Abject Surrender is the Best Negotiating Strategy

Kent Conrad was on Fox News Sunday and offered to “split the difference” on the fiscal cliff negotiations:

This in an amazing offer for a Democrat to make. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has already accepted that “a balanced deal,” by his definition, would include a ratio of 1:1 spending cuts to tax increases. Indeed, his second offer included $1 trillion in tax increases in return for $1 trillion in spending cuts ($1.3 trillion if you count interest). By averaging Boehner’s second offer with Obama’s third offer — that is to say, by starting from a baseline that includes more rounds of Democratic concessions than Republican concessions — Conrad is proposing a more lopsided deal than Boehner is currently asking for.

Just keep this in mind when you’re wondering why Obama’s negotiating strategies seemed weak a lot of the time during his first term. As chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Conrad is one of the most important players in budget negotiations, and here he is offering to give away the farm.






150 replies
  1. 1
    Mark S. says:

    It’s not like Boner can get anything passed that isn’t 100% spending cuts and 0% tax increases.

  2. 2
    nastybrutishntall says:

    Kent Conrad was on Fox News Sunday

    Derp derps. News at 11.

  3. 3
    Peregrinus says:

    Luckily, he’s also the outgoing Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, because he’s being replaced by Heitkamp, who – IIRC – was profiled as being way more liberal on economics than he is.

    Do we know yet who’s going to chair Budget in the new Senate?

    ETA: Did my own homework. Looks like Patty Murray as of Nov. 15.

  4. 4
    c u n d gulag says:

    Ugh!
    Conrad!

    Lately, Durbin’s been a bit better – but for a while there, he really sucked, too. That’s what happens when you’re tainted by B-S: (Toilet) Bowles – “Simpleton” Simpson.

  5. 5
    catclub says:

    @Peregrinus: Your post did make it seem like first Heitkamp, and then Murray would chair Budget Committee. It opened my sleepy eyes, it did!

    Then I realized that Heitkamp replaces him as senator from their state, not as Chair of Budget.

    Wow, Patty Murray. I did not know she had been in long enough.

  6. 6
    Balconesfault says:

    Lucky the Dems have the House GOP caucus to save them from themselves.

  7. 7
    Schlemizel says:

    This has always been a major stumbling block for the Dems. We really need to reanimate the corpse of LBJ and make him the Senate majority leader. He would wear out many pairs of boots from all the ass kickings he would give out.

    Meanwhile I do wish some brave soul in the media would ask Grover how he reconciles his insistence that there can never be any tax increases with his stated anger at Obama for refusing to negotiate.

  8. 8
    General Stuck says:

    For Hoooom the Bell Trolls

    It Trolls for Thee

  9. 9
    Cassidy says:

    Waiting for the usual refrain from the dumbass choir.

    OBAMA SOLD US OUT!

  10. 10
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    OBAMA SOLD US OUT!

    Well of course he did.

    President is just the modern word for king, at least that’s how it was explained to me by somebody. He can tell everyone what to do and they do it or risk death, right?

    Cutting high school civics classes has not saved any money, but boy the results sure speak for themselves.

  11. 11
    Alex S. says:

    Let’s just wait a few weeks and see him jumping off the Conrad cliff.

  12. 12
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Heh. We’re like a ship with no rudder.

    WTFH to Leadership?

  13. 13
    Cassidy says:

    Heh. We’re like a ship with no rudder.
    WTFH to Leadership?

    And it didn’t take long.

  14. 14
    MattF says:

    @catclub: FYI, Patty Murray is a major player:

    http://articles.washingtonpost.....-democrats

  15. 15
    ding dong says:

    Conrad is setting up for his post senate grifting/lobbying job. He must have a banking gig set up. He was one of the Countrywide VIPs.

  16. 16
    sherparick says:

    This is the problem with you have spent most of your time talking to and being briefed by millionaires and lobbiests for millionaires, none of whom represent, or feel any particular concern for, the 1/6th of the country unemployed, underemployed, or who have just given up on being part of the labor force. It also where you wind up where as a neo-liberal New Democrat, you don’t have any principled belief in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid or a progressive tax code. (See Bruce Bartlett for such a defense from a conservative view: http://economix.blogs.nytimes......are-state/) Another example of this type is Steny Hoyer, who I hope gets a primary challeged in 2014.

    The White House needs the pressure from the left to counter strong pressure it is getting from Neoliberal, Democratic senators, particularly senators representing states that are red or purple (Warner, Manchin, Rockefeller, Landreiu, Baucus, Merkley, etc.) These Senators don’t want to be running for reelection in 2014 facing both a recession as well as the inevitable demagogic attacks on their budget, health care, and debt ceiling votes. Also, rich people (and they are almost all rich themselves) are much more real to them then those unwashed losers out there drawing unemployment and out of work for over a year.

  17. 17
    Mark B. says:

    It’s kind of a Zeno’s paradox of meeting them halfway. Everytime the democrats make a concession of half, that becomes the new starting point, over and over again until there is finally so little difference that they finally cave and give them everything they want. Hopefully this time it will be different.

  18. 18
    Punchy says:

    Like Boehner has the ability to pass anything in the House short of Tackscutz fer All(TM) and eleventy billion dollars for the Coast Guard and Arizona’s DMZ….

  19. 19
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Conrad is just filling the vacuum, guys and gals.

  20. 20
    Peregrinus says:

    @catclub:

    Yeah, I see what you mean. I got up at 5:00 to make the ever-lovely Peregrina coffee and clean the kitchen. Clearly should’ve had some caffeine myself.

    @MattF:

    Fair point. Given all she’s done for the Dems, if she wanted it, she was going to get it. The people between her and Conrad are Kohl (retiring), Akaka (who always struck me as a guy who sticks to smaller stuff), Feinstein (who seems to like her job at Intel) and Boxer (no read on her whatsoever).

  21. 21
    eric says:

    You have no leverage over a “dying” man whose allegiances are with his future employers and benefactors.

  22. 22
    PsiFighter37 says:

    He’s on his way out. Party Murray is taking over budget (think this was mentioned above), so we’ll be playing with better soldiers soon enough. I also think his replacement (Heitkamp) is likely to be more of a populist than he is.

  23. 23
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    And it didn’t take long.

    @Cassidy: you are like one of those people who can see the future

  24. 24
    Peregrinus says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    I genuinely thought for a Democrat to succeed Conrad they’d have to play the moderate card a lot. It looks like Heitkamp went the opposite direction. Glad to hear it.

  25. 25

    So this guy is a lame duck, wouldn’t have his committee position if he stayed, the GOP House can’t pass anything even he would agree to, the rest of the Dem Senate is unlikely to give him his austerity dream, and then it would have to get past Obama who thinks he can get better. In general I agree that Blue Dogs have been a major obstacle to getting the best legislation, but right now the noises coming out of the other end of Conrad’s alimentary canal are just as meaningful.

  26. 26
    MikeJ says:

    @Peregrinus:

    ETA: Did my own homework. Looks like Patty Murray as of Nov. 15.

    As long as Boeing keeps getting money Patty can be tough.

  27. 27
    jp7505a says:

    Why is anyone surprised at the result of the republican mailed fist hitting the democrat jellyfish. It’s bad news for the jellyfish.

  28. 28
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @Peregrinus: Well, she’s not going to be good on energy (the main reason why ND unemployment is so low is all the drilling they’re doing), but really good that she is there instead of Rick Berg.

    Strange to think that just nearly 10 years ago, the entire congressional delegation from both ND and SD was Democratic…

  29. 29
    catclub says:

    @Schlemizel: I think LBJ in the Senate was powerful because he was the conduit for a lot of texas money into politics. And he spread it to many who then owed him a favor. Not sure whether there is any analogous senator – maybe Sheldon Adelson siphons all his money to the Democrats through Harry Reid!

    My only serious guess would be Schumer and bankers money.

  30. 30
    Raenelle says:

    I’m beginning to understand why Republicans loved George Bush so much. He stood up for them and their values. He was a super good Republican.

    I’m relieved Obama was re-elected, but he’s just not a very good Democrat. Neither is Kent Conrad.

  31. 31
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Wow. Some of you seem really, defensive….knee-jerk

    But last week, even that failed. The Republicans in Congress cannot agree with themselves, much less compromise with Democrats. As a result, they cannot govern. Speaker Boehner admitted as much when he said, “Now it is up to the President to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff.”

    Of course, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) cannot make laws by themselves. If Speaker Boehner cannot commit the Republicans to anything, it is not just Congress that cannot govern. The government cannot govern.

    http://balkin.blogspot.com/

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    We need public financing so these congresscritters can work for their constituents, not for their campaign funding.

    And if someone like Conrad is so valuable, he can be valuable in three or four years.

    This revolving door crap needs to go, too.

    If shutting the revolving door keeps some folks out of Congress, the better for us.

    We need public servants, not grifters.

  33. 33
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Peregrinus:

    Luckily, he’s also the outgoing Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, because he’s being replaced by Heitkamp, who – IIRC – was profiled as being way more liberal on economics than he is. [And Patty Murray will be chairing Budget.]

    IOW, if there’s no deal for another week, the prospects for a better deal will improve a tad just because Conrad will have retired.

    Obama is really a terrible negotiator. He needs to master three simple phrases:

    1) “Nothing’s agreed on until everything’s agreed on.”

    2) “Because we didn’t arrive at a deal, the concessions in my last offer are off the table. My original proposal is my only offer on the table at this time.”

    3) “I await a concrete counterproposal from Congressional Republicans, listing specific spending cuts and tax hikes that a majority of their caucus is ready to vote for.”

  34. 34
    Peregrinus says:

    @MikeJ:

    Pretty much.

    @PsiFighter37:

    Yeah, I seem to recall mistermix posting an in-depth look at how George McGovern got to be an unapologetic liberal while still representing South Dakota. Quite instructive, if you ask me.

  35. 35
    jp7505a says:

    @low-tech cyclist: If he followed those three points he would hurt the fee-fees of the very serious people and the bond vigilantes would cry. Of course they may all be the same people

  36. 36
    gene108 says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    In general I agree that Blue Dogs have been a major obstacle to getting the best legislation

    As opposed to the Republicans, who replaced them in 2010?

    The Democrats need a majority in the House and a super majority in the Senate, in order to get anything done.

    I can live with Blue Dogs being part of the coalition, if that is what it takes to push the Republicans aside.

    Liberals lack the media clout needed to shift this country to the Left, where we can safely mock candidates for their NRA memberships, like the Right did with ACLU memberships a generation ago.

    Until that happens, I’ll take whatever I can get to drive Republicans to political obscurity.

  37. 37
    El Caganer says:

    Perhaps I’m reading the wrong economics blogs, but the lefty ones I look at seem to agree that raising taxes and cutting spending when the economy is weak is a recipe for disaster. So if we go off the fiscal cliff, the government automatically raises taxes and cuts spending. If Congress reaches a budget deal, the governnment raises taxes and cuts spending (although in a different combination). How are we not screwed?

    And,no, Obama hasn’t SOLD US OUT (well, maybe he’s sold you out; he hasn’t sold me out). It’s just that everybody in DC seems to believe the same shitty economic myths about debt and the deficit.

  38. 38
    TR says:

    Good riddance, Conrad.

  39. 39
    Peregrinus says:

    @El Caganer:

    From what I understand, the spending cuts from the fiscal cliff are different from the cuts that Obama and the Dems want to enact. The latter are mostly focused on things like cutting Medicare rebates to providers and reducing defense bloat. The former might hit social spending pretty hard.

    That said, I mostly replied to you because your nym wins the Internets today, sir. (ETA: Or ma’am. I was going off the nym itself.)

  40. 40
  41. 41
    Cassidy says:

    @El Caganer: Disaster may be a little strong. The cuts in spenidng will hurt, unfortunately, and that does suck. The increase in revenue will be good. I think the defense cuts will help in th elong run. Once the DOD re-learns to operate on a diet and it doesn’t become accepted that they need to be bloated, I think we’ll be in for better long term budget conversations.

  42. 42
    Napoleon says:

    @Peregrinus:

    Looks like Patty Murray

    and she is on record that she is ok with allowing the fiscal “cliff” to happen.

    Oh and f— Conrad.

  43. 43
    SIA says:

    @SIA: Please disregard, I’m pocket posting now :)

  44. 44
    Napoleon says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Obama is really a terrible negotiator

    This.

  45. 45

    Dear Word Perfect:

    Fuck you for eating my last post. I will expect it to return twenty times in half an hour.

    Sincerely,
    Not A Fan

  46. 46
    rda909 says:

    @Schlemizel: Ah, that old one. LBJ had much stronger Democratic majorities than President Obama has ever had (Senate in the upper 60s, and House with anywhere from 85 to approx 150 Democratic vote majorities);
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8.....ty_summary

    Not to mention a Republican at that time would be considered a liberal Democrat by today’s standards, and many Republicans actually seemed concerned about the country as whole more then, and many would cross the aisle. There was actually journalism still at this time too, and people couldn’t just spew unchallenged talking points as any Republican can do today.

    President Obama’s largest majority in the Senate has been 58, and many of those were not reliable, and there’s never been a more obstructionist opposition party in the history of the United States. In fact, most everything he proposed was forced to be watered down BY HIS OWN PARTY, with people such as Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad and the others stopping everything he ever tried to do.

    So please explain how LBJ would’ve been able to do something in this environment, since LBJ never had to deal with anything even close to that challenging. And in terms of Congressional numbers and media environment, FDR for that matter too (FDR’s Congressional support was even greater than LBJ’s).

  47. 47
    Peregrinus says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    All three of your points are, ceteris paribus, good things. Here’s what I think is happening to each.

    Your #1 has been SOP with the Obama admin since day one, from what I understand. It’s why they’re okay with floating trial balloons about Medicare or Social Security “strengthening.” (The weird part is, the fact that Obama has this as his SOP is why he’s usually hit with the “terrible negotiator” thing. I was surprised to see it as a positive for him to adopt Do you mean in a different sense from the way he’s been using it so far?)

    Your #2 seems to be what the GOP (with all its hurt fee-fees) think Obama’s doing already, with his “You don’t get anything for [$800 billion in tax revenue], I get that for free” quip.

    I think #3 is something we’re going to hear. I hope so, anyway. I’ve been a bit out of the loop recently, so maybe I’ve missed it.

  48. 48
    Peregrinus says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    I’d blog more if I got to use WordPerfect to do it. You never forget your first word processor. :’-)

  49. 49
    General Stuck says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Obama is really a terrible negotiator. He needs to master three simple phrases:
    1) “Nothing’s agreed on until everything’s agreed on.”
    2) “Because we didn’t arrive at a deal, the concessions in my last offer are off the table. My original proposal is my only offer on the table at this time.”
    3) “I await a concrete counterproposal from Congressional Republicans, listing specific spending cuts and tax hikes that a majority of their caucus is ready to vote for.”

    I trust you are aware Obama has loudly and publicly done all three of these things?

  50. 50

    @Peregrinus:
    Sir, you have completely defeated me.

  51. 51
    catclub says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: It was the tear in the emoticon that got me.

  52. 52
    Peregrinus says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Hell, I was only half joking. After years of MS Word I still miss my old Corel software.

  53. 53
    danah gaz says:

    Kent Conrad is not a Democrat. He’s a Republican with identity issues. Why hasn’t he been primaried?*

    *I know a real Democrat would lose an ND election. I also know that purging the blue dogs makes the Dems a stronger party overall – even if they means losing some seats in Republican states – unless of course, somebody can explain to me how having a Republican that caucuses with the Democrats, and undercuts them at every turn is somehow better than having a Republican that caucuses with their own party?

  54. 54
    PeakVT says:

    Kent Conrad was on Fox News Sunday and offered to “split the difference” the media one last chance to stroke his ego.

    Accurified.

    @Frankensteinbeck: Word Perfect has a blog-commenting feature? Who knew.

  55. 55
    rda909 says:

    @Raenelle: Too funny. Quick, name a President who has passed more meaningful liberal legislation in any of our lifetimes. (hint, you can’t):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8.....ty_summary

    And with the most obstructionist Congress ever (simple fact). President Obama is one of the best Democrats and best negotiators to ever have that office. So anyway, what are you going to do to make sure he has a House majority in 2014? Or are you and so many other “liberal” Keyboard Kommandos just going to keep talking about how terrible he is…every single hour…of every single day…

  56. 56
    Peregrinus says:

    @danah gaz:

    Why hasn’t he been primaried?*

    Because he retired and is being succeeded by a much more populist Democrat?

  57. 57
    General Stuck says:

    @El Caganer:

    The wisdom is that raising taxes on the rich does not hurt the economy from a demand perspective, because the rich already have more money than they can possibly spend. The middle class income taxes raised, as well as ending the payroll tax holiday for the working poor would starve the economy of vital fuel because those folks rapidly spend that extra tax break money as stimulus. Same principle with the sequester cuts, that will be anti stimulus because the government won’t be spending those monies, further drying up demand.

  58. 58
    Paul in KY says:

    @Schlemizel: He was a great one, but having Richard Russell sorta under control & helping police the Southern Democratic caucus really helped him (just finishing up ‘Master of the Senate’).

  59. 59
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    @Cassidy: you are like one of those people who can see the future.

    Which makes me wonder if the names Cassidy and Cassandra are etymologically related :-)

  60. 60
    Cassidy says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Well, mine is a last name. I got nothing.

    And no pats on the back for me, just a studious assessment of our resident naysayers and doom and gloomies…from every single day sonce the black guy has taken over. I take no credit for their predictability.

  61. 61
    Aaron Morrow says:

    On January 3rd, my true love gave to me,
    A more liberal Senate (on average)

  62. 62
    Paul in KY says:

    @Peregrinus: I miss my old Xerox 6085. Best wordprocessor ever. I could have faked money, if I’d wanted to (and had the right paper).

  63. 63
    General Stuck says:

    @Cassidy:

    I can read the future too, and predict that shit will roll down hill, every single time.

  64. 64
    rda909 says:

    @rda909: Wrong link. Supposed to be this one:
    http://www.hamell.net/list-of-.....in-office/

  65. 65
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Peregrinus:

    was profiled as being way more liberal sane on economics than he is.

    Fixed for ya!

  66. 66
    sal says:

    This is the Zeno’s Paradox style of negotiation: Meet them halfway, then halfway again, then again, and again, and pretty soon you’re almost where they started. Except of course, now they’ve moved farther away, so then meet them halfway, then halfway again….

  67. 67
    Paul says:

    @rda909:

    Or are you and so many other “liberal” Keyboard Kommandos just going to keep talking about how terrible he is…every single hour…of every single day…

    Amen! Considering how much more progressive legislation Obama has gotten passed compared to Carter and Clinton together, is there any Democrat these so called liberals would approve of? Hell, do they approve of Bernie Sanders who opposed closing Gitmo?

  68. 68
    merrinc says:

    @rda909:

    LBJ had much stronger Democratic majorities than President Obama has ever had (Senate in the upper 60s, and House with anywhere from 85 to approx 150 Democratic vote majorities);
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8…..ty_summary
    Not to mention a Republican at that time would be considered a liberal Democrat by today’s standards, and many Republicans actually seemed concerned about the country as whole more then, and many would cross the aisle. There was actually journalism still at this time too, and people couldn’t just spew unchallenged talking points as any Republican can do today.

    This. A thousand fucking times, THIS.

  69. 69
    Peregrinus says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I loved those things, though from afar – I never got to use an actual word processor.

    And now I’ve got wistful memories of learning to type on Grandpa’s IBM Wheelwriter . . .

  70. 70
    Peregrinus says:

    @merrinc:

    I find this post from LGM hugely instructive on the matter.

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblo.....presidents

  71. 71
    Paul in KY says:

    @danah gaz: Because the fake Democrat has to caucus with the Democrats on issues like voting for Majority Leader, etc. The real Republican would not do that.

  72. 72
    feebog says:

    @ El Caganer:

    Perhaps I’m reading the wrong economics blogs, but the lefty ones I look at seem to agree that raising taxes and cutting spending when the economy is weak is a recipe for disaster. So if we go off the fiscal cliff, the government automatically raises taxes and cuts spending. If Congress reaches a budget deal, the governnment raises taxes and cuts spending (although in a different combination). How are we not screwed?

    The spending cuts are not going to impact the economy as much as the tax increases. A couple weeks ago I took out my tax return for the year 2000. I then compared it to my 2010 tax return. The difference, as far as I could figure out, was about 5%. Based on my current income, which is a mix of retirement annuities and income from two businesses, this means I will pay about 4K in addtional taxes in 2012. That is a lot of discretionary income. I certainly won’t starve, and my lifestyle won’t change much, but I won’t be going out to dinner as often, and I won’t buy some stuff that I might otherwise have bought.

    For many people it will be much worse, especially those making 40 to 50K a year. They can’t afford any type of increase right now, even a small one.

  73. 73
    Paul in KY says:

    @Peregrinus: I still have an operating IBM Selectric III at my house. Still looks sleek.

  74. 74
    Peregrinus says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Lucky bastard. I’ve been wanting a Wheelwriter for years but it runs you about $300.

    A year or two ago I got so into it I looked for apps that could replicate typewriter sounds. Found a few, but none of them could do a Wheelwriter

  75. 75
    Lurking Canadian says:

    It is a source of endless wonderment to me that congressional Democrats continue to find unoccupied real-estate on Obama’s back suitable for planting knives.

  76. 76
    Peregrinus says:

    @Lurking Canadian:

    Now, now, let’s be fair. Some of them are quite happy to go for his hamstrings instead.

  77. 77
    Paul in KY says:

    @Peregrinus: Maybe look at consignment stores or garage sales. You should be able to get one cheaper than $300 (will it work right, though, is another matter I guess).

    Best of luck!

  78. 78
    General Stuck says:

    @merrinc:

    LBJ became president of a country deeply shocked and suffering profound grief from the murder of a beloved president. It is not unlike the added license that George W Bush had in the wake of 9-11. LBJ’s senate at the time had a 67 cloture vote requirement, but it didn’t matter.

    Obama inherited 2 wars and the worst economic collapse since the GD. There was no grief to glide on, only anger to fix this shit now.

  79. 79
    catclub says:

    @General Stuck: This.

    When the rich find tax shelters they invest in the economy.
    Productive business investment of profits is an ideal tax shelter.

    When the cost of a new employee is reduced by a high marginal tax rate, more employees are hired.

    Also, when donations to charities have extra value because they reduce taxes by a lot, more donations to charities occur.
    When donations to charity reduce taxes by only a little, fewer donations are made.

    To the extent that ‘high taxes punish job creators’ is believed, the nation loses. High taxes encourage job creation.

  80. 80
    Emma says:

    @Raenelle (and others): You know, I usually don’t go off on silly. But this is SILLY. Obama’s been doing just fine, thank you, and he’ll get the absolute best deal he can. Stop making believe that he’s the king-god of the universe and he can make things happen just because he exists. There are political realities — there always are. And the reality is that Obama is not only dealing with Republicans but with his own fractious party.

    You’d think the man never got anything done, when he’s been the most successful Democratic president in my lifetime.

  81. 81
    Peregrinus says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Well, right now the concern is mainly academic because I have no place to stick a typewriter. Between the ever-lovely Peregrina and I we have too much stuff for our apartment as it is.

    But a man can dream. If it should come to total morbidity, since I know my cousin wants some of my grandfather’s books, I could request the typewriter as my inheritance. Thanks for the pointer, though. :-)

  82. 82
    Hill Dweller says:

    @General Stuck: Also too, despite the enormous challenges Obama faced, Republicans became the most obstructionist party in our history. Their behavior has been radical by any modern political standard, but you’d never know it from listening to the media.

  83. 83
    General Stuck says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    Republicans became the most obstructionist party in our history

    The percentage of bills filibustered since 2008, shattered all records for this practice since the founding. I mean like 3 or 4 times the former records, if I remember correctly. And unprecedented, using the filibuster as a matter of routine, to keep dem obama bills from even reaching the senate floor to be considered.

  84. 84
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @catclub:

    I think LBJ in the Senate was powerful because he was the conduit for a lot of texas money into politics. And he spread it to many who then owed him a favor.

    LBJ as Senate Majority Leader was also very powerful because the southern conservative caucus in the Senate had his back (and thanks to Richard Russell in a unified way too), even on bills they otherwise did not care for (cf the 1957 Civil Rights Act). When LBJ was in the Senate there had not been a southerner elected POTUS since before all that unpleasantness following the 1860 election, and 1950s Congressional Dems figured that LBJ was their best and only chance for getting a conservative southern politician (Harry Truman didn’t count) into the White House at any point in the forseeable future, and unlike previous candidates he looked like a possible winner. So when it came to arm twisting, LBJ already had a huge advantage over anybody else either before or since, because the biggest obstacle to getting anything done in the Senate in that era was the conservative southern bloc.

    The irony is that LBJ did become President but not in the way his conservative southern backers expected, and once settled in office he turned out to be a lot more liberal than anybody had reason to expect based on his track record during the 1950s.

  85. 85
    nellcote says:

    @General Stuck:

    I mean like 3 or 4 times the former records,

    More like 3 or 4 times the TOTAL of ALL previous fillibusters.

  86. 86
    Ron Thompson says:

    Coming in just eight days–a Senate Democratic caucus without Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad and Jim Webb! And only one is being replaced by a Republican.

  87. 87
    rikyrah says:

    Conrad – good riddance to bad rubbish

  88. 88
    Maude says:

    @Hill Dweller:
    I’ve started to think that the House Republicans don’t have an ideology, but are merely 2 year olds.

  89. 89
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    @Emma: Thank you for this. Even regular commenters here seem to be turning into little mini-firebaggers lately, shrieking hysterically every time Obama offers a concession of any kind.

    But the House is still a thing that exists, and is still run by crazies. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who recognizes this.

  90. 90
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Ron Thompson:The House Dem Caucus got cleaned up pretty good after 2010. The Senate’s heading in that direction.

    Not that that will change The Narrative. How long after the departure of the Blue Dogs will it be before people stop complaining about the Blue Dogs?

  91. 91
    Peregrinus says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    I think the problem is that the Blue Dogs play to both sides of the media narrative. For the proper liberals in the media, they’re the Dems with no backbone and so prove that the problem with the party is that Democrats just won’t take their own side in an argument; for the rest, they’re the “good Democrats” who aren’t suckered in by liberal hogwash.

    In other words, they won’t stop complaining until other people stop pretending that being a Blue Dog automatically makes your brain larger.

  92. 92
    Paul in KY says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: I see you have read ‘Master of the Senate’ too!

  93. 93
    Ron Thompson says:

    @rda909:

    When LBJ became Majority Leader in 1955, he had a two-seat majority. In 1957, despite the fact that almost half of his caucus was from the Jim Crow South, he passed the first Civil Rights bill in 82 years. The Senate remained close through the 1958 election, which was a Democratic landslide and the foundation of the large majority Democrats enjoyed for the next 20 years.

    LBJ cut deals, but he would never give up on his bottom line or sacrifice party unity just to pass something. In these ways he was unlike President Obama, who seems to brag about the fact that he’s trying to pass something that divides Democrats and hurts their constituents..

  94. 94
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Ron Thompson: The ’57 Civil Rights bill was the very definition of ‘just passing something’ — a textbook example of symbolic legislation. It was entirely a voting rights act, and so successful that by 1960, black voting was up… by 3%.

  95. 95
    Brachiator says:

    The LA Times has a great article on the fiscal cliff of 1932.

    Some highlights (I think they have a paywall):

    Then, as now, fiscal conservatives demanded immediate action to fix a federal budget awash in red ink. And then, as now, average Americans wondered why all the fuss about deficits. The Depression was in its third year, and millions had no jobs. Why were politicians haggling about balancing the budget?…

    Elected leaders had until that moment essentially accepted the plutocratic perspective. The Depression, the financially favored insisted, amounted to a natural disaster. Nature had to be allowed to run its course….

    Veteran progressives, meanwhile, seethed. Congress was legislating “on fundamentals laid down in the age of the stagecoach,” declared Rep. Fiorello LaGuardia (R-N.Y.). That lawmaking had concentrated “great wealth under the control of a few families” and left “large masses of workers entirely at their mercy.”

    That legislating had also left a hole in the federal budget. In the 1920s Congress had slashed the top income tax rate by two-thirds, down to 25%. By late 1931, the federal government, all agreed, desperately needed to collect more revenue to function.

    But this new revenue, top Democrats and Republicans also agreed, must not come from the rich. Serious people understood, as Democratic Party Senate leader Joseph Robinson of Arkansas argued, that the government could only tax the rich so much “without discouraging investment and production.” House Speaker John Nance Garner (D-Texas) stressed the same theme. He delivered what a Los Angeles Times dispatch would dub a “mild spanking” to his Democratic colleagues who had dared suggest boosting tax rates on high incomes.

    The nation could never meet its fiscal emergency by “soaking the rich,” another Democrat, Charles Crisp of Georgia, added. Average Americans would have to “gird” themselves for “tremendous sacrifices” — a national sales tax or some other tax that demanded “backbone” from all Americans, he said.

    The White House agreed, in part. Hoover’s Treasury Department asked Congress to enact new or higher federal excise taxes on many everyday purchases and services. But Hoover, who was running for reelection, would not go along with a national sales tax. He asked Congress instead to raise the nation’s top income tax rate from 25% to 40%….

    Amid House floor shouts of “soak the rich!” the rebellious lawmakers then raised the top income tax rate from 25% to 63%.

    House Majority Leader Henry Rainey (D-Ill.) sought to contain the damage. He went live on national radio and tried to convince Americans that the rich had sacrificed enough. Lawmakers, Rainey pronounced, had raised income taxes on the wealthy “to the very breaking point.” They had “soaked the rich.”

    In fact, the soaking was more a quick rinse. The revenue legislation Congress passed still depended heavily on excise taxes, many on everyday items. Even so, the 1932 tax fight marked a turning point. The rich reached for the brass ring, a national sales tax, and the people slapped them down.

    In New York, an ambitious governor took notice. Just two weeks after the tax battle, Franklin D. Roosevelt, a candidate for the 1932 Democratic presidential nomination, would begin a series of addresses that aligned his candidacy with the grass-roots push against plutocracy.

    “Do what we may have to do to inject life into our ailing economic order,” FDR would explain, “we cannot make it endure for long unless we can bring about a wiser, more equitable distribution of the national income.”

    The New Deal had begun.

  96. 96
    Paul says:

    @Ron Thompson:

    When LBJ became Majority Leader in 1955, he had a two-seat majority. LBJ cut deals, but he would never give up on his bottom line or sacrifice party unity just to pass something. In these ways he was unlike President Obama, who seems to brag about the fact that he’s trying to pass something that divides Democrats and hurts their constituents..

    As you stated, LBJ had majorities in Congress. Obama doesn’t have that luxury. As I’m sure you know, the GOP has the majority in the House. If the Democratic voters hadn’t been so damned lazy (or was it staying home to protest Obama?) in the redistricting year of 2010, Obama wouldn’t have to negotiate with the GOP.

    Furthermore, there was no right-wing TV network with a loud megaphone back in LBJ’s days. Instead, this is something Obama has to deal with on a daily basis.

    But whatever…It’s colder than normal where I live today. I’m sure that’s Obama fault as well…

  97. 97
    Peregrinus says:

    @Paul:

    If the Democratic voters hadn’t been so damned lazy (or was it staying home to protest Obama?) in the redistricting year of 2010, Obama wouldn’t have to negotiate with the GOP.

    I don’t know whether they were lazy (that is to say, it’s a possibility) but it doesn’t look like they stayed home to protest Obama. ABC News pointed out that part of it was the same reason the Republicans won the House in 1994 – the independents and “economy voters” (whatever the fuck that means) broke for the Republicans. Combine that with an older and whiter voting population and you have a Republican pickup.

  98. 98
    xian says:

    @Napoleon: right. somehow after boehner got 98% of what he wanted he ended up in this fiscal cliff trap. sometimes i think firebaggers have no concept of the long game.

  99. 99
    Not Sure says:

    But who seems unreasonable when Conrad’s “reasonable” offer is refused? You know it will be, so don’t get your drawers in a knot. Just get the popcorn ready.

  100. 100
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I see you have read ‘Master of the Senate’ too!

    Yup. Required reading so far as I’m concerned. The whole Caro re: LBJ series is simply stunning. I hope he lasts long enough to finish the series.

  101. 101
    xian says:

    @Ron Thompson: re “give up on his bottom line or sacrifice party unity just to pass something,” got any examples of this not pulled from your ass?

  102. 102
    Ron Thompson says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    LBJ realized that the point was to pass something–anything–after 82 years. The Southern racists then had the reputation the NRA enjoys today, of being undefeated, untied, and un-scored-upon. The 1957 law was the thin end of the wedge, and within eight years, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts had been passed. That never would have happened without Lyndon Johnson, who, unlike President Obama, was both a fighter and a shrewd strategist.

    The key to his passing the 1957 bill was to get the Southerners to drop their opposition to a dam in Idaho. In return, about 8 Western senators assured the South that the Civil Rights Bill would not become a runaway train, so the Dixiecrats were willing to let it come to the floor and not filibuster the motion to take up the bill, since they could count on the Westerners to support their filibuster on passage if the bill became too strong. All of this is in Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate.

    You’ll notice that what LBJ did not do was to pick a Republican Senator and spend a year trying without success to win him over. That’s how President Obama operated when the Democrats had a 20-seat majority in 2009. LBJ passed his bill at a time when the Democratic majority was two seats.

  103. 103
    Paul in KY says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: I also hope he is able to finish it.

    He probably needs a young Caro in the wings, if necessary.

  104. 104
    Ron Thompson says:

    @xian:

    Your comment is not worthy of a response.

  105. 105
    Paul in KY says:

    @Ron Thompson: LBJ was not facing an ‘immovable’ bloc of Republicans. Some of those Western Senators you mentioned were Republicans.

    I like LBJ & he was a Hell of a politician, but Pres. Obama has had the more difficult job (IMO).

  106. 106
    NR says:

    @Paul:

    If the Democratic voters hadn’t been so damned lazy (or was it staying home to protest Obama?) Obama hadn’t decided that it was more important to kiss Republican ass than it was to do what was best for the country in the redistricting year of 2010, Obama wouldn’t have to negotiate with the GOP.

    FTFY.

  107. 107
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Johnson subscribed to the adage that “wars are too serious to be entrusted to generals.” He knew, as he once put it, that armed forces “need battles and bombs and bullets in order to be heroic,” and that they would drag him into a military conflict if they could. But he also knew that Pentagon lobbyists, among the best in the business, could persuade conservatives in Congress to sabotage his social legislationunless he satisfied their demands. As he girded himself for the 1964 presidential campaign, he was especially sensitive to the jingoists who might brand him “soft on communism” were he to back away from the challenge in Vietnam. So, politician that he was, he assuaged the brass and braid with promises he may have never intended to keep. At a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963, for example, he told the joint chiefs of staff: “Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war.” (p. 326)

    There is very little in politics that has changed, but neither are there precisely comparable circumstances from Johnson’s years, to Obama’s.

    LBJ was a coarse, and venally corrupt politician, but we take comfort in his guilt-ridden psyche which produced social butter for minorities and of course, socialized medicine.

  108. 108
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    http://www.ctka.net/letters/jock2.html

    Sometimes you have to come in the back door….FYWPITA

  109. 109
    Raenelle says:

    @rda909: You must be a young-un. LBJ.

  110. 110
    Raenelle says:

    @Emma: @Emma: Why TF is he putting Social Security and Medicare on the table? Oh, he’s doing just fine in the world where we can all get along. I gave up on that fairy tale a while back. Maybe, however, I am still clinging to happy delusions, because I am genuinely shocked to see a Democrat compromise rather than fight for the safety net.

  111. 111
    Joel says:

    I’m tired of the whingenut chorus about Obama’s negotiating skills. Let’s try something constructive.

    And, good riddance, Kent.

  112. 112
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Raenelle: Is there any evidence Medicare and Social Security were ever seriously on the table? Paul Ryan refused to back Boehner’s deal, despite intense lobbying, because Obama didn’t make changes to entitlements. That led to Boehner’s Plan B, which failed miserably.

    As an aside, LBJ faced a grand total of one filibuster during his time in office. Conversely, Republicans shattered filibuster records during Obama’s first two years.

  113. 113
    Brachiator says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin):

    LBJ was a coarse, and venally corrupt politician, but we take comfort in his guilt-ridden psyche which produced social butter for minorities and of course, socialized medicine.

    Actually, I take comfort in what he got done. I neither know nor care whether LBJ was particularly guild-ridden. Nor do I expect a politician, or any other human being, to be a saint.

  114. 114
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Brachiator:

    As for myself, I take no comfort in the trade off of 58,000 American dead.

    But…..Quid Pro Quo

  115. 115
    rda909 says:

    @Ron Thompson: Let’s be clear why comparisons to LBJ and FDR have become so common around so-called liberal blogs. Supporters of the most liberal president in generations, President Obama (or O-bots if that makes you feel better), have been perfectly happy with his job performance and even quite amazed by the huge legislative accomplishments he’s pushed through the most obstructionist Congress ever, and want to focus on continuing the incremental change. And you seem quite impressed with LBJ’s incremental changes by the way and his willingness to give Republicans some of what they want to get deals done.

    While I like to focus on making progress and think studying history is important for future decision-making, I do think comparisons to different eras is problematic since there are so many factors that are so different. On the other hand, online progressives started ranting about how he needs to be more like LBJ and FDR before he even took office, but any honest study between the different eras show some major differences that make the comparisons only go so far. And now you’re comparing LBJ’s time in the Senate to President Obama’s time as Commander-in-Chief?!? What a waste of time and energy.

    So I asked earlier to the group what people are going to do to make sure Democrats get the House in 2014, or are people going to keep incessantly going on and on saying the exact same things they’ve been saying for years about how horrible President Obama is. I guess we’ve got your answer.

  116. 116
    rda909 says:

    @Raenelle: Oh, aren’t you cute? That’s just factually incorrect, and shall we discuss Vietnam? There were 16,000 Americans there when LBJ took office. There were over 550,000 there when he left, with nearly 60,000 American troops killed in action, and many thousands more back home.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....ietnam_War

    How that whole Gulf of Tonkin deal too? I think it’s great LBJ signed many of the bills he did, but he certainly had a lot of negatives, and the CONSTANT comparing him to President Obama is a fool’s game. So again, what are you going to do to make sure Democrats get the House in 2014 since you didn’t address that the first time I asked?

  117. 117
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Ron Thompson:

    You’ll notice that what LBJ did not do was to pick a Republican Senator and spend a year trying without success to win him over. That’s how President Obama operated when the Democrats had a 20-seat majority in 2009.

    Partisan ID did not mean the same thing in LBJ’s time as Senate Majority Leader. Liberal vs conservative and Dem vs GOP were orthogonal to each other and on many issues the Dems were on balance the more conservative of the two parties. LBJ thus had the very considerable advantage of being able to count on getting votes from moderate and liberal members of the GOP (something no Democrat in our time can do because such creatures no longer exist) and for the rest he could exert the leverage of intra-party patronage and punishment, both formally inside the Senate via committee assignments, control of the Senate calender, and other perks, and informally as the conduit for campaign cash from the oil industry.

    Also, Dems has less than 60 votes in the Senate for part of 2009, and the key bottleneck influencing the outcome of legislation in the Senate is in committee not on the floor, so as much as we like to pay attention to cloture votes, the latter are only 1 tool amongst many which can be used to block legislation from passing or watering it down beyond recognition, and generally a tool of last resort at that. Obama had to go thru the Blue Dogs Dems in the Senate because, like it or not, they controlled many of the key committee chairs and/or were the determinative votes on those committees.

    In any case, it is amusing to hear people compare Obama’s performance in passing legislation as President with LBJ’s performance in passing legislation as Senate Majority Leader. I think you might be slightly more justified taking your complaints to Harry Reid, but then Reid hasn’t been gifted with the levers of power which LBJ enjoyed either.

  118. 118
    rda909 says:

    @Paul in KY: Agreed. Ironic how these supposed liberals are so concerned with the history of Jim Crow laws and Civil Rights Acts, yet America’s first black president is a total buffoon to them, despite his incredible accomplishments, isn’t it? Not to mention the 10s of millions of poverty-level folks he’s been protecting from the Republican buzzsaws….that kind of stuff means nothing to these “liberals” apparently.

  119. 119
    Brachiator says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin):

    As for myself, I take no comfort in the trade off of 58,000 American dead.

    Here’s a quick test. Go to any black neighborhood. Go up to someone and say, “You know, the world would have been much better off if LBJ had never been president, and the Voting Rights Act never happened. And that Thurgood Marshall guy? Should never have been on the Supreme Court. Oh yeah, and Social Security expansion wasn’t worth crap either. You know why? Because the only thing that matters is that thousands died in Vietnam.”

    Let me know how that works out for you.

    During Johnson’s years in office, national poverty declined significantly, with the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line dropping from 23% to 12%

    Another insignificant accomplishment, right? That people didn’t starve, or live blighted, diseased lives, does not matter because LBJ did not end the war in Vietnam.

  120. 120
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Brachiator:

    Uh. I think Raven might have some words for you.

  121. 121
    Paul says:

    @NR:

    Wow! Just wow! Obama accomplished more than Clinton and Carter put together, yet people like you still make these outlandish accusations.

  122. 122
    Brachiator says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin):

    Uh. I think Raven might have some words for you.

    Uh, I think that posters here can speak for themselves.

    You got something more than tiresome evasion?

  123. 123
    gene108 says:

    @Ron Thompson:

    The key to his passing the 1957 bill was to get the Southerners to drop their opposition to a dam in Idaho.

    Do you really think the Republican Senators from Idaho, in 2009 or 2010, would publicly say they were for more Federal “Porkulus” spending in their state? They’d publicly demand all the dams in Idaho be torn down and they’d stand firm with their Southern brothers in opposition to Obambi.

    Given the posturing of the GOP at the start of the 112th Congress, none of them would’ve cared to defend the sort of public works projects that had traditionally been one of the means of Congressional leaders to enforce Party discipline and/or line up votes.

    In 2009, the Republicans decided it was better to cut off the country’s nose, in order to spite our face, rather than allow a Democrat to claim any sort of legislative victory.

    Look at the mess with what’s happening with an extension of the farm bill right now or raising the debt ceiling or the record number of Presidential appointees that have been blocked by Republican Senators.

    There isn’t an apt comparison, from the 20th century, regarding the knee-jerk opposition Republicans have shown to anything Democrats have put forward, since 2009.

    The traditional methods of getting cooperation do not work, which is one reason the farm bill will lapse, we’ll fall off the fiscal cliff and Obama cannot get routine nominees confirmed.

    You can’t threaten an uncooperative Republican with pulling federal money from their district anymore. In public, at least, they’d probably say they’d welcome less government intrusion in their state or district.

  124. 124
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    I think that posters here can speak for themselves.

    There are many who cannot speak for themselves. Are you of AA descent? If not, I suggest you stop speaking for them.

    http://www.english.illinois.ed.....anamer.htm

    African Americans often did supply a disproportionate number of combat troops, a high percentage of whom had voluntarily enlisted. Although they made up less than 10 percent of American men in arms and about 13 percent of the U.S. population between 1961 and 1966, they accounted for almost 20 percent of all combat-related deaths@Brachiator: in Vietnam during that period. In 1965 alone African Americans represented almost one-fourth of the Army’s killed in action. In 1968 African Americans, who made up roughly 12 percent of Army and Marine total strengths, frequently contributed half the men in front-line combat units, especially in rifle squads and fire teams. Under heavy criticism, Army and Marine commanders worked to lessen black casualties after 1966, and by the end of the conflict, African American combat deaths amounted to approximately 12 percent—more in line with national population figures. Final casualty estimates do not support the assertion that African Americans suffered disproportionate losses in Vietnam, but this in no way diminishes the fact that they bore a heavy share of the fighting burden, especially early in the conflict.

  125. 125
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Brachiator:

    Let me know how that works out for you.

    Historical counterfactuals tend to get silly, stupid or offensive in a hurry and this one is no exception. LBJ’s handling of Vietnam was of a piece with his approach to domestic policy: he was an immoral, cynical, opportunistic, ruthless and totally unprincipled SOB who, not in spite of but rather because of those qualities, got things done. Sometimes the things he got done were from our point of view good things and sometimes they were hideous mistakes, and there were a few moments in his career of transcendent greatness, surpassing all but a handful of the leaders who came before him, when he rose above all that and did things on principle because it was the right thing to do and damm the consequences, and he got them done too, in ways that nobody observing his earlier political career could have predicted.

    How on earth do you even begin to make a balanced assesment of a character like that, much less try to pick apart different bits of his legacy?

  126. 126
    Lojasmo says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    1) “Nothing’s agreed on until everything’s agreed on.”
    2) “Because we didn’t arrive at a deal, the concessions in my last offer are off the table. My original proposal is my only offer on the table at this time.”
    3) “I await a concrete counterproposal from Congressional Republicans, listing specific spending cuts and tax hikes that a majority of their caucus is ready to vote for.”

    Um. He said all that shit. GFY.

  127. 127
    Brachiator says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin):

    There are many who cannot speak for themselves. Are you of AA descent? If not, I suggest you stop speaking for them.

    Are you of AA descent? If not, I suggest you stop suggesting what might be good enough for them. What did you call it? Oh, yes,

    social butter for minorities

    Your patronizing condescension shouts very loudly.

    By any measure, whatever your ethnicity, you make yourself look like a fool by suggesting that African Americans should have continued to suffer at home as long as they and other Americans did not die in Vietnam. Because LBJ was a bad man who did nothing but cause Americans to die in Vietnam. Presumably, the world should have stopped and no legislation pass at all until the war was ended.

    You want to up the ante on your foolishness by suggesting that slavery should have continued for another hundred years so that the deaths of the Civil War could have been averted?

  128. 128
    Lojasmo says:

    @Ron Thompson:

    SUcks when somebody points out you’re full of shit, eh?

  129. 129
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Brachiator:

    Social butter is a reference to the choice between guns and butter, so your attempt to smear my pov lacks substance.

    I question your half-a-loaf philosophy. You are too quick to settle. That is all. Carry on.

  130. 130
    Raenelle says:

    @rda909: I have never supported any candidate for office other than a Democrat. I have never voted any way but Democrat. All I said was that Obama is not a very good Democrat. He keeps offering up SS and Medicare. IMHO, that is the behavior of a not-very-good-Democrat. But if you mean by “support” anything other than voting–like volunteering time or giving money. No. That’s gone for me. I no longer believe in capitalism, and I think capitalism trumps democracy. So my investments (time, money, hope) don’t revolve around the electoral process. In fact, whether Obama is a good Democrat or not is probably something I shouldn’t have written. It’s upset a couple of bloggers, and I’m just not that invested in the idea. I haven’t changed my mind; I just don’t care if anyone agrees with me or not. So . . . big fucking waste of time. I don’t dislike Obama. Like millions and millions of others, I’m disappointed. That’s all.

  131. 131
    gene108 says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    How on earth do you even begin to make a balanced assesment of a character like that, much less try to pick apart different bits of his legacy?

    If not for Vietnam, LBJ’s accomplishments on the domestic side of things would put him up there with some of the greatest Presidents ever.

    How do you unravel Vietnam from his other accomplishments?

    I don’t really know.

    I wasn’t alive during his administration, so I don’t know how deep a scar Vietnam left on the Baby Boomers and their parents.

    I do know LBJ’s domestic achievements are still with us today and make up a large part of the foundation of whatever social safety net we have, for a sense of perspective.

  132. 132
    Gwangung says:

    I question your half-a-loaf philosophy. You are too quick to settle. That is all.

    But that is still a better condition than otherwise. And “too quick to settle” is a judgement depending on knowing what’s known to the participants.

    But as long as its now “he’s betraying us!”, I suppose that it’s an improvement.

  133. 133
    Brachiator says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    How on earth do you even begin to make a balanced assesment of a character like that, much less try to pick apart different bits of his legacy?

    You are addressing this to the wrong person. Unlike Machine-Gun Preacher, I never suggested trying to pick apart different bits of his legacy.

    Robert Caro has written, what, millions of words about LBJ, and some, including posters here, seem to reduce his entire career to Vietnam.

    he was an immoral, cynical, opportunistic, ruthless and totally unprincipled SOB

    The film Lincoln presents that president as a moral, cynical, opportunistic, ruthless and totally principled SOB who nontheless sacrificed many of his principles to get stuff done. But some people appear to need to believe that if a politician is not a secular saint, then he or she is utterly worthless.

    Hell, I despise Nixon, but even he… No, I pretty much still despise Nixon.

  134. 134
    General Stuck says:

    Sorry for the inconvenience, but all this “Obama can’t negotiate” fappery, and “is a bad democrat” has become the relentless chant in the loathsome spirit of creating urban myth.

    And it is long past the case, to where the obsessive and paranoid belief amongst the left wing hipsters, that Obama is hell bent on selling out SS and medicare as a kind of racial code, it is taking on an aura of wishful thinking. Seemingly, To confirm the worst white fears for the privileged liberal class, that you just can’t trust the nigger, no matter what.

  135. 135
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Gwangung:

    But that is still a better condition than otherwise. And “too quick to settle” is a judgement depending on knowing what’s known to the participants.

    depending on what’s known to the participant, is an interesting speculation since humans cannot portend future events. But, I think that’s short-sighted. Many think Abe Lincoln didn’t give a crap about slavery per se. I think he was prescient, in that he understood the future belongs to those who envision it. He recognized the moral and ethical issues would evolve over time, and slavery’s eventual demise by public fiat. He was acting earlier than that imperative had fully developed, but sensed that it was time to put right ahead of might.

    Viva la differance.

  136. 136
    General Stuck says:

    @General Stuck:

    And it is only a matter of time till David Gregory begins Meets the Press with an ode to “Is Obama a bad negotiator?, Gracie”, as “according to progressives” if he ain’t in the slammer.

  137. 137
    AHH onna Droid says:

    @Peregrinus: What is it with emoprogs and their inability to use google before mouthing off?

  138. 138
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @gene108:

    How do you unravel Vietnam from his other accomplishments?

    You can’t, because at least from my reading it appears that the same character traits (including a craving for success and fear of failure and humilation that was nothing less than psychopathic in its dimensions) that helped him push thru the domestic legislation we celebrate, also led to his awful decision making re: Vietnam. You can’t have one without the other because they both sprang from the same source.

    I do know LBJ’s domestic achievements are still with us today and make up a large part of the foundation of whatever social safety net we have, for a sense of perspective

    One thing I’ve come to realise is that for all of his achievments in domestic legislation, a good deal of it, especially on economic issues, was built on sand. And this is because LBJ’s mistakes re: Vietnam helped to destroy the confidence in their goverment which most Americans had in that era, confidence in both the competency and the honesty of govt. With benefit of hindsight we can laugh at some of those innocent illusions, but like it or not they are also the foundation upon which a liberal public policy is built. People won’t support liberal policy to use the govt in an activist fashion to make their lives better if they don’t trust the govt to be honest and to be competent. A cynical electorate is not fertile ground for liberal ideas.

    Nixon helped destroy that trust, but without Nixon having come right after the lies and fuckups of the Kennedy/Johnson admin, people might have taken away the lesson that Republicans can’t be trusted rather than The Government can’t be trusted. The road to Reagan’s “the 11 scariest words…” and everything which has followed since then, LBJ started us down that path to perdition. And it has been the task of every liberal Democrat ever since to try to repair that damage. Once Obama has left office I think people will start to realize that this was one of his accomplishments.

  139. 139
    rda909 says:

    @Raenelle: Thanks. An answer.

    Yes, I too think the system is terribly corrupt and have wondered if it’s redeemable. President Obama has restored my hope that it is. Issue after issue things are improving and progress is what I want. I expect Obamacare will lead to me seeing a form of single-payer in my lifetime (didn’t think that would happen before he was President). States are allowing recreational marijuana and he says they’re not going to meddle in that. Gay rights are expanding rapidly across the country. Banking rules and regulations, after decades of consistently being loosened, are starting to be tightened and agencies strengthened once again. And on and on…

    So as someone who has worked a ton for his elections, I’m more excited than ever to get him a House run by Democrats again, in order to speed up this progress. And like tens of millions of Americans, and hundreds of millions around the globe, we’ll continue to support and work for this great Democrat so he can continue leading all this incredible change. To each their own, of course…

  140. 140
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    So true. Remember; Nixon’s primary campaign promise was getting us out of VN.

    The stage had been set for worst case scenario.

    But Nixon wasn’t all bad. He went to China and loved his dog.

  141. 141
    rda909 says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    “The road to Reagan’s “the 11 scariest words…” and everything which has followed since then, LBJ started us down that path to perdition. And it has been the task of every liberal Democrat ever since to try to repair that damage. Once Obama has left office I think people will start to realize that this was one of his accomplishments.”

    Great point. I’ve heard President Obama make direct reference to “restoring faith in government” and trying to eliminate this Republican/media framing of “government automatically means bad.” Government as based on the U.S. Constitution can be a good or bad thing, depending on who “we, the people” elect, so it’ll be crucial who we get to follow Obama. I think Elizabeth Warren would be great a choice. We cannot let another Democrat get in there who’ll just bring back all the corruption, which Republicans will use for decades to belittle the party once again. He’s tee-ed the ball up for us, and it’ll be up to us to drive the ball down the middle of the fairway.

  142. 142
    General Stuck says:

    @rda909:

    I expect Obamacare will lead to me seeing a form of single-payer in my lifetime

    Silly Obot
    That’s next on black Svengali’s list. Obama will sell out Obamacare, when he gets done destroying SS and medicare.

  143. 143
    Brachiator says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    One thing I’ve come to realise is that for all of his achievments in domestic legislation, a good deal of it, especially on economic issues, was built on sand. And this is because LBJ’s mistakes re: Vietnam helped to destroy the confidence in their goverment which most Americans had in that era, confidence in both the competency and the honesty of govt

    I disagree with you here big time. The history of dishonest government hardly began with JFK and LBJ. But, your comments also bring something else to mind.

    Nixon helped destroy that trust, but without Nixon having come right after the lies and fuckups of the Kennedy/Johnson admin, people might have taken away the lesson that Republicans can’t be trusted rather than The Government can’t be trusted. … And it has been the task of every liberal Democrat ever since to try to repair that damage. Once Obama has left office I think people will start to realize that this was one of his accomplishments.

    I think that many (though oddly enough, not all) liberals believe that Obama is trying to restore some faith in the positive power of government.

    And yet, the core belief of the Tea Party People and of the Republican Party in general is that “Democrats can’t be trusted,” and now, even more insidious, “people who vote for Democrats can’t be trusted, and maybe should not even be allowed to vote.”

    The so-called Silent Majority has curdled into a sizeable minority of citizens who accept as a core principle the notion that the Republican Party is the only legitimate political party fit to govern the country.

    And more curiously, they not only yearn to be lied to by the government (e.g., the Bush/Cheney regime’s lies about WMDs in Iraq), they fervently believe that the government they want can make lies work.

    In a way, I see the pushback against the lies of the Johnson Administration as necessary and good in the long run for democracy. Ironically, many conservatives prefer the mythology of American Exceptionalism to a messier need for citizens to actively work to keep government honest.

  144. 144
    rda909 says:

    @General Stuck: Only Paul Krugman can set us free!!! Oh, and DRONNNZZZZEEEE!!!

  145. 145
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Brachiator:

    The history of dishonest government hardly began with JFK and LBJ

    Well of course. Dishonest govt is as old as govt. But if you read cultural histories of that era, or political histories which draw upon said cultural histories, it is clear to me at least that this was a very high period in popular belief that the US government was good and right and could accomplish what it set out to do. IIRC, Perlstein cites polling data in his books which backs this up.

    I think the combination of FDR’s New Deal and our victory during WW2, combined with the post-WW2 economic boom helped fuel this sense of omnicompetence. The 1950s and early 1960s were on the whole not good times to be a political pessimist and a Debbie Downer, and if you look at the folks, like the Birchers, who insisted on doing so anyway, they were regarded as cranks and fools by mainstream society.

    I submit that is is no coincidence that we were able to pass liberal legislation during a high point in popular confidence in the government, and that passing liberal legislation has become progressively (no pun intended) more difficult as that confidence has withered.

    And yet, the core belief of the Tea Party People and of the Republican Party in general is that “Democrats can’t be trusted,” and now, even more insidious, “people who vote for Democrats can’t be trusted, and maybe should not even be allowed to vote.”

    Yes, politics feels much more tribal now than it was in my early years, or at least it seems that out a more complex mixture of cross-cutting identities the 2 major political tribes have coalesced and hardened.

    Having said that, it seems to me that in terms of partisan political tribalism we today are more or less back to where we were in the previous Gilded Age, and TR for example would have no trouble recognizing the outlines of our current divisions. The mid-20th Cen is starting to look to me like more of an outlier rather than the norm for American politics which so many pundits treat it as. With benefit of hindsight it is very peculiar how the Democrats and Republicans swapped places with each other in terms of regional and cultural identity and ideologically as well. I don’t remember where the quote comes from but I recall reading (a long time back) some historian’s commentary on early US partisan politics in the age of Jefferson and Jackson resembling the spectacle of two men exchanging greatcoats while having a fistfight with each other which seems to me a pretty good summary of what the Dems and Reps have done since TR’s time.

  146. 146
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    back to where we were in the previous Gilded Age, and TR for example would have no trouble recognizing the outlines of our current divisions

    One distinction with a measurable difference. Teddy’s Bull Moose Party was designed to reflect a more progressive ideology to compete with Woodrow Wilson. We seem to be racing to the bottom of progressivism.

  147. 147
    Brachiator says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    I think the combination of FDR’s New Deal and our victory during WW2, combined with the post-WW2 economic boom helped fuel this sense of omnicompetence. The 1950s and early 1960s were on the whole not good times to be a political pessimist and a Debbie Downer, and if you look at the folks, like the Birchers, who insisted on doing so anyway, they were regarded as cranks and fools by mainstream society.

    The 50s and 60s also saw the demand for conformity, the awful destructive paranoia of McCarthyism, and the counter-movement of the Civil Rights movement and a renewed outburst of feminism.

    In California, Philip Chandler, brother of the publisher of the LA Times, and many of that part of the family, were Birchers. The cream of the mainstream were fascist cranks who had to be fought against and marginalized.

    I take your point about a sense of competence, but it also gave rise to a demand by those who were previously marginalized that the competent government do more about those it had previously ignored or demeaned.

    Having said that, it seems to me that in terms of partisan political tribalism we today are more or less back to where we were in the previous Gilded Age, and TR for example would have no trouble recognizing the outlines of our current divisions.

    Intriguing idea. I agree that politics feels more tribal, But the anger, and insistence by conservatives that there can be no common ground seems harsher than before. And you also have the perverse delusion by those on the right that a pre-Gilded Age America, a country that looks the way it did around 1850, is the Garden of Eden which must be restored.

  148. 148
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin):

    One distinction with a measurable difference. Teddy’s Bull Moose Party was designed to reflect a more progressive ideology to compete with Woodrow Wilson. We seem to be racing to the bottom of progressivism.

    Yes. I’m think more of the period during TR’s 1st administration when he struggled to balance the demands of conservative and progressive Republicans and progressives hadn’t started bolting to the Democratic Party just yet.

    The other big difference of course is that today much of the money coming from Wall St is going to the other side. The Trusts in TR’s day may not have liked some of the things he was doing and they may have attempted political blackmail to exert pressure on the GOP, but they weren’t the major financial backers of William Jennings Bryan’s Democratic Party. Today we have this nasty combination of a neo-Confederate party backed with Wall St. money to deal with.

  149. 149
    Paul in KY says:

    @gene108: Vietnam, and his part in it, is what keeps him from being up there with Washington, Lincoln, FDR, Teddy Roosvelt, etc. as the best presidents we’ve ever had.

  150. 150
    jimbo92107 says:

    When a Democratic senator appears on Fox News, that tells you all you need to know.

    Kent Conrad: Fake Democrat.

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