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Friday Talking Points [110] -- Left Still Waiting For Rahm Apology

[ Posted Friday, February 5th, 2010 – 17:23 UTC ]

Traditionally, for pundits, this is the last week in what might be called "timely football metaphor season." With the Super Bowl right around the corner, and (this year) the Winter Olympics close behind, it would normally be the time to get some final football metaphors into the political conversation, before wordsmiths everywhere scratch their heads over ice skating and snowboarding terminology, in an attempt to remain relevant to the sports-hungry American public. You can almost see the wheels turning inside pundits' brains: "David Axelrod? Isn't an 'axel' some sort of skating jump? Hmmm...."

But we are going to eschew both football and winter sports in our metaphor toolbox today, and instead speak in more generic (team) sporting terms of the concept of "offense" and "defense."

Because Democrats need to realize that they still have the biggest majority in both houses of Congress that they are likely to see in their lifetimes -- and if they can't get things done with this overwhelming power, then they really should consider just folding up their tents and calling it a day as a political party.

To be blunt, Democrats need to start playing offense. The best defense is a good offense, and all that sort of thing. They need to get out there and remind voters of the good things they do, explain clearly to voters what the good things they are trying to do are, and also take the game to the other side by explaining why Republicans are the main obstacle they face in succeeding.

When a Democratic idea gets signed into law, do not just stop talking about it from that point on. Praise it to the skies, for months afterwards. Every interview from every Democrat should open with "well, we're all happy we got the 'X' bill passed and signed, and we're ready to take on the next challenge." When you refuse to laud your own successes, it is no wonder when the public doesn't give you much credit for them. You have to remind people. It's like advertising -- repeat often, and it sinks in.

And when you talk about the opposition, don't talk about "the opposition." Call them "Republicans." This basic rule is ignored so often by Democrats (including by Obama) that it makes me pull my hair out at times when watching television. It's called "branding" and the Republicans do a dandy job of making it work against Democrats. Democrats should go on the offensive to do the same thing in return.

Here is how every quote from a Democrat should run, from now until election day:

"Well, of course, Democrats saved our economy from falling into a second Great Depression last year, and now the economy is starting to rebound. Democrats are trying to ensure this happens, and increase the rate of job creation, by (insert current legislation's name here). But, of course, Republicans are against these goals. Republicans won't even vote on ideas from other Republicans in their blind rage at the president, and their hopes that he will fail on everything. Republicans will use every trick in the book to make sure nothing happens at all this year in Congress -- even when Americans are hurting the most and need their government to work -- because Republicans are content to play politics with any issue, just to score points. Democrats want to change things for the better. Republicans don't care whether it's better or worse, they are committed to being against every single thing, in the hopes of electing more Republicans. I wish the Republican Party would start acting like adults, so we could constructively get some things done for the American people."

OK, that ran a bit long, it probably should be a lot shorter and snappier. But you get the idea.

In advertising, in "branding," you repeat: "Democrats = good stuff. Republicans = sheer political obstructionism" over and over and over again.

This will have a broad effect of putting Republicans on the defensive against the "Party of No" label (which they're already worried about). And it might actually bear some fruit, legislatively, who knows?

But this is the way majority parties get things done. There hasn't been a supermajority in the Senate for decades (not counting last year's brief few months), and yet things have still gotten done. Bush never had 60 votes in the Senate. Neither did Clinton, or Reagan. But stuff got done.

But the only way it's going to happen is for Democrats to press their case, and go on offense. It doesn't matter how good an idea you have, if you won't adequately promote it and defend it and sell it to the American people, it will not become law. If Democrats believe in their cause, then they need to fight for it. Because if nothing gets done this year legislatively, it is all but certain the balance in Congress is going to be a lot worse for them this time next year.

But enough of that for now, let's hand out the awards before we really go on the offense here.


Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

While there were minorly impressive things happening in Washington from Democrats all week long, one action stood out strongest. But before we get to the actual Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award, though, we have to single out Senator Al Franken for an Honorable Mention this week, for taking on both the proposed merger between Comcast and NBC/Universal, and also for taking on David Axelrod on the subject of White House floundering (instead of leadership).

But the clear winner this week of the coveted MIDOTW award is Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, for holding the first hearing on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy of excluding gay people from serving openly in the U.S. military. The first hearing, it should be pointed out, since President Clinton signed DADT into law.

Levin was reportedly going to hold his hearing a week or so ago, but politely pushed the date back after the White House let him know that President Obama planned on supporting the repeal of the DADT policy in his State Of The Union speech. But one week isn't much, when gay rights activists have been waiting over a decade and a half even to be heard on Capitol Hill.

What was stunning about Tuesday's hearing was the fact that the two top-ranking military people in the country (just under President Obama himself) were the ones to testify in favor of overturning the DADT policy. In the parlance of Republicans, the "generals on the ground" have now spoken. Which, incidentally, puts the Republicans in an awfully awkward place.

But for even daring to hold the hearing in the first place, Senator Levin showed some real leadership on the issue. It is in no way guaranteed that DADT will be repealed this year, but as Chairman Levin put it (correcting Joe Lieberman's assertation that it would take 60 votes to accomplish): "[If overturning DADT is introduced as] a provision inside the Defense authorization bill; that goes to the floor, which would then require an amendment to strike it from the bill; in which case the 60-vote rule would be turning the other way."

Got that? Because of budgetary rules, it requires 60 votes to remove overturning DADT from a military appropriations bill. It's confusing, I know, but what it means is that 41 Democrats in the Senate could get this done.

For explicitly pointing this out, for holding the hearing in the first place, and for inviting Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (originally a Republican appointee) and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the hearing, Carl Levin is without a shadow of a doubt the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week.

[Congratulate Senator Carl Levin on his Senate contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

While today's theme is "go on the offense," we have to point out one instance of just plain "being offensive." Due to the quote involved, an offensive term will be used, so we advise anyone easily offended by language to just skip this section entirely.

Rahm Emanuel had a "retarded" week last week. That word is in "scare quotes" because it is a nasty slur, and because it is the core quote in the controversy which broke last week around Rahm. All of this actually happened months ago, during last summer's debates about which direction to go on healthcare reform, I should mention, but the news itself broke last week, forcing Rahm to go into apology mode. Partly.

Last summer, during the heat of the debate (on the Left) over which direction healthcare reform should be heading, Rahm was present at a meeting at the White House, where he told some Lefty types they were (in Rahm's words) "fucking retarded" for running ads attempting to pressure elected Democrats into supporting the strongest possible option for reforming the health industry in this country. In Rahm's view, one supposes, the Left should have just trusted Rahmbo that he had their best interests at heart and would produce the best bill possible. Of course, that turned out to be so far from the truth as to be laughable (see: Senate bill, where Rahm leaned on Harry Reid to give Joe Lieberman everything he asked for).

Rahm, sensing he was becoming a distraction this past week from a newly re-energized Obama, immediately apologized to all the developmentally-challenged and "anti-R-word" folks he could find (on short notice). Sarah Palin demanded he resign or be fired. Rush Limbaugh defended Rahm, since (according to Rush), the Lefties are "retarded," and it is simpering political correctness not to say so in plain terms (which he then did).

But you know who was missing from Rahm's apology list? The Lefties he had originally insulted.

In other words, Rahm apologized for using a slur, and for demeaning developmentally-challenged people by associating them with Lefties. Got that? In essence, he's saying that the Lefties are not just developmentally-challenged, but actually less worthy of consideration than such challenged folks.

In other words, he not only failed to apologize to the Lefties, he actually compounded the original insult, by his silence.

All action on DADT this week aside, this is a message the White House simply has not received yet. Rahm feels free to insult, disparage, ignore, and fight the Left (a goodly portion of the Democratic base), and no matter how over-the-top Rahm's comments get, he sees no reason to change his behavior, much less apologize.

Here is my message to the White House in response, and in no uncertain terms. Democrats didn't show up in Massachusetts and Virginia and New Jersey for a reason. They are not enthusiastic about voting this year in general. This is why. When you treat the things the voters actually care deeply about like dirt, and bargain them away in cavalier fashion, then Democrats stay home on election day. And when you don't even realizing how insulting you are being towards a big constituency that helped get you elected -- much less feel like apologizing for it -- then that sound you just heard was your chances in the midterm elections being flushed down the toilet. And spinning in the bowl as well is your chance of getting your legislative agenda passed, both swirling down into the watery vortex.

So, for conveniently forgetting to apologize to the people you directly offended by your speech in the first place, Rahm Emanuel wins this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

Please, Mr. Emanuel, please, please... don't you feel it's time to "spend more time with your family," for all our sakes? You were sold to us as "Rahmbo" -- the guy who would muscle Obama's ambitious agenda through Congress. Instead, you are the first one to wave a white flag in any negotiations, and the first one to throw what Democratic voters actually want into the trash. Wouldn't it be so nice to spend a whole bunch of time with your family right about now? Please?

[Contact the White House on their contact page, to let his boss know what you think of Rahm Emanuel's actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 110 (2/5/10)

Republicans are currently throwing down so many gauntlets, it is hard to even keep up with them. Democrats need to pick one of these up and smack them across the face with the mailed glove, instead of "running for the hills."

Here are a few examples of this, offered up as ways Democrats can get back on offense instead of continually being defensive about who they are, what they stand for, and what they will fight for.

The science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein had a phrase he used in his writings to explain how to deal with a bully: "you step on his toes until he is forced to apologize." This is exactly the tactic to take right now.

So here are my seven items this week for getting Democrats back on the offense. For Pete's sake, there are gauntlets lying around everywhere -- just pick one up and start flailing away!


   The gift of Shelby

Exhibit A: Senator Richard Shelby (R-Earmarks).

Shelby gave an early Valentine's Day gift to Democrats today, when it was revealed he was holding every single Obama nominee hostage, so that he could score a lucrative earmark for his state. By using what is known as a "hold" on all 70 nominations (which a single senator has the power to do), Shelby is in essence holding a tantrum and demanding more money for his state.

This is tailor-made for the exact political environment we find ourselves in -- if Democrats would only point it out.

"Senator Shelby is a prime example of what voters hate about Washington. Shelby is holding up every single one of President Obama's nominations to key positions in our government, simply because Senator Shelby wants a billion or so more dollars for his state. This is what Republicans call fiscal responsibility? Where is John McCain on this issue, when he should be denouncing such obstructionism in naked pursuit of earmarks? This is what the American people hate about the way our government works -- the way one Republican can throw a tantrum and hold everything up until they get more pork for themselves. This is a big reason our budget process is so broken, and I call on all responsible Republicans to denounce such tactics with me."


   The gift of Tancredo

Exhibit B: Tom Tancredo (R-Out of office, thanks be).

The Tea Party Convention got off to a rousing start today. It opened with Tom Tancredo (who tried unsuccessfully to win an election on anti-immigrant rhetoric) calling for (are you sitting down?) a return to literacy testing for voters. There are likely other parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 that he's not a big fan of either, but this one's bad enough.

This one would work ideally for a Democrat being interviewed sitting at a table with a prominent Republican, obviously.

"I notice that Tom Tancredo called for moving America back to the days of segregation in calling for literacy tests for voters. Perhaps he is unaware of the history of such tests. Or perhaps he knows exactly what he's calling for. While all Democrats rightly denounce Tancredo's comments for the backwards thinking they exhibit, I'm still waiting to hear what prominent Republicans have to say about his words. [Turn to Republican] What are your thoughts on literacy tests for voters? Do you support Tom Tancredo, a member of your own party, in his call to return America to the pre-Civil-Rights era? Or would you like to also denounce his remarks?"


   Generals on the ground

This one is also in the category of "corners Republicans paint themselves into."

For years now, Republicans have been repeating some version of: "listen to the generals on the ground" as holy writ, in just about all circumstances. Now that the generals have spoken on DADT, there is an absolute gold mine of quotes from Republicans over the past few years to use as fodder for debate.

Because many Republicans used it as a dodge, when asked about DADT. John McCain was the most prominent, but there are many others who said, in some version or another, "When the Pentagon comes to us and tells us we should change DADT, then we will support them." They all said this, because they were absolutely confident that it would never happen.

Now, unfortunately for them, it has happened. Once again, Democrats need to point this out clearly.

"When you thought it would never happen, you said that the Pentagon should guide the policy on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and that if the military leaders ever came to Congress and called for a repeal of the policy, then you could support it. Now this has happened. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense both called upon Congress to repeal the policy, and allow them to transition our military beyond it. So were you lying earlier when you said you would support the generals, or did you just never expect to be called on your words, because you never expected it to happen?"


   Judicial activism

Yet another "hoist on their own petard" item to toss in Republican faces.

"We just saw the most naked display of 'judicial activism' in a long time from the Supreme Court, in their decision which puts corporations on the same standing as American voters in our political process. This was not following some long-established precedent, this was overturning a long-established precedent -- something Republicans usually call 'judicial activism.' This was 'overturning the will of Congress,' and 'legislating from the bench.' Republicans should just admit that they only call things 'judicial activism' when the decisions aren't what they agree with, and stop pretending it is some high moral ideological stance they believe in. Because you can't have it both ways -- you can either denounce the Roberts court for their judicial activism in the recent campaign finance case, or you can just admit that you've been playing politics with the term all along. When activist judges do things you agree with, then you are blind to the perils of such judicial activism, instead of denouncing them. It's pure politics."


   Put up or shut up on the deficit

With the Tea Party folks in the political ascendancy over on the Right, Republicans are falling all over themselves to denounce "spending." And to polish up their "deficit hawk" credentials.

Well, until they propose a budget of their own -- complete with numbers this time, guys -- then every time the deficit question is asked, Democrats should use some version of the following in response.

"Republicans have so many positions on the deficit it's hard to keep them straight. They want to cut spending. But they also presented themselves as champions of Medicare spending recently. They certainly don't want to cut military spending. They sneered at Obama's suggestion for a freeze on non-military discretionary spending. And we all know they're never going to agree to any tax increase. So, please, enlighten me as to how you are going to tackle the deficit. In detail, please. President Obama has put forth his budget. Democrats in Congress with produce their budget. We are still waiting for Republicans to put forth a budget -- at least, one with numbers. If there is all this excessive spending that only Republicans can magically get under control, then we would truly like to hear how they are going to do it. When Republicans come out with a budget, and when that budget goes through the neutral Congressional Budget Office and is scored numerically, then you can be taken seriously when you talk about all this wonderful deficit-cutting you are in favor of. But until that point -- until you put your cards on the table -- you are just blowing smoke. Put up or shut up, in other words. If your ideas are so wonderful, and will work so well, then you wouldn't be so afraid of sharing them with the American people."


   Make them pay for their votes

There is a reason Republicans have been so effective at using their Senate minority to halt passage of so many things. The reason is, they are not being forced to pay a political price for doing so. Time after time, Republicans are allowed to get away with purely political tactics, because the Democrats have such an inability to shine the spotlight on such shenanigans. While the Shelby situation is the easiest target right now for Democrats to strongly denounce, there are others. The problem is, Republicans have seen that Democrats just refuse to throw this stuff back in their face. And as long as Democrats continue to let these opportunities pass them by, then Republicans will continue to get even bolder in the tactics they use.

"President Obama has rightly denounced the Republicans in the Senate who co-sponsored a bill to form a bipartisan debt reduction commission, and then when it looked like it had a chance to actually pass, voted against it. This is what Democrats mean when we talk about obstructionism. Republicans think something's a good idea until Obama supports it, and then they do everything they can to destroy their own idea. The American people expect politicians not to be so nakedly dishonest. If something is a good idea when you co-sponsor the bill, then it is still a good idea when Democrats get on board -- or it should be, at any rate, if Republicans were not so hypocritical. Because their sole objective is seeing Obama fail, they will not even support their own ideas when the president embraces them. This is what the American people are so disgusted with when it comes to Congress, and I would hope Republicans would soon realize it."


   Voting to bankrupt the Pentagon

This one is from a little over a month ago, but it is the ultimate thing to end on in any discussion featuring any of the previous talking points.

"Republican obstructionism in Congress knows no shame. It really doesn't. A while back, we had to pass an emergency appropriations bill, or else the Pentagon would run out of money and their checks would have started bouncing. One day before this was set to happen -- one day before the Pentagon would have gone broke in the middle of two active wars -- the Republicans voted against funding our troops in the field, and what's worse, they did so for purely political reasons that had nothing to do with the Pentagon. With our troops bravely in the field, Republicans voted not on some appropriations bill that wouldn't have affected the Pentagon for months, but on an emergency bill that, if it had failed would have bankrupted the Pentagon one day later -- and they voted to put their party ahead of their country, and ahead of the troops, and ahead of the Pentagon. Now just imagine what the Republicans would say about Democrats if this position would be reversed. This is naked political obstructionism, and it deserves to be pointed out, and every Republican who voted against it needs to be asked why they would put their party in front of their country in such a fashion, because they really should be ashamed of themselves for doing so."


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Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


-- Chris Weigant


32 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [110] -- Left Still Waiting For Rahm Apology”

  1. [1] 
    Moderate wrote:

    I actually referred in one of my earlier comments to the Republicans appearing to be the "Party of No" and how they've got to try and ditch this label. The good news for them is, as you clearly highlighted, that the Democrats have yet to hammer that point home.

    If the Republicans get to pre-empt the tag of obstructionism, they'll see gains in November. If the Democrats hammer it home until it sticks, their majority will be even bigger still. It'll all be down to who lands the first punch in that battle.

    The other day I came across something interesting on the BBC (in fact I think one of your readers linked me to it) that said:

    "Obama's administration made a tremendous mistake by not immediately branding the economic collapse that we had just had as the Republicans' Depression, caused by the Bush administration's ideology of unregulated greed. The result is that now people blame him."

    Obviously it being Friday, the partisan "gloves" are off, so I'm going to make a point of stating that I don't think the recession was caused by Bush, and in fact he did more than anyone to help put an end to it. I still believe that the bounce we're seeing now owes more to Bush's end-of-term policies, than it does to Obama's (economic policies rarely have an instant impact, in fact it's often as many as two years before their impact is felt). Equally I still believe that even if McCain had won, the economy would be no weaker (nor, if I'm fair, would it be any stronger).

    That little partisan defence being said, however, I think the quote still made a very good point about "branding", and a huge missed opportunity for the Obama administration. So I actually felt even YOU missed a point when you said the Democrats should be saying:

    "Well, of course, Democrats saved our economy from falling into a second Great Depression last year, and now the economy is starting to rebound."

    Rather, I think, they need to be even more blunt. At the moment a lot of the issues seem to be relating to an impression that the Democrats are going to spend like drunken sailors, and that this will hurt the taxpayers at a time of serious economic problems for everyday Americans. So the Democrats need to play a game of "blame the other side". I hate to be giving you guys ideas but you should be framing it like this (and I'd expect our side to do it if the roles were reversed):

    "Well, of course, Democrats saved our economy from falling into a second Great Depression last year, and now the economy is starting to rebound. It doesn't matter that the problems were caused by a Republican administration hellbent on giving tax cuts to wealthy bankers, and then bailing them out with your money when they gambled and lost. It doesn't matter that they couldn't fund these bailouts because of two wars (where again they spent your money) and a prescription plan they couldn't pay for. What matters is we're now trying to (insert agenda items here) and the Republicans are just saying no."

    And then launch into the rest of your lengthy tirade. Don't just focus on the obstructionism, as you see it, but throw some mud, throw some blame out there, because you can bet the other side will be doing it. If unemployment goes up again, we'll be blaming Obama's stimulus. If the health insurance industry in particular takes a hit, we'll be blaming Obamacare. Blame, blame, blame. It's one of the best political framing tools out there.

    Incidentally, and this is REALLY going to seem like heresy to my lot, but even I applaud Sen. Levin's actions this week. I'd have contacted him if I were an American, but alas, I'm not. Then again, I support the repeal of DADT so I don't care whether it was a Democrat who pushed it or Republican (hah, as if). As for Rahm Emanuel, I think Palin's right (wow, what a surprise, given that I have an unhealthy love of Sarah Palin) about his remarks and the sanction, though I'd say Rush ought to be berated for encouraging it.

    I don't like extreme lefties either, but I hate that word. It's not about being PC, which I also hate, it's about being completely and utterly insensitive to people who have mental disabilities. One of my best friends has a Down's sibling (which I presume is what also motivated Palin, because of Trig) and nothing annoys her more than that word. And rightly so. It's cruel and nasty.

    However, having said that, I, as a Republican, would love him to continue to insult the core Democratic support. He's our secret weapon for November success. So take a bow Rahm, we, Republicans, salute you for being, well, what you described the lefties as. I'm being facetious, of course.

    Your talking points are excellent, as usual. Of course I disagree, as a jurist, on your analysis of the recent Supreme Court decision as activism. The so-called precedent they overturned was actually not overturned. Just not even referenced, as they claimed (rightly, I think) that they were off-point. Funnily enough the decision doesn't say what you (and many others) say it does, it's not to do with corporations having rights, but rather that the individuals who make up the corporation can "group together", as a corporation, to exercise their individual rights. There's little wrong with this; it's how unions works.

    Now on the literacy tests, earmarks, blatant obstructionism and the deficit, those are perfect home runs. But the Democrats have yet to swing the bat. Let's see if they do. I particularly resonated with point 7; I hated when the British government underfunded our troops, and it's Un-Republican to be anti our troops. That's appalling behaviour and I, as a Republican, am too ashamed for words. The brave men and women deserve better than that.

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Moderate -

    First point: Democrats don't do the "hammer down" thing very well in this country. This is a big part of our problem, in general.

    Second point: Americans aren't big on long-term memory. Our general public's attention span has been unfavorably comapared to that of the cocaine-addicted mosquito, and our collective memory as a populace's depth to that of your average houseplant.

    Not entirely without reason, I must admit.

    I'm actually in agreement, as I don't think economic cycles have much to do with who is in power in DC, but politically whoever's in charge gets pinned with it, good or bad. I admit this in my writings often, which you'll appreciate after hanging out here awhile.

    Having said all that, I think there's a definite "shelf-life" on looking backwards, and I think we've passed that point. Americans, on a whole, prefer to look into the future, and more political hay can be made about the drop in the unemployment rate to 9.7% (from 10.0%) than with "Bush did it," personally. Because of our short attention span and short long-term memory, we are continually looking into the future and wondering "what's next?" which Democrats should plug in to now, in the hopes of the unemployment numbers improving in the near future.

    In other words, Dems can't simply run on "Bush did it" this time around.

    I have to say, it was shocking for me to find myself on the same side of anything as Sarah Palin, but then when she first burst onto the scene, I was actually defending her, so stranger things have happened (too lazy to cite it, look up Sarah Palin on the site for summer, 2008, you'll find it).

    But, to put it in Lefty language: "Hey hey, ho ho! Rahm Emanuel's got to go!"


    It was with chagrin that I presented Rahm's words this week, since I agree in shunning the word he used. But, to be accurate, and to fully assign blame, I had to repeat it in both a Rahm quote and a Rush quote. Blame them, not me, for this transgression of politeness, I beg of you.

    I still haven't totally and completely mentally processed the "Citizens United" SCOTUS case. There are a lot of angles that a lot of people are ignoring in this case, and a lot of assumptions being made. I have yet to sort it all out myself, I have to admit.


    Whew! Got to the end! The line I "take away" from your comment was towards the end: "But the Democrats have yet to swing the bat."

    Sigh. Our work here at FTP Central goes on....


  3. [3] 
    LewDan wrote:

    I strongly disagree. Republicans are not our enemies. They are Americans who disagree with us.

    Its always true that sociopaths, unencumbered by the moral restrictions the rest of us operate under, have certain advantages. That does not mean its foolish for the rest of us to refuse to act like sociopaths.

    Your "Ask. Tell." analysis the other day suffered from your insistence on viewing all things through a Democrat v Republican lens. In a functioning democracy there are lots of constituencies and power blocks other than merely Republican and Democratic. The Pentagon defeated Clinton's efforts in '93 and I doubt seriously that being Democratic or Republican had anything to do with. Homophobia, yes. Party affiliation? No.

    I believe it was Hamilton who expressed the hope that his new democracy would not turn into the "tyranny of the majority."

    In light of the recent Wall Street debacle I'd think viewing Madison Ave. tactics as role models would be a red flag in and of itself. Using a Democratic majority to ram through legislation is just as wrong as when Republicans used their majorities to do it. The founders, wisely, made it nearly impossible to use the Constitution and Constitutional amendments to impose a tyranny of the majority and Senate rules followed their lead.

    When legislators refuse to act in good faith, to honestly debate and to vote their consciences we're forced to take steps. But Republican representatives acting in bad faith for their own personal or partisan self interests are not the Republicans.

    We do not have a two party system, not even on paper or in theory. It was intended that the press would identify our shortcomings, expose our excesses and offer prudent advice on correction and improvement. Instead its oversimplifications and sound bytes distort and even invert reality. Its desire for conflict and sensationalism favors propaganda and institutionalizes rather than expose corruption.

    Republicans are not our enemy. They are not even our opponents. They are our fellow Americans. If we have to use psychological tricks to win over Americans because our ideas don't then we shouldn't win. Pragmatism is one thing, but if we have to imitate the tactics we've lampooned for so long we simply admit defeat and make corruption endemic rather than dealing with it. If we're "forced" to such tactics by the way media covers us then the press is our enemy.

    This isn't a sport. We're not trying to rack up the highest score. We're trying to promote peace and prosperity. You can't do that by making one-forth of the country your opponents or by stooping to the gutter tactics of your least scrupulous adversary.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    The people who are responsible for the dysfunctional and toxic media culture, and those who personify the incompetence and ineptitude that run rampant through it, are most definitely our enemies and they are destined to orchestrate the unraveling of democracy as we know it.

  5. [5] 
    Moderate wrote:

    I'm making this "responding to comments thing" tough on your Chris, aren't I? Well, it's your own fault for writing such an excellent blog.

    As for "that word" I just re-read what I wrote, and realised where there could have been some doubt. To clarify, I don't blame you at all, you were simply repeating what was said, which needed to be done in order to accurately portray events as they happened. No blame is attached to you at all.

    My anger is entirely at Rahm and Rush (and I say that as a man that's often in agreement with Rush on things like the economy, but that was just an outright disgrace and he should be condemned for encouraging Rahm.

    LewDan and Elizabeth, I hadn't actually considered the failures of the media in doing their job as the "fourth pillar" of government. Excellent points and I'll be mulling them over myself now. Thanks for bringing them up.

  6. [6] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Found your defence of Palin. Think you were spot on too, so much so I emailed it to my sister, for whom Sarah Palin is akin to God, and liberals are a plague on the planet. She has absolutely no liberal friends (unlike myself) and actually has called me out for some of my more liberal views on things like gay rights.

    Doesn't really matter, though. The more I read through the archives, the more I remembered the way the media painted her during the campaign, the lies, and the smears, and the sad thing is, it doesn't matter what she does, the fiction is now what people remember about her rather than the truth.

    Part of me wants her to stand in 2012. I still believe (and always did) that she'd make a good President. Then again, I thought Bush Jnr was a better President than he got credit for too, so maybe my opinion's moot. Besides, the more I think about it the more I think it'd be horrible for her to stand.

    She won't win. The dirty tricks worked, and that's all there is to be said about that. Funnily enough, the fact that the left still seems intent on bashing Palin in a way that's usually reserved for politicians rather than media pundits still has me wondering whether they're scared of her running and winning.

    Why else is she still even relevant, two years on? If she's got no chance of ever winning elective office, why not just ignore her? Still, I suspect that's probably just me clutching at straws. The realist in me thinks the GOP will have to look elsewhere in 2012. The good news is Brown's victory (and the rise of several other young Republicans) shows there's some bright sparks for the future, if you're a Republican. Still, I can't help wondering if Clinton doesn't stand more chance of preventing a second Obama term than anyone on the GOP side.

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    So, what did you think of Sarah's big speech tonight? I can hardly wait for the next edition of FTP!

  8. [8] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Oh man. I'm sure as heck going to confirm myself as crazy by my response to that Elizabeth but here goes. I thought Sarah's speech was brilliant and here's why:

    1) The Reagan references throughout were inspired. Whoever wrote that speech knew exactly what they were doing. Not only did it draw "cheap pop" value, but it also drew comparisons between Palin and Reagan, comparisons that do her a lot of good I think.

    Not only on the issues, on things like "the government that governs lest governs best" or healthcare (Reagan claimed Medicare was the road towards socialism), or abortion (which has become an issue again in the wake of that controversial Superbowl ad), but on personality too.

    Reagan lost in 1976 with many saying he was too stupid to be president. Palin lost in 2008 with many saying she was too stupid to be president. Like Reagan Palin isn't a well-educated elite, so she has to make the case that, like Reagan, the first time could be put down to the "step up" from state politics to national, that like Reagan she'll lose one race but win the next, but most of all, that like Reagan demonstrated, common sense can trump college degrees.

    2) The c-span viewers quip was genius, and the ice tea gag to follow up was also pretty good. I'm still laughing at her calling Obama a "charismatic guy with a TelePrompTer". And that whole bit where she went after Biden was priceless, from the fact Biden's meeting with the Transparency And Accountability Board was behind closed doors, to the "hopey changey stuff" line, it was hilarious.

    And coupled with her later points about banning lobbyists but giving waivers, it's more than merely humour; it could potentially be damaging to Democrats.

    3) Making Scott Brown's victory a main talking point. Her points about the aftermath were spot on, the democrats were running scared (Chris himself highlighted it, and berated them for it as a liberal). I think, however, she's wrong to say Obama didn't recognise that the defeat was about his agenda.

    I think he did, even if he didn't say so publicly. Hence the switch to focussing on job creation and going after Wall Street. His SOTU had a distinctly populist tone, which I thought was a definite change in approach based on Brown.

    4) Referencing the fact that it's been a year under Obama now, that they "own this" now, which was funnily enough just what we were discussing yesterday.

    Hell, I'm starting to wonder if SHE reads this blog now. She even said that bit Chris said earlier about looking forward not backwards.

    5) She was smart to remind people about the Christmas bomb attack, like Chris said earlier, American attention spans are short and it's important that whatever security lapses there were that day aren't swept under the carpet by the switch to job creation, or by the fact healthcare passed in the Senate. Between now and November, hopefully Obama will be put on the spot and asked to explain not only why that happened, but what is actually happening to prevent it happening again. It could be a big vote-winner.

    6) Her points about the Democrats maths on the stimulus were excellent; from the "pay raise=job saved" myth to the "districts that don't exist" problem, she nailed nearly every criticism of the stimulus possible. She tackled the waste (by using the example of the ad campaign paid for by the taxpayers to tell people how the state was going to spend their money. Her point about how we don't even have a decent estimate for how many new jobs were created, and how underemployment makes counting even harder, was superbly well put.

    She was also right about the spending freeze's relevance in light of the massive spending already in place (and the huge spending likely to take place this year too, since the freeze would begin next year).

    7) Her constant thinly veiled response to many of the criticisms she faced as the VP candidate. The point about candidates being human and not expecting perfection (in response to the criticism she got for being flustered in interviews), the point about "considering a candidate's children fair game" (which brought a huge smile to my face; damn right Sarah, you tell 'em), the point about people going to jail in Alaska for corruption while she was still Governor (designed to show that she never faced sanction for any of the alleged wrongdoing that was attributed to her), it's all there.

    8) She didn't just criticise. Not only did she give Obama credit for sending more troops into Afghanistan, she recommended her own healthcare solutions. She also put forward her own ideas for the energy crisis, that we should invest in clean energy like nuclear power (and she gave Obama credit for mentioning it) but not completely ignore fossil fuels (an "all of the above" solution, as she put it). It was as constructive a speech as we've seen from the right in ages.

    Of course I suspect the media will focus on the slip-ups (well, actually, I only spotted one, but I'm sure her critics will be watching with a keener eye than I). To be fair, though, I'm not sure that when she said people were questioning if Alaska was still a beacon of hope (when she clearly meant America) it made a huge difference to the point she was making. It wasn't a huge gaffe at all.

    I think I may be falling in love with Palin all over again. In fact, and I'm going to sound crazy for saying this, but that looked like a future President speaking to me. Then again, maybe that's just my eternally optimistic nature overreacting to an emotionally stirring speech. I did think the speech was excellent, though, with references as diverse as Reagan and Kennedy, clever quips about Obama ("the politics of personality" especially stood out) and the emotional end, with the reference to Trig. Much better than I was expecting, to be fair; I thought it'd be a massive failure and the end of Palin in national politics. Far from it.

  9. [9] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Bah. Typo. Point 1, second paragraph is meant to read "least" not "lest"

  10. [10] 
    akadjian wrote:

    To be honest,I can't understand why either side is fascinated with Palin.

    The right seems to love her because she annoys the left. The way a Rush L. or an Ann Coulter does.

    And the left seems to hate her because she represents everything that goes against their beliefs about a meritocracy. That is, she seems to get ahead not because of any talent or skill, but solely because of her conservative and religious affiliations.

    It's ironic, though, Palin talking about Obama using a teleprompter. Especially considering I don't think her handlers let her say much of anything anymore that isn't scripted.

    But I'll give it to her. It's a memorable line. Even if it's true of every politician.

    Oddly enough, no official transcript of her speech seems to exist on the Internet. You can watch her on Youtube, but no one has released a transcript. Found this a little odd. If anyone has one, please post.

    From what I saw of the speech, it was effective in that she didn't talk about any specific policies.

    Now when Democrats do this, conservatives hammer them for not having any specific plans. Hint, hint.

    The big thing is that she didn't have any major slip ups. But when you're reading a script ...

    It's going to be interesting to see if Palin can shake her image from the 2008 campaign. Particularly with independents.


  11. [11] 
    Moderate wrote:

    "The right seems to love her because she annoys the left. The way a Rush L. or an Ann Coulter does."

    Yep, that's definitely part of it, especially now, after the election.

    Back in 2008, when Palin was first introduced she seemed interesting, "fresh", if you like, and that was what initially caught my interest. But I wasn't enamoured with her, and although I was backing McCain anyway, Obama didn't seem nearly as unpalatable to me (a Chicago-based Obama campaigner had me convinced he was a moderate Democrat who was just trying to "reach out" to the left, but would move to the centre as President) as he does now.

    When I saw, what I perceived to be a lot of unfair criticism of her, including some really foul rumours about her family, that made me want to back her, just out of underdog spirit. I don't think she's stupid, nor did I agree with those who felt her family was fair game (unlike, to his credit, Obama).

    (Incidentally, I didn't agree with some of the idiotic things said about Obama during the campaign either, but then neither, to his credit, did McCain, who said Obama wasn't a Muslim or a terrorist when a supporter said he was)

    It just felt like "intellectual elitism", and even as an intellectual, I hate that.

    "But I'll give it to her. It's a memorable line. Even if it's true of every politician."

    Oh it definitely is true of every politician, and Palin herself was reading from notes, but it just made me laugh. Don't think it was a major point scored or anything, but I do think humour is a good way for her to relate to people.

    Actually Palin did reference some policies, but they were deliberately vague (don't forget, as yet she's not said she's even running in 2012, and she isn't currently in office anywhere). The thing is, the policies were the exact same healthcare points raised by Republicans (and dismissed, I must add) already.

    (You know, open up cross-state trade, tort reform, that sort of thing).

    On clean energy she didn't say anything new either, but I don't think that she really needed to. More investment in Nuclear energy, more offshore drilling, as she put it, an "all of the above" solution to the energy crisis.

    To be fair, when was the last time a politician didn't use a script, be it paper or TelePrompTer, and didn't say something stupid? Even Obama managed to say things like his "special olympics" quip, or the point about using a seance to contact Reagan, and he's an incredibly well educated man, certainly more so than Palin (or Bush, or even Reagan, for that matter).

    I'd say in light of the left's loathing of Palin, it was essential she didn't have another gaffe, she has to rebuild her image from the "stupid" tag that hurt her so badly in 2008. In fact I'd say that was more important, at this point, than trying to win over policy support. If she does stand in 2012 there's a long way to go, and plenty of time to outline proposals that appeal even to independent voters. Which I do agree that she needs to do.

    What do you make of the fact that so far all the Tea Party coverage (that I've seen anyway) has yet to really critique Palin's speech? I've seen a lot of lefty rhetoric about "hate" (which personified the conference, sure, but not really Palin's speech at all) but nobody's really taken Palin to task on the speech.

    Does that mean anything, as lefties? Or are the media just getting bored?

    It'll be interesting to see if Palin can actually figure out how to keep her base support whilst still trying to appeal to independents. That's her next goal if she's got aspirations of the White House in 2012. Whilst I got a little carried away in the immediate wake of the speech, on calmer reflection it was good but not THAT good. There's a long way to go if she wants to be President.

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    I am consistently and constantly amazed at the one single message that comes from Democrats these days.

    If Democrats want to be successful in politics, they have to act like Republicans.

    If Democrats have to act like Republicans to be successful, what does that say about the Democratic Party and it's platform??

    Shelby gave an early Valentine's Day gift to Democrats today, when it was revealed he was holding every single Obama nominee hostage, so that he could score a lucrative earmark for his state. By using what is known as a "hold" on all 70 nominations (which a single senator has the power to do), Shelby is in essence holding a tantrum and demanding more money for his state.

    {{{cough}}} Landreiu {{{cough}}} Nelson

    You really can't castrate CASTIGATE Shelby for doing the things that Democrats have made a fine art of..

    I'll probably have more comments for your TPs, but I see there is a long list of comments I need to respond to.. :D


  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    Looks like I missed a lot in the last week or so.. :^D

    With CW's indulgence, let me catch up a bit..


    Apologies for not getting back to you on the CrapCare issue. Duty called. Anyways, it looks like someone else was able to keep ya busy. :D Irregardless, CrapCare is all but dead now, so any comments by me would be superfluous at this point..

    Speaking of dead things, I also noticed I missed a golden opportunity to lay into the Human Caused Global Warming (Yet The Planet Is Cooling... Hell FREEZING!!) religion.. Comments on how laughable the religion is, from me in the here and now would be like dynamiting fish in a barrel. Way WAY too easy.

    I have two "life ending" moments in my life. By that I mean, events that, once witnessed, will allow me to die a happy happy man. One of those events is FIRST CONTACT. The other is to see the Human Caused Global Warming (Yet The Planet Is Cooling) religion exposed as the complete and utter con/fraud that it is.

    Looks like I can check one of those things off my "bucket list"... Now, bring on the Vulcans! :D

    As an aside, I really don't want to turn this commentary into a HCCC debate. Anyone that wants to discuss the merits (or in this case, the lack thereof) of the HCCC religion, please post to the commentary that it was first mentioned. Last Friday's TP commentary, if I am not mistaken. Thanx..

    Moving on...


    First off, let me say (as I always do)....

    "Welcome to the party, pal!!"
    -John McClane, DIE HARD

    :D You'll get used to it..

    The other day I came across something interesting on the BBC (in fact I think one of your readers linked me to it) that said:

    "Obama's administration made a tremendous mistake by not immediately branding the economic collapse that we had just had as the Republicans' Depression, caused by the Bush administration's ideology of unregulated greed. The result is that now people blame him."

    The problem with that approach is that it simply wasn't true. It was the Democrats, who had control of Congress since 2006, who were instrumental in easing regulatory oversight that allowed the economy to tank.

    Even President Clinton himself stated as such.

    So, I don't think that such an accusation by Democrats would have gained any traction. Republicans would have just trotted out Clinton's quote over and over again and would have made Dems look like maroons... over and over again...

    As to the rest, just let me comment on the Palin issue and why the Left hates her so much.

    IMNSHO, the Left hate Sarah because she is everything that Hillary is not but should be. The Left was infuriated (see comments by Taylor Marsh at the time) that the Right could be so presumptuous as to put out a female candidate when it was THEIR (the Left's) destiny to put a woman in the White House. This anger was even MORE intense because the Right put out Jane Six-Pack and all the Left had was the Steel Magnolia Ball Buster..

    That's my armchair analysis as to why the Left hates Sarah Palin so intently..

    Speaking from neither the Right nor the Left, I have to say simply that I like Sarah Palin because she is hot. :D


  14. [14] 
    Hawk Owl wrote:

    Sorry I've been "away" -- traveling, then fighting a bit of snow here on the East Coast -- but I have to say this column takes us back to your 2005 book ("How Democrats Can Take Back Congress") and the theme you highlight so well, focusing on the Dems' failure to "fight the good fight" in a media-focused, combative milieu.

    The need to take the "offense" and name the opposition as "obstructionists" was clear to me all the way back in the McCain/Obama debates when the code words "socialist medicine" first bubbled up. Obama should've immediately responded "16 years ago you were told you didn't want a GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACY between you & your doctor. Well, you've had 16 years of a CORPORATE BUREAUCRACY running our health care system, now. ARE YOU HAPPY with what it's done for us?!"

    Such tough, focused on the voters'needs, reduced-to- a-CHOICE, let's name who's really the problem,
    rhetoric would have avoided this morass of floundering under Emanuel's generalship as he scurried to protect this vaunted "60 vote majority" at all costs, even though it was surrendering real political capital as one senator after another (read Joe Liebermann) held it hostage for parochial demands to please their constituencies back home and various lobbyists who'd "helped" them.

    I'd say "Right On!" except that what you're really saying is "LEFT ON!" Nice to be back.

  15. [15] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    michale - it's good to see you back.

    overall, i don't see any inherent contradiction in the idea of democrats acting like republicans. what's proposed is not taking the ideology of the republicans, simply some of their more effective political tactics. i see it as adapting to political reality, not compromising core beliefs. in order to achieve common goals, sometimes maintaining unity is more important than giving everybody a turn. republicans seem to get this fact and democrats don't. you don't win the super bowl by giving every player a chance to play quarterback.

    on the senators holding nominations hostage, i agree that democrats have done the same thing. nonetheless, chris's point stands: you need to make political hay out of things that stall your agenda, both to move it forward and to discourage such actions - from either party.

    regarding health-care, you know i agree with you about the quality of the current bill. however, i don't see it as something you ought to be glib about. the death of lousy legislation is nothing to cheer unless better legislation takes its place. there are still people dying due to the current system, and that status quo is still in dire need of positive change, including a public option, tort reform and intensive regulation of the industry (i.e. things that democrats, republicans and their lobbyist benefactors all hate).

    regarding global warming, the surface is in fact getting warmer, if you count the quadrillions of gallons of ice melting at the poles. when ice melts, it absorbs energy in the form of heat. that's why your lemonade can be cold, even on a hot day. however, once the ice is melted, the drink starts to get warm. that same effect is being eye-witnessed on a global scale. your "yet the planet is cooling" comment refers to surface temperature, which is being cooled by the melting polar ice. that ice is not unlimited, however. when it runs out, unless humans have changed our behavior, the surface temperature will climb in earnest. the evidence is not ambiguous.

    I somewhat agree on the Left's distaste for Sarah Palin. She's an anti-intellectual and very physically attractive, a combination that sparks all sorts of cultural conflicts; in the simplest of terms, it's nerds vs. jocks, playing out an old high school melodrama. Palin gets regular people on her side because she's pretty, confident, speaks well, and appeals to their desire to be like her. The average woman can imagine being her, and the average man can imagine dating her. Nobody likes someone who holds it over you that they're smarter than you are, and she doesn't do that. if she manages to exude even a bare minimum of competence on the national stage, she could definitely succeed as a presidential candidate. i personally hope that does not come to pass, because i think our country needs somebody in charge who is both intelligent and compassionate, and i think she is neither. however, i acknowledge that palin can have serious appeal with mainstream voters, and the Left's knee-jerk high school loathing does no one any good.

    "Well, I never thought I would make it here today. I would make a great class president because I promise to put two new pop machines in the cafeteria, and I'm also gonna get a glitter Bonne Bell dispenser for all the girls' bathrooms. Oh, and we're gonna get new cheerleading uniforms. Anyway, I think I'd be a great class president. So, who wants to eat chiminichangas next year? Not me. See, with me it will be summer all year long. Vote for Summer."
    ~~Napoleon Dynamite

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    Hiya NY :D

    overall, i don't see any inherent contradiction in the idea of democrats acting like republicans. what's proposed is not taking the ideology of the republicans, simply some of their more effective political tactics.

    In and of itself, you would be right.

    However, the Hysterical Left is on record as not only castigating the ideology of the Right but also castigating the TACTICS of the Right.

    For CW's advice to be effective, the Left will have to differentiate the two and explain why they have previously attacked the TACTICS that they (the Left) now want to adopt.

    Wanna bet some quatloos that they fail to get the message across? :D

    you don't win the super bowl by giving every player a chance to play quarterback.

    And that sums up the problems of the Democrats perfectly.. Kudos..

    on the senators holding nominations hostage, i agree that democrats have done the same thing. nonetheless, chris's point stands: you need to make political hay out of things that stall your agenda, both to move it forward and to discourage such actions - from either party.

    I was referring more to the REASON for the "hostage taking".. Political ploys and tactics are par for the course, regardless of Party affiliation.

    However, if Democrats to try to make hay out of Shelby holding "hostages" to get more goodies for his states, the Democrats will look like bald-faced hypocrites.. And rightly so.. I honestly can't see how they could even attempt to do it with a straight face, considering......

    regarding health-care, you know i agree with you about the quality of the current bill. however, i don't see it as something you ought to be glib about. the death of lousy legislation is nothing to cheer unless better legislation takes its place.

    I disagree.. The death of disastrous legislation IS something to cheer about. Granted, it's sad that our congress critters can't come up with anything better, but that doesn't make the fact that we just dodged a HUGE bullet any less sweeter.. Chalk it up to seeing the silver lining.. :D

    I like your analysis of Palin and believe it's pretty close to the mark. The Left is stepping on their wee wees by vilifying her so much as it makes her that much more appealing to those mainstream voters you mention. Mainstream voters who, incidentally, don't trust the far Left any more than they trust the far Right. Joe and Jane Q Public might think to themselves, "Anyone who can get the Hysterical Left so up in arms must have a lot going for them."... :D

    Vote for Summer.

    Never saw the movie, but anyone that puts in a movie/TV quote is all right!! :D


  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    She's an anti-intellectual

    Could you clarify this?

    If you mean she is not intelligent, I would have to disagree. You don't become the most popular governor in the nation, leader of the largest state in the union with a very unique set of challenges and issues by being a moron.

    On the other hand, if you mean she is not a nerdy, aires producing intellectual type of the Obama variety, then I would agree with you.

    That quality is what makes her more attractive..

    "Uhh.. I think your both right. We must perpetuate the species, but we must have conversation afterwards. That's why I am looking for a woman who gives good brain, if you know what I mean."
    -Robin Williams, LIVE AT THE MET



  18. [18] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Ahh, the much vaunted Michale (Chris mentioned you when he welcomed me to the sight). Glad to finally have another conservative voice to chip in when we get into the debate. It all adds to a nice healthy mix, I say.

    (Loving the Die Hard reference. John McClane For President!)

    By the way, I know that the whole "Republicans' Depression" thing is patently untrue (and I said so myself earlier), I just agreed that if I were a Democrat spin doctor that would've been my approach to framing the issue.

    I think you give too much credit to the electorate Michale. Even now when the Republicans talk about deficits, you hear people talk about the wars, the bank bailouts and prescription plan. Despite the fact that the Democratic Congress controlled the purse strings for the last two. Even when the Republicans were, Democrats voted almost unanimously in support of the Afghanistan war, and several Democrats even voted for the Iraq war (in fact more of their Senators supported the war than opposed it). But who remembers those things?

    Incidentally NY, I also agree with Michale that the left have chosen to berate Republican tactics in the past. Now I might not consider "Machiavellian" to be insulting, as I think Machiavelli was right, but the mainstream masses do. For Democrats to adopt such tactics they'd need to backtrack on their criticism.

    Awesome line about super bowl (congrats Saints; good for New Orleans after Katrina and the last five years of rebuilding) and quarterback. It's exactly what differentiates the Republicans, and their effectiveness, from the Democrats.

    Unsurprisingly I also agree with Michale about healthcare reform. Better to have bad legislation fail than accept appalling ideas because "something's better than nothing". If a bad idea becomes entrenched in law, it's almost immune to reform.

    Palin's not stupid, but she is anti-intellectual (in much the same way as Reagan was, and it didn't do him any harm, did it?). Generally the intellectual "elite" type ends up finding a home with the Democrats; Republicans prefer common sense.

    And I agree with Michale, it's her down to Earth nature that appeals to the people who like her. She seems like "one of them", and they want that in Washington. It's precisely why someone like Scott Brown was able to win over Mass voters. They like the fact he's one of them.

  19. [19] 
    akadjian wrote:

    The thing I struggle with Moderate is not the parties. Right vs. Left. Democrats vs. Republicans.

    It's a false dichotomy. They're really not that different. They both act very similarly and promote the agenda of, as I believe you put it, the wealthy and (debatably) the middle class.

    But what's driven our country to where it is in terms of deficits and economy is a neo-conservative ideology. It's "trickle down" theory being accepted by both Republicans and Democrats. It's corporate lobbyists influencing both parties. It's a credit card mentality.

    So we can go back and forth about Republicans and Democrats all day long. They have their differences. But these differences are largely cosmetic and cultural. At the end of the day, they both repeal the same Glass-Steagall bill.

    And this is what I believe truly frustrates folks and why they want to throw out any incumbent. The rage is there. But there's so much misinformation and political blame being thrown around that it's hard to get past the he said/she said of both parties.

    Obama has come as close to anyone in being able to point this out and try to work across parties. I just wish he would leverage the bully pulpit more as many have previously mentioned. This could be a huge opportunity for him.


    p.s. I do miss Tina Fey's Palin impersonation - talk about hot! :)

  20. [20] 
    akadjian wrote:

    p.s.s. Welcome back, Michale! For a moment there, I thought we'd lost you!

  21. [21] 
    Moderate wrote:

    "It's a false dichotomy. They're really not that different. They both act very similarly and promote the agenda of, as I believe you put it, the wealthy and (debatably) the middle class.

    But what's driven our country to where it is in terms of deficits and economy is a neo-conservative ideology. It's "trickle down" theory being accepted by both Republicans and Democrats. It's corporate lobbyists influencing both parties. It's a credit card mentality."

    Whilst I'd agree with the first part (I'd say the differences are largely, as I said earlier, down to effectiveness; Democratic governments tend to struggle with getting things done a lot more than Republicans do) I disagree a lot with the second (quelle surprise, coming from a free marketeer)

    "Trickle down" is a misnomer. Anyone who studies private enterprise knows that when one starts a new business venture, one invests at the bottom, the suppliers, employees and contractors. Only when one turns a profit does the original investor get a return on their money. The trick is to ensure taxation incentivizes investment by allowing those who invest to keep most of their own profits.

    I've long maintained it's not the tax breaks that caused the deficits, it's the other side of the equation. Government spending is just s important as tax when it comes to ensuring a balanced economy, and I think the electorates of most major countries show more willingness to pay tax than government (of any political persuasion) show to cutting spending.

    The other issue is "ultra-wealth". There comes a point where the amount of money one makes means that taxation doesn't provide a disincentivize more investment. Take the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. They make vast sums of money every year, so taxing them higher (say, 50%) would actually help raise a great deal of money, whilst still not being enough to stop them from reinvesting (they've still got plenty of money).

    Rather than taxation being too low across the board, it's the DIFFERENCE in the top band from the bottom band being too narrow, in many countries. I was looking into Germany's tax system and they seem to have the idea. The bottom rate of tax is just 14%, but the next bracket up is 42%. Huge jump.

    I haven't done the sums to see if even their system needs tweaking, but I do believe they're much more in tune with the fact that a good taxation system taxes the obscenely wealthy high amounts whilst ensuring middle classes retain enough of their money to reinvest it. It's the middle classes, after all, that make the whole system, from working class to upper classes, work.

    (By the way, I agree with you that the political parties far too often give in to the corporate lobbying and pander to the wealthy, which is why taxation still remains a problem, and probably always will).

  22. [22] 
    akadjian wrote:

    And do you really believe Republicans would reign in a deficit? After 8 years of Mr. Biggest-deficit-ever?

    I'm with you on incentivizing the middle class. My issue is that neo-conservatives use this guise as a way to slip by tax cuts for the very wealthy.

    Repeal of the estate tax, for example. This has nothing to do with incentivizing the middle class and everything to do with making sure the wealthy don't pay their fair share.

    As a free marketer myself, I believe that a lot can be accomplished through economics. The trouble I have with Republicans and neo-conservatives is that they claim to represent the middle class when they represent the wealthy. Their economics sound good, but do they ever put these policies into place once in office?

    The trouble I have with Democrats is that they don't make a solid pitch to the middle class.

    Hear, hear on the German tax system!


    p.s. As for why Democrats struggle to get things accomplished. They don't. When they're trying to pass "corporate" legislation. They do when they are trying to pass legislation that goes against a corporate agenda. Why don't Republicans struggle? Because they never fight for anything that goes against this agenda.

    Most people think of the Senate as 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans. Err ... 59 Democrats :)

    In reality, it's more like 10 liberals, 35 moderates, 14 conservative-leaning Democrats, 3 centrist Republicans, and 37 neo-conservatives.

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:


    Thanx for the welcome back. But let's get to it. :D

    And do you really believe Republicans would reign in a deficit? After 8 years of Mr. Biggest-deficit-ever?

    Oh, come on... There was a little thing on September 11 2001 that MIGHT have had something to do with the deficit, no?

    What it all boils down to is one simple fact. Democrats said in 2006 that they could do better.

    The American people gave the Democrats the opportunity to show their stuff.

    The Democrats blew things at every turn.

    It's really that simple.


  24. [24] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Michale, let's not forget, the Democrats voted almost unanimously to support the Afghanistan War (so haven't got a leg to stand on to complain about how much it cost) and more Democrat Senators supported Iraq than opposed it (including, I believe, the current Secretary of State) so they can't really complain about that one either.

    Besides, according to the nonpartisan CBO, Obama's projected deficit will absolutely dwarf Bush's. In fact at no point during an Obama administration, according to the CBO, will the deficit ever be lower than under Bush. Obama supporters will point out the mess he inherited, but surely part of that mess, and in fact one of the parts that the Democrats loved to bash Bush about, was the deficit? And the current economic crisis, as you admit David, owed as much to the Democrats as it did Republicans, as it was under Clinton that Glass-Steagall was repealed.

    (Btw, to give a source for that projected CBO budget, here's a link to the CBO's graph. It's hosted in the WaPo website, but it's attributed to the CBO)

    As for estate tax, I'm not sure what the status is in the US (I'll do some more research before I commit to a response) but here in the UK the limit is low enough that my parents, a middle class (my parents began as shopkeepers, so you could even call them working class), will be paying close to, believe it or not, $1,000,000 in inheritance tax.

    I don't support repeal of the inheritance tax (and equally, don't support any sort of repeal of estate tax in the US) but I do think the limits need looking at to ensure middle class folk who made money because of rising property prices, which were caused by government policies, don't have to pay taxes on their death that make their estate largely worthless.

    Not sure what the status is in the US so I'll look at it more closely.

    The problem David, is that I'm not sure either party wants to actually put into place policies that favour the middle classes over the wealthy because of the contributions wealthy folk make to their campaigns. It's a problem, and I'm not sure, short of banning any sort of campaign contributions from wealthy people (which would be undemocratic, much as it pains me to say it), can be done to stop that.

    In the spirit of your critique of both parties, the problem I have with most Republicans is the bigotry. Things like the racism that some Republicans seem to actually be proud of! Or their blatant homophobia. The Religious Right scare the bejeesus out of me. Their support for the Death Penalty is nothing more than a naked desire for vengeance that I find disconcerting.

    However, the problem I have with the Democrats is their soft approach to foreign policy (and there's a long record of that), and the way they, seeing the working class as being a core part of their support, love to leap at any populist ideas (like going after Wall Street banks...bad idea). For me that's worse than the Republicans favouring the wealthy over the middle class.

    My reasoning is simple. Most middle class folk desire to be upwardly mobile, we aspire to become wealthier if we can. So if the Republicans favour wealth, it's possible that those policies will favour us too. Whereas most of us strive not to spiral downwards, into the working class, and I fear pro-working class policies are likely to heighten the likelihood of such a spiral.

    Of course I can also understand why many middle class folk prefer to have the safety net that Democrats are likely to provide. And on social issues I'm often in agreement with the Democratic Party. Hence being a moderate.

    Whilst I think there's an element of truth to what you say about corporate influence on why Democrats struggle to get things done and Republicans don't, I think it actually owes more to that last sentence of yours.

    The Democratic Party is more fragmented. Moderates can shift to either side of the agenda, and so-called blue dog Democrats will often vote Republican policies through and oppose Democratic ones. Republicans are more united as a right-wing party, which has some major flaws, but also gives strength.

    Attempts by liberal Democrats to derail the healthcare reform because it's not "liberal enough" are symptomatic of the problem. Republicans would rarely do the same, even if they disagreed with the policies. It's party first, ideology second (and vice-versa for the Democrats). Remember Reagan's Eleventh Commandment? If the Democrats had a similar mindset, even liberal policies would get passed more often. Solidarity brothers!

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    Sounds like we are very close on the political spectrum..

    I am very liberal, socially. Very conservative in the areas of National Security, Defense and Law Enforcement. Fiscally, I lean either way. I like the idea of all the free stuff that Democrats like to give out, but can also see the disaster of piling more and more debt on my grandchildren (I have 3 :D)

    And you are spot on with your analysis of the Democratic Party. I have said time and time again that the Democratic Party's biggest strength, it's diversity, is also it's biggest weakness.

    The Dem Party is ill-suited in a leadership role in times of war.

    "Lord knows I wouldn't want to lead a company of Pierces into battle. But I would sure as hell want him around afterwards."
    -Judge Advocate, M*A*S*H

    That's how I feel about the Democratic Party. In peacetime, when diplomacy is called for, the DP can shine...

    But in war, the GOP is the party that needs to lead..

    Basically, it's a choice between Captain Kirk and Captain Picard.

    In the here and now, we need Captain Kirk...


  26. [26] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Very similar. I'd class myself as socially liberal, very much, and my main areas of conservatism relate to law, order and public safety. Fiscally I'm in favour of fairness, and compassion for our fellow man, but not wealth redistribution.

    The Democratic party's diversity is great, when it comes to social issues (LBJ), and even, to an extent, the economy (Bill Clinton and FDR). But FDR, good as he was when it came to domestic policy, was poor when it came to the war.

    Churchill was the leader of the allies. I couldn't see a Republican President ever allowing a foreign leader to dominate America in that way during a war, even Reagan, who had the dominant personality of Thatcher to deal with.

  27. [27] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Given the discussion of Palin, and what the Republican and Democratic parties stand for, I thought you guys might find this an interesting read. It's seemingly non-partisan, criticising both the left's hate of her and the right's adoration:

  28. [28] 
    akadjian wrote:

    My conservative brethren,

    FDR had more stones than Reagan and both Bush's combined. He would have run his wheelchair over all three of them.

    As for the estate tax, I believe it's 2.5 m in 2009. But there's some odd changes going on I don't thoroughly understand. I think most people would support a higher limit as many middle class people are in this realm when they die.

    Party over ideology is an interesting notion. I think most progressives would say they believe in taking the best ideas from all sides. It's one of my core beliefs. This is one of my sticking points w/ today's Republican party - their idea of compromise is "my way or the highway".

    I see this as weakness and not strength. It limits your ideas to those you already agree with. And it's one of the reasons Republicans aren't offering anything new. Whereas I think Obama has shifted some of the conversation to new ideas. Sure, there could be more, but I still have hope.


  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    FDR had more stones than Reagan and both Bush's combined. He would have run his wheelchair over all three of them.

    Considering what he did to Japanese-Americans in WWII, I would have to agree with you.

    Party over ideology is an interesting notion. I think most progressives would say they believe in taking the best ideas from all sides. It's one of my core beliefs. This is one of my sticking points w/ today's Republican party - their idea of compromise is "my way or the highway".

    Such an attitude is not the sole province of the Republicans...

    The difference is that the GOP makes their MWOTH attitude stick...

    The Dems simply shrug and say, "oh gee ok, whatever you say.." and walk away with their balls stuffed somewhere we really don't want to talk about... :D

    For the record, ANYONE who puts country first is NOT all bad, regardless of party affiliation..

    Whereas I think Obama has shifted some of the conversation to new ideas.

    Which new ideas would that be??


  30. [30] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Hey Michale,

    Oh, come on... There was a little thing on September 11 2001 that MIGHT have had something to do with something, no?

    September 11th, September 11th! I'm right. You're a terrorist luvin' socialist communist!

    Ok. Maybe that's not so funny. But it amuses me.

    Speaking of differences, how about this one? What's the difference between Sarah Palin's mouth and her vagina?

    (Google for answer.)

    As long as I amuse myself. Seriously, though.

    We're probably at the point in this thread where we're either rehashing old ideas:
    - Democrats are weak blah, blah
    - Throw in some 9/11
    - Blame, blame, blamedy, blame, blame

    Or so far off topic that I feel it's time to adjourn to another thread. Senator McCain has called asking for his campaign slogan back and I bid you adieu.


    p.s. Moderate- The cultural wedge, or so I've heard, was a bit of a political innovation in the States. I've heard that it's spreading to other countries. Any hints of it in Britain?

  31. [31] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    RE: #5, Obama needs to throw deficit reduction in the faces of Senate Republicans and blue dogs on the 25th.

    The Age of Stupid Must End.

    Sorry I'm just getting around to commenting on this, Chris, but I've been really busy. You were curious to know what the tea party movement was turning into, and I've got a sample.

    Adding: biggest thing no one knows about the Senate HCR bill.

  32. [32] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Definitely. The right has bashed the left (including moderates within its own party) for being soft on illegal immigration. That's how groups like the British National Party arose, and now they're becoming quite a force in elections.

    As yet other social issues have not become central planks in anyone's platform, but I suspect it's only a matter of time. Civil unions look like the next issue that may end up becoming an electoral bargaining chip.

    I know you were just kidding, but that Palin mouth/vagina joke...quoting Terry Pratchett, "Bad taste, that man". But it is incredibly relevant to the post ;-).

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