(Seriously) Long Read: “Going the Distance: On and off the road with Barack Obama”

In the New Yorker, David Remnick, author of The Bridge: The Life & Rise of Barack Obama, has a 17,000 word report on a pre-Thanksgiving fundraising tour with President Obama:

When Obama leaves the White House, on January 20, 2017, he will write a memoir. “Now, that’s a slam dunk,” the former Obama adviser David Axelrod told me. Andrew Wylie, a leading literary agent, said he thought that publishers would pay between seventeen and twenty million dollars for the book—the most ever for a work of nonfiction—and around twelve million for Michelle Obama’s memoirs. (The First Lady has already started work on hers.) Obama’s best friend, Marty Nesbitt, a Chicago businessman, told me that, important as the memoir might be to Obama’s legacy and to his finances, “I don’t see him locked up in a room writing all the time. His capacity to crank stuff out is amazing. When he was writing his second book, he would say, ‘I’m gonna get up at seven and write this chapter—and at nine we’ll play golf.’ I would think no, it’s going to be a lot later, but he would knock on my door at nine and say, ‘Let’s go.’ ” Nesbitt thinks that Obama will work on issues such as human rights, education, and “health and wellness.” “He was a local community organizer when he was young,” he said. “At the back end of his career, I see him as an international and national community organizer.”

Yet no post-Presidential project—even one as worthy as Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs or Jimmy Carter’s efforts to eradicate the Guinea worm in Africa—can overshadow what can be accomplished in the White House with the stroke of a pen or a phone call. And, after a miserable year, Obama’s Presidency is on the clock. Hard as it has been to pass legislation since the Republicans took the House, in 2010, the coming year is a marker, the final interval before the fight for succession becomes politically all-consuming…

The question is whether Obama will satisfy the standard he set for himself. His biggest early disappointment as President was being forced to recognize that his romantic vision of a post-partisan era, in which there are no red states or blue states, only the United States, was, in practical terms, a fantasy. It was a difficult fantasy to relinquish. The spirit of national conciliation was more than the rhetorical pixie dust of Obama’s 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention, in Boston, which had brought him to delirious national attention. It was also an elemental component of his self-conception, his sense that he was uniquely suited to transcend ideology and the grubby battles of the day. Obama is defensive about this now. “My speech in Boston was an aspirational speech,” he said. “It was not a description of our politics. It was a description of what I saw in the American people.”…

Obama walked toward the stage and, as he was announced, he mouthed the words: “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.”

Then it happened again: another heckler broke into Obama’s speech. A man in the balcony repeatedly shouted out, “Executive order!,” demanding that the President bypass Congress with more unilateral actions. Obama listened with odd indulgence. Finally, he said, “I’m going to actually pause on this issue, because a lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem, which is just, ‘Sign an executive order and we can pretty much do anything and basically nullify Congress.’ ”

Many in the crowd applauded their approval. Yes! Nullify it! Although Obama has infuriated the right with relatively modest executive orders on gun control and some stronger ones on climate change, he has issued the fewest of any modern President, except George H. W. Bush.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Obama said. “Before everybody starts clapping, that’s not how it works. We’ve got this Constitution, we’ve got this whole thing about separation of powers. So there is no shortcut to politics, and there’s no shortcut to democracy.” The applause was hardly ecstatic. Everyone knew what he meant. The promises in the second inaugural could be a long time coming….

Obama has every right to claim a long list of victories since he took office: ending two wars; an economic rescue, no matter how imperfect; strong Supreme Court nominations; a lack of major scandal; essential support for an epochal advance in the civil rights of gays and lesbians; more progressive executive orders on climate change, gun control, and the end of torture; and, yes, health-care reform. But, no matter what one’s politics, and however one weighs the arguments of his critics, both partisan and principled, one has to wonder about any President’s capacity to make these decisions amid a thousand uncertainties, so many of which are matters of life and death, survival and extinction.

“I have strengths and I have weaknesses, like every President, like every person,” Obama said. “I do think one of my strengths is temperament. I am comfortable with complexity, and I think I’m pretty good at keeping my moral compass while recognizing that I am a product of original sin. And every morning and every night I’m taking measure of my actions against the options and possibilities available to me, understanding that there are going to be mistakes that I make and my team makes and that America makes; understanding that there are going to be limits to the good we can do and the bad that we can prevent, and that there’s going to be tragedy out there and, by occupying this office, I am part of that tragedy occasionally, but that if I am doing my very best and basing my decisions on the core values and ideals that I was brought up with and that I think are pretty consistent with those of most Americans, that at the end of the day things will be better rather than worse.”…

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197 replies
  1. 1
    Bart says:

    “Wait, wait, wait,” Obama said. “Before everybody starts clapping, that’s not how it works. We’ve got this Constitution, we’ve got this whole thing about separation of powers. So there is no shortcut to politics, and there’s no shortcut to democracy.”

    Funny how that is far less relevant when it comes to how he treats the likes of the NSA.

  2. 2
    raven says:

    I guess the topic is Obama but the screamfest on Joe about the Mayor of Hoboken and the Fat Boy is pretty fun.

  3. 3
    JPL says:

    @raven: I just started streaming the show. It’s time to attack Zimmer cuz Joe just doesn’t understand the time line.

  4. 4
    Disgruntled Lurker says:

    Jesus Christ, it’s a nice change of pace to have a reasonable, thoughtful person as President, isn’t it?

  5. 5
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @raven: Joe was even yelling at Thomas Roberts. He’s tended to be the voice of reason.

  6. 6
    raven says:

    @JPL: The Times on Christie’s “Divorce” from the Times.

    Mika is fucking hilarious screeching abut what she would have done.

  7. 7
    raven says:

    Off camera, the governor developed close ties to anchors like Ms. Brzezinski, even showing up at her book signing not long ago. Immediately after Mr. Christie concluded his apologetic news conference about the controversy last week, he spent 15 minutes on the phone with Ms. Brzezinski as he prepared to face Fort Lee, the small community crippled by gridlock from the lane closures, she said.

    On Sunday, Ms. Brzezinski still spoke fondly of Mr. Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, “whom I have the biggest admiration for,” she said.

  8. 8
    JPL says:

    Mika is having a meltdown. She is trashing Zimmer because she doesn’t believe her. I’m not sure if she mentioned that she is friends with Christie.

  9. 9
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @raven: I almost wish I could watch.

  10. 10
    NotMax says:

    OT (AL did once state that any of her threads should be considered Open Threads):

    NBC has announced their next live TV musical. Taking no chances with anything not as homogenized and bland as was The Sound of Music, it’ll be Peter Pan.

    Having zero familiarity with the Tiger Beat heartthrobs du jour, shall make no supposition on the casting, other than presuming that (thankfully) Justin Bieber is too old. And that it won’t be anyone who is Hispanic or African-American.

  11. 11
    NotMax says:

    #10 – Neglected to give the NBC announcement link.

  12. 12
    Keith G says:

    Obama is certainly a good and wise man. When the dust begins to settle many years from now, it will be interesting to see what the historical consensus of his presidential leadership becomes. It seems this upcoming year will be very important to that.

    Despite the fact that he will not be the transformational figure he was advertised to be, he will be judged very good at what might be called “small ball” political leadership – he has been pretty good at getting the public to places that they were already beginning to travel towards.

    His lack of an inclination to swing for the fences (to take risker leadership challenges) will be noted, but who knows how subsequent events will reflect on those choices.

  13. 13
  14. 14
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bart: I know this is a small technicality, but I feel the need to point out that the NSA data collection is a direct result of the Patriot Act that was duly passed by Congress, signed by Bush, and has passed Constitutional muster (so far) in the Federal Judiciary.

    Which kind of reinforces the point Obama was making.

  15. 15
    raven says:

    Thomas, Gibbs and Halperin all said the mayor probably kept quiet about the shakedown because her city need the dough. The two saints continued to insist THEY would never have done such a thing, THEY would have stood up or even threatened Christie. Right.

  16. 16
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JPL:

    Thanx, but my internet comes via satellite and I am not even able to watch Daily Show clips.

  17. 17
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @JPL:

    I just started streaming the show.

    How do you do that? Or where, I guess I mean.

  18. 18
    Keith G says:

    @NotMax:

    And that it won’t be anyone who is Hispanic or African-American.

    If they go the whole, “Put him in a rig and fly him/them across the set” thing, they will have to go with talent as much as type. Holding a note, in character, while being catapulted is no small task.

    Must see TV?

  19. 19
    AxelFoley says:

    And, after a miserable year, Obama’s Presidency is on the clock.

    Media still trying to push that meme, I see.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    JPL says:

    Joe and Mika are still attacking Zimmer’s character.

    hmmm Mika is now questioning Chrisities’ character.

  22. 22
    AxelFoley says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    @Bart: I know this is a small technicality, but I feel the need to point out that the NSA data collection is a direct result of the Patriot Act that was duly passed by Congress, signed by Bush, and has passed Constitutional muster (so far) in the Federal Judiciary.

    Which kind of reinforces the point Obama was making.

    You know that doesn’t matter to those who hate on Obama. How many times has he been blamed, by some even on the left, for shit that was pushed through by Congress on Bush’s watch?

  23. 23
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Keith G: I disagree with your assessment that Obama has been non-transformational. We can argue until the cows come home about the merits of the ACA, but at the end of the day, it enshrined the principle that the government is responsible for delivering healthcare coverage to the people, which was a wildly radical notion in this country to about half its population.

    Obama’s leadership on gay rights — the civil rights issue of our time — has been a key element in an amazing swing in opinion and law just during the course of his presidency. Later this year, I’ll be attending my sister and de facto sister-in-law’s LEGAL marriage. None of us thought we’d see that happen until we were doddering old ladies.

    During the primaries, Obama said he wanted to be a transformational president for Democrats like Reagan was for Republicans. If there’s anything small ball about his presidency, it’s because every action was constrained by hysterical opposition. But I think Obama has swung for the fences, and he’s changed the aspirations while nibbling the margins of the law, which is generally what presidents do.

  24. 24
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Okay I found a place.

    So yes, Joe is pushing the idea that the Dawn Zimmer is just jumping on the bandwagon trashing Christie “now that he’s not popular”, while having praised him when he was popular. Even though Kornacki just told him that she praised Christie for the good things he did, just yesterday.

    Scarborough then pressed Kornacki over and over to opine on her “hypocrisy”, and he said look I’m just here to report the facts, but luckily for Joe Mark Halperin was happy to jump in to give meaningless personal opinion about the issue.

    @JPL: Thx

  25. 25
    AxelFoley says:

    @Keith G:

    Despite the fact that he will not be the transformational figure he was advertised to be

    Oh, for fuck’s sake.

  26. 26
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @NotMax: traditionally, Peter Pan is played by a woman. So they can just get Carrie Underwood again.

  27. 27
    Professor says:

    @Bart: Do you know that your country has a constitution and you know how it works,right? You can repeal the statutes that allowed the NSA and its operations to exist, right? Why don’t you take steps to repeal those statutes? It is annoying when I hear people complaining about the activities of the NSA without advocating for the repeal of the statute that established it.

  28. 28
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Betty Cracker: I think to have a “transformational presidency”; you need one of two things: either control of Congress by your party(I mean control like FDR or LBJ had) or a opposition party that will make a deal on things.

  29. 29
    TS says:

    @raven:

    The two saints continued to insist THEY would never have done such a thing, THEY would have stood up or even threatened Christie. Right.

    The governor would have chased her out of town. No way she could have won the argument 8 months ago.

  30. 30
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @AxelFoley: What, so “a good and wise man” wasn’t enough for you?

    This place has a sycophancy purity test now, apparently.

  31. 31
    WereBear says:

    @Keith G: Despite the fact that he will not be the transformational figure he was advertised to be

    I do see him as a transformational figure.

    True, he did not get to do the Big Melding he envisioned, but god-hissownself would have a hard time with that. He did drag the Democratic Party into the 21st Century by modeling a better way to organize, fundraise, and GOTV. And I will be forever grateful that he got us steered away from a second Great Depression.

    While he transformed the Republicans, too. Just being there exposed the cracks in their coalition that go right into the foundation. It forced them to be honest about that they are about. And, fortunately, when they are honest about their goals most people don’t share them!

  32. 32
    El Caganer says:

    I don’t know if it will ever be possible to get a handle on his time in office. With an opposition that says “no” to every initiative, it’s hard to tell what he might have (or have not) accomplished.

  33. 33
    Keith G says:

    @Betty Cracker: ACA as it was signed, as a very important, pragmatic, and incrementalist piece of legislation. It was not revolutionary. It was a bill that a Republican president could have designed. Infact….

    Obama was (publically) behind the curve on gay rights until he decided, with help from Biden, that it was time to speak out.

    Cautious incrementalism can be very effective and necessary, but is it transformative in the common use of the term?

  34. 34
    mai naem says:

    @JPL: Thats because Mika’s twitter feed is going crazy calling her an abused wife, a chickensheet,Stockholm Syndrome etc etc for not standing up to Joe every morning. Fcuking hilarious.

  35. 35
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @AxelFoley: A little beside my point that the NSA thing was a result of the process, but I guess I should point out (I did mention Bush’s role) that Obama signed an extension in 2011.

  36. 36
    Origuy says:

    @Bart: Drive-by firebagging.

  37. 37
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Some people can’t bear to hear a word against Obama, while others can’t stand to hear a word in his favor. I find both groups annoying, but forget it Jake, it’s Balloon Juice, etc.

  38. 38
    JPL says:

    @Keith G: Yes because the change occurred while he was President.

  39. 39
    agrippa says:

    @Keith G:

    I agree. 100%

  40. 40
    NotMax says:

    @Lurking Canadian

    The linked story directly dismisses both those possibilities.

  41. 41
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    For my ownself, we are way to close to Obama’s Presidency to make any real and lasting judgements about it. Of course, hindsight being 20-20, I am sure the history books will be full of laments about missed opportunities, absolute disasters narrowly avoided, and whole swaths of the American populace wholly disappointed in his time in office.

  42. 42
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Keith G: I think cautious incrementalism is generally how presidents get transformative change done. If you look at the history of legislation and movements that we now see as transformative (Social Security, civil rights, etc.), the president generally encouraged and channeled public momentum for change and then achieved changes that few at the time found satisfying or sufficiently pure. I’m not happy about it either, but it seems to be the way it works.

  43. 43
    Keith G says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Some people can’t bear to hear a word against Obama, while others can’t stand to hear a word in his favor.

    Some of us like to engage in, what might be, thoughtful discussions within the gray area between the two extremes that you have noted.

  44. 44
    JPL says:

    @Keith G: As was noted before, the President has had to deal with a contrary congress.
    Lieberman chose his wife’s connections over Medicare for all and I’m not sure arm twisting would have helped.
    What influence does 24/7 cable news play in politics?

  45. 45
    dogwood says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA:

    I’m not so sure about this. I’d say the Reagan presidency was transformational in many ways, and he didn’t control Congress. What Reagan had that Carter, Clinton, and Obama lacked was loyalty and vocal support from his party in Congress and at the state level. Any democrat who moves into the White House needs to understand that he or she is on their own. Democrats just don’t have the patience, or perseverance that Republicans have, and when you couple this with the fact their voter base is less reliable, it is hard for the Dems to actually sustain a working majority.

  46. 46

    My dear gods. The continuing depression, the sheer numbers of people who lost their homes, drone warfare, the deals with the radical right of the Republican Party, the expiration of the unemployment insurance extension, the cuts in SNAP, assassinations, the unchecked growth of the national security state,…

    What accomplishments could mitigate these failures? I suppose the ACA is something, but it’s a conservative health care plan that will more reliably help the insurance industry than the public.

    But I suppose there is always someone to stand up and praise a President, regardless of how horrible their tenure has been.

  47. 47
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Keith G: Yep, which is what makes this blog interesting, to me, at least. It would be a snooze-fest if either extreme took over altogether. (How long will it take for representatives from both ends of the spectrum to show up and claim the blog is already a hive of Obot scum or PUMA villains?)

  48. 48

    And, of course, Obama’s Presidency still has two years to run, and there may be surprises to come. If Democrats lose the Senate this year, we will see austerity legislation that make what we have had in the last two years seem mild by comparison. If that comes to pass, I can only hope that Obama at last finds the will to stand up to the right, but I do not expect him to do so.

  49. 49
    raven says:

    Must be a slow day at FDL.

  50. 50
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @The Raven on the Hill:

    The continuing depression, the sheer numbers of people who lost their homes, drone warfare, the deals with the radical right of the Republican Party, the expiration of the unemployment insurance extension, the cuts in SNAP, assassinations, the unchecked growth of the national security state,…

    Yeah! What is wrong with that Obama guy? Why doesn’t he just declare an end to the American Experiment? Suspend the Constitution? Abolish the GOP? Arrest John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and have them charged with “Insulting the Judiciary?

    You know, a real leader would soon again have us on the road to being that shining city on the hill. Just like Cairo.

  51. 51
    dogwood says:

    @Keith G:
    From what I’ve read, Biden didn’t force Obama’s hand on gay marriage. Some kind of speech was in the works, but Biden jumped the gun. Perhaps the campaign team wasn’t communicating this clearly to Biden, and that would be the President’s fault, but it was going to happen. In the end it didn’t matter.

  52. 52
    Keith G says:

    @JPL: Those are worth discussing. Maybe I/we need to start at the beginning and find a meaningful and consistent definition for ‘transformative’ that can be a thoughtful measure of American presidents.

    With that, I need to get to my Monday gig.

  53. 53
    Keith G says:

    @dogwood: I also heard that it was thought to be a useful topic for later in the campaign.

    What’s the quote about Justice delayed…?

  54. 54
    Baud says:

    You’re all wrong.

  55. 55
    debbie says:

    @Keith G:

    I think he deserves credit for just surviving despite the Republican war to destroy him even at the cost of the country.

  56. 56
    Betty Cracker says:

    Bloomberg headline gleaned from the New Yorker piece linked above:

    Obama Says Racial Animus Blunts Approval, New Yorker Reports

    Here’s what Obama actually said on the issue:

    “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president. Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black president.”

    Le sigh.

  57. 57
    El Caganer says:

    @Betty Cracker: So much distortion – and less than 10 words!

  58. 58
    JPL says:

    @Betty Cracker: CBS Morning News forgot to include the entire statement also.

  59. 59
    Baud says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I see a Newsmax headline in our future.

  60. 60
    Poopyman says:

    @Baud: Look again. The future is now.

  61. 61
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    I think some of the transformation has been below the waterline. Take OFA. We won’t see that until the organizers, door knockers and database workers start challenging Republicans for elected office say in the next 10 years. I mean, those dedicated and hardworking activists aren’t going away.

    Another is marginalizing the pseudo-left that thinks every Democratic President is a sell-out and who demands things that no one who can actually win the Presidency can actually do. That has greatly improved the opinion of many independents towards the Democrats.

    Changes in the public dialogue on:
    Pot
    Gay rights and gay marriage.
    How to deal with long-time adversaries and the importance of diplomacy.
    Normalizing diversity in the upper levels of government by not just having one or two tokens appointed, but by appointments all through the top of the Federal Government.
    The role of Government to do good.

  62. 62
    Baud says:

    @Poopyman:

    Ha! I’m on the mobile site and can’t see them. I bet someone there yelled “Stop the presses” when they realized what they had.

  63. 63
    Steeplejack says:

    @raven:

    True dat.

  64. 64
    Poopyman says:

    @Poopyman: I suppose I should make it easier on the internet archaeologists of the future by pointing out that I’m referring to the Newsmax headline “Obama: People ‘Really Dislike Me’ Because I’m Black”

  65. 65
    dogwood says:

    @Keith G:
    What do you mean “justice delayed”? Are you suggesting that Obama stopped gays from getting married by delaying his announcement? That’s a stretch since it is still a still a state issue.

  66. 66
    Baud says:

    @Poopyman:

    You know, that headline is more accurate than the NYT headline.

  67. 67
    Poopyman says:

    @Baud: True enough!

    ETA: Still not going to click through, though.

  68. 68
    Betty Cracker says:

    @CarolDuhart2: I agree with most of your points, but I’m not too sure about the following:

    I think some of the transformation has been below the waterline. Take OFA. We won’t see that until the organizers, door knockers and database workers start challenging Republicans for elected office say in the next 10 years. I mean, those dedicated and hardworking activists aren’t going away.

    I certainly HOPE you’re right, but I think that remains to be seen. Obama is a compelling figure personally, and we probably won’t see his like again anytime soon. I’m not sure how much of the loyalty and activism he inspired will transfer to the Democratic Party in general. The 2010 election didn’t bode well. Maybe we’ll do better this year.

    Another is marginalizing the pseudo-left that thinks every Democratic President is a sell-out and who demands things that no one who can actually win the Presidency can actually do. That has greatly improved the opinion of many independents towards the Democrats.

    The nature of the office (well, of democracy) marginalizes the purists, but on the other hand, we need their passion and energy at a grassroots level. Democrats haven’t channeled their purists as effectively as Republicans have for all kinds of reasons. You might be right about the marginalization of lefties improving independents’ opinion of Democrats, but I’m not sure that’s something unique that Obama did. I’d argue Bill Clinton’s entire presidency was centered on that project, and to the detriment of the country more often than not.

  69. 69
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: Of course, but I never let that stop me before!

  70. 70
    Baud says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’m not sure how much of the loyalty and activism he inspired will transfer to the Democratic Party in general.

    The Virginia elections were a good sign.

  71. 71
    raven says:

    Watching Nate Silver handicap the weather for the Superbowl!

  72. 72
    MomSenes says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’m not sure how much of the loyalty and activism he inspired will transfer to the Democratic Party in general. The 2010 election didn’t bode well. Maybe we’ll do better this year.

    Well, I’m not sure how much loyalty will transfer to the Democratic Party, either however I am very sure that OFA people did show up to vote in 2010. They also were not the group pushing the “I’m so disappointed in Obama meme” that was so helpful in voter turnout in 2010.

  73. 73
    ericblair says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Democrats haven’t channeled their purists as effectively as Republicans have for all kinds of reasons.

    Mainly because the Dems don’t rely on good old fashioned hatred to get them to toe the line. Plus, scratch most radicals of either stripe and get an authoritarian, so Republicans win there too. Goopers and Dems aren’t mirror image black hats and white hats: they’re essentially different organisms.

  74. 74
    gogol's wife says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Well said.

  75. 75
    Belafon says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA: And, really, the “one of these things is not like the other” aspect of Obama versus every other president was also transformational. OK, in some cases the transformation was for the racists to come out from under the rocks, but it’s something we need to see as a country. I thank him a lot for putting up with the shit he’s gotten for being black.

    Plus all the things he’s managed to get done with weak ass Congressional Democrats and a populace not ready for all the change. It does feel like, as long as we don’t squander it in the next few years – such as not electing the next Democratic president and getting back control of Congress – we can actually get some of those changes we all keep hoping for.

  76. 76
    gogol's wife says:

    @raven:

    LOL

  77. 77
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @Betty Cracker: Yes, there’s a lot of personal loyalty for Obama-but Obama’s other message is that “you can change the world”. And that includes seeing the Democratic Party as an instrument to do it with. Once that message gets into your bones, there’s no way that sooner or later something won’t come up locally or statewide that needs your attention.

    Remember Obama headed up a massive voter registration and did other things before realizing that he needed to be on the inside to get real change done. We know the rest of the story.

    That doesn’t include the hundreds of folks, who like Deaniacs, have started to burrow their way into the party in the last 10 years and will reach out to the younger Obamaniacs to teach them how to organize from within.

  78. 78

    Kristin Chenoweth would be a good choice for the Peter Pan role.

    Difficult to know for sure how Obama’s Presidency will be regarded by historians 100 years from now. One thing is for sure, he will always be the guy married to the first AA First Lady.

  79. 79
    Dream On says:

    “I am comfortable with complexity, and I think I’m pretty good at keeping my moral compass while recognizing that I am a product of original sin.”

    A bit better…

  80. 80
    Cassidy says:

    @raven: Infinitely more exciting than watching BJ commenters come up with long and creative ways to say “Just Words!”.

  81. 81
    Brian R. says:

    The Raven on the Hill is a spoof, right?

    No one’s really that dim, right?

    Right?

  82. 82
    AxelFoley says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    @AxelFoley: What, so “a good and wise man” wasn’t enough for you?

    This place has a sycophancy purity test now, apparently.

    Knowing Keith’s history, it’s more like a back-handed compliment. And don’t start that purity bullshit with me, dude. Save that for the assholes on the left who prefer that to actually getting shit done, as this transformative President has.

  83. 83
    Jeremy says:

    I love how some on the left want to blame Obama for everything but don’t want to give him credit for positive steps like Gay rights. President Obama’s actions lead to the end of DADT and DOMA and his support for marriage equality has lead to increased support. Also he has placed pro marriage equality judges on the courts with a record number of gay judges.

    I hate to say it but race and pure ODS plays a big role in all of this because if Bill Clinton had that type of record many would give him all of the credit.

  84. 84
    Citizen_X says:

    @Keith G:

    It was a bill that a Republican president could have designed. Infact….

    None of them ever passed it. Neither did any previous Democrats get it through.

    That’s kind of worth noting.

  85. 85
    Cassidy says:

    @Jeremy: He stole those accomplishments from Hillary. He also didn’t step down as POTUS and elevate the good and pure Elizabeth Warren to Dictator-for-Life.

  86. 86
    aimai says:

    @Keith G: Because the god damned ACA wasn’t a “swing for the fences?” Because getting us out of Iraq wasn’t huge enough? Because killing Bin Laden wasn’t a big enough deal and risky enough to his presidency? Because brokering the first ever diplomatic deal with Iran was small ball? Because getting the Army itself to end DADT wasn’t an enormous step forward?

    Uh. Ok then. Most human beings, let alone presidents, would consider most of that ENORMOUS BALL (S).

  87. 87
    Belafon says:

    @Baud: Actually, I think everyone’s correct, including you.

  88. 88
    raven says:

    @Cassidy: Well, now I am taking a zillion pictures of all these dolls my bride has that she needs to send to someone!

  89. 89
    aimai says:

    @Betty Cracker: But I think Carol’s point stands even more–Obama is constantly reminding people that they need to be the change they want to see. That in a democratic system the people need to be active and vigilant and out there pushing at all levels of the system. You can’t wait around for the President to make stuff happen with the stroke of a pen. And you can see from some of the criticism here–KeithG’s among them–that most people are still quite politically lazy.

    Unlike the Clintons and every previous presidential aspirant the Obamas haven’t yet left office with a gutted and useless democratic field core behind them. When Clinton left office there was nothing to build on. One of Obama’s innovations, sharing campaign workers and information with other, local, campaigns (senate and congress for example) was an enormous step forward for the democratic party as a whole. Up until then all the lists and info had been proprietary to individual campaigns.

    We have to see what happens to OFA and to the people who were, as you rightly said, brought into politics by Obama’s personal story, charisma, and promise. But basically the lesson of Obama and his presidency is that the glamorous figure at the top doesn’t matter nearly as much as people like to pretend if he’s not backed up by a kickass congress and some boring but effective old lady like Pelosi and some mild mannered but majority leader figure in the Senate. So people are going to have to grow the fuck up and get out there and vote in the midterms, and vote for dog catcher, and run for office, and organize in between things, and vote for some jowly, baggy, uninteresting people for president even if he/she doesn’t give people a tingly feeling down there.

  90. 90
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jeremy: Don’t look now but Bush started a war to remove WMD from a rogue state, and failed, while Obama eliminated them from one without firing a single shot, and if the chickenhawks can stay on the sideline a little while longer may do so with a second.

    But shhhhhhhhh…. don’t tell anyone.

  91. 91
    Jeremy says:

    And for all the talk about Reagan being looked at as a transformational figure by the right. If you look back at the Reagan Era many right wing conservatives were disappointed and they didn’t believe Reagan changed the country all that much. They thought he compromised too much, did nothing to stop the expansion of government. Actually Reagan expanded the government and raised taxes numerous times. They also didn’t like his negotiations on Arms Control with the USSR.

    The Professional Right constantly complained about Reagan just like the Professional left complains about Obama, but both men had a strong base that liked the man and supported the man. Reagan became this transformational saint after he left office.

  92. 92
    Belafon says:

    @Jeremy:
    @aimai:

    This reminds me of a comment I make about software development: If someone manages to create what they set out to make, non-software engineers think it must have been easy, and therefore not that big of a deal (similar to this).

  93. 93
    beth says:

    @Jeremy: I think the Alzheimer’s thing helped him achieve sainthood. No one could really publicly criticize him too much, c’mon the guy was sick. It deflected a lot of the discussion of his policies that should have taken place.

  94. 94
    Brian R. says:

    @Jeremy:

    This really can’t be stressed enough.

    Prominent conservative activists were searching around for a primary challenger before the 1984 campaign, they were so determined to ditch the sell-out Reagan. And even when he left office, they were hemming and hawing about his legacy.

  95. 95
    Betty Cracker says:

    @ericblair: I think we (Democrats) could do a much better job of channeling our activists at the local level. The GOP does it — from the school board up. I’m sure it varies a helluva lot from state to state, but in my state, at least, grassroots organization sucks, or did until OFA came along. I was hoping the state organization would leverage the OFA machine to affect local and state races, but I see almost zero evidence of that so far, which is discouraging.

  96. 96
    kc says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Cue the shrieks from the right. “Obama is the most racist president ever!”

  97. 97
    WereBear says:

    @Betty Cracker: If only they understood irony! Working so hard to get into government when it’s a force they hate and want to destroy!

    Go Amish, people, and leave us alone.

  98. 98
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Betty Cracker: Here in my neck of the woods the situation is largely the same. I don’t blame anyone for that tho. It takes a certain kind of masochistic personality to purposely set oneself up for 6 months of all out character assassination just so you can lose in embarrassingly abysmal fashion.

  99. 99
    Jeremy says:

    Hell they even have a book (The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution) and articles that I read about figures on the right being disillusioned with President Reagan during his time in office. They accused James Baker and other members of the Reagan administration of being sell outs, moderates, and they constantly attacked them.

  100. 100
    aimai says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I wonder how much of this is an artifact of the fact that the republican base is, and always has been, a property owning, land taxpaying group. Someone who owns their own house is always going to be more networked in with local government than a renter, for example, or a student. As people age and gain assets they become more conservative and more politically active–they run for school board because their kids are in school, or because they want to prevent the raising of property taxes, etc..etc…etc…

    But this group is a double edged sword if they are your base–because as they age they aren’t necessarily replaced by a younger cohort with the same concerns and the same willingness to get out and vote at the midterms. And the midterm advantage is really the only advantage the Republicans have over us at this point. So though the culture wars have done really well for the Republican party since, well, forever but especially since civil rights and the vietnam war as an organizing principle for angry white homeowners how much longer will this be true for the heirs of those angry white homeowners?

    We have a problem in that most democratic voters are young, sporadic, not property owners, not tied in to their local communities politically, unaware of and uninterested in the vast iceberg of political and economic activity that takes place in every locality and every state far below the tip which is the formal elections. That’s our real struggle over the long term. And its not won by fighting a better culture war but by seizing the interests and imaginations of our own voters and potential voters to get them to understand that political activism is something you do every day in your community right now, not just voting.

  101. 101
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @WereBear: Ironic maybe, but it’s also smart. It is always easier to destroy something from the inside.

  102. 102
    Ash Can says:

    @Betty Cracker: The extent to which the enduring popularity of Reagan steamrolled common sense — and traditional Democratic policies — in this nation made it pretty much impossible for any Dem other than a Bill Clinton to get elected. Michael Dukakis tried to run on more regular Dem policies and got creamed. The American electorate was still so steeped in Reagan’s “government is the problem” bullshit, which Bush the elder perpetuated by his rhetoric if not all of his policies, that no Dem except a Bill Clinton had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected.

    The election and reelection of Obama show that things are getting better, thanks largely to younger, more sensible folks. But back when Clinton was elected, I was just happy to see a Republican party that was already starting to obviously rot from the inside out (thanks to that asshole Reagan co-opting all of the nation’s worst elements in his quest for power) finally get pushed the hell out.

  103. 103
    doug r says:

    @The Raven on the Hill: You know drone deaths are down, we probably won’t go to war with Syria and unemployment is DOWN despite CONGRESS not passing a SINGLE jobs bill and Snowden didn’t find ANY illegality. So keep up with the times and you might not be so disappointed.

  104. 104
    Nutella says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    the NSA data collection is a direct result of the Patriot Act that was duly passed by Congress, signed by Bush, and has passed Constitutional muster (so far) in the Federal Judiciary.

    True, this is one of the many things the executive branch can’t just do on their own.

    But Obama could have and should have fired Clapper when he publicly admitted lying to congress. To encourage the others.

  105. 105
    Betty Cracker says:

    @aimai: It won’t be for lack of trying on Obama’s part if the grassroots coalition he built doesn’t hang together after his term — he has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the ground game and the long game. But people are so damn short-sighted.

    I think one reason the Republicans have been successful in selling their base policies that are directly detrimental to their own interests is that they’re better at branding and symbolism. The use racial animus, fetus fetishism and homophobia to sell plutocracy.

    Obama, simply by being who he is, represented a powerful opposing brand message. The jowly, baggy, uninteresting figure you mention won’t, at least not beyond the people who are dialed into policy, which the Democrats can count on anyway. This is what concerns me. Maybe we’ve learned our lesson. I’m not so sure.

  106. 106
    lamh36 says:

    Yeah that Obama such a disappointment. Hillary will do much better.

    Enjoy the MLK Holiday guy.

  107. 107
    Dave says:

    @Jeremy: I’m fairly sure that Obama is going to be looked upon as at least near great if not great after he has left office obviously things could change in the next two years but as it stands now I think he’s heading for that judgement. It’s very easy to see the things that haven’t been done and how a president is failing against a standard of near perfection versus what they actually accomplish in office. And of course Congress, Courts, State governments all matter immensely but don’t give us such a singular target to praise or blame.

  108. 108
    Jeremy says:

    @Brian R.: The same happened to FDR. For some people a President can never be pure enough.

  109. 109
    ericblair says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I think we (Democrats) could do a much better job of channeling our activists at the local level.

    I think Aimai covered it well in 99, but with a couple of notes: first, I don’t really think they’re “our” activists, if you believe in a liberal welfare state in the technical sense. The myriad of single-issue activists don’t want to push for any broader framework. Second, there’s little social infrastructure to compare to rightwing churches to provide the stamp-licking and organizational resources to both do the grunt work and develop local leaders. We end up with a lot of gadflies who are far more interested in vanity presidential runs than the school board.

    Maybe OFA or some broader Meetup organizations can begin to do this consistently and long-term, but there’s a whole premade structure that exists for the right that doesn’t for the left.

  110. 110
    Donut says:

    @The Raven on the Hill:

    I have alerted your local media of your disappointment with Barack Obama. I’m certain you’ll be contacted shortly for a complete and thorough interview, so that you may explicate further in regards to the ongoing state of your delicate fee-fees.

    Now, other than bitching from your privileged perch, I would like to know specifically what you are doing to change the state of federal politics?

    I have a feeling the answer is, “nothing, except bitching about it in the comments section of a hobbyist blog,” but would be delighted to be proved wrong.

  111. 111
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Nutella: In an ideal world, yes, but Obama had to consider the likely result of what would have happened had he fired Clapper: A headless NSA as there was no way the GOP would ever allow an appointment of his to pass filibuster at a time when the NSA is under attack from all sides. I realize some would think that a vast improvement, but Obama has to govern still. Now that the filibuster is dead for presidential appointments tho….

  112. 112
    aimai says:

    @ericblair: I absolutely agree with that–but remember bringing the churches into it was a relatively recent phenomenon. Up until–I want to say some time post Reagan–the evangelicals didn’t really turn out for presidential elections. Bush the younger campaigned specifically as a religious figure and he worked the churches and with the help of Ralph Reed et al he made a huge play for the churches. But there was a long time during which churches didn’t participate the way they do now.

    But I do agree with your larger point which is that the democratic coalition, especially younger voters and non white voters, simply don’t have the permanent organization base that the republicans have. And one reason they don’t is the decline of unions. Because that used to be one of the core places: the workplace and specifically the unionized workplace, that brought people on the left together to organize politically.

  113. 113
    doug r says:

    @Belafon: Gotta share that link

  114. 114
    Jeremy says:

    And this comment goes out to Kevin G. Yes the ACA borrows some ideas from Richard Nixon and Mitt Romney but it still represents the largest expansion of the social safety net since the 60’s. All of the insurance protections and regulations, the largest expansion of Medicaid since the creation of the program, progressive taxes to finance the program, and it enshrines the idea that Health care is a right.

    And health care systems around the world are not all the same. Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands all have private insurance that is heavily regulated and subsidized by the government.

  115. 115
    aimai says:

    @lamh36: Hey Lamh36, I’m actually heading off to one of the countrywide MLK days of service that the President and Mrs. Obama have encouraged. Here in my neck of the woods we will be gathering–maybe 600-800 people, to do things like donate books, sew scarves and baby blankets for the homeless and kids in the ICU, make bookmarks and cards for senior citizens and veterans (for valentines day), and a bunch of other stuff. I’ll be running one of four separate scarf/baby blanket areas. Our scarves, which are stunning, are made from donated and purchased fleece, decorated by kids and whoever comes to the event, and then carefully and beautifully tied up with ribbon and brought around during the homeless census count in January so while the city is doing its due diligence trying to count and serve the homeless population not in shelters each person is also given one of these scarves.

    The MLK day of service has grown from a drop in event with a couple of hundred people to this massive, multi day event, with hundreds of people lined up to serve and get connected to year round service.

  116. 116
    aimai says:

    @Jeremy: This. If KeithG actually wants to know what he’s talking about I recommend he head over to Lawyers Guns and Money where this issue of whether the ACA was, or was not, in any meaningful sense a “republican” plan has been thoroughly debunked. I’d also like to point out that “Romneycare” was passed over Mitt’s veto, he tried to add destructive stuff to it, and it was passed primarily because we have an all Democratic state senate and house here in MA.

    The medicaid expansion and the ending of recission and the ending of the pre-existing clause is REVOLUTIONARY. It is not the result of incremental changes to a basically Republican plan.. The republican plans that were mooted were all on the order of some catastrophic insurance policy, selling across state lines, less regulation (i.e. no regulation at all), no medicaid expansion, and lets not forget voucherizing and destroying medicare.. The Ryan plan says as much. You don’t ahve to go back to zombie Nixon to figure out what the republicans were going to do. Ryan’s plan is not *even* romneycare.

  117. 117
    slippytoad says:

    @aimai:

    the democratic coalition, especially younger voters and non white voters, simply don’t have the permanent organization base that the republicans have.

    That permanent base is evaporating so fast you might miss it disappearing forever.

    Churches are seriously in decline, and church attendance is dropping like a stone. More and more raving extremists have made religion less palatable, not more. This is a movement that is eating itself alive in front of us.

  118. 118
    Ash Can says:

    OT: RIP Claudio Abbado.

  119. 119
    doug r says:

    @Nutella: Clapper couldn’t answer the question honestly because of his job. Congresspeople should know better.

  120. 120
    Betty Cracker says:

    @aimai:

    And one reason they don’t is the decline of unions. Because that used to be one of the core places: the workplace and specifically the unionized workplace, that brought people on the left together to organize politically.

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Union membership decline is also a body blow financially. Something has to rise in their place or reverse the decline.

  121. 121
    geg6 says:

    @aimai:

    I’d like to marry this comment.

  122. 122
    MikeJ says:

    @aimai:

    I absolutely agree with that–but remember bringing the churches into it was a relatively recent phenomenon.

    Maybe among white people. Black churches have been at the center of most social change in America.

    ETA: Ironic that this is pointed out on MLK day.

  123. 123
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @doug r: He could not answer that question honestly in open session. He could however have done so in closed session. He never communicated this fact according to several members of the intel committee.

    Believe who you wish, personally I don’t know. They all make their living by lying at least some of the time.

  124. 124
    GRANDPA john says:

    @Citizen_X: Keith has a history here of overlooking these minor distinctions of what was and was not accomplished, especially those of Obama

  125. 125
    Jeremy says:

    @aimai: That is very true ! People who are privileged don’t care about the ACA helping 31 million people because it doesn’t help them. I find that some on the left really don’t care about the poor or working class if a program/ plan doesn’t fit their model of perfection.

  126. 126
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MikeJ:

    Ironic that this is pointed out on MLK day.

    Heh.

  127. 127
    geg6 says:

    @Jeremy:

    I find that some on the left really don’t care about the poor or working class if a program/ plan doesn’t fit their model of perfection.

    That’s because they are so far left that they’ve gone full out right. They are almost always exclusively white men and they are actually libertarians. They’re the enemy, AFAIC. No less than the most ignorant bigoted Teabagger.

  128. 128
    JGabriel says:

    @aimai:

    I absolutely agree with that–but remember bringing the churches into it was a relatively recent phenomenon. Up until–I want to say some time post Reagan–the evangelicals didn’t really turn out for presidential elections.

    Evangelicals started turning out with Reagan, not post. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, founded in 1979, marks the beginning of the American religious right’s ascension, and was something of a force in the 1980 elections. Moral Majority lost some of its steam in the late 80’s, but other religious right organizations picked up the slack a few years later — that might be where you got the perception that it was a post-Reagan thing.

    .

  129. 129
    NotMax says:

    @JGabriel

    They have always (with varying degrees of influence/control) been a force in American politics.

    There was this little thing called Prohibition, for instance.

  130. 130
    Belafon says:

    I am one of those who thinks that the incrementalism in this case is transformational, because it was so much more than we have gotten in previous attempts. It would have been easy for Obama to stop after Kennedy’s death and Brown’s election, what with all the Republicans voting against everything. It also would have been easy to not fight to repeal DADT since Democrats had lost the House.

    But I think most of my life has been incremental, which I’ll guarantee you has sometimes been frustrating.

  131. 131
    piratedan says:

    @aimai: glad you said that so that I didn’t have to…. sometimes I guess there just aren’t enough rainbow unicorns to be passed around so that everyone can have one.

    One other point, I can’t remember a set of presidential terms that have had such a concerted effort by the opposition to ensure that nothing of a popularly elected President’s agenda was ever enacted. Ever.

  132. 132
    Baud says:

    @piratedan:

    The time to punish Republicans was 2010. It didn’t happen, so now we’re condemned to siege warfare rather than a decisive battle.

  133. 133
    Baud says:

    @Belafon:

    It’s a dumb dichotomy like so many other dumb dichotomies we argue about.

  134. 134
    Ben Franklin says:

    Lest we forget…..Think Progress remembers a true activist.

    1. He pushed for a government-guaranteed right to a job. In the years before his assassination, King re-shifted his focus on economic justice in northern cities as well as the South. He launched the Poor People’s Campaign and put forth an economic and social bill of rights that espoused “a national responsibility to provide work for all.” King advocated for a jobs guarantee, which would require the government to provide jobs to anyone who could not find one and end unemployment. The bill of rights also included “the right of every citizen to a minimum income” and “the right to an adequate education.”

    2. He was a critic of capitalism and materialism. King was a strident critic of capitalism and materialistic society, and urged Americans to “move toward a democratic socialism.” Referring to the now iconic Greensboro Lunch Counter sit-ins, he asked, “What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?”
    King also explicitly linked the problem of capitalism with the problem of racism. “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered,” he argued in a speech at Riverside Church in 1967. The reverend was very aware that this kind of challenge was even more dangerous than his work on segregation and civil rights. “You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums,” he warned his staff in 1966. “You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism.”

    3. He denounced the Vietnam War. King’s harsh words on the Vietnam War alienated even his allies on civil rights, especially President Lyndon B. Johnson. Still, King continued to speak out, asserting that American involvement in Vietnam “has torn up the Geneva Accord” and “strengthened the military-industrial complex.” He also accused the U.S. of being “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” Not only was the Vietnam War morally unforgivable in King’s eyes, but it also took away billions of dollars that could be used to help end poverty in American slums. “Our national priorities are disastrously confused when we spend more than $30 billion a year upon a tragic, destructive war in Southeast Asia and cut back on the programs which deal with the most basic injustices of America itself,” he wrote.

    4. He championed Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights. King believed that the spread of family planning was a crucial tool in the fight to end poverty and racial inequality. “I have always been deeply interested in and sympathetic with the total work of the Planned Parenthood Federation,” he said in 1960. He connected reproductive justice with racial justice, noting that the impoverished African American community had “a special and urgent concern” in family planning. Because of these views, he believed access to contraception and family planning programs should be funded by the government.

  135. 135
    EriktheRed says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’d add to that that it was due to his leadership the ACA even passed. After Scott Brown took Ted Kennedy’s seat, a lot of Dems were in despair that HC reform was in serious trouble and were running away from doing anything more. In just SOTU speech, the President brought the HC reform crusade back on track and we finally got some kind of badly-needed legislation…however flawed it may be.

  136. 136
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Bart: Ha ha, Irony, she is dead.

  137. 137
    Elizabelle says:

    OFA recruiting for Spring Fellows. Application deadline is Sunday, January 29. Program begins in February.

    Go for it, Juicers. Be the change you want to see, and surprise yourself by keeping up with the 20- and 30-somethings. Lots of issues and elections out there this year.

    https://my.barackobama.com/page/signup/organizing-for-action-spring-organizing-fellowship

  138. 138
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Also, as of today, Obama has exactly three years remaining in office.

  139. 139
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Disgruntled Lurker:

    Jesus Christ, it’s a nice change of pace to have a reasonable, thoughtful person as President, isn’t it?

    It’s a blessing.

    Btw, while NYT is trying to damn Obama as a fantasist for thinking he could forge bipartisan compromise, let’s not forget two things: Illinois Republicans are not quite the same breed of crazy as the Sunbelt but particularly Southern Republicans who have been waging obstruction, and secondly, that the NYT, like many northern papers, has for years given sloppy blowjobs to socially moderate Republicans such as John McCain and Chris Christie. Who’s fantasizing now?

  140. 140
    Belafon says:

    @Ben Franklin: I don’t agree with number 1 because while I believe that the government can create specific jobs for specific purposes, I don’t think in general it can be counted on to create jobs that would contribute to the general society.

    I agree with this:

    “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered”

    Capitalism was made for humanity, humanity was not made for capitalism. I think a regulated form of capitalism is the best market model, because a central authority isn’t making all the decisions. It is the job of the people, through their government, to put limits on capitalism.

    Definitely agree with four.

  141. 141
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Two of which will be rendered essentially an exercise in applied rhetoric, after control of the Senate flips.

  142. 142
    Elizabelle says:

    USA Today story on OFA spring fellowships.

    The program, which includes data and digital training, runs from Feb. 8 to April 15.

    New volunteers will be taught a variety of grassroots organizing activities, including outreach to potential supporters via local media outlets and social media tools, such as Twitter. OFA seeks to use many of techniques that helped fuel the Obama presidential campaigns of 2008 and 2012.

    “We consider ourselves the best organizers out there,” [OFA Executive Director Jon] Carson said.

    The fellows will presumably join the nationwide OFA organization that is pushing Obama agenda items that include immigration, climate change, jobs programs and continuing efforts to put the new health care law into place.

    Carson said, “the number one push will absolutely be the Affordable Care Act.”

  143. 143
    Elizabelle says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Are you putting money up on the Senate flipping?

    And yes, it could happen, but not a foregone conclusion.

  144. 144
    MomSense says:

    Please keep your progressive outrage hands off my Obamacare! I needed it desperately.

    Re watching Sherlock as I thought my eyes were tired last night because I had trouble seeing it clearly. I am still finding it dark today. Is it me or is it Sherlock’s lighting?

  145. 145
    rda909 says:

    So on MLK Day, there’s over 130 comments and counting about how “transformative” President Barack Hussein Obama has been so far, and I don’t see one person pointing out how transformative it has been, and will continue to be for generations, to have someone with his skin tone win the White House. Then of course, how he and his family have carried themselves while in office (unlike his Democratic predecessor in the White House) has also helped transform stereotypes that have built up for hundreds of years.

    It’s not surprising though, since this omission is the basis for the “Obummer” sentiment that the media owners stoke every single day, and sadly so many privileged progressives amplify.

  146. 146
    rda909 says:

    @Elizabelle: YES! 10s of millions of dollars have been invested in OFA, and every single day that investment is churning out new, actual community organizers in the truest sense, and that will pay dividends for many years, and hopefully will grow even bigger if “progressives” will do the actual work needed to bring about change.

  147. 147
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Elizabelle: I don’t see how it doesn’t flip. The odds are worse than 2012 and the GOP nomination process isn’t guaranteed to produce self-destructing candidates.

    It’s 55-45 now. Montana. South Dakota, and West Virginia are gone. Lose two of AK, NC, AR, LA, and Bob’s your uncle. I presume Manchin will change parties if he’s the vote that provides the GOP with the majority.

  148. 148
    rda909 says:

    @MomSenes: EXACTLY.

  149. 149
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @rda909

    : I don’t see one person pointing out how transformative it has been, and will continue to be for generations, to have someone with his skin tone win the White House.

    Feh. What good is that without the public option?

  150. 150
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    Some Republican, eh?

  151. 151
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    I presume Manchin will change parties if he’s the vote that provides the GOP with the majority.

    Why do you presume this? (I’m seriously asking, don’t know Manchin well enough to guess.)

  152. 152

    “What is wrong with that Obama guy?”

    He negotiated when he’d have done better to fight. The only thing this administration has fought for is Obama’s signature law, the PPACA. I would prefer he had fought for the unemployed and the people who lost their homes, and against the people who crashed the economy. If he had done that early enough and soon enough, the Democrats might still hold the House.

    “Snowden didn’t find ANY illegality”

    Apparently it’s legal to spy on everyone.

    “unemployment is DOWN despite CONGRESS not passing a SINGLE jobs bill”

    There are now three people for every job opening, instead of five.

    “drone deaths are down”

    From earlier, higher, Obama levels.

    “we probably won’t go to war with Syria”

    We probably won’t go to war. Such a great achievement. This is a sign of what an awful hole the country is in. The Obama administration, after persuasion, declined to do something awesomely wrong-headed. And you are crowing about that?

  153. 153
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Elizabelle:

    OFA recruiting for Spring Fellows. Application deadline is Sunday, January 29. Program begins in February.

    Small typo correction, deadline is Sunday, January 26.

    Looks like a good program.

  154. 154
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Bill Arnold: It happens more than you’d think — Jeffords, Specter, Ben Campbell. Shelby… And without the filibuster, being in the Senate minority is as pointless as being in the House minority.

    I presume he’ll just announce he didn’t leave his party, his party left him — which is true enough — as soon as the bribe is big enough.

  155. 155
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: burn of the day, if not week.

    your internets will be in the mail tomorrow (today is a federal holiday)

  156. 156

    @rda909: “I don’t see one person pointing out how transformative it has been, and will continue to be for generations, to have someone with his skin tone win the White House”

    You are right. And, indeed, the expansion of civil rights in the USA is something the Obama administration and its supporters may be genuinely proud of.

    I’m sorry. This is something I have written about, but wish I had done so here, and today, without a reminder.

  157. 157
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Elizabelle: I will try but OfA always considered me a flake b/c I showed up to make phone calls or knock on doors when I had time and when they forced me to make appts I frequently broke them. I worked my tail off but didn’t win the ofa mobile app video game so now they don’t call me.

  158. 158
    Chris says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Yeah, the pseudo-left has been marginalized for as long as I can remember and longer than I’ve been alive. I don’t rank that especially as an Obama accomplishment (nor should it have been).

    @Jeremy:

    Exactly. This is what was in the back of my mind while reading all these other posts – we don’t know yet whether or not Obama was a “transformative” president. Those things don’t get decided until after they’ve left office.

  159. 159
    Elizabelle says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Thank you for catching that!!

    OFA deadline is Sunday, January 26.

  160. 160
    Chyron HR says:

    @The Raven on the Hill:

    And, indeed, the expansion of civil rights in the USA is something the Obama administration and its supporters may be genuinely proud of.

    How magnanimous of you to grant your permission for that, my Lord.

  161. 161
    gelfling545 says:

    @Betty Cracker: Just so. The unions were the working class’s only real access to political power, thus one the reasons for hatred of unions by the conservative faction.

  162. 162
    Chris says:

    @aimai:

    I wonder how much of this is an artifact of the fact that the republican base is, and always has been, a property owning, land taxpaying group. Someone who owns their own house is always going to be more networked in with local government than a renter, for example, or a student. As people age and gain assets they become more conservative and more politically active–they run for school board because their kids are in school, or because they want to prevent the raising of property taxes, etc..etc…etc…

    I agree. More generally, I think it’s impossible to usefully compare the far left and the far right, or their relations to more moderate groups and to the rest of society. They’re just completely different animals. And the deck is almost always stacked against the far left, and usually neutral towards the far right.

  163. 163
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Davis X. Machina: I don’t think the Senate will flip, and I am doing my little best to keep it from happening. And, as we have seen (and discussed at great length in this and many other threads), Obama can do some pretty amazing stuff even in the face of implacable opposition.

  164. 164
    Chris says:

    @Ash Can:

    The election and reelection of Obama show that things are getting better, thanks largely to younger, more sensible folks. But back when Clinton was elected, I was just happy to see a Republican party that was already starting to obviously rot from the inside out (thanks to that asshole Reagan co-opting all of the nation’s worst elements in his quest for power) finally get pushed the hell out.

    I’m so happy that I never had to live through Nixon and Reagan. The thought of being the only sane person in the room (well, one of a very distinct minority) while the entire country lost its fucking mind isn’t a pleasant one.

  165. 165
    karen says:

    @dogwood:

    Hallelujah! Someone finally admitted that part of Obama’s problem are the lack of people (except for Nancy Pelosi as the first person I can think of) who have his back in Congress. I think it’s ironic that the same people who hated Bush’s Presidency by fiat expected Obama to do the same and were enraged when he didn’t. Just because the political party changes, that doesn’t make the same action better.

  166. 166

    @Donut: “I have alerted your local media of your disappointment with Barack Obama. I’m certain you’ll be contacted shortly for a complete and thorough interview, so that you may explicate further in regards to the ongoing state of your delicate fee-fees. ”

    Let’s see some concern for the delicate fee-fees of the people who lost their homes. Let’s see some concern for the delicate fee-fees 13% of the people who can’t find enough work.

    My feelings aren’t delicate. Rather, I am moved by homelessness and poverty.

    “Now, other than bitching from your privileged perch, I would like to know specifically what you are doing to change the state of federal politics?”

    I communicate with my Congress people. When I have the money—I often don’t, I have no privileged perch—, I personally support people on hard times. Other than that, what would you suggest? The left wing of the Democrats, though powerful where I live, has no power nationally. Should I become a Green or Justice Party organizer? I have nothing left for the Democratic leadership, who might have the whole country behind them if they’d just get out there and fight, but have not done so since I was a young bird.

    What do you think the Democrats have to offer young voters? These people have come of age in awful times, and the only thing they have seen the Democratic leadership get out there and fight for is the ACA, which a lot of them resent because it costs them scarce money. There is some hope, I suppose, in the movement for a higher minimum wage, but that is going to be an enormous uphill fight. I do not see how it will pass the House a nd it is easy for politicians to “support” something they know won’t pass. Still, there might be something there.

    Let’s hear it. Why should young people support the Democrats?

  167. 167
    dogwood says:

    @rda909:
    Thanks for that. It needed to be said.

  168. 168
    karen says:

    @Chris:

    What is the “pseudo-left?” Is it like the “neo-liberal?”

  169. 169
    different-church-lady says:

    @Disgruntled Lurker:

    it’s a nice change of pace to have a reasonable, thoughtful person as President, isn’t it?

    Based on the behavior of the electorate described in that extract, I’d say it’s more than we deserve.

  170. 170

    @Chyron HR: You are most welcome.

    Now about that unemployment rate…

  171. 171
    different-church-lady says:

    @Keith G:

    Some of us like to engage in, what might be, thoughtful discussions within the gray area between the two extremes that you have noted.

    Yeah, but the five of us can’t make much headway above the noise of the other 300 million people in the country.

  172. 172
    karen says:

    @Baud:

    And whose fault is that? The same people who will sit out 2014 because they want to punish Obama. Every woman who has died or is being kept alive just for her fetus to survive is on their head. Every forced ultrasound a woman has to go through is on their head. Every woman who is lied to LEGALLY because the doctor may feel the life saving medicine might kill a terminally ill pregnant woman’s fetus is on their head. Every new addition to who is losing the right to vote is on their head.

    Yes. All that I blame on the people who can’t accept that you’re not going to get everything you want out of a President so you might as well be happy with what you can get. I blame it on the people who decided they’d teach Obama a lesson.

    Boy you sure showed us didn’t you?

  173. 173
    WaterGirl says:

    @Elizabelle: I can’t remember what video I saw or where to find it, but in that video I watched President Obama get choked up talking about the fact that the generation of organizers that his campaigns and OFA have trained will be his greatest legacy.

  174. 174

    One of our local newsmen tells how it was that in 2009, after people had put their lives on hold to elect Obama, OFA just…lost them. He’s an old-time newspaper man, knows names and faces. As far as I know, he is telling the truth and is quite bitter about it.

    Tell me again why anyone would want to work for the Democrats?

  175. 175
    moonbat says:

    @WaterGirl: It was after his re-election when he was talking to the campaign crew at the Chicago headquarter. It was great.

  176. 176
    Fair Economist says:

    @Ash Can:

    The extent to which the enduring popularity of Reagan steamrolled common sense — and traditional Democratic policies — in this nation made it pretty much impossible for any Dem other than a Bill Clinton to get elected. Michael Dukakis tried to run on more regular Dem policies and got creamed. The American electorate was still so steeped in Reagan’s “government is the problem” bullshit, which Bush the elder perpetuated by his rhetoric if not all of his policies, that no Dem except a Bill Clinton had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected.

    And that’s the reason I don’t think Obama will end up being viewed as transformational. The ACA, federal equal marriage, and state legalization of marijuana, in the end, will probably end up the harbingers of transformational change. But Obama hasn’t been a rhetorical leader on any of them, unlike Reagan, who provided soundbites for his policy changes. He was certainly a big factor in getting the ACA through and got rid of DADT, but he’s been a backroom negotiator, not a public proponent.

    The areas where Obama did provide the soundbites and the inspirational achidvement – like the post-partisan vision – have pretty much gotten nowhere. So he won’t be remembered for those either.

  177. 177
    slippytoad says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    Btw, while NYT is trying to damn Obama as a fantasist for thinking he could forge bipartisan compromise . . . that the NYT, like many northern papers, has for years given sloppy blowjobs to socially moderate Republicans such as John McCain and Chris Christie. Who’s fantasizing now?

    It has been years since I deliberately read a page of the fucking NYT. Just so you know. I removed some of the fluff from your sentence and I believe that is all the explanation I need give.

    But, TLDR: like most of the “so-called liberal media” these days, the NYT’s lazy editorial staff are just trying to have it both ways.

    I can tell the whole media this, if it will help. I will start paying one fucking bit of attention to y’all, the day you announce that John McCain is no longer going to appear every fucking sunday to grind his axe. I will start paying attention to them, when they start having consistent principles.

  178. 178
    Fair Economist says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    I presume Manchin will change parties if he’s the vote that provides the GOP with the majority.

    Manchin won’t change parties because recent party-changers – Specter, and that Dem->Repub congressman in Alabama – have found that it’s an express route to retirement. Manchin would never win a Republican primary and he knows it.

    I don’t get the Manchin hate. He’s a conservative, but he’s nothing like Lieberman or Ben Nelson.

  179. 179
    muricafukyea says:

    What is all this horseshit about Obama’s terrible year? Unemployment is down, housing is up, stock market is up. The largest deficit decrease since WWII (cut in half basically).

    What was so terrible about it? I’m not talking about right wing horseshit. Or the Wr0ng way Cole’s of the world and their dillusions. I’m talking reality. Honest question. Where is this whole ‘Obama having a bad year’ bullshit coming from and why are people who should know better buying into it?

  180. 180
    Jeremy says:

    @Fair Economist: First of all President Obama has had speech after speech about so many issues especially income inequality so I don’t get this nonsense that President Obama doesn’t convey much rhetorically.

    Just because a portion of the left disregards anything the President says or does doesn’t mean that he isn’t an advocate for those things.

  181. 181
    Jeremy says:

    Like I said before. If Bill Clinton had the accomplishments Obama has and made the same speeches. Plenty of people would be singing a different tune.

  182. 182
    Jeremy says:

    @The Raven on the Hill: Shut up ! You are such a troll and not a very good one.

  183. 183
    Cervantes says:

    @WaterGirl:

    I can’t remember what video I saw or where to find it, but in that video I watched President Obama get choked up talking about the fact that the generation of organizers that his campaigns and OFA have trained will be his greatest legacy.

    This may be what you seek.

  184. 184
    Cervantes says:

    @The Raven on the Hill:

    One of our local newsmen tells how it was that in 2009, after people had put their lives on hold to elect Obama, OFA just…lost them. He’s an old-time newspaper man, knows names and faces. As far as I know, he is telling the truth and is quite bitter about it.

    Yes, that sort of thing does happen after an election. Everyone has been working hard, everyone needs to recover, even the system needs to recover; things fall between the cracks.

    Tell me again why anyone would want to work for the Democrats?

    This is not a serious question. If you don’t know the answer I can’t help you.

  185. 185
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jeremy:

    As far as I can tell, Raven on the Hill fits the profile of most of the anti-Obama firebaggers you see online: white, fiftyish, lost their job and/or their 401(k) in the crash of 2008 and now realize that the only retirement income they’re going to have is Social Security because all of the promises about how 401(k)s were better than pensions that Reagan/Bush I/Clinton/Bush II made to them were lies.

    I don’t blame them for being panicky and lashing out at whoever’s available, but they certainly are tiresome.

  186. 186
    Jeremy says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yeah it’s really tiresome.

  187. 187
    patroclus says:

    Eight year Presidencies are almost always, by definition, transformational because of all that happens during the two terms. But we don’t know as yet how transformational Obama has been because he’s got 3 more years. Will the Iranian deal go through? Will there be an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians? Will the world continue to emerge from the Bush Depression? Will there ever be effective action on climate change? How well will the ACA work? Will gay rights continue to advance? Will there be an Immigration Act? Will minimum wages be increased? What will be the long term effect of the filibuster changes? Will the Afghan war end and what will happen there? Will voting rights be re-established? Is the BCS really dead? Where will unemployment be in 3 years? I want the answers to all these questions before I render an opinion on how transformational the first ever African American President has been.

  188. 188
    Cervantes says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Cairo is not on a hill.

  189. 189
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @The Raven on the Hill:

    Tell me again why anyone would want to work for the Democrats?

    Why? Because half of life is just showing up.

    IOW, leaving the field isn’t a way to win the game.

    HTH!

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  190. 190
    WaterGirl says:

    @Cervantes: @moonbat: That’s the one! Definitely worth a watch.

  191. 191
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Jeremy: Now there’s an effective retort. Jesus.

  192. 192
    Valdivia says:

    @WaterGirl:
    it was the night of his re-election when he visited the headquarters to thank them. It’s a wonderful video. You can see him crying.

  193. 193

    @Cervantes: “Yes, that sort of thing does happen after an election. Everyone has been working hard, everyone needs to recover, even the system needs to recover; things fall between the cracks.”

    Local Newsman contrasts the end of the 2008 Obama campaign with the end of the 1992 Clinton campaign, which carefully found places for its loyal hard-working supporters. What OFA did in 2008 was very similar to the end of the Romney campaign. LN points to a Clinton workers who has become one of our state’s powerful and influential Senators.

    No, OFA in 2008 blew it, and they blew it through something that has become an Obama trademark: the belief that people are loyal to him personally, rather than their own interests.

    “This is not a serious question. If you don’t know the answer I can’t help you. ”

    ‘Given that the Democratic leadership is behaving like a husband who only remembers his wife on anniversaries, I can’t see a good reason for anyone to work for the national Democratic Party. I have trouble even seeing why I should support it. I appreciate my Representative, who is a fine old liberal. But he is 76 years old! “Not as bad as the Republicans,” I suppose is something. But it’s not going to inspire great loyalty, or the next generation of leaders.

    Having thought it out, my advice to young people who see the grave issues facing us and want to become politically involved is to work for progressive candidates who will reward their supporters and also to work for systemic reform. If they think they want to work for the national party I recommend they go in without expectation of reward, and to fight for everything they can get, because otherwise they very likely will get nothing.

    Do I think the fight is worthwhile? Tough one. The Democrats have been giving way to the conservatives since 1980. The results of the swing to the right begun by Reagan has been disaster, and only demographic change seems likely to repair matters—but so much ground has been lost, and there are no guarantees. At least, it is going to be a generation before income and employment return to pre-Reagan levels, if they ever do.

  194. 194
    patrick II says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I am with you on this. Part of the reason why is because President Obama is not one for self aggrandizing. He doesn’t rub it in other people’s faces nor land on an aircraft carrier. He does his job and lets that speaks for itself.

  195. 195
    Cervantes says:

    @The Raven on the Hill: Your question was:

    Tell me again why anyone would want to work for the Democrats?

    If you were distinguishing between the national party and local candidates, I missed it, sorry. Yes. your “advice to young people” seems eminently sensible:

    Having thought it out, my advice to young people who see the grave issues facing us and want to become politically involved is to work for progressive candidates who will reward their supporters and also to work for systemic reform. If they think they want to work for the national party I recommend they go in without expectation of reward, and to fight for everything they can get, because otherwise they very likely will get nothing.

    As for this:

    Do I think the fight is worthwhile? Tough one. The Democrats have been giving way to the conservatives since 1980.

    That’s one way of looking at it.

    Both parties, the Democrats and the Republicans (never mind “the conservatives”), have been in flux for their entire existence. In the 60s the Democrats renounced much of their own power, especially in the South, in exchange for clean hands. At the same time the Republicans, as a party, took on that ceded power, and by now they seem to be exulting in the dirt.

    For me, there’s no ambiguity.

    The results of the swing to the right begun by Reagan has been disaster, and only demographic change seems likely to repair matters—but so much ground has been lost, and there are no guarantees. At least, it is going to be a generation before income and employment return to pre-Reagan levels, if they ever do.

    Yes, and Democrats may not have all the answers, but a sure-fire way to never, ever recover is to keep electing today’s Republicans.

  196. 196
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Betty Cracker: There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike the president because they don’t like the idea of a president who’s smarter than they are. Now, the flip side of it is there are some smart folks and maybe some not so smart folks folks who really like him and give him the benefit of the doubt precisely because he’s a smart president.

  197. 197
    Marc says:

    @Keith G:

    His lack of an inclination to swing for the fences

    Yeah, he should have been more ambitious like all those other presidents who got national health care reform.

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