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Dear White House: Here's how to handle the left's "whining"

I had planned to avoid the whole battle over Joe Biden's demand that the Democratic base "stop whining," because it's impossible to wade into this topic without getting caught up in a food fight over whether Obama and Dems have really done all they could or whether they threw in the towel on major initiatives.

But there's actually an opportunity here to clarify something rather important: The various arguments that people on the left are actually making. There's a lot of confusion about this. Disabusing ourselves of the idea that there is a monolithic "left," and separating out the different voter sentiments and differing arguments, might make it easier to move the discussion in a productive direction.

Roughly speaking, there are three different strains of argument or sentiment on the left right now. The first is the Dem base's lack of enthusiasm. This, obviously, concerns rank and file voters who, from the point of view of the White House, are not sufficiently happy with Obama's performance. This is what Biden was referring to when he urged Dems to "remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives."

The second group on the left constitutes high-profile commentators, such as Rachel Maddow and Glenn Greenwald, who are mounting a detailed, substantive policy critique of the Obama administration on issues that are important to them. These folks see their role as advocates for a particular policy agenda, and they don't hesitate to whack the White House when it commits what they see as grave policy missteps. For them to hold their fire because the White House wants them to would be an unthinkable betrayal of the role they've carved out for themselves. This is the "professional left" Robert Gibbs sneeringly alluded to -- even though Obama himself has said he craves such criticism.

The third group constitutes operatives like Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, some labor operatives, and groups like MoveOn. These folks are making a largely political argument. They are not merely griping because the White House failed to be as left wing as they would have liked on the public option or the big banks. They are making the case that fighting harder for liberal priorities -- even if that battle is hopeless in some cases -- is better politics for Democrats overall, because it might leave Dems with an energized base heading into the midterms.

From this group's point of view, it entirely misses the point when Obama supporters respond by saying: "Shut up, Obama got all he could, all you're doing is demoralizing Dems with your nonstop criticism."

Their argument is that laying down markers on core liberal priorities has a way of expanding the field of what's politically possible. And even if expanding that field was never realistic, they argue, Obama would be in a better position anyway if he'd fought more visibly for those core priorities, because rank and file Dems would know what it is they should go out and vote for on Election Day. These critics are rejecting the ingrained Beltway notion that you should never fight for something when you might lose.

Now, you may or may not agree with any one of these arguments. And obviously there's overlap between these categories. But the point is, it's entirely counterproductive for the White House to rail in some generalized way about the left's "whining." Far better to think clearly about what these arguments actually are, and to grapple with them head on.

If the Dem base is unenthusiastic, give Dems something to get excited about, or effectively tell them why they should be excited. If you disagree with Maddow or Greenwald on what's possible in terms of policy, or if you disagree with the Adam Greens of the world on politics, explain why they're wrong, rather than spewing epithets in all directions. Above all, don't vaguely question the right of these various parties to make those arguments. This is, after all, democracy, and as Obama himself has repeatedly said, democracy is a messy business.

By Greg Sargent  | September 28, 2010; 1:49 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, Health reform, economy  
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Comments

We'll see what happens in Wisconsin tomorrow.

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh, wait, that's TODAY?! No wonder Russ Feingold and I both wrote it down wrong in our calendars (again!)

http://www.channel3000.com/politics/25190522/detail.html

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Greg - You make it sound like everyone on the left falls into one of these three categories. It just isn't so.

There are plenty of people on the left (and on the right) that consider pragmatism more important than ideology. These people tend to be able to count to 60 and realize that getting anything through Congress, especially given an opposition party h#ll bent on obstruction, is not easy.

These pragmatists get really tired of the constant harping done by some left leaning pundits.

Posted by: nisleib | September 28, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

nisleib, the third category ARE pragmatists. and obviously I'm generalizing here, in the service of getting SOME clarity, rather than this idea that there's a monolithic left...

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 28, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Greg - Let me remind you that the left has NEVER been organized. I would recite the Will Roger's quote from 1935 again, but that is gettin old.

And as to this, "the third category ARE pragmatists," I say BS. Jane Hamsher is about as un-pragmatic as a pundit can be. Greg, man, I've been a fan of your writing and reporting for a very long time, but if you think Jane Hamsher, PUMA queen, is pragmatic then you are losing it.

Posted by: nisleib | September 28, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Look at it this way:


Because Obama has lost the support of so many Independents, the blue dogs are going to get hit disproportionately.


The far leftists in the democratic party are for the most part secure in gerrymandered districts.


So the far-left is going to get their wish - the democratic party WILL shift to the left - because MOST of their centrists are going to lose this year.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 28, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

nisleib,

I am in the same group as you--the pragmatists. I like to think my pragmatism comes from being in business where you don't have time to fight all the important fights--sometimes, you don't even have time to fight all the critical fights. So, you're careful what battles you pick. And you are honest about why you win or lose battles.

I think this piece is excellent because it reminds me that my view (largely pragmatic) is not the only view, and surely not the best view, and just as surely, nor the worst.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 28, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

nisleib, the thing is that Hamsher THINKS she's pragmatic. she's making an argument for what she believes constitutes good politics. the question of whether we agree with her or not is a separate one. the point is that the WH needs to understand what it is the various factions on the left are, in fact, ARGUING, in order to respond and handle it more effectively...that's my point.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 28, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

12BarBlues - I'd love for a third party, the Pragmatic Party, to be formed.

The Pragmatic Party: If it works, use it.

Posted by: nisleib | September 28, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

@nisleib,

Perhaps one characteristic that separates the pragmatists that you define as separate from Greg's third group, is that the pragmatists are not particularly critical of the Democrats performance so far. Perhaps disappointed that more was not possible, but not critical of the Democrats.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 28, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Bearclaw

Im off topic again, oh no


There are questions emerging also whether Rahm Emanuel meets the residency requirements in Chicago in order to run for Mayor.

The law says someone has to live in Chicago for a year before the election - but Rahm has leased out his house for the past year.


So - who knows - if Rahm decides to run, after his petitions are filed, there may be a challenge to Rahm's residency - and who knows what the details of the law are.


One thing is clear: there is all sorts of documentation that Rahm has been in Washington for the past year -


It is not like other residency questions - in which documentation of where someone is/was really not readily available to prove in a hearing.

This time, Rahm has leased his house out - and White House logs are public - everytime Rahm walked into the White House it can be proven.


There is little chance that Rahm can argue that there is no evidence that he wasn't in Chicago for half the year. Quite the contrary - the evidence proves that he WASN'T there.


And now the existence of the lease and the tenent's name has been published in the Chicago Sun Times.


So Rahm should really consider taking a high powered lobbying job - and cash in.


Why would he want to go back to running Chicago City Hall, when he has already run the White House? This is a question.


,.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 28, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm over at FDL right now and they are openly cheering the idea of Issa opening impeachment hearings on Obama.

Since their leader Jane decided to turn anti-establishment, which is her natural role, they've jumped on the bandwagon. The regulars are all about getting Obama out of office, regardless of how.

If that's what's considered the left I want no part of them.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 28, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

"If the Dem base is unenthusiastic, give Dems something to get excited about, or effectively tell them why they should be excited."

Biden's entire speech at the Hodes fundraiser was an in-depth argument for why the Dem base SHOULD be excited, with policy specifics, in-depth litany of accomplishments, etc. etc.. That was what he was there doing.

Now we're all hoping mad over a partial-sentence fragment that was drummed up primarily by conflict-hungry media, and the "whiney left" is just eating it up for some reason. I have no idea why. Every pixel wasted venting about big meanie Joe Biden's big meanie meanness is energy spent eating progressive causes to pieces.

Posted by: davew1 | September 28, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

@nisleib,

Pragmatists vote! Right? Right?

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 28, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Hippie-punching never goes out of style.

Seems to me like there's a huge disconnect here. What happened in the 1960s no longer determines the outcome of elections - or it only can when Democrats allow it. We retired that battlefield in 2008, hard though the Republicans tried to make things all about what happened 40 - 50 years ago, like they've been doing for the past 40 years. This time, it didn't work, probably because the majority of voters now were either small children or not yet born when the civil rights struggles and Vietnam protests took place.

But in these mid-term elections, the Democrats themselves are back to highlighting divisions on the left as if it's still the 1960s or the early 1970s and anyone who disagrees with their refusal to really stand up and fight is just a silly McGovernite.

It's so self-defeating, this insistence on going back to a field they've always lost on. Then again, they're Democrats - we wouldn't expect anything different.

Posted by: JennOfArk | September 28, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

12Bar writes

is that the pragmatists are not particularly critical of the Democrats performance so far. Perhaps disappointed that more was not possible, but not critical of the Democrats.


__________________________________

You really have no idea what you are talking about.


The stimulus was a disaster, creating few jobs.

The health care bill is a massive drag on hiring - and it is hurting the economic recovery dramatically - how can that be seen as pragmatic?


The War in Afghanistan is NOW being run on Obama's leftwing idealogy - not he practical needs of what needs to be done to win.

YOU make these statements that are so far from reality - then you expect everyone to take you seriously. Unbelievable.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 28, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Once again the Obama team shows that winning an election is one thing and governing is something quite different.

Posted by: Aerowaz | September 28, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Wonder if Greg thinks this attitude is helpful:

"Obama: Democratic Voter Apathy "Inexcusable"

"In Rolling Stone Interview, President Urges Voters to "Shake off This Lethargy" and "Buck Up" ahead of Midterm Elections"

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/09/28/politics/main6907246.shtml

Posted by: sbj3 | September 28, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm over at FDL right now and they are openly cheering the idea of Issa opening impeachment hearings on Obama.
-----------------------------
@mike,

As if to prove Greg's point, I was woo-hoo'ing the impeachment vendetta just yesterday, but for a completely different reason. I know how it backfired on the GOP when they started the Clinton impeachment hearings. Let them try again and see if the public has changed. Blame it on being a pragmatist.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 28, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Greg - Sorry man, I don't buy it. Your argument might sway me if I wasn't familiar with Hamsher and FDL.

I don't think she gives two squirts about being pragmatic. She is one of the most rigid ideologues on the left. She is still, imo, POd that Obama beat Hillary and attacks Obama whenever possible because of that.

Posted by: nisleib | September 28, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Mike from Arlington at 2:21 writes


I'm over at FDL right now


____________________________________

Are you ACTUALLY AT Fire Dog Lake right NOW ?


You are actually at the shoreline of the Lake, right now???


Just asking because otherwise you are lying.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 28, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Seems there are three types of democrats - 1)those who like to have democrats run the country, 2)those who like to talk about democrats running the country according to their ideas of what it means for democrats to run the country, and 3)those who think it's ok to let the voters decide, so it might not matter if I take the most radical or conservative position, since it is my own, and I have a right to it.
Democrats being democrats - they might one day be one type of party animal and the next day be another - it's just the nature of things...
Makes for an interesting democracy, especially since the other major party is even more confused about who they are...

Posted by: thanksforfish | September 28, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't know exactly what the strategy is but I can only imagine he's trying to bring back Independents as they might have bought into the propaganda this has been a left wing agenda that has gotten through Congress when it's been a middle of the road compromise using both conservative and liberal approaches to policy.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 28, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"I'm over at FDL right now and they are openly cheering the idea of Issa opening impeachment hearings on Obama. "

That's not "Left" that's just insane.

And Greg, re: "Hamsher THINKS she's pragmatic"... She's on crack if she thinks she's pragmatic. Either that or she doesn't understand the definition of the word. She is about as pragmatic as Newt Gingrich.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 28, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Peter Daou's on this as well. I feel like Obama has consistently gone for field goals instead of touchdowns, and that may have cost him the Senate. I am not a Democrat because I believe in the party. I am a Democrat because I believe in principles. When I see a President consistently shortchange my principles (and in the case of the targeting of Al-Alwaki, outright selling them out), I get disheartened. That's not Jane Hamsher's fault - that's Obama's.

The terrible thing is that you can see the Republicans at each other's throats as they prepare to take the Congress back. If Obama had pushed openly and rallied the team for things like the public option, if he'd rolled back Bush's civil liberties abuses instead of validating them and advancing them, if he had done more instead of deciding what was enough, we'd be watching the Republicans consume themselves in a epic repudiation of obstructionism. Instead, Obama is going to be looking at a Republican House and an emboldened Republican almost-majority in the Senate.

And he brought it on himself.

Posted by: boloboffin1 | September 28, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

nisleib, whether we agree with her or not is immaterial. she continually argues that her approach is good politics. I'm not saying I agree; I'm just saying let's engage with what it is she's actually arguing.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 28, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Gibbs, Biden should simply put a cork in it..IMHO.

Again I am a registered independent who HAS to vote Dem because they are the "closest" thing to a progressive party our country has.
In effect what this administration has done if force me to the polls...not in SUPPORT of Dems..but rather AGAINST...the terror that has already been wreaked on this country by the R policies the past 30 years.

The sole exception to this for me this year will be the vote I cast for Alex Sink as Governor...yes Rick Scott is the worst robber baron to actually get nominated this year...but I also believe Sink is a great candidate, qualified for the job.

As much as I detested pandering John McCain and the Wasilla trailer trash I still voted FOR Obama in 2008. I can't honestly say that would be the same today.
It's not enough for some of you who keep complaining about the R's obstructionist tactics and continually use it as an excuse. You forget that it's the D's and those who caucus with the D's who killed the P.O. with Obama standing meekly on the sidelines, demonstrating ZERO leadership on something he promised during the campaign. The latest BS on the extension of tax cuts was a Dem failure...and again WHO IS THE LEADER OF THE DEM PARTY...I always thought the President was always presumed to be the leader of his party while he was in office. Where the eff is the leadership, the discipline.

Sometimes LOSING a vote can be just as effective politically as WINNING. The Obama led Dems have been complete wimps..if they had forced some of those hard votes...even they faced filibusters it would have clearly demonstrated that the D's TRIED and the R's obstructed. The R's have not been made to pay any price for their obstruction!!! Again don't put this off on Congress since the Dems there are lead by not just Pelosi and Reid but also the titular head of the party, OBAMA!

His minions can whine all they want, but if they keep advancing corporatist, MIC policies they deserve to get an earful.

Look at the difference between the R's and D's.
The R's get carping from the right by the tea baggers and bend down and kiss the tea baggers backsides.

The D's get carping from progressives and they respond with crap like Gibbs, Biden and Rahm's famous "effing retards". What a little ahole that jerk is.

At the end of the day however for anybody who is really paying attention to FACTS and ISSUES this is really a non issue. We can't stay at home and not vote...because Biden is correct about one thing...while the R party has always been the party of the monied interests..bad enough for the middle class...now we have a whole batch of tea bagging retards that would truly wreck our country.

One day however there may emerge a progressive version of the Tea Party. In fact if the tea party ever gets a brain and deals with issues instead of mindless homilies about the constitution they could very well turn on the R's and the D's and become the genuine "populist" party.

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 28, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

"If Obama had pushed openly and rallied the team for things like the public option"

Oh give me a FRIGGING BREAK ALREADY WITH THE PO.

That is such a bogus nonsense argument.

"if he had done more instead of deciding what was enough"

Shorter: WAHHHHHHHH!

Pathetic. Honestly. You can't get everything you want. Welcome to reality. WAKE UP bolo.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 28, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

@nisleib I think that it's easier to look at the three groups identified here as broad generalizations about those who are dissatisfied with Obama, those who Gibbs and Biden are addressing when they dismiss their "critics on the left". In that sense, those three groups are right to exclude someone like yourself who thinks that Obama is being pragmatic rather than weak-kneed.

I heartily agree with the view expressed by Sargent here. It's FINE for the White House to push back against their critics on the left if they think that they're really doing the best they can. But if that's the case, do so by explaining that while you think that your critics make valid points and are a valued voice in the debate over the direction the presidency should take, you disagree with them on the political strategy because of X, Y and Z. Don't dismiss them by pointing out that you're the best option they've got, because that's not the case: they can stay home on election day. Dems need to start making arguments that amount to more than "we're going to do whatever we want, and we don't need to worry about critics on the left because Republicans are even worse." An attitude like that leads to the enthusiasm gap we're seeing with regards to likely turnout.

Posted by: frouglas | September 28, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Mike from Arlington at 2:21 writes


I'm over at FDL right now


____________________________________


Are you ACTUALLY AT Fire Dog Lake right NOW ?


You are actually at the shoreline of the Lake, right now???


Just asking because otherwise you are lying.

__________________________________

Oh sorry Bearclaw that is off-topic


That should have been posted on the other thread - which discussed if Christine O'Donnell who took a class on the campus of Oxford - really went to Oxford - or whether she was in PHEONIX AT THE TIME.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 28, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

It's the blue dogs who empower Republicans by a) lending mainstream credibility to their extremist, silly dogmas, and b) making it easy for them to obstruct legislation.

The classic example is healthcare. It's a proven fact that public health reform always gets more popular over time. This has already started happening with the recent partial reforms. More boldness on this front would have paid long-term dividends, even if it meant short-term losses, which I doubt. Just like passing civil rights 40 years ago is finally paying electoral dividends today, only with less of a delay. All it takes is balls.

The Blue Dogs cry "pragmatism", but my response is "bullshît". Who was the biggest obstacle to health reform? Ben Nelson. Was he driven by pragmatism? No, he was driven by bribes. It's hardly a coincidence that he's the biggest recipient of health insurance campaign donations in the entire party.

Posted by: bourassa1 | September 28, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Greg - What she is actually arguing, when you get to the nexus of it, is that Hillary should have won.

Further, as has been pointed out above, she is arguing that Obama should be impeached, probably because his name is not Hillary Clinton.

And no, I don't think we should engage with what it is she's actually arguing. I would agree with that if she didn't have a long track record of being, well, just look into her record.

Why don't I think we should engage her? Because by engaging her you give her credibility that she has not earned and does not deserve. It would be like engaging STRF in a debate about anything. Why bother?

Posted by: nisleib | September 28, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

THANK YOU.

Posted by: solsticebelle | September 28, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

It's possible that Democrats and many independents are expressing their dissatisfaction in the political polls. The poll that really matters though is the general election in November. Defeating, even humiliating, the tea party is a very popular objective amongst Democrats. Their lack of enthusiasm for the President and Democrats in Congress might be more than offset by their animus towards the extreme right.

Posted by: tm13 | September 28, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Good job Greg...

The only dynamic you missed is how all three perspectives combine in various intensities to form the zietgiest and the mindset of the common disaffected Progressive.

We are hearing common sense from everywhere but the White House right now. The only option the Obama administration has left those standing on their conviction is to vote in "spite of" him. Which, for the life of me, I can not figure out how that could possibly be an effective strategy.

Well done. After the "Hippy Punching" pieces,I must say, I was beginning to worry about you a little. Glad Biden helped you clear your head, because this one is dead on the mark.

Posted by: centerista | September 28, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Just to clarify, I didn't mean Jane suggested Obama be impeached.

I put up the hypothetical to the commentators and some cheered at the idea and none backed down and said they wouldn't want that to happen...


carry on.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 28, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Decoding Blue Dog-speak: "pragmatist", "centrist", "moderate", "Blue Dog", "Yellow Dog" ...

Translation: "I thought invading Iraq was a really clever idea."

Posted by: bourassa1 | September 28, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

thanks, centerista, appreciate it.

others, please don't focus just on the two words "Jane Hamsher" in this entire piece...

:)

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 28, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

yeah, this is just a reminder that history often repeats itself.

The liberals in America would do well to remember that ultimately it was the jacobins that lead Robespierre to the gallows.

All this caterwauling about what the Democrats on the left think and say just ignores human nature. Human nature says, quite simply, that success has many parents but failure is an orphan.

Obama and the liberal nostrums have failed. Americans are seething with anger and the current prediction is that this anger will be vented in the general direction of the majority party. So human nature says run as fast as you can away from failure. Pointing out the fact that one advocated course of action A when course of action B was taken is a way to disavow the child and thus make it an orphan. And absolve the guilt. "See," they will say, "I told Obama to do X and he did Y instead. so I don't have any responsibility for the situation in which we find ourselves!"

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 28, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I think Greg has this wrong. Hunter Thompson had it correct.

"There are two kinds of [Liberals] in this country, the doomed and the screwheads."

Rank and file lefty voters would equal the doomed, while high-profile commentators and operatives would be the screwheads.

And you know what Nixon had to say about the doomed...

Posted by: sbj3 | September 28, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

bourassa1 - Pragmatism is realizing that Ben Nelson will never, ever, ever vote for a public option BECAUSE of the reasons you listed. Neither would Lieberman.

That being the case pushing hard for the PO, or drawing a line in the sand about the PO, would be the exact opposite of pragmatism.

Posted by: nisleib | September 28, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

nisleib at 2:47 PM


That's right - you just just talk to people who agree with you.


In fact, you can create an echo-machine and just hear EXACTLY what you say.


Will that work better for you?


Many people prefer to hear opposing points of view - and to think about what other people have to say.

It is called being open-minded.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 28, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Not sure I would put Maddow and Greenwald in same camp. Maddow is definitely critical of the Administration, but while being generally (if sometimes grudgingly) supportive of Obama and Dem candidates. Olbermann about the same. Greenwald doesn't look much beyond his own policy concerns. And also agree with others re the Firedoglake crowd. Many (not all) at FDL go well beyond political differences to make the assumption that Obama is a sell out and thus not worthy of support on any issue. Can't find much common ground with those folks no matter how much you try.

Biden can be criticized for his phrasing, but hard not to agree that some Dems need to move beyond the circular firing formation and focus aim on the GOP. Does it matter whose fault it is if end result is massacre on 2 November?

Posted by: BillB10 | September 28, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

bourassa1 says, "Translation: 'I thought invading Iraq was a really clever idea.'"

I don't know where you get that, but that is certainly not true.

Being able to count to 60 does not mean I was for invading Iraq, it just means I can count to 60.

There was nothing pragmatic at all about the Iraq vote.

Posted by: nisleib | September 28, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Jake is still over on the O'Donnell Lied thread defending her over what the definition of "attended" is.

Bwahaha!!!!! A lawyer defending his client. Who would thunk?

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 28, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Ethan2010 - I'd be a lot more content about not having the public option if we'd tried to get it. We never tried. It never came up in legislation. That's what's frustrating.

No, you can't always get what you want, but you sure as Hades won't get what you want if you don't ever ask for it.

And, by the way, I'll be voting here in Texas and it will be Democratic all the way, so spare me the catcalling and the ire.

Posted by: boloboffin1 | September 28, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Biden can be criticized for his phrasing, but hard not to agree that some Dems need to move beyond the circular firing formation and focus aim on the GOP. Does it matter whose fault it is if end result is massacre on 2 November?
-------------------------------
Welcome to the Pragmatist Wing of the Democratic party. Pragmatists Vote! Right? Right?

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 28, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

These pragmatists get really tired of the constant harping done by some left leaning pundits.

Posted by: nisleib | September 28, 2010 2:02 PM
=============================

But that shouldn't let you pragmatists make misleading arguments.

Models that predict a Republican takeover of the House (Cook, Nate Silver at 538) show low enthusiasm and thus turnout for the Democratic base. But this isn't due to bloggers at FDL and Eschaton or their readership. Those folks are highly politically engaged and most are going to vote for Democrats this fall whether holding their noses or not.

If Democratic voters as a whole turned out in the same percentage, there would be no enthusiasm gap.

I'll quote Glenn Greenwald:

=>It's just amazing to read about how union members are reluctant to work for Democratic victory because of the economic suffering they are experiencing -- or how young, first-time and minority voters see little reason to work for Democrats -- and then hear Joe Biden dismiss those concerns as "whining" and Obama deride them as "irresponsible." Democratic voters aren't unenthusiastic because they're reading too much blog criticism of the President; they're apathetic because they see what has happened in their own lives over the past 2 years and see little reason to work for those who have been in power during that time.<=

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/09/28/obama/index.html
~

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | September 28, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

@nisleib: "Greg - Let me remind you that the left has NEVER been organized."

Well, be careful what you wish for. Popular liberal mythos of a lockstep Uber-Evangelical Brownshirt GOP since Nixon aside, the Republicans have been constantly at odds with each other, with bluebloods and fiscal conservatives and big government conservatives and social conservatives all fighting with one another, and then the folks whose ideology is "politician" dominating the elected ranks, Republicans and conservatives became used to constant disappointment.

So now, divisions between the GOP and the Tea Partiers aside (such as they are), the right is more organized than it has been in a long time. Perfectly organized? No. But pretty well organized.

Unless you really like the nature of their strategies and the tone of their debate, I wouldn't wish for that kind of organizing.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 28, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line: The Republicans are telling their base, "Look at where this country is headed!!!" Obama is telling his base, "You can't get there from here." Who's going to win in November?

Posted by: boloboffin1 | September 28, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Greg, I honestly think some of the discontent is being misidentified.

I strongly believe there is a real anti-establishment movement that is part of the left which on the extreme left drifts off into anarchy which coincidentally, reflects an extreme libertarian view...go figure.

Some anti-establishment types happen to have a voice now and a following on the internet. They latch onto causes they believe are noble and if they believe something does not jive 100% with their view, the anti-establishment gene kicks in. They turn back to their old ways as it helps them re-establish their positions and get their following re-focused.

Its akin to the anti-authoritarian view the Appalachians hold to the idea of someone telling them how to live their lives. They moved out in the middle of nowhere for a reason. They don't want anyone to get involved in their personal business. They want to control their lives with nobody intruding in their beliefs. When they get spooked, they hunker down.

Live and let live is what they'd tell ya'.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 28, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Mike From Arlington

You still haven't told us whether you are actually AT Fire Dog Lake right now.


Because you have been challenged.


You called Christine O'Donnell a liar - and just asking you - ARE you at the Lake right now>?


On the shoreline?

Which is it - because by your standards, you are lying to us.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 28, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

There is an enthusiasm gap. That is true.

Democrats will turn out in lower numbers than they did in 2008. The way to success is to persuade Democrats to turn out to vote. When they vote, they will vote D. They will not turn out and vote R.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 28, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting that the Left can criticize non-stop the White House, but the White House is never allowed to criticize the Left or they pitch a fit. I say it's past time for the White House to stand up for themselves and their record.

Regarding Democratic enthusiasm, the problem is the Left keeps moving the goal post. The Left says that if Obama does such-and-such it will increase enthusiasm, then when he does it the Left just moves to another demand or disappointment. No president will ever be able to please them.

Posted by: Beeliever | September 28, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I saw the movie, thanks:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTipymbaV7Y

Posted by: tdiaz | September 28, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

@iftheunder: "Democratic voters aren't unenthusiastic because they're reading too much blog criticism of the President; they're apathetic because they see what has happened in their own lives over the past 2 years and see little reason to work for those who have been in power during that time."

Bingo!

"I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now."

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1314021/Middle-class-mother-Velma-Hart-confronts-Obama-meet-voters-event.html#ixzz10qwd9QYB

Posted by: sbj3 | September 28, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"There was nothing pragmatic at all about the Iraq vote."

Nsleib, I'd hesitate to label all "pragmatist" Democratic voters as Iraq war supporters (though I think most were). I don't have the proof.

I was talking about Congressmen, for whom we have incontrovertible evidence of where they stood on Iraq. And within the Congressional Democratic Party, it's an undeniable fact that the labels "pragmatist", "centrist", "moderate", "Blue Dog" etc are shorthand meaning "I voted for the Iraq war and said in 2003 that GW Bush was doing a great job."

Posted by: bourassa1 | September 28, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I understand the WH frustrations, and sympathize with them.

However, none of this eliminates the problem that Dem's in the senate play 'rotating villian' to kill off priorities they promised to support over and over (while expecting they would never need to, of course).

We can talk about Lie-berman and the public option for the insurance companies, Lincoln stopping EFCA for Walmart, failure on DADT (for prejudiced jerks?), and on and on...

These "moderate" clowns are killing the dems. When you give them 60 votes in the senate, and they fail to produce results -- it is very hard to go back to voters and ask for 61.

That said, there have been major bills that will improve many aspects of life. But, most are still invisible. And, many of these accomplishments have required the base to endure major insults along the way (negotiating with Rx makers and ins companies on HCR, while ignoring liberal groups who actually fought for the bill, for instance).

Taken together, the first 2 years of the obama admin is very unclear -- and can be made out to be either heroic or a total betrayal, depending on what your focus your mind upon.

I go back and forth, myself.

Posted by: rat-raceparent | September 28, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I have to give Obama credit where credit is due. He is an absolutely brilliant spin doctor! He can take any issue he wants and spin it in a way to make it look like he is doing something to help, all the while achieving his goal to redistribute American wealth to the rest of the world. Most importantly, he seems to be able to make Americans (especially congress) believe his rhetoric and follow his goals. If America doesn’t wake up to the lies, we will soon find ourselves in a situation far worse than anything we have seen so far. WAKE UP AMERICA!

Posted by: jblow50 | September 28, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I've roasted some popcorn, sitting back, enjoying watching the Party of Will Rogers (more bloodletting to come AFTER November 2nd ; )

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

A pragmatic party?

Um...isn't that what the Reform Party was supposed to be. Remember them? It wasn't that long ago, folks.

Posted by: Virginia7 | September 28, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Since 3 of the people you mentioned have openly advocated for impeachment and/or primarying Obama "just to teach him a lesson"; I truly don't respect them & could care less what they do. This might be surprising, but I don't consider them Democrats. Someone true to a party is not this, yes, "retarded." They are simply selling a product--themselves. They could care less about the Democrats' fate. TV appearances and PAC payments which support them & enrich them are all that's important to them. They look for things to whine about. They've also encouraged their followers to vote Green. You're the one in denial, Greg.

Posted by: carolerae48 | September 28, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

@tm13 "Their lack of enthusiasm for the President and Democrats in Congress might be more than offset by their animus towards the extreme right."

Thanks. You condensed my post and my feelings down to four lines. Excellent!

@boloboffin1 "Ethan2010 - I'd be a lot more content about not having the public option if we'd tried to get it. We never tried. It never came up in legislation. That's what's frustrating.

No, you can't always get what you want, but you sure as Hades won't get what you want if you don't ever ask for it."

Again...Thanks. I live in Florida and I too will certainly be out to vote...it just saddens me that I have to vote AGAINST someone rather than FOR someone!

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 28, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"I'd be a lot more content about not having the public option if we'd tried to get it. We never tried. It never came up in legislation."

Right and that's Obama's fault for not pushing hard enough? Sorry but that is just factually inaccurate. The only way a PO would have made it to a vote was for it to be a watered down PO-in-name-only. And that was just simply NOT WORTH risking the entire HCR reform package to vote on a worthless POINO. That's why there was no vote. NOT because Obama said no to the PO or didn't try hard enough. That line of attack is utterly fabricated.

"you sure as Hades won't get what you want if you don't ever ask for it."

I don't get that AT ALL. Were you not paying attention for the MONTHS in which the PO was debated in every corner of DC and the blogosphere? CLEARLY it was considered very strongly by the Dem caucus in both the House and Senate. CLEARLY it was going to be watered down. And CLEARLY voting on that would have pushed the Dem caucus to its limit and possibly/probably would have screwed up passage of the whole package.

Again, hanging the entire Dem agenda on a watered down PO vote is absolutely ludicrous.

And I fully support Medicare for All/single-payer. I just think it is absurd to base any criticism of the President, or even the Dem leadership, on that issue.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 28, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse


If black Democrats are as enthusiastic about getting out to vote for white Democrats in 2010 as they were to vote for the black one in 2008, then your white candidates should have nothing to worry about. Hmm?

35 days until Election Day. See you at the poll, Dims.


Posted by: screwjob21 | September 28, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Forget Wisconsin... Just wait until Saturday when, hopefully, a few hundred k peeps of this group
"Their argument is that laying down markers on core liberal priorities has a way of expanding the field of what's politically possible. And even if expanding that field was never realistic, they argue, Obama would be in a better position anyway if he'd fought more visibly for those core priorities, because rank and file Dems would know what it is they should go out and vote for on Election Day."
are gathering in WASH DC, Los Angeles and Oakland to Rally for JOBS, JUSTICE and EDUCATION... odd things to have to ask for in this country but we do.

Posted by: LOrion | September 28, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The argument that is ensuing on this thread is proof of Greg's commentary. There are the same factions (plus maybe another more pragmatic faction) who are talking past each other.

I'm pretty pragmatic, but I can appreciate that nothing sought WILL equal nothing gained. One always has to fight very hard to fundamentally change a system, like Healthcare for instance. Kudos to those who have stayed pure in the effort. But, vote---please get out and vote. Continue to make a difference.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 28, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Maddow wants Obama to make an Executive order regarding DADT because it's the right thing to do. That's a slippery slope. Every tyrant justifies his orders with "it's the right thing to do." Maddow is wrong.

The White House is right that DADT must be changed through legislation. Otherwise, a conservative president can overturn that order because "it's the right thing to do." And if the Senate doesn't have the votes to even discuss overturning DADT, then Obama cannot get it passed. He's the president not a wizard with a magic wand.

Posted by: Beeliever | September 28, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan "And I fully support Medicare for All/single-payer. I just think it is absurd to base any criticism of the President, or even the Dem leadership, on that issue."

May I respectfully disagree. I don't find it absurd at all. Obama had popular opinion behind him..at least at the beginning. Listen I'm not saying the R's are innocent...they were scummy power hungry traitors thoughout the HCR debate who lusted for only one thing.."Obama's Waterloo" That is a fact and I accept it.
I also accept that Joe LIEberman and Dino's like Nelson and Lincoln made it difficult. What I do NOT accept is that it was impossible or even needed to be watered down.

I'm not a conspiratorialist who is accusing Obama of selling out. I am saying IMHO he took a strong public opinion FOR a Medicare for all/single payer solution(an observable fact in MANY DIVERSE polls) and totally squandered it for whatever reason.

http://www.wpasinglepayer.org
/PollResults.html

Again IMHO I don't believe Obama's mistake is easy to explain simply. Part of me believes he was guilty of hubris and believed HE could get the R's to bargain in good faith. Perhaps that was a noble admiration and I realize hindsight is 20/20 but since 1994 when have the R's EVER BARGAINED IN GOOD FAITH. Now he stands accused of "ramming" Obamacare down the nation's throat. How very sad when he did just the opposite...he kissed R behind well beyond the time of reason. The R's may be obstructionist but they are not clandestine...what the eff did Obama think the R's were talking about when the famous "Obama's Waterloo" email was widely circulated. What did Obama think was going on when one of his "bi partisan" guys Grandpa Grassley was running around Iowa passing out Glen Beck books and talking about pulling the plug on Granny.

Obama let Rahm scare him out of bold action. He could have had this puppy put to bed by the Spring, negating all that town hall BS if he had been a dynamic leader. I like Obama. I respect his intelligence...but he is not perfect and again IMHO he totally scr^wed the pooch on HCR. You are certainly free to disagree and I won't say your are absurd or call you any names. I simply think it's simplistic not give ANY credence to the arguments I have just made.

BTW You guy Kendrick has picked up almost double digits on Marco..who is embroiled in yet ANOTHER scandal over a Taj Mahal waste of tax payer money on an absurdly ornate courthouse. Still hope for him yet.

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 28, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I AGREE WITH OBAMA

IT'S THE PROFESSIONAL WHO LEAN LEFT THAT ARE THE "WHINERS"

KEITH OLBERMAN
WHY SHOULD VP BIDEN LISTEN TO YOUR BIG HEADED IDEALS...WHO PUT YOU IN CHARGE OR THE LEFT CRITICISM?

DOWN WITH RACHAEL AND KEITH...THEY RATHER GIVE THEIR WHOLE SHOW TO WHAT THE GOP SAID...PEOPLE ARE TIRED OF THAT

THAT'S WHY RACHAEL AND KEITH ARE FAILING IN THE POLLS

ONLY SOMEONE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION WOULD THINK "MONEY" WINS ELECTION

UNLIKE THE CREEPS ON MSNBC

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL REJECT ANY CANDIDATE THAT COMES WITH LOTS OF MONEY

RACHAEL MADDOW IS AN IDIOT SHE SAID THE DEMOCRATS WASN'T GOING TO WIN IN

RACHAEL MADDOW IS AN IDIOT SHE SAID THE DEMOCRATS WASN'T GOING TO WIN IN 2008

RACHAEL MADDOW IS AN IDIOT SHE SAID THE DEMOCRATS WASN'T GOING TO WIN IN 2008

RACHAEL MADDOW IS AN IDIOT SHE SAID THE DEMOCRATS WASN'T GOING TO WIN IN 2008

REMEMBER SHE ALSO SAID THE(OBAMA) WASN'T GOING TO WIN IN FLORIDA EITHER

REMEMBER SHE ALSO SAID THE(OBAMA) WASN'T GOING TO WIN IN FLORIDA EITHER

REMEMBER SHE ALSO SAID THE(OBAMA) WASN'T GOING TO WIN IN FLORIDA EITHER

REMEMBER SHE ALSO SAID THE(OBAMA) WASN'T GOING TO WIN IN FLORIDA EITHER

I HOPE CNN MAKES A SPENDID COMEBACK BECASUE FOX AND MSNBC ARE NOT REAL NEWS STATION

Posted by: dove369 | September 28, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

The administration HAS explained why the Maddows and Greenwalds of the world are wrong. Multiple times.

And saying that we should fight for things that we know we will never get is downright heinous. Fight for a PO that will never pass, and pass up the opportunity to extend Medicaid and SCHIP, the opportunity to provide subsidies for premiums, the opportunity to end lifetime limits and pre-existing condition bans--are you serious? I guess the "principles" of the privileged are more important than the practical needs of the underprivileged.

Posted by: dkp01 | September 28, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

@beeliever "The Left says that if Obama does such-and-such it will increase enthusiasm, then when he does it"

Excuse me...I want to respect your opinion but I need a lot more specificity here...could you tell me when and where Obama took the progressive side of any issue other than his appointment of Elizabeth Warren..and what an unnecessary struggle that was...certainly he gave progessives zero in HCR..I'm a progressive who because I'm 62 may literally be bankrupted by Health care costs because he chose to work with private insurance companies and put off the inevitable.
Again 2,000,000 became eligible for insurance under the new pre existing insurance law...insurance companies simply made it soooo expensive only 4,000 out of 2,000,000 applied when they were eligible.
The insurance companies have already played their dirty tricks with the children with pre existing conditions and the insurance companies have raised the rates of even healthy people like my wife an I through the roof...double digits..and it's only going to get worse before 2014.

ButI digress beeleever...simply name those policies the "left" asked for and received from Obama which they then turned around and moved the goal posts even after getting what they asked for.

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 28, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

nisleib:
"if you think Jane Hamsher, PUMA queen, is pragmatic then you are losing it."

Using "PUMA" really elevates the discourse, doesn't it?

Oh, and SaveTheRainforest? I suggest you read up on how people view the Internet as a "place" and use geographical language to describe how they surf the web. Calling somebody a liar because he uses that jargon is childish and doesn't impress anybody.

As for Hamsher, yes, she thinks she's being pragmatic. Her approach to politics is "These are the problems I see, and I will criticize those who oppose the solutions I want while I help those who favor them." Personally, I think it's a bit too easy for politicians to toy with ideologues like Hamsher by making promises which they have no intent of keeping. But I far prefer her brand of politics to the "centrists" who lecture me about the intractability of the filibuster, blithely ignoring all the counter-tactics that have been used in the past.

From Day 1, this Congress was far more interested in making excuses than in actually enacting legislation that would fix our problems. Obama was elected with a mandate to "Change" but has insisted on maintaining the status quo, even to the point where he's kept on his predecessor's appointees at the Fed and at the Department of Defense.

In terms of pragmatism, I don't see any practical value to playing along with the system which has adopted a jaded attitude towards substantive change. There is a large difference between pragmatism and capitulation, and for many of us, the centrists who talk so condescendingly about the filibuster are not even trying to fix any of the problems this nation faces.

Posted by: rick_desper | September 28, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

This cycle is virtually mirroring (not exact, since it's a midterm) the 1968 campaign, in which Hubert Humphrey kept tub-thumping for the Johnson Administration until late October.

As voters grew more disenchanted, Humphrey kept blasting Johnson's myriad critics for (to channel Robert Kennedy a bit) wanting what Democrats hadn't done, rather than what they had.

With almost no time left, Humphrey finally begin saying "Yes, times are bad, we need to change things, here's what I want to do." AT THAT POINT, he began to swing voters.

Unfortunately, it was too little and too late. A lot of people sat out, many voted for the Tea Party candidate (George Wallace) and Richard Nixon won.

It's not too late now-- there's more time left and there are many more ways to get the message out than there were back then.

But the Villagers need to get one thing straight. Scolding voters for ingratitude and telling them that what they want is unrealistic and impractical doesn't work.

Let's skip the "was any of what they want possible" issue. Yes, a lot of it was, but as the thread shows, you can't convince the Rahm-Obama-Lama-Ding-Dongs who call themselves pragmatists that (say) appealing the ruling overturning "Don't Ask Don't Tell" won't make gay voters happy.

Let's talk tactics. When you run as the change candidate with the slogan "Yes We Can", you can't get away with discussing anonymous holds and the cloture rules.

If you tell voters "What you want us to do just isn't possible right now", they respond by saying "I knew we couldn't really change the system" and turn their backs on you.

What Obama needs to say is what the damned wingnuts always say: "We tried our best, we made progress, but the evil opposition is fighting to the death to block us and they won way too often. You guys did good last time but now we gotta work even harder, because we need to finish the job."

Obama should be out there waging "class warfare" and throwing red meat-- making his supporters as crazy as possible and not worrying about the collateral damage. So they wipe out a Blanche Lincoln (who'll get killed anyway)-- who cares? That's how you end the enthusiasm gap.

If they want to keep mau-mauing their supporters, they can. But they might pay one heck of a price.

Villagers keep assuming that "The Left" has nowhere to go but the Dems. They need to look hard at the Tea Party and the GOP and realize that it can happen to them.

A lot of hippies have begun to think that Ralph Nader was onto something in 2000 and they might need to build their own movement and not work through "the system."

At some point, people might decide that half a loaf of mostly-stale bread ISN'T better than nothing. Maybe a 40% turnout, four years of President Palin and Speaker Boehner brings you a hippie victory in 2016 and then truckloads of cake.

If they do, everything that's happened to the GOP now could happen to the D's.

If I were a Villager, I'd pull back on the cold water and brickbats.

Posted by: Rufus_Jones | September 28, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the smell of denial grows stronger each day.

Now the republicans are being blamed for the situation that Obama and the Democrats face.

Huh?

Bargain in good faith? Are you serious? Didn't Obama say "I won and I will trump you"? didn't Pelosi say "Elections have consequences, of course we wrote the bill, we won"?

to now blame "republican intransigence" is just good old denial. The Democrats were riding high at the beginning of all this, now they face the wrath of an electorate the all but ignored.

to say that much of this problem is the result of republican refusal to knuckle under is just too hilarious.

Denial is a powerful dynamic. Good luck overcoming it.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 28, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the average democrat or Independent on the street cares about any of these left-wing issues.


The average person regards these issues as far left-wing and completely disconnected from issues that matter to them.


Obama is perceived as being too close to these groups - Obama is getting the worst of the worst - these groups are not happy - and yet Obama has not made the average person happy either.


It's not like it has been a trade-off for Obama. If Obama swings to the left, and starts to please a bunch of these groups in high-profile ways, Obama will go backwards again.

Yes, Obama has a problem on his hands.


Obama's support is about to collapse - the bottom is shallow, thin - and is about to fall out.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 28, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Rick, how can this be:

"As for Hamsher, yes, she thinks she's being pragmatic...I think it's a bit too easy for politicians to toy with ideologues like Hamsher"

She's either an ideologue or pragmatic, or am I way off here?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 28, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

When (Patreaus) later learned that Obama had dictated the orders, he couldn't believe it. "There's not a president in history that's dictated five single-spaced pages in his life. That's what the staff gets paid to do."


_____________________________

What about Roosevelt - did he tell the Generals they had to LOWER the number of troops they wanted for D Day ???

Did Wilson tell General Pershing to reduce the number of troops he took to France???

Did the Continental Congress tell George Washington to take LESS troops to YORKTOWN ?

Unbelievable

Case closed.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 28, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"When you give them 60 votes in the senate, and they fail to produce results..."

Liebermann was maneuvering to run as McCain's VP candidate. Democrats never had 60 seats, that's a myth.

Posted by: Beeliever | September 28, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

dkp01:

Do you have a link to ANYONE in the Obama Administration explaining why Maddow is wrong (even once, for starters)?

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Ethan2010 - Man, you don't get it. The public option is one among many disappointments. I limited myself to a couple for space reasons, and you picked the public option and pretend it's my only hang-up? You're the one that needs to wake up.

Public option, Dawn Johnsen, civil liberties, targeting American citizens abroad, Guantanamo still open, cap and trade, immigration reform, gay rights, too small a stimulus, no vote on tax cuts -- again and again, Republicans scream about the direction we're heading, and Democrats tell us we can't get there from here. And the result is Obama can enjoy his nice new Republican Congress where the messages will be exactly the same as the last two years. What rapture.

Posted by: boloboffin1 | September 28, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Beeliever:

The GOP didn't have 60 Senators under GWB's first 6 years and look how much they were able to accomplish ; )

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

RUK,

"I also accept that Joe LIEberman and Dino's like Nelson and Lincoln made it difficult. What I do NOT accept is that it was impossible or even needed to be watered down."

But RUK, that's WHY they made it difficult. They opposed the PO. Maybe it wasn't impossible, but I think (my gut feeling) that there is a 90% chance that had the Dem caucus pushed for a non-watered-down PO, it would have destroyed any chance of HCR passing at all.

I, for one, am fine without a PO given the political atmosphere and given the amazing set of policies put in motion by HCR. And, Lord Knows, we progressive advocates and health care wonks will be pushing for the most effective and efficient system possible, and that certainly revolves around the idea of a PO/Medicare for All single-payer system designed at a MINIMUM for those who want to buy into a public program.

RE: Meek. I'm getting a little nervous. I thought we'd see more movement. But then again, the Greer trial is in October and it will only be getting better for Meek. It just needs to really get going. It certainly does help that Rubio is facing serious questions about the Taj Mahal Courthouse. I've read some about that issue at the Tampa Bay Buzz. Talk about profligate spending, have mercy, the RPOF is the poster child for fiscal irresponsibility.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 28, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

JakeD2: How about every single time the administration has explained its accomplishments? They don't need to say "therefore liberal commentators are wrong" to prove liberal commentators wrong. The fact is they have passed health care reform, financial regulation reform, student loan reform, and they have increased troops in Afghanistan which was a campaign promise. Yet the constant drumbeat from the left is that they have "failed" in bringing about any kind of reform, simply because they have done so incrementally rather than going for pie-in-the-sky unrealistic goals.

They didn't close Guantanamo Bay, but when they asked Congress for money to do so, Congress rejected them.

Posted by: dkp01 | September 28, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh and JakeD2, David Axelrod's been vocally out there, listing accomplishment after accomplishment.

Posted by: dkp01 | September 28, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The GOP didn't have 60 Senators under GWB's first 6 years and look how much they were able to accomplish ; )

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 3:57 PM |
=======================

Double the national debt, mire the country in two overseas quagmires, and crater the economy?

I don't believe you know the definition of the word "accomplish".
~

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | September 28, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

dkp01:

Forget about GTMO, what about public option, Dawn Johnsen, civil liberties, targeting American citizens abroad (and, now, on the Internets), cap and trade, immigration reform, gay rights, too small a stimulus, no vote on tax cuts, etc.?

ifthethunderdontgetya:

Hitler "accomplished" a lot too (I understand what the word means).

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"Public option, Dawn Johnsen, civil liberties, targeting American citizens abroad, Guantanamo still open, cap and trade, immigration reform, gay rights, too small a stimulus, no vote on tax cuts"

Right and those are all Obama's fault? Sure bolo, whatever.

He is not the President of Congress.

The only legitimate gripe you have on Constitutional grounds is the targeting of Al-Awlaki. And even then, to think that a President cannot get an exception for someone he -- and the entire national security and foreign policy apparatus -- knows is determined to undermine national security is a little much. I understand the Constitutional dilemma the issue sets up. But I think there should be a way for a President to target an American citizen who is bent on damaging the country.

Nevertheless, if you want to reject his accomplishments simply because there were a few hold-ups in Congress, that is on you.

If you want to blame him for a Constitutional dilemma that if gone unchecked could actually result in undermining our national security, that is ALSO on you.

In sum, I think both cases are absurd as I have said.

Personally, I think he is doing an unbelievably good job considering the issues he has had to face and the toxic political environment of these last 2 years.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 28, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

UP OR DOWN VOTE!!!

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Ethan2010:

The entire national security and foreign policy apparatus thought that Saddam had WMD. Next pitiful excuse?

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Up or down vote. Lol!

I hope you realize Republicans can't make that argument for the next 100 years.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 28, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I have two thoughts to share on this commentary. One, there is a certain pragmatism involved in enacting policy that also rewards you politically. Whether it is feasible or not can be debated, but the fact that some of the policy we've gotten has not been politically popular seems to be the issue. When your policy matches the voters needs and desires they generally reward you for it politically.

Two, it's not generally considered good political strategy to denigrate even a portion of your base right before an election, unless you're attempting to deflect blame.

I can't remember where I read it, will try to find it, but apparently some of the polling suggests that moderate and independent voters believe the legislation we've gotten hasn't gone far enough to address our problems. Sort of hard to blame progressives for that.

Posted by: lmsinca | September 28, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

public option, UP OR DOWN VOTE!

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Dawn Johnsen, UP OR DOWN VOTE!

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

JakeD2, the CIA came up with faulty evidence and everyone went by that. There was no consensus viewpoint that built into the final decision.

It was based off of a 'slam dunk.'

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 28, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

All, Obama was asked WHY he's a Christian today, and Politico interpreted that as proof that he's failed to put doubts about his faith to rest:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/09/its_obamas_fault_that_people_w.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 28, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

cap and trade, UP OR DOWN VOTE!

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

JakeD2, I already addressed the public option. Go back and explain why the tiniest chance of passing it was worth giving up the things we did get, so much of which is very good. On Al-Awlaki, I'm with Ethan2010's explanation of how it's more nuanced than "herp derp mindless assassination."

The other stuff? Congress exists. Moderate Democrats exist. Some of them disagree with progressives and liberals for reasons that have nothing to do with pandering or grabbing votes. And the president is thankfully not a dictator, he cannot muscle through legislation without the consent of Congress.

Posted by: dkp01 | September 28, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Greg, your post presumes -- incorrectly, I would argue -- that the criticism from the left is fully justifiable. This issue will remain an open wound until the notion that "the Left ALWAYS knows what's best" (from a policy or political standpoint -- even when they aren't privy to all information) and the White House should simply take the criticism is dispelled, or at least addressed. The issue of expectations, and realism or lack thereof, should also be addressed. I think Jon Stewart's "expected him to walk on water, but he's only treading it" statement perfectly sums up the expectations issue, and intimates that a great source of the "sadness" and "disillusionment" may not actually be what has or hasn't been done, it's unrealistic expectations.

Additionally, you overlooked a significant part of the issue here. I don't think it's the criticism, per se, that's causing the friction. It's the perpetuity and, more specifically, the absolutism of that criticism.

When you have an administration that has -- according to many objective observers -- moved this country in a notably progressive (little and big P) direction being slammed for having done "nothing" to work towards Progressive aims or bring any "real" progress to this country, it shouldn't surprise people that the administration forcefully pushes back on that notion. The hyperbole of the Left hasn't been in short supply.

I understand the desire for Progressives to continue to push and fight; that's what a base does. I've said it before that I think the dissatisfaction on the Left is pathological. The negative connotation of that word is harsh, but I don't think the underlying point is entirely off-base. There seems to be an innate quality of dissatisfaction among Progressives that does not allow them to be satisfied with anything. That is perfectly consistent with the notion of Progressivism though; Progressives constantly seek to advance forward from the status quo.

So, ultimately, the friction between the Left and the White House boils down to the question of what is an acceptable and laudable pace of change. That brings us back to expectations: The Left always, or nearly so, wants sweeping change, regardless of the cost, even if it includes a failure to actually achieve the sought-after change. The White House is overwhelmingly in agreement with Progressives about what needs to be changed (a point few on the Left are willing to acknowledge) and has embraced sweeping changes (e.g., student loans, healthcare) where possible, but they aren't willing to sacrifice all change when they are able to progress as dramatically as the Left desires, or if progress is incremental.

The Left views the WH approach as timid or even feckless. The WH views it as pragmatic. And we'll be forever stuck here until BOTH sides try to see the POV of the other, and recognize the full nature of the complaints being lobbed.

Posted by: associate20 | September 28, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

the foolish comparison of spending during the bush admin and spending now simply displays the ignorance of the Democrats and the liberals.

First and foremost, how did Republican voters react to the spending of the Republican majority in congress? We fired many of them. In fact we fired enough of them to hand the real spendthrift Democrats a majority while Bush was in office.

so much of the complaint about spending is actually about the Democrats themselves. Which brings up another point: how much of the spending that liberals and Democrats mention, did Obama vote for? Hmmmmm? If it was so wrong, prove that Mr Obama never, ever not even once voted for a spending bill. I'd enjoy reading that, to be sure.

next, the Democrat/liberal "logic" goes like this: the Republicans were wrong to spend as they did. Therefore they have no right to criticize our spending now. In addition, say the Democrats/liberals the real problem with spending is that we haven't done enough of it. so there.

It is basic demagoguery. It is enough to make real practitioners of demogoguery, like oh say Bill Clinton, envious.

but it clearly isn't fooling the American people. We fired a congress that spent to much. And we're about to fire a congress that spent way too much.

Which part of "stop spending" don't the Democrats and liberals get?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 28, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

immigration reform, UP OR DOWN VOTE!

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

repealing DOMA, UP OR DOWN VOTE!

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

tax cuts for the middle class, UP OR DOWN VOTE!

The "base" demands it ...

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

"...explain why they're wrong, rather than spewing epithets in all directions."

The thing is, spewing epithets is what the left does best. List the principled reasons you oppose Obama's wild spending and you get called a racist. List the principled reasons you oppose gay marriage, and you're a homophobe. You can't oppose the building of a mosque at Ground Zero because it's insensitive and insulting; it's because you're an Islamophobe. The only reason you could possibly support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is because you're a fascist.You can't object to the statist idea behind Obamacare without being told you must hate poor people because you don't want them to have health insurance (and you're a racist, to boot). And God forbid you should suggest there may be other ways to head off Social Security's looming bankruptcy other than the tax increases that they always promise will fix Social Security for good (and never do), because then you get accused of wanting to privatize Social Security or, worse, kill it entirely.

It happens all the time. Give "progressives" bullet-point arguments, and instead of addressing your points, they insult you. What Obama is getting from the left today is what the left has been dishing out to the right forever. It was only a matter of time before the left began eating its own.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 28, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"When you give them 60 votes in the senate, and they fail to produce results..."

Liebermann was maneuvering to run as McCain's VP candidate. Democrats never had 60 seats, that's a myth.

Posted by: Beeliever | September 28, 2010 3:50 PM |


_________________________________

They had 60 votes when they rammed the health care bill down the throats of America.


They had to change the law in Massachusetts, by the way - a change that the voters did NOT approve.


So, you are right, it was BOGUS.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 28, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

In case anyone's interested here's that poll, and it was regarding just HCR.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wirestory?id=11725665&page=2

Posted by: lmsinca | September 28, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

You stupid buffoon DemocRats, bet the house on your obnoxiously bad Healthcare Bill!

You LOSE, and your nightmare consequences are yet to come!

Posted by: theaz | September 28, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

"When you give them 60 votes in the senate, and they fail to produce results..."

Liebermann was maneuvering to run as McCain's VP candidate. Democrats never had 60 seats, that's a myth.

Posted by: Beeliever | September 28, 2010 3:50 PM |


_________________________________

They had 60 votes when they rammed the health care bill down the throats of America.


They had to change the law in Massachusetts, by the way - a change that the voters did NOT approve.


So, you are right, it was BOGUS.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 28, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

These are interesting issues, and there is a lot to say about them, but remember something: It's too late to talk about them with respect to this year's elections. The Obama administration and congressional Democrats have dug their collective graves. Nothing they do now can change what's going to happen.

Posted by: MagicDog1 | September 28, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

more democrat/liberal denial. This is an oldie already too: It is rank denial to claim that the Democrats who voted for the AUMF were some how duped by Bush.

clinton wasn't duped by Bush and he fervently believed that Saddam had WMD's. Something the lefties conveniently neglect to mention.

Other intelligence organizations from other countries also believed that Saddam had WMDS, they weren't duped by Bush.

Only a true zealot could convince themselves that the Democrats were some how lied to.

In fact we stopped hearing much about waterboarding when it became clear that Ms Pelosi knew about it and raised no objection to it. The point is obvious: the congess was thoroughly briefed on a wide variety of sensitive issues. they voted as they did and then when the war effort struggled they demonstrated their fecklessness. Only a blinkered ideologue would praise such cowardice.

Frankly I believe that Saddam's WMD stockpile is now in Syria. but hey, the liberals need to explain things to themselves and if that means believing a lie rather than facing the facts apparently they have the ability to do that with ease.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 28, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I like President Obama more now then when I voted for him. After the extensive damage done by the Bush administration President Obama is getting America back in the right direction for the middle class. It was a deep hole.

Posted by: brianhandel | September 28, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Laying out a sophisticated discussion on why the Left is whining is a waste of time. I give Sargent credit for trying, but...

Liberals are just whiners. Professional whiners at that.

Posted by: pararanger22 | September 28, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Peter Daou has a good post on this topic:

"How a handful of liberal bloggers are bringing down the Obama presidency"

"... Obama could sustain relentless attacks from the right, it’s what everyone expects, but when the left joins in, the bottom drops out. That’s why opinion-shapers in the liberal blogosphere exert inordinate influence over Obama’s fortunes."

http://peterdaou.com/2010/09/liberal-bloggers-are-bringing-down-the-obama-presidency/

Posted by: sbj3 | September 28, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

MagicDog1:

I'm having fun watching and eating popcorn, though, as they dig their graves DEEPER ; )

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 28, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Ethan2010 - Holy...

"But I think there should be a way for a President to target an American citizen who is bent on damaging the country."

There is. It's called DUE PROCESS. We use it all the time in this country. That's enough.

Thanks for letting me know exactly who I was discussing things with. Fling feces all you like, I'm done with you.

Posted by: boloboffin1 | September 28, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

The last comment had it right. "I'm eating popcorn as they're digging their graves deeper." As an independent you lefties disgust me. You want it all, you lose the house, the republicans take more from the working person and give it to the rich. Do you really care about anyone other your ideology? I doubt it. Your purported concern for the poor is just that -- purported. When will you poor human beings realize that you can't win it on your own?

Posted by: Fergie303 | September 28, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Fergie303,

By "independent" are you saying that you are to the right of today's GOP, or to the left of the GOP?

It's amazing too hearing the term "lefties" and "leftists" thrown around today -- "Lefty" is someone who supports Medicare, Social Security, Progressive taxation, environmental, and financial regulation and an economy that rewards performance and initiative, rather than simply rewarding proximity to power or inherited wealth.

Nixon, Eisenhower, et al would be considered "lefties" by the standards of some so-called independents these days.

Posted by: JPRS | September 28, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

"It's called DUE PROCESS. We use it all the time in this country. That's enough."

It's obviously not enough. We have an American citizen in the tribal regions of Yemen recruiting terrorists via the internet.

Every minute we don't have him in custody or simply dead is another minute where we are less secure.

You can't try him in absentia. You can't invade Yemen just to get this one guy. Special ops might be able to capture him, but it's doubtful that a small team could capture him alive given the fact that he is surrounded by a cadre of fully-armed terrorists. The only real options on the table are have special ops take him out somehow or zap him with a drone.

Neither option, technically, is Constitutional and the President's duty is to protect our country's national security. So what do you do? Find a way around the Constitution in this one particular case or not fulfill your duty as Commander in Chief? It's far from a clear choice, as neither is ideal, but that's what makes being a leader hard. You have to make hard choices. In this case, I think Obama is doing the best thing for the country by going after Al-Awlaki, even if it means assassinating an American citizen.

As for "flinging feces," I made an argument and called your argument absurd. I think your argument, frankly, is absurd. That is my opinion. If you call that "flinging feces" then you have some pretty thin skin.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 28, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Ethan2010,

Well argued position. A few points of disagreement:

"It's obviously not enough. We have an American citizen in the tribal regions of Yemen recruiting terrorists via the internet.

Every minute we don't have him in custody or simply dead is another minute where we are less secure."

It's depends in part on how effective he is as a recruiter. If a terrorist sent out a missive asking for recruits and no one bothered to show up would anyone care about it? If a terrorist recruits a nut-job who is completely inept and useless is it likely to be an issue? Every time he recruits a potential candidate who is not completely crazy and at least half-way competent, it becomes an issue. But "every minute our security is compromised" is hyperbolic. The challenge posed by terrorism is real, but it's important not to lose perspective.

In terms of the Constitutionality of an extra-judicial assassination on foreign soil of an American citizen, the Constitution and legal precedent don't offer clear guidance on this kind of issue. The Constitution is completely silent on this issue and this kind of controversy deals with something that the Framers could not have reasonably anticipated.

I'm also not clear how this guy couldn't be tried in absentia if he's violated some law in the U.S. I'm not exactly clear on what grounds litigation would be based, but if he's violated the law and there's sufficient evidence of culpability there's no impediment to trying his case.

The use of drones to go after Al Qaeda members makes sense in some situations.

Posted by: JPRS | September 28, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

The Plum Line is correct. It is counter-productive to assail your base because they have policy disagreements. People are never motivated to vote by calling them names. I'm surprised that the effective campaign of Obama has morphed into an amateurish tack of "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

Posted by: bluicebank | September 28, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Dear White House: Here's how to handle the left's "whining".....lose office, leave town and let the GOP have it all.

The left whines no matter what....they are shallow emotional children regardless of the age of their bodies.

You think these cheesy antiAmericans (democrats) are whiners now....just wait until the morning after the mid-term elections....omg for loud

Recovery November...Vote a leftist out of office for America!

Posted by: georgedixon1 | September 28, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Funny how Liberals got totally ignored for 15 months and then get scolded the last three. We all know "centrists" decide elections. The White House has bent over backwards trying to cater to "centrists" "blue dogs" and big corporations. Scold them for not backing you.

Posted by: micgo95 | September 28, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind playing Chicken with chicken Democrats who screw their base.

Until Obama, I was a New Deal Democrat. Now I'm over Democrats entirely. The Democrats have been and still are the party of FALSE HOPE.

Face the facts. Obama is a Shill for the powers that be and so are the Democratic "strategists" and Blue Dogs who are losing this election.

I will never again vote for the dick-less lesser of two evils. I'm voting for PURE EVIL this time so we "Americans" will get what we deserve.

Vote Republican! They will put you out of your misery quicker and at least you won't get your hopes dashed again. As it is said, "Better the enemy you know...".

Posted by: exomike | September 28, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

georgedixon1,

"The left whines no matter what....they are shallow emotional children regardless of the age of their bodies."

This from a guy who has spent the past 20 months complaining about how he needs to "take his country back" just because almost 53 percent of the voting population voted for a guy who had a black parent! Maybe the government will get its hands off your Medicare in the meantime, eh?

Posted by: JPRS | September 28, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Must we continue to talk of 60 votes? Get off that crap and put the real Republicans and the Max Baucus Republicans and the Joe Am-I-Or Aren't-I Scumbags on the record. Fight. Win, lose, fight.

Posted by: rusty3 | September 28, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Side note: For Republicans who keep talking about this particular election year, it will absolutely be glorious when perhaps 40 percent of the eligible voting electorate pulls the lever for GOPers about 50 percent of the time in contests for federal office.

Of course this will be viewed as a sweeping mandate for change on right-wing radio and RNC-Fox contra their position in Jan. 2009 when almost 56 percent support in a high turnout election was grounds for sabotaging both the economic recovery and obstructing the outcome of an election.

Voters may have short-memories, but if the GOP does regain control of the House, it will probably take about two months for them to remember exactly why they voted those clowns out the last two election cycles. A portion of the Dem base may have some whiners, some people have unrealistic expectations, and some have legitimate grips, but today's GOP base has to be amongst the most ill-informed and easily played voting cohort in the history of the United States. The party of the tele-evangelists is going to make at least a handful of Americans very, very rich all over again while the overwhelming majority -- including Republicans -- will see their incomes at best continue to flat line, and just as likely drop like they did during the 8 years of Bush Republican rule.

Posted by: JPRS | September 28, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I think it's disingenuous for the WH to try and blame a very small amount of "professional left" for a poor showing at the polls. I think the "professional left" gets beat up for saying what the majority of the Dem base is thinking.

People voted in large numbers for Dems in 2006 and 2008. If they don't in 2010, then it's long past time Obama, the WH, and the DC Dems figure out what THEY are doing wrong.

Posted by: glenjo | September 28, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

My guess is the Dems will be plenty excited when the Republicans take the House and Senate. When we slash taxes, especially for upper incomes that are footing almost the entire tax bill, when we completely defund the so-called healthcare reform bill, when we put a hold on every single judicial appointment and block every single nomination for political appointees, the Dems will be demoralized, but excited. We're basically going to completely shut down this incredibly corrupt an unconsitituional government and then we're going to blame the Democrats for shutting down the government. And we're going to get away with it. That's something for Republicans to get excited about.

Posted by: salanatoli | September 28, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

The Pragmatic Party? How in the world do you people think we got where we are? The Pragmatic Washington Consensus. Pick a side, right or left and let them run the show. The Right has been running things into the ground for 30 years now.

Posted by: gjcomm | September 28, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Typical republican projection and hypocrisy. The GOP has been PRETENDING to hate Washington for decades. Even Gerson, the nematode-looking former speechwriter for the Worst President In History, knows this.

Which makes Gerson an even bigger hypocrite.

Posted by: losthorizon10 | September 28, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

salanatoli,

1. The "upper incomes" aren't footing almost the entire tax bill. The "upper incomes" pay a larger share of INCOME taxes, but there are a bevy of other taxes included in the mix.

2. Some of those "upper incomes" pay an effective rate of 15 percent, because of the way that we treat capital gains. e.g. Hedge fund managers have their own tax code.

3. Rising incomes in one part of the income distribution and declining incomes in another part of the distribution, mean that those with rising incomes pay a larger share of the income tax burden.

Would you rather pay $400 less in taxes on a decrease in $2,000 in your take home pay (a net loss of $1,600); or would you rather pay an extra $1 million on an extra $2.5 million of income (a net of $1.5 million)?

4. Those "upper incomes" in many cases are a byproduct of redistribution via legislation with respect to finance, trade, and collective bargaining -- basically a lot of those "upper incomes" have come about because of political leverage and theft, not from any sort of virtue.

Based on your comment though about subverting democracy through mindless obstruction, I'm sure that these kind of questions aren't likely to trouble you. If a person doesn't have a moral sense or a conscience, I imagine they wouldn't be troubled. It worth noting to that mindless obstruction isn't in the Constitution -- Madison and Hamilton in particularly warned about these kind of threats to democracy in the Federalist Papers -- although neither could have anticipated the modern GOP or the rise of the fillibuster.

Posted by: JPRS | September 29, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Ethan2010,
"Neither option, technically, is Constitutional and the President's duty is to protect our country's national security."

Actually, you have it exactly backwards. The president's duty, according to the oath of office he took is to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Not the national security, not even the people but the *constitution*.

You are of course welcome to debate whether this omission of anything but the constitution in the oath of office was deliberate or accidental on part of the writers of the constitution. I mostly find it mildly amusing that the actual language of the constitution and the president's oath gets ignored in favor of what people think are more important goals to protect.

Posted by: soo1 | September 29, 2010 5:10 AM | Report abuse

Given the reality that the left has come down on the wrong side of almost every issue in the last 50 years, has repeatedly proclaimed outcomes that not only failed to materialize but usually were diametrically opposed to the actual outcome, has failed to consider all of the unintended catastrophic consequences of so many of its programs, legislation and calls to action, and hasn't actually had a new idea in 50 years, perhaps it is time for them to stop believing their “critics” on the left (aka, the 90% of the msm who voted for Mr. Obama).

And all of you on the left who for years have been patting yourselves on the back for your goodness and who hurl charges of lack of conscience at the right, have you ever driven through an American inner city and viewed the real consequence of "helping" people by giving them what they haven't earned and encouraging them to feel "entitled" to what they haven't had the good fortune to go out and work for? The leaders of the Democratic Party want power, not "social justice".

And what about the left's persistent suppression of actual facts? From a recent study: "The typical American defined as poor by the federal government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family was not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs."

Did any of you know the above? Neither did I, and neither will most of America if the left has their way.

Here is some more inconvenient facts:

"The Pelosi-Reid Economy

“In January 2007, when Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid took control of Congress, the unemployment rate was 4.6% and the national debt was $8.6 trillion. Today, unemployment is 9.6% and the nation is $13 trillion in debt.

Pelosi and Reid have tried to convince voters they inherited all the debt from President Bush, but it was their bailouts, takeovers and power grabs that have blown the budget for years to come. These bills were written by Democrats and made law with Democrat votes.

No more Democrats.

Posted by: SameOldTiredThinking | September 29, 2010 5:26 AM | Report abuse

Helpful article, but I would add a fourth group.

There are a number of rather extreme "leftists" who sometimes vote democratic but probably more often third party. A large piece of their thinking follows statements by Nader and perhaps Chomsky that there are basically no real differences between democrats and republicans because they both support the dominant corporate, capitalist agenda.

Many of these people never trusted Obama, while others were hopeful but have now very disappointed. They tend to believe in more revolutionary than incremental change, and don't see this happening given the present democratic party (or even liberal agenda).

Therefore many of these people will refuse "to vote for the lesser of two evils" and will make the mistake of voting for a hopeless third party candidate or not voting at all. Examples can be found in comments sections for CommonDreams.org.

Posted by: dougd1 | September 29, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

A couple things. First and foremost, the "ram down the throat" image is hyperbolic and strikes me as the kind of S&M-homoerotic imagery the right always plays with when they are designing their propaganda-teabagging? Ram it down our throats? Sounds like rough trade to me, Ted Haggard stuff, and completely irrational. A vote in Congress is not equivalent to some conservative's gay rape fantasy. I don't think it is a coincidence.
I think associate 20 has some good insights but I also think that there is a clear failure inherent in strategy when you promise the moon while secretly negotiating with the asteroids. A better narrative was needed on all these issues where "incremental" progress was made, and Obama needed to be out there making the case, much like Clinton did. The story is what sells the legislation and Obama lost the plot over and over. That's one reason John Edwards looked better early on: he actually knew how to build the narrative that he would fight for the little guy and beat huge odds, just like the little kid whose guts were sucked out by the defective hot tub. That narrative put him in the real world problems solved pile, not the egghead scholar (Obama as Constitutional Scholar) or disaffected elite airhead pile (Kerry, Gore).
And the real fact is that nothing any web site says will have more impact than what the corporate owned televised media have to say, because they are the ones people pay attention to. Only nerds read.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | September 29, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Obama simply abandoned me and my family. I was never convinced that he was on my side, but, of course I had no serious progressive option. I thought maybe a man who had lived with racial difference, who had been a community organizer, would have developed a progressive spine, while the Harvard Law angle was just about getting the tools to do something in this world. Wrong, apparently.

The Harvard policy world, the compromiser between factions, the forger of consensus was the real man, the community organizing and the racial back story were just for show. He never fought. He "consensus"ed his way through life. Then he stepped into the far right world of big money Washington politics and he just ran for the middle of that radical right wing imperial reality, that east coast malestrom of big money corruption and influence buying. No spine. No willingness to take a stand on an issue that he might lose on. Unbelievable. Worse than worthless. He asks us to thank him for the crumbs. He asks us to thank him for a stimulus package half the size of what was needed.... when in fact it was worse than a total collapse because it set up a political situation where we're unable to do more on the grounds that the first one "failed." As Arianna Huffington said recently, "he's just that into you". No he isn't.

Of course I'll vote for him. What choice do I have? But he's got "one term President" written all over his face.

Posted by: mike777r | September 30, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"Far better to think clearly about what these arguments actually are, and to grapple with them head on."

You could say the same thing about Team Obama's attacks on the Tea Party. Instead of addressing real concerns about the President's quantum deficits, Team Obama slanders his critics as racists and Nazis. So now the 'Typical White Leftists' are getting the Joe the Plumber treatment. They're surprised?

It's fair to say the 'Left' has been monolithic in playing the race card. The Left's hypocrisy is also pretty much monolithic.

Posted by: lamachina | October 2, 2010 3:08 AM | Report abuse

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