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Monday, June 11, 2012

Must-Read BooMan

What BooMan said:
[T]he Obama administration has… expressed the hope that having a good election night in November might "break the fever" that has overtaken the right and get them to come to the table with a more reasonable set of demands next year. This hope has been received with open derision on the left because it is assumed that the administration is as hopelessly naïve as they sound… Let me be blunt. Not only would it be a bad idea for the president to suggest that our present gridlock might remain unchanged in his second term, that simple idea represents the single biggest danger to his reelection prospects. Mitt Romney has only one compelling argument for his presidency. His platform of programs is unpopular. He can't compete with the president for coolness or popularity. He didn't get bin-Laden. His business record is as much a liability as an asset. He's a gaffe machine. His one and only compelling argument is that he might be better able to work with the Democrats (who, at least, believe in governance) than Obama has been able to work with Republicans. Never mind the deeply troubling implications… that no Democratic president can govern this country because the GOP won't allow it, and that, therefore, we must only elect Republican presidents. It doesn't matter if the strategy is dishonorable. All that matters is that… nothing else has much of a chance of convincing people that Romney would be preferable to Obama. For the president to buy into that idea for even one moment would be beyond irresponsible. It would be borderline suicidal. And, yet, the left wants him to make a variant of that argument. Instead of bitching at him for alleged naïvete, we should be saluting him for his political acumen.
Read the whole thing, the opening paragraphs are a concise set of reminders of some of the context without which one cannot hope properly to read "the real intentions" or assess "the actual accomplishments" of any Administration whatever its spin literally says from moment to moment.


Anonymous said...

I think the liberal reaction you criticize is mainly a symptom of the breakdown of trust between the President and his base.

Still, the presidency is a unique office, subject to political constraints and yet also also powerful enough to change the terms of the national debate. When the President speaks of working with implacable bullies, he risks validating their extremist behavior. Today's radicals become tomorrow's moderates as the parameters of debate shift to the right, yet again. The kicker is that if the President wins re-election, it is highly doubtful that the GOP will consider compromise on his terms. In this environment, hopeful talk of compromise mainly serves to:

1) make the President look like a wimp;
2) make his supporters suspicious that they are about to get screwed;
3) elevate the scorched-earth neo-confederate opposition (however unintentionally)

In your defense, I realize that much of this is beyond the control of the administration. For various reasons, few in government or media are willing to call out GOP extremism. It's so much easier to stand above the fray and complain about how "both sides do it," and anyway, "we're a center-right country." The rot goes very deep...

jollyspaniard said...

I think he's in a better bargaining position than a lot of people give him credit for.

BTW I suspect if more people voted in the US you'd find that rightward slide you mention reversing itself quite dramaticaly.

Dale Carrico said...

if the President wins re-election, it is highly doubtful that the GOP will consider compromise on his terms

That is why it is crucial to do what we can to retain the Senate and retake the House, and a Presidential victory with coattails is one of the best ways to do this.

If supporters of his think they are getting screwed by him merely because he has to govern with the Congress he actually has, then yes they are going to get screwed, they should not suspect this they should know it, and I guess they need to give up on living in a representative democracy and become armed revolutionaries instead or something. What you call a breakdown in "trust" between the president and his base bespeaks to me too often a kind of willful ignorance on the part of the base about the Constitutional role of the Executive branch (and, no, I am not saying he is helpless I am saying there are real constraints) and a confusion about the policies Obama actually ran on.

I'm a sustainable secular social democrat or democratic socialist who votes for and supports Democrats -- but I never mistook the President for anything like that nor do I think this country (which I agree with you is far from a "center-right" country or any of the bollocks) would elect a President who was any time soon. I think the reason it is perfectly true to say that Obama is the most progressive president since FDR -- and well worth supporting (truly horrific expansion of the Unitary Executive through militarist-enabling dismantlement of civil liberties notwithstanding) -- is mostly a testament to how terrible our presidency is rather than to how awesome Obama is.

In any case, I daresay anything that wouldn't get called being a "wimp" would get Obama called "desperate" "losing his cool" "unpresidential" with a subtext of "angry black man" leading every sensitive intelligent person in the country into complete insensate rage or utter demoralization.

I totally disagree that anything Obama does or does not do will elevate or diminish the scorched-earth neo-confederate opposition. They Republicans are where they are: a white-racist anti-secularist patriarchal cohort facing demographic marginalization fighting The Last Battle with ferocious discipline and surreal hostilty funded by plutocrats who use them as their usefully idiotic muscle. The only way to break to fever-dream of the anti-civilizational Movement Republican moment is to marginalize them into harmlessness through literally beating them.

I think the base needs to grasp that self-preservation alone requires we move beyond our suspicions and real slights into strong support of the President's re-election. This is far from the only thing we can do in the way of big picture education, agitation, organization, but anything that might reduce the chances of getting Democrats elected in November is just about the most unproductive thing anybody could be doing right now. Nobody's good enough, but we need the best actually available material on hand to work with in the coming years or we're seriously in the shit.

Dale Carrico said...

if more people voted in the US you'd find that rightward slide you mention reversing itself

Oh, yes, but this has been true throughout the neoliberal-neoconservative ascendancy. I think one of the causes is counter-intuitively cultural -- our secular multiculture makes the lived experience of everydayness seem liberal in ways that activate likely Republican voters into a highly engaged defensive victimhood and de-activate likely Democratic voters into a complacent acquiescence to policies that directly undermine their desired outcomes. Also, despite their boasts about rugged individualism (which bespeak defensive lack) today's Republicans seem well-suited to party discipline, consisting of no small number of authoritarian types, followers and bullies. Dems to the contrary really do seem to have a fair share of wacky individualists and our critical temper, while commendable, also yields our notorious cat herding problem. The reactionary deflection of shared class solidarity into divisive racial politics was never overcome intellectually but only, just now, demographically, and hence still un-interrogated it still plays out in unexpected and ugly ways across the American political terrain.

My answer is the same as it always is: More -- and Better -- Democrats! The Democratic party is the best tool on hand (far from a good tool, but the best) to regulate, reform, and reshape this nation ever more in the direction of a sustainable secular social democracy. The party, too, needs to be reformed to get us there, but that is where it's at. As you said at the beginning -- Democrats need to get out and vote, vote, vote! This is not because we'll get what we want, but because it is better to have something to work with when there is so much work to be done than nothing to work with at all.