donations, and as a result threatens candidates with the loss of votes down the line.   Shining a spotlight on the areas in which Obama is failing is not good for the Obama campaign, and can generate a response.

    Bad publicity - even if its epicenter is the left - doesn't just influence the left.  A lot of folks in the middle are bandwagoners.  Their overall impressions of an incumbent candidate are influenced by a general impression about whether the candidate is succeeding or failing, and even by such things as comedians' monologues.  If Stewart, Letterman and Leno are making nightly cracks about stratospheric unemployment in the Obama economy, and the incompetence of the administration response, that will have an effect.

    Fair enough. Reaming Obama for not doing enough to reduce unemployment can certainly effect his candidacy, and there will surely be plenty of folks climbing onto that bandwagon as we get closer to the election.

    It's not just Obama, for that matter. Congresspeople are surely getting nervous about elections in the midst of a deep recession.

    The need for votes is correct, but the bit about "Obama and his pollsters believe that placating the left carries more political risk than marginalizing it" isn't.

    It's more issue by issue, than left vs right. If Obama's pollsters are stuck with left versus right, then forget all our discussions, they're gonna go down in flames. 

    Some issues are such that Progressives can set fire to the issue's tail, and sufficiently large numbers of the public will notice, and Obama and company have to move. 

    On other issues, there's no chance of it catching fire with wider publics.

    Beyond that, there's always the question of how to make an issue catch fire. Wisconsin was one example. 

    You are correct. In fact, the left-right divide can be broken down in a few ways. One is issues. For example, most Democrats have calculated that gun control is not a popular issue, which is why you never hear about it.

    But in addition to issues, the divide is also represented by individuals. For instance, when Bush Sr. agreed to put Pat Buchanan on stage, he calculated that the number of voters that Buchanan brought to the table was greater than the number of voters that he would alienate.

    By contrast, Ralph Nader never had anywhere near Buchanan's support,

    How could he, when the Gore Democrats wouldn’t allow him into the debates.

    Genghis,.... you should know, candidates need airtime and a wider audience.  

    Defenders of the Two Party system will always block Third party candidates

    Allow Nader, Buchanan into Debates
    Recent history suggests that nothing sparks interest in the debates like the inclusion of third-party candidates


    Crashing the Party: How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for President


    “a cabal of the Republican and Democrat state legislators because they have an interest in excluding third parties, excluding competition, excluding choice to the voters, even though the history of third parties in our country -- they led, third parties, in the fight against slavery, women's right to vote, trade union movement, farmer-populist-progressive movement, right into the 20th century.


    90 million voters are reached in nationally televised debates.

    Nader would have had the wider audience had he been allowed to debate., and Gore was afriad NADER would have a wider audience as the representative of the progressive wing of the party.

    Gore didn’t want to give voice to the progressives.  Nader would have had more supporters. THAT’S WHY GORE BLOCKED HIM   

    Nader “Come now Gore and Bush, tell us how NAFTA, WTO or offshoring jobs would benefit the working class? We progressives would like to hear your reasons why we should support you.

    Nader: “To you Republicans and Independants,  who feel WTO infringes on our sovereignty, lets hear these two corporate whores explain themselves”

    Let me tell you WHY you should vote for me, Ralph Nader if you want to protect this countries future from Corporations offshoring our jobs leaving us with heavy debt. 

    Instead WE the people had our opportunities repressed.

    So what WE the people got instead of a free and fair electoral  process, was what the two major parties representing  Corporate interests would allow..

    The Labor/Progressive side of the Democratic party felt  WAS betrayed by the Economic elite side, of the Democratic party, who put money over people .

    Even Dick Gephardt the Democratic Leader of the House was betrayed by the Democratic elite who were  more interested in corporate money, rather than progressive causes.

    Nader was blocked not by the Republicans, but by the traitor/free trader Gore.

    Gore lost because @19:56

    @ 24:29 “the Democratic party can’t deal with a third party candidate of the progressive wing”

    (Although Progessives have made the Democratic party change, as it relates to the fight against slavery, women's right to vote, trade union movement, farmer-populist-progressive movement)

    The New Democratic Party Hacks would tell us "Progressives must always be subservient to the Democratic elite?"

    A great companion book to Franks' is Invisible Hand(s) by Fein. Shows the whole history.

    As to the money thing, well yes, sort of and it depends...

    I think the biggest thing is to capture the rhetorical "conventional wisdom." You don't have to explain to the average person what "we're broke" means. All you have to do is show him the 14 trillion tab. He knows that's more than we could ever "repay." He knows what it's like to have a run-away credit card bill that keeps mounting inexorably month after month and which he can't get out from under.

    It's much harder to explain that federal finances are NOT like personal or even state finances.

    There's something else that represents an opening, I think. When the average person talks about not liking "big government" or government, what he REALLY means is: He doesn't like government that doesn't do what it's supposed to do. He's VERY happy when government does what it promises to do. Conservatives have managed to smush this distinction into a blanket dislike of government--and their defunding the government helps with this.

    They've also managed to equate government with a diminution of freedom. But what we have to show are the ways government LIBERATES people, makes them MORE free. Once we accept, explicitly or implicitly, that government involvement in anything means less freedom, we've basically lost the argument. We're fighting a rearguard action, because who is not for individual liberty and freedom?

    There was a very good article on this in The Nation. Will have to dig up.

    Excellent points. 

    One of the best decision Bush ever made for the anti-government crowd was put Brownie in charge of FEMA.  After Katrina, all the Rushes and others had to do was point to FEMA and say, "see government can't do anything right."  It was perfect to support both the retraction of the government and privatization of services.  It is hard to make a case for increasing the size of government when everybody regardless of their political stripes was appalled and disgusted with how FEMA operated during that crisis, all so nicely captured for the evening news.

    Politics is complicated. The message is a big part of it, for sure. But so are personalities, organizations, networks, press, and, yes, money. My point was that money is only part of it, and there is evidence to suggest that its political influence is often overvalued.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. Somehow I missed that one in my research for Blowing Smoke.

    My point was that money is only part of it, and there is evidence to suggest that its political influence is often overvalued.

    Have you seen this Gilens study that has made a lot of noise? (I linked it elsewhere as well) It argues that on the national stage at least money is everything. Just wondered if you had a take on it. And if there are any links to the evidence you're seeing on the opposite side of the argument.

    I hadn't seen it and haven't had a chance to read it closely, but the conclusions don't surprise me. But there is a difference between the broad influence of upper class and the simple idea that whichever candidate has the most money wins. (I'm thinking of Freakonomics, which challenged the latter assumption.)

    More to the point, the American political environment is an imperfect playing field and always has been, but egalitarian movements have nonetheless been successful throughout our history, often under far greater odds than we're dealing with today.

    So you can either stew about the impossibility of building a new progressive movement while dreaming of a savior to deliver us from our anguish, or you can do the hard work building a new movement. There are certainly progressives doing the hard work, but overall, they have been out-organized, out-proselytized, and out-mobilized by the right wing for the three decades. Until that changes, there will be no savior.

    Praying for a savior to rise from these streets?

    Show a little faith, brother. There's magic in the night.


     Out of the ruins

    Out from the wreckage

    Can't make the same mistake this time

    We are the children

    the last generation

    We are the ones they left behind

    And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it

    Living under the fear till nothing else remains

    I didn't intend the piece as an argument for defeatism. My thinking when I saw that piece, and other evidence that there is no natural alliance between social and economic progressives, was that it's time for more class-based politics, less culture based politics. Because I think you're wrong. Social progressives have killed social conservatives over the past thirty years. But that is because that is where all the money is among progressives. When the administration scrambled to placate progressives after the tax cut for the rich in december, they moved on what issue? DADT. Which was a wonderful win. But it just goes to show who wears the pants in the progressive coalition. And, it nicely illustrates Gilens point - that when the middle class shares a policy with the rich, they get what they want. When they disagree, the middle class loses. And that goes for the Right as much as the Left.

    This is an interesting point I haven't seen articulated anywhere else.

    It speaks a little bit to the loss of the so-called Reagan Democrats in the 1970s, where working class folks became alienated from a Democratic Party they saw as pushing a foreign social agenda.


    Right. And if you look at racial breakdowns of income trends in the working class, blacks have moved up, hispanics have moved up, women have moved up over the past thirty years. White males however have been falling behind not just in relative terms but in absolute terms. So,sure, there is a lot of bigoted whining by disgruntled white guys on the right, but there is a real grievance lying under the surface there as well that needs to be addressed. Every time some otherwise well-meaning liberal takes a dump on these guys, dismissing their complaints and their distrust when it comes to liberals, I want to bang my head against the wall. Liberals haven't demonstrated they care the least about these people. Every day with every snarky blogpost, we demonstrate that we despise them. No wonder they 'vote against their interests' and 'cling to their guns and religion'. Liberals really need to rethink their relationship to the less privileged section of the white male demographic, imho.

    This is  a great comment.  The failure of progressive policies over the last forty-plus years is primarily due to the abandonment of the Democrats by the white working and middle classes (as I pointed out when the WI protests were going strong, well over 40% of unions members vote Republican - hell, the Teamsters endorsed Reagan in 1980!).

    Of course, the probelm we currently face is how to keep the gays and ethnic minorities firmly in the Democratic camp while also managing to win back some of those white working and middle class voters.  I'm afraid that we are going to have to have an extended period of poor economic conditions before they support anything other than tax cuts for the rich and more deregulation.  They've invested an awful lot of theirselves in not being like "those people" who are dependent on the government (even as they expect government to satisfy their own needs quickly and effectively), and I think changing that mindset is nigh unto impossible at this point. 

    Glad we agree on some stuff Brew!


    Yup, they have invested alot in not being like "those people". Generationally, thought, time is on the side of progressives. Demographically too. Just have to pick them off at the margins I guess...

    "My point was that money is only part of it, and there is evidence to suggest that its political influence is often overvalued."

    Not nearly as overvalued as use of the bully pulpit is among Obama's critics on the left.

    Riddle: And why doesn't Obama use his Bully Pulpit? 

    Help me out here, folks.  Answer A: He's too busy saying to Ann Curry that it's I'm calm about the economy.  And that the buisness sector is where jobs are really created.  (I'll leave some room for anyone else....)  Hey, brew; so nice ta see ya, LOL!

    He uses it plenty. On how underwater homeowners don't deserve help. On how the government has to tighten its belt. On how only the private sector creates jobs.

    Obama's chief public message these days is "I am not a socialist."   He now looks for any opportunity he can to underline that message and avoid dissonant lefty-sounding complaints about jobs, income inequaity, etc., and to speak favorably of business, finace, public sector frugality, private sector independence, etc.

    Maybe if Romney were President, Romney would try to appeal to the middle by touting the message, "I am not a wingnut," and would actually do a few things about jobs and inequality just to prove to centrists he was no right-winger.  That's what he did in Massachusetts.

    Which is better?  A lame and principle-free Democratic shape-shifter trying to expand his appeal by impressing the center-right and running briskly from the left; or a lame and principle-free Republican shape-shifter trying to expand to his appeal by impressing the center-left and running from the right?

    Good grief; could he turn into Gov. Romney again?  Wonder where in Dweet FAnny Adams Campaign Romney would be on blockbusters like EFCA?  He's already mumbling about getting out of Afghanistan, saying the US can't create a government there, Afghans must.  Probably just market-testing the idea, but still.

    As Delong and Thoma have suggested, on economic policy the ideal is probably Romney as president with a Pelosi-led Democratic congress. Both would be incentivized to be constructive and there would be bipartisan cover for deficit spending, infrastructure investment, etc. Also Democrats would feel freer to openly oppose executive branch policies that aren't progressive. Right now progressives are quiet, not wanting to enter into conflict with their own party leader. 

    But, of course, I don't know if there is a way to swing an election such that a Romney win doesn't create coat-tails for down-ballot GOP candidates. And of course, Romney would perhaps be worse on the environment and social issues. (foreign policy? dunno)

    Yeah; and I forgot about the ACA; though most of us griping about him NOT using said pulpit it thought that pretty much sucked.

    Maybe you should step out of the echo chamber for a moment and educate yourself about the bully pulpit.  You can start here: http://www.amazon.com/Deaf-Ears-Limits-Bully-Pulpit/dp/product-descripti...   

    From a review on Google Books:

    "Edwards (Jordan Chair of Presidential Studies, Texas A&M Univ.), the author of several excellent books on the presidency, argues that presidents who attempt to move public opinion to support their policies or increase their personal approval ratings are more likely to fail than to succeed. To make his case, Edwards uses a rich array of public opinion data, drawing most heavily on a close analysis of the Reagan and Clinton presidencies...He concludes that, if presidents hope to move their legislative agenda through Congress, they need to convince lawmakers directly."

    Could it possibly be time to get a new stick to poke with other than 'echo chamber', brew?  Gets a mite tired, IMO.  Sounds like an interesting book for a Texan.  Doris Kearns Godwin agrees, but I just don't, though he may have cherry-picked issues in the way Amity Schlaes did to prove that federal spending didn't pull the nation out of the Great Depression.  It's saying, then, that voters have no influence over elected officials.  To the extent that it's true, I would say that it's because the wealthy of both parties get their way far too often, as shown in the Giles pdf. Cho put up.  I'm only halfway through, but it's compelling data.

    There's no one in the country who can command a bully pulpit other than the Prez.  His speeches are part of it, his interviews, town halls, campaign appearances, emails to Dems signed up with OFA and WTF, SOTUs, etc. 

    Arm-twisting individual Congress-critters has to help, I sure agree there.  But Clinton arguably was a master at getting public opinion on his side to shape policy, even when he was acting as Master Triangulator, I think.

    Well, I'm glad you are able to debunk the conclusions a professor who actually studied the issue empricially and in-depth without reading his book.  And the comparison to noted right-wing hack Shlaes is a nice touch; you wouldn't want to miss an opporunity to smear someone you know absolutely nothing about in support of your insistent denial that you couldn't possibly be misinformed about an issue.

    But the facts are the facts; and you have none in support of your assurance that the president could have mobilized greater public support for his policies if only he'd given a few more speeches. 

    As far as Bill Clinton goes, maybe you could actually point to a policy that didn't initally have broad public support that he advocated for, and which then became law.  I remember the Clinton presidency much differently than you do; which is to say, I remember it accurately, and not merely selectively to use as a cudgel with which to bash to current president. 

    Did you read the book?  I wasn't trying to debunk it so much as say I'd guess he might have looked at the data with a certain eye.  Polls are notoriously easy to misread, IMO.  One or two words changes responses dramatically.  The Schlaes was by way of a little fun over 'statistics can be manipulted theme', but I forgot you are a) humorless and b) love to fight with me. 

    I did spend about an hour reading about the author's opinions and findings, and also some articles based on what he said.  I can see how he got where he did, but I disagree.  Do you or do you not agree that Obama used his bully pulpit a) to get elected President and b) to get the ACA passed?

    See, where you go wrong every time is thinking that criticism of Obama is personal; you coudn't be more wrong.  Please google: Obama's bully pulpit and read a few dozen of the hits you select by author.  Many many Obama supporters want him to use it to help us all out, brew. 

    "I can see how he got where he did, but I disagree."

    You're disagreeing with a factual analysis; and he didn't even look at Obama, he mainly used the  Reagan and Clinton years as a data source.  You come off like a lefty version of the climate change denialists here; "it's snowing in New york in April, so how can you say the planet's getting hotter?"

    "Do you or do you not agree that Obama used his bully pulpit a) to get elected President and b) to get the ACA passed?"

    a) by definition, a candidate doesn't have a bully pulpit; and b) no.

    "A bully pulpit is a public office or other position of authority of sufficiently high rank that provides the holder with an opportunity to speak out and be listened to on any matter. The bully pulpit can bring issues to the forefront that were not initially in debate, due to the office's stature and publicity."  -- from wikipedia

    Of course one of the two candidates for the Presidency has a position of authority sufficient to be listened to on any matter.

    You come off like the flock of magpies outside my house; defending their fledgings in raucous and obnoxious sqrawks whether or not their is an imminent threat.  Shorter: it's your personality and inclination to act in this abrasive manner; it's your nature, but not to men in the thread who weighed in on Obama not using his bully pulpit.  Get it?

    You tell him Stardust. Obama the Executive had the tools and he failed to utilize them.

    We didn’t put him in the Whitehouse to lead us in a chorus of Kumbyjah. We  put him there, as OUR VOICE, scream if necessary, that was the change I was looking for.

    Change you can believe in, what change did Obama bring to the table?

    A change in face, Obamas got two faces, is that what my eyes see?

    Tell us YES WE CAN,  and Obama immediately capitulates and becomes afraid to use the bully pulpit, to speak up in defense of the Working class?  

    We couldn't direct what other States do, or what representatives other States send to Congress, but when we elect a President an executive, not a gopher boy, the executive sets the direction,  he the executive is to intercede in behalf of the people, exposing the idiocy of individual State Representatives, HOW? By using the bully pulpit.  

    He becomes the Voice of ALL the People,

    Use the bully pulpit to expose the corruption in Washington, Shine a light on the backroom dealings.

    When Obama realized the Republicans were never going to work with him, he should have shoved it in their faces 24/7

    Telling the obstructionists, " if I go down, so do you."  

    We weren't looking for the House servant. We gave Obama the bully pulpit so he could exercise POWER     

    I replied to a comment by Genghis.  You chose to respond to my comment, and several of your thuggish friends decided, as per usual, to pile on. Once again, your obnoxious self-righteousness and complete ignorance of facts and context make you look like the priggish fool that you are.

    Nice one Genghis. That pretty much covers the coverage of the debate.

    But, as ridiculous as they seem, and as unelectable as they all are, Romney already leads Obama in the head-to-head polls (49-46), and can apparently also compete on fundraising too.

    So dems are going to have to take him seriously unless he flames out.

    They aren't unelectable.  If the economy remains in anything close to its current state, some Republican will win in 2012.

    Well, I'm just shocked. You mean people don't feel all chipper and cheerful about the economy? Damn. What are they thinking?

    Still. We've got that ironclad rebuttal ready - 

    "It could have been so much worse. Really. It could have been some kinda bad, bad shit. Like... even worser. Yup. That bad."

    Ranks right up there with "Yes we can."

    Kill me now. The undead are gonna take office.

    Yeah. But I'm sure we can blame it on Nader somehow. So it's all good.

    Hey, now, Mr. Quinn.  Obama just told Ann Curry he is NOT sanguine about the economy.  And Anonymous is kicking up a little dust.  I am sorry, I think it's a fucking hilarious video, but then...not everyone shares my sense of humor.  ;o)

    It's like a video delivered on a giant screen in a Batman movie...  voice-distorter meets Xtranorma and all...


    But at least I don't post photos of melting Baby Ruth candy bars in a park as rebuttal comment.  (Yeah; bet that was some NEA funded crap.)

    So what do you think of the "its gotta get worse--like really bad--and then people will finally realize and vote their intrests--hard left" argument?

    I watched the debate. I thought the CNN team bent over backwards to make the GOP candidates feel at home. Were there any hard questions? CNN did try to start a fistfight between Romney and Pawlenty. They tried to get anyone to say something bad about anyone else on stage - or Palin - but that didn't happen.

    No, it was clear that the Republican strategy is to claim that if not for Obama, the recession wouldn't have been nearly as bad, that jobs would have returned, that wars would have been won, etc. I don't think that will be a hard sell in certain circles.

    I thought Romney maintained his lead, Bachmann looked sane, and Pawlenty flamed out. Newt still sounds like a wonk, Paul still sounds like a crank, Santorum still sounds like a wank. In contrast to Pizza Verdi, Cain looked more and more like a pizza delivery guy as time went on.

    One thing I haven't seen written about, though I haven't read much about the debate, is that former (perhaps two-term) New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was denied a spot by CNN, which organization claimed his polling numbers weren't high enough to earn a spot on that stage.  He pointed out on Dylan Ratigan's program that Bachman was there, and hadn't even announced her candidacy.  Wonder whassup with that?

    He pointed out that he was the only candidate with a markedly different platform from the other eleven or whatever number they were.

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