Krugman Points Out the Obvious

This is a depressing read:

Mr. Obama’s pay ploy might, just might, have been justified if he had used the announcement of a freeze as an occasion to take a strong stand against Republican demands — to declare that at a time when deficits are an important issue, tax breaks for the wealthiest aren’t acceptable.

But he didn’t. Instead, he apparently intended the pay freeze announcement as a peace gesture to Republicans the day before a bipartisan summit. At that meeting, Mr. Obama, who has faced two years of complete scorched-earth opposition, declared that he had failed to reach out sufficiently to his implacable enemies. He did not, as far as anyone knows, wear a sign on his back saying “Kick me,” although he might as well have.

There were no comparable gestures from the other side. Instead, Senate Republicans declared that none of the rest of the legislation on the table — legislation that includes such things as a strategic arms treaty that’s vital to national security — would be acted on until the tax-cut issue was resolved, presumably on their terms.

It’s hard to escape the impression that Republicans have taken Mr. Obama’s measure — that they’re calling his bluff in the belief that he can be counted on to fold. And it’s also hard to escape the impression that they’re right.

The real question is what Mr. Obama and his inner circle are thinking. Do they really believe, after all this time, that gestures of appeasement to the G.O.P. will elicit a good-faith response?

What’s even more puzzling is the apparent indifference of the Obama team to the effect of such gestures on their supporters. One would have expected a candidate who rode the enthusiasm of activists to an upset victory in the Democratic primary to realize that this enthusiasm was an important asset. Instead, however, Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake.

Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction.

I honestly don’t know what they are doing. I thought it was absurd all the hand-wringing right out of the gate in 2009, but it has been two years now. We’ve seen nothing but capitulation from the Dems and the WH, and the Republicans are being rewarded for their behavior. What are they doing? What are they thinking?

Is there honestly not one advisor in the WH who has Obama’s ear who hates the Republicans? Because that is what we need. Someone in there who hates the Republicans with the burning intensity of a million suns. No more playing nice. That didn’t work the last two years. Start fighting back. Stop trying to find common ground and start heightening the contradictions.

Meanwhile, as this extremely important battle over domestic policy is being waged, the President is… in Afghanistan.






290 replies
  1. 1

    Well this should be another interesting 400+ comment thread.

  2. 2
    Cain says:

    Maybe I can advise him. I hate the Republicans like a burning brand of sulfur.

    cain

  3. 3
    chopper says:

    the house passed the MC-only tax cut yesterday and it’s being voted on in the senate tomorrow, assuming the goopers don’t filibuster it.

  4. 4
    CT Voter says:

    From your keyboard to the WH.

    But I guess we’re supposed to be sustained by the knowledge that things would have been much worse, had Republicans been in power.

    Cold comfort, that.

  5. 5
    Cain says:

    [munching on arguingwithsignpost’s brain]

    MMMM.. brain..

    cain

  6. 6
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Just fill your wineglass, light the fire, pull the recliner up to it, sit and sip your wine while watching the world burn down from your front window.

    Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride to the bottom as best you can. There’s no getting off of it until the end.

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    I’ve made my one and only contribution to it right here. Let the howling and rending of garments start anew!

  7. 7
    General Stuck says:

    Krugman “2012”

  8. 8
    Zifnab says:

    Is there honestly not one advisor in the WH who has Obama’s ear who hates the Republicans? Because that is what we need. Someone in there who hates the Republicans with the burning intensity of a million suns. No more playing nice.

    Howard Dean hated the Republicans, but we told him to sit down and shut up. Al Gore was ready to get in the face of the Republicans, but he disappeared off the map after ’08. We had a few fighting House Reps – Alan Grayson, whatisface who runs the Progressive Caucus – but they regularly get ignored or drowned out for not being serious enough.

    We didn’t get a vote on universal coverage in the House. We didn’t get a vote on a climate change bill or an immigration bill in the Senate. Liberals have thrown up balanced budget bills by the ton and they all get swept into the footnotes of history.

    I can’t believe Obama is so insulated that he’s not hearing any of this.

  9. 9
    kuvasz says:

    One has to wonder if Barack Obama is a Manchurian candidate for the GOP. It is hard to image how a paid agent in the employment of the GOP could not have fucked up things worse for the Democrats and the rest of the nation.

  10. 10
    tommybones says:

    I’m suspecting Obama is the ultimate Manchurian Candidate at this point. I’m with Digby on this one. Obama WANTS all the tax cuts extended and requires the useful villain to blame.

  11. 11
    J.W. Hamner says:

    While I agree with the frustration, I’m not sure I blame Obama for going to Afghanistan… that’s pretty important too. I mean that is literally life and death, unlike taxes, so I think I can allow him to go and check in on it.

  12. 12
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    When folks are calling you a Messiah, it’s only logical that you nail yourself to the cross. Hope the swing voters he’s trying to appeal to appreciate the symbolism.

  13. 13
    geg6 says:

    Is there honestly not one advisor in the WH who has Obama’s ear who hates the Republicans? Because that is what we need. Someone in there who hates the Republicans with the burning intensity of a million suns. No more playing nice.

    I’m perfectly willing to volunteer for the job, but no one at the White House listens to me.

  14. 14
    tommybones says:

    Wow, Kuvasz… nice timing… ;)

  15. 15
    Andrew says:

    Maybe I should just disengage from all op-eds and political blogs for awhile.

    As I’ve said throughout the past few days, I don’t think they’ve handled this fight well, and I lean towards the position that they should let all the cuts expire and call their bluff.

    But dear God, the mass hysteria is really getting tiresome. It may be a blunder, but that everyone is collectively losing their shit and screaming about how the end is near… it’s getting ridiculous.

    Democrats always do this when we face a major loss. It initially seemed that we were avoiding this contagion in 2010, unlike in ’94, ’04, or even the MA special election. Now it looks like it just got delayed by a month, with the whole tax cut debacle just providing a pretext for people to go, oh wait, the sky IS falling.

  16. 16
    General Stuck says:

    One has to wonder if Barack Obama is a Manchurian candidate for the GOP.

    I was wondering which one you wizards would broach this.

    edit – now who will be the first to suggest a family tie with the Bush’s?

  17. 17
    pablo says:

    Prof. Krugman is dead wrong, I’ve got Obama’s back!

  18. 18
    c u n d gulag says:

    I knew I wasn’t working as a volunteer to get a flaming Liberal in the WH. I was pretty realistic.
    But I didn’t think that as well as being fairly centrist, he’d turn out to be the BIG PUSSY that he is.

    Does he know people are laughing at him? I would, but I’m crying too hard.

    Jesus, just fucking once, can you put up a fight! I mean a real one! Not getting on some stage yawping some pretty bullshit that’s supposed to make me think you’re a great leader. You’re not.
    Have fun in 2012, Barack. I may vote for you if I have no other Democratic alternative. But I ain’t doing a lick to get you re-elected.

  19. 19
    bkny says:

    going to afghanistan in the hopes of changing the visuals…

    mr hopey changey is a fraud.

  20. 20
    Sasha says:

    Meanwhile, as this extremely important battle over domestic policy is being waged, the President is… in Afghanistan.

    Well, if you wanted to tell Republican negotiators that you’re walking away from the table and not going to deal, this is about a dramatic a way as any to do so.

    Question: We know everything is good news for Republicans, but does that also mean that everything is bad news for Democrats?

  21. 21
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @General Stuck:

    I was wondering which one you wizards would broach this.

    You mean it already occurred to you and you kept it to yourself?

  22. 22
    Earl Butz says:

    Is there honestly not one advisor in the WH who has Obama’s ear who hates the Republicans? Because that is what we need. Someone in there who hates the Republicans with the burning intensity of a million suns. No more playing nice.

    There was one, his name was Rahm Emanuel. You saw what happened there.

    Have a nice day, all. I’m off to get a handjob molested by the TSA and then off to Austin Texas for the weekend. I’m going to ask for the “happy ending” and see if I end up in jail or not. Will let you all know.

  23. 23
    jinxtigr says:

    “There were no comparable gestures from the other side.”

    THIS is the story. THIS is the payoff. Did you not notice that not even the pundits are talking about how the poor Republicans are being treated so unfairly, how the meanie Democrats are just blindered and not serious?

    Do you think the Republicans lost the last Presidential election because they were not combative enough?

    It’s nice to see political blog people being really upset and betrayed, but I have to say again- look at what actual policy is enacted, and also bear in mind how feasible it is to enact any of it the way we want. And then look at this rampant ‘kick me’ stuff as simply a way of positioning, so there cannot be a story of ‘Obama and the Democrats are bullying bastards’ to fuel a Republican takeover. Instead there is the ‘Republicans are bullying bastards’ angle which makes them happy, which makes us sad, and which looks less than pleasing to the mass of centrist out-of-touch voters who aren’t actually paying attention to much. It will resonate because it is true.

  24. 24
    AnnaN says:

    The worst thing to have happened to Obama is to have won the Nobel Peace Prize. This created an expectation which he believes he has to live up to, i.e., a PP Nobel laureate must be a martyr and not take a hard line stance and fear the label (true or not) of asshole. Which is how the GOP will paint him if he goes out guns ablazin.

  25. 25

    It would really be a terrible disappointment for me if Obama melted down in front of all the opposition and just became a puddle on the ground.

    If the combination of Big Money, racism, and Total Nuttery defeats him, what political options do we have left?

  26. 26
    General Stuck says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    You mean it already occurred to you

    Whenever I log onto this blog, it doe usually occur to me how stupid you are fuckhead, the only question is what stupid thing will it say. And like clockwork, you never disappoint.

    edit – and wannabe white house advisor geg always brings the flowers and chocolates.

  27. 27
    geg6 says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Oooo, snap.

    See? This is why I find you a treasure.

  28. 28
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    When folks are calling you a Messiah, it’s only logical that you nail yourself to the cross.

    Getting that last nail in can be a real betch, though.

  29. 29
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Earl Butz:

    There was one, his name was Rahm Emanuel.

    Emmanuel only hates Republicans because he’s competing with them for the same donors.

  30. 30
    geg6 says:

    @jinxtigr:

    And then look at this rampant ‘kick me’ stuff as simply a way of positioning, so there cannot be a story of ‘Obama and the Democrats are bullying bastards’ to fuel a Republican takeover. Instead there is the ‘Republicans are bullying bastards’ angle which makes them happy, which makes us sad, and which looks less than pleasing to the mass of centrist out-of-touch voters who aren’t actually paying attention to much. It will resonate because it is true.

    Yeah, because the American electorate just loves them some whining pu$$ies.

  31. 31
    bkny says:

    @AnnaN:

    the nobel committee needs to rescind the award. obama has proven himself in contempt of democratic ideals and the rule of law. he’s as much a war criminal as george w. bush with the continuation and expansion of these murderous policies.

  32. 32
    General Stuck says:

    @geg6:

    Yeah, because the American electorate just loves them some whining pu$$ies.

    tell me geg6, when someone shows up with the rope, will you do the banding?. maybe put them on your hearth.

  33. 33
    WyldPirate says:

    Meanwhile, as this extremely important battle over domestic policy is being waged, the President is… in Afghanistan.

    Heat’s too hot in the DC kitchen, apparantly.

    I think a little Nelly is an appropriate musical selection for Obama’s little trip.

  34. 34
    mk3872 says:

    Great. Even friggin’ John Cole has fallen into the trap.

    The WH is being smart not to hammer the GOP.

    You may not like the system, but they NEED a few Repub votes and a few CONSERVADEM votes for ANYTHING to proceed.

    You CANNOT hammer them if your objective is to GET THINGS DONE.

    If your objective is to appease Cole, Hamsher and Huffington, then yes, by all means, call them A-Holes.

    But understand that NOTHING will get done.

  35. 35
    geg6 says:

    @General Stuck:

    I don’t even know what the hell you mean but I’m sure it’s some iteration of how I hate Obama.

    Fuck you. I want to support him but he’s making it impossible.

  36. 36
    MBunge says:

    Wasn’t there a whole thing just last month ago about all the stuff that Obama’s actually accomplished in office? Didn’t he get all that stuff done doing it his way, rather than following the dictates of the almighty Krug-monster? And by the way, when the hell has Krugman ever proven he knows his ass from his elbow when it comes to politics as opposed to policy?

    Mike

  37. 37
    Mnemosyne says:

    Meanwhile, as this extremely important battle over domestic policy is being waged, the President is… in Afghanistan.

    Because, really, there’s no vacation spot more pleasant than Afghanistan in December.

  38. 38
    Sue says:

    The commenters on this blog in particular used to continually encourage calling and writing legislators to either encourage action on a piece of legislation or just let them know approval or displeasure.
    I don’t see that so much, in fact I haven’t seen it at all in the last few weeks. I know I’ve stopped, convinced that no one was listening anyway. Where are you folks on this? Are people still calling/writing?
    And Mr. Krugman speaks for exactly how I feel and have felt for awhile.

  39. 39
    Jeff says:

    People need to go back and read “The Audacity of Hope”. There is a very simple reason why Obama keeps talking about “common ground”. And it is his belief that the fundamental problems of this country will not be resolved until people in this country and their elected representatives can come together to work on the pressing problems of the day. And he believes that we can because by and large there are values that both Democrats and Republicans share. However, that can’t happen until it can actually be SHOWN that it can. And for Obama to give up on finding common ground, is to give up on the very thing he thinks is essential to solving the problems of this society. It is reinforcing the idea that we are hopelessly divided, that the idea we can come together is a myth, and that we should just focus on our own interests.

    I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Obama was the right guy at the wrong time. We NEED a person like Obama who has the ability to view his opponents as opponents, not enemies. Who has the ability to see the good on the other side. Who can unite people together to work on solving the problems in our society. The problem is he came in a time where due to a myriad of situations that ability to unite really was impossible. But for Obama to give up now, is to give up on the reason he became President in the first place. He didn’t become President because he thought he had the best policies. He became President because he thought he had the ability to do heal the divisions in this country. That the divisions have just gotten worse is utterly tragic.

    The thing is though, he said this over and over again during the primary and the election. And it pisses me off that people are confused when he’s trying to do what he said he was going to do. It’s like people are so cynical they just assumed they were just words, and not something far deeper and true to who he was.

  40. 40
    blondie says:

    Golly, I’m getting tired of the Neville Chamberlain impression coming out of the White House. Either that or the current POTUS is well right of his portrayal.

  41. 41
    General Stuck says:

    @geg6:

    You are a racist twit, using racist memes. Fuck you

  42. 42
    gnomedad says:

    @Zifnab:

    I can’t believe Obama is so insulated that he’s not hearing any of this.

    That about sums it up for me. I keep hoping he’s waiting for the right moment to serve up something along the lines of “it’s become obvious that the Republicans are not interested in compromise or the good of the nation.”

  43. 43
    Midnight Marauder says:

    I honestly don’t know what they are doing. I thought it was absurd all the hand-wringing right out of the gate in 2009, but it has been two years now. We’ve seen nothing but capitulation from the Dems and the WH, and the Republicans are being rewarded for their behavior. What are they doing? What are they thinking?

    I don’t know, maybe he is letting Congress do its fucking legislative thing, since they are an entirely separate body of government completely unbeholden to him? Maybe they are pleased with the latest development that finds Harry Reid bringing just two votes to the floor of the Senate, one on the middle class tax cut bill just passed by the House and one on a separate bill to extend the Bush tax cuts for those with income below $1 million? Maybe we can stop substituting the word “capitulation” in place of “governing process”?

    Meanwhile, as this extremely important battle over domestic policy is being waged, the President is… in Afghanistan.

    This is kind of pathetic coming from you. Are you seriously maintaining that President Obama has no legitimate business in Afghanistan right now? That he needs to be POUNDING AWAY ON THE PHONES instead of making a rare trip to the the actual country of Afghanistan to work on the intractable mess that is our presence there?

    Go cradle Lily, play some Starcraft, and get plastered or something. It’s pretty obvious your brain can’t handle politics anymore right now.

  44. 44
    geg6 says:

    @mk3872:

    What the fuck exactly is getting done? Please, I’m dying to know. And, no, let’s not go all the way back to health care reform because that was so long ago and far away (and ineffective, really, as true reform). Have unemployment benefits been extended? Are the top 2% going to pay their fair share? Has immigration reform been passed? Has DADT been abolished? Have we gotten any new stimulus? Please, tell me exactly what has been done that the American people will notice or be affected by? What?

  45. 45
    geg6 says:

    @General Stuck:

    Again, fuck you asshole. I have never used a racist meme in my life. You better learn how to read, you dumb fuck.

  46. 46

    @J.W. Hamner: Bingo!! If the troops are going to be in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, they deserve the occasional visits. Besides, I am sure Obama is getting updates all the time from his staff.

  47. 47
    BTD says:

    I thought it was absurd all the hand-wringing right out of the gate in 2009, but it has been two years now.

    The handwringing on the Post Partisan Unity Schtick began, at least for me, in 2006.

    Link

  48. 48
    Mnemosyne says:

    @geg6:

    Yeah, because the American electorate just loves them some whining pu$$ies.

    Ah, yes, the inevitable homophobic complaints about how Democrats just want to take it up the ass. Nice.

  49. 49

    @mk3872: You think kissing the GOP’s ass is going to get him anything?

  50. 50
    aimai says:

    @jinxtigr:

    But this understates the effect on Obama’s own supporters. True that the hard core political types, however pissed off, won’t stop voting Democratic. But voting democratic at the next election isn’t the only thing Obama needs support for–he needs money, other dems need money, and fights need to be fought at the state level every day. I’m stunned by the total reversal of the attitudes of the progressives/regular dems I know who voted for Obama with an extreme passion.

    Obama and the Democratic leadership have two possible approaches to the disaffection of the base: they can blame them for being foolish or too impatient or John’s old tag “manic progressives” or they can grasp that *whatever* the cause its a real and serious problem. If your base is consistently disappointed with you *for whatever reason* from pay freezes to your haircut the smart political act is to stop doing whatever is pissing them off.

    I’ve got no problem with Politicians doing what politicians do–wheeling, dealing, lying, cozening, begging, etc… as long as the ones I’ve voted for do the best they can. I don’t even object to them selling the sizzle for the steak and trumpeting patently useless or gimmicky ploys that they had to take to win over some constituency. But for christ’s sake you’ve got to sell the goddamned sizzle.

    The Dems, at this point, don’t seem to be able to sell firewood to eskimos or whatever other metaphor you want to use. They are still talking about “the Bush Tax Cuts” instead of the “Obama Tax Cuts” on the “Bush-Ten-Year-Tax-Hike.” This is something that literally costs *nothing*–its just rhetoric. So why aren’t they agreed on this language? Because they are too busy chasing their own tails?

    This isn’t all Obama’s fault but if the White House and his closest supporters want to describe every failed decision as an evidence of the President’s own preference for bipartisanship they are going to have to take the blame for the utter failure of this approach.

    aimai

  51. 51
    WarMunchkin says:

    @mk3872: sorry, but we’re really tired of over 9000 dimensional chess.

    Something really did snap for the whole Left Blogistan this week, and I think it’s just that this is the *easiest* fight to pick, the one with the starkest difference between the Dem and Repub positions, that goes down to the center of both parties’ ideologies – one fights for the weak, the other preys on the weak.

  52. 52
    General Stuck says:

    @geg6:

    LOL, you may be innocent, for being dumb as a rock.

  53. 53
    aimai says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Oh come on, Mnemosyne. Pussy is and always has been a slur on the feminine not a covert homosexual reference.

    aimai

  54. 54
    flyingdonut says:

    I love the guy, but he’s making it REALLY FUCKING HARD to keep this up. Why the capitulation before they even do anything?

  55. 55
    gene108 says:

    Maybe Obama should declare the Presidency to be an independent branch of government, rather than a co-equal branch along with the legislature and judiciary?

    I mean, forget having Congress approve a budget. Obama just gets the Treasury to print money and if Congress doesn’t like it, tough titties.

    Yeah, I’m ranting a bit above, but at some point we have what we have with regards to our government.

    Congress and the President should try to cooperate, but that’s not always been the case in our history. If Congress and the President are at loggerheads, than there has to be some form of cooperation to get things done, because no branch can just “take its ball and go home” or change the rules (one branch can abuse the rules, but that’s a different issue).

    For better or worse, we’re stuck with a government that forces opposing groups to try and work together, which isn’t always very efficient.

    The Republicans have taken obstructionism to a whole new level, not seen in modern politics. Instead of the Left continually attacking the Republicans about this, the Left seems more intent on attacking Obama for his perceived acceptance of reality: he needs to deal with Republicans.

    The Republicans will only back down, if they suffer at the polls for a few election cycles, but the Left decided to jettison Obama because there was no public option in the HCR bill. Because Obama decided to not let the “perfect”, i.e. single payer or a public option, stand in the way of the good, which was doing away with pre-existing conditions, as a reason to deny coverage, for example, and getting 30 million more people insured by 2014.

    Because the Republicans abused the rules of the game, in the Senate, by filibustering every damn thing so it took 60 votes to pass legislation, the Democrats and President Obama needed at least one or two Republican votes to get anything passed.

    When the stimulus bill passed, the Democrats had 58 Senators. The Franken-Coleman race was still being decided and Specter was a Republican. When health care came up for a vote in the summer they still had only 58 Senators, because Ted Kennedy died and no one had replaced him yet.

    I don’t know what folks like Krugman expect (Eugene Robinson had another op-ed with a similar theme in the WaPo), because no President stand alone at the bully-pulpit and brow beats the opposing Party into submission. The Presidents usually push an agenda, after people supporting it have begun convincing the public of the need for that agenda to become law.

    Instead of emphasizing the plight of the unemployed, for example – and with the advent of Youtube, betting stories out and heard by some people and maybe picked up by the MSM and rebroadcast isn’t as hard as it used to be – the Left is squandering what little voice it has, compared to the right-wing media juggernaut, by jumping on Obama and the Democrats.

    Hell, gay people voted Republican in record numbers in 2010, because the Democrats didn’t repeal DADT, as if Republicans are going to be more willing to cooperate now, since they won an election by gay-baiting, and other fear mongering tactics.

    When a large chunk of the media is going 24/7 anti-Obama, whatever platform liberals have needs to be focused on promoting the positive Democrats are doing and the bad things Republicans are doing. With the Left being shrill, all that gets filtered to the low info voters (independents and otherwise) is Obama is week and hasn’t gotten anything done, in the last two years, which is far from the truth.

    I personally think many people on the Left secretly want President Palin to be sworn in on January 2013, because she’s hot, she can field dress a moose and it’ll give them something more to whine about.

    Instead of cribbing about Obama, why not use your NYT’s platform, to promote what’s being done in relative obscurity, such as:

    WASHINGTON – November 22 – Starting this week, Jobs with Justice coalitions in dozens of cities will bring the voices of un- and under-employed workers into the debate on how to move forward on a jobs plan that would put people back to work immediately. 15 million Americans are out of work, and with out a major federal investment in creating jobs, (official) jobless rates will be 8-13% into the next decade. Meanwhile, corporations are sitting on more than $8 trillion in reserves that could be used to create jobs.

    http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2010/11/22-7

    Lord knows, if this was a conservative group that decided to wave some teabags around on April 15, Fox News would have wall to wall 24/7 coverage…oh wait, that happened and energized a demoralized Republican base to retake the House in 2010…

    But of course liberal media sources and liberal commentators, don’t have the ability to mobilize the liberal base, unlike their conservative counterparts because…I don’t know…maybe because they rarely try…they’d rather bitch about the Democrats not doing something they think is a good idea…

  56. 56
    chopper says:

    dance, my little puppets, DANCE!

  57. 57
    Lolis says:

    @bkny:

    Anyone who quotes Sarah Palin is not a liberal in my book.

    The left needs to learn to criticize Obama without using right wing tropes.

    I am with Cole on this one, but at the same time I see that this fight for the White House is really about unemployment benefits and maybe getting DREAM and DADT repeal passed in the lame duck. Is it worth compromising on a position that is very popular with the American public? Well, that is for everyone to decide. My friend with two kids and a husband whose unemployment just ran out would probably think so.

    I honestly don’t know. The Bush tax cuts are a great moral failure in this country and I think they need to be ended. We should revert back to Clinton era taxes and work from there.

  58. 58
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle:

    Bingo!! If the troops are going to be in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, they deserve the occasional visits. Besides, I am sure Obama is getting updates all the time from his staff.

    Nope. No way. He is in Afghanistan, phone turned off, completely disconnected from all business back home in Washington D.C., totally aloof as to the latest developments in the legislative battle to pass middle class tax cuts.

    If only the man knew what was going on while he was in Afghanistan. If only he knew…

  59. 59
    WyldPirate says:

    @General Stuck:

    Stuck, you’re the board’s resident expert in finding racism where there is none. The Rev. Al Sharpton of Balloon Juice.

    Anyone: “President Perfection Obama did _______ and it looks weak. the Republicans will take advantage of this.”

    General Stuck: “You’re a pig-ignorant racist cracker.”

    thin. fucking. skinned.

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:

    @aimai:

    Oh come on, Mnemosyne. Pussy is and always has been a slur on the feminine not a covert homosexual reference.

    Um, a slur on the feminine — saying that a man is weak just like a woman — is a covert homosexual reference.

    Sorry, but any reference that says that being feminine is automatically bad is homophobic (and sexist, of course, but people seem to be going in the homophobic direction since they spend a lot of time talking about “bending over.”)

  61. 61
    General Stuck says:

    @WyldPirate:

    I just calls em like i sees up wildythang, and will keep on doing that till i no longer do.

  62. 62
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    Dear Mr. President,

    As a clinician specializing in children with behaviors stemming from mental illness and cognitive deficits, I feel it incumbent to remind you of The Cardinal Rule of Behaviorism: DO NOT REWARD THE BEHAVIOR YOU WISH TO CHANGE.

    Sincerely,

    Erik

  63. 63
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Lolis:

    The left needs to learn to criticize Obama without using right wing tropes.

    It’s weird to hear the same insults that Rush Limbaugh has been using against Obama since November 2008 coming out of the mouths of supposed progressives. Very weird.

  64. 64
    CT Voter says:

    @gene108: That’s an awesome rant. Well done.

  65. 65
    Mnemosyne says:

    Why is my comment #60 in moderation? I don’t see any forbidden words. I didn’t even talk about footwear.

  66. 66
    General Stuck says:

    @WyldPirate:

    “You’re a pig-ignorant racist cracker.”

    I believe this quote of mine was just “pig ignorant cracker”, such as it goes on BJ, where nothing is real, nothing to get hung about.

  67. 67
    TaosJohn says:

    Obama is an effing plant. Not a spy, just a weed. I am SO not voting for any of these bastards in 2012.

  68. 68
    Suck It Up! says:

    Meanwhile, as this extremely important battle over domestic policy is being waged, the President is… in Afghanistan.

    Since we’re all about criticizing people we normally like and not blindly supporting them:

    Are you fucking kidding me with this bullshit? You’re extra mad ’cause he’s in Afghanistan? Afghanistan? last time I checked we were at war in Afghanistan. He’s not on vacation. He’s not golfing or clearing brush. Its criticism like that lets me know the lot of you have lost it and are now turning to petty complaints.

    Not only has Obama completed his transformation to a full blown Republican (according to some of your readers) but apparently his “base” is now sounding exactly like the right wing – ‘he’s stupid, incompetent, not one of us, and look, while the entire country is collapsing he’s off somewhere’ and (in honor of Wildpyrate) he’s black jesus!

  69. 69
    Tonal Crow says:

    The Democrats need to call the GOP’s bluff by letting all the tax cuts expire.

    This’ll put the onus on the GOP to compromise, since they won’t be able to pass anything without Democratic cooperation.

    And it’ll make it crystal clear that the GOP puts tax cuts for the rich over everything else.

    Hey Democrats, got spine?

  70. 70
    Maody says:

    Not that it will help with the business in the congress, but it *might* help a teensy weensy if he had a gigantic mega press conference during prime time and hit some people over the head loudly. For good measure, bring along some nice unemployed folks with families who have lost everything and are living in their cars or on the street. You know, some examples of what is actually going on out here in the hinterlands.

    ETA fuck me, how did I end up at comment #69, lollers

  71. 71

    @geg6:

    Please, tell me exactly what has been done that the American people will notice or be affected by? What?

    The Senate is actually working on unemployment insurance extension, DREAM, and extending tax reductions. They are also working on DADT. Debates are happening and votes are scheduled.

    A nice, big, effective stimulus? No, I haven’t noticed any evidence of that. And that’s a shame because the economy is really anemic [at least].

  72. 72
    WyldPirate says:

    @General Stuck:

    here nothing is real, nothing to get hung about.

    Damn you Stuck! Now you have me wanting some fresh strawberries and a nice hit of acid. ;)

  73. 73
    Suck It Up! says:

    @gene108:

    la la la la can’t criticize the left ’cause……you just can’t.

    great post by the way.

  74. 74
    gene108 says:

    @Lolis: Obama is in a bind. The Bush Tax Cuts will expire if nothing is done by January 1, 2011 and / or no retroactive solution can be plugged in, during the lame duck session.

    Everyone’s taxes will go up and most likely he’ll be blamed for raising taxes, since a large part of the public is convinced he was going to raise taxes from day one, grab all their guns, and other outrageous flights of fancy.

    The problem is the people who are a bit more rational, will look at their January 2011 paychecks and see less money, and realize they did have tax increase, while Obama is President.

    The right-wing media will push the narrative about Obama raising taxes, while the Left will bitch about Obama not fighting hard enough.

    Either way you look at it, Obama’s failed to deliver and that’s what will stick with most voters.

    *************************

    Do people really think LBJ got the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed, without a strong Civil Rights movement, which had been actively working in this country for decades? Yes. Decades.

    The NAACP had plans for a boycott in Alabama and was looking for someone and some situation to rally behind. One of their members, Rosa Parks, volunteered to get the ball rolling for the bus boycott. Prior to that the NAACP had won several Supreme Court decisions, reversing segregation policies, led by Thurgood Marshall (his record before the Supreme Court is friggin’ amazing, he won 31 or 32 cases while losing only 3 or 4).

    The list can go on about Presidents doing grand things, but rarely do those Presidents operate in a vacuum. There are strong social movements, which push the political landscape in one direction or another. You don’t sustain a movement by viciously turning on the people, who are willing to give you the time of day. You keep promoting your point of view, until it becomes the accepted way to think about things.

    The Left doesn’t seem to get this. They want 30 years of conservative domination of cultural thought, at least on economics (on social issues people are more liberal now, than in prior generations, but who cares right?) changed in a matter of months.

  75. 75
    salacious crumb says:

    i have been watching a lot of Godfather lately….im just hoping really hoping that Obama is making Republicans think they are winning …just like Michael, despite Clemenza’ and Tessio’s pleas, was allowing Barzini to take control of their territories only for Barzini and the other families to be caught off guard after the Don’s death and get bitchslapped in the end.

    again this is all happening in my fantasy world…

  76. 76
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @General Stuck:

    I believe this quote of mine was just “pig ignorant cracker”, such as it goes on BJ, where nothing is real, nothing to get hung about.

    I’m amazed you can remember all the crazy shit you write. I mean, there is just so goddamned much of it and it reads like the work of a truly deranged person.

  77. 77
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Zifnab: @Zifnab: This. And being a broken record (vinyl), I’ve gotta add, the media being controlled by the corporatists doesn’t help.

  78. 78
    LITBMueller says:

    Instead, however, Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake.

    Maybe its time to start considering that Candidate Obama was simply saying the “hope” stuff to get elected and now that he is in power, he is not incompetent, but complicit with Big Money’s overall goals? Maybe he’s not trying to disappoint his supporters, but rather “keep hope alive” (for lack of a better term) so that he doesn’t dip below the Mendoza Line of political support in national polling?

    Or, in the words of Sen. Michael Bennett: “It’s all rigged.”

    Maybe we should ask the former bankers in the Cabinet what their real strategy is…

  79. 79
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Jeff: Yes, the Audacity of Hope, and all that stuff about healing divides is important.
    It’s ALSO important to be a good negotiator. Or heck, even a good mediator. And sadly, it seems Obama has not done very well at any of that.

    The question going forward is: When does Obama change course now that the map of the land is more clear?

  80. 80
    ChrisWWW says:

    Obama should do what Bush did. Announce on TV in a very concise manner, exactly what he will sign into law.

    For example: tax cuts for everyone, no bonuses for people who make more than $250,000.

    Then blame the Republicans every day they don’t deliver this essential legislation to his desk.

    Same goes for START and unemployment $$$.

  81. 81
    Shalimar says:

    @mk3872: Nothing is going to get done anyway in the next 2 years that our next Republican president won’t undo in his first 2 months. If Obama wants his legacy to be positive, the only way to do it is to make Republicans pay heavily for constantly putting party above country.

  82. 82
    Ailuridae says:

    I have great respect for Krugman but I should probably note how much I absolutely fucking hate this use of ‘appeasement’.

    To the issue at hand, the President’s decision here regarding the pay freeze is pretty dim. It accomplishes nothing and he has to realize that the Republicans are not operating in good faith at this point, right?

    Yes, he needs to negotiate with them to run the government but the time for conciliatory gestures had certainly passed by the time the health care bill was signed. For the remainder of the next two years all negotiations have to be straight horse trading; there is absolutely no evidence that any good-faith gestures will be reciprocated. So stop fucking making them.

  83. 83

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    I’m amazed you can remember all the crazy shit you write. I mean, there is just so goddamned much of it and it reads like the work of a truly deranged person.

    Derangement is the spice of life.

  84. 84
    Paris says:

    Future deficits aren’t going to be decided by whether a decision is made on extending the Bush tax cuts hurriedly in the next couple of weeks. Get START, DADT, and unemployment passed before the end of the year. Extend the tax cuts and let the deficit issue slide for the new congress. Work out a plan so that in 2012 Dems can run clearly supporting the social safety net while the Repugs have to run against it. The Repugs claim they have a mandate to do something but I don’t remember anybody mentioning what it was before the election. Make it crystal clear where you stand and let the American people decide in 2012. The world will not end if we don’t figure out the right tax/spend balance in the mean time.

  85. 85
    Rick Taylor says:

    Mr. Obama’s pay ploy might, just might, have been justified if he had used the announcement of a freeze as an occasion to take a strong stand against Republican demands — to declare that at a time when deficits are an important issue, tax breaks for the wealthiest aren’t acceptable.

    __
    This was a hard one to take. I remind myself that the administration is up against ridiculous structural impediments in the senate, and with an incoming Republican house, it’s going to be difficult to get things done. But I can’t blame the senate for the pay freeze; that was done unilaterally. And I still can’t figure out why. It’s bad policy; in the short term we need to stimulate the economy, and we need good talent in government more than ever. And it makes no sense politically to me to snub your own base. I read someone posting in Balloon Juice who’d worked to help elect Obama and donated lots of money who was now being asked to send letters to the editor supporting his own pay cut (while soon we may be giving a big tax cut to the rich). Were they really trying to curry favor with either Republicans or with the pundits? That makes no sense at all, of course Republicans would take it and demand more. I really don’t get it.

  86. 86
    kay says:

    @aimai:

    I don’t know, aimai.

    What do you want, in terms of tangible things, and what will you trade to get there?

    Do you want UI extension or do you want a fight on a tax increase for the top 2%? Is getting both your bottom line? The tax fight plus the extension?

    If the fight means no UI extension, is that an okay result?

    If there’s no fight but a UI extension, is that a partial success?

    I don’t know what “the bases” bottom line is.

    I think I know Obama’s.

    He wants to extend the stimulus tax measures that went to the poorest, and he wants UI extension, and there ain’t no way in hell he is going to raise taxes on those making less than 250k.

    What’s yours? What do you want (best case) and what would you take (worst case, if your preferred tactics go all wrong) ? Too, how much risk can you accept? What happens if you lose on everything?

  87. 87
    Ailuridae says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Why do they need to do that? It sure looks like Reid is bringing two separate votes to the Senate floor on the tax extensions.

    http://www.politico.com/news/s.....45890.html

  88. 88
    Tsulagi says:

    It’s hard to escape the impression that Republicans have taken Mr. Obama’s measure —…that he can be counted on to fold.

    They made that measure long ago. One of the prime reasons they become more and more intransigent in their “No!” to virtually everything proposed by Dems. The bigger/louder the “No” and the more exclamation points, the more “Yes” they get.

    Do they really believe, after all this time, that gestures of appeasement to the G.O.P. will elicit a good-faith response?

    What’s that condition you have where you repeat the same thing over and over and over yet expect a different result?

    Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake.

    It’s a goodwill gesture to the opposition to till and cultivate the bipartisan soil sure to bear fruit any day now.

  89. 89
    ruemara says:

    @ChrisWWW:

    He has. Review the campaign footage from 06 to 08. Review all statements on tax cuts for the rich from on 09 to now. Then review all the democratic party “support” as a cohesive unit from our legislators. I see the problem now, Obama needs his own network and a 24/7 reality show where cameras follow him around. During bathroom breaks, a cardboard cut out with an audio track ca keep repeating what he’s said in his speeches on policy. Then maybe someone will believe he’s been on tv, saying exactly what he wants to do.

  90. 90
    Rick Taylor says:

    @Jeff:

    That is a very good post.

  91. 91
    JC says:

    The Bush tax cuts are a great moral failure in this country and I think they need to be ended. We should revert back to Clinton era taxes and work from there.

    This is my thought as well. The White House and Dems cannot enable this moral failure. Cannot make George W. Bush’s ‘we create reality’, the ACTUAL reality, around tax policy.

    Nothing more really needs to be said.

    Obama will either use his influence to make sure he gets good policy (we do have the Presidency and the Senate), or use his veto to stop bad policy.

  92. 92
    gene108 says:

    @Suck It Up!: Thank you.

    What gets me about the Professional Left and the Amateur Left is they realize Republicans are playing the political game to grab power for the sake of power, but somehow do things that are counterproductive to fighting back.

    I just don’t get this. On the one hand they want Democrats to “fight back” and on the other hand they do everything the possibly can to undercut their “team” in the political game, by diminishing Democratic accomplishments and magnifying Democratic failures.

    I can think of a bunch of bad sports analogies and metaphors right now, but leave those to the Professionals, like Chris Matthews.

  93. 93
    General Stuck says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    It’s deep man, real deep

  94. 94
    General Stuck says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    what do they call it, when the deranged accuse the deranged

    Balloon Juice?

  95. 95
    gene108 says:

    @Tsulagi:

    They made that measure long ago. One of the prime reasons they become more and more intransigent in their “No!” to virtually everything proposed by Dems. The bigger/louder the “No” and the more exclamation points, the more “Yes” they get.

    Which is why the Democrats dropped HCR all together, after the crazy summer of 2009, when people were screaming about death panels to their Congressmen in town hall meetings. I mean the Republicans yelled NO from the rooftops and made a big show about how they opposed HCR and the Democrats dropped the ball completely and withdrew the legislation, which is why there have been no changes to our nations healthcare laws, since Obama became President.

    The Democrats also completely caved on extending unemployment benefits and extending emergency aid to states this past May, because the Republicans said no and the bill never got passed.

    I agree with you completely. The Democrats do nothing but cave into Republican demands and have never passed any piece of legislation for the past two years.

    I mean didn’t Obama just sign Rep. Paul Ryan’s road map to fiscal well being into law, because Republicans objected to every Democratic idea, so what choice did Obama have?

  96. 96
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @General Stuck: What is hearth banding, BTW?

  97. 97
    General Stuck says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    classified, ask Assange?

  98. 98
    cyntax says:

    I don’t know, if extending the middle class tax-cuts is such bedrock pronciple of Obama’s, why weren’t they moving on it months ago when by the Repubs own admission, they would have had to vote for it? At some point you’ve got to play hardball.

    And yeah, I know that Obama said in the campaign and in his book that he truly believes in finding common ground, but he’s also said that doing the same thing and expecting different results doesn’t make sense.

    So which is it going to be? The endless search for common-ground or sanity? If he’d help push through some of the stuff that’s important to him he might actually get the Repubs to come to the table in good faith–once they see that burning the place down won’t stop the Dems from getting some wins.

  99. 99
    Mike says:

    http://agonist.org/sean_paul_k.....g_democrat
    Obama A Self-Proclaimed “Blue Dog Democrat”
    “I sure wish Obama had the honesty to tell his supporers this back in 2008:
    Privately, Mr. Obama has described himself, at times, as essentially a Blue Dog Democrat, referring to the shrinking caucus of fiscally conservative members of the party.”

    The only thing he has fought hard was to make a Spanish court drop its investigation of Bush torture policies.
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/201.....osecution/

    Sure fooled all you ‘progressive’ activists.

  100. 100
    mnpundit says:

    So the DFHs are proved right again. As you said, this was the pattern since early 2009 but you all screamed “11-Dimensional Chess!” whenever someone pointed out that things were going south.

  101. 101
    shep says:

    John, let me explain what’s going on, since nobody seems to be getting it*. Obama and the Dems are doing exactly what they have to do: what the oligarchs demand. The bi-partisan outreach is pure Kabuki for the pathologically bi-partisan Village, politically vacuos independents and as a distraction for the liberal base. The entire farce is predicated on the patently stupid belief that Obama is so dumb he thinks Republicans will work to try to make his presidency a success. It would seem to be impossible that liberals would fall for that game but if it’s still working on Krugman (and you) after nearly two freekin’ years, you’d have to call it a success.
    .
    *As of today, Digby seems to be coming around to the idea.

    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com.....abuki.html

  102. 102
    jman says:

    On his radio show today, Thom Hartmann called on President Obama to call it quits in 2012. Thom said even though he liked President Obama, it was time for Howard Dean or someone else to take over.

  103. 103
    Jules says:

    @Jeff:

    Thank you Jeff you articulated my feelings.

    He became President because he thought he had the ability to do heal the divisions in this country. That the divisions have just gotten worse is utterly tragic.

    I think that things always get worse when change is happening before they get better.

    Folks, I am frustrated at the Dems, but I am willing to go the distance with Obama to give him the chance to change the way things are done. What else can I do?
    Bitch and complain and freak out and make ridiculous statements that do nothing except fragment our party? or try to get someone to primary him? Or maybe I should just not vote? Wow, that would show Obama when Romney/Huckabee/Palin wins.
    and then we would be where?

    (we need to all remember that Krugman is a Clinton supporter)

  104. 104
    FlipYrWhig says:

    So was there some kind of actual capitulation that happened today? Or is it another one of these fill-in-the-blank despair-du-jour deals?

  105. 105
    chopper says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    fuck if i know. MC tax cuts passed the house and are on the senate floor tomorrow.

  106. 106
    jinxtigr says:

    @salacious crumb: No no, he will be making TEA partiers think they are winning. At all costs he has to get those guys to overreach to fracture the Republicans and tie them to the lunatic fringe. It’s really important that the Republicans not be able to dial it back and seem anything like rational.

  107. 107
    Jules says:

    And really I can’t think of anything better then the President visiting the troops.
    I don’t care why he did….he’ll be there 3 hours.
    Those 3 hours will do more then Obama sitting in the White House on the phone.

    They have these cool things now called phones and satellites and texting and video conferencing that allow the President to stay in touch.

  108. 108
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @cyntax:

    I don’t know, if extending the middle class tax-cuts is such bedrock pronciple of Obama’s, why weren’t they moving on it months ago when by the Repubs own admission, they would have had to vote for it?

    One important reason was because key Democrats in the Senate, including Boxer and Murray, asked not to be put on the spot like that. See Tax Cut Timing Proves Elusive For Democrats, NYT, 8 Nov. 2010.

  109. 109
    Jules says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    No.
    Yes.

  110. 110
    Rick Taylor says:

    @Mike:

    Privately, Mr. Obama has described himself, at times, as essentially a Blue Dog Democrat, referring to the shrinking caucus of fiscally conservative members of the party.”

    I used to consider myself a “fiscally responsible” Democrat. I nodded approvingly as the regressive payroll tax was increased to shore up social security. And then I got to see a Republican administration use the savings on tax cuts for rich and a shiny war, before turning around to demand we reform social security in the name of fiscal responsibility. And I learned that “fiscally responsible Democrat” was a synonym for chump. I worried during the election that Obama didn’t seem to get this, and I guess he didn’t.

  111. 111
    D'Angelo says:

    The most important thing I take from this is Krugman’s admission here:

    One would have expected a candidate who rode the enthusiasm of activists to an upset victory in the Democratic primary to realize that this enthusiasm was an important asset.

    Wowzers! Big Fat Paulie(1) finally admits this is why Obama won the Democratic nomination, as opposed to the media not properly respecting his precious, precious Hillary? Next thing he’s gonna say is that Hillary killed herself on the Iraq War and was a lousy campaigner. Maybe next year. Baby steps.

    (1) Having seen Krugman on TV, I’m putting him in that subsection of pundit clowns who have chubbed up in depression in the last two years over Obama’s election. See also: Tom Sowell, Glenn Reynolds, Glenn Greenwald. It amuses me. Hit the gym, fellas.

  112. 112
    geg6 says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    And fuck you, too. Ain’t nothing homophobic about whining cowards.

  113. 113

    @General Stuck:

    What do they call it, when the deranged accuse the deranged? Balloon Juice?

    Good one! :-)

  114. 114
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I said in one of the other threads that Krugman seems to believe in the power of rational persuasion and deliberation. He tends to believe that smart people who advocate smart policy ultimately win out, so the best course of action on a given issue is perforce to say loudly and clearly what you will do, secure that you are right and have better arguments than those on the other side.

    I don’t think that’s true. It’d be nice if it were.

  115. 115
    scarshapedstar says:

    but but but

    he doesn’t have teh votes

  116. 116
    Rick Taylor says:

    @cyntax:

    I don’t know, if extending the middle class tax-cuts is such bedrock pronciple of Obama’s, why weren’t they moving on it months ago when by the Repubs own admission, they would have had to vote for it? At some point you’ve got to play hardball.

    __
    This makes sense to me. Given how Republicans were fighting Democrats on everything they could, running out the clock, I can understand why the Democrats would save as much noncontroversial stuff to the end as they could. Stuff like cutting taxes and approving Start (which had bipartisan support in the past) wasn’t supposed to be controversial. Democrats are still learning that Republicans will play politics with anything and everything, including things that in the past would have had bipartisan support.

  117. 117
    kay says:

    @jman:

    On his radio show today, Thom Hartmann called on President Obama to call it quits in 2012. Thom said even though he liked President Obama, it was time for Howard Dean or someone else to take over.

    I don’t think you should pursue this strategy, of demanding Obama “quit”.

    It’s demeaning and insulting.

    If you want to put Howard Dean up, he’s going to have to actually win a primary. Sorry. That’s why it’s called a race.

    A demand your opponent JUST QUIT? Wow.

    This, from “the fighters”. It’s hysterical.

  118. 118
    D'Angelo says:

    @shep:

    Yeah! Blow it up, maaaaaan!

    How nice of digby to be yet another fauxgressive blogger to take up wingnut arguments (“Kabuki”). Also, it would behoove diggy to learn WTF “Kabuki” is before using it.

  119. 119
    cyntax says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    That’s too bad. The Dems really need to pull their heads out of their collective asses. Boxer’s marginally better than Feinstein which is the lowest bar you can set for a Dem from as a blue a part of CA as those two are.

  120. 120
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @D’Angelo:

    X is fat. A thrillingly incisive argument that I don’t think I’ve ever heard from anyone before.

  121. 121
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @geg6:

    And fuck you, too. Ain’t nothing homophobic about whining cowards.

    I think she just got her orifices mixed up.

  122. 122
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Ailuridae:

    Why do they need to do that [let all the tax cuts expire, thus forcing Republicans to compromise to get the cuts for the rich that they really want]? It sure looks like Reid is bringing two separate votes to the Senate floor on the tax extensions.

    Because the Republicans will filibuster the middle-class-only tax cuts. This leaves the Democrats two choices: to roll over and renew all the tax cuts (arrrrgh!), or to call the Republicans’ bluff by letting all the cuts expire. The latter puts the onus on Republicans to compromise to gain the Democrats’ help in getting what they really want. A reasonable compromise would then be to renew the middle-class cuts for, say, 3 years, renew the cuts for the rich for 1 year, pass another year’s unemployment benefits extension, and perhaps pass DADT and/or some other high-priority items.

    Democrats really need to improve their strategy.

  123. 123
    kay says:

    @jman:

    Thom said even though he liked President Obama, it was time for Howard Dean or someone else to take over.

    I love this part, too. I’m not sure that’s how it works, but it’s worth a try!

    Howard Dean “or someone else” can announce he’s the nominee on Thom Hartman’s radio program.

    Is this before or after Obama’s voluntarily submitted resignation? Will there be voting and such? I’m curious.

  124. 124
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Tonal Crow: “pass DADT” should be “pass DADT repeal”, of course.

    Also, to expand upon improving strategy, Democrats need to realize that the filibuster (and Blue Dogs) make it easier to gain leverage by blocking things than by pushing them forward. Thus, they need to turn the tables such that they block things the Republicans want (e.g., tax cuts for the rich) until the Republicans compromise, rather than just pushing things they want (e.g., tax cuts for the middle class) while the Republicans and Blue Dogs filibuster.

  125. 125
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @D’Angelo:

    One would have expected a candidate who rode the enthusiasm of activists to an upset victory in the Democratic primary to realize that this enthusiasm was an important asset.

    Being able to spark supporters’ enthusiasm _is_ an important asset. So is your likeability and evenness of temperament. What do you do when those collide? What if the way to make your core supporters enthusiastic turns off people who aren’t your core supporters?

    This shit is complicated. Finding equilibrium between “energizing the base” and “satisfying the middle” is tricky. For some reason everyone tends to get in a dither about how Obama tries to pacify or satisfy _Republicans_, but that’s not what it looks like to me. It looks to me like he’s trying to pacify and satisfy the kinds of conservative Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, both politicians and voters, who have Republican-ish concerns, especially about taxes and spending. That slice of the population is pretty big. That slice of the population likes “bipartisanship” and negotiation and deal-making that includes Republicans. They say that in poll after poll.

    Now, if the economy still sucks that will wipe out a lot of the goodwill with this group Obama has worked to build with both policy and marketing/messaging.

    That’s how you end up in these Kobayashi Maru kinds of situations.

  126. 126
    Elizabelle says:

    Associating myself with Jeff’s post at 37 and gene108’s at 55 and 74, although they say it way better than I ever could.

    Weren’t we congratulating ourselves for being the “Grownup Party” a few weeks ago?

    Weren’t we?

    Yes, I wish the guy would push back — eloquently, concisely and firmly — against the worst of Republican intransigence. Make it clear he is looking out for our vanishing middle class — and it is vanishing.

    He, Pelosi and many Democrats have gotten a lot accomplished, to no credit.

    The 24/7 poutrage cycle buries substantive achievements in a layer of ephemeral shit and false controversies. (BBC does not do this. They program for adults. With good vocabularies and intellectual curiosity.)

    Further, we allow the Republicans and TeaPartiers to swamp congressional phone lines and suck up all the oxygen. (Sue at 38 had a good question.) They write insane letters to the editor, which are published.

    And then we scream to each other on blogs.

    We don’t need to act as badly or think as stupidly as the opponents do, but maybe we shouldn’t leave a duly elected president (who tries in face of terrible circumstances to do the right thing) out in the cold so much while we tear our hair.

    Yes, I think Obama is too deferential to the moneyed and kleptocracy.

    But he’s looking at a meltdown, friends. Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Greece. None of us are clear of what’s coming.

    We are all frustrated.

    The Republicans are screaming about “uncertainty” and were willing to put McCain and Palin in the White House. They supported Bush-Cheney, and would do it again.

    Do you remember how powerless we all felt, as passengers, while Bush-Cheney did anything they wanted?

    Obama is being too inclusive, but he is trying to restore a system that may be beyond redemption.

    I think our economic and political system are damaged far more than anyone knew, and more than Obama and his advisors suspected.

    Elizabelle the long-winded Obot

  127. 127
    jman says:

    @kay: How will it work? Probably not very good, but it feels like we are sailing the Titanic into 2012. You tell me, what are the chances we end up with a Republican president in 2012?

  128. 128
    Davis X. Machina says:

    I wonder what the atmosphere was like on the blogs of members of the American Anti-Slavery Society round about August-October of 1862…

    Pretty manic-progressive, I would guess.

  129. 129
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @jman: 10%

    Take Obama and give the points. Only a Democrat can beat — more accurately cause the beating of — an incumbent Democrat.

  130. 130
    Scott de B. says:

    The Democrats need to call the GOP’s bluff by letting all the tax cuts expire.

    This’ll put the onus on the GOP to compromise, since they won’t be able to pass anything without Democratic cooperation.

    What makes you think the GOP wants to pass anything?

  131. 131
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @jman: Did Hartman mention Kerensky?

  132. 132
    Genine says:

    @gene108:

    Excellent comment. I’ve been thinking and saying the same thing for years but not quite so eloquently. :-)

  133. 133
    Mnemosyne says:

    @geg6:

    And fuck you, too. Ain’t nothing homophobic about whining cowards.

    No? Saying that the men you disagree with are pathetic, weak women (because all chicks are pathetic and weak, amirite?) and not Real Men isn’t homophobic at all?

  134. 134
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Scott de B.: The GOP’s consistent support for “trickle-down economics” (despite decades’-worth of evidence that it doesn’t work), plus their recent filibuster threat, is good evidence that they really, really want those tax cuts for the rich.

  135. 135
    shep says:

    @D’Angelo: Hey, if you’d rather believe that Obama is an incompetent moron, you can gun down all the messengers you like.

  136. 136
  137. 137
    kay says:

    @jman:

    Probably not very good, but it feels like we are sailing the Titanic into 2012. You tell me, what are the chances we end up with a Republican president in 2012?

    I don’t know, jman, but a petulant demand that your opponent QUIT just doesn’t scream “fighter” to me.

  138. 138
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jman:

    Probably not very good, but it feels like we are sailing the Titanic into 2012.

    Hate to break it to you, but we’ve been on the Titanic since at least 2000. The choice is between someone who will at least try to steer away from the iceberg and someone who will gleefully ram straight into it.

  139. 139
    gene108 says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    or to call the Republicans’ bluff by letting all the cuts expire. The latter puts the onus on Republicans to compromise to gain the Democrats’ help in getting what they really want.

    The electorate isn’t blaming or holding the Republicans responsible for their past obstructionism. If the taxes reset to the Clinton-era levels, Obama and the Democrats will be blamed for raising taxes.

    The Republicans are in a win-win situation. They get what they want or the Democrats take the blame for raising taxes.

  140. 140
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Scott de B.: I don’t understand the logic either. Republicans will be happy with tax cuts, and they will be happy with tax increases, because they can demagogue those. The majority view around here seems to be that Obama should “call their bluff” and let all the tax cuts expire, then pin it on Republicans. Like I said a few times in a few threads, it seems to me that that would certainly look “strong,” which is nice, but would the increased happiness of “the left” really outweigh the reaction from people who aren’t really paying attention to the specifics beyond that there’s been talk of a tax cut, when they find out that they’ve just been socked with a “tax increase”? Wouldn’t they blame Obama for that, considering that “tax increases” are at the core of the stereotyping of Democrats?

    There’s projecting strength, and then there’s projecting strength in such a way that it takes money out of people’s pockets. I don’t know how many politicians could pull that off. I think it’s probably zero.

  141. 141
    jman says:

    @Davis X. Machina: No, did you mean Alexander Kerensky the great Russian orator with the squeaky voice or the Kerensky that bends spoons with his mind as in: it will be magic if the Democrats can win in 2012 with a totally demoralized base? I’ve never seen so many bummed out liberal bloggers even during the worst of Bush. The Krugman is openly asking for new leadership so Delong won’t be far behind.

  142. 142
    J says:

    @aimai: I assume that’s right about ‘pussy’. ‘That guy is a pussy’ = ‘He is really a woman or like a woman’. (Perhaps Mnemosyne was thinking about ‘Pansy’?) But wonder if the insult predates what is after all a pretty recent use of the term to refer to–er umm–you know what, and means something like ‘scaredy cat’? Don’t know.

  143. 143
    Gay Veteran says:

    ALL of Bush’s tax cuts will be extended because that is what the korporate whores in DC want.

    Jeez, pay attention to the actions, not the words

  144. 144
    Gay Veteran says:

    as for Obama visting the troops in Afghanistan, why not? after all, he sent more of them there to die

  145. 145
    Tonal Crow says:

    @gene108: No. The Republicans will blame the Democrats for the end of the world no matter what they do. This is not speculation. It happens every day.

    Therefore the Democrats should do what they need to force the outcomes they want.

  146. 146
    wasabi gasp says:

    The tag blackens Jimmy Carter.

  147. 147
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @jman:

    I’ve never seen so many bummed out liberal bloggers even during the worst of Bush.

    It’s almost as though they egg on each other by linking to each other and to insider-ish anonymous nonsense even in the absence of actual discouraging news!

  148. 148
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: You’re ignoring the fact that Republicans will blame Democrats for every problem irrespective of what they do. For example, they’ve been (successfully!) blaming Obama and Democrats for “tax increases in the Porkulus” — when, of course, the Stimulus contained no tax increases and a load of tax cuts. What makes you think that they’ll gain any more traction with this rhetoric in the unlikely situation that the Democrats call the Republicans’ bluff and the Republicans actually give up on tax cuts for the rich?

    Shorter: the Wingnut Wurlitzer is already set to 11.

  149. 149
    Chris says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Hate to break it to you, but we’ve been on the Titanic since at least 2000. The choice is between someone who will at least try to steer away from the iceberg and someone who will gleefully ram straight into it.

    Funny you should mention that; http://pajamasmedia.com/ejecte.....e-iceberg/

    I know it isn’t exactly what you’re referring to, but here’s a person who believes in ramming icebergs as gleefully as possible.

  150. 150
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Gay Veteran:

    Jeez, pay attention to the actions, not the words

    So we all imagined the bill that passed the House? And Harry Reid saying that the Senate will vote on that bill tomorrow? Those things were figments of our imagination?

    I need more Four Loko.

  151. 151
    J says:

    @aimai: Agree that jinxtigr’s post, which seems sound so far as it goes, leaves out the effect on the base, but it also leaves out another point, which is perhaps the real burden of the complaint (by Krugman, Robert Reich and many others). It’s just a matter of who is perceived as the more unpleasant of the two sides, though this is, as jinxtigr notes, not unimportant, but the fact that the form Obama’s ‘niceness’ (if that’s the right word) takes, has the effect of implicitly, and some times not so implicitly, reinforcing the Republican narrative. To pick the most important example at present: the idea that our present economic woes are due to the deficit and that, therefore, the highest priority should be given to combating (wasteful) government spending. This isn’t something Democrats should accept as ‘common ground’.

  152. 152
    fourlegsgood says:

    @gene108: Well, we won’t know unless we try.

    I want to see the WH out there vilifying the GOP for blocking tax cuts and rewarding the wealthy and refusing to close the Hedgie “carried interest” bullshit loophole.

  153. 153
    jman says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The choice is between someone who will at least try to steer away from the iceberg and someone who will gleefully ram straight into it.

    Exactly! If Obama is going to loose in 2012, now is the time to try and avoid the iceberg. We know Obama is not a fighter and we know the base is demoralized and loosing ground every day. We know the Republicans have no rules and will do anything to win. I might be worried for no reason but I just hate having to sail into an iceberg.

  154. 154
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow: I don’t care what the Republicans say and do. I care about what clueless and well-intentioned people like “Democratic-leaning independents” say and do. Not people who watch Fox News, people who watch a network evening news show and a few pages of the front section of the newspaper over breakfast or on the train. Those are the people who stand to be lost to Obama and Democrats if they get a “tax increase.” Whether or not Obama looked “strong” or “weak” in the process. They’re not going to hear about that. They’re going to see a smaller check and blame a tax hike from a Democratic president. You need to give those people a “narrative” or a “frame” that’s more vivid and convincing than that one. What is it?

  155. 155
    gene108 says:

    @Elizabelle: I generally agree with what you’ve written, with the exception of this:

    Do you remember how powerless we all felt, as passengers, while Bush-Cheney did anything they wanted?

    The idea Bush & Co. did 100% of what they wanted without any opposition is a myth, perpetuated by the right-wing media machine because they like to support tough seeming, John Wayne-esque, politicians, so you can’t have an emasculated President presented to the public, who doesn’t always win in the end.

    One of the Bush, Jr. tax cuts passed in the Senate with Cheney casting the tie breaking vote. There’s still no oil drilling in ANWR, though the Republicans tried and tried. Social Security is still not privatized.

    sChip got expanded, in 2007, despite Bush & Co. and the Republicans.

  156. 156
    geg6 says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    You know, you really need to get a life if you think I’m somehow homophobic or anti-feminist. I fought for gay and women’s rights since, likely, before you were born. But I’m not going quit using colloquialisms when they fit. And since I have a pu$$y, I’ll use the word any way I want.

    Sorry if you don’t like bad language, but this is BJ. Bad language is a feature, not a bug.

  157. 157
    Elie says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    It is. True dat. To me, the most depressing thing of all and leaves me without words… I just read this stuff and shake my head with great sadness.

  158. 158
    J says:

    @Jules: You soundly urge calm and warn against actions that would tend to the fragment the party, and then you say in a parenthesis that we must all remember that Krugman was a Clinton supporter. How is implying that his views–views which, I might add, are v. plausible and shared by many people who supported Obama–are motivated by faction rather than a good faith response to the present situation supposed to promote the spirit of party unity?

  159. 159
    Gay Veteran says:

    gee Mnemosyne, how’s that public option working out?

  160. 160
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @J:

    To pick the most important example at present: the idea that our present economic woes are due to the deficit and that, therefore, the highest priority should be given to combating (wasteful) government spending. This isn’t something Democrats should accept as ‘common ground’.

    But I think this is kind of like lumping together the bank bailout and the stimulus. The deficit commission (which, I hasten to add, hasn’t done anything and won’t) and the wage freeze announcement (dumb) aren’t part of the “common ground,” if you’re referring to the discussion about continuing the tax cuts. I don’t think “combating (wasteful) government spending” has been set forth as the “highest priority.” As one priority among others, yes. Highest? Um, no.

  161. 161
    eemom says:

    holy flying fuckola, y’all, the atmosphere in here is getting too toxic even for me.

    I’ve never said this to anyone in my life, but: Take A Deep Breath.

    Calm the fuck down.

    Christ.

  162. 162
    Gay Veteran says:

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

  163. 163
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: The Republicans’ rhetoric is what’s pushing those people away from the Democrats. As in the “Porkulus tax increase” bullshit that I just mentioned. And that rhetoric is not restricted to “Fox News” as you imply; it’s everywhere, including on the “network evening news show” and “the front section of the newspaper”.

    Democrats can gain back those people by drawing contrasts with the Republicans and forcing them to yield. Republicans want things — like those tax cuts for the rich, like vastly-increased spending on “nuclear modernization”, like a delay in repealing DADT. Democrats need to demand things in return. Democrats have got to turn the tables and take advantage of their power to obstruct. It’s that simple.

  164. 164
    Sean says:

    Is there honestly not one advisor in the WH who has Obama’s ear who hates the Republicans? Because that is what we need.

    If anyone hates the Republicans, it should be Hillary Clinton. They dragged her family through the mud for 8 years.

    Alas, the Secretary of State is really really busy these days and I doubt Obama would accept her council, given the acrimony of the primary.

    -S

  165. 165
    eemom says:

    Look! Upstairs, John is going Galt again!

    Isn’t that FUNNY? We all KNOW that’s a sign that there’ll be a minimum of 67 new posts before sunset, amirite?

    Let us all chuckle merrily together!

  166. 166
    Nick says:

    @kay:

    This, from “the fighters”. It’s hysterical.

    the left? fighters? HA!

  167. 167
    daveNYC says:

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    Because they’re Democrats, so incompetence is the most likely reason.

  168. 168
    Nick says:

    @fourlegsgood:

    I want to see the WH out there vilifying the GOP for blocking tax cuts and rewarding the wealthy and refusing to close the Hedgie “carried interest” bullshit loophole.

    THEY ARE! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD

  169. 169
    Elie says:

    @eemom:

    Amen to that, sista! Dunno what has happened but we seem to have a collective “capitulation” to hopelessness and despair — brought on by Krugman’s opinion that Obama is clueless and all is lost..

  170. 170
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    The Republicans’ rhetoric is what’s pushing those people away from the Democrats.

    There’s another group of people who have no real idea what Republican rhetoric even is. There’s a group of people who basically like Obama but don’t really know what he’s been up to since the election, except there was something about health care. They don’t really know anything about policy and don’t vote about policy and don’t pay attention to the arguments each side makes. They vote on “character” and which candidate seems like a good person. They haven’t been pushed away from Democrats yet. They might be if you preside over a situation where they have to pay more in taxes during bleak economic conditions. Because they may not pay close attention to the news, but they know what’s in their paycheck.

  171. 171
    shep says:

    @Gay Veteran: I think that question answers itself. Complicity carries a lot more moral baggage than mere incompetence. Even at gun point.

  172. 172
    Elie says:

    #163

    “Alas, the Secretary of State is really really busy these days and I doubt Obama would accept her council, given the acrimony of the primary.S ”

    Whaaaa??? What year you living in bro? The primaries were over two years ago.

  173. 173
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Elie: It’s really one of the weirder things I’ve ever seen online. I spend so much time here that I lose track of how politics looks outside the blogospheric bubble. I kind of can’t imagine that non-political-junkies have any idea that there’s been all this drama, precipitated by… um… something?

  174. 174
    Elie says:

    Uh-oh — the strike through monster is back again…

  175. 175
    gene108 says:

    @Tonal Crow: Couple of points (1) it’s not about Republicans blaming Democrats, it about who Independents think are responsible for the problems and (2) what the Democrats want to achieve isn’t what the liberal base wants achieved.

    First off, I know several people, who voted for Bush, Jr. in 2000, but were put off by him and the direction the Republicans took and started voting Democrat in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Some of them have switched back to voting Republican, because they feel the Democrats don’t “get it”.

    Secondly, the liberal base has made it clear that they want everything there way or they will sit it out and turn on the Democrats. For decades the goal of liberals, which Democrats adopted, was to have universal medical coverage for all Americans. President Obama signed the closest thing ever to achieving that goal, yet because it wasn’t single-payer and / or didn’t have a public option, the liberal base has yet to acknowledge the HCR bill as a net positive for Americans.

    It’s hard to reach out to the Independents and get them on your side, when the players on your team have decided they want you off the team, which seems to be happening with Obama and the Democrats and the liberal base and Professional Left.

    What message is coming to America about President Obama, ever since he tinkered with the stimulus bill to try and get a couple of necessary Senate Republican votes? The Left pounced on his failure to have more infrastructure spending, while totally ignoring the fact he lowered taxes for millions of Americans, in the middle of a recession, just like JFK. The Republicans called it a “Porkulus bill” that’ll do nothing.

    The narrative that came from the Left and Right is President Obama is weak, a Republican talking point echoed by the left and he’s just a stuffed suit, who can talk a good game, but can’t back it up; he’s a lightweight in over his head.

    I just don’t see the Democrats making any progress to fight back against the Republicans, unless there’s some unity from the Left in acknowledging successes, because the fence that’s being built – by the Left and Right – to box the Democrats in, is they are weak and ineffective.

    I think it might be too late to change that now, but everybody has to start talking up the good points about how the Democrats have pushed the liberal agenda and why that benefits Americans.

  176. 176
    Elizabelle says:

    @gene108:

    True that.

    Thank you for finding a silver lining, and for pointing out the facts vs. the narrative, which is now conventional wisdom.

  177. 177
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: That’s wrong. Republican rhetoric permeates our culture. You hear it even if you don’t read news or blogs, even if you never listen to the radio — and even if you never watch TV (and how many people never watch TV? Hmm?)

    You hear it at the water cooler. You hear it on the subway. You hear it in the cab. You see it on billboards and on buses. It’s in the magazines at the dentist’s office. It might even be in the envelope with your paycheck.

    Republican rhetoric is everywhere. And it is largely responsible for the public’s evaluation of not just “character”, but facts.

    BTW, if the wishy-washy middle we’re discussing really “know what’s in their paycheck”, they wouldn’t be buying the bull that the Stimulus increased their taxes.

  178. 178
    Tax Analyst says:

    @General Stuck:

    what do they call it, when the deranged accuse the deranged

    Balloon Juice?

    Pissin’ in the wind.

  179. 179
    Oscar Leroy says:

    Is there honestly not one advisor in the WH who has Obama’s ear who hates the Republicans?

    Considering Obama’s frank admiration of Ronald Reagan, probably not.

  180. 180
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow: People experience as neutral many originally-Republican biases and frames, yes. It’s prolific in mainstream news.

    How does that lead you to this point, though?

    Democrats can gain back those people by drawing contrasts with the Republicans and forcing them to yield.

    If people have internalized Republican rhetoric, why would “drawing contrasts” snap them out of it? In the case of taxes, why wouldn’t allowing taxes to rise simply succeed in reinforcing the Republican rhetoric that Democrats like to raise your taxes?

  181. 181
    jman says:

    @Elie: I don’t know that the despair was suddenly brought on by Krugman. I think it has been there for quite some time and we just hit a tipping point after the 2010 elections. I would think Baloon Juice would be the last place to have a discussion like this. The Balloon Juice crowd is strongly committed to Obama and ideas to the contrary are beaten down pretty good. Things are pretty bad when Booman bums out.

  182. 182
    Nick says:

    @gene108: I agree with it, but furthermore, I think it’s the fact that the left often ignores Democrats when they do what they want, when it doesn’t work.

    The President was out arguing for no extension of tax cuts for months before the elections. Congress decided not to do anything despite his pressure.

    Hell, the President was out demanding he get a bill (with a public option) before August recess in 2009, but no one on the left paid a lick of attention to the whole debate until Congress thumbed it’s nose as the President and he decided to give the public option up after it was clear it was going nowhere fast.

    I think the disappointment at Obama is really more a disappointment at the country. He’s the guinea pig, because he’s easily replaceable. It’s gotta be his fault, because if the situation is hopeless, or if it’s a institutional problem or problem with the public at large, then it’s not easily fixable, or at all.

  183. 183
    Tax Analyst says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Hate to break it to you, but we’ve been on the Titanic since at least 2000. The choice is between someone who will at least try to steer away from the iceberg and someone who will gleefully ram straight into it.

    …and tell you not to get on a lifeboat since you’ll miss out on the free margarita’s that the big block of ice is for.

  184. 184
    Andrew says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Actually, that’s a terrible analogy, because most engineers who have studied the issue say that the Titanic wouldn’t have sunk had it rammed the iceberg head-on: only the first one or two watertight compartments would have flooded. Instead, it slowly turned, and the iceberg slashed through a big section of the ship, flooding well over four compartments (which was the threshold above which it would sink).

  185. 185
    Nick says:

    @Oscar Leroy:

    Considering Obama’s frank admiration of Ronald Reagan, probably not.

    How can one not admire Ronald Reagan’s ability to brainwash tens of millions of Democrats into voting for him despite the fact he stands for everything they don’t?

  186. 186
    Oscar Leroy says:

    I’m not sure I blame Obama for going to Afghanistan… that’s pretty important too. I mean that is literally life and death

    Because if we don’t defeat the Taliban there, they’ll invade America! ! !

  187. 187
    A L says:

    How many times do you people need to be told that Obama is not on your side, so stop expecting him to be obliged to fight for you?

  188. 188
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Again, the Wurlitzer is already at 11. The Democrats have nothing to lose by flipping the burden of going forward around. And they have a lot to gain on substantive accomplishments.

    Also I see very little evidence for your implicit conclusion that Republicans would permit the tax cuts for the rich to expire. On the contrary, they’re delirious about trickle-down — and their base wants it my precious, yess it does. I think they’ll give up a lot for those cuts.

    I’d also note that it’s almost always easier to obstruct legislation than to push it. A good strategist knows when to flip from pushing A directly, to obstructing B so as to get A in compromise.

  189. 189
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Nick:

    How can one not admire Ronald Reagan’s ability to brainwash tens of millions of Democrats into voting for him despite the fact he stands for everything they don’t?

    True that.

  190. 190
    Elie says:

    Hey y’all — so, if all is lost and hopeless… what are you going to do the next two years? The words some of you use — its hard to think you can walk those sentiments back –but shit…

    Frankly, would be hard to go to battle with some of you. No hard times are allowed — very little room for the hard slog. The very folks who chide some of us for being unable to criticize Obama because, in their words, we must think he is the Messiah, demand indeed, the Messiah… that all of success and change would come easily and without any backwards steps or self doubt..

    I tell you, I do not disagree that there is merit in some of the complaints about Obama’s message, etc. I remain hopeful however and want things to work. How can you literally say that its “over” after two years?????

    You know, its one thing to have a mission to destroy and demoralize the progressives, but another altogether to feed and amplify the negativity amongst your potential allies. How can you go to battle when your soldiers try to shoot you in the back? What the hey is Krugman truly accomplishing and what is behind it? For those of you who are truly activists, how do you build something from the pointless allusions to the Titanic???

    Ya know, its not just Obama who has message problems. Maybe progressives do too. Is this who we influence a leader that some of you SAY you support? You wanna do what someone supposedly on your side says that is filled with venom and contempt? Not me! That folks will allude to calling him “boy” and that he is a coward and spineless? You want him to listen to us from THAT place?

    Nah, uhn uhn… I wouldnt trust us for a split second. Maybe we are worse enemies than the right and the Republicans. He knows what he has with them — they don’t change. From us, his supposed base, he is as likely to get stabbed in the back and misinterpreted as any on the Right. I have read some of the nastiest commentary from people who in one breath say they support his administration and in the next go completely Mau Mau..

    Only you know what you are about here. Only you. I think this is pretty crazy and I truly wouldnt want some of you at my back.

  191. 191
    celticdragonchick says:

    @geg6:

    Again, fuck you asshole. I have never used a racist meme in my life. You better learn how to read, you dumb fuck.

    The motion is seconded.

  192. 192
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    I see very little evidence for your implicit conclusion that Republicans would permit the tax cuts for the rich to expire. On the contrary, they’re delirious about trickle-down—and their base wants it my precious, yess it does. I think they’ll give up a lot for those cuts.

    Really? I think they’d be deliriously happy to go on TV after the full sunsetting of the tax cuts and say, “President Obama and the Democrat Congress just made sure every American had to pay higher taxes. We say, not on our watch. That’s your money, and tax hikes are job killers. The first bill we’ll introduce in the new session of Congress will be a retroactive across-the-board tax cut. If the Senate refuses to act, the Democrat Party will have played games with your hard-earned money all over again.” Let everyone stew over it for two years and have them in a nice frothy rage in time for Election 2012.

    Generally speaking, I tend to agree with “Democrats have nothing to lose” kinds of statements, but then I think about the actual human beings who are Democratic politicians, and then I realize how unlikely they are to adopt a “nothing to lose” style strategy.

  193. 193
    celticdragonchick says:

    @aimai:

    Obama and the Democratic leadership have two possible approaches to the disaffection of the base: they can blame them for being foolish or too impatient or John’s old tag “manic progressives” or they can grasp that whatever the cause its a real and serious problem. If your base is consistently disappointed with you for whatever reason from pay freezes to your haircut the smart political act is to stop doing whatever is pissing them off.

    Boldened for emphasis.

    This.

  194. 194
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: The Republicans are already effectively saying everything you cite. And more. Democrats truly have nothing to lose by calling their bluff, and much to gain. To crib from the famous, Democrats “have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

  195. 195
    Elie says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    I am not sure that the whole “base” disagrees with the pay freezes. I think that the haircut part is arrogant hyperbole that brings in high relief the incredible contempt and ego resident in his so called “base”.

    Some “base”.

    Y’all would have been great during Lincoln’s tenure. The North lost battle after battle for the first year and a half of the Civil War. GLAD that you assholes weren’t Lincoln’s so called “base” back then…

  196. 196
    Triassic Sands says:

    @daveNYC:

    Because they’re Democrats, so incompetence is the most likely reason.

    Dave, if you read “Winner-Take-All Politics,” your opinion may change. For the past thirty plus years Democrats have been complicit in policies that have intentionally short-changed the middle class and punished the poor, while rewarding the wealthy. Just because that is the GOP’s raison d’etre doesn’t mean many Democrats haven’t joined in for their own personal benefit.

    Incompetence is the “diminished capacity” defense, which excuses a lot of Democratic behavior that is much more nefarious.

  197. 197
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @celticdragonchick: Unless the group calling itself the disaffected “base” is actually a lot smaller than they think they are. In that case, catering to them might not be such a “smart political act.”

    If 5% of the public is really angry about something, that’s a lot of bodies who can make a lot of noise. If in order to please 5% of the public you have to piss off 10% more of the public that wasn’t already pissed off, you’ve lost ground.

    Think of the Schiavo fiasco, where Republicans were so eager to impress their base that they looked extra creepy to everyone else.

    We have to know the _extent_ of the “disaffection of the base.” For that matter, we have to know who the “base” even is. You can’t just declare yourself the base and disaffected and ipso facto presto change-o it will always be a smart political move to give you what you want.

  198. 198
    Jules says:

    @Nick:

    The President was out arguing for no extension of tax cuts for months before the elections. Congress decided not to do anything despite his pressure.
    Hell, the President was out demanding he get a bill (with a public option) before August recess in 2009, but no one on the left paid a lick of attention to the whole debate until Congress thumbed it’s nose as the President and he decided to give the public option up after it was clear it was going nowhere fast.
    I think the disappointment at Obama is really more a disappointment at the country. He’s the guinea pig, because he’s easily replaceable. It’s gotta be his fault, because if the situation is hopeless, or if it’s a institutional problem or problem with the public at large, then it’s not easily fixable, or at all.

    THIS.
    thisthisthisthis

    How many times have I seen or heard “If only Obama would do this or say that” when he did…numerous times, but no one is actually paying attention to what the President has said or done.
    Too busy reading blogs or paying attention pundits….

  199. 199
    Elizabelle says:

    @Elie:

    Well said. (Your comment 189)

  200. 200
    celticdragonchick says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I don’t care what the Republicans say and do.

    That is a huge-ish mistake, espeically since they have succesfully convinced large percentages of the voting public that Obama actually raised taxs on thme and is a socialist.

    While you point out that Obama has accomplished some notable policy goals, you would hard pressed to find one in ten adult Americans who could name anything other than “socialist healthcare”.

    We need sombody to fight against propaganda and against objectively evil and harmful policy objectives from the other side. Obama does not seem to be that person, which I will declare even though I genuinely like him.

  201. 201
    Joe Beese says:

    Obama is about to make Bush’s tax cuts for the rich effectively permanent.

    And his Catfood Commission has accomplished its mission of making Social Security cuts the new “bipartisan consensus”.

    And Mr. Cole puzzles until his puzzler is sore over what 11-dimensional chess brilliance might require Obama to create this worrying – though quite deceptive! – appearance of being a Republican at heart.

    Instinctively, he is already at work on Plan B: the villainy of the untrustworthy advisers!

  202. 202
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow: I don’t understand how your “much to gain” option plays out. It seems like you’re counting on people who you say have already been steeped in Republican rhetoric and who have just heard, or realized, that their taxes are going up to (1) listen to a competing Democratic rhetoric from which they have long been shut out (2) believe it and hold Republicans accountable or (3) believe it and think that it’s actually good policy. I don’t see a path to the actual gain.

    Last night there was the suggestion that Obama should stand firm on the only thing he’d accept, veto everything that was not that, barnstorm the nation and blitz the media with how badly everyone was hurting because of what Republicans have done and the time to act is now. Such a course would definitely “show strength.” But I really don’t know if we have a country that would buy into that. Frankly, I would be astounded. Not just because Obama is Obama-like, but because I can’t imagine even a fictional candidate who would pull it off. Not in 2010.

  203. 203
    jman says:

    @Elie:

    What the hey is Krugman truly accomplishing and what is behind it?

    I agree with you about choosing who you go into battle with. But I would choose Krugman because he is smart and he sees the bad crap before it hits the fan. If you are going into battle, you want someone who can game the battle out as much as possible and keep everyone safe. This is the right time for this conversation. We can’t wait until 3 weeks before the election and suddenly wake up and go “Oh shyte!”

  204. 204
    celticdragonchick says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    The base sure as hell showed what it felt one month ago, wouldn’t you say?

    8 Months of polls saying Dems were not inspired enough to even show up at the fucking polls, while Republicans were “fired up” and “excited”.

    I guess you just were not paying attention, but the rest of us who have been have noticed that the Dem base is depressed, dispirited and becoming angry.

    But your internal narrative and contrarionism is more important, so carry on by all means.

  205. 205
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @jman:

    If your going into battle, you want someone who can game the battle out as much as possible and keep everyone safe.

    But that’s not what Krugman does. He advocates good sound policy but he doesn’t really dirty himself figuring out how that policy is supposed to come to pass in tangible legislative or executive form. In other words, if he thinks Obama should do X, X is almost certainly a wonderful idea. But if there’s a bloc arrayed against allowing X to ever happen, he just assumes the can opener.

  206. 206
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Elie:

    Y’all would have been great during Lincoln’s tenure. The North lost battle after battle for the first year and a half of the Civil War. GLAD that you assholes weren’t Lincoln’s so called “base” back then…

    The people you are talking about (disaffected loyalist Democrats) did, in fact, exist. They were called “Copperheads” and they went a lot farther in their critisism than anything we have approached.

    Find a fucking history book.

  207. 207
    lawguy says:

    @mk3872: That is the darndest comment. That is so wrong in so many ways, including the fact that you claim to know something that you can’t know. That is, you think that standing up for what Obama cliamed to believe in he couldn’t get anything done. Since Obama has yet to stand up for anything he claims to believe in we can’t really know what the out come might have been.

    Although, I guess we can assume that he has stood up for what he really does believe.

  208. 208
    Elie says:

    @jman:

    But you elected Obama — he went through a vetting process that required that he subject himself to our mass judgement and selection process. WE voted him into office. And WE should stand by him in a reasonable manner. This does NOT mean without CONSTRUCTIVE and informed criticism that truly seeks to help and guide him, his administration AND US.

    I donot find that much of the negative crap that passes as valid criticism will help anyone or show anyone a way to improve the situation. I just read a lot of pointless grinding away that just makes us all feel POWERLESS. What the fuck do I need my allies to make ME feel THAT WAY????

    We have a lot of fucking ass work to do. A lot. WE have work to do, my brothers and sisters. WE. And we better get after it and stop smelling our own behinds.

  209. 209
    geg6 says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Well, I can tell you just from my little corner of the world, that the base (the local party officials, the activists like me who do the GOTV and donating, and the unions) is pretty pissed. And, however small a part of the Obama coalition they may be, Obama cannot do without us. And I can tell you that any enthusiasm we had 2 years ago is gone, baby, gone. I know I won’t be doing anything for OFA ever again. I’ll stick with my local and state races, probably also Bob Casey. But Obama can go fuck himself. He’ll get my vote, but he gets no extra efforts like the last time around.

    Edited to add: He may surprise me and actually start acting like a Democratic leader, in which case I will happily change my mind. But I see no evidence of that.

  210. 210
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Once again, you’re assuming that Republicans would give up the cuts for the rich. And once again, I see little evidence for that idea. This is a game of probabilities. The Democrats have already lost the rhetorical war, and can hardly lose it worse. What they can do is win the substantive war of accomplishment, then (for once) use that win to leverage their rhetorical game.

    Please consider what can be gained, rather than focusing on what can be lost.

  211. 211
    Elie says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    So — you wanna be a modern copperhead?

    There is still room for you to move up to that level. Maybe you will earn your merit badge…become a true patriot…

    I DO read history.

    Thnks

  212. 212
    jman says:

    @Elie: Yes, Exactly! Obama was and still is my guy. But honestly, I’m freaking out because I didn’t vote for capitulation at every opportunity. I just for the life of me can not see any way out of this trap. My attitude would pick up if I could see a way out of this. But right now, the only way I can see to move Obama left is to get someone with cajones to stand up in the primary race and say game one. I would be overjoyed to be wrong.

  213. 213
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    The base sure as hell showed what it felt one month ago, wouldn’t you say?

    No, I would not, because I’ve seen no statistics indicating that “the base” stayed home. All I’ve seen is statistics indicating that older, whiter, more conservative people were a bigger share of the electorate. “The base” could have turned out to the same degree as it always does and still gotten swamped by even bigger turnout by Old Whitey.

    Here’s what I mean.

    There are two ways to measure “turnout” among demographic groups.

    (A) is something like “of that demographic group, the percentage who voted.” “55% of liberals surveyed said that they had voted yesterday,” that sort of thing.

    (B) is something like “of the people who voted, the percentage that belonged to that demographic group.” “18% of the electorate identified themselves as liberals,” e.g.

    It is actually possible for (A) to stay the same or even increase while (B) declines. (For instance, if a different demographic group really surged.)

    Obviously, it is also possible for (A) to decline.

    All the numbers I see people discussing are in the realm of (B). I haven’t seen (A). IMHO the “disaffected base” would show up as a steep drop in (A).

    I’m no statistician, but my sense is that the (A) number for old white conservatives shot through the roof, causing the (B) number for youth, African-Americans, and liberals to drop — as opposed to the (A) number for “the base” dropping, causing the (B) number to drop.

  214. 214
    Corner Stone says:

    @mk3872:

    The WH is being smart not to hammer the GOP.
    You may not like the system, but they NEED a few Repub votes and a few CONSERVADEM votes for ANYTHING to proceed.
    You CANNOT hammer them if your objective is to GET THINGS DONE.

    This is either the best snark on this thread or the most pathetic comment I’ve seen in a while.

  215. 215
    Elie says:

    @jman:

    Yeah. That should work. Primary him from the left —

    Sheesh…

    Maybe then we can get him to step down?

  216. 216
    Elie says:

    @jman:

    BTW — what does this mean in the larger context of your comment?

    Obama was and still is my guy

    If you don’t want to go steady, do you just wanna date other people?

  217. 217
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Once again, you’re assuming that Republicans would give up the cuts for the rich. And once again, I see little evidence for that idea.

    Well, look, at a certain point you need to say why your seeing little evidence for my idea outweighs my seeing little evidence for your idea. I think it’s pretty clear that Republicans enjoy having the opportunity to depict Democrats as tax-hikers, and that your recommended course of action puts them on the hook for that development. Which you admit. But you still think it sets up an opportunity to win. How? What is actually gained, besides a meta-level idea about “contrast” between parties? Why is the “contrast” so forceful and persuasive that it turns people whose taxes just got raised _towards_ the party that presided over it? Or are you saying that you’re not sure how exactly it will play out, but it’s worth a try because nothing else seems to be working?

  218. 218
    Nick says:

    @Jules: I think that’s what aggravates liberals the most. That he can’t be heard. That’s he’s ignored as if he’s irrelevant. That, as President, there HAS to be something he could do to be heard.

  219. 219
    Nick says:

    @lawguy:

    Since Obama has yet to stand up for anything he claims to believe in we can’t really know what the out come might have been.

    Bullshit, he stood up for ending tax cuts on the rich for months.

  220. 220
    jman says:

    @Elie: I think a primary challenge would be appropriate even though it is very highly unlikely. The problem with a challenge is that so many people take everything so personally they turn to hate rather than disagreement. Krugman asks for leadership and I agree. Eventhough I like Obama and I would continue to support him, I think he is toast for 2012 and I would rather that he not take the rest of us with him.

  221. 221
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Corner Stone:

    The WH is being smart not to hammer the GOP.
    You may not like the system, but they NEED a few Repub votes and a few CONSERVADEM votes for ANYTHING to proceed.
    You CANNOT hammer them if your objective is to GET THINGS DONE.

    This is either the best snark on this thread or the most pathetic comment I’ve seen in a while.

    Really, who says it can’t be both?

  222. 222
    Nick says:

    @geg6:

    I’ll stick with my local and state races, probably also Bob Casey.

    ironic considering Bob Casey is part of the reason why Obama has issues getting shit through.

  223. 223
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Nick: I don’t remember Casey causing complications, but I don’t hear much about him since I moved away from Pennsylvania. My senator, Jim Webb, has definitely been a thorn on a few of the big issues.

  224. 224
    Mnemosyne says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Kevin Drum had exit poll numbers showing that there was a HUGE surge in older voters and white voters, especially white voters who had not voted in 2008.

    Whitey was motivated to strike back at the Kenyan mooslim, and they turned out to do it. I don’t think that counts as “losing the base.”

  225. 225
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: We’re not winning today. Your strategy has not worked, but has rather emboldened the Republicans to ever-greater levels of obstructionism. Clapping louder seems unlikely to improve things. I think re-evaluation is in order. You think not. Time will tell.

  226. 226
    Glen Tomkins says:

    The Imperius Curse

    … is the only possible explanation for the behavior of those in the WH.

    At the start of his administration, I thought that Obama was going to be our Jacques Necker. Now he seems to be our Pius Thicknesse.

  227. 227

    FACTS ARE:

    Obama appointed Republican Bush’s military adviser and Obama expanded Republican Bush’s military policies.

    Obama reappointed Republican Bush’s Fed Chairman and Obama expanded many of Republican Bush’s economic policies.

    Obama intended on appointing a Republican to run the Commerce Department and when that didn’t happen Obama still pushed many of the Republican’s business policies.

    Obama appointed a Republican to be the Ambassador to China and Obama is aggressively pushing Republican trade policies.

    Obama has repeatedly appointed right-wing ideologues and supported the farthest right-wing “Dems” even when that meant undercutting superior Democratic centrists.

    Facts are that many of Obama’s supporters haven’t been paying attention to the facts and are (increasingly) offended by those that keep pointing out the facts.

    Obama is “better” than the insane extremism that grips the Republican Party, sure.

    But Obama continuously submits to the insane right-wing extremists and even adopts and promotes their insane right-wing ideology.

    Tax cuts for billionaires while gutting crucial social programs?

    Obama’s apologist’s shrill demands that ‘the left’ submit to Obama’s far-right-wing subservience has gone from silly to obscene.

  228. 228
    Nick says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Your strategy has not worked, but has rather emboldened the Republicans to ever-greater levels of obstructionism. Clapping louder seems unlikely to improve things. I think re-evaluation is in order.

    Personally, I never thought that strategy would work. I don’t think any strategy will “work”

  229. 229
    A L says:

    When they come to ask why the liberals were of no use in stopping the destruction of the company, they should be shown this thread as example #1,500,000. What a bunch of enablers you people are.

  230. 230
    Maude says:

    @Elie:
    There have two recent announcements from Hillary Clinton that she won’t seek elective office.
    Krugman comes out with the Obama = Failure.
    There is a lot of agitation in the left leaning blogs.
    Thom Hatman says Obama should declare he isn’t running in 2012.
    Bill Clinton is helping with Dem fundraising.
    Could be Hillary wants to run in 2012.
    Bill Clinton can agitate from behind the scenes and get others to do this also.
    I’m not sure this is what is going on, but it is possible.

  231. 231
    Nick says:

    @A L:

    What a bunch of enablers you people are.

    I stood in front of a Congressman’s office yesterday asking passer-byers to sign our petition demanding the end of tax cuts for the rich. And you?

  232. 232
    geg6 says:

    @Nick:

    WTF are you talking about? You obviously don’t know anything about Bob Casey. Casey has been aboard for pretty much anything the Dems have put up. He has been a rock (and it isn’t easy for me to say that since he’s anti-abortion but not an asshole about it like his dad). But he’s not a drama queen or a desperate cable news attention whore, so ignorant assholes can say shit like this about him, I guess.

  233. 233
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow: Jesus Christ, man, all I’m asking is for you to FUCKING TELL ME how your suggestion is SUPPOSED TO WORK. If you’re basically saying, let’s just throw shit against the wall and see what sticks, fine.

    Why are you saying it’s “my strategy”? I don’t fucking WANT a bunch of ridiculous cowardly Democrats scurrying at the first sign of peril and giving away billions of dollars to already rich people and being unable to explain any of it. But THAT’S WHO’S THERE. I don’t like it. But how do we change it SOON, LIKE NOW?

    Are you playing Fantasy Congress or is this supposed to be an actual suggestion for actual members of Congress to try?

  234. 234
    A L says:

    @Nick: Oh boy, I’m sure Congress is kept up at night by petitions. Yesiree.

    So let me get this straight: Your strategy is basically to persuade the pageboy to go against the manager. Is that it? By asking nicely? I got 10,000 nobodies to ask you very nicely to do something. Well golly!

  235. 235
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow: What is your “re-evaluation”? “Do something different”? Genius. I can’t believe no one ever thought of it! Hey, I just thought of another one. Maybe they should try “good policy.” Or, ooh, wait, how about “they all agree on a comprehensive agenda”? Victory is ours! Make way, good citizens, WE HAVE FIXED POLITICS!

  236. 236
    Nick says:

    @A L: You see, this is why hippies get punched. At least I’m trying to fucking do something and not sitting around flinging shit.

    No wonder no one notices when the President fights.

  237. 237
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: If you don’t want Democrats to act cowardly, maybe you should consider supporting a strategy that might help them get a win under their belt to boost their confidence.

    You’re railing about everything that can go wrong, rather than evaluating what might go right.

    You’re telling us again and again (and again) that Democrats should fear the Wurlitzer. You mean they don’t fear it enough yet?

    If you want change, help design it.

  238. 238
    A L says:

    @Nick: You’re not actually trying to do anything. Petitions to a Federal Congressman are laughable. You’re doing the bare minimum to appear busy, and in turn making what few conscious people happen to pass you by also appear to be busy. But no, you’re just an enabler because you’re maintaining the illusion that Congress can be swayed by popular appeal.

    Infants technically do something when they flail about. I would hardly call what they do productive or useful, though, so in reality you’re doing nothing at all.

  239. 239
    Nick says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    If you don’t want Democrats to act cowardly, maybe you should consider supporting a strategy that might help them get a win under their belt to boost their confidence.

    I agree with you here, I’m just not sure what that strategy is. The best I can do is help MoveOn petition, which I did. I don’t know how much good it did. We couldn’t get like 5% of the people walking by to even give a shit.

  240. 240
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I gave specifics, which you disliked. Now you’re igniting a strawman about platitudes. Oh well. I’ve got better things to do. Over and out.

  241. 241
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Nick: I’m not sure how to get Democrats to act more forcefully. I proposed an idea that might help Democrats get tax cuts for the middle class and perhaps some other things in exchange for a short-term extension of tax cuts for the rich. But it won’t go anywhere unless Democrats adopt it. I have no idea how to get them to do so, other than to point out that the Wingnut Wurlitzer is already at 11, so they might as well try my idea.

  242. 242

    Nick @ December 3rd, 2010 at 4:37 pm
    Obama “stood up for ending tax cuts on the rich for months.”

    No, he made some noise and now, as usual, when push comes to shove Obama is loudly signaling that he’s willing to let the Republicans push him around.

    ‘Standing up’ would be clearly stating that he would VETO the top TWO PERCENTER’S tax cuts.

    Instead, Obama started with a unilateral compromise to Republicans (as he’s done repeatedly for two years) and is clearly signaling he’s ready to completly capitulate to Republican demands (as he’s repeatedly done for two years).

    It’s bad policy, it’s broadly unpopular, and it’s fiscally irresponsible.

    But it’s very Republican.

  243. 243
    A L says:

    See, News Reference gets it. Why doesn’t anyone else here?

  244. 244

    “I’m not sure how to get Democrats to act more forcefully.”

    They could (and some do and have) :

    Stop repeating Republican falsehoods.

    Stop pretending that Republicans negotiate in good faith.

    Challenge complacent/complicit right-wing media entertainers masquerading as “news” “journalists” instead of obsequiously submitting to their right-wing framing (that includes “forcefully” pushing back on the right-wing framing used by “journalists” at ABC, CBS, CNN, CNBC, and even NPR and PBS).

    Stop being FOX puppets.

    Point out that ‘liberal’ MSNBC gives equal time to far-right-wing politician Joe Scarborough.

    Take a stand on core Democratic principles even if it means risking losing.

    LOUDLY call out Republicans for holding 98% of Americans hostage for a HUGE payoff for the top two percent.

    LOUDLY call out Republicans for holding America’s national security hostage for a payoff for the top two percent.

  245. 245
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow: Here are some of the ways you explained what Democrats should do:

    This leaves the Democrats two choices: to roll over and renew all the tax cuts (arrrrgh!), or to call the Republicans’ bluff by letting all the cuts expire. The latter puts the onus on Republicans to compromise to gain the Democrats’ help in getting what they really want.

    Thus, they need to turn the tables such that they block things the Republicans want (e.g., tax cuts for the rich) until the Republicans compromise, rather than just pushing things they want (e.g., tax cuts for the middle class) while the Republicans and Blue Dogs filibuster.

    Democrats can gain back those people by drawing contrasts with the Republicans and forcing them to yield. Republicans want things—like those tax cuts for the rich, like vastly-increased spending on “nuclear modernization”, like a delay in repealing DADT. Democrats need to demand things in return. Democrats have got to turn the tables and take advantage of their power to obstruct. It’s that simple.

    I’d also note that it’s almost always easier to obstruct legislation than to push it. A good strategist knows when to flip from pushing A directly, to obstructing B so as to get A in compromise.

    Democrats truly have nothing to lose by calling their bluff, and much to gain.

    This is a game of probabilities. The Democrats have already lost the rhetorical war, and can hardly lose it worse. What they can do is win the substantive war of accomplishment, then (for once) use that win to leverage their rhetorical game… Please consider what can be gained, rather than focusing on what can be lost.

    OK, so the idea is to “call the Republicans’ bluff” by threatening to allow all the tax cuts to lapse. Because the Republicans really don’t want those tax cuts to lapse, you say, they’ll compromise and give Democrats some of what they want.

    I kept asking, why would the Republicans compromise when they could just let the tax cuts lapse–i.e., allow the Democrats to call their bluff? It’s an easy play for them. Do nothing and then say that Democrats raised your taxes during a recession.

    To that, you just kept reiterating random gnomic statements.

  246. 246
    Tonal Crow says:

    @News Reference: Those are ways of acting more forcefully. But the question is how to get Democrats to do so. I think a key element of that is working to convince them that Republicans will demonize them no matter what they do, so they might as well do the right thing. Your take?

  247. 247
    MJ says:

    @jman:
    Then muthaf#ck Thom Hartmann & along with that any Democratic hope of holding on to the presidency in the next five or six Presidential elections!. I’m sure older African-American women like my mother (who are the most consistent and reliable voters in the party), who stuck w/ Bill Clinton after the B.job.gate debacle, will appreciate the fact that folks like Thom express how much they “genuinely like” President Obama while pressing the proverbial knife into his back.

    Talk about your preemptive surrender strategy…

  248. 248
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @News Reference: I don’t trust anything I read about “signaling,” and I wish more of us would do the same. The only purpose it serves is to get us whipped up. Let’s talk about official statements and actual actions, not “signals” and anonymous tips.

  249. 249
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Those are ways of acting more forcefully. But the question is how to get Democrats to do so.

    Exactly!

    I think a key element of that is working to convince them that Republicans will demonize them no matter what they do, so they might as well do the right thing.

    True! OK, so if you’re in a meeting with Max Baucus or Diane Feinstein, how do you pitch why what you want them to do is “the right thing”? Or is the “them” a future generation of Democrats?

    See, this is the actual discussion I seriously thought we were trying to have before, but it just got more and more abstract. I don’t even think we disagree on what they _should_ do, we just disagree on how easy it will be to impress upon them that it would be a good idea.

  250. 250
    Fuck! A Duck says:

    Funny, Nick can’t remember if he was outside the congressman’s office to protest or to cover the protest for his ‘newspaper’. Seems to change to suit the argument. Could be he’s just fulla shit.

  251. 251
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I’ll take that as half of an implicit apology and give it one more try.

    I contend that Republicans want cuts for the rich so much that they’re willing to compromise significantly to get them. You contend that Republicans want what you believe to be a substantial rhetorical victory so much that they’ll leave the cuts on the table. I counter that even if that’s so, the resulting damage to Democrats can hardly be worse than what the Wurlitzer already inflicts. And you sur-rebut that it can always get much worse.

    We just disagree.

  252. 252
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: That’s a hard problem. Perhaps science can be brought to bear, as in studying how much an additional piece of rhetoric works to convince a person of a position advocated by an existing, pervasive background of similar rhetoric. If the effect is small (as I think), the results would presumably help persuade some Democrats (though perhaps not Feinstein or Baucus) to become bolder.

    That said, an important part of our conversation got lost. And that is the question of when a person should give up directly pushing A in favor of obstructing her opponent’s objective B so as to make progress toward enacting A. Democrats just don’t seem to get this idea.

  253. 253
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow: OK, yes, I think you’ve characterized me accurately, and we do disagree about the likely outcome of the “call their bluff” strategy.

    I get very frustrated when I feel like I’m not being listened to. It’s a pet peeve. (My wife could tell you stories… :P)

    I think the chances of getting Democrats to behave better (if by better we mean “more coherent and more liberal”) are extremely poor. I dread that it will take at least as long as there are “New Democrats” in the DLC mold working their way through the pipeline of Democratic politics. And I have little hope that there’s a single strategy or killer app that will make things right with them. (The best one on the table is economic populism, but they won’t fucking install it, dammit!) So I’m cynical too, just pushing in a different direction, the “take what you can get now because things can always get worse” one.

  254. 254

    “I’m not sure how to get Democrats to act more forcefully.”

    “Republicans will demonize them no matter what they do”

    Yup. The evidence on that couldn’t be clearer.

    Also: Right-wing Blue-Dogs lost big time while nearly every Progressive Caucus Member won.

    That’s not to deny differences in voting districts but it’s been noted for decades that ‘given a choice between a Republican and a Dem-trying-to-be-a-Republican, voters will chose the real-Republican every time’.

  255. 255
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig: See the end of my last message. The thing is, progressive-leaning Democrats can sometimes work around the Republicans and Blue Dogs by blocking things they want and then extracting progress in compromise. Democrats seem not to like this approach. Instead, they tend to pre-compromise, implicitly betting on the Republicans’ and Blue Dogs’ sense of fair play. But Republicans don’t play fair, they play to win. And Democrats would do better if they played to win, too. (BTW, I mean strategically, not as in putting on the Ring and descending to the Republicans’ level re: lying and spinning).

  256. 256
    Nick says:

    @Fuck! A Duck:

    Funny, Nick can’t remember if he was outside the congressman’s office to protest or to cover the protest for his ‘newspaper’. Seems to change to suit the argument. Could be he’s just fulla shit.

    I got sent there to cover it, and I helped out. It was a fireable offense, but the good people at MoveOn won’t tell and it was completely worth it because I felt i couldn’t stand on the sidelines.

    Why is this a problem for you?

  257. 257
    Nick says:

    @A L:

    Petitions to a Federal Congressman are laughable. You’re doing the bare minimum to appear busy, and in turn making what few conscious people happen to pass you by also appear to be busy. But no, you’re just an enabler because you’re maintaining the illusion that Congress can be swayed by popular appeal.

    And you’re doing what, exactly?

  258. 258
    Nick says:

    @News Reference:

    No, he made some noise and now, as usual, when push comes to shove Obama is loudly signaling that he’s willing to let the Republicans push him around.

    I really don’t know where the hell you get this from, but like they said, people will believe their own bullshit.

  259. 259
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tonal Crow: Yeah, I think you’re right, Democrats seem to want to reduce the number of issues in question and then iron them out, rather than bringing new issues into question. Find broad agreement then work on the differences, rather than sniff out where the broad agreement might ultimately lie and _introduce_ enough differences that both sides are made to feel equally participatory and/or frustrated.

    It’s not that far from some of the house-buying negotiation stuff. Sometimes it’s worth it to make a fuss over the closing date so that you can trade the closing date for a better price, even when you don’t really care about the closing date.

    I’m not an enthusiastic negotiator so I see the aversion to doing things that way.

  260. 260
    sfbevster says:

    I saw Richard Wolff on Olbermann the other night saying that he’s talked to highly-placed White House staffers, and their whole focus is on appealing to independents – that 4 percent or whatever of folks who kinda whine about not knowing what they want, and hoping we can all just get along. It’s all political, and totally calculated to keeping Obama’s job. Regardless of what happens to yours or mine.

  261. 261
    Tonal Crow says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Democrats seem to want to…[f]ind broad agreement then work on the differences, rather than sniff out where the broad agreement might ultimately lie and introduce enough differences that both sides are made to feel equally participatory and/or frustrated.

    Well said. One problem with the Democrats’ approach is that it works well only if the other parties negotiate in good faith. If they don’t, the initial “broad agreement” proposal (which I called “pre-compromised”) becomes the baseline for further compromise by the proposer, rather than a framework that all the parties tweak until it’s acceptable.

    Another problem with the Democrats’ approach is that it work even more poorly than usual when Democrats are weakened (Senate-to-be) or in the minority (House-to-be). Then the chief negotiating power lies in obstruction, and boy do Democrats need to learn how to use the powers of obstruction.

  262. 262

    I honestly don’t know what they are doing. I thought it was absurd all the hand-wringing right out of the gate in 2009, but it has been two years now. We’ve seen nothing but capitulation from the Dems and the WH, and the Republicans are being rewarded for their behavior. What are they doing? What are they thinking? Is there honestly not one advisor in the WH who has Obama’s ear who hates the Republicans? Because that is what we need. Someone in there who hates the Republicans with the burning intensity of a million suns. No more playing nice. That didn’t work the last two years. Start fighting back. Stop trying to find common ground and start heightening the contradictions.

    Miracle! John Cole has finally seen the light!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  263. 263
    Nick says:

    @sfbevster:

    I saw Richard Wolff on Olbermann the other night saying that he’s talked to highly-placed White House staffers, and their whole focus is on appealing to independents – that 4 percent or whatever of folks who kinda whine about not knowing what they want, and hoping we can all just get along. It’s all political, and totally calculated to keeping Obama’s job. Regardless of what happens to yours or mine.

    Well, yeah, that’s how you win, and our goal should be making winning not relying on those 4 percent of douchebags.

    That said, if Obama is out of a job, chances are so will we.

  264. 264
    Fuck! A Duck says:

    Nick: Beause you are completely fulla shit.

  265. 265

    “Nick” asks why I’d say, in regards to the tax-tug-of-war, that Obama “made some noise and now, as usual, when push comes to shove Obama is loudly signaling that he’s willing to let the Republicans push him around.”

    Well, Nick, it’s cause I’m reading headlines like this, from the Washington Post this morning:

    “Obama, GOP in quiet talks to extend tax cuts.”“The White House and congressional Republicans have begun working behind the scenes toward a broad deal that would prevent taxes from going up for virtually every U.S. family and authorize billions of dollars in fresh spending to bolster the economy.” … “The private discussions, which parallel a more public set of talks, have left many Democrats grousing that President Obama is being too quick to accommodate his adversaries, who are still a month away from taking control of the House and expanding their presence in the Senate.”

    Hey, maybe it’s just right-wingers at the Washington Post trying to game the message with anonymous claims.

    More likely it’s the same kind of ‘loud’ “signaling” reported about Obama’s administration that is regularly followed by Obama’s capitulation to Republican demands.

  266. 266
    Corner Stone says:

    @Fuck! A Duck:

    Nick: Beause you are completely fulla shit.

    I was going to ask you which comment number this referred to, but it’s kinda moot since everything Nick says is a lie.

  267. 267
    Nick says:

    @Fuck! A Duck:

    Nick: Beause you are completely fulla shit.

    I’m sorry you feel that way, but the MoveOn people really appreciated my help and they mean more to me than you ever would.

  268. 268
    Corner Stone says:

    @Nick:

    I got sent there to cover it, and I helped out. It was a fireable offense, but the good people at MoveOn won’t tell and it was completely worth it because I felt i couldn’t stand on the sidelines.

    Or

    MoveOn is holding a protest in front of our Congressman’s office today. I’m going to go and cover despite my editor saying “this isn’t a story”

    Mom’s Basement Times

  269. 269
    Nick says:

    @News Reference:

    Hey, maybe it’s just right-wingers at the Washington Post trying to game the message with anonymous claims.

    It’s telling that the phrasing of the sentences in the story like

    prevent taxes from going up for virtually every U.S. family and authorize billions of dollars in fresh spending

    didn’t already give that away

  270. 270
    Merkin says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    I contend that Republicans want cuts for the rich so much that they’re willing to compromise significantly to get them.

    I disagree, the Republicans would have to have something to lose in order to do that, they have nothing to lose. They don’t get the tax cuts for the rich now? They’ll get them in 2013.

  271. 271
    Merkin says:

    @Corner Stone: I’m not really sure what you’re implying. You seem to be saying Nick is telling two different stories, but it sounds like he went to a protest outside a Congressman’s office for a story and got involved in it. what’s the discrepancy?

  272. 272
    Merkin says:

    @A L:

    You’re not actually trying to do anything. Petitions to a Federal Congressman are laughable. You’re doing the bare minimum to appear busy, and in turn making what few conscious people happen to pass you by also appear to be busy. But no, you’re just an enabler because you’re maintaining the illusion that Congress can be swayed by popular appeal.

    This is a really dickhead thing to say. A lot of good activists from MoveOn and other organizations like NARAL, Gay rights groups, and even right wing groups use petitioning all the time to get their point across. Sometimes politicians hold the petitions of the floor of legislative bodies to defend their support for something. It may not be totally effective, but it’s something. I don’t understand why you would say something like this.

  273. 273
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Merkin: If the Republicans do, in fact, get the cuts for the rich in 2013 (no sure bet), they — and, more to the point, their very rich campaign contributors — will have lost them for the 2+ intervening years. You think the Koch brothers want to lose that much income?

  274. 274
    reality-based says:

    Yes, but John –

    Just as one cannot un-shit the bed, one cannot un-punch the hippie.

    Since most of my health-care bruises have faded to a charming shade of yellow, I now dare to suggest that those of us who became alarmed at the capitulations of 2009 and early 2010 – viewing them as both electoral and policy disasters – had a small point.

    or is this a sin like those poor Lincoln Brigade guys who fought in Spain, who were pilloried by HUAC for being “premature anti-fascists.”

    The most irritating part of the hippie punching around here was the assumption that anybody pointing out that the capitulations were dangerous was immediately labeled a PUMA, a Hilary Die-hard, a naïive country bumpkin, too dim to understand the 11-dimensional chess being played by geniuses like Rahm and the General.

    When in fact, the hippies being pummeled were some of Obama’s earliest supporters – neither Hamsherites nor Naderites, but knowledgeable, thoughtful juicers who – seeing the cave-ins pile up and up – asked, in bewilderment – “What are they DOING?!?!? – –

    – – and got the shit kicked out of them for it.

    (God, I’ve been reading too much E. D. – Who knew that self-righteous self-pity was contagious.)

  275. 275

    Nick, if it’s coming from the Iraq-War-enabling-torture-apologizing-WashingtonPost I’m often skeptical.

    If the article is built on anonymous assertions I’m extra-extra skeptical.

    But, unfortunately, as much as I’d ‘hoped’ differently, right-wing “signaling” attributed to Obama and his Administration has regularly proved to be correct.

    Right-wing “signaling” from Obama and his Administration should be taken very seriously.

    ‘To The RIGHT’ increasingly seems the direction that Obama instinctively turns.

  276. 276
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    .
    .

    I don’t trust anything I read about “signaling,” and I wish more of us would do the same. The only purpose it serves is to get us whipped up. Let’s talk about official statements and actual actions, not “signals” and anonymous tips.

    As you know, Flip, the only thing we can trust in is the real balloonbagger-identified problem of the recent explicably large “psycho sexual” racial eruption all over America’s face and being forced down its throat. Let’s talk about that some more! Back to you, Flip…
    .
    .

  277. 277
    Merkin says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    You think the Koch brothers want to lose that much income?

    I would think they’d be willing to sacrifice it for the possibility of permanent cuts or another 10 years in 2013, yeah

  278. 278
    Nick says:

    @News Reference: Sooo, the media sucks, but in this case it seems to agree with your assumptions, so it’s ok.

    No wonder progressives keep getting rolled by the MSM

  279. 279
    gerry says:

    I think I know how George Costanza must have felt when Jerry and Elaine realize that the Drake is no good.

  280. 280
    alwhite says:

    @mk3872:
    So what you are saying is we have 2 choices – give the Republicans everything they want, the way they want it, when they want it or get nothing. Really that is not a hard choice – I’ll take nothing.

    The health care disaster that was passed was Bob Dole’s response to the Clinton effort & it got, what, 1 Republican vote or 2? The stimulus started with Obama giving tax cuts to the Republicans & they responded by cutting money for actual stimulus so it was doomed to failure before it started.

  281. 281
    Triassic Sands says:

    @alwhite:

    The health care disaster that was passed was Bob Dole’s response to the Clinton effort & it got, what, 1 Republican vote or 2?

    Zero in the Senate. Zero in the House.

  282. 282
    Nick says:

    @alwhite:

    So what you are saying is we have 2 choices – give the Republicans everything they want, the way they want it, when they want it or get nothing. Really that is not a hard choice – I’ll take nothing.

    you say that now, but when that happened with Bill Clinton, liberals wanted to know why he didn’t do “something”

  283. 283
    mbss says:

    i think it’s pathetic that it’s taken you guys longer than daily kos to figure this shit out.

  284. 284
    mbss says:

    @Gay Veteran:

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

    why blame Democrats for incompetence or cowardice when complicity is the answer?

  285. 285

    […] Need a Hardcore Republican Hater, John Cole insists at Balloon […]

  286. 286
    Gay Veteran says:

    gene108: “the liberal base has made it clear that they want everything there way or they will sit it out and turn on the Democrats. For decades the goal of liberals, which Democrats adopted, was to have universal medical coverage for all Americans. President Obama signed the closest thing ever to achieving that goal, yet because it wasn’t single-payer and / or didn’t have a public option, the liberal base has yet to acknowledge the HCR bill as a net positive for Americans.”

    Certainly a net positive for the insurance companies to have a captive market. The public option WAS the compromise. The fix was in when Obama dealt behind closed doors with the pharmaceutical companies and the hospitals.

    Blaming Obama’s problems on his advisers is pathetic. “Oh, if only the csar had good advisers….”

    And complicity is the problem with some Democrats. You cannot blame incompetence or cowardice for 100% of the crap that has happened over the past 10 years.

  287. 287
    Corner Stone says:

    @reality-based: Love this comment. You should post it again every time Cole puts up an emo thread.

  288. 288
    Kevin K. says:

    @myiq2xu:

    We told you so.

    And thankfully we didn’t listen because we’d be complaining about McCain/Pawlenty instead of Obama/Biden.

  289. 289

    […] Need a Hardcore Republican Hater, John Cole insists at Balloon […]

  290. 290

    […] Krugman’s lament reverberated throughout the online echo chamber with liberal bloggers struggling to come to terms with it and conservative bloggers salivating at the prospect of further dividing […]

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