Fair Questions

Two questions/statements that get tossed around whenever I vent about one of these hot button issues were in a thread from yesterday, and I think they are worth talking about. The first:

OK, don’t have time to read all 289 comments but just wanted to ask why John is so obsessed with what gay people think of Obama? I mean, seriously, lately every third or fourth post is knocking some gay blogger or gays in general for being critical of Obama.

The second:

This post is representative of a weird mindset. As someone who was on the BushCo train, and only ditched out on them when it was obvious to everyone with a brain that they were failing us miserably, it seems that some who then in turn embraced Obama want to apply that kind of hero-worshiping that they did with Bush to Obama. That’s not how any of this stuff (stuff meaning how citizens observe and interact with presidential politics) was ever supposed to work.

I’ll answer them together because I think they are related. In response to the second statement, I think it is a very valid question/assertion to wonder if I am just shilling for Obama the way I did for Bush. I do at times seem to have an odd authoritarian streak, and I was completely and totally uncritical of Bush until I finally couldn’t take it anymore, so I think it is fair to think maybe I am just resorting to type.

The thing is, I don’t think I am just in the tank and think Obama can do no wrong. And this is where the first question/comment comes into play. If I’m obsessed with anything, I’m obsessed with people saying what I think are crazy and irrational and stupid things and then making fun of them. It just seems recently, a lot of that stuff has been coming from gay bloggers over gay rights issues. I also think that there is a certain mindset among some people that if you are not spending every day dramatically freaking out that Obama sucks, you aren’t doing your duty as a citizen and aren’t thinking critically and are “just in the bag” for the President. There honestly seems to be a group of people out there who think that when the President tells them to “make him do something,” they don’t understand that he wants them to apply constructive pressure on him and on Congress, they think it is a license to scream and flail and yell “just words” and adopt Republican messaging frames. They think it is permission to have a hissy fit. And I don’t think it is being “in the bag” for Obama to point out those hissy fits.

Where I have made mistakes on this issue is assuming or seeming to assume that I think certain bloggers speak for all gay people. I’ve also been flippant and given the appearance that I just think all gay people are just whiny drama queens. And, something I thought about while watching Milk the other night was that this has been going on for a long, long time, and I might not truly understand the anger and frustration of a lot of people in the gay community.

Lemme give you some examples. I have no problem with people being mad that Obama has not issued a statement about the marriage equality issue in the state of Maine. I think he could and should do more, and won’t say a peep about people flaming the WH for not doing more.

On the other hand, I think you are an insane crazy person if you flip out like Steve Clemons because Obama’s HRC speech was not up fast enough on the White House web site on a Saturday night. I think you have lost your shit when you insist that the WH house release a list identifying all the gay people who came to a ceremony (maybe the WH can also demand they wear pink triangles on their jackets!). I think you have lost your ability to reason if you spend an entire day hyperventilating because the President did not use the word “gay” at a ceremony for hate crimes legislation that covers EVERYONE. I think you have serious issues if you point to an unsourced anonymous quote from John Harwood and then boldly announce to the world that the WH hates gays. And I don’t think I’m obsessed with gays to point at these things and laugh. And I don’t think it is wrong to note that a good bit of this anger is based on the turf war between certain online gay bloggers and the HRC.

Likewise- you will never see me attack Marci Wheeler or Glenn Greenwald for their accurate chronicling of the administrations backpedaling on certain civil liberties issues, because I think they document their arguments and are right. Hell, as much as I love having flame wars with Armando, I think he is more right than wrong on many of these issues.

I will, on the other hand, mock you repeatedly if you tell the world that Obama is worse than Bush because Gitmo is not closed yet and because he hasn’t completely altered the overall outlook of the national security machinery. I will mock you endlessly if you scream that Obama sucks because Gitmo still has prisoners, when the Senate has repeatedly screwed Obama. Hell- remember the 96 to nothing vote a couple months ago about “freeing terrorists on domestic soil.”

I’m not going to say a peep to folks who argue the administration has not done enough to reign in the banksters or the credit ratings agencies or the insurance boys. I think it is ridiculous we have not started a new regulatory regime by now. I’m kind of shocked we have not broken up the boys who are “too big to fail” and have sat by while they taking bigger and bigger risks and leverage themselves more than they were before they almost killed the country. I think the Goldman Sachs presence in our government is to the point that it is blatantly criminal.

But I am going to mock you if you tell me Obama is the worst president ever because of daily fluctuations in the DOW or the value of a dollar. I am going to give you a rhetorical punch to the neck if you bitch that Obama has not “turned the economy around” when just a few months ago we were on the verge of global armageddon. I am going to point and laugh if you kvetch about the deficit and the national debt when it would still be disastrously out of control from the previous administration if Obama had spent not one penny.

In short, I don’t think I’m in the tank for Obama, I think I’m just applying common sense. Maybe I am too sarcastic and snide, and we all know I can be a real jerk, especially to people I like. And if you disagree with me, or think I am wrong, well, you get to go ahead and call me an asshole in the comments and tell me why I am wrong. Try it. You might find it very liberating, and I know that when enough of you start to point out I am wrong about something, I probably am. I’m hard-headed, but I am capable of learning.

258 replies
  1. 1
    MikeJ says:

    Dude, making sense isn’t going to get you anywhere in the blogosphere.

  2. 2
    metalgirl says:

    You rock! We all know it. Did you get some negative email that got under your skin? You always give explanations on your posts about your positions and why (plus supporting links). (Now I’m lamenting the lack of spell-checker because I’m not a good speller and don’t want to mess up)!

  3. 3
    valdivia says:

    Not fair John when you say everything I feel so much better than I ever could about the idiotic equivalence between pressuring your president=Obama is Teh Fail.

    So short and sweet: what you said.

    +1

  4. 4
    kid bitzer says:

    actually, this sounds pretty reasonable.

  5. 5
    Bill says:

    Good argument, and I appreciate that you’re understanding of the skepticism that naturally comes with your conversion. That said, please never relent one inch. Your “just words!” rants are about the only thing I have left of the Challenger launch that is the liberal blogosphere.

  6. 6
    asiangrrlMN says:

    I gotta say, Cole, this makes sense. However, I have skipped all the gay-related threads as of late because I did get the sense of you simply piling on. Maybe because I rarely read anything here laudatory about the efforts of queer bloggers (except Sully, and I can’t stand him) on queer issues. If for every, say, four threads you put up excoriating the screeching and the flapping, you put one up saying, “This person has a cogent point about the WH being mum about marriage equality in Maine”, it wouldn’t seem so one-sided.

    In addition, you seem extra-cranky these last few days. I’m in a bad enough mood not to want to deal with extra-cranky.

  7. 7
    RedKitten says:

    In short, I don’t think I’m in the tank for Obama, I think I’m just applying common sense. Maybe I am too sarcastic and snide, and we all know I can be a real jerk, especially to people I like. And if you disagree with me, or think I am wrong, well, you get to go ahead and call me an asshole in the comments and tell me why I am wrong. Try it. You might find it very liberating, and I know that when enough of you start to point out I am wrong about something, I probably am. I’m hard-headed, but I am capable of learning.

    That’s why we like you, John. With a few notable (cough…Hamsher…cough) exceptions, you ARE able to weigh arguments, not take them personally, and re-evaluate your opinions if the evidence is compelling. Not everybody is willing to do that, as they’re so damn scared of appearing indecisive.

    Besides, you’re hard-headed, but soft-hearted. It’s not a bad combo. :)

  8. 8
    anonevent says:

    I’m hard-headed, but I am capable of learning.

    Good, I’m not the only one who thinks this about himself.

  9. 9
    Steve T. says:

    I’m puzzled too by some of these angry ravings. Why do some of these professional writers have trouble understanding English? I read the comments Obama made at the Pentagon funding bill including the hate crimes legislation. No, he didn’t use the word “gay.” But he did refer directly to “sexual orientation.”

    Excuse me??? Don’t these folks know that concepts can be expressed in English in different ways? The word “gay” was originally street slang for “homosexual,” and before that for other aspects of the sexual demimonde. Some feel it still has some slangy character to it. So at a formal signing ceremony, the President elects to use formal and dignified language, though the intent of the bill was clear. As was his support and endorsement of it.

    Why the fuck is this offensive??? As a gay dude myself, I can’t really understand it, and even if I did, cummon, let’s choose our battles with more wisdom and cunning than this. Sheesh.

  10. 10
    Zam says:

    I will, on the other hand, mock you repeatedly if you tell the world that Obama is worse than Bush because Gitmo is not closed yet and because he hasn’t completely altered the overall outlook of the national security machinery. I will mock you endlessly if you scream that Obama sucks because Gitmo still has prisoners, when the Senate has repeatedly screwed Obama. Hell- remember the 96 to nothing vote a couple months ago about “freeing terrorists on domestic soil.”

    This is what I have been dealing with almost daily, a bunch of people insisting they are independent demand I proclaim Obama as a failure for these things. If I don’t go along with them or try to explain the barriers to getting this stuff done they just scream O-bot. In fact one guy has been going around telling people that nothing I say can be taken seriously because I am “in the tank for Obama.”

  11. 11
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    Just started reading this and one initial comment

    The thing is, I don’t think I am just in the tank and think Obama can do no wrong.

    Though I realize why you blend these two things together, because in the minds of critics, not only of you, but Obama supporters in general, from some quarters, including dem ones they are inseparable,. But they are completely separate questions or issues in my mind.

    Or, that being in the tank for Obama equates with also believing he can do no wrong. I am in the tank for Obama because of the simple reason of the most basic motivation for me concerning politics in our system. In that almost any democrat would be better than any republican I can think of who has any cred with the GOP as it now stands. Which is on a stage of crazy that nothing good can come out of.

    And for now, I am also an O-bot because though not perfect, especially in some economic dealings like TARP etc…that give me heartburn, the man genuinely represents my beliefs better than any politician in my life. Add that the reasonably loyalty of doing what he said he would do, and so far it’s thumbs up, with always caution to the future.

    But the basic reason I am an O-bot is we have two choices in our pol system, GOP and Dem, and that’s it.

  12. 12
    Nick says:

    You know, honestly, the blogsphere, the entire blogsphere has become an endless circular argument of “Obama sucks and if you don’t think so, you’re a sheep” vs. “Obama is a great President and we’re lucky to have him”

    Obamabot!, Deadender!, Sheep!, Purist!

    It never ends and it’s completely decreased whatever influence the blogsphere have had to the point where I just visit places like MyDD, DailyKos, AmericaBlog, OpenLeft to point and laugh.

    FireDogLake, well I worked on Ned Lamont’s campaign, so my comtempt for Jane Hamsher knows no boundaries, I don’t even bother taking her and her blog seriously.

  13. 13
    Steve T. says:

    Ahem. “at the signing of the Pentagon funding bill,” but you guys knew that.

  14. 14
    mcd says:

    I’m in the tank for Balloon Juice: Fuck the Yankees.

  15. 15

    It just seems recently, a lot of that stuff has been coming from gay bloggers over gay rights issues.

    Yeah, but part of your problem is you’re falling into the squeaky wheel trap. SOME people are losing their shit and they’re losing it so spectacularly that you’re looking at it and thinking it means anything but the same people who lose their shit over anything, all the time are, once again, losing their shit.

    Put another way, if there were only three conservative blogs that were total bat-shit loco, it would be unfair to say there’s a lot of bat-shit loco stuff coming from conservatives.

    As for your pro-Bush years, unless you plan to outlive everyone who knew you then … try to get used to it.

  16. 16
    Nick says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Not so much that he can do no wrong, but that you’re not going to give his critics the benefit of the doubt. When Americans debate, they don’t want to give up any ground, so to admit that, sometimes, he can do wrong, would be to give ground to the naysayers, PUMA, and trolls…so you keep your criticisms of him to yourself and defend him.

    I should’ve been a shrink.

  17. 17
    Bill says:

    Oh, and some people might say that you’re insensitive, John.

  18. 18
    El Tiburon says:

    You have been on a rant regarding gay-bloggers and their dissatisfaction with Obama and gay issues.

    You just can’t seem to comprehend why they demand their equal rights right the fuck now; not next year or next election, but right now.

    I don’t blame them. Gay people continue to be shat upon by laws disallowing them to marry or serve in the armed forces. But for God’s sake, don’t get to uppity about it, okay homos.

    Fact is we can move heaven and earth to put trillions in the pockets of the banksters or to condemn ACORN, but we just can’t seem to muster to stop discriminating against gay people.

    Or we can, just later on.

  19. 19
    MMM says:

    ass -your heinous

  20. 20
    Beauzeaux says:

    This may be the most well written, thoughtful post I’ve ever seen on this blog. Thank you, Mr. Cole.

  21. 21
    WereBear says:

    Conservative criticism comes with a switch, not a rheostat.

    You must be in the tank for Obama or you wouldn’t approve of anything he does.

    And vice versa.

    It’s part of their black and white thinking. They make fun of nuance to cover the fact that they are incapable of nuance.

  22. 22
    Martin says:

    @kommrade reproductive vigor:

    It’s not the squeaky wheel trap, it’s the liberal trap. Liberals too often only care about their own shit. Not everyone, and I don’t advocate for a 3rd way thing here, but the left is riddled with single-issue bomb throwers that make it damn difficult to have reasonable discussions of anything. How many threads here on Obama and gay issues have devolved into ‘fuck Obama and fuck anyone who supports him’ because Obama didn’t pass everything on day one – and what’s more, Obama secretly hates gays because someone from the campaign invited McClurkin to an event 2 years ago and nothing that he’s done since can ever make up for that.

    Just get used to it John. It’s impossible to be a sufficiently loyal friend to most liberal causes.

  23. 23
    somethingblue says:

    Thanks for that very thoughtful post.

    There honestly seems to be a group of people out there who think that when the President tells them to “make him do something,” they don’t understand that he wants them to apply constructive pressure on him and on Congress

    I’ve been fascinated for a while now by this “make-me-do-it” meme. It’s generally sourced back to FDR, but there doesn’t seem to be any very solid evidence that FDR ever said any such thing, and I’m not aware that Obama himself has ever mentioned or alluded to the phrase. (I could be wrong, and I’m happy to be corrected if so.) It feels to me like “twelfth dimensional chess”–something people have cooked up to reassure themselves that Obama is really on their side, even when his actions suggest that he’s indifferent or actively unsympathetic to whatever it is they want.

  24. 24
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Nick:

    Not so much that he can do no wrong, but that you’re not going to give his critics the benefit of the doubt.

    Yes, this is a problem, really with our politics for some time now. We have a hyper competitive media that is looking for any meme to wank to get viewers. And any admission of error is used as a canon by opponents to wank shamelessly.

    It is amazing to me how Obama handles this in a way he can offer appropriate humility when he is wrong that makes the wingers crazy because they come off blatantly shrill. Clinton did it different, he beat them at there own game of gotcha, but Obama doesn’t do that mostly. He broadens the argument and articulates it in a way that defuses the tit for tat, into a constructive debate. And the wingers howl cause he stole their flame mojo.

  25. 25
    Punchy says:

    Gay bloggers are happy bloggers. So says Webster.

  26. 26
    Jane2 says:

    Amen, brother!

  27. 27
    valdivia says:

    @somethingblue:

    he actually says it all the time when he talks at democratic events. He was a community organizer this is his thing.

  28. 28
    gwangung says:

    @somethingblue: I thought this was basic political science 101. One side is smaller, but has noisier constituents who pester people. Other side has to match that fervor to make their numbers felt.

  29. 29
    Davis X. Machina says:

    The eternal dream of an immaculately conceived politics-without-politicians will outlive all of us.

  30. 30
    JMY says:

    We all want this president to do more. We all want him to listen to our concerns. We all want him to take action for the benefit of the citizens of this nation. The problem is not being critical of this president because whether a president is liberal, centrist, or conservative, they won’t satisfy everybody. Everyone who is a part of this political spectrum will have some misgivings about what a president does or doesn’t do even if they support that president.

    The problem, in my opinion, is criticism that lacks context, rationale, reasoning, that just consists of complaining, bitching, moaning, panicking, & outright bat-shit craziness. A lets not forget when people take the most trivial issue and try to turn it into a huge one, where something that may not be a big deal is on the front page of the news and the first story you hear on the cable networks.

    That is the issue that I have with progressives. Many people don’t understand the title of progressive. Of course it is a philosophy of reform and protecting civil liberties, but they forget the key word – progress. We will see improvements overtime, nothing will happen overnight. Dennis Kucinich’s statements on the house floor about the House’s health-care bill struck a cord with me. I agree that the government could and should and may do more, and there are things in the bill I don’t agree with, BUT not once did I hear anything about the progress that was made – about how this is a good start even though more changes for the better will need to be done. Look at how far we have come when reform was sidetracked by the August recess and town-halls. We, for the first time, have a chance to do some great with health care, but yet too many people want to have the pessimistic attitude that doesn’t help.

  31. 31
    Cat Lady says:

    You had me at Fair Questions.

    I heart Cole. ; >

  32. 32
    Citizen_X says:

    @Nick:

    FireDogLake, well I worked on Ned Lamont’s campaign, so my comtempt for Jane Hamsher knows no boundaries, I don’t even bother taking her and her blog seriously.

    Please explain this boundless contempt to me. Did Hamsher somehow get Lieberman elected? Not sufficiently support Lamont? What?

  33. 33
    Comrade Luke says:

    @Nick:

    What happened with Hamsher and Lamont? I have no idea…

    She seems a little hard core, but I don’t know why everyone here hates her. I just consider the source and walk on by.

  34. 34
    valdivia says:

    @JMY:

    As you and I were discussing yesterday and suggested here it is all part of the PTSD we are suffering from–I think all of it, this constant desire to yell and scream to think that unless it all happens now and that unless you are angry everyday or calling the president a weak leader, or a lazy one or a traitor is the PTSD speaking.

  35. 35
    Armando says:

    FWIW:

    I am positive Cole is not a shill for anyone.

    I do think that he disagrees with the notion that pressure, to the meager degree blogs can apply it, is worth doing.

    To wit, I think implicit in Cole’s thinking and blogging is he is a pundit/sarcastic blogger in the tradition of say, Atrios, more than other folks who think of themselves as activists. A lot of us come from a place where Democrats not only did not like activism, they were positively hostile to it. Especially blogger activism.

    Cole’s reaction to the really insufferable approach many of us take on issues is understandable, but in my view wrong headed.

    Being a pain in the ass, I submit, is the only was some of us can even get an issue on the radar. At it has been that way since the beginning. We don’t have other ways of doing it, at least I know of no other way.

    Do we get ridiculous about Obama? Of course. But being ridiculous is often the only way to even get a hearing on some issues.

    To be specific on a few issues — the stimulus. Some of us, using Krugman as a crutch, argued for a different approach to the issue. We thought Obama should have opened the bidding higher and tried to stand stronger at a better package. Was the stimulus a positive? Obviously. We thought it should have been better and maybe could have been. But in the moment of fighting for that, acknowledging the good undercuts the fight for the better.

    I think the same approach is what some of us advocate for in terms of health care reform.

    Has Obama been a good President so far? Compared to the alternative? The greatest in our history. But we are greedy. We want him to be even better.

    At least for me, I think that Obama has the potential to be the greatest Dem President since FDR. Agitating for that, in my view, may help him achieve it. The Overton Window remains a meaningful concept in our political discourse today.

    Does that make us annoying and insufferable? How could it not? In a way, if we were not, we would not be fulfilling a role I think important.

    This is a ridiculous comparison, but I will make it anyway – purist abolitionists were annoying and insufferable to Lincoln. But they helped him too.

    Frederick Douglas’ 1876 remarks about Lincoln are apt:

    “Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.”

    Lincoln, like Obama, was a politician. And politicians can do great things, as Lincoln proved. Obama can too. But there is a role for the purist, for the activist, in helping great men to achieve great things.

    “Agitate, agitate, agitate.”

  36. 36
    Nick says:

    @somethingblue:

    The general point I think is that our government is resistant to change…it was designed that way…so unless there is strong mass pressure from the people to do something, it won’t get done.

    So “make me do it” with me meaning himself and his government, otherwise our government is just going to assume the people don’t care either way and will trog along not doing anything radical or controversial.

  37. 37
    Comrade Luke says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    The thing that annoys me about that attitude – and while you have done it from time to time you’re nowhere near what I’m talking about, so please bear with me – is that it is often expressed as criticism/contempt for someone criticizing anything Obama.

    “Look how bad it would have been if we had McCain/Palin!” is not a valid argument imo, and I say that as someone who was guilty of saying the same thing until around the time Dems took over Congress in 2004.

  38. 38
    Emma Anne says:

    John, what I do think carries over from your Repub years is a misunderstanding of Dems and lefties. Righties are much more cohesive, and so I think you take the griping on your new team more seriously than those of us who’ve been Dems for years would.

    There is a reason why Will Rogers said that he wasn’t a member of an organized party; he was a Democrat. It is because we *can’t* shut up and pull together, short of extreme emergency (not even all presidential elections qualify). I would bet that it worries Obama far less than it does you – because he has been a Dem all along.

    One more point – we haven’t seen a major victory yet. Killing off the most pointless of the defense contracts was good. So was the Ledbetter act and the hate crimes bill. But until we see real health care reform or leaving Iraq, we will be afraid it will be Clinton triangulating all over again.

  39. 39
    MikeJ says:

    @Armando: The “I’m a modern day Rosa Parks” defense never gets old.

  40. 40
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Comrade Luke:

    but I don’t know why everyone here hates her.

    I don’t hate her at all. In fact, usually I like her. I just chalk up her occasional, well fairly frequent fits of rage as anger issues, maybe some to do with health problems. She was pretty good at not joining in with the dead ender hillbot types and can be reasonable, and smart.

  41. 41

    I don’t advocate for a 3rd way thing here, but the left is riddled with single-issue bomb throwers that make it damn difficult to have reasonable discussions of anything.

    Agreed, but you’re kind of proving my point. Yes there are some people who’ll shriek the place down no matter what. Why? Because they like shrieking.

    We didn’t notice them so much during the Bush years because we were all pissed off about pretty much the same thing (everything). Now, when there’s fewer things about which reasonable people can be pissed (and some of us are still feeling like we dodged an ICBM last year) there’s still this sub-group carrying on like John Yoo has their balls in a garlic press.

    Thing is, they’ve always been that way, they’ll always be that way. And the only reasonable responses to them are still the same:
    1. Whatever, fuck off.
    2. Point, laugh, repeat.

    The nice thing about liberals, however, is we’d never let our poo-flingers run shit and we’d never try to put one in the White House.

  42. 42
    anonevent says:

    @El Tiburon: And while I cannot blame the LGBT community for feeling this way, yelling at Obama is pointless when all of these things require Congress to fix.

  43. 43
    valdivia says:

    Also I think it is important to note the difference between yelling on a blog and doing stuff–calling Congress, going door to door, volunteering. One is satisfying but the quiet not very public work of the many is very crucial.

  44. 44
    Mick VV says:

    I’m a new reader here–about a year. You were “completely and totally uncritical of Bush” for a long stretch? Well, that makes me reevaluate you a bit. I was an adult during that presidency too, and to say the least that undermines your credibility on just about everything. I mean the only people that was true for were absolute dumbasses. So, thanks for being part of those who helped flush this country down the fucking toilet. I suppose I should be grateful for the good you do now in your newfound Obama worship (Oh, but you just have an authoritarian streak), but the truth is that you won’t do much good worshipping anyone in office. They’re not your fucking friends, or your dad, or your new beau. They’re fallible human beings whose position opens them up to all sorts of reasons to be all the more fallible.

  45. 45
    Armando says:

    @MikeJ:

    I certainly do not claim to be a Rosa Parks anymore than I claim Obama to be a Lincoln. I do not even claim to be an activist. I am a loudmouth. Nothing more. I am the first to admit it.

    But take my comment as you will.

  46. 46
    John O says:

    John, this has become my favorite blog because of posts like this.

    I like the commenters quite a bit, too, but I imagine that’s just a function of like-minded people tending to hang out together.

    I like the pressure from the left, because I don’t believe our politics over the last 30 years (basically, since I started paying serious attention) is an accurate reflection of our populace. But I agree with you about teh Shrill, from either side, and you do a fine job of making me laugh, and there’s no finer gift for me.

    This country was not built, thank FSM, for change to come easy. I still think too many on the left are “PTSD’d” from Bush to avoid a pretty natural inclination to wish Obama just declared himself above the law and process and hurry things along.

    I’m glad we have a President who doesn’t think that is the right way to go about change. It’s pretty clear to me he is simply predisposed to take the long view, and THAT’S how you build a positive legacy, if you’re smart and lucky.

  47. 47
    Little Macayla's Friend says:

    I appreciate posts like this that summarize your overall view; gives context for more specific issues/posts for new readers.

  48. 48
    somethingblue says:

    @gwangung: I understand the point of the story. I just suspect that it’s 1) apocryphal as applied to FDR and 2) wishful thinking when used to explain actions or statements by Obama that are more simply explained otherwise.

    OTOH, valdivia says that Obama has himself used the phrase and/or told the story, and I’d be grateful for a link if that’s so.

  49. 49
    Nick says:

    @Comrade Luke:

    Shortly before the Democratic primary, Hamsher wrote a blog post on Huffington Post where she included a picture of Lieberman in blackface with Bill Clinton. The move nearly cost Lamont the primary because he lost black voters pretty big and we were just making progress with black voters. We had expected to win the primary by between six and ten points, we wo by three, mainly because Lieberman overperformed in black precicents in Bridgeport, Hartford and Bloomfield. We spent the rest of the campaign trying to make it up to the small, but loyally Democratic, African-American community in Connecticut, it effected our ability to move on to other demographics to increase support. It hobbled us.

    On top of that, when our campaign managers met with Hamsher a few weeks later, she had this attitude that we should have been thankful for what she did and that we were being arrogant and stupid for criticizing her move…we were “bending over and taking it from Lieberman” and we should have backed her up.

    She struck me as a really self-centered, arrogant woman with no remorse or understand of how or why what she did hurt the campaign.

  50. 50
    gwangung says:

    @JMY: Yeah, more this than anything else. Progressives want change…but some don’t understand it’s a process. You push, push, push to make a change…and once it’s changed, you have to keep push, push, pushing to make it stayed change and push, push, push to make it change more. There are other people involved, you know, to keep it the way it was.

  51. 51
    geg6 says:

    Well, I live where you live, John. I agree with everything you said. Bravo. I tell everyone that, yes, I’m an O-bot. The kind of O-bot that doesn’t like everthing he’s done, that has my own un- addressed issues that piss me off, that thinks he’s too cautious and conciliatory at times, and that wishes he’d clue us in on how this 18 dimensional chess stuff works. But he’s my guy and I stand with him. He has kept so many promises already and I think we lose sight of that. He is working hard under the toughest conditions I’ve ever seen ANY president face in my lifetime. He’s smarter than me and kinder than me. And I see him or hear him and he still moves me emotionally every.single.time and no matter how pissed at him I may be at the time. And I feel very similarly about you. Except for the smarter and kinder part, that is. ;-)

  52. 52
    Allan says:

    Thanks, John. I appreciate you for thinking about this and taking the criticism to heart.

  53. 53
    Mousebumples says:

    I don’t have a political blog, so I don’t think I’d ever get some of the accusations thrown at me that you’ve had to deal with, John. While I don’t agree with everything you say, I think you’ve been more than fair.

    I understand that there are a number of vocal liberal/Dem interest groups who have been more or less ignored for the past 8+ years. And they want results, now, immediately since they helped this guy get into office.

    However, real change, change that will last and endure well past the end of Obama’s term of office, takes time. I’d really appreciate it if all these bloggers who throw a shitstorm every other week when things aren’t being fixed fast enough would wait at least a year (or, more fairly, a term of Congress) before judging Obama based on his accomplishments, or lack thereof.

    Your* problems are not the only problems. And, yes, it sucks when your* priorities are not addressed first. Obama is, believe it or not, actually *not* capable of performing political miracles. Give him some time to get the work done, give him some support, and then maybe he’ll have a term of office that better accomplishes some things you* want accomplished.

    *These are general “yous” – not aimed at anyone in particular. Mainly aimed at the moaning, groaning crazies in the blogging world.

  54. 54
    anonevent says:

    @Armando: But it’s the “You suck, Obama!” stuff that grates. How hard would you want to work for someone who keeps saying “You can’t do your job right, I don’t know why I elected you” or something worse?

  55. 55
    gwangung says:

    @somethingblue Hm. Not sure you got all my point, as it’s not just about the leader–that’s top down, authoritarian stuff. Remaining engaged and applying pressure is constituency based and is necessary no matter what.

  56. 56
    Jason says:

    John Cole, you are spot on (and that’s good!) but if you try to make sense of what Sully says by applying reason or logic you will go mad. There’s really no need to defend yourself from him, either, because he has literally no way to comprehend why you can disagree with him, any more than he can comprehend being wrong.

    When you correctly pointed out his hypocrisy, he called you a moron while ignoring the substance of your criticism. He’s going to read your reasoned, logical defense of your position and do the same thing, because if he was exposed to even a tiny ray of intellectual honesty it would annihilate his entire existence, like the villain at the end of Time Cop.

  57. 57
    maye says:

    @Nick: and, it wasn’t the blog post itself, it was all the publicity it got.

  58. 58
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Comrade Luke:

    and while you have done it from time to time you’re nowhere near what I’m talking about, so please bear with me – is that it is often expressed as criticism/contempt for someone criticizing anything Obama.

    Well, you should point that out when it happens, because I try to not do it when it’s in the context of folks just expressing disappointment on how this or that issue is being dealt with by Obama. I try to stay within the general limits that Cole lays out, but I am likely some more critical of Obama critique than even he is. So I think he is being more generous to critics than I am.

    But I will admit that I just don’t think Obama warrants a great deal of criticizing because he is doing pretty much what he said he would and has accomplished a lot in 10 months. Much more than Clinton or Carter. You have to go back to LBJ for a valid comparison of so far accomplishments.

    Too many folks direct their criticism at Obama when it should be directed to congress. They make comparisons to Bush and the GOP for the bulldozing style that is not appropriate in my thinking of how our government should work.

    IOW;s I think way way too many liberals are intellectually lazy and just like the sounds of their own voices screaming in protest to something, anything. Just My opinion.

  59. 59
    anonevent says:

    @Mick VV: Mick, I’ve been here less than you have, and I know John’s history. You really haven’t been paying attention, because it comes up about every month. No disrespect, but I’m not sure it’s John’s credibility that’s been harmed here.

  60. 60
    valdivia says:

    @somethingblue:

    I am going to search for something more specific but here is a handy example: just last week on the OFA event (video online at OFA) he very specifically said that to pass this legislation (HCR) the work cannot come from the WH alone, that people on the ground have to pressure him and congress to make this a reality and that that work to pressure them is just beginning (this was on the day OFA made 300K calls to congress for the legislation). He says all the time he wants citizens engaged to make change happen. The thing is that whatever you think of Obama’s commitment to x or y policy is that his modus operandi is not the typical DNC machine, he built OFA from the ground up and he expects the people that volunteered and worked to get him elected to continue working. Now note the difference that john makes–pressuring him does not mean telling him he is a failure, that is *not* what pressure is but to many people it seems it is and that is what John is decrying above.

  61. 61
    somethingblue says:

    @gwangung: No, I did and do get your point. But I think we’re talking about different things.

  62. 62
    Emma Anne says:

    @Mick VV:

    Have you ever been really, really wrong about something? And stubbornly wrong, so that when you finally got your head out of your ass, you felt like a blind idiot? I have. All I could do afterwards is promise myself I would be vigilant and aware so that it never happened again.

    People who haven’t ever been that kind of wrong might be smarter than the rest of us. Or it might just have not happened to them – yet.

  63. 63
    Moonbatting Average says:

    @El Tiburon: Fair enough, but where would you like for Obama to expend his political capital right now? On HCR, or on a civil rights issue that’s easy for the opposition to exploit for political gain? I would hope that that gay rights activists would realize that he’s doing basically what he can given the circumstances, and that successful HCR not only benefits them (and everyone else), but would mean further gains in capital that can be spent on behalf of their cause when this big push is done. I mean, a speech at the Human Rights Commission may be “just words”, but they were just words that the POTUS had the balls to get up and say in their interest.

  64. 64

    @valdivia: [flashing siren jpeg] This. [/flashing siren jpeg]

    Anyone who thinks ALL CAPPING on a blog or any similar activity will make a blind bit of difference is either a weapons grade douche or doesn’t want things to change.

  65. 65
    Nick says:

    @maye:

    Yes, especially in Connecticut…we couldn’t get away from it in the last days before the primary. Had the primary been a few days later, Lieberman probably would’ve squeezed out a victory.

  66. 66
    handy says:

    @Mick VV:

    The problem is, GWB was the outlier of outliers in many ways. He really took the executive office to a new low. I know Reagan isn’t a particularly popular figure here, but tell me anything Reagan (hell, even Bush I, Ford or Nixonjust to single out the Repub presidents for the sake of my argument) did that was half as f’d up as Iraq, or the related issues of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib? Or how about Valerie Plame? Or the complete politicization of the DoJ?

    My point is had Bush been like every other Republican president in the last 30 years, this might very well be a different place today. But of course he was a disaster, even by the standards of his recent predecessors. And I think not many saw the extent of the disaster coming until it was too late.

    Or maybe you’re right, and Cole’s an idiot all the same.

  67. 67

    @Moonbatting Average:

    There’s also a few laws, and a big change over at the OPM, the Federal government’s hiring overseers. (You know, the agency that now has an openly-gay man calling the shots?)

    OPM will soon start dragging DoD into the 21st century.

  68. 68
    kay says:

    The Obama Administration doesn’t get enough credit for competence, in my opinion.

    None of the big changes we want are going to happen if they fail in day to day operations, or in handling, every day, what have been a series of really challenging crisis situations.

    So that’s my only real complaint, re: “liberal bloggers”. A lack of appreciation not for Obama so much, but for the people he hired that walked into that mess and have to make it work.

    We’re asking the public to throw him a lot of trust. If we want real change, he’s going to need that. He has to earn that trust every day, and he won’t unless the public has a general feeling of competent management. It’s scary enough out here without day to day bungling.

    I have been impressed by the quality of the work. Disappointed in some of the longer-term policy approaches, but the day to day work is really solid.

  69. 69
    Armando says:

    @anonevent:

    Grates who? Obama? I seriously doubt it. Grates other people? I think I wrote a long comment explaining why I understand why it grates.

    For the record, I try to avoid writing “Obama sucks” posts. I try to write “Obama is a pol” who will do the right thing to the degree it makes sense for him politically.

    He is a good man. He wants to do good things. But pols are not out there just fighting for good policy, but fighting for his own political success.

    Take the health care reform issue. I could be wrong, but it is my impression that Obama is not dedicated to a health care reform initiative that includes a public option.

    I think there are two reason for this:

    First I think he thinks it really is not such a big deal. Certainly a reasonable position. It is shared by many thoughtful people. I happen to not share that view.

    Second, I think he and his team think the public option creates significant risk to the passage of a health care reform bill. I share their view. I think the risk is worth it. I believe Obama and his team are not of that view.

    So what would someone who hold my view do? I have advised activists, not that anyone listens to me anyway, to make the passage of HCR dependent upon inclusion of a public option.

    To coin a phrase – “make him do it.” Harry Reid is the point of pressure here, he has to be reelected in 2010. The heroes, if you agree with my view, have been the unions (much more so than bloggers). Reid needs them. He really does not need the blogs. Trumka, from my point of view, has been the hero of this fight.

  70. 70
    Max says:

    I started coming here during the primaries and I have really learned a lot and continue to about many things I know nothing about. It’s a very diverse group here at BJ.

    Even though I’ve been voting as long as I’ve been old enough (1st Presidential vote was for Clinton), Obama brought me to politics. He made me care about what goes on in Washington. He made me want to get involved. He made me want to understand. He turned a light on in me.

    I trust him. Maybe I’ll get burned. More likely not.

    I’m an O-bot.

  71. 71
    Left Coast Tom says:

    @Armando:
    I agree with much of what you wrote, and much of what John wrote.

    One of the things that struck me reading Carl Rowan’s Thurgood Marshall biography, “Dream Makers, Dream Breakers”, was that Marshall (at NAACP) was willing to turn down very deserving cases because he felt the time wasn’t ripe for them, and didn’t want to expend further time and effort dealing with another bad precedent. He said “no” to people who deserved “yes”, not for it’s own sake, but because he wanted to reach a real objective as quickly as he could.

    It seems to me the question is whether someone who’s “better than the alternative” is really carrying the ball forward, or whether they’re saying nice things without intending to act upon them. And, within reason, I think criticisms of Obama for not doing things that should have been done long ago serve a useful purpose of creating a political atmosphere in which those things might be done. The keys are that Obama is willing to carry the ball forward, and that the criticisms are within reason.

  72. 72
    maye says:

    @Nick: I seem to recall her defense being “I’m just a blogger. I’m not working for the campaign.” Even though she had been driving campaign staffers around the state.

    Oh well, it’s all water under the bridge. Lieberman won with Republican money and Republican votes.

    And now he wants me to die for lack of health insurance. It’s a funny world.

  73. 73
    Yutsano says:

    Fantastic post John but one small quibble:

    I’ve also been flippant and given the appearance that I just think all gay people are just whiny drama queens.

    (I know you see this coming wifey dearest!)

    Not saying you buy that, but if you ever need convincing on how this thinking is so wrong, I’ll introduce you to a 6’7″ 275 pound Marine sometime.

  74. 74
    gwangung says:

    @kay: Too, I don’t think there is an appreciation for the overall strategy and tactical style of Obama: move slowly, move surely and move so that change is permanent.

    That has two effects: one, it’s harder to reverse. Two, opposition spends a longer time trying to stop something that passes anyway, which reduces the drive to overturn it. There are things to be said for that.

  75. 75
    Bhall35 says:

    John,

    I’ve refrained from commenting when you get into LGBT issues, because I felt you were showing that flippant side you’ve described so well in your post, but I didn’t know how to call you on it.

    Thank you for this response. I come here daily, and this post is a prime example of why I continue to.

    Brian

  76. 76
    Joy says:

    @geg6: my feelings exactly!

  77. 77
    tripletee says:

    Shorter John Cole: Hug it out, bitches!

    Nah, very good post, John. Your capacity for actual self-reflection – and acting on that self-reflection – is what sets you apart from so many other bloggers.

    That, and the naked mopping.

  78. 78
    mr. whipple says:

    And if you disagree with me, or think I am wrong, well, you get to go ahead and call me an asshole in the comments and tell me why I am wrong.

    John: Here’s the thing about liberals, of which I am one, but sometimes feel estranged from: The will *never* be happy. Ever.

    If Obama could somehow magically give them Single Payer tomorrow, they’d bitch the drugs aren’t free.

    If he brought home every troop in Iraq and Afghanistan, they say, “what took him so long.”

    If he spent a trillion on stimulus, they’s ask, ‘why not 2 trillion’?

    If he gave every citizen in the USA a free fucking purple pony, they’d ask why the undocumented aliens didn’t get one, either.

    It’s just what they do.

  79. 79
    JFitz says:

    Cole, posts like this one are why I regularly read your blog.
    You’re honest. I like Andrew Sullivan, but as a middle-aged white hetero-sexual male, I doubt very seriously I can fully identify with where he’s coming from. We all have our cross to bear, don’t we? Obama is doing what he can, within the system, in a really smart way. Obama is a conservative. Get. Used. To. It. People.

  80. 80
    valdivia says:

    @gwangung:

    this.

    and also what Kay said.

  81. 81
    Comrade Luke says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    That’s fair. I try to be level-headed as a rule, but this health care thing is driving me nuts. I just hope it works out.

  82. 82
    handy says:

    @Armando:

    The fact that Obama and the Dems are actually attempting to tackle HCR is progress in and of itself, considering the last time a president advocated for reform.

    Also, let’s not forget who else is not doing their “job” in all this, and that’s our reliably vacuous press corps. We still don’t get good answers for why the per capita cost for health care in the U.S. is twice that of most of the other major industrialized countries. Just like they failed to do in the run-up to Iraq, our liberal media refuses to stand up and ask the real questions, in the case, “Who the hell is robbing us blind here?”

    In that strange, insular world like Washington D.C., I think it’s a big deal that WaPo and NYT continue to fail its readership in this. It doesn’t absolve Obama from doing better, but is just a reminder to me that it’s almost miraculous that HCR is even on the table.

  83. 83
    Bondo says:

    For me, my frustration about much of the gay rights community is a subset of a broader problem: sheer ignorance of the capacities of the Presidency. Half the things Obama gets blamed for require legislative action (does Obama prioritize differently than they wish with what limited ability he has to influence things, perhaps) and on things Obama can control, it seems a bit quick. Do people really think anything in government dramatically changes in one year? Obama hasn’t even filled a lot of administrative positions yet.

    I don’t think it is being in the tank to say “Obama can’t actually do what you are criticizing him for not doing.” The day Obama vetoes legislation I support (or fails to veto something I don’t) is the day I will start yelling. Meanwhile, I think I’ll focus my ire on Joe Lieberman and other Senators who are actually threatening progress.

  84. 84
    Yutsano says:

    @gwangung: This This This This This. It’s also why I personally heard the opt out idea and thought it was pure fucking genius. I’m pretty sure it will get in there and we’ll have the exact same experience we got with Medicare/Medicaid: of the 50 states, all 50 will opt in.

  85. 85
    Armando says:

    @handy:

    This is indeed a major failing of activists and bloggers – the failure to credit Obama for deciding to tackle the issue. It is remarkable, no one can say he featured it on the campaign trail.

    You are absolutely right. It is to Obama’s great credit that he decided to tackle it. That took great political courage. I certainly was not engaged on the issue until Obama made it front and center.

    As for the Media, the failures are legion. It is my great hope that they continue to sink into irrelevance.

  86. 86
    SpotWeld says:

    The thing is, I don’t want Obama to be a *great* president. I would most want him to be an ordinary president who does moderately well and is perhaps most well know for the circumstances that surrounded him rather than the actions he initiated himself.

    There will be good, there will be bad.. I want it most of all to be boring.

    Bush, as near as I can tell, honestly thought himself to be a *great* president, or at least assumed that if he didn’t act in a dramatic way he would squander the opportunity to be a great president (… which fits very much with a risk-favoring high roller business CEO approach to things). And this was held up with a facade of people who surrounded him who set up the idea that reality was whatever they wanted it to be.

    I want the presidents “success” to be something for the historian to decide because the reality is just to subtle to make that determination while it’s happening.

    Obama, talks a good game, but all reflection seems to show him moving slowly… and much more cautiously.

    It doesn’t look like he’s trying to position up those Tetris block of reality to ensure he can pull the five row combo when that I piece that he’s certain is cued up somewhere will come down.

    Bush seems to have left behind a slew of cobbled together s pieces.

  87. 87
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Armando:

    Ok, you can criticize Obama for not publicly pressuring congress to have a public option, that is fair, and would be a dissent on his style.

    But you can’t divine things you don’t know, especially when Obama has consistently and unequivically stated his preference for a PO. You are just making shit up when you do that. And you don’t know what’s been going on behind the scene.

    I happen to share your belief that Obama is afraid that the insistence by him that a PO HAS to be in HCR could scuttle the whole bill and reforms. But you assign him responsibility of demanding that another branch of government do his bidding or else, Kind of like Clinton did in 1994, and Carter tried on other issues when he was presnit. Dem CC’rs just don’t respond to that sort of thing like wingers do.

    Anyways, this thing was likely always destined to be done thru reconciliation, and we aren’t even to a conference yet. That is when the real game begins.

  88. 88
    Demo Woman says:

    ftfy

  89. 89
    Little Macayla's Friend says:

    Not directing this at someone upthread, especially since I don’t have a reason for it myself, but John’s conversion makes him more believable to me than if he had always been a progressive.
    And John would now be a commie in the state that I moved away from.

  90. 90
    Yutsano says:

    @handy: It becomes even more remarkable when you consider that Clinton didn’t get his out of a single committee, Carter didn’t even try (that I’m aware of) and Nixon gave up when he ran into Kennedy’s insistence that healthcare not be tied to employment. NO ONE has gotten this far before since Johnson. EVER.

  91. 91
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Comrade Luke:

    We all do. Nerves are frazzled. I know mine are.

  92. 92
    geg6 says:

    I’d also like to give Armando props for coming over and giving a very cogent and thoughtful account of his perspective. I don’t agree often with his strategies, but I believe that our goals are the same, for the most part. We must take time now again and remember that we’re all on the same team or, even better, the same family. No one can get under my skin like my sisters. But I know that, after we’ve beaten the crap out of each other, we will defend each other from anyone from the outside who thinks they can can come in and do to one of us what we do to each other. We Dems do that, too. And so do we BJers. It’s a feature, not a bug.

  93. 93
    Armando says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Certainly. I am expressing my opinion. Certainly not trying to present it as fact.

    History is never written in real time.

  94. 94
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Yutsano:

    … I’ll introduce you to a 6’7” 275 pound Marine sometime.

    Ooooh. Ooooh. Pick me! Pick me!

  95. 95
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Armando:

    Fair enough. Though real time is partly a product of history.

  96. 96
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Tattoosydney:

    LOL. Thanky you for the chuckle TS. :-)

  97. 97
    John O says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    That’s very important to remember, General. There is simply a lot of free-range anxiety out there, and now the technology exists to express it.

    Frustrating and frightening times for just about everyone, it seems to me.

  98. 98

    I’m okay with people saying I’m “in the tank” for Obama. What bums me out is that people whom I called friends before Obama took office and who have decided that he is the Most Disappointing President Ever don’t even want to hang out anymore. They are so enraged by Obama — and those they consider “in the tank” for him — that they’ve let it affect their friendships. It’s pretty fucking sad. I’m happy Obama is president, but I can honestly say the liberal blogosphere was a lot more fun when it was Us. v. Commander Codpiece & The Fop Brigade.

  99. 99
    Rock says:

    And, also, in a lame 2 party system where one party is a bunch of authoritarian klepto-plutocrats that pretend to be theocrats, I’ll go with Obama (corporatist that he is). I’m not in the tank, but I am partial to the argument getting pissed off enough to not vote for him and a dem congress is objectively pro-crazy.

    Almost completely off-topic, where are the news stories about what a bad idea a federal spending freeze would have been? Wasn’t that the republican plan? Because debt got us into this mess, we need to tighten belts? Stupid #$!$@ media.

  100. 100
    Tattoosydney says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Yeah, well, a 6’7” Marine would be wasted on Cole, so I thought I would get dibs in early.

  101. 101
    CynDee says:

    Dear John:

    1. What Red Kitten #7 said.

    2. What Mr. Rogers said: “I like you as you are; I wouldn’t want to change you, or even rearrange you, not by far.”

    3. You’ve got this thing tackled, and everyone appreciates your dedication to truth and sanity and keeping things straight. Thanks a million for a good place to come to ponder and consider what might be the next good thing to do. I hope you can now rest yourself a bit.

  102. 102

    John,
    Thanks for clarifying a great deal that had been opaque to me.
    Great post.

  103. 103
    Keith G says:

    Thank you, John.

    Growing up in the 60s and coming of age in the mid 70s, I have fought more political and social battles over my gayness than Aravosis and Sully could have wet dreams about. The year I first walked into a gay bar, a male could still be arrested for simply asking another man to dance – okay, it was Ohio.

    Change is coming slower the one would want, but it is coming and it is actually accelerating. Not only has your commentary on these issues been filled with common sense, it betrays a humanity and a sense of support that is quite valuable and I appreciate it – no matter what you were typing five years ago.

    As far as the other topics you touched; yup, pretty much.

  104. 104
    Armando says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    That too. but you know my motto – “Often wrong,but never in doubt.”

    For example, I confidently predicted a slugfest tonight in Game 2.

    Though my college football picks have been stellar this year – .640 against the spread.

  105. 105
    JMY says:

    The fact of the matter is George W. Bush royally screwed this country up for 8 years. He screwed this country in the ass with no vaseline. We need to afford the current president 8 years to bring this country to where it should be. It’s not going to happen in a year or two. He’s tackling so many issues at the same time that some will get lost in the fray. You would think Obama’s presidency ends in Jan. of 2010 how some people react to certain things.

    The general attitude nowadays is that we helped you get elected, so what are you going to do for us? But they don’t realize that he needs us out there to push his agenda, pressure Congress, pressure states, go door-to-door, call homes, go to town halls, to hold him accountable. That is how he won the election and that his how he can be successful as president. People have gotten complacent after the 08 election.

  106. 106
    Adam says:

    I have not commented here (or anywhere but ObWi since the election) in a long, long time, but —

    YES. #$^#!% YES YES YES.

  107. 107
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Armando:

    LOL, A slugfest tonight in game 2 is OK and long as the Yanks get the 10 count when it’s over. Go Phillies.!

  108. 108
    Yutsano says:

    @Tattoosydney: I don’t hubby-swap. ;)

  109. 109
    Keith says:

    I never comment, but I do lurk religiously (in a secular-humanistic kinda’ way) and you flushed me out…

    John, you can count me as a gay guy who says “What John said!”

    I am disappointed by Obama, I am frustrated at the pace, I do worry that we have pinned too much hope in a guy who is smart as a whip, has superb political skills but who actually is slightly to the right of Nixon on many issues. But of course that is because the “center” moved rightward over the last 40 years and I’m pragmatic enough to realize that it will take quite a while to push it back to where it belongs.

    I’ll save my ire for Sullivan. Gay or not; anyone who shilled that hard for the Repubs for that long has absolutely nothing to tell me about gay. He can stick it (as my Grandmother would have said) “where the sun don’t shine” (at least until Scalia and crew take THAT particular right away too….)

    John, you are the kind of supporter the LGBTetc. community needs, even if we might disagree about the pace at which things “should” be moving. Please keep it up- but watch the blood pressure!

  110. 110
    camchuck says:

    Two things:

    1) IMO, “obsessed with people saying what I think are crazy and irrational and stupid things” should replace “consistently wrong since 2002”.

    2) If you google “call me an asshole in the comments”, this post is #2. Though I’m very surprised that this phrase only generates 10 hits.

  111. 111
    MattR says:

    @JMY: To paraphrase Wanda Sykes “He has to rescue a country that has been abused by its previous owner. Can’t he have a fresh start with a dog” Not directly relevant to this discussion but it does reinforce the fact that Obama inherited a boatload of problems.

  112. 112
    kindness says:

    It’s tough out there in the blogsphere. Some folk, name bloggers included, can treat some subjects with a more flippant air or have fun with serious issues while horrifying those who can’t see the same issue in a not totally serious manner. You ain’t gonna please them all.

    And it really becomes where you draw the line & exactly how much you rank on someone else. And there we’re all similar but different none the less. Tolerating others whimseys & ways isn’t always easy even though it’s the zen thing to do.

  113. 113
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Keith:

    Welcome Keith!

  114. 114
    mr. whipple says:

    The thing I’d like to see all LW bloggers do, at least once a week(and better yet, once a day), is take a break from the relentlessly negative criticism. Find one good thing the Obama admin has done and comment on it. It doesn’t have to be about Obama, per se, but the difference it makes to have a Democratic, sane President and administration.

    There’s lots of good being done, and while there is value in pushing, it can also be good to keep some sense of perspective.

  115. 115
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @RedKitten:
    What redkitten said. This is the only political blog I comment on. I appreciate your honesty even when I don’t agree with you. That’s what keeps me coming back, that and Tunch, of course.

  116. 116
    Raoul says:

    JCole: I got your back; (oops, maybe it is not the best time to say this).

  117. 117
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Yutsano:

    I don’t hubby-swap. ;)

    But wife sharing is ok? Selfish bastard.

  118. 118
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Yutsano:

    You could cut your husband in half and he’d STILL be bigger than mine…

  119. 119
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    @Armando: who do you like in teh Texas/Ok State matchup. Texas -9 on the road.

  120. 120

    @mr. whipple: The shudders brought on by looking at Sarah Palin and thinking “One Heartbeat Away,” will disperse the negative humors PDQ.

    Gah. Still creeps me out.

  121. 121
    Yutsano says:

    @Tattoosydney: Funny story about that: when I first met him he told me he was only 6’6″. Then the Marines measured him an inch taller. I accused him of lying to me LOL.

  122. 122
    Yutsano says:

    @Tattoosydney: Funny story about that: when I first met him he told me he was only 6’6″. Then the Marines measured him an inch taller. I accused him of lying to me LOL.

  123. 123
    Armando says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Haven’t given it a great deal of thought yet.

    Off the top of my head – Texas.

  124. 124
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    The UNdead, or a prankster. You decide.

  125. 125
    geg6 says:

    Shit. I turned the pie filter off too soon. All too good will and thoughtful commentary is about to go to shit. Time for more pie.

  126. 126

    Ah, Christ.

    John, no more treats for Tunch until he does something about the rats.

  127. 127
    Armando says:

    @Armando:

    I do like Oregon (+3) over USC.

  128. 128
    geg6 says:

    Damn that was supposed to be “the,” not “too.”. Edit button please!

  129. 129
    AhabTRuler says:

    Yeah, well, a 6’7” Marine would be wasted on Cole

    yeah, well, Cole is Army after all…

  130. 130
    Yutsano says:

    @Armando: QUACK! GO DUCKS!

  131. 131
    JenJen says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: Sure, “me too” posts are bad form, but just can’t let that go by without saying, well, “me too.”

    And nice post, John. Damn, you’ve been on one helluva roll.

  132. 132
    Keith G says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: @geg6: I am stunned.

    Does Armando know?

  133. 133
    eco2geek says:

    The GOS just recently had their own version of this argument (minus the “gay rights” angle).

    Like General Winfield Stuck said way, way upthread, how could you not be an Obamabot? You only have two choices, Dem and Rethug. The higher you go in national politics, the starker the differences are between the two. I know I’ll never vote for another Republican president again in my lifetime. (*Cough* I thought I was a born-again Christian when I voted for Reagan in ’80. Crazy.)

    Plus you’d think that Congress didn’t exist and Obama was responsible for every policy decision made (or not made) in Washington, D.C.

    It has been very interesting (and sometimes frustrating) to see Obama, the president, in action after watching Obama, the candidate, make speeches.

  134. 134
    Frank says:

    Obama is not perfect by any means, but he’s sane and lives in the real world(TM).

    Folks have trouble dealing with that.

  135. 135
    slag says:

    Honesty makes the world a much better place. So thanks for having it!

    Also, I’m now sad because I think I missed the naked mopping. Just sayin.

  136. 136
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Keith G:

    Don’t know. But Armando, Brick Oven Bill is someone that is a racist type troll that was recently banned. And apparently has access to different IP addresses, and now looks like is banned again.

  137. 137
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @JenJen:

    Thanks.

  138. 138
    Armando says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Had no idea. Sorry about that.

  139. 139
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Armando:

    no way you could know.

  140. 140
    kwAwk says:

    My thoughts on this as a ‘deadender hillbot’ is that last November we were all riding pretty high thinking that with 60 votes in the Senate and 256 votes in the House and the Presidency it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for progressives to get through some of the things we’ve been wanting to see enacted for decades now. But we’re almost half way through that once in a lifetime opportunity and what has come from it? Granted we may get healthcare reform but not in any way shape or form of what we thought was going to happen last November.

    To some degree it is hard to blame Obama. During last year’s primary he somehow managed the feat of positioning himself on every issue just slightly to the right of Hillary Clinton while convincing the activist base that he was their man. I think he is paying a bit of a price for that as some of the people who strongly supported him are coming to realize that perhaps he wasn’t who they thought he was. From reading, it sounds to me like gays wanted an Emancipation Proclamation not an Underground Railroad.

    Aside from all of the just grievances people have with Obama that JC listed I think on that he left out was Obama’s being too willing to take the blame for partisan gridlock. He wants to be a unifier so much that he isn’t really making the Repubs fight and compromise for what they want. Instead they continue to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, and not vote for any of Obama’s legislation, but Obama still puts in the legislation exactly what the Repubs want. Good examples of this are the tax cuts in the stimulus and the tort reform in relation to health care reform.

    In my opinion Obama is only serving to empower obstructions and dissent on both sides of the aisle by not being willing to draw the line in the sand and making the opposition negotiate to move the line.

    Do I know if things would be any different if Clinton had won instead? Impossible to say really, but certainly the first 9 months of the Obama administration should serve as proof that a lot of the criticism of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton during last years primaries was unfair and over the top.

    Last point for me is this. John, perhaps you can explain to me. If we’re not going to get healthcare reform with a strong public option or other things of that nature in the progressive platform, then just what the hell was the point of letting Joe Lieberman back into the Democratic caucus?

  141. 141
    Little Macayla's Friend says:

    @Keith:
    ” . . slightly to the right of Nixon on many issues.”
    Exactly, and why I quietly cheered when Armando (or anyone) mentions the Overton Window idea.
    Brief mentions here, just top of the google, of Nixon and GAI and HCR and political climate:
    http://bluememe.blogspot.com/2.....ution.html
    But personally, he was ultra right, again just e.g.,:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06.....=4&hp

  142. 142
    kay says:

    @eco2geek:

    Supporting Obama was always a risk. He was not the favorite, and some of the concerns about him as President were completely valid: he doesn’t have a whole lot of experience.
    But I (we) took the risk, completely cognizant of the fact that it was a risk. We didn’t “know” him, really.
    I also signed on to the idea that he was going to go forward with an ambitious three-prong legislative agenda despite the economic implosion, although that decision was by no means a given. It would have been perfectly reasonable (and accepted) by most of his less-plugged in voters if he had simply concentrated on the economy and the wars. He could have ducked it. The media are conventional, and they would have endorsed that.
    So, having made the decision to back what was always a long shot candidacy, and then a long shot legislative and policy agenda, I am not disappointed that he hasn’t hit every mark in less than a year.
    He set a high bar, and I knew it was a gamble to try to get there.

  143. 143
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @gwangung:

    @kay: Too, I don’t think there is an appreciation for the overall strategy and tactical style of Obama: move slowly, move surely and move so that change is permanent.
     
    That has two effects: one, it’s harder to reverse. Two, opposition spends a longer time trying to stop something that passes anyway, which reduces the drive to overturn it. There are things to be said for that.

    Spot on, IMHO. This came thru to me parsing the remarks Obama made about Presidential legacies right before the Nevada primary – remarks which kicked up a storm because he praised Reagan as a transformational President, and criticised Clinton by way of contrast. What it really comes down to is that one of the lessons learned from the Clinton era is that Presidential legacies are written in sand if they aren’t signed into law. There is little a President can accomplish which cannot be wiped away by an ideologically hostile successor if Congress isn’t involved.

    I think Armando is correct in this thread about the difference between activism and snarking, but the real target of opportunity here is Congress – Obama is going to bend over backward to work well with this Congress no matter what (in contrast to the last 2 Democratic administrations which failed at this task), even if it means going slow or compromising or even abandoning ideals. One thing we aren’t going to see in this administration is the WH picking a major fight with the Democratic Congressional Leadership.

    So if we want better results, we need more pressure on Congress and we need to elect more progressive Reps and Senators at every opportunity, and we need to put pressure on the progressive caucus in Congress to take on, and eventually to take over, the leadership there – that is where incremental progress is going to come from. Otherwise, putting pressure on the WH is not going to get us very far. And with the Senate in particular, this is going to be a long, hard slog.

  144. 144
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Yutsano:

    I’m always finding extra inches lying around….

  145. 145
    Ash says:

    while convincing the activist base that he was their man.

    Anyone who believed this was pretty stupid. He never projected himself as a very liberal activist, and anyone who believed that has only themselves to blame.

  146. 146

    @Tattoosydney: I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe, &c, &c.

  147. 147
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @kwAwk:

    ‘deadender hillbot’

    I say that with love in my heart.

  148. 148

    2 things to add:

    1. The one thing that’s really annoying is the commentary that appears to assume the United States Congress has ceased to exist or something, as though Obama is supposed to act as both branches of Pennsylvania Ave. or something. Not only is this annoying, it’s counterproductive as well; blaming Obama for the suckitude of Congressional Democrats gives those CD’s cover to continue to suck.

    2. The progressivier-than-thou attitude pisses me off.

  149. 149
    Ash says:

    @Brien Jackson:

    The one thing that’s really annoying is the commentary that appears to assume the United States Congress has ceased to exist or something

    You can forgive them for thinking that, since it basically didn’t exist for 8 years. You remember that shot during the inauguration, with Bushy walking off into the sunset from the steps of the Capitol building? I’d guess 75% of or of the people watching that were wondering what the fuck that building was for, instead of basking in the moment.

  150. 150
    gwangung says:

    @Brien Jackson: Yeah, there’s that, too. If you’re mad at Obama, then you should be mad at Congress, too.

  151. 151
    mr. whipple says:

    If we’re not going to get healthcare reform with a strong public option or other things of that nature in the progressive platform, then just what the hell was the point of letting Joe Lieberman back into the Democratic caucus?

    I find it odd that so many are saying that Lieberman should have been given the boot from the caucus. Had that been done, where do they think that 60th vote that dems need at times would come from?

    Good examples of this are the tax cuts in the stimulus and the tort reform in relation to health care reform.

    Obama campaigned on middle/lower class tax cuts. He delivered on his promise in the stimulus. People like Krugman wanted to criticize Obama for not making the stim big enuf, but then again, Krugman doesn’t have to round up votes in Congress.

  152. 152
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: That BOB post to Armando asking about the UT game was me. I am not BOB. I attempted to make a joke using that handle a few days ago, which got moderated I think and I have not been on BJ since with this computer (my home one).

    I forgot to change it back earlier before posting… Sorry!

    I see that he has been banned again, which explains his absence for a few days from the few threads I have been reading. If that had really been BOB, I would have something like:

    “Who do you Like in the UT game? I am not sure if Colt McCoy studies the 7 Liberal Arts, but he is man of Virtue etc etc etc…

    I think BOB is real by the way, no way some keeps up a schtick like that and maintains a website for that long. Not even Dougj!

  153. 153
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    But you assign him responsibility of demanding that another branch of government do his bidding or else, Kind of like Clinton did in 1994, and Carter tried on other issues when he was presnit. Dem CC’rs just don’t respond to that sort of thing like wingers do.

    This is an important point. Dems in Congress react to pressure from the WH differently from GOPers. I’m a big fan of the thesis which Kevin Phillips lays out in Cousin’s War, that the cultural-political blocs which today are what we call the red and blue states hark all the way back to the monarchist and parliamentary factions in 17th Century England.

    The Dems are the heirs today of the parliamentarian faction in that split – which means that Dems in Congress tend to rebel against executive authority, or at least they do so when they don’t fear the executive very much, which is mostly when he is from their own side. Putatively friendly Parliaments have been a thorn in the side of executives hailing from this faction ever since the days of Oliver Cromwell, and his famous words “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately…” could equally be the epitaph of every relationship gone sour between a Democratic WH and a Democratic Congress for the last 100 years in this country.

  154. 154
    Keith G says:

    @Tattoosydney:

    <<>>

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Well said.

  155. 155
    Left Coast Tom says:

    @mr. whipple:

    I find it odd that so many are saying that Lieberman should have been given the boot from the caucus. Had that been done, where do they think that 60th vote that dems need at times would come from?

    I’m thinking it’d be nice if once in a while that vote came from Lieberman.

    Though I’m not in favor of giving him “the boot from the caucus”. I am in favor of the idea that chairmanships in a Democratic-controlled Senate should be given to Senators who helped the Democrats gain that control, as opposed to people who campaigned otherwise.

  156. 156
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Gordon, The Big Express Engine:

    I first wondered if it was someone posing as BoB, then his post went away so I thought it was and he was banned again, but now it’s back. No problem, but I think it gave a few here some palpitations. Just another tricky day in BJ land.:)

  157. 157
    Keith G says:

    @Tattoosydney: Trying again:

    [[[ Jaw drops ]]]

  158. 158
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    I’m a big fan of the thesis which Kevin Phillips lays out in Cousin’s War, that the cultural-political blocs which today are what we call the red and blue states hark all the way back to the monarchist and parliamentary factions in 17th Century England.

    I have often wondered that our ideologies and parties must have come from factions way back when, and even back to England, but am not at all well read on this, but will check out the book you list.

  159. 159
    mcc says:

    What bothers me about the blog response to Obama is a lot of people don’t seem to have thought out the question of what real-world [i]effect[/i], if anything, that their words and actions have.

    I feel like it isn’t enough to exert pressure. It has to be [i]effective[/i] pressure. And a lot of people don’t seem to have put even cursory thought into questions like, am I exerting pressure on the right person… or am I exerting pressure in a way that the person I’m exerting pressure on is aware of my efforts… or am I exerting pressure in a way that there’s any obvious [and preferably legal?] way for the person being pressured to satisfy me. I feel like if you haven’t put some sort of thought into questions like this, you probably aren’t “pressuring” at all, in the sense of action or rhetoric to inspire others toward a change in behavior. You’re just making noises to yourself.

    We just came out of this long period where I think it would be uncontroversial to say that the biggest problem with the Democrats is they didn’t adopt strong principles or stand up in public for those principles. The biggest sin of the Democrats was failure to make noise. My political consciousness, the political consciousness…es of a lot of people who today identify as “progressive”, were formed during this period. But a lot of people somehow seem to have come away from this with the underlying assumption that standing up and making a lot of noise is the [i]only[/i] thing there is to politics. Like it’s not just something the dems need to do more of, that it’s the beginning and end of what constitutes effective politics. Making noise isn’t an end in itself. You have to have some sort of endgame in mind.

    And none of this would matter but everything that is going on right now is [i]incredibly important[/i]. If this were, I dunno, 1998 we could afford to just go off for awhile and make noises to ourselves, politics would go on without us. But this may well wind up being the most important time in politics in any of our lives. I feel like the independent left is losing its direction at the exact point that we need it most, we’re losing any sense of how effective pressure works at the exact time effective pressure is most needed. It is hard not to get frustrated.

  160. 160
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    When was he banned this time around? I know why of course. Assuming he is in fact real, I have to confess that I find his posts pretty amusing. Offensive sure, but the funny putdowns he elicits from everyone really kill me some time.

  161. 161
    mcc says:

    …aaand that was an entire post done in BBCode rather than HTML. Dammit.

  162. 162
    slag says:

    @kwAwk:

    During last year’s primary he somehow managed the feat of positioning himself on every issue just slightly to the right of Hillary Clinton while convincing the activist base that he was their man.

    When are people going to learn that there are two main reasons Obama beat Clinton:
    1. Iraq
    2. He’s not Clinton

    Sorry, but it’s true.

    Also, the fact that he and his team really, really worked for it didn’t hurt.

  163. 163
    gwangung says:

    @mcc: And this, too. Coming from a person who’s consistently articulated effective ways to bring pressure on the right places.

  164. 164
    Lee from NC says:

    Oh damn. I just wasted my 15 minutes on a blog, I think. That first quote was mine. Woohoo! I’m famous now.

    I said what I had to say in the first post so I won’t repeat myself but anyway, thanks for responding.

  165. 165
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    and we all know I can be a real jerk, especially to people I like.

    Am I the only one that wept a little bit at that line?

  166. 166
    bago says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: I’m actually going to have to disagree with “making shit up assessment”. I would say it’s more along the lines of making a risk averse analysis when you are required to make inferences and assumptions to enact a meaningful contribution. You can either let the lack of data paralyze you in the action aspect, or you can make certain assumptions while keeping threat modeling in mind.

    In other words, assume you have a limited time window to enact your goals. In order to implement a plan to enact your goals, you require exact information on two variables. Unfortunately, you only have observation of one of those variables. The second variable is occluded. The occluded variable has a deterministic effect on your plan, demarcated by a threshhold. The success of reaching your goals is determined by the plan you select, and the choice of plan that you select determined by what probability you assign the occluded variable to wind up on either side of your threshhold.

    Example might be forthcoming… It would pretty much be taking in time as a factor in the first recursion of a Simple example of Bayes Theorem.

    I need to learn functional terminology better, damn it!

  167. 167
    Keith G says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: I second ThatLeftTurnInABQ thoughts onThe Cousins’ War. It may go on a page or too longer than necessary, but I view it as an essential read.

  168. 168

    @somethingblue: Searching online for the phrase “Obama ‘make me do it'” quickly finds references such as this:

    This story was retold by Obama at a campaign fundraiser in Montclair, N.J., more than a year ago. It was in response to a person asking Obama about finding a just solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. After recounting the Randolph story, Obama said he was just one person, that he couldn’t do it alone. Obama’s final answer: “Make me do it.”

    Which, I think, should answer your question well.

    But I need to say that, as an Obama volunteer during both the Primary and General, I heard staffers tell us to stay involved, no matter the outcome, in politics, to take what we were learning and doing and apply it both locally and nationally. I heard that when the campaign was tottering, and when it was hot. It wasn’t just a nice thing, it was like a mantra.

  169. 169
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    I have often wondered that our ideologies and parties must have come from factions way back when, and even back to England, but am not at all well read on this, but will check out the book you list.

    Cousin’s War is more readable, but the book Albion’s Seed covers much the same ground in greater detail and with greater complexity (i.e. multiple cultures rather than just the red-blue polarity that Phillips uses).

    The gist of it is that the different cultural-political factions in Merrie Olde England were regional, the more populous and urbanized southeastern part of England was more “blue” (in today’s parlance) and the north and west were more “red”. The waves of emigration to the US from the mother country resulted in differential settlement patterns which reproduced these same cultural and political divisions on this side of the Atlantic. The parliamentarian Puritans settled New England and became Yankees, while the monarchists settled the southeast and settled down to run plantations and develop the slave economy of what would eventually be the Confederacy. Since then both sides have contributed to populating the interior of the US with their own cultural diaspora, echoes of which can still be found in upstate and downstate politics in the US today.

  170. 170
    MikeJ says:

    The gist of it is that the different cultural-political factions in Merrie Olde England were regional, the more populous and urbanized southeastern part of England was more “blue” (in today’s parlance) and the north and west were more “red”.

    As someone who spends several months per year in yurp, I always get confused. They tend to call the left “red” because historically (like fighting Franco) that was our colour. Then in the US the left is too cowardly to use our colour to identify us. The TV networks, in an effort to not affront us, swap the colours and that becomes that standard. I’d be more than happy to be called “red”, just like the Labour party in Engerland. If only our electorate wasn’t quite as stupid as it is.

  171. 171
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    I need to learn functional terminology better, damn it!

    No need, I wouldn’t have any more clue what you’re talking about than the first time.

    I’m guessing that the occluded part is shit we don’t know. So in order to reach any other conclusion than Obama sincerely wants a PO in a HR bill, you would have to then also conclude that he has been lying through his teeth for the better of 3 years now.

    This is good news for Mccain!

  172. 172
    kwAwk says:

    When are people going to learn that there are two main reasons Obama beat Clinton:
    1. Iraq
    2. He’s not Clinton

    During the election Obama’s stance on the Iraq War and on Afghanistan was pretty much the same as Clinton’s. Have you noticed that now 9 months in?

    And Clinton is not Obama. That contempt that you have for Clinton is based upon 6 years of the Clintons fighting with a Republican congress. We’ll see how we feel about Obama after 6 years of fighting with a Democratic congress.

  173. 173
    Ash says:

    @kwAwk: When someone says “Iraq” in this context, and nothing else, it’s got nothing to do with current policy. It has everything to do with the fact that one person knew it was stupid as fuck and said as much, and the other person…didn’t.

  174. 174
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Keith G: @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Thanks. Political ideology and it’s origins is what interests me the most about politics in this country, other than the day to day pooh slinging we do which isn’t always fun but seems necessary for some reason. I will get a copy of Cousin’s War and read it;

  175. 175
    donovong says:

    Damn. Late to the party again.

    I love this place!

  176. 176
    kwAwk says:

    Ash – One person actually had to sit through the intelligence briefings and actually vote for the AUMF and one didn’t. Who knows what Obama would have done if he had actually had to vote on the issue. Can you really be so sure of what Obama would or wouldn’t have done given his present penchant for negotiating his positions?

    On top of that you voted for the more right leaning candidate because you approved of a vote he didn’t take 5 years after the fact?

  177. 177
    MattR says:

    @MikeJ: Red and blue in the US used to flip back and forth between parties. I did not go look for it, but Kevin Drum wrote about this a long, long time ago (when he was still at Washington Monthly). I can’t remember the exact rule of when it was supposed to flip (definitely did not flip when the incument ran again), but they stopped in 2000 after “red state” and “blue state” became more strongly associated to the results of that election.

  178. 178
    bago says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: Getting back to my recursive bayesian analysis…

  179. 179
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @bago:

    LOL

  180. 180
    Keith G says:

    @bago: I clicked your link…..my head hurts.

  181. 181
    CaseyL says:

    Damn, I came in late on this one. Gonna wind up repeating what’s already been said.

    For instance, yes: everyone has PTDS after the continuous, enormous outrages Bush & Co perpetrated. Our fight/flight reflexes are entirely shot, so we do both at any provocation: we get angry and hopeless at the same time.

    I do try to keep some sense of proportion. It gets hard, when I hear about yet another person losing their home because of medical bills, or their life because they either didn’t have insurance or the insurance they had denied their claim. (I still can’t get over that: an entire industry that collects money for a service it has no intention of providing – isn’t that fraud, for chrissake??) But I do try, and this site is one of my best places to come for a sanity break.

    I don’t think, I never have thought, you were a shill for Obama, Cole. I’ve never thought you were a shill for anyone. (You’ve always been too cranky, for one thing :) I first came here during the Schiavo brouhaha, when you were about halfway out the door already in terms of being a Republican. If you were ever so uncritical of Bush, I missed it… I’ll take your word that you were uncritical, though I honestly find it hard to believe because, well, I’ll say it again: You’ve Always Been Too Cranky.

    One thing I have noticed since you bid the GOP a-f*cking-dieu is that you seem far *less* cranky, less conflicted and, dare I say it, a happier person now than you were 2-3 years ago. (And downright giddy since you adopted Lily.)

    Anyway, BJ is important to me, because it functions in its weird way as a sanity check; and the regulars as well as you, Esteemed Host, make it so. Thanks for that.

  182. 182
    Martin says:

    During the election Obama’s stance on the Iraq War and on Afghanistan was pretty much the same as Clinton’s. Have you noticed that now 9 months in?

    But Obama’s stance on Iraq was not the same as Clinton’s back when the war was being decided – that resonated with a lot of voters.

    I think Clinton was hurt by two main things:

    1) Her campaign staff sucked. It really did. Mark Penn was the mother of all bad decisions and she had a team that simply could not function as a team. Prior to super tuesday, the outward face of the campaign wasn’t bad. After that day, it was terrible. Clinton was forced (through her campaign) to fight for all manner of bad things – arguments that the caucuses were biased, that blacks were screwing up the vote, all kinds of things, that even if there was a kernel of truth to them, ultimately came off to people like me that it was legitimate to consider rejecting the votes of african americans under systems that her husband helped establish in order to seek a different outcome. I don’t think these were Clinton’s attitudes, but when translated through her surrogates in an effort to appear competitive, it came off very poorly.
    2) She wasn’t herself. She was at times, but she spent so much time not being herself that when we saw the real Hillary, it was jarring and almost seemed to be fake as well. Was that whiskey shot in Indiana real Hillary or not? Again I blame her terrible staff for advising her in this direction, but we get such continuous coverage now that it just can’t be maintained 24/7. And what’s sad is that when she just acts like herself, she’s very personable. I think her staff also got wrapped up in trying to overcome the image projected on her by the GOP all those years. I can’t blame them, but it was a bad call.

    Other than that, she did well. Problem was that Obama had a great team and he redefined how to run a campaign. With his team Hillary probably would have won. Consider that spreadsheet that got leaked out of the Obama campaign – they accurately called every state but 2, I think it was for the remainder of the race – and called all the others within 1% of the outcome. It was frighteningly accurate, even when things like Wright were still out on the horizon. Hillary needed that team.

  183. 183
    Batocchio says:

    FWIW, maybe you just need to lay off the Sullivan for a bit. I follow the torture issue pretty closely, and I greatly appreciate his efforts on that front. But on some other issues I disagree with him, and on the hate crimes bill, some of the posts you linked showed Sully pretty divorced from reality, I’m afraid.

    I’m critical of/disappointed in Obama on several fronts – reining in Wall Street, due process/indefinite detention, some aspects of health care reform – but I’m rooting for the guy. He’s so much better than Bush, and it’s crazy to claim otherwise. I don’t envy him the many crises he’s inherited, any one of which would be quite daunting on its own. And a GOP of obstructionists, evil and insane people – and a press that legitimizes them – sure as hell don’t help. For all that, I think Obama has played many things too timidly and too much from the Bush playbook. FDR’s great line about his foes was that he ‘welcomed their hatred.’ Obama doesn’t seem built that way, and I’m afraid that’s what’s necessary. (Maybe less so if there were an LBJ in the Senate to work the levers, but even LBJ would have problems with the current GOP.) Regardless, reality-based activists need to keep the pressure up.

  184. 184
    bago says:

    @Keith G: The ultimate gist of it is “Should you play a slot machine? Do the math.”

    When a casino says that they pay out 97%, that means they skim 3%, and if you do the math you are basically giving three pennies out of every dollar for the right to spend even more money of buffets and bad booze.

    The billboards are promising that you will yield less money than the -1% bonds that the private bond resellers were offering this year.

    Tangent went too far in this, as it’s getting way difficult to relate back to my original point at 1 am.

    Casinos will take a percentage to hold your money, and then charge you fees.
    Banks will pay you money to hold your money, and then charge you fees.

    You lose either way, but at least with one you get hookers and blow? Yeah, tangent went waaaaay to far.

  185. 185
    KS in MA says:

    What a great post, and what great comments. I love this place. I can’t begin to describe what you all have done for my sanity.

    I’m a proud O supporter– not a bot at all (i.e., I think he may be smarter than all of us–I know he’s more patient than I am– but I’m perfectly willing to yell at him and my Congresscritters in the meantime).

  186. 186
    tc125231 says:

    The problem with this post is that –really –it’s all about John Cole. It’s his blog, so he can suit himself. But this sort of stuff isn’t what makes this blog special.

  187. 187
    mey says:

    This is why your blog is the only political blog I can stand and recommend to the diminishing Coalition for Reason.

  188. 188
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Keith G:

    [[[ Jaw drops ]]]

    Tattoosydney contemplates a line involving mouths and the danger of keeping them open in case someone puts something in them, but then reconsiders.

  189. 189
    Yutsano says:

    @Tattoosydney: Oh sure you’re holding back NOW?

  190. 190
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Gordon, The Big Express Engine:

    When was he banned this time around?

    I want to know what he said… I love me some BoB, but to get banned again it must have been pretty bad…

  191. 191
    Yutsano says:

    @Tattoosydney: Just his typical racist schtick, but instead of backing off some like normal he kept doubling down. It was mostly in the gang rape thread so he did more or less ask for it.

  192. 192
    MNPundit says:

    So repost from what I said at Booman’s place:

    That and well, whether Obama had the procedural [ed. -Booman’s theory of when to put in the public option] in mind or not ,Progressives have been shit upon and betrayed so often [ed. -not by Obama, by the Democratic Party] they are psychologically spooked. Obama’s constant refrain of “We like the PO best, but we can certainly live with something less” has not helped.

    Maybe he had to say that in public, but was there ever any private assurances that he would actually put the PO in [ed. -in the manner Booman argued]? We have all these anonymous leaks about pushing the trigger, but nothing to show them pushing the PO in at the end. You have certainly said it, but no one from Obama’s end has, have they? With his record interpreted (rightly or wrongly) as one of compromise on progressive issues during his term so far, he wouldn’t he even give some anonymous off the record assurance he’d put it in.

    What are they supposed to think?

    Batocchio nails it also. Obama does not welcome the hatred of the lunatics that are the GOP. The few that have the personality to do that in his administration are corporatists like Rahm and Summers. I think he’d be doing better than Clinton at this point since the media go insane with the mention of Clinton so it would be worse. Policy was, I have no idea if there would be a difference, I think there would and that it would be negative in some areas and positive in others.

    I voted for Obama for the chance to change things, and that chance clearly has not materialized. All that remains is to grind the Republicans into the dirt until they drown in the mud they created but Obama is not the one to do it. And it badly needs doing because with Climate Change the human race actually IS facing an existential crisis.

  193. 193
    JoshA says:

    As another lurker who rarely posts, I’d like to say that in the way you write about Obama—imperfect, but a lot better than his predecessor and facing overblown rhetoric from some on the left—you’re speaking for me.

  194. 194
    simonee says:

    John, keep doing your thing. That’s all I gotta say.

    I, for one, thoroughly enjoy your takedowns of Sully.

  195. 195
  196. 196
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Emma Anne:

    People who haven’t ever been that kind of wrong might be smarter than the rest of us. Or it might just have not happened to them – yet.

    They might just be insufficiently passionate — at least about politics — by the standards of people like us who comment on political blogs. For the last few decades (going back, I’d say, to the postWWII period) America has been “fortunate” enough that most of its citizens, most of the time, could afford to treat politics as just another time-consuming hobby, like professional sports. The only people who really got sweaty about campaigns were professionals, would-be professionals, and “special interest groups” like the Negros, the wimmens-libbers, the kweers, and the biblethumpers. The Cheney Regency and Al Qaida, between them, should have convinced more of us that Politics-As-Sports was never a good idea, but too much of the voting-eligible population still thinks that “normal” means not caring nearly as much about their Congresspeople as they do about The Team or American Idol.

    @MikeJ:

    Then in the US the left is too cowardly to use our colour to identify us. The TV networks, in an effort to not affront us, swap the colours and that becomes that standard. I’d be more than happy to be called “red”, just like the Labour party in Engerland.

    Official story is that Tim Russert “just happened” to use red markers for Republicans and blue markers for Democrats during the 1980 election-night TV coverage.

  197. 197

    I am well to the left of the politics Obama presents. I have no idea what his actual core politics are, I would guess that they are left of the presentation. I would guess that from his background and his IL tenure, but political realities are what they are for a President to deal with.

    If I have PTSD, it is long standing and considerably predates GWB, considering how long I’ve watched the common citizen get screwed economically and have their civil liberties trampled.

    I push, but I try to apply my pressure judiciously and to good effect. I could alienate some rather powerful people who think I’m worth listening to by going all purist on them. I accept that they operate under constraints, whether I like that or not, and I try to make arguments that respect those constraints. I do have the good fortune to be dealing with people who start out from something other than corrupt or batshit crazy.

  198. 198
    Yutsano says:

    @Chuck Butcher: I totally forgot where I read it (it might have even been here) but Obama has been described as a political Rohrschashch test. In other words, we projected so much of our own hopes and aspirations on him that when the reality set in and he wasn’t exactly what we wanted or hoped for we were let down at best and downright angry at worst. Do I think he’s doing a great job? I’m giving him an incomplete still. Do I think he was better than the alternative? Myself and 69 million other people certainly agreed. Do I think he still needs more time to actually get some shit done? Yup. That’s why I’m gonna sit back and let him do his work but keep pressuring him to do the right thing as much as possible.

  199. 199

    kwAwk is pretty funny, nobody gives a fat rat’s ass that you still like Hillary and your BS about political R/L positioning is just that. Let’s at least get this much through your head – you can blame whoever and whatever you want for her loss, the plain and simple of it is that she headed up that campaign and that was not a prescription for an able President.

    So far Hillary seems to be doing a good job as SoS, that is also a completely different thing than President. Somebody else is running the show, and per her campaign that’s a good thing.

  200. 200
    natthedem says:

    John Cole: I have no problem with people being mad that Obama has not issued a statement about the marriage equality issue in the state of Maine.

    Actually, he has (see The Advocate‘s: White House Says No to Antigay Referenda).

    Surely there will be bloggers who say that’s not enough and that the President should speak publicly about his opposition, but…well, I think this scene from The West Wing explains it well enough.

    It’s been a frustrating time to be both an LGBT advocate and a supporter of this President. Certainly, I feel obliged to push the President on issues that I’d call basic rights of citizenship (which is why they’re as important to me as health care, jobs, etc.) but at some point, I think, “holding the President accountable” while saying absolutely nothing about Congress’ inaction is just scapegoating…and I just can’t support that.

  201. 201
    Yutsano says:

    @Chuck Butcher: So far Hillary seems to be doing a good job as SoS, that is also a completely different thing than President. Somebody else is running the show, and per her campaign that’s a good thing.

    In my personal opinion that worked out pretty damn fantastic. I think she found a role she honestly is much better suited for. I would say she’s been one of our best head diplomats in a very long time.

  202. 202
    dSquib says:

    I think though that the problem is not that you don’t acknowledge Obama’s evident shortcomings enough, but rather, I think, people get the sense that you are “in the tank and think Obama can do no wrong” because you forcefully and perhaps passionately defend Obama on some issues, and point out the ridiculousness of some criticisms/accusations weighed against him when the crimes/wrongdoings he is accused of are sometimes not as bad as those you even acknowledge he is guilty of. There seems to be a fallacy that absolving someone of one crime absolves that person of all crimes, particularly if the the crime you defend him against is lesser than the one he is guilty of. Also, there may be an issue of perceived priorities. That you may on the whole forgive Obama his failings on Wall Street and his civil liberties about-face because of the positives. Maybe you think these crimes are better documented elsewhere, by Greenwald for example, and that there is not much more you could add, but if someone reads a lengthy rebuttal of some fringe accusation against Obama, as from birthers, teabaggers and so on, and then post a single sentence with a link to a Greenwald article about say, Bagram military prison, then you can see how people might get this impression.

  203. 203

    @Yutsano:

    a political Rohrschashch test.

    I paid attention to his policy statements and presentation of philosophy and I understood them to be of political nature. It is one thing to be nakedly assertive in a blog and completely another to think it will get you elected or allow you to work with others who also have that consideration.

    The broad political center is conservative in the sense of disliking or fearing great changes, and a large percentage of it is too ignorant of the issues to understand the need. How that center splits elects politicians in most places

    I once head a pol ask someone how he could expect to make a difference if he couldn’t get elected and stay that way. It is an unfortunate truth that if you give the center whiplash you won’t be around.

  204. 204
    Trinity says:

    John – this post is exactly why I love this blog. More then anything else, I appreciate your efforts to apply common sense across the board.

    As my Grandma used to say, “Common sense is not that common.”

  205. 205
    Mum says:

    @JMY: “. . . BUT not once did I hear anything about the progress that was made – about how this is a good start even though more changes for the better will need to be done. Look at how far we have come when reform was sidetracked by the August recess and town-halls. We, for the first time, have a chance to do some great with health care, but yet too many people want to have the pessimistic attitude that doesn’t help.”

    One of the things I have said to many of the doomsayers and cynics/pessimists with regard to health care reform or gay rights, and their impatience with and anger at the President, is: Do you think we would even be having a national discussion (as inadequate as it is) about or be considering legislation for health care reform if Obama had NOT been elected? And what makes you think that any issues touching on gay rights – DADT, DOMA, hate crimes legislation – would even be discussed had McCain been elected instead.

    The irascible Ed Schultz was venting on his radio program yesterday, lamenting what he was leaning towards calling a failure of health care reform. But in an interview with Senator Harkin he learned about several provisions of the proposed legislation that he agreed were fairly significant positive changes, and the tenor of his program changed after that. It was a great exchange, and one that I hope would be duplicated by so-called progressive blogs. It was intelligent and rational; it acknowledged that there were some areas where the legislators had not gone as far as they could have, but it also pointed with pride to the significant advances that had been made.

  206. 206
    Mum says:

    @kommrade reproductive vigor:

    I really like what you had to say, although the JohnWoo/garlicpress image is going to be a little hard to get out of my head.

    I especially agreed with your statement: “Yes there are some people who’ll shriek the place down no matter what. Why? Because they like shrieking.” I’ve encountered several “shriekers” (notably on one of my favorite blogs, Booman Tribune, and on one of my formerly favorite blogs, AmericaBlog). I generally try to ignore them (especially when they start throwing the “Obamabot” epithet around), using a version of your #1 suggestion, but, alas, there are usually enough people counter-commenting to encourage the “shrieker.” As a perfect example, I refer you to the comments to this post on Booman about the President’s visit to Dover Air Force Base: http://www.boomantribune.com/s...../72346/125

  207. 207
    DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal) says:

    Well said John. I think part of the problem with some people not understanding what you are saying is that sometimes what you write is written for the regulars here. You don’t elaborate on some thoughts/positions you now have or held in the past because you are constantly talking with is and might come to think that your positions are pretty much common knowledge. This post of yours is of no surprise to me or probably any other regular here but I bet it is to others who are not. We know where you are ‘coming from’ and don’t need all of the detail. Others are not so lucky and the drive-by commentary sometimes reflects that.

    Thoughts and/or opinions on some subjects can be stated in a short and succinct manner but some others require a bit more detail to ward off misunderstandings and the anger that can follow with heated topics. When you let it rip it is a thing of beauty, so on the ‘sensitive’ topics it might help to elaborate a bit with the thought of heading off criticism from a misunderstanding.

    But if you are bored and need some action, just slap something up that is guaranteed to run 400+ responses. Having a verbal donnybrook every once in awhile gets the blood flowing (and web traffic too!) when things are sluggish.

    They are damn entertaining too. Also. ;)

  208. 208
    DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal) says:

    You don’t elaborate on some thoughts/positions you now have or held in the past because you are constantly talking with is us  and might. . .

    Sigh. My bongwater for an edit function. ;p

  209. 209
    Cerberus says:

    Great post John and I think you’re dead on that there is an unfortunate loud segment that thinks “pressuring the White House” (something Obama constantly asks for and even cited in his Hate Crime Laws signing speech) is the same as just generally throwing shit at the White House and seeing if it sticks.

    There’s also a lot of liberals who haven’t clued in that the President is no longer the government and thinks that like Chimpy, Obama tells democrats what to do and they do it.

    I have no idea what they are smoking either.

    There’s some really good work in the field of gay rights, including even some of the douchebags (I’m thinking specifically how AmericaBlog raised a large amount of money for Maine) and some really genuinely good pressure campaigns working like it should. We’re seeing the same in the fight for the public option.

    It’s just a shame that we also get people being idiotic and giving in to dumb arguments as well.

    On gay rights, I suspect a lot of it is that the gays are feeling confident, no longer hunted or feeling like history’s whipping child. They’re feeling like they are starting to approach real power and that the country may indeed want them more than ever to have rights and be treated as people.

    This is wonderful and is leading to great victories around the country. It is also leading to a shit-ton of people getting out their drowned anger and frustration over Reagan and Clinton, over genocide and promises that failed spectacularly respectively and since it feels “living in the past” to complain about the actual presidents responsible, they displace that anger and frustration onto Obama. They also dump their frustration on the general slow pace of change on Obama because ironically it seems “petty and tantrumy” to just rant about that.

    And that’s real unfortunate in my opinion. Those who are sane are celebrating. And hopefully genuine, constructive pushing of legislators and mister president will get us some more victories before 2012.

  210. 210
    aimai says:

    I’m going to admit I haven’t read all 207 of these posts (yet!) but I will. But I want to say that I think its really weird that John thinks the world is divided into people who are wrongfully “totally in the tank for Obama” and hypercritical gays/others who feel a moral obligation to freak out every moment. I think there’s a wide, wide, wide, swathe of Obama voters who were enthusiastic, who supported Obama as a politician and as a person and who have been greatly disillusioned by many of his acts in office. I’m one of them. I personally love Obama, and think he’s doing better qua technocrat and qua gracious symbol, than any president in my memory (and my memory goes back to LBJ). But he’s a very cautious guy and his caution extends to one special area of symbolism–defending progressive values in a full throated way. Lots of us feel that building a new, progressive/liberal mindset in the country as a whole is the only way we can proceed. Personally, I feel that even if we keep winning elections if we keep allowing the blue dogs and the imaginary angry white male voter to define us as a party and a people we are going to lose our values. And we are not succeeding in educating the rising generation (at all) or about our values as liberals. I want Obama to do more than recapture the flag–and salute the dead soldiers–I want him to really make the case, every day, for why the Republicans are killing us. I want us out of Iraq, and out of Afghanistan, and I want the president to stop paying off wall street. That’s not that much to ask.

    aimai

  211. 211
    John Cole says:

    But I want to say that I think its really weird that John thinks the world is divided into people who are wrongfully “totally in the tank for Obama” and hypercritical gays/others who feel a moral obligation to freak out every moment.

    I’m honestly not sure how you could read this post and think that is what I am saying.

  212. 212

    Lots of us feel that building a new, progressive/liberal mindset in the country as a whole is the only way we can proceed. Personally, I feel that even if we keep winning elections if we keep allowing the blue dogs and the imaginary angry white male voter to define us as a party and a people we are going to lose our values. And we are not succeeding in educating the rising generation (at all) or about our values as liberals. I want Obama to do more than recapture the flag—and salute the dead soldiers—I want him to really make the case, every day, for why the Republicans are killing us. I want us out of Iraq, and out of Afghanistan, and I want the president to stop paying off wall street. That’s not that much to ask.

    The President is not a talk-radio host.

  213. 213
    SGEW says:

    This thread is made of reasonable people and awesome sauce.

  214. 214
    Lee from NC says:

    @Brien Jackson:

    Not exactly, but he has the biggest bully pulpit in the entire world and he has not used it to good effect for progressive causes at all. Not to say he’s done poorly. But he is, as aimai says, a very cautious leader and it seems that only when his back is against the wall does he come out fighting.

  215. 215
    slightly_peeved says:

    All that remains is to grind the Republicans into the dirt until they drown in the mud they created but Obama is not the one to do it.

    I disagree. That’s what Obama is doing. Right now.

    You don’t grind a political party by taking the electorate rapidly in the other direction. If Obama made a big move leftward, by enacting a series of progressive policies, some people who voted for him will leave. There would be room for a new breed of Republicans to position themselves as centrists and recapture some of the middle.

    If you want to grind a political party down, you can’t give them the center. You keep the centrists that voted for you on side and you push your opponents to the right. Make your party the one of sensible centrism, and force your opponents to either stake out an extreme position or an incoherent one. Don’t force leftist policies on the electorate; convince the centre of the value of leftist policies.

    Considering the way in which the Republican party has shifted right in the past couple of years, I’d say Obama’s doing a very good job of grinding them. Part of grinding them is giving them nowhere to rest or escape to.

  216. 216

    Cole I think you’re a closet Christianist because you have railed against the “In God We Trust” on our currency. Why haven’t you addressed this massively important issue? I am very disappointed.

  217. 217

    @The Grand Panjandrum:

    … because you have HAVE NOT railed against …

    Sigh. I haz spelign FAIL.

  218. 218
    Parole Officer Burke says:

    Mr. Cole, I assert that you are objectively pro-Hutu separatist because you have never discussed the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I, too, am very disappointed.

  219. 219
    slightly_peeved says:

    Lots of us feel that building a new, progressive/liberal mindset in the country as a whole is the only way we can proceed.

    The biggest and most successful lie the Republicans and Libertarians have ever convinced the US people of is that the government can not help their lives.

    The best way to destroy this lie is not from the bully pulpit, but by providing universal coverage and eliminating medical bankruptcies, and making it clear that government intervention made it so.

    The very best thing Obama can do to develop a progressive/liberal mindset in the US, and to destroy the Republicans, is to do whatever he can to reform the US health system to provide universal coverage and to end medical bankruptcy. This will require advocating for stronger policies, while being willing to compromise where necessary to get the legislation through congress and the senate. If he’s spending time on this problem, then it’s time well spent.

    Getting the political centre of the US to feel safe from medical bankruptcy or disaster, because of the government, will do more than any speech, even a speech by Obama.

  220. 220
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @dSquib:

    and point out the ridiculousness of some criticisms/accusations weighed against him when the crimes/wrongdoings he is accused of are sometimes not as bad as those you even acknowledge he is guilty of.

    Your comment is a good example of dumbass critiques of Obama. I mean terms like “crimes” “wrongdoings” — wtf?

  221. 221
    AkaDad says:

    I don’t think you’re wrong, but you’re still an asshole. ;-)

  222. 222
    geg6 says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Not to mention the fact that John has often and loudly criticized Obama in regard to his economic/financial sector policies and his slow to non-existent walking back of the civil liberties abominations of the Shrub administration. I don’t know what the hell this guy is talking about. Obviously, he doesn’t read much here or he’d never type such bullshit.

  223. 223
    jfxgillis says:

    John:

    Most excellent post.

    Allow me to add a layer of argumentative support that you did not address–and that you probably couldn’t raise without being an arrogant asshole.

    It is my general experience (and, er personal experience but that’s another story), that the people who are both engaged and knowledgable in the political who then experience a deep disillusionment become both more sceptical of their new worldview but also stronger advocates.

    Now when a stupid liberal experiences such an epiphany, they frequently simply become a stupid conservative (see: David Horowitz), and vice versa.

    But when a smart person does it, it deepens their understanding and leaves them wary of themselves (see: Bruce Bartlett). Having already been burned by their old worldview, but being smart, they know that they can also get burned by their new worldview. That’s where I see you now.

    Now Sully doesn’t quite fit this pattern in great measure because for all he’s seemed to “changed” you can see he still clutches a few timbers from his failed old worldview as if they save him from some final disillusionment.

  224. 224
    Lisa says:

    I am in the fucking tank for John Cole.

    I am also in the tank for the BJ commenters and contributing bloggers. You motherfuckers rock my world.

    /warm and fuzzy/

  225. 225
    kay says:

    @Lee from NC:

    Not exactly, but he has the biggest bully pulpit in the entire world and he has not used it to good effect for progressive causes at all.

    Oh, Lee, but when he does use the bully pulpit it’s “words, just words”.

    He literally ( because I’m secretly Joe Biden ) can’t win on that.

  226. 226
    SGEW says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    I mean terms like “crimes” “wrongdoings” —wtf?

    Oooh! Oooh! Let me try! Off the top of my head, objectively looking at what’s been committed by the Executive branch under the Obama administration, to date . . . .

    Alleged “crimes”:

    – Pleading executive privilege to halt investigations into allegations of torture, in a bad faith interpretation of existing law. If proven, this is a sanctionable offense, at least. Additionally, systemic failure to investigate credible allegations of war crimes or crimes against humanity is, in itself, a crime of omission

    – Drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. See here.

    – Continued indefinite detention, “ordinary” rendition, and the “mission creep” of preventative arrests. There are colorable arguments about all this, but it can easily be seen as criminal under existing statutes.

    .- The “Left Overs”: Are any of our contractors still torturing detainees? Who’s dealing dope in Afghanistan? What the fuck happened to those billions of dollars in cash that we’re bleeding into Iraq? Has Obama stopped all of this? Can he? We don’t know.

    Alleged “wrongdoings”:

    – Ever read Taibbi?

    – DADT. Some say (no really! some really do say! this is not a strawman!) that the CiC could “stroke of the pen” this away, and it’s “wrong” of him (viz. bigoted) not to do it immediately; reasonable people can disagree on whether this is a “wrongdoing,” methinks.

    – Misc.: Transparency failures; basic corporate lobbyist corruption; Darfur; and maintaining the office of “faith based initiatives” in violation of the spirit of secular government.

    . . . . . .

    Phew! I probably missed a few, too.

    Now, having said that, I still believe that he’s probably the best president this country has seen in our lifetimes. Possibly the best ever, ever. Do I qualify as an “O-bot”?

  227. 227
    slag says:

    @kwAwk: First, what Ash said about Iraq. Your equivocating on the issue is irrelevant. His stance on Iraq was one of the reasons he won. No point in re-fighting that battle because it’s over.

    Second, Clinton did run on a vastly different foreign policy mindset than Obama did and even she admits it. Obama had the guts to be called Neville Chamberlain and not back down from his stance on the limits of military power. Clinton kept acting like she was refighting the Cold War. This difference was an important one for me and many others.

    Third, I have no contempt for Clinton. I wasn’t thrilled with some of her rhetoric during the campaign but I wasn’t thrilled with some of anyone’s rhetoric during the campaign. I think she was a good first lady and I think she’s making a really good Secretary of State. I’m just telling you why Obama beat her, which is something you seem not to understand.

    Also, I know Obama will fare better after 8 years than Clinton did. He’s got a much better team around him and a healthier attitude towards power, which he’ll find very useful.

  228. 228
    Scuffletuffle says:

    Totally awesome rant, sir. I stand in awe, truly. You rock!

  229. 229
    slag says:

    @natthedem: Great West Wing scene! Totally worthwhile.

    Also what @SGEW said. If Obama doesn’t drastically change course on detention and other civil liberties issues, it will be one of the things he most regrets about his presidency. If not the thing he most regrets.

  230. 230
    Liz says:

    Great post, John. In a nutshell, it’s why I read BJ every day.

    Cheers.

  231. 231
    Lee from NC says:

    @kay:

    Touche! I bow to you, good lady.

  232. 232
    kwAwk says:

    slag – I’m not argueing the reasons why Obama defeated Clinton, I’m questioning whether those reasons were really based in reality of how an Obama administration is operating.

    Given Obama’s retreat from his campaign positions on Iraq, Afghanistan, Gitmo, Signing Statements, surveillance powers and other issues, I’m not sure it is fair to say that Obama stated positions in the campaign, or Obama’s willingness to be called Chamberlain has translated into the reality of how he has governed.

    There are a couple of issues where this has played out this way, Poland Missle Defense and Israel/Palistine but on the hard core issues which defined the campaign it would be simply untrue to claim that Obama has represented a radical change from previous administrations.

    Obama campaigned on being change personified. He has governed instead as an incrementalist. One style may have been necessary for the campaign and another for actual governing but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people are going to be fairly disappointed that the campaign Obama has disappeared.

  233. 233
    kwAwk says:

    And is funny that I’m being attacked from both directions in this thread. First people saying that Clinton lost because of Obama’s stellar political team, and others claiming that I’m full of shit talking about Obama’s political positioning.

    :)

  234. 234
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @SGEW:

    Crimes? bullshit.

    As we speak a special prosecutor is investigation the Bush Cheney torture regime. There is absolutely no NONe, nada evidence that Obama is rendering people for the purpose of torturing information out of them. Extraordinary rendition has been around for ever, and though rare, includes people like Adolf Eichman, etc. .And so has ordinary rendition.

    .- The “Left Overs”: Are any of our contractors still torturing detainees? Who’s dealing dope in Afghanistan? What the fuck happened to those billions of dollars in cash that we’re bleeding into Iraq? Has Obama stopped all of this? Can he? We don’t know.

    And this looks like a goddamn chyron for Fox news or CNN. Or, when did Obama quit beating his wife?

    As for continuing the war in Afghanistan, it is what he said he would do all along.

    And if I believed all the crap you list in your comment, I would be calling for Obama’s impeachment, not praising him still “as the best president in our lifetime”. Are you an O-bot? comments like this one might qualify you as a loonatic, but that’s just my opinion.

  235. 235
    Sword of Damocles says:

    I think that your post is excellent, but quite unnecessary. You post your observations and opinions on things as you view them. Being that this is your blog, that is of course your right. Those that disagree, feel offended, had their blanky taken away, etc etc. are free to move on much like changing the channel on the television. I find your posts insightful, funny, and refreshing.

    More please.

  236. 236
    Scandi says:

    Thanks for writing this. I love coming to this blog, because as a liberal, I don’t like to get caught up in any lefty echo chamber. And I mostly think you’re funny as hell. Don’t always agree with everything, but that’s what helps us learn and really define our own positions.

    As a gay man, I long ago realized that just because two people have a sexuality in common, it does not mean that we necessarily have a “community”.

    It’s important to remember that the same holds true for gay bloggers. Look at John Aravosis and Andrew Sullivan. Ostensibly it would seem they have a lot in common in terms of social and economic status (and they probably live in the same damn neighborhood in DC), but you would be hard-pressed to find two people with such different agendas, even when they do cross at times.

    And they can both be amusing and they can both be infuriating. Sully is almost nonsensical at times, but every now and then I find myself agreeing with him. I’m a little more aligned with Aravosis politically, but I often get annoyed with him too, even on the gay issues (his coverage of the transexual/ENDA debate last year seemed almost mean).

    But I did find myself getting a little pissy after reading your rants the last couple of days. Yes, it does sound like whining from a lot of gay bloggers that we haven’t gotten every little thing we wanted nine months into this administration, but it’s frustrating when people dismiss the very real, valid frustration that we (or at least I) have. And it’s very annoying to get the impression that you’re being told by the straights to STFU and let the grownups talk.

    McClurkin, Pastor Warren, that DOMA brief, these could all be written off individually, but taken together it does start to worry me. Does that mean I think McCain would have been better? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean this administration gets a free pass because the other guy would have been worse.

    I don’t like to be a victim, but in my adult life, I’ve worked very hard to get Democrats elected and it seems like every single time, they turn around and bite me in the ass. Not just on gay issues, but progressive issues as well. And it often seems that the gay issues are the last ones to be addressed, because where else are we going to go?

    Sorry for the length (and I’m sure no one is reading), but I just wanted to say thanks for writing this. I feel much better having gotten this off my (waxed, tanned, pumped and moisturized) chest.

  237. 237
    Cerberus says:

    I wonder how Sully will handle this news today: Obama to Announce End to HIV Travel Ban which among other things will eliminate immigration restrictions due to HIV status.

    But you see, Obama does nothing for gay people and doesn’t care about our pressing concerns.

    I am very proud of my president this week, hopefully we can give him some momentum with victories in Maine and Washington.

  238. 238
    Tattoosydney says:

    @slightly_peeved:

    I disagree. That’s what Obama is doing. Right now. …. convince the centre of the value of leftist policies. …

    Yes. This. Very this.

  239. 239
    eyelessgame says:

    This.

  240. 240

    […] John Cole specifically talks about the “brouhaha” over gay rights legislation that Obama just signed, it could be […]

  241. 241
    itsbenj says:

    Thanks for addressing my comment, I do apologize if the tone of it wasn’t as civil as could have been, and thanks for the clarification. I do agree with a lot of what you’re saying, people do criticize Obama over stuff that isn’t his fault. But I do have sympathy for the arguments of LGBTQ activists regarding Obama’s (lack of) actions on their behalf. Obama created new faith-based structure within the gov’t by executive order, and has instated and suspended other measures by executive order, but won’t touch LGBTQ issues using the same authority. It confuses me, it must infuriate gay citizens who were promised a ‘fierce advocate’.

    But I concur in that people saying Obama’s as bad as or worse than Bush lampoon themselves. But on the other side, that is different than pointing out that, on a partiuclar issue, the stance being taken by Obama may be the same as or worse than Bush’s stance. There aren’t many instances of this, but there are times when it’s at least a valid topic for debate. Use of predator drones, for example, has gone way up under Obama, and IMO, it’s just about the most cowardly form of violence or warfare ever invented.

    Thanks again!

  242. 242
    eyelessgame says:

    @slightly_peeved:

    Make your party the one of sensible centrism, and force your opponents to either stake out an extreme position or an incoherent one. Don’t force leftist policies on the electorate; convince the centre of the value of leftist policies.

    Considering the way in which the Republican party has shifted right in the past couple of years,

    Unfortunately, much as I’d like to agree with you, that’s right in the hands of the Overton window players on the right — and it’s also the strategy followed by one William J. Clinton, to a less than impressive result as far as political realignment goes.

    It’s not the strategy followed by either Reagan or Roosevelt, the last two great realigners of the country. What they did was take policies that were outside of the mainstream and make them appear mainstream — and thus made them mainstream.

    The screechers from the left, that John rightly mocks, don’t help. But neither do the concern trolls who are fine with Democrats so long as they’re nice polite centrists. If your two national parties are centrist and rightwing, you’re not convincing anyone of the virtue of policies to the left.

  243. 243
    eyelessgame says:

    well, suck. Messed up the quote. But anyway.

  244. 244
    SGEW says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Ahem.

    “Crimes” is a technical term, my friend. Protip: all presidents have committed crimes, of one sort or another. As Al Gore allegedly said, “of course it’s illegal – that’s why it’s covert” (paraphrasing).

    Nobody said that Obama was torturing by proxy (the term “rendition,” both extraordinary and “ordinary,” does not per se refer to rendering for the purposes of torture, guy). And hey, some renditions are technically illegal under international law. Thus “crime.” Accuracy, dig?

    The special prosecution is in its very earliest stages, and there is substantive criticism that its tentative framework fails to meet the base standards for accountability under, say, the Convention Against Torture, which is the law. Therefore, if there is a violation of the treaty’s requirements for investigation (and other remedial measures), it would be, once again technically, “criminal.”

    Yes, Obama is “continuing the war,” but he never promised that he would violate (and/or continue to violate) international human rights agreements. Read moar link about drones, plz.

    The “Left Overs”: The things I listed there were well documented, widely reported, and not-unreasonably suspicious events that raise very serious questions of major criminal activity that may very well be ongoing. If it happens under an administration’s watch, it’s placed at their feet: bucks have to stop somewhere. That’s one of the reasons why we have an executive administration.

    . . .

    Now, you seem to be reacting to some perceived impression that I find these things to be impeachable offenses, or so beyond the pale that any possible support for an executive who is responsible for them is immediately unthinkable[1]. Well well. Under that rubric, every president should have been impeached, and no one should ever have supported them (Lincoln suspended habeas corpus! FDR interned American citizens in god damned concentration camps! And those were the good presidents!).

    Every American President is a monster. A monster. It comes with the job; it is unavoidable. But have some perspective, k? There are degrees of harm, and these degrees are important. President George W. Bush was aberrantly criminal. President Obama appears to be, thus far, unusually observant of the niceties (i.e., “the law”), with a remarkably precise understanding of jurisprudence. There is, indeed, reason to hope (thus: maybe best president ever, ever).

    Just because an administration commits “crimes” (and, hey, most of these are under international “law,” which is kind of a sick joke anyway), or “wrongdoings” (name one administration, ever, that has never done “wrong”) does not mean they are automatically unsupportable, or even the “best of their kind.” (“Least Evil Tyrant Award”). If that’s what you’re looking for in a leader, find a religion, not a politician.

    [1] Or even that I believe that they are all true! You wanted examples of reasonably alleged “crimes” and “wrongdoings,” and there you go. You can certainly disagree with the assertions (or come up with colorable arguments or exculpatory evidence), but you are incorrect to call them “bullshit.” Jerk.

  245. 245
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    You wanted examples of reasonably alleged “crimes” and “wrongdoings,” and there you go

    Nope, I didn’t want examples of reasonably alleged crimes. I wanted solid evidence of crimes. Any idiot on a blog can churn out allegations of this or that, and ask perpetual questions of could it be true. It is a lie and part and parcel of our current political dialogue.

    And I disagree that loosely throwing around terms of “crimes” and “wrongdoings” is a ho hum like enterprise that is not necessarily impeachable for a presnit. It is wreckless claptrap IMHO, and there is no room for parsing it into technical navel gazing on allegations of anyone committing, or alleging of having committed one, and I am talking about felony type crimes, not exceeding the speed limit. And doubly so for a president you say you think is just great.

    And frankly, it’s just stoopid for someone as intelligent as you are.

  246. 246
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @SGEW:

    Jerk.

    No doubt about it. Sometimes.

  247. 247
    slag says:

    @kwAwk:

    During last year’s primary he somehow managed the feat of positioning himself on every issue just slightly to the right of Hillary Clinton while convincing the activist base that he was their man.

    These were your words. Obama didn’t position himself to the right on foreign policy. Your words were wrong. That’s not my problem.

    I, for one, am over the moon that Obama (and not Clinton or McCain) is our president. In spite of my differences with some of his decisions. Really, this isn’t that complicated.

  248. 248
    SGEW says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Fun!

    Just because one doesn’t have “solid evidence” of criminal activity by the government doesn’t mean that one should ignore reasonable allegations that they are being committed. That kind of thinking has caused . . . problems over the past decade or so. The “lie” is that we should keep on walking, and not discuss questions of what could be true. Do you really see reasonable allegations of criminal activity to be “part and parcel of our current political dialogue”? N.B.: Glenn Greenwald, Scott Horton, Matt Taibbi, and DailyKos are not a significant part of the political dialogue in this country (and Glenzilla is not an “idiot on a blog” who’s “churn[ing] out allegations of this or that”).

    This is a substantive point, a serious matter: One should not ignore reasonable allegations of criminal activity just because they are a) not proven yet, b) alleged against “your guy,” or c) not as bad as previous crimes.

    Yes, George W. Bush was a monstrous war criminal, who tortured innocent detainees to death and made a mockery of the rule of law. Obama is no more criminal than any other world leader, and they gave him a Nobel Peace Prize for not doing that – deservedly so (imho). And there is a sick irony about the fact that Obama might be violating the Convention Against Torture by failing to properly investigate the Bush administration, and that we’re holding him to account. Sure. But! Law breaking is still law breaking, and there is very, very rarely any good case to be made for an informed public to ignore it.

    This is not a “ho hum” exercise. It’s the fucking law.

    [As to impeachment, or calls for such, that is a purely partisan political question in America (see, e.g., Clinton, Wiliam vs. Bush, George W.), not a question of criminality. So it’s a moot point.]

  249. 249
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @SGEW:

    I just really don’t agree with you on this SGEW, and vice-versa it seems. How bout we just leave it there, until next time we disagree K.

  250. 250
    SGEW says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Oh, hey. Don’t mind me, just wanted to follow the thought. And I probably agree with you politically (i.e., how much of a big deal should be made over said alleged criminality by the media) while disagreeing philosophically (No Justice, No Peace!). Or something. Cheers.

  251. 251
    debbie says:

    John, your post is the best I’ve read in many days. While I was an Obama supporter from the earliest days, I’ve been attacked by both my progressive and conservative friends. They may see things from opposite ends of the spectrum, but they’re all convinced that if you don’t see it exactly their way, you’re either a traitor or a blithering idiot. And they think that gives them license to be as angry and irrational as they like.

    While they shriek at each other, they seem to get even angrier with someone like me who falls somewhere in the middle, acting as if I’m the biggest traitor of all. I’ve been called all kinds of names by people I’ve known for years –– people who I really thought were my friends. I’m not in the tank for Obama (I disagree with where his administration stands on things like financial reform and Guantanamo, for instance), but it’s as if I’m personally to blame for what they don’t like about him. And because they blame me, they feel free to abuse me on matters far beyond politics.

    I realize this kind of demonization all started with Lee Atwater, and it seems to progress incrementally with each election cycle. But I can’t imagine it getting much angrier than it is now.

    I used to think about leaving the country when a Republican like Reagan took over, just because I didn’t like his policies. Now, I think that if I had the money, l’d like to leave the country because I just don’t like the people anymore.

  252. 252

    @itsbenj:

    Use of predator drones, for example, has gone way up under Obama, and IMO, it’s just about the most cowardly form of violence or warfare ever invented.

    It would seem you’re pretty free with the lives of soldiers and Pakastan’s dirt. I suppose the other alternative is to just leave them alone to do exactly as they please. Let’s see, Pak won’t have our troops on their soil so you propose what? An invasion? Leave them be? You think there is some clean way to drop some troops in on them? The populace won’t get in the way, the targets won’t fight back?

    Evidently you watch too many movies and take them seriously… I really like that, “cowardly.” Stupid fuck, the object of military action is to destroy or disable the opposition without getting that yourself so it involves a lot of hiding and reaching out and generally not getting hurt if you can at all avoid it.

    This may be the result of calling everybody and their brother a hero, the word had meaning – once. We loosely call cops heroes, now per the actuarial tables of insurance companies it is more dangerous to be a carpenter and they’re not called heroes for doing more dangerous work for less money. Despite the medals, the military is not fond of heroics, it tends to get you dead as well as others around you.

  253. 253

    Regarding the cautious Obama:

    I seem to remember the rather large portion who said Health Reform was too much on the table and too risky and yet here we are. It has been the political graveyard of a bunch of political dreams so I’m sure that qualifies as cautious. Sure, I’d like stronger this and that – and so have a lot of us for a very long time as the action was exactly … nothing.

  254. 254
    gopher2b says:

    Hear, hear.

  255. 255
    Very Reverend Crimson Fire of Compassion says:

    BFT. Thank you for acknowledging what has been glaringly obvious for some time now. Judging gay people through the lens of Andrew Sullivan is like judging black people through the words and behavior of Michael Steele. And in contrast to what some of the earlier commentators have told you, yes, it damned well did need to be acknowledged. The consistent strain of “You silly faggots need to get over yourselves and stop bugging my President.” has been the single greatest flaw in what is otherwise the best damned blog I’ve ever encountered. Speaking as someone who lost a gay brother to AIDS, and whose gay sister has been hospitalized twice as the result of hate-crimes, it’s a little maddening when people who have no dog in this fight insist on trivializing the concerns of the people who are actually dealing with anti-gay bigotry on a daily basis. If you can’t respond to the hysterical stupidity of SOME gay bloggers without generalizing your reaction to include gay people in general, you’re stereotyping.

  256. 256
    brantl says:

    Shorter John Cole:
    “With real boats (not hypothetical dream boats) it takes a while to turn the boat around”

  257. 257
    itsbenj says:

    @Chuck Butcher:hilarious. ok, whatever there, dude. you think I want more soldiers to die, and you’re wrong, but I know for a fact that you want innocent civillians to die, and that’s wrong two. double idiocy for you, pal.

  258. 258
    Tom says:

    I just wanted to chime in and say that this post from John was, for me, highly welcome and long overdue. Like apparently some of your readers, I came to the conclusion that you have something of an authoritarian point of view and that you have, if not a problem with gays, then at least a deep misunderstanding of where they’re coming from. Your constant taunting of gay activists was, frankly, ill advised. I agree that there are plenty of people on the left who are lobbying intensely stupid criticisms at Obama and among them are quite a few gay activists/bloggers. But lately you’ve come across a bit too obsessed with the gay ones in particular. As you’ve wisely noted in this post, gay people have been fighting these fights for a very long time and they are tired and pissed off. That doesn’t make them right all the time, but that needs to be taken into consideration when some of them appear less than reasonable. When a person who doesn’t have to fight that fight comes along and snorts derisively seemingly every time a gay person says something on the internet, it does give the appearance of an anti-gay bias or at the least, a stunning ignorance of the history.

    Anyway, I don’t mean to sling accusations. Like I said, this was a welcome post. I think your intentions are good and I no longer think you have a problem with gays, but I have to admit, I’m not convinced yet that you don’t have a tendency to go in the tank for the politicians you support. I guess time will tell on that one.

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