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January 03, 2012


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low-tech cyclist

As best as I can tell, Paul isn't even much of a libertarian - he's more of a Tenther, really. He'd cheerfully dismantle the Federal war on drug users, but wouldn't lift a finger if the states want to continue to throw them behind bars.

Not that I have much use for libertarians: as you say, they're all about getting government out of the way so that moneyed interests will face fewer obstacles as they beat up on everyone else.

At any rate, even if Paul wins in Iowa tonight, that'll be his last meaningful victory in the primary season, and even useful idiots like Greenwald will forget about Paul until his next Presidential campaign picks up, sometime in 2015.

low-tech cyclist

And of all the pieces I've read lately about Ron Paul, I've got to pick out this post by Ta-Nehisi Coates as the cream of the crop.

kathy a.

TNC, as usual, says it well.

Sir Charles

That is a really good piece by TNC. Interesting analogy too.


As I noted there in the comments, the yearning for a presidential political savior has been an ongoing theme of the American political landscape pretty much throughout my adult life (if not before).

Eric Wilde

I'd say you missed Glenn's point.

Sir Charles


I don't think so.


All I have to say, Sir C, is this: Well said.


Very good piece by TNC. I'd never understood the attraction of Farrakan before. Now I think I do, at least a little bit.


I loved this post.

What I have been thinking all week, whenever people have uncritically written that Paul is "better on civil liberties" than Obama—even some people who are attacking Paul!—is "How the FUCK can Paul be better on civil liberties than Obama and not support the Civil Rights Act!?" You want to know who I think is better on civil liberties? The one who supports the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I think that's my bottom line, absolutely essential opinion before I will consider any further assessment of a person's record on civil liberties. Unless, you know, the word liberty refers to something different than what I think it means. But I don't think I like that idea of liberty at all.

Ron Paul is a bad person and his apologists are assholes. And yes I mean all of them.

Sir Charles


I lived through the crack era here in DC in one very marginal neighborhood -- open air drug market two blocks from my apartment, multiple drug gang murder two blocks south of where I lived, and the sound of gun fire a frequent thing -- and then one gentrifying, but still crime ridden neighborhood. There was a sort of palpable sense of madness in the city, culminating I guess with the arrest of that asshole Marion Barry.

I can imagine that in that context the message of discipline, self-control, self-reliance, and uplift preached by Farrakhan resonated here at a time when virtually every day in the city a young black man murdered another young black man. (Even at the height of the city's crime wave, whites were rarely victimized.)


I'm with you.

Paula B

Thank you, Corvus, for reminding us of the obvious. Somebody's gotta say it.

I've just listened to the pundits at NECN (New England Cable News) and CNN, and heard no one mention the 800 pound gorilla. Iowans are choosing Santorum over Mitt because they are prejudiced against Mormons. And, Ron Paul has captured the hearts and minds of Iowa young people, not because he promises to end the war in Afghanistan, but because he promises to end the war on drugs. Those are the two issues fueling the fire in this stupid straw poll in most atypical state --- Christian zealotry and the fight for the right to pollute one's mind and body with whatever toxins one chooses, whenever and wherever one likes.

Meanwhile, the serious issues that affect each and every one of us are ignored because they don't lend themselves to sound bites and easy fixes.

Ron Paul is a bad person, Mitt Romney is a bad person for even more reasons, and Rick Santorum is ignorant, but those qualities don't seem to figure into this stupid popularity poll. The thought of Iowa Democrats switching sides at the door to get a chance to vote in this ridiculous, self-indulgent sham of the democratic process is embarrassing at best, repugnant at worst.

The Iowa Republican Caucus is like junior high all over again.


Corvus -- Hear, hear. And excellent post Sir C, as was its companion piece from April 2010.

Cripes. They've got a three-way tie. Iowans like Rick's sweater-vest evidently.


I don't know Paula. I mean, I can see Evangelicals being hostile to Mormons, but I also can see even Evangelicals as seeing Romney for the unprincipled soulless hack that he is. Say what you will about Santorum, but that is a man who believes in the filth he is frothing. Romney? Not so much.

I suppose you could say that Romney's Mormonism is hurting him here. Well, ok, it is. But I bet being a flake is hurting him just as much, if not more.

low-tech cyclist

Looks like Ron Paul's finishing third. With 93% of precincts reporting, he's 3,800 votes out of second, and he'd probably need to score a heavy majority of the remaining votes to catch either Romney or Santorum.

It's pretty much game over for the GOP nomination, barring some totally unexpected Mitt scandal. But it's hard to see the evangelicals giving him more than grudging support. They're not going to be beating the bushes to get their friends to the polls, the way they were for Bush in 2004.

Turnout in Iowa tonight was about 120,000, maybe a little more. They got 119,000 last time. So not exactly outstanding.

Paula B

You may be right, Corvus, but all I can say is, thank God for Mormonism,if that's what it takes! I can think of at least 25 Congresscritters who haven't suffered many setbacks for being unprincipled soulless hacks. Works for them. Romney, on the other hand, gives USHes a bad name.


Not necessarily. Remember, Newt has a double digit lead in South Carolina. As long as he can hold on to that, he has a chance of overtaking this. As long as Romney can't declare "victory," this race is up in the air. He needs to beat Santorum to wrap it up. And even then, it may not be certain.

Also, who drops out and when will play a huge role in this.

Eric Wilde

Ron Paul is a bad person and his apologists are assholes. And yes I mean all of them.

I'm not quite sure what you define as an apologist. Granted, I've not been following the back and forth between various pontificators on this issue; but, Glenn had a solid point in the link from this article which Sir C did not rebut. Paul has some good topics to discuss, regardless of how far off his motives or other policies might be.

Sir C, yes, you did either miss the point or are blind.

Prup (aka Jim Benton)

l-t c: Game over, yes, but Romney's lost. (I wanted to argue with you over at Steve Benen's but git swamped, as usual.) See my comment in the next thread, but again, Romney will not be the nominee. It will be someone picked by the convention, probably after at least half a dozen ballots -- hey, the Republicans are trying to turn the clock back in every other way. And I have no idea why I feel this way, but every time I write this, my gut starts insisting it will be Bob McDonnell of Virginia. (Of course, a lot of people will be pushing Paul Ryan -- the only candidate worse for the Republicans than Romney.)

low-tech cyclist

Sorry, Jim, but Romney will be the nominee, simply because they've run through all the anti-Romneys, and they're all pretty terrible. (See Kevin Drum on why Santorum's going nowhere too.) And like it or not, Romney did just well enough to keep them from seeking a new anti-anti-Romney. (If he'd tanked at something like 16%, the Huntsman boomlet would already be building.)

The GOP has a lot of primaries that are winner-take-all either at the state level or at the Congressional district level. Romney's tepid support can carry him an awfully long way in that environment.

Oh yeah: Romney will win South Carolina, unimpressively of course. But once again, SC will be where GOP insurgent candidacies go to die, and their latest empty suit gets propped up.

The enthusiasm for Romney in the general election will be just as underwhelming as it's been during the primary season. I'm expecting a replay of Clinton-Dole 1996.

low-tech cyclist

Remember, Newt has a double digit lead in South Carolina. As long as he can hold on to that, he has a chance of overtaking this.

Corvus - I'd say Newt's SC polling lead is very much a trailing indicator. They haven't polled there since mid-December, voters are going to re-think who they're supporting on the basis of the Iowa and NH results, but most important, the campaign simply hasn't moved there yet.

South Carolina Republicans haven't yet been hit by the barrage of negative ads that took Gingrich down in Iowa, so unless he's got a better answer to that barrage now than he did over the past couple of weeks, he's toast.

Sir Charles


I perfectly understand Greenwald's point -- it isn't very complicated -- that Obama is just like Bush in terms of foreign policy and civil liberties and that if we weren't all partisan tools we would be as repulsed by this as we were by Bush. And if we had Glenn's deep integrity and concern for all humanity and weren't mindless partisans we would see that Paul represents a refreshingly different alternative to what is basically a monopoly of plutocratic-loving, war-mongering politicians from both major parties, who, when all is said and done, have nary a dime's difference between them.

And what I am saying is that this is a childish, self-indulgent, and inaccurate way to look at the world.

Glenn also continues to harbor the notion of some great bipartisan coalition of civil libertarians -- progressives and libertarians united -- to change our politics. It's not going to happen -- anymore than the fantasy that he and Jane Hamsher tried to foist upon us of a left-tea party alliance against Wall Street. These delusions about the fundamental nature of American politics bug the living shit out of me. Libertarians don't care about guys locked in Gitmo. Tesbaggers really don't give a crap about Wall Street executives getting rich. The failure to understand what really drives people in these matters is a sign of someone who has no practical analytical skills when it comes to matters political.

Plus, he's a pompous, pontificating, pedantic, ponderous ass to boot. I find him completely insufferable -- humorless, self-righteous, and blind to nuance.

Eric Wilde

And what I am saying is that this is a childish, self-indulgent, and inaccurate way to look at the world.

Um, Glenn's post to which you pointed is much more nuanced and factual than your response. In this particular instance you come across as the childish and self-indulgent one.

Glenn also continues to harbor the notion of some great bipartisan coalition of civil libertarians

That may be true. I'm not a regular reader of Glenn as I find him too pedantic for my tastes. Nevertheless, in the post to which you linked he was correct on all counts.


I know the winner-take-all nature of the Republican primaries might get him to a solid plurality, with the anti-Romney votes scattered. But I don't think he can get a majority coming in -- and a lot of te delegates he wins will be coming under more and more pressure from the home folks -- and the professional pols -- to split from him.

I hear a lot of comment about 'in an ordinary year' (what dat, Dah-dee?) But this isn't one. It isn't going to be a Clinton-Dole rematch (that would be how a Gingrich nomibation would play out). I've been thinking Goldwater or McGivern, but even that is weak, because both of them had solid bases in a minority of the party.

All the commentary forgets this part of it, that Romney has no base of his own. There just aren't any 'passionate Romney supporters' out there, who would be fighting for him in an ordinaruly strong field. There wouldn't have been before he started doing his shape-shifter routine. He's an unlikable guy with a weak record as Governor and those embarrassing 'I'll outliberal Teddy' quotes.

Th people who support him are no less likely to make the argument 'At least he isn't ...' than his opponent's supporters are, and there are less of them. I don't think he's even receiving the support from his church that you'd expect. The Mormons might support a "Mormon Jack Kennedy' but do they really need a "Mormon Al Smith"? (And one of these days I want to discuss the problems wih Mormonism itself, and my doubts that the Church Elders relly want the sort of scrutiny the Church would get from enterprising bloggers and journalists.)

So let's look at how he can win the nomination, and see if any of these are credible:

He wins a number of winner-take-all primaries with proportions in the 30% range, even against the current field, but it gives him the majority from elected delegates alone. Okay, it could happen -- but even then, I look forward to attempts to derail him -- most likely by inserting some clause in the platform that he would not be willing to sign -- even his plasticity is not infinite -- and perhaps passing a 'special by-law' that every candidate nominated has to swear to accept and run on the plaform as written before the voting.

Then there is the scenario that leaves him with a near majority, but one that needs the 'superdelegates' to put him over. But they are profewssional politicians and elected officials. Many of them are TPers in their own right, and have no love for Mittens. The others, by that time, should have gotten the message that a Romney nomination would be disastrous for the down-ballot candidates. The voters they need would be staying home, or voting third party -- and Republicans are much less likely to accept their candidates trying for extra lines. A Randy Wicker, say, isn't going to run on both a Romney ticket and a third party one, and that's going to put even that sure winner suddenly in play.

Then there's the idea that, once the Convention starts, Romney can schmooze his way into a victory, convincing delegates pledged to other candidates -- even ones who have dropped out -- to switch to him. But these delegates were not elected -- in most cases except for some Paulistas -- because of who they spoorted, but who they were opposing. Take last night. I'd bet at least 80% of the Santorum voters couldn't tell you what state he was from, what office he held, or what his positions are. It was enough that he was the currently most prominent 'not Romney.'

These people ain't switching -- at least not to Romney. I don't think they'd be inclined to, anyway, but they'll be getting a lot of pressure from their home towns if they hint they might.

Nope, brokered convention, dark horse. I wish we'd have Romney to run against -- only Paul Ryan would be a better target -- but we won't.

Prup (aka Jim Benton)

uotes? It's me, and damned if i know how that one happened.

Sir Charles


What can I say? I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

I think any post that indicates that finds the ravings of Matt Stoller to be brilliant is lacking in nuance.

And watching Ron Paul last night denounce NATO and the UN and embrace the gold standard did little to change my mind about the merits of Greenwald's latest offering.

Sir Charles


Contrary to your view, it is pretty clear to me that the Party professionals and apparatchiks, including a significant number of office holders, have determined that Mittens is the only viable option they have. If he needed superdelegate votes, he'd get them. But he's not going to need them.

He is literally not going to have any opponents in the field in a matter of weeks. There is just no money available to Newt or Santorum. (Whatever Gingrich did, he clearly burned every frigging bridge imaginable out there. I am stunned at the total absence of support he was able to generate among elite conservatives during his recent bounce in the polls. The silence was deafening.)

Eric Wilde

That's fine. We can disagree here, though I do think the facts are with Glenn in this case and you still missed the point of his post. I'll continue to read you every day that you post, which is more than I can say for Mr Greenwald. :^)

I'll restate what I believe is the point of his post to be clear. Ron Paul is the only candidate with a national voice that is calling out all the heinous things Obama is doing. Full stop.

There is a preamble to the post about the knee jerk reaction from Democrats that he was most likely to (and did) receive. Ron Paul would be abominable as a president, including on civil rights issues. I cannot fault the things you said about Ron Paul and libertarianism in general. I agree. That doesn't remove the need to bring up the atrocities committed in our names. I don't care which president started them, Obama's administration continues them or in a few cases makes them worse. Obama has also accomplished many good things and will get my vote (though no donations.)

low-tech cyclist

To expand on what SC was saying about Mitt's chances, just consider that SC Gov. Nikki Haley, a Tea Party favorite, as endorsed Mitt. As have other top GOP officials in SC. He's got the GOP establishment - including the TP-leaning parts of it - in his corner, in that state and elsewhere.

Now that Rick Perry has decided to be this year's Fred Thompson, I think SC's in the bag for Mitt, and the end of the road for everyone else still running.

Joe S

Sir C, I do think you have to say something more than Greenwald's historically illiterate and unnuanced. Lots of presidents did lots of bad things. What does that matter in judging the morality of the Obama Presidency (other than pointing to mitigating circumstances in coming to terms with power). Let's just assume for the sake of argument that Obama is in line with the morality of most presidents. I don't think alot of liberals would take solace in the fact that Andrew Jackson ethnically cleansed the Southeast; that McKinley and Polk started imperial wars on pretext; that Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe were slaveowners; and that FDR locked up thousands of Japanese Americans based solely based upon ethnicity-- and that doesn't even get into Wilson, Taft, and Teddy Roosevelt, who were all pretty horrible in various ways.

What no one on the Left or in the Democratic Party generally is doing (to the best of my knowledge) is saying why Obama needs to do these things. Gitmo doesn't close and all the Dems do is shrug and pretend nothing happened. Criminal trials are proposed and dropped for Al Qaida terrorists without ne'er a word as to why. Nobody is pointing out why the Drone War is the best of bad options (which means Obama is not committing atrocities). I'd like to see a defense of behavior in a democracy- not a series of excuses. Why is no one telling Greenwald why Obama's behavior isn't evil and why ?

Sir Charles


Let me take a stab.

It seems to me that the exercise of presidential power and in particular the use of force has to be evaluated in some sort of historical context.

In the case of Obama, I would suggest that he has used force in Afghanistan, continuing a war he inherited, and one which I think many people believe constituted a just use of force in response to the attacks of 9-11. I view it that way, although from an overall perspective of pragmatism, including moral concerns, I think the escalation was a mistake -- because I think the cause likely lost. Having said that, I would not condemn the use of force because I see the argument for trying to destroy the al Qaeda remnant there and to try and prevent the Taliban from returning to power. The fact that such a decision will lead to some civilian casualites has to be weighed against the nature of the two entities who we are fighting -- AQ and the Taliban.

With respect to the drone war on AQ in Pakistan and other places, again I think the U.S. has the moral right to use lethal force against this enemy. I am not cavalier about the prospects for civilian casulaties and I think you obviously have to weigh that risk against what you are accomplishing through this violence -- including not only harming innocents but using force so promiscuously that you create more security risk than you eliminate.

My sense is that the drone campaign against AQ has been relentless and effective. And they are an enemy in my mind that is worthy of extermination, if possible. Drones are not in any way fool proof, but if one is going to bring force against an enemy like AQ, they are preferable to cruder forms of force such as airstrikes, cruise missiles, or even troops on the ground.

In both of these contexts, Obama is using force against enemies that have either conducted or aided and abetted direct attacks on Americans, acts that are completely consistent with theories of just war. Greenwald virtually writes the bad guys out of the story whenever these issues come up.

The Libyan intervention was also in my mind a justifiable use of military power against a ruler who was ruthlessly slaughtering his opponents. I was not crazy about the idea and believe that this sort of thing has enormous slippery slope potential as well as the possibility for delusional humanitarian military missions, see e.g. our "liberating Iraq for the Iraqis" and claims of that ilk. There would have been a genuine cost to innocents had the U.S. and its allies not intervened in Libya -- something we see played out on a daily basis in Syria. (I am not advocating military intervention in Syria by the way -- simply pointing out that acting or not acting can both result in the death of innocents.)

It seems to me that Obama tried both to close Gitmo and to use civilian trials for suspects there and that he received enormous blow back from congressional Republicans and Democrats alike. The question then is what amount of political capital was gfighting that battle worth? I am in favor of both of these things, but I question the political value of undertaking the fight and believe it has to be weighed against a lot of other things. The bottom line though is the President is not all powerful.

I've discussed at length why I think that prosecuting the Bush Administration officials would have been a fool's errand. I understand that there are people who beg to differ. But I believe it would have been the end of the Obama Administration before it even began. Nothing would have ever gotten done and none of the perpetrators would have ever been convicted.

Obama is governing in the real world, in which a host of competing concerns, including the security of the country, are at risk. I think that he has been both tough and judicious for the most part in these decisions.

Sir Charles


Well I'd rather be read and disagreed with than not read and agreed with

(I put this comment on the wrong thread.)


Eric, I have never read anything by Greenwald has been anywhere closed to nuanced. Circumlocutory and bullshit-ridden, yes. Nuanced, no. But then, I haven't read the piece in question because I refuse to click Greenwald links on purpose any more and contribute to the career of a man I consider to be devoted to undermining the betterment of the country I love. I definitely consider Greenwald to be an apologist for Paul, but I've thought he was an asshole long before this latest piece of proof.

And I agree with Sir Charles' response to Joe. The fact that Gitmo has not been closed is 100% the fault of Congress, except for like five Democrats (including Dick Durbin, who I think operates as a pretty good weather-vane for the White House on such issues). If you think otherwise, you haven't been paying attention. And no, the bully-pulpit doesn't matter when 95 Senators vote to remove funds to allow you to move prisoners into the States.

Seriously, I just have completely lost the ability to take seriously any qualifiers people insert about Obama not being good on civil liberties. It always seems to return to the issue of Gitmo, and that is not his fault. That is more not his fault than any possible problem you could have with this administration. People bring up not closing Gitmo to attack Obama and my respect for them flies out the window.

Paula B

Interesting story, based on something that sage, Rick Santorum, said (awkwardly):

What the story fails to mention is the fact that in Scandinavia and most of western Europe, guaranteed health care, child care and post-secondary education are birthrights, so yeah, a sturdy ladder makes it a might easier for a poor person to move on up. Not so, in the US of A, where you're born and die on your own. (But at least you can own guns!)


Seems to me you can walk and chew gum at the same time. Yes, you shouldn't vote for Ron Paul as a general matter. But it's also good that someone is talking about issues of promiscuous war-making and erosion of civil liberties when no liberal political leader of any note is doing so.

Joe S

Corvus, I actually think the argument about Congress not appropriating funds runs kind of hollow. Obama, if he wanted to, could have simply moved the Gitmo prisoners to an existing military prison and closed Gitmo pursuant to his authority as commander and chief of the army and navy. At some point, Congress would have appropriated the money for the prison when faced with the possibility of letting a bunch of suspected terrorists go a short drive from Kansas City. The bottom line is that it's really unpopular to do that, and it really isn't worth the trouble (tossed in a hole in Gitmo versus tossed into a hole in Fort Leavenworth really isn't a policy change worth fighting for).

The bigger issue here is that neither Obama nor his surrogates want to say why it can't happen. On closing Gitmo, he should just say that a large majority of Americans disagree with the policy and there's no point in wasting political capital on it. Surrogates really should have said something like this on the public option as well. Somebody like Harkin or Durbin should have just said that there's too much corporate influence in Washington to get this done and the Senate is too conservative.

Sir Charles


I agree with the more modest point you're making. I actually think it is worth having someone out there questioning the premise of the promiscuous desire to use force or regarding the policy wisdom of soemthing like the war on drugs. Even someone as flawed as Paul.

I just object to the more grandoise and dishonest point that I think Greenwald is trying to make.

With respect to the war on drugs, I have got to believe that on the Democratic side some of this is generational and that you will at some point see bolder stances. I suspect that Obama may be gun shy on this point -- possibly because of his race, possibly having lived through the crack era nightmare.

Regarding military interventionism, I think that if Obama gets eight years in office that the full body of his work is likely to look very different than it might today. I suspect by the end of a second term he will have brought both the Iraq and Aftghanistan wars to an end, drastically degraded al Qaeda's capabilities, and enhanced the United States' standing in the Muslim world. I predict much less in the way of military force and a lot more in the way of multilateral diplomatic initiatives.

That's a lot to ask and things may go awry, but he strikes me as having a fairly sound and non-doctrinaire approach to these things.


Re: Greenwald, Hamsher, and the limits of American politics.

Let's put it this way: the world (including the USA) needs to accomplish X. It really does. I mean, I know that some people are more sanguine than I, but the contradictions really are piling up; the unravelling is not going to be pretty.

What you're saying is that US politics is not equipped to accomplish X.

Then how can you fault people who are attempting to bypass it? In a dire emergency, something is better than nothing.

(I firmly disagree on the matter of Obama's military policy but I think we've covered that ground before.)


Here's Lance Mannion on topic and at his most succinct. Ron Paul on War . Kind of 'Fractured Fairy Tale' territory. :))

Joe S

Mandos, What X does the world need to accomplish ? Because Ron Paul really isn't getting you to most of the X's that I think need to be accomplished.

Ron Paul does not have the answers to deal with the problems of global climate change or reforming the global economy to produce better outcomes for most of the worlds' citizens. Unregulated markets, the libertarian ideal, will create more negative externalities-- more carbon pollution, less research and development in moving forward, more finance designed to funnel money to the 1%; more oligarchy by large, multinational institutions; and more income inequality.

Markets are either shaped by elites to funnel money upward or by fair democratic processes to distribute wealth for the benefit of all. Ron Paul doesn't have any answers other than to turn over the apple cart and replace one unjust system with another.

As for any of the other liberal/left complaints about Obama, "X doesn't have to happen." The drone war can go on for decades without most Americans caring. Only a small minority are going to bark about civil liberties impositions. The public option never has to get enacted. The rest of Greenwald-Hamsher's complaints can only be addressed by long grinding efforts by social movements to achieve their goals.

Sir Charles


Ha! I would say Mannion fairly nails it.


Just briefly on the Hamsher-Greenwald politics of delusion -- right wingers are never going to ally with left-wingers. People are right wingers for a reason -- none of them usually very good. Such people are not new -- the tea partiers are simply not a new phenomenon -- and they are pretty much hopeless.

To follow up on Joe's response, history suggests that moments for the left tend to be short and few in our political culture. Those moments require some kind of electoral landslide brought about either by crisis (see 1932) or extreme overreaching by the other guys (1964). We had a bit of such a moment in 2008, but a lack of urgency on the part of Obama and several Democratic Senators, plus the historically unprecedented obstructionism of the Republican senators, pretty much strangled the moment in its infancy.

The bottom line is that electoral ploitics matter and they matter deeply. I know that the process of trying to put together large majorities to enact a liberal program is incredibly frustrating, but it's the only thing that can really bring about the kind of epochal change to which you and I aspire.

My hope is that as the country changes demographically and that as it becomes increasingly apparent that the Republican Party has literally nothing to offer most people, that the Democratic Party will become the natural majority party of much of the nation. My further hope is that as the leadership of the party changes generationally away from people of my age group and older, who have been brought up to be defensive and fearful about our politics, to a younger generation that has witnessed this incredible failure of the market over the last decade, that we will see bolder economic politics and that these will have a mass appeal that to date they have not recently enjoyed.

A country in which the vote of white religious people is greatly diluted is one in which liberal-left politics may finally get a toehold that does not require a mad dash of legislation in two years before the inevitable thermodorean reaction sets in.

The slow march to the grave of the white men of the backlash -- sadly, I'll be joining them -- is our greatest hope. I am hoping to live long enough to see their fade into irrelevancy.


The bigger issue here is that neither Obama nor his surrogates want to say why it can't happen. On closing Gitmo, he should just say that a large majority of Americans disagree with the policy and there's no point in wasting political capital on it. Surrogates really should have said something like this on the public option as well. Somebody like Harkin or Durbin should have just said that there's too much corporate influence in Washington to get this done and the Senate is too conservative.

The problem is there is no way to do this without attacking your own party. I mean, if Obama got out there and said "the reason I can't do this obviously desirable thing that would greatly benefit our country, improve our civil liberties, save lives and put money in your pocket is because members of my own party oppose it and are controlled by corporate interests and don't have your best interests in mind, are cowed by the pointless fears of your fellow citizens, etc.", that would not, I think, be a better political move than what he is doing now. He wouldn't get those things achieved. All he would do is piss off the Senators that he bad-mouthed, giving himself a whole caucus of Joe Liebermans who oppose legislation just out of spite, while depressing progressive voters into thinking that the two parties are the same, in fact the president says so, so why vote? and probably pissing off the middle of the road voters who don't actually want those things to happen. That seems like an awful lot of badness to trade for the liberals in the party to have it explained to them why the thing they wanted didn't happen. I feel that progressives should be smart enough to figure that shit out for themselves, and not have to have the political reasons for things explained to them by Obama or Durbin. Basically, your argument here boils down to "progressives are too stupid to figure out the political calculus of the presidents actions on their own." That may be true, but I don't see how this is something we should fault Obama for. It sounds more to me like we need better progressives.


btw --Intro to 'Fractured Fairy Tales' * Considering how subversive this stuff was, it's a wonder the kiddies were exposed. Safe to say the folks at Fox would not have approved.

* for Cog's younger set.

Also Corvus -- Basically, your argument here boils down to "progressives are too stupid to figure out the political calculus of the presidents actions on their own." That may be true, but I don't see how this is something we should fault Obama for. It sounds more to me like we need better progressives. Better progressives who can study, interpret and retain history, as well as teach it, I'd say. If Obama loses the 18-30 vote, we are looking at a disaster in the making. [as in they don't vote or throw it away, which could happen if the messages out of the WH don't get more clearly telegraphed and repeated ad nauseum.] Young people are pissed and rightly so. We don't need to watch them romanticize Paul and help hand off the election, `a la 1968, when the migration away from Humphrey gave us Nixon and seven horrid and destructive years.

big bad wolf

i think that if obama loses the 18-30 vote, we are looking at a fully formed disaster. that the 18-30 may, in part, not show up and, in part, romanticize paul, terrifies me. yes, they have good reason to be pissed, but we have to help them see that being pissed shouldn't lead to cutting off one's nose.

i am not nearly so optimistic as SC that the mere death of some people and the replacement of them by new people will be progress. the first seems likely, the second i'll believe when i see.


ad 'nauseam'. spellcheck is my friend -- the memory, however, somewhat unreliable.

bbw -- young people always take the short view, do they not? that's why the WH has frustrated me, from where i sit, in its casual stance about the situation of younger voters. Obama has simply forgotten or neglected to speak to them, and they've noticed. and i don't think they suffer from failed expectations. i think they feel genuinely used. we can't afford a generation of cynics. particularly young cynics. idealism is a good thing and once lost...that energy easily dissipates. no?

big bad wolf

nancy, i think obama has not forgotten or neglected them. i think he's such an adult, and probably always has been, that he focuses on the job to be done and forgets that, whether or not it is necessary to the job to be done, people need pats and encouragement, not just work on the right things. because of that i think the better-off young have no right to feel used (and by better off i mean even those struggling but whose families can help) and need to see that they need to vote for him. they can feel disappointed and doubtful of the future. in that, i think they are justified. but i don't think they were used by obama. the guy is trying in an ugly world.

i think i mostly agree with joe that explaining the world, ugly as it may be, would help. the pure we will have always with us. for many of the rest of us, not being talked down to would, i think, be useful. yes, we as a people have a bad habit of wanting to be saved, to be placed on the plane that we think we deserve, but mostly we get how the world is and understand the compromises life demands of us.


bbw -- i agree with you. i'm just reporting what i see from my little perch in the world. my young pals -- they are, as they might put it, 'major worried', about their and their country's future. thus ows. which i'd say needs to be given its due, even if it looks somewhat without clear objective from the sidelines/outside. 'cause that's idealism left intact. and boy, do we need that.

Sir Charles

I, too, fear that Obama has not done enough to address the special and real problems of young people.

However, I also think though that young people are going to realize by and large -- Paul notwithstanding -- that the Republican Party offers them nothing.

I think Paul is sui generis. There is no one else in the Republican Party looking to emulate his message that I can see. I also think his appeal would tend to be transitory.

I think this generation of young people is both very skeptical of unbridled capitalism -- and why wouldn't they be -- and wants no part of the social conservatism, resentment, and intolerance that is the glue that holds the Republican coalition together.

So I remain hopeful. As I say, I just hope I am around for it to all come to frution.


Well, as an actual member of the 18-30 demographic, I would just like to point out that I feel in no way abandoned or ignored by Obama, however unrepresentative I may be. I feel that he has done the best job I could expect for navigating a political system bought and owned by the 1% to bring relief and structural reform that benefits the 99%. He is also pretty clearly an excellent candidate to support in terms of advancing social liberalism, minor quibbles notwithstanding (plan B restrictions and support for civil unions not marriage, though on the latter he will be there when Congress is, I am confident), in fact he's the only candidate. He is also unquestionably the only candidate to support if one supports economic justice and fighting economic inequality, because you sure won't see that from any of the Republicans, especially Paul. So I don't see why he shouldn't still appeal to young people, unless by young people we just mean young, affluent white people. Yeah, they will probably support pie in the sky candidates like Paul, but I don't understand why the rest of us should get lumped in with them.

Sir Charles


I agree with you.

But I would like to have seen him speak directly to the horrible youth unemployment we continue to see. Even if just to acknowledge its painful existence.


Well, yes. A speech high-lighting the problems facing young people wouldn't hurt anything. Especially since I have a hard time seeing Romney doing it ("All you young people should work harder and get jobs!"). But I see the campaign as the time to do that, not the governing years, which should be focused on the broader public good.

Then again, Obama has spent an awful lot of time focusing on the hardships endured by middle class families, it would be nice if he would point out that times are tough even for those who do not have families, and couldn't really afford to start them if we wanted to. Not everyone has 2.5 kids.

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