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Joe Biden scolds progressives -- and he's right

Vice President Joe Biden is telling progressives to grow up. Not in so many words, of course. But in an interview with Rachel Maddow that aired Wednesday night, he pleaded with the camera about how the Democratic base needs to get over its disillusionment and rejuvenate itself for the midterm elections. At times he sounded like a scolding parent: "One of the reasons I wanted to be on your show is to tell the progressives out there, you know, get in gear, man….You better get energized."

Listing President Obama's legislative accomplishments, Biden challenged liberals to reconsider their impatience with the pace of reform in Washington. And he reminded them that staying at home means the other guy wins -- and that they really wouldn't like the other guy.

It's a simple, logical argument, but one that many progressives seem to find insulting. At least they did when White House spokesman Robert Gibbs complained last month that the "professional left" is unreasonably disappointed with the man they helped elect. The response Gibbs got then ran along the lines of, "But we're right! How can you get mad at us for being so very correct and unyielding?!"

Of course, progressives have few others to blame for their disappointment but themselves. They placed unmeetable expectations on Obama.

Despite this, it's equally obvious what will happen if election night 2010 goes badly for Democrats. Many will blame the president, not themselves, arguing that Obama should have articulated a grand, progressive vision -- which would have inspired about a third of the nation and concerned the rest. They'll also blame him for not fighting harder for a larger stimulus that didn't have the votes, for a public option that didn't have the votes, for card-check legislation that didn't have the votes, to close Guantanamo faster than Congress would let him or to end don't ask don't tell before lawmakers would allow it. It's self-fulfilling self-righteousness.

The alarm in Biden's voice Wednesday night indicated that he sees this coming, and that he wants to give progressives a slap in the face before the enthusiasm gap yawns wider. After all, for the first time in decades, more Republicans are voting in GOP primaries than Democrats are voting in Dem primaries. If Democrats are to avoid a depressing November, something has to get progressives mobilized. Because reality hasn't so far.

By Stephen Stromberg  | September 16, 2010; 11:12 AM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Comments

Biden is right: you cannot complain if you don't vote. Another way to put it is that everyone votes. It's just that those who go to the polls vote for those who don't.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | September 16, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I did not see the interview but I wonder if Maddow asked Biden how pleased he was to see the escalation in Afghanistan and the performance of Obama's economic team. I bet if Biden was not in office he would not be to happy either.

Posted by: dfdougherty | September 16, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

"I wonder if Maddow asked Biden how pleased he was to see the escalation in Afghanistan..."

Considering that was in the Platform he and Obama ran on, it shouldn't have disappointed him.

Posted by: steveh46 | September 16, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Based on Obama's campaign, it is the voters' fault for having "unmeetable expectations" for Obama's performance in office.

I think the administration has now blamed everyone in this country for their own failures. Maybe it's Canada's fault next time.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | September 16, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

As part of the left, I will tell you there is a constant argument between those of us who try to tell the nouveau progressives about basic civics. that the president does not just wave a wand and decree law. That everything goes thru congress and if they pay attention those in the senate holding things up or watering things down are not the sole work of republicans. There are conservative democrats that do their share in helping them.
Afterall, anything close to the Public Option was shot down by Liebermann and yet, it is Obama they blame for it.
the nouveau progressives are childish and spoiled. they want everything their way regardless of the reality. and they blame obama for everything, most of which should be directed at the senate and conservative democrats as well as republicans.
The presidency is not a dictatorship.
and yet, they insist he should be and is at fault for not doing so.
Alot of the problem is that many simply do not know basic civics to begin with.
And do not understand how the process works.
If one did not know better you'd think you were dealing with the rightwing tea partiers as they act exactly the same.

Posted by: vwcat | September 16, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm an American with a high school diploma who hasn't had a full-time job since 2008. My wife is an American with a BA who has fruitlessly applied for over 300 jobs in the last two years.

Unemployment? Long gone.

We're in our 50s. We're surplus people.

The licans and teabaggers want us to die. The Democrats don't care about us.

Obama worries about what Fox News says about him. There's stimulus money for richies. People like us are... surplus.

The revolution comes a little closer every day, folks. When your country's richest citizens whine about paying 4% more income tax on their earnings over a quarter of a million dollars a year while their neighbors are losing their homes, you should prepare for a bloody revolt.

We have 10s of millions of abandoned citizens in this country, people. Words from Biden and Obama mean nothing. The savings account dwindles every month. When it runs out...


Posted by: roblimo | September 16, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Democrats need to grow some balls and stand up to white suprimacist tea part or we will form another party too.

Posted by: MumboJumboo | September 16, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I refuse to be scolded for holding our president and our party accountable for ignoring what energized us in the first place. What incentive do I have to vote when what drove me to the polls (war, unprecedented executive power, capitulation to big business and Wall St) haven't been addressed? I don't want to hear the lame excuses,

Posted by: lacy144320 | September 16, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't think people voted or donated for a new version of Nixon after Johnson!!! At least Johnson tried to negotiate out rather than run for re-election only to be backstabbed in the process... this time it is the voters who are feeling the back pain!! If we had wanted nothing but more than predators and increased defense spending we might just as well have handed in blank ballots which by the way is an alterantive now that Nadar is fading out... like a principled rainbow in an unprincipled country...

Posted by: Wildthing1 | September 16, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

What incentive do I have to vote when what drove me to the polls (war, unprecedented executive power, capitulation to big business and Wall St) haven't been addressed? I don't want to hear the lame excuses,
***************************************
You are right but if Neville Chamberlain were running against Hitler I would vote for Chamberlain. Progressives need to vote Democrat then change it from within as the teabaggers are doing to the GOP. An uphill battle to be sure, but energy and imagination can win the day. In the meantime, we need to keep the crazies out.

Posted by: dnahatch1 | September 16, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The No Nothing Party that extends wars by getting out... and give no reason for staying in order to get out... I'd prefer getting out to stay out...

Posted by: Wildthing1 | September 16, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

We have brought all of our troops home!
We have stopped the dont ask dont tell policy!
we have added millions of jobs!
we have shutdown Gitmo!
We have the highest level of people below the line since 1964!
These are real acomplishments!

Posted by: simonsays1 | September 16, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

This is where VP Biden, Robert Gibbs and the author gets the left wrong. It is not that I as a member of the left is disappointed that the public option or a bigger stimulus with less tax cuts was not passed, it is that President Obama never fought for them or when he did, the moment he could compromise, he did.

He has very little fighting spirit for true progressive goals. He bows at the alter of compromise and bipartiniship and that is not what we fix this country. The GOP was in a position, not only politically but numerically of being powerless and by continuing to water down bills to appease Republicans and conservative Democrats, the President left his progressive base out to dry.

Living in California, I will vote in November, only because the alternative scares the hell out of me but I am not voting for Democrats as much as I am voting against the Tea Party. I am also voting Yes on 19, something most Democrats in California have not endorsed because they are cowards.

Posted by: jsatz23 | September 16, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

We have brought all of our troops home!
We have stopped the dont ask dont tell policy!
we have added millions of jobs!
we have shutdown Gitmo!
We have the highest level of people below the line since 1964!
These are real acomplishments!
**********************************
Touche, but who started those two needless unwinnable wars? Who campaigned against gay rights in 2004? Under whose watch did the economy tank? Who opened the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay? The conservatives who try to disavow Bush now marched in lockstep behind him for eight years and now are only too happy to blame the fallout from his misrule on Obama. Obama's mistake was to waste time trying to forge a bipartisan consensus with the Republican, a bunch of whining babies who refuse to do their jobs if they can't have everything their way.

Posted by: dnahatch1 | September 16, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Yet another whine-fest about how those mean ol' liberals are to blame for Obama's failures.

"Afterall, anything close to the Public Option was shot down by Liebermann and yet, it is Obama they blame for it."

Yes, because it was Obama and the Democrats who had the brilliant idea that actively rewarding Lieberman by letting him keep his DHS Senate Committee Chairmanship was such a good idea after he backstabbed them during the 2008 elections by campaigning for McCain and the Quittercuda, Sarah Palin.

And then they had the nerve to be shocked that, instead of being grateful, the little weasel not-so-holy-Joe would stab them in the back again.

The Obama Administration also undercuts itself on a regular basis, with the health care legislation being a perfect example, one day Obama is strongly advocating a public option, the next day he says it's not so important, and that's not even bringing up the fact that, in addition to rewarding health insurers with tens of billions of taxpayer subsidized dollars, there's also no allowance for importing drugs which would be a major savings for those that depend on them.

Not applying the rule of law for the past Administration's assaults on our Constitution-warrantless spying on US citizens, torture as official US policy, indefinite detention, suspension of habeas corpus-further erodes support among liberals and progressives, as it's unlikely that millions of outraged voters would take to the streets insisting that any such prosecutions either not go forward or be stopped.

Rahm Emanuel apologized to Sarah Palin for his "F*ing retarded" remark, but not the liberals he slammed with that same remark, yet another sure sign of this Administration's contempt for the liberals and labor unions which do the majority of the Democratic party's GOTV efforts.

Can Stromberg provide just one example of Obama taking an unapologetically strong liberal/progressive stand on an issue that he didn't then back away from after receiving even the mildest criticism for?

Further shooting down Stromberg's snide asides about how powerless the President is in the face of a determined opposition is the fact that Obama twisted arms and cracked heads to insure Ben Bernanke another term running the Fed.

But hey Stromberg, don't let facts get in the way of your anti-liberal hatred, after all, apparently for corporate shills infesting the Democratic party, corporations have far more rights under our Constitution than the actual people themselves.

Posted by: kingcranky | September 16, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

lacy144320 @ September 16, 2010 1:23 PM wrote "What incentive do I have to vote when what drove me to the polls (war, unprecedented executive power, capitulation to big business and Wall St) haven't been addressed?"

You must be kidding if you say that you don't see a difference! The reality is that for all the laments, Obama has gotten most of what he campaigned on through Congress! Even, to my chagrin, the Afghanistan war where he is doing what he campaigned he would do!

So, if you think that what is to come will be no different with the Tea Partiers now running, stay home. But if you agree with any part that Obama campaigned on and passed, then you must vote.

Remember: Everyone votes. Only those who go to the polls are participating, however.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | September 16, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

One other thing for Stromberg and the rest of the "how horrible those liberals are for insisting on Obama living up to his campaign promises" chicken-littles to consider is that it's us libs and progressives who are pushing back against the teabaggers far harder than the Democratic party's leadership and the Obama Administration.

After all, how many Democrats running the party or members of the Obama Administration showed anger or outrage when teabagging gun-toting thugs showed up armed, attempting to intimidate those they disagreed with, at the health care town hall meetings in 2009?

But since Democratic party apparatchiks worry far more about keeping the Blue Dog Dems happy and safe from hard votes, then let the Blue Dog supporters do the GOTV efforts for the Democratic party, and if those same corporate-loving lackeys are correct, then the Dems will no doubt increase their majorities in Congress.

Posted by: kingcranky | September 16, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

No plan survives contact with the enemy. The plans of the progressive Democrats failed when they came into contact with moderate Democrats, much less moderate Republicans or even conservative ones.

Posted by: huguenotklj | September 16, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I will certainly vote and it won’t be for a Democrat.

There is nothing more threaten then Republicans being in control.

Eight years of Republicans policy has destroyed and run this great country into the ground.

We remain knee deep in 2010 clean up the 8 year stench.

Posted by: K2007 | September 16, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I will certainly vote and it won’t be for a Republican.

There is nothing more threaten then Republicans being in control.

Eight years of Republicans policy has destroyed and run this great country into the ground.

We remain knee deep in 2010 clean up the 8 year stench.


Posted by: K2007 | September 16, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Newsflash to liberals: this is a democracy, not a dictatorship. In a democracy, the president does not get to point his finger, say "a-la-ka-zam" and hey presto, everything from the public option to repealed tax cuts suddenly become the law of the land via black magic. Sorry to burst your collective bubbles, but things just do not work like that in America. Maybe you should move to Saudi Arabia or something, where the executive branch gets to wield that much power over the country. Not only did he never promise to build Rome in a day, but the vehemence of his opposition is making the Rome-building go a lot more slowly. It doesn't mean we will never reach our goal; it just means some of you need to stop acting like spoiled kids and grow up. Stop expecting microwave solutions to decades-long problems that will take nearly as much time to solve, at the very least.

Posted by: lany | September 16, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

When Clinton was in office you didn't hear a peep from these Jews now that we have a Black man in office Jews seems to think they can write and say anything about this President.... Blacks people aren't obligated to you "people".

Obama ain't no Michael Jackson and Rahm Emanuel sure as hell ain't Chicago's next mayor

THE SEVENTIES OF BLACK EXPLOTATION DAYS ARE OVER...DO YOU UNDERSTAND MR. ___BERG


Now it's killing you that this Black President won't let Rahm packed his Whitehouse with all rich Zionist Jews.

And Keith Olbermann was wrong for stating that man whom was fired for burning the Koran...was within his rightt

How would you like it if we were to go the the Synagogue and stick a German flag with the Swazi-sticker three doors down...and cite our rights of the first amendment!

Keith Olberman
Last night's .... Worst Person in the World

Posted by: danders5000 | September 16, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Quote: "We have brought all of our troops home!"

Response: No we you have not! There are over 50,000 U S troops in Afghanistan and I have no counted those who are in Pakistan! Perhaps you could achieve a higher degree of credibility if you got your facts right!

Quote: "We have stopped the dont ask dont tell policy!"

Response: WOW, now that is a tremendous achievement which will make us all sleep safer in our beds at night! All you have done here is to promote sexual perversion in our military forces.

Quote: "we have added millions of jobs!"

Response: With the unemployment rate at a high of near ten percent, I find that your claim is not consistent with the facts! Have you been taking your medication to combat your dillusionary fits?

Quote: "we have shutdown Gitmo!"

Response: Really? Might I enquire as to where you received this revealtion? While you're at it, pray tell us where you sent those who were confined there?

Quote: "We have the highest level of people below the line since 1964!"

Response: Below what line? Are you saying that under Obama we now have more people on unemployment than when Bush was in office? Or are you declaring that we have more people below the poverty level since 1964?

Quote: "These are real acomplishments!"

Response: I'm rolling on the floor laughing my a-$-$ off with that errant declaration!


Posted by: simonsays1

Posted by: Jordan48 | September 16, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

There's an insurrection in the Democratic Party! There's an insurrection in the Democratic Party!

Posted by: FormerDemocrat | September 16, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Joe has always been persuasive.

I see a Democratic landslaide.

OR NOT.

Posted by: etronsen | September 16, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Stimulus cost: $878 billion

Jobs "protected" by stimulus: 3.3 million

$267,000 per job.

Example of an achievement?

In your father's dreams.

Posted by: etronsen | September 16, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

VWcat and AMviennaVA are exactly right! I would only add that the notion that one must have an "incentive" to vote reveals a total abdication of one's RESPONSIBILITY as an American citizen.
Millions of Americans have died in order to secure our rights AND our responsibilities. It's not just the politicians who have a sacred duty to this country.
Nouveau progressives seem to have no sense of "duty" to our nation. "Duty" being that thing one does whether one, personally, likes it or not.
Progressives who are not "nouveau" and have been around for the struggles to implement things like Civil Rights, an end to war, educational and job opportunities for all, women's rights, etc. are dedicated to the idea of making "a more perfect nation."
We don't expect ANYTHING to take place overnight because that is simply not how the world works.
These "kids" who know nothing about civics, how the government actually works, and are unwilling to learn are going to slit their own throats, their own futures, by refusing to compromise.
Really, they are the mirror image of the TeaBaggers.

Posted by: cms1 | September 16, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

No public option on health care, rising, no jobs and more suasage finacial reform.
Wall Street and Pharm? health care industries made out great while "we' have to wait. Biden better get a grip- folks are starving out here. He's a millionaire.
Get your party together or get out of the way.

Posted by: crrobin | September 16, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

This is silly, if you all don't think Progressives are out there voting, then you're a fool. Its the moderates, the independents and the non-idealogical Democrats who are not coming out to the polls. Progressives aren't volunteering, aren't donating as much, but they are definitely voting. They are the most consistent voting block in the Democratic Party.

What we Progressive don't like isn't that we didn't get our bigger stimulus or a public option, we didn't get the strong backing from the White House for these things. Its one thing to have to negotiate down, its another thing to negotiate with yourself before you even get to the table.

We're mad that Obama picked the Wall Street crowd for his economic team so Wall Street got $700 billion cash, and Main Street got a $500 billion dollar stimulus with $300 billion in tax breaks which do little for people without money.

Progressive know how the legislative process works, without us none of this stuff would have passed. Our wish for the President is that they are calling you a Socialist and hyper-partisan, so be a Socialist and hyper-partisan, and that way at least the people who don't hate you will be energized to defend your policies, because instead not know if you share our disappointment or our resolve to keep fighting for more stimulus dollars to help the unemployed and a strong public option to bring down health care cost.

Posted by: bravestar360 | September 16, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

The crassroads of "We the People" or "They the Corporations" is coming up again. 40 Republicans is too many. March Oct. 2nd. and Vote.

Posted by: glenglish | September 16, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

There are too many vested interests that call the shots in the Democratic Party and the GOP. ... Everybody knows this! At times, the present administration looks mildly conservative. It's been less than two years for it, so there is still time... but the "Patience" clock is ticking, tick,tick,tick,tick...

Posted by: deepthroat21 | September 16, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

bravestar360, thank you for you comments. And, I truly appreciate your wish that the President would come out swinging with both hands and knock those who opposed single payer health insurance, for example, to the ground.
BUT, he didn't have the votes and he KNEW it. And, he could not FORCE votes for the single payer option.
Do you remember Sept. of 2008? That was when every single leader of Wall Street and all our political leaders came out and announced that they simply did not know why this huge crash was about to happen. But, it WAS going to happen.
No one knew why. They all admitted it. John McCain suspended his political operation for the Presidency to come to Washington to get a grip on the situation and solve it.
Obama was presented with a white collar criminal operation that had been in place for many years. Doubt it? Read. Find out just exactly what the Republicans, with the advise and consent of many Democrats, like Chris Dodd, had been perpetrating on the American people for many years.
Obama HAD to include those who were, also, the cause of the problem in order to solve it at all. This was not an easy situation in which one could simply say, well, I am coming into office and I am going to wipe away everyone who caused this problem. He HAD to include those criminals because THEY were the only ones who knew how we got into it, and then, they, themselves, suddenly became aware that THEY were going to go down too.
Just like with the CIA and all the security people who met with Obama after his election and tried to scare him to death about the situation in order to further their own goals.
Give Obama a chance, for Heaven's sake. Don't desert him just because YOU know just exactly how he should have behaved when he is up against the most powerful entities the world has ever known. Ever heard of the military/industrial complex?
If you expect any one person to sweep into office and go up against all these entrenched interests and give you, an ordinary citizen, what you expect because you gave him the honor of your lone, solitary, vote, well, dream on my idealistic friend.

Posted by: cms1 | September 16, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

"Newsflash to liberals: this is a democracy, not a dictatorship. In a democracy, the president does not get to point his finger, say "a-la-ka-zam" and hey presto, everything from the public option to repealed tax cuts suddenly become the law of the land via black magic. Sorry to burst your collective bubbles, but things just do not work like that in America. Maybe you should move to Saudi Arabia or something, where the executive branch gets to wield that much power over the country.

"Posted by: lany | September 16, 2010 4:32 PM"

So you favor criminal prosecutions of the Bush Jr Administration for such Constitution-shredding policies as

Warrantless spying on US citizens and their purely domestic communications

Torture as official US policy-legislation signed by Ronald Reagan REQUIRES we prosecute those who ordered torture to take place

Indefinite detention

Suspension of habeas corpus

Because, if you don't favor prosecuting the Bush Jr/Cheney Administration for these assaults on our Constitution, you're an easily-debunked hypocrite of the most rank type.

If you favor Obama continuing these policies, including the right to kill US citizens overseas without any kind of legal oversight or proceedings, then you obviously don't believe your own blather about Obama being a dictator who operates independently of Congressional oversight.

Living in a country with unchecked powers for its leadership sounds right up your alley, perhaps Saudi Arabia or North Korea is more to your liking than the Constitutional republic our society is set up to be.

Logical consistency, don't be scared to give it a try sometime.

Posted by: kingcranky | September 16, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

kingcranky @ September 16, 2010 10:39 PM: YES. Many in the Bush administration should be prosecuted, all the way up to Bush himself. It is ironic that for all the preaching an lecturing we do towards other countries, we are one of the few that lets criminal behavior go unpunished. We rank all the way up there with Chile.

For the record, I was very disappointed in 2007 when Reid & Pelosi ruled out impeachment hearings, out of hand. That was an abdication of the Congress' responsibilities under the Constitution.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | September 17, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

.
"... not fighting harder ... to close Guantanamo faster than Congress would let him ..."

What a curious misapprehension. R U new to DC, Stephen Stromberg ?

Obama fought Rahm to close GTMO, and lost.
Congress is powerless to stop Obama in this matter.
.

Posted by: BrianX9 | September 18, 2010 4:37 AM | Report abuse

Has it occured to anyone that Obama may well be a very selfish and uncaring person who simply wants to retire early with all the advantages of a former President? He and/or his family have been on vacation an inordinate amount of time, he has taken advantage of his office and cared little about the damage he has done to his party.

He does not follow the traditions of the office such as laying the wreath on Memorial day, speaking to Boy Scouts and a number of other instances. I honestly question as to whether he has simply pulled a good con and arranged a very nice early retirement.

Posted by: Watersnake7 | September 18, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

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