Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Too timid

Drew Westen lays the blame of yesterday's defeat on Obama and timidity:

It is a truly remarkable feat, in just one year's time, to turn the fear and anger voters felt in 2006 and 2008 at a Republican Party that had destroyed the economy, redistributed massive amounts of wealth from the middle class to the richest of the rich and the biggest of big businesses, and waged a trillion-dollar war in the wrong country, into populist rage at whatever Democrat voters can cast their ballot against.
What happens if you refuse to lay the blame for the destruction of our economy on anyone--particularly the party, leaders, and ideology that were in power for the last 8 years and were responsible for it? What happens if you fail to "brand" what has happened as the Bush Depression or the Republican Depression or the natural result of the ideology of unregulated greed, the way FDR branded the Great Depression as Hoover's Depression and created a Democratic majority for 50 years and a new vision of what effective government can do? What happens when you fail to offer and continually reinforce a narrative about what has happened, who caused it, and how you're going to fix it that Americans understand, that makes them angry, that makes them hopeful, and that makes them committed to you and your policies during the tough times that will inevitably lie ahead?

The answer was obvious a year ago, and it is even more obvious today: Voters will come to blame you for not having solved a problem you didn't create, and you will allow the other side to create an alternative narrative for what's happened (government spending , deficits, big government, socialism) that will stick. And it will particularly stick if you make no efforts to prevent it from starting or sticking.
and more criticism of timidity from Joseph Palermo:
The Obama Administration cut far too many deals with the same corporate special interests that have dominated Washington since the Reagan years. Obama watered down his agenda. The Democratic base stayed home. The Republicans were energized beyond belief. And the Democratic candidate in a Democratic state lost the "Lion of the Senate's" seat.

Millions of Obama voters -- me included -- naively believed that he was going to stand up to corporate special interests in behalf of working people. He didn't. People do not like wimps who compromise their principles to stay in power.

The jubilant folks at FOX News et al. are correct that the Massachusetts election today has national significance -- but not for the reasons they claim. They think people are upset at "government" but they're really upset (whether they know it or not) with corporate control of government, which makes corporate interests synonymous with the national interest. The Democratic Party has been hollowed out by the same kinds of corporate interests that own the Republican Party. Progressives believed that after eight miserable years of George W. Bush and the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression we had an opportunity to create a stronger social safety net. But Ben Nelson, Max Baucus, Mary Landrieu, and Joe Lieberman put the kibosh on that.


brownie said...

This morning, George Stephanopolous on ABC said about the repub victory in Massachusetts (I'm paraphrasing, but closely):

In a stunning blow against the Obama administration and the people of Massachusetts...

A blow against the people of Massachusetts? "You've gotta be kidding me!" was my response the moment it left his lips. They're the ones who voted that way!

No, the whole liberal biased media thing is just a giant right wing conspiracy all right.

Anonymous said...

Tip O'Neil (from Massachusetts) is credited as saying all politics is local. When you look at the candidate the Dems put up, doesn't that explain things NOT in a national context but locally? Sports aren't everything but a candidate probably shouldn't dismiss sports fans. Coakley didn't want to campaign, thought it was already won, etc. Her gaffes and lack of campaigning lost this election. This effects Obama, but this isn't ABOUT Obama.

Robert J. Day said...

So Obama is a slick but weak, non-principled politician that has bowed to the nations power brokers and voted "present" more than he has actually led (and lets not forget that he has had more parties, travel more, and played more golf in one year during a serious recession and national security crisis than the entire 8 years of Bush).

I am glad you finally see what Hillary and McCain supporters saw in 2008. But unfortunately, its one year and $13 trillion too late.

Lets hope for some real change.

Now lets read those nasty, hate filled replies.

Anonymous said...

I really HATE those NASTY onion jam toaster strudles.

Dan S said...

Is that the same George Stephanopolous that didn't question Rudy Guiliani when he claimed there were no terrorists attacks in this country when Bush was in office :)

Well, Robert, I'm glad you are hoping for some change too. The change Obama promised was change from the Republican policies of the last 8 years. So far, we haven't seen much of it (and what little change there is results in histrionics on the right).

It will be interesting to see how Republicans react to his plan to clamp down on the banks. Everyone has been saying they are for the average joes, so it should be theoretically harder for Republicans to obstruct banking reform. But, I'm sure they'll find a way. They always do.

Hey, my daughter said you were very entertaining at Mennohaven last weekend. I didn't realize you had such a checkered past :)

Fingtree said...

"(and lets not forget that he has had more parties, travel more, and played more golf in one year during a serious recession and national security crisis than the entire 8 years of Bush)".
I will always remember!! That is hilarious J. Day, I'm sure your sources are reputable.
Have you ever partied with a half black man J. Day?

Fingtree said...

Obama would kick your arse in golf too. Those black folk have extra bones and superior miscegenation muscles from the hybrid breeding the southern white folk and Imperialists did to them back in the 400 years of slavery days. Your jealous and racist too, admit it.

Samuel said...

Three things-

1) I think sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. The economy stinks, particularly unemployment. This is bad on incumbents (see these graphs, which demonstrate that for Obama, Clinton, and Regan, unemployment trends match disapproval ratings almost exactly-,2). Many voters use the crude but effective heuristic is the economy good? Stay the course! Is it bad? Through the bums out! Nate Silver, at pointed out during the election last year that if you know 1) the incumbent party and 2) the direction of the unemployment rate, you know almost everything you need to know about who is going to become the next president. It doesn't matter how the Democrats spin things, if the economy doesn't turn around, they are toast, if it does, they'll win.

2) Robert, its a complete lie that Obama has spent less time working than Bush. Here's the non-partisan Anenberg Fact check organization.
Bush took more than 3 times the vacation days of Obama in his first year in office, 26 days vs. 69 days. Your evaluation of Obama's leadership may be right, I won't comment on it, but when you troll for fun, obviously you're going to get negative responses.

3) I also think its odd to blame Obama (both for liberals and conservatives) for what is at heart a problem with the US Senate. 60% is a really high threshold, and its not like Obama can break Ben Nelson's fingers if he won't get on board. If the US senate worked by majority rules, we'd have health care reform with a public option, and probably cap and trade already, not to mention a stimulus plan that would have helped millions of more people-there are 50 votes for all of these things (for the other side, Bush might have privatized social security if the senate acted like an actual democratic body) the filibuster really ought to go.

Robert Sievers said...

In other newws related to Obama and healthcare,

Dan S said...

Great analysis Sam.

The filibuster is certainly a two-edged sword, but one that Republicans have used more effectively than Democrats. As Jon Stewart point out a few nights ago, Bush didn't need 60 votes to trash the country with his policies.

It's true that people blame the party in power for the economy, but it's frustrating that Obama continues to be blamed for the Bush Recession.

Robert Sievers said...

Dan, I think you mean the Obama recession. Things were not bad until after the spendulus, er, I mean stimulus bill was rammed through.

Although the TARP money and GM bailout we can agree to pile on Bush, Obama told us that if the stimulus bill was passed, unemployment wouldn't go past 8%. So was he ill-informed about the economy, or was he lying?

Dan S said...

Economists criticized Obama for the stimulus because it wasn't big enough, not because it existed. Responsible people recognize that in a recession, one of the only tools to spur growth is government spending.

I am curious though under what economic theory government infusion of cash in a recession leads to unemployment? ConservaIdeologaTeaBagPunditNonsensanomics?

brownie said...

On G. Stephanopolous:

Dan, as you like to say...apples and oranges.

Letting a remark slip like he did yesterday is a revelation of how he really feels (like we didn't already know: Clinton campaing manager, after all), while his not asking the obvious follow up is just an indication of how unqualified he is to be in the news profession.

Shoddy interviewing does not equal non-bias.

Fingtree said...

Are we still on this Liberal biased media pooh? As you say Brownie, we all know his background. However, not unlike many in his shoes in the media, he has to straddle a fine line and tries most of the time to be neutral. If he truly slipped with anything unbiased, the knee jerk Liberal Conservative media would have crucified him. Like they did with Dan Rather. George Stephanopolous (I like that last name)is an opportunist. What makes me laugh is how Fox News and almost all of talk radio can blatantly and deliberately castigate who they want, whenever they damn well please and there are never consequences. A guy like Stephanopolis can make one remark that is really harmless and the ones who want to prove that there is media bias jump all over it. All of the media are opportunist's and that's the size of it. They are doing it for a paycheck and to serve their ego's. Preacher's stealing in the name of the Lord are of the same ilk. It's all gollywallow lobster flesh canister waste.....

Samuel said...

I found this graph today, and it really reinforces my point from earlier-

Basically, if the economy is growing, incumbents win. If its not, incumbents loose.

Fingtree said...

Go Stephanopolous Colts!!

PG said...

Robert J. O'Day! I thought you ran off. (Still waiting for my colonoscopy angel, by the way.) Obama is not in the least unprincipled. He has been most courageous, insisting on meeting with Republicans and extending his hand and meeting halfway. Unfortunately, the Republicans simply spat upon his hand and showed no sympathy, mocking him and plotting for his failure as any cost.

Regarding the recent Supreme Court notion... There is something absolutely Revelations/Apocalyptic about declaring that Profit Machine Corporations are the equal to human beings with souls and compassion above the "bottom line." We truly live in the Belly of the Beast.