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The Barefoot Bum

"...it's important that we elect a Democrat as President..."

I'm coming to the contrary opinion: I don't think it's particularly important, and I don't think it will have much of a long-term effect. I'm not convinced that even Paul or Giuliani would be especially bad.

None of the candidates — not even Paul — will end the war with Iraq nor will any avoid (or end, if Bush starts one) war with Iran. None will take the necessary steps to repair the consumer economy, strengthen the middle class, further energy independence, nor slow global warming and environmental degradation. All will further erode civil liberties. None will close Guantanmo or end torture.

The issues we're facing are much too big for any one person, even as President, to have much effect. Nor should we expect or even want them to: The American political process is not about any one person's will, it's about implementing the large-scale political will of the nation, especially the economic and social powers. And these powers and a substantial fraction of the people all want an authoritarian government; an authoritarian government is what we will have.

In whatever sense a Democrat might be "less bad" (e.g. Clinton might not torture quite as many people or funnel quite as much money to corporate cronies as Giuliani), the subsequent administration, by blaming precisely that "less badness" for the problems that will inevitably occur, would be just as bad as if we just threw in the towel in November and elected Giuliani.

merciless

Bbum, those were precisely the arguments we were having in 2000. Gore was a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporate interests, just as Bush was. It would make no difference whatsoever who took the White House, since either's administration would be a muddling, middle of the road, corrupt enterprise.

I'm confident that history has proved otherwise, since I cannot imagine Gore reacting to 9/11, for instance, in the same way that Bush did (just as I could not have imagined Bush reacting the way he did). Our country would be a much different place now, because of that one person, that one change.

I'm the most pessimistic person I know, but I can't give up on America. I just can't make myself do it.

The Barefoot Bum

merciless: I think your argument fails to hold water on two counts.

The fact that the same argument was made in 2000 and was incorrect (or so we suppose; we can only speculate as to what Gore might have done as President) is not a very good evidence that the same argument is incorrect today. Conditions are very different: the political environment, the particular candidates, and both parties' recent history.

Furthermore, I don't think we can have any clear idea about how Gore would have responded to 9/11, or the effects of that response. Would he have been overly aggressive (cough Kennedy)? Had he responded sensibly and rationally, would he have been reelected in 2004, or would he have been defeated (cough Carter)? Would we have ended up with a Bush or Giuliani emboldened and empowered by Gore's political failure (cough Reagan)?

And it is still true that Gore was indeed a corporatist shill in 2000. He's not one now, perhaps, but only because he isn't actually President.

In any event, I don't think the GOP expects to win this election; if they're smart, they're engaging in a strategic retreat. To allow them an orderly retreat and time to regroup — which all the Democratic candidates appear to be doing — should be considered an important "victory" only in the most superficial, trivial sense.

Ken

So many great points. I just got into a fight with an anti-war group. Their claim. Democrats killed the unions. And, every Dem in the House and Senate voted for it. I tried to explain, the Dems are not crossing the picket line in the Writers strike, and my Senator and Congressman voted against the war. Not to mention, my soon to be Senator, Obama appeared at anti-war rallies. Still they tell me he is pro-war.

So that is what we are up against. Even among Progressives.

Your greatest point, and I mean huge is, we have to get more Senators and Congressman. To much time is wasted fighting Bush. There are many issues that America needs to change, and it will only happen with more votes in Congress.

One more, and sorry for talking about Obama again, but he adressed this in a townhall. Someone asked about health care and getting out of Iraq. He could have just yelled, out of Iraq, and everyone would have went nuts.

No, he explained. We need more votes. We have to get more Dems in the Congress. And health care, we will have to fight the insurance companies. And it will not be as easy as some think.

Chris the Cop

I thought Richardson also advocated getting out of Iraq right away.

With respect to Roosevelt, the Democratic platform of 1932 was actually conservative: it advocated a balanced budget, lower tariffs, the repeal of prohibition and ending the gold standard. There were other components to it that might not be considered 'conservative' today: extending federal credit to states to alleviate unemployment as well as unemployment insurance, but they were hardly novel ideas at the time to either party. Republicans likely knew that for Roosevelt to win all he really had to do was --as his running mate put it--"stay alive until Election Day." Hoover ran against him and lost 472-59 in the Electoral College.

Just as the Democrats blamed Hoover for the Depression, remember how hard the Republicans tried to blame Clinton-Gore for 9-11 even though they were out of office? How much harder (and more successful) would they have been if Gore had been president during the attacks? The Democratic pary would have been in disarray for years.


jillbryant

Lance, you reminded me of Mark Twain's story where he talked about men being great by their nature but the times just give them the opportunity; that one of the greatest war strategists of all times never got to utilize his skills because he lived in a time of peace but he was highly celebrated for his abilities in heaven.

What is amazing and really sad to me is how I am hoping Hillary doesn't get the nomination. Sad because:
1) On her own strengths, I do think there is the possibility she could be a great president.
2) She has Bill as a supporter and consultant. It would be incredible to have a president willing and able to utilize such close access to a former experienced and successful president.
3) A woman president in the U.S. As a female, even considering this IS pretty amazing and I would love to see it. I've doubted it could happen here - I figured, yes, male voters would be against it, but, I think women would probably be even harder on a woman.

That said ----

I am so sick of the Republican endless whining and complaining and twisting of reality and just plain media noise....and, if Hillary got in it would rise to a pitch that would be insufferable. Their yammering has been hard enough to take when they've had so little to push with their incompetent and indefensible Republican President and (for a majority of a time) Republican Congress taking this country down the tubes (and BTW Chris the Cop - off the top and ignoring the rest, what makes a balanced budget a conservative agenda?) O'Reilly et al. must be salivating at the idea of a Democrat coming into office into a completely f@#$%ed up economy, world position, you name it, it's bad...they will now be screaming and pointing fingers all over the place.

I thought Clinton basically was a great President. I don't agree with everything he did but, he also was dealing with a strong Republican Congress and I don't expect to agree with everything a President does. (Rwanda was and is a problem for me, though.) But, I was soooooo tired of hearing about Monica and the blue stained dress, I thought, thank goodness, at least that public haranguing will be over. (If, for once, they would acknowledge that Greed is a sin, too, maybe I'd find their obsession with Lust less hard to stomach.)

But, now, anyone following Bush is going to have an incredibly difficult road. I was kind of hoping Edwards would be the candidate to choose but, to your points...it's true. Would he be ineffectual?

I am so worn down by (as digby says) the Republican support team wanting us to ignore our own eyes and believe what they say. I just want them to shut up but there's too much money for them in it.

And, I'm with you, merciless. Sarah Vowell said she was just slightly worried when Bush came into office --- having suffered a complete failure of pessimistic imagination. No one could've done a worse job of handling 9/11 than Bush - the utter squandering of the unity that tragedy brought about - both here and abroad - was just the beginning of the high level of diplomatic incompetence that can be clearly attributed to the executive branch ---- not to mention everything else he's done.

David

jillbryant, I have to admit, I don't really understand your argument. You say you don't want Hillary to win because you're sick of all the Republican noise, and if Hillary wins it'll just get that much louder, but... well, you said it yourself: their yammering is insufferable as it is now. Do you really think it'll get any quieter if any Democrat becomes president? Are you saying that you'd rather a different Democratic candidate win because, while the Republicans will become even noisier, it still won't be as noisy as if Clinton wins, and so you're willing to put up with some level of increased noisiness, but not that much? Or are you saying that we should just give in so that the Republicans will be quiet, even though though Bush has been the president for the last 7 years, and they've still been noisy.

Again, you said it yourself: the Republicans aren't going to shut up. They're going to whine and complain and lie and smear and be as loud and vicious and hypocritical as they have been, no matter what. So I don't understand your argument.

Chris the Cop

Jillbryant - historically, it's been a more central theme of the Republican party than the Democrats. Deficit spending initially was a Democratic invention (The New Deal)- the GOP just perfected it.

jillbryant

Chris the Cop -
I didn't realize that's the way the New Deal was managed - I suppose during the Depression, other things had to come first. Since their management not only got us through the Depression but, was the roots for the (formerly strong) American middle class, I guess I have to think differently about a "balanced budget."

David -
What I was saying is that the Republicans have broken me down to the point that I am NOT rooting for the candidate (Hillary) that, under normal circumstances, I had at least three reasons I would be very happy to support because - yes - the pitch of their hatred for Clinton in particular will be absolutely deafening. Yes, it will be bad for any Democrat - I know that - but nothing like Hillary. The divisiveness they have managed to instill so deeply in this country has used the Clintons as a rallying cry and it's going to be ugly. I don't think the Republican talking heads and their Red State followers will have quite as much collective vitriol for anyone else.

David

So you really were saying what I thought you were saying. You've actually let the Republicans bully you into not supporting Clinton on the grounds that maybe we'll have "peace in our time." Wow, that's... weak.

jillbryant

That I am mentally choosing a compromise candidate in the PRIMARY (I'm in California so, all discussions at this point are quite academic) is equivalent to Neville Chamberlain giving up a country to an invading nation? Wow - you have a future as a Republican pundit. I won't even begin to tell you why I'm not (mentally) voting for Kucinich.

BTW - taking away all the Republican garbage and still looking at my three reasons to support Hillary, would I then be a huge, Hillary-touting advocate....um, don't know about that either. As Jimmy Carter said last election, I'm going to support the candidate I think can win.

David

You really consider what you've described to be a compromise? A compromise is when each side gives up some of what they want. What is the other side supposed to be giving up in this case? And yes, the analogy is apt, and I'm pretty sure you get it. Is saying I have a future career as a pundit supposed to hurt? Is it supposed to make me suddenly realize the error of my ways? Because you flat out said that the Republican noise machine has beat you down, so to me this sounds like you can't defend your position.

Also, whether or not you would have supported Hillary otherwise isn't the issue, since you were talking specifically about why you wouldn't be voting for Hillary.

jillbryant

The other side is giving up the election. They are getting a Democratic candidate that middle America, who is close to feeling like, even an abortion-loving, gay-supporting Democrat would be better than what we have...these are Republicans who feel like the elitist Democrats ignore what the real people of America want (because that is what the Noise Machine tells them)...a candidate that they would vote for. Will they vote for Hillary? David Brooks says yes but....is he right and is he telling us the truth? My friend's father-in-law - multi-millionaire Republican - confided in me a few years back that he gave money to Dean's campaign - he and his friends - because that is the candidate they wanted because they knew they could beat him. BTW, I believe compromise candidates are fairly common. You did read my Jimmy Carter quote, right?

You think the analogy is apt? Huh. Interesting. Then, for example, what about when Clarke told Clinton they were almost sure they had OBL and could go after him but...because the Republicans had been dogging him, Clinton now needed to feel 100% positive or he wouldn't risk it. What would your analogy be there?

Yep - gotta admit, the Republican pundit comment is an insult.

jello

Obama, who had been positioning himself as the candidate of a new politics and a new way, has been more and more sounding as if his idea of a new politics is the same as David Broder's.

i'm assuming you're referring to his call for bipartisanship. yeah, this used to spook me too. but then i started thinking about it. i think obama is speaking to something larger than legislative cooperation. he has to reassure people who worry that he would only be preoccupied with so called black issues. not everybody understands that issues such as living wage, affordable housing and quality education are universial. this unity message is his way of reasurring people that he would govern inclusively.

jello

Obama, who had been positioning himself as the candidate of a new politics and a new way, has been more and more sounding as if his idea of a new politics is the same as David Broder's.

i'm assuming you're referring to his call for bipartisanship. yeah, this used to spook me too. but then i started thinking about it. i think obama is speaking to something larger than legislative cooperation. he has to reassure people who worry that he would only be preoccupied with so called black issues. not everybody understands that issues such as living wage, affordable housing and quality education are universial. this unity message is his way of reasurring people that he would govern inclusively.

Lance

jello, good points. Actually, though, when I wrote this post I was thinking of how Obama had managed all by himself to put Social Security back on the table and how the Beltway Insiders just salivate over the prospect of privatizing it. Now I'm concerned by his dustup with Paul Krugman and the fact that as Ezra Klein reports his health care plan not only doesn't have a mechanism for achieving universal coverage, Obama's been criticizing such mechanisms apparently on principle. As Ezra says, "Obama's rhetoric has become much, much worse than his plan."

Tom W.

Lancelot - I agree with most of your premise, but was stuck on one sentence I couldn't get past:

"Hillary Clinton is the least progressive of the three Democratic front-runners."

I do not believe this to be true. She may not be as progressive as John Edwards' rhetoric, but Edwards has been in the wilderness now for years and is running from the left - it's a shift from his actual career in government.

Obama, on domestic issues, is running to the right of Clinton. His health care plan is far less ambitious and progressive as Hillary's, and he's been center-right on gay rights. He "looks" progressive, but I don't think he passes the policy test at all. HRC's the real liberal in the race, to me.

On foreign policy, she appears to be to the right of both guys - but again, part of it is the fact that she actually cast votes, didn't skip them or duck them. Do i agree with her? No. But it's sickening to hear an erstwhile "liberal" like Barack Obama compare her to Cheney and Bush.

Sickening - and to me, disqualifying.

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