Saturday, May 1, 2010

Super Centrist Fail

You might have noticed that I haven't been posting as much lately.

So did I.

I bring up my blog every day but I rarely feel the motivation to post anything any more. I mean I see things every day in the news that probably deserve a post but the motivation, especially when it comes to trying to promote the Obama administration's agenda, has waned for me somewhat.

I'm a progressive and a Democrat and maybe not in that order but its getting harder and harder to defend the way the White House treats their base. And I'm not talking about some far left base that throws hissy fits when they don't get any and everything they hope for plus a pony. I am talking about the policy wonks who have proven ideas. Im talking about the people who have worked in the federal government before an know about what they are talking about. Im talking about all the supporters who phone banked and went door to door and blogged to help get President Obama elected because he promised a new kind of politics. And no that new kind of politics was never sold as some bold new "bipartisanship". No we were told that good ideas would trump all no matter which side they came from.

But that isn't what is happening these days. Instead the White House which takes great delight in beating up on cable news shows (rightly so in many occasions) enables those very jack asses by creating and perpetrating all of these false equivalencies between the truly wacky far right and the reasonable and most of the time correct left/liberal/progressive wing of his party. Its like he feels to dismiss idiotic complaints that right wingers will continue to make about his agenda he has to balance it by devaluing constructive criticism from the left that would actually help on policy.

The stimulus bill, health care reform, climate change, financial regulation, immigration reform. Every single issue has all of a sudden become about not doing that which is right and most effective but instead that which looks most "centrist". Unfortunately for us all the because the right wing in this country has gone over a cliff the center has shifted dramatically in that direction. And the result ultimately will be legislation that isn't nearly as effective as it could have and should have been. And an electorate that no longer trusts Democrats.

You see it every day where the Republicans are kicking our asses in the enthusiasm gap. And why shouldn't they? When almost every single day this White House that most of us on the left fought terribly hard for keeps repeatedly kicking us in the teeth and giving us their ass to kiss?

Oh and I know some folks will chime in "but look at all Democrats have done". Yeah, I have used that argument before and on some levels it has standing. But even when we win battles in legislation, we are losing the war of public opinion. And if you think that doesn't matter, just wait and see what happen if the House really does go back to the Republicans after November. Not a got damn thing will get done and there will be investigations on top of investigations over bullshit.

And although I had my reservations last year, I have to say that now losing the House is a real possibility.

Why? Because if the Democratic President and his aides are constantly shitting on his most ardent supporters who is going to not only vote for other Democrats in the midterms, but help get out other voters to vote for Democrats in the midterms?

Just in the last few weeks you have President Obama practically chanting "Drill Baby Drill". You have him perpetrating the fraudulent argument that liberal judges were "activists". You have his White House directing Senator Dodd to weaken the financial regulation bill in the name of bullshit "bipartisanship". And of course we have his weaksauce deficit commission which will no doubt end up wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare rather than defense spending.

I rememeber last year when Paul Krugman was ripping President Obama to shreds because he didn't fight for a bigger, more effective stimulus bill. He presented all kinds of evidence to back up his argument and I remember having some skepticism. I mean I really was excited about Obama's presidency but on the other hand I really respected Krugman on economics so the two were hard to reconcile. Ultimately I figured maybe it wouldn't be that big of a deal. But if you look at unemployment right now there is no doubt that Krugman was right. And here's the thing, having a bigger better bill wouldn't have brought any more scorn than the bill that passed did because the bill that passed was called socialism and every other scary word that Republicans could come up with.

The key difference is that by this time its highly likely that a bigger better bill would have been much more effective and unemployment would have been much closer to 5% than 10%. In that situation its much easier to explain how effective the bill is because the results are right there in front of you. It would have also made it a lot harder for anybody to take the Tea Baggers seriously. But instead we went the "Super Centrist" route and let Presidents Nelson, Lieberman, and Snowe write the bill and now not only did we get blasted on the front in, to this day the majority of Americans don't think the stimulus worked.

Yeah I know whether they think it worked or not SHOULDN'T be a big deal as long as it actually works. But again this is what I am talking about when it comes to the war of public opinion. After the voters toss Democrats out on their ass in November none of them will attribute any subsequent positive changes to the economy to the stimulus bill. For them it will all be magic due to the fact that the shitty socialist Dems aren't in power any more.

And its kinda easy when the White House is pretty much helping Republicans frame it that way.

So I am kind of sitting on the sidelines at the moment trying to get the fire back. The sad thing is its not President Obama's electoral prospects that are being hurt here. The Republicans don't have a candidate that their base will accept that would also be a viable national candidate. So unless everything tanks all at once President Obama will walk in 2012. But every Democratic candidate at the ballot box this year will be weighed down by his rhetoric. They will all be fighting an uphill battle to get Democrats to come out and vote for them even in heavy democratic districts and blue states.

Ironically it may be that the best way for Democrats to get reelected this year is to start standing on Democratic principles and punching the White House from the left at times. Kendrick Meek who has my full support would do well to start punching NOW on off shore drilling. President Obama seems to be dead set on pressing ahead even with a disaster taking shape off the gulf coast. Its time to get Democrats and some true independents fired up by not just following him down this Super Centrist path all the damn time.

Im not talking about any Jane Hamsher FDL firebagger bullshit. Im talking about mainstream consensus progressive/liberal/democratic princples. Off shore drilling has never been a staple of a Democratic agenda and it shouldn't be now just to appease some Republican assholes who will never vote for anything anyway.

My prediction is that those Democrats who decided to break with the administration on serious policy issues from the left will fire up the base and get reelected. Those who decide to back him on every subject are going to get burned. You can't get people "Fired up and Ready to go" with some centrist bullshit that won't work. It just doesn't work that way.

So bear with me while I try to get back into the swing of things. You may notice a shift in tone but for the most part when I post you will see the same passion because I will be more choosey about which topics I get after. But I am going to start being a lot more openly critical of stupid moves by this administration. Its really for their own good and for the good of the Democratic Party because my biggest fear is a Republican Congress at such a critical moment in our history.

It is what it is.


  1. I feel you. Thanks for the honesty and sober assessment.


  2. Tell you what - I come at this from the moderately right side of things (which is now apparently the far left. When did 75% of the political spectrum become the "far left"? It just keeps going and going), but I feel the same way as you, except without the team labels. I want a government that works for the benefit of the nation, not just the the tiny number of very wealthy inhabitants. Hasn't it been made overwhelmingly clear in the last 40 years that "what's good for GM is good for America" is a brazen lie? I don't know what anyone can do to reverse the disastrous course we're on - the lower-level schools have become a trainng ground for pliable, gullible fools, while the few forces that bound us together as a nation have been pretty much smashed to bits. What really worries me is that Barack Obama may be doing the most left-wing job that anyone can actually do anymore - and he's not even being as liberal as Gerald Ford or Dwight Eisenhower. Even Richard Nixon was in some ways more liberal than Obama. I'm hoping that we'll get some sort of Deua ex Mach. to get us through this steady down-hill slide, but I'm worried that it's our turn as a nation to go nuts. God help Canada, eh?


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