Don’t Feed the Dragon

Please read this post by the BooMan. It explains a lot of what I’ve been saying for a long time. And it takes us back to the futility of perpetually bashing Barack Obama for not breaking out of old the status quo.

We’ve got a status quo that even a president can’t break out of, folks. It’s bigger than him. We could bring back FDR himself, and in the current political climate, he’d be just as hogtied.

I’m not saying that President Obama is above criticism; not at all. I’m saying that we’re never going to get the president we want in the current political climate. Even a candidate blazing with the most fiery passions of populist economic progressivism and liberal values would be reduced to cutting draconian deals over abortion and tax cuts even to implement a few mildly progressive tweaks.

So, perpetually screaming that Obama has sold us all out or is no better than Bush is pointless and infantile. Grow up and face reality. It’s the system, stupid.

The BooMan writes,

The truth is that our government is set up to frustrate change. Our election laws and our media landscape create a lopsided political playing-field where those who already have huge amounts of money can pretty much guarantee that they continue to get more of it and everyone else gets less. We can make arguments. We can try to move the Overton Window, but what is actually achievable in Washington DC is extremely limited. There really isn’t much sense in making a lot of promises that we can’t keep. The only times the Democrats have been able to make breakthroughs have been brief interludes when we had enormous majorities. Right now, we have a small majority in the Senate and we don’t control the House. Basically, in this situation, almost nothing can be accomplished, and even less can be accomplished on our terms. This is the context within which the president must perform. …

… I stopped being very idealistic when I finally got around to making myself understand our system of government. I don’t get disappointed by a whole lot because my expectations are so low. I see a real threat out there. I see a threat to our way of life and to all humanity, and it stares me in the face every single day. That threat isn’t coming from Barack Obama or the Democratic Party. It’s coming from the other side of the aisle. And insofar as the Democrats are failing to meet the challenge (and they are failing) the real culprit is deep and structural and ingrained in our system and in our laws.

You may have noticed that the right is engaged in this fight on a structural level. They go after the people who register voters. They pass laws making it harder to vote. They attack the unions. They attack MoveOn.org. They go after anyone in the media, be it Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, Phil Donahue, or Dan Rather who expresses any skepticism about the right. They built their own cable news station and took over the radio spectrum. They make it so corporations can give unlimited money anonymously. They are coming after us with real aggression, trying to make it impossible for even middle-of-the-road Bill Clinton-style Democrats to get elected in this country. If we want to defend ourselves and ever see real progressive change in this country, we have to fight on this structural stuff. In the meantime, we’re playing defense. And we can’t do much more than that.

So, I’m obviously troubled and concerned about our country and the future, but I am pretty clear-sighted about what our limitations are and why we have to settle for so little. Our problems are not one man’s fault. One man cannot fix them. But we also need to remember that we have one man standing between where we are now and an immeasurably worse situation. I think about that every day, too.

I will say it plain — any liberal seriously thinking about backing a primary challenge to Obama or a third party challenge to Democrats in in 2012 needs to haul his head out of his ass, and fast. If the goal is to make progressive change possible in the U.S., we need new grand strategy that involves attacking the systemic barriers to change.

Elections are important, too. But electing progressive candidates and sending them to Washington, and expecting them to change the system for us, is a little like hiring one knight after another to slay a knight-eating dragon. The result is a well-fed dragon. What else were you expecting?

I know some of you will start screaming about how we still need to throw all the bums out and send a whole new crew to Washington. OK, go ahead and send a new crew to Washington, and watch them all turn into dragon chow. And if we could magically create a brand new progressive third party to replace the Democrats, in a matter of months they would be indistinguishable from Democrats. Dragon Chow.

The question is, how to we break down the system? It has to happen from both the inside and outside, I think. Change from the inside means continuing to support the more progressive Democrats. But change from the outside requires popular support. Instead of complaining about Obama’s pandering to the mushy middle, we need to work on the mushy middle.

For example, Steve Benen writes that Paul Ryan’s constituents in Wisconsin are not happy with his plans for changing Medicare. However,

As Greg Sargent explained, “These folks are worried about doing away with Medicare as we know it, but they are grappling with whether or not this will be necessary to put the nation on firmer fiscal footing.”

Right. Reading the piece, it seems these folks want to do the right thing. They’re uncomfortable with an extreme overhaul of Medicare, but they’re willing to listen to what’s “absolutely necessary.”

But the point is, the privatization of Medicare isn’t “necessary” at all. It won’t even lower health care costs. Paul Ryan’s plan is ostensibly about debt reduction, but even that’s a charade — he’s going after entitlements and other domestic priorities while slashing tax rates for the rich.

I doubt very many of Ryan’s constituents are hearing the facts about the Ryan plan. How do we reach them? Some progressives always argue that “average” voters are idiots and we can’t expect them to know what they’re voting on. But if that’s true, why are we even trying to preserve a representative republic? The basis of the system we say we are trying to preserve is based on the notion that We, the People, are in this together and making decisions collectively.

In the U.S. there always seems to be an Idiot Block that amounts to one-fourth to one-third of voters. But that leaves us with a lot of voters who don’t focus on politics much but who could be educated if we could reach them. So how do we reach them? And what else can we do to break the system? That’s the discussion we ought to be having on the blogosphere, not whether Obama should be “primaried.”

Update: This is what we need to build on.

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38 thoughts on “Don’t Feed the Dragon

  1. I think a lot, if not almost all Americans who aren’t rich, feel that “something’s not right.”
    However, they never blame the right.
    And that’s because the right has been systematically creating and repeating meme’s that blame the left for everything. This has been going on for 30-40+ years.
    Here are just a few of the BS meme’s:
    -The Republicans are the party of fiscal sanity!
    Uhm, no. Reagan and the two Bush’s ran through money like Kamikaze pilots on their last leave before their final mission. Of course that money went to their corporate cronies. Also, needless wars and occupations. And a give away to Pharma. Also give aways to the military industrial complex and Big Agra. So, for 20 out of the last 30 years, massive deficits have been created under the cover of ‘fiscal sanity.’
    -The Republicans are the party of small businesses and their owners!
    Ask small businesses how they like their higher local taxes, after the Feds lowered their responsibilies in towns, counties, and cites. Also, look at health care costs, which no Republican adminstration since Nixon even looked at. Oh, and how much support did Obama’s tax cuts to small business owners get from Republicans?
    -The Republicans are the party of national security!
    Uhm, 9/11 anyone? Again, two needless wars and occupations that keep stirring up the Middle East. Also, too, Gitmo, and rendtions, to add a little more fuel to the fire.
    -The Democrats are the party of ‘tax and spend.’
    Well, yeah, but at least we tax to pay for what we want. See also Kamikazi pilot reference above when it comes to Republicans.

    So, people know ‘something’s not right.’ But, not one ever tells them what, and who caused the disaster.
    When Gore “lost,” we were told ‘To get over it!”
    When it comes to pointing blame at Bush and his Republican predecesors, we’re told, ‘Don’t look backwards, look forward!’

    Just to make my point clearer, it was 10 years ago (almost to the day) when that great Econonomic Sage, Seer, Wizard, and spouse of a MSM news/pundit star, Alan Greenspan, worried whether the surplus that Clinton left would put a crimp in the economy?
    Well, no worries anymore there.
    And yet, no one in the MSM makes it clear to people that exactly a decade ago, after a Democratic President, we had peace, and enough prosperity to have a surplus.
    And now, after 8 years of Republican rule, and the wars, occupations, and economic catastrophe’s, we are on the verge in insolvency?
    And this is the fault of who?
    Oh yeah, we’re told. The Democrats and Obama.

    Without somehow getting around the MSM and the right wing Wurlitzer, or co-opting it/creating our won, it’ll take another economic calamity, worse than 2008, to maybe make people realize who’s really at fault.
    And even then, people will be told it was Obama and the Democrats fault, that they were in charge – even if we’re lucky enough to postpone the disaster for years, and unlucky enough to have Republican “leadership” in the interim.
    People in America saw through this BS in 1932 and elected FDR, despite the best efforts by the Conservatives of that day to discredit him. But remember, we got lucky with FDR. Other nations like Italy, Japan, Germany and Spain went the Fascist route. And that may well happen here, with or without another economic collapse.

    But right now, we’re left with the oh-so seriously serious “Privatizing Ryan” plan to “reduce” the deficit.
    Did anyone see any MSM reactions to the following Liberal proposals? :

    http://tcf.org/publications/2010/11/investing-in-americas-economy-a-budget-blueprint-for-economic-recovery-and-fiscal-responsibility/pdf

    https://secure.mydccc.org/o/30047/images/Schakowsky%20Deficit%20Reduction%20Plan.pdf

    Yeah, me neither.
    Apparently, they called for tax increases on the rich and on corporations.

    Dragon must have got ’em!
    Dragons hates ’em any unserious tax increases.

  2. This morning I looked up the definition of a ‘banana republic’ (since it’s been intimated that we’re becoming one) and…

    A ‘banana republic’ is politically unstable dependent (in our case not bananas but the financial sector) and ruled by a small, self-selected, wealthy, corrupt politico-economic plutocracy or oligarchy.

    A collusion between the State favoured monopolies, whereby the profits derived from public exploitation of public (properties) is private property and the debts incurred are public responsibility.

    The national legislature is usually for sale and functions mostly as a ceremonial government. (Forget intimated, it may be upon us already.)

  3. The truth is that our government is set up to frustrate change.

    No, it’s setup to frustrate leftward change.
    DC and the Dems pretty much folded up like a Murphy Bed offering only the feeblest of speedbumps before the Cheney/Bush radical restructuring of the federal giovernment into corporate cronyism, regulatory nonfeasance, aggressive parochial stupidity and aggressive war. Yet changing things back is ten times harder.

    • No, it’s setup to frustrate leftward change.

      “Rightward change” is un-change; it is rolling back progressive changes to restore the government of the 1890s or so.

      DC and the Dems pretty much folded up like a Murphy Bed offering only the feeblest of speedbumps before the Cheney/Bush radical restructuring of the federal giovernment into corporate cronyism, regulatory nonfeasance, aggressive parochial stupidity and aggressive war. Yet changing things back is ten times harder.

      I think they could have held the line better than they did; the Iraq war resolution vote of October 2002 comes to mind. However, even then, 61 percent of House Democrats voted against resolution. Given the political climate post 9/11, that took some real courage. So how hard did the progressive left turn out to support those Democrats in the mid-term elections? I admit, I have no memory of that at all.

      We’re always complaining that Dems fold like a Murphy bed, but we don’t always acknowledge and reward them when they don’t. So what motivation do they have for listening to us?

  4. Forget intimated, it may be upon us already

    And if it’s not here already it’s fast approaching. I started sensing something peculiar years ago when I saw a building with a sign on it that read..Salvation Army Correctional Services ..AKA..State of Florida Dept of Probation.

    “Keep your head bowed and your eyes on the ground when the Major passes by, or you might find yourself in shackles headed to the big house.” And learn the words to Bringing in the Sheaves

  5. You may have noticed that the right is engaged in this fight on a structural level. They go after the people who register voters. They pass laws making it harder to vote. They attack the unions. They attack MoveOn.org. They go after anyone in the media, be it Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, Phil Donahue, or Dan Rather who expresses any skepticism about the right.

    I was thinking about this phenomenon earlier today; in particular, the higher-profile footsoldiers such as Breitbart and his catamite, O’Keefe, and how they’ve systematically targeted voices of the opposition (even just potential voices) with dirty tricks like Nixon’s-CREEP*-times-ten. And I was thinking how this is an essential tactic in establishing fascism. And then I threw up just a little bit, because that always happens when I have to think about Breitbart or O’Keefe.

    *Dear youngsters: CREEP = the Committee to Re-Elect the President, 1972.

  6. I never thought I live to see the day a black man would be elected to the office of President of the United States, or that that day would ever come in the history of our nation. What I try to understand is, is Obama’s election to that office a result of our nation moving forward progressively as a nation, or is it something in Obama’s character as a man that overcame that perceived impossibility? For some reason by what I am observing in our national character with it’s ingrained prejudices and willingness to tear down any attempts at enlightenment I just wonder how to attribute the fact of his being elected to office.

  7. Slogans first – we are too wordy. Think about the sound bite. Starting with slogans:
    Democrats: Party of Christ
    Republicans honor the “Trickle up Theory”
    Republicans: loyal as lap dogs
    Democrats help families

    Why Christ? I’m an atheist, except for the usual doubts, but I feel that the GOP should not be able to hijack “Christianity” for their own exclusive use. They don’t espouse many “Christian values”, yet no one opposes them, because Democrats are supposed to love all-comers, regardless of religion. I say use Christ/Jesus ideals because they are really democratic ideals. That wouldn’t limit the Dems to ONLY “Christianity,” just make people aware (how many people are “Christians” in the US?) that we have many of their morals and values.

    The rest of the slogans: repeat, repeat, repeat. Anyone else come up with better ones? I want to get this party on the road.

  8. criticizing Obama doesn’t mean that you want him to lose. I’m sure some of the left do, but to look back at the past two years ans conclude Obama did everything he could and used every resource available to him and any failures or shortcomings should be absolved and blamed on the “system” is ludicrous. You can argue whether or not he could have done more but to suggest that those who criticize him only do it to throw hissy fits is disingenous. They do it because they believe he could have gotten more and they’re as entitled to their opinion as you are to yours.

    • criticizing Obama doesn’t mean that you want him to lose.

      Once again, I’m fine with people criticizing Obama. What sets me off are people on the Left demonizing Obama, saying he is no different from Bush and deserves to be replaced without taking into consideration the circumstances in which he is functioning.

      but to look back at the past two years ans conclude Obama did everything he could and used every resource available to him and any failures or shortcomings should be absolved and blamed on the “system” is ludicrous.

      I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that.

      What did I say? Do you even have a clue?

      I don’t think he’s done everything he could do; I think many things could have been done better. But perpetually sliming him from the Left is counter-productive and is not going to change the circumstances that are pushing him Right.

      Next time you misrepresent what I say you are banned, btw. I don’t have the patience for it.

  9. “We can try to move the Overton Window, but what is actually achievable in Washington DC is extremely limited.”

    I have two thoughts on the Overton Window. First, there should be a way of widening it, of getting more ideas into public discourse, rather than just shifting it one way or the other. Second, how does it move? Who moves it?

    I’ve been watching US politics from Germany for the last eight years (I’m a US citizen living in Germany), and their system seems to handle this better than the American system. The key is proportional representation in parliament. Any party that gets five percent of the vote gets a seat. A few years ago members of the SPD grew frustrated with their leadership and teamed up with members of the Communist Party to form a new one, Die Linke (The Left; Imagine how far a party with that name would get in the US.)
    At first, the other parties refused to deal with them and few people voted for them. Now they are seated in thirteen of the sixteen state parliaments, and part of the ruling coalition in two.
    The key is that it only takes five percent to be seated. This has two effects.
    One, it makes it easier to get new ideas into public circulation. This widens the Overton Window. No one has to win an absolute majority to be heard. Granted, their voices are not particularly loud at first, but they are there.
    Two, when the other parties start seeing that people vote for new ideas from the other end of the political spectrum, it puts pressure on the them to reconsider their own platforms, and can force them to moderate some of their more radical ideas, This narrows the Overton window. These two effects, widening one end of the window and narrowing the other, move it.

    It seems to me that over the last thirty or fourty years the window has moved in only one direction in the US. This would be a way of making it possible to move it in the other.
    I have no idea how to make this happen.

  10. I’m no longer sure it’s a mistake to primary Obama from the left. Obama did show us in ’08 that he can weather a primary challenge. This time, maybe, an underdog candidate who got a surprising mount of positive feedback on the campaign trail for positions that fall outside the current Overton window (end the wars, jail some bankers) could actually get some attention from campaign-trail journalists. That might help make some of these ideas acceptable, the way Howard Dean helped make opposing the war acceptably mainstream in late ’03. And then maybe Obama will pick up on the messages.

    Naive hope? Maybe, but there it is.

  11. I am going to approach this from a totally different angle.

    Every event, from Nebuchanezzar to Jesus to Martin Luther to the U.S. Civil War to today and any item in between that you care to mention was motivated by money or what ever it was that money symbolized such as power.

    And Obama in the post-Citizens United decision wants to raise one billion dollars from mostly large donors.

    All of us on the left, from the Obamabots to the Obamabashbots don’t add up to a hill of beans unless we can corral enough money to make an impression on the Obama campaign.

    Shrill folks standing on the sidewalk as the parade goes by are wasting their breath. And I’m sure that Obama has several thousand donors who have ten times the available cash than the combined total of everybody who reads this.

    There is no sense in primarying him. It won’t make any diff. A 3rd party candidate is a waste of time.

    What can be done to break the system in Wash, DC. Other than overturning Citizens United by legislating, I do not know.

  12. Of course you can criticize him for not breaking out of the status quo. The entire POINT of his election was to break out of the status quo. He was not sent to increase the surveillance state or cut taxes to rich or embrace the policies the Left has spent 30 years fighting to prevent. You’re not just complaining about unjust criticism, you’re complaining about criticism for not doing the things he was sent to Washington to do and assured us he COULD do. No one made him refuse to fight or attack his base or screw up political opportunities. If it walks like Bush and talks like Bush then it gets criticized like Bush. Giving him complete control over the government certainly didn’t do it and God only knows what he’ll capitulate on after losing the House. If the carrots don’t work you use the stick. He made his choices and those choice have to have consequences or the Left’s going to spend every two years getting thrown under the bus til the end of time.

    • The entire POINT of his election was to break out of the status quo.

      Anyone who thought that could happen just by changing who sits in the White House was naive. I admit I had hoped for more, but I never thought that the election of 2008 was anything but a first, small step.

      So Obama has fallen short of what he had hoped. What are we going to do about that? The unrelenting, screaming derision from some parts of the Left has had the effect of pushing him further right, IMO. Like it or not, the Affordable Care Act is the most ambitiously progressive legislation enacted since Lyndon Johnson was president. Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter didn’t accomplish anything even close. Sure it could have been better, but in the current political climate it was still a huge accomplishment. But the “professional left” just trashed it and and worked to kill it.

      So, now, why should he listen to the Left? Instead, he’s doing his best to stay in the middle, and I can understand why he might see that as his only political option, if his so-called “progressive base” is going to turn on him and bite him no matter what he does, why should we expect to have any influence?

      Giving him complete control over the government certainly didn’t do it and God only knows what he’ll capitulate on after losing the House. If the carrots don’t work you use the stick. He made his choices and those choice have to have consequences or the Left’s going to spend every two years getting thrown under the bus til the end of time.

      This tells me you have absolutely no idea how the federal government works. No president has “complete control over the government.” Presidents have very little actual power. There is little they can do that doesn’t involve getting Congress to approve it.

      But your comment is exactly what is making me crazy. How ill informed, how naive, could you have been? And so your naive and unrealistic expectations weren’t met, and there you are whining and crying like a baby. I’m utterly disgusted with you.

      He made his choices and those choice have to have consequences or the Left’s going to spend every two years getting thrown under the bus til the end of time.

      I’d say the Left threw him under the bus first, apparently by people who slept through high school government class.

  13. Chief definitely gets at something there. The politicians are one thing, but there is a gazillion dollars just out of sight there, ready to make sure things come out in a big bidness friendly way. That is a formidable enemy.

    The Obama administration does things that make me cringe everyday (just arrested a doc in MI for prescribing mj), and Obama himself gives me heartburn almost weekly. But somehow, things don’t come out anywhere near as bad as predicted.

    Obama is often (constantly?) criticized from the left for “accepting the right’s framing” (eg, like right now on the deficit). But Obama is actually pretty good at defusing a frame of its ideological baggage.

    Which is to say that even when I’m afraid he’s doing the wrong thing I now keep my mouth shut. He’s proved himself smarter than me a whole lot of times already.

  14. Greetings from the Great Going-Right North!

    We are in the midst of a federal election and the Conservatives (tepid by Tea Party standards, but moving ever-rightward) seem very much in charge of the game. They’ve been in power, but with a minority government, for the last five years and are hoping to make it into majority territory on May 2. It is truly frightening.

    cund gulag’s memes apply just as much to our country as to yours. The Conservatives appeal to people’s need for stability and cast the opposition parties as “tax and spenders” and their tactics are working.

    We have a much more fractured political landscape here in Canada than in the States. There are two major parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals, who’ve been trading spots as the governing party throughout our history. Then there’s the New Democratic Party (NDP), which is truly a left of centre party. We also have a separatist party, the Bloc québécois, which takes most of the seats in Quebec and the Greens, who can’t elect anyone in our first past the post system, but who nevertheless got almost a million votes in the last election. In the past five years, the Conservatives have never made it past 40%, but with our parliamentary system, they have managed to stay in power.

    I was brought up NDP and taught that there was very little difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives. I still believe there is much truth to this. However, the Conservatives are swiftly moving into Tea party territory and it’s terrifying how they are just champing at the bit, waiting to win a majority and tear our social safety net and solid banking system apart for the betterment of their business cronies and fundamentalist, anti-abortion supporters. The Liberals are looking better and better in comparison.

    Hard as it is for me, I will be voting Liberal this year. The barbarians are at the gates.

  15. JR: Giving him complete control over the government…. There is the fallacy in a nutshell.

    Bush didn’t get all he wanted. He couldn’t get to 60 on the tax cuts, and that’s why they’re not permanent already. He couldn’t get anywhere on privatising Social Security, and that was his number one priority for his 2nd term.

  16. And btw, we didn’t send a knight to kill a dragon. We sent a king and the resources that come with him.

    • We sent a king and the resources that come with him.

      You really did sleep through high school government class. Good-bye.

  17. I was going to say your comments drive me crazy too but this is getting way too testy for me. So let me say you’re comments are the type that frustrate me instead. I do not believe the expectations we voted or were unrealistic or else why vote for him? Why send a President to Washiington if you didn’t expect him to the things you sent him there to do? Does the President have ANY responsibilities to his own re-election campaign? All I see are people telling the Left to give up their principles and vote for him anyways? Why is Obama never expected to earn those votes?

    • I was going to say your comments drive me crazy too but this is getting way too testy for me. So let me say you’re comments are the type that frustrate me instead. I do not believe the expectations we voted or were unrealistic or else why vote for him?

      One more time: Because it was a step. A larger step would have been nice, but with what we’re facing we should expect to take several years, several elections, to climb out of the hole.

  18. JR: please find an example from history where wish-fulfillment turned out to be a viable strategy.

  19. Maha said: Presidents have very little actual power.

    Bush had no problem using his “very little actual power” to have people seized and shipped off to torture centers in remote parts of the world. I think we’d all be better off today if Obama used his “very little actual power” to have the Koch boys renditioned to some dark basement cell in Yemen. And no, I am not joking about this.

    We need to be honest about who we are dealing with. The small oligarchy that now runs America are simply fascists, and they don’t differ much from fascists in the past. They are ruthless, greedy, and willing to use any tactic from rigging elections to murder, acts of war and torture. The fact that torture is generally pointless doesn’t matter – it’s purpose is to spread fear, and give the rulers the “joy” of absolute power over their helpless victims. The suffering they cause doesn’t bother their conscience anymore than it did Hitler’s. The modern-day term for these people is “sociopaths.”

    There is plenty that Obama could have done if he was willing to use the dictatorial powers that Bush bequeathed him, but he won’t because he’s such a nice guy. Remember the old adage that “nice guys finish last.” As someone else said a few days ago, Obama comes to a gunfight with a butter knife. His opponents have no such weakness.

    If you are right, Maha, that Obama is “as good as it gets,” then we’ve lost. There is simply no hope for bringing back the kind of America we had in the 1970s. But the one weakness of fascist dictatorships is that they become bankrupt and unstable, and eventually collapse, especially when they engage in military adventures. We might as well have Sarah Palin as president, to speed up the process of the USA’s unraveling. Out of the rubble, maybe something good can come. Unfortunately, when the system goes down, a lot of innocent people will go down with it.

    Sorry if my comments don’t brighten your day. Doesn’t brighten my day either. I try to distract myself from politics with various chores. Today I’ve got a motorcycle to repair and a lawn to mow. Hope your day will be good.

    cheers,
    Candide (the Optimist)

    • Bush had no problem using his “very little actual power” to have people seized and shipped off to torture centers in remote parts of the world.

      He could do that because the system let him do it. Congress supported everything he wanted. News media covered his ass. Bush got away with a lot of stuff outside the constitutional bounds of his office, because the system allowed it. Obama doesn’t have those advantages.

      I think we’d all be better off today if Obama used his “very little actual power” to have the Koch boys renditioned to some dark basement cell in Yemen. And no, I am not joking about this.

      We’re not going to defeat the fascists by turning into them.

  20. Instead of arguing about the past, let’s look forward. Recent happenings in Wisconsin, Ohio, etc., are making the climate good for the Democrats. The Republicans have definitely overreached; and, we need to capitalize on that. I plan to vote for Obama again; and, to vote every Republican out who is within my voting territory. I believe that that is going to happen all over the country because most Americans have seen what real thugs and liars the Republicans are. And, mostly, many Americans have seen the Republicans really and truly trash all the things that are important in the average person’s life. The Repugs vote against unions, which is a vote against America, they want us to only work at jobs that pay so little we can’t live. They don’t want us to health care. I think a lot of Americans have had their eyes opened very wide all of sudden. We can take advantage by supporting our President and working to remove Republicans at every opportunity and putting a Democrat in. We have an open door and we all need to rush through it and grab the gold ring. And, one more thing, all American women should remember that the Republicans HATE women.

  21. I think we’d all be better off today if Obama used his “very little actual power” to have the Koch boys renditioned to some dark basement cell in Yemen. And no, I am not joking about this.

    Yikes.

  22. People: we have a healthcare bill. That’s better than ANY administration (dem or repug) was able to accomplish since Harry Truman. O is actually getting a fair amount done, given the structural power of the authoritarian right. If you want to fix blame, I’d say we should have filbustered that moron Scalito. I mean, that guy argued the stupid side of the Casey case. Had we had a moderate in the Scotus, we wouldn’t have had Citizens United.

  23. I’m with JR on this. There were a number of key opportunities where the system was basically on its knees and Obama could’ve made some pretty sweeping changes, but he chose not to. He had all the momentum, but he chose to stay with the status quo, contrary to the visions of Change his campaign carefully planted in everyone’s heads. I don’t buy that he’s quite the victim of circumstance as you’ve portrayed him above. Rather, I’ve come to see that he sees little or nothing wrong with what he’s done, and the base be damned. And the base be damned.

    That said, I don’t need to go around and write a lot of negative stuff about him. If he runs again in 2012, I’ll no doubt vote for the guy instead of the Republican freak. I certainly won’t waste any time on a third party candidate – learned my lesson on that in 2000. I’m ambivalent about whether he should be primaried from the left – part of me says it’d be a good idea, part of me says he’s going to need every last bit of resource for the fall election.

    I will say that I haven’t listened to hardly any of his speeches since he was elected. It’s just empty words to me at this point. I’m doing my damned best to get my life together so I can get the hell out of the country or make the best of it if I must remain. Politics in America is broken, voting is almost pointless (and I know with that I’ve struck a nerve) – but it’s really a question of how fast do you want the plane to crash into the ground and how hard. I suppose with a Democrat like Obama at the controls we might hit at 260 mph instead of 480.

  24. The big problem is how this election is being framed. Right now, they have Obama running against himself and loosing. That’s the strategy of the far left and the right. It’s working. The campaign is on to get voters to reject Obama before the GOP holds their first offering.

    Not a bad strategy considering what the GOP is offering. No one is challenging the premise.

    I don’t care if Atila the Hun is running for office. I won’t decide to vote for or against him until I know who he’s running against. No one is giving Obama that.

  25. “We could bring back FDR himself, and in the current political climate, he’d be just as hogtied”

    I agree the wing-nuts own everything, the media, the discourse, at least half of the Democratic Party. One thing Obama could do is speak the fuck up, say something, tell the truth. That’s the real disappointment, he’s turned into a fucking mute, as each day passes he’s more and more like Harry Reid, fucking worthless, what is the point?

    “We’ve got a status quo that even a president can’t break out of”

    I’ve said this before, the only way to beat the right-wing in this country is to put them all in office. Let them have it all it’s the only way, as long as they can blame the left for every negative they will, and we will buy every last word hook line and sinker.

  26. We liberals will never win this fight, we should just let the knuckle draggers win. They will self-destruct in time, our chanting on the sidelines only lends an air of creditability, then they can keep punching us. The quickest path to victory is to stay at home. Sit down and shut up. Better yet encourage the teabaggers at every corner. Go Teabaggers Go, Go Teabaggers Go! I just turned fifty and I don’t want anything from the Government, I think it best to turn it all over to our markets, they are exceptionable. Yeah fifteen years, I got plenty of time to save a few million dollars, and should I get diagnosed with something dreadful, well too fucking bad, the voucher’s only good if you aint sick. And as long as I got someone to Vouch for me, why don’t you see its free!

    So quit fucking complaining, lets just get on about some good old fashion suffering, the sooner the better.

  27. Great comments, everyone! For me..I’m sticking with him because I see him as the best hope out there. I still see him as sincere and honest. And I don’t think he should bear the blame for the corruption of the system.

    Doug Hughes comment stood out as something to seriously consider..”The campaign is on to get voters to reject Obama before the GOP holds their first offering”.

  28. I also think Obama’s doing the best that he can. And I also think he’s the best hope out there as well, Swami.

    As for speaking out against the corruption of the system, and the other party, he could be giving at least 10 speeches a day. He’s got to pick and choose his spots to make his point. He’ll be giving one today, and I’ll be listening. If he decides to go the ‘A-hole Simpson/Festering Boils’ route to the deficit, I’ll be plenty pissed. But I’ll wait until I hear from him.

    On last quick point, and I’ve said it before, it seems like a lot of people on the left want a Little Boots of their own.
    Remember, up until 9/11 he was a flailing and failing President who looked like the sure one term failure he was going to be. Then he got his ‘perfect storm,’ the people got behind him initially (as they should, until he proved to be what he proved to be), he (or rather, the people behind him) manipulated the media, and then, with a compliant and complicit MSM, a scared public, and a Congress with enough willing accomplices, he ran roughshod through the Constitution.
    Do we really want Obama to be like that?
    History has shown that dicatatorships from the left are just as bad as dictatorships from the right.
    We need to figure out how to strip Citizens United, and work on getting better Liberals and Progressives in ALL levels of government -local, state, and federal.

    I’m still more pissed than I am depressed about what’s happened in the last 30 years. I worry about the time in the future when enough of us liberal-leaning people become more depressed than pissed.
    That’s what the right is depending on. They’re pissed 24x7x365. We’ve got to match that, or come close.
    Obama ain’t no Liberal Saint. He’ll never be one. But right now, he’s the one standing between us and the Republican Party – with a weak Senate at his side. A party that can control all levels of government if it keeps the House, and regains the Senate and the Presidency in 2012. For people hoping for this as a lesson to the people everywhere, I say, be careful what you wish for. The Republicans as currently constituted, are Fascists and absolutists. Sure, people may find that they’ve learned a lesson if these assholes win, but find that there’s nothing they can do about it. Do you really think they’ll let ‘everyone’ vote again if they win? Enough. I don’t feel like writing a long screed here – this one’s long enough.
    We need to do everything we can to keep Republicans from gaining all of the power in the Federal Government in 2012. Then we concentrate on 2014, ’16, etc. One election at a time.

  29. maha’s 10:49 pm comment should remind us all that from the outset that Obama’s biggest ‘problem’ has been the blue-dog Democrats. FDR got amazing cooperation from Congress. Without it, his record achievements would have never happened.

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