Friday Talking Points [167] -- Happy Friday The Thirteenth, Ron!

[ Posted Friday, May 13th, 2011 – 17:10 UTC ]

Ron Paul, apparently, is not a superstitious kind of guy.

Tempting fate, as it were, he announced today that he's running for president once again -- on Friday the thirteenth.

Ron's not the only one making news on this front this particular week, though. I wrote an article on Wednesday looking over the entire Republican field (which is bigger than you might think), and already it's out of date. Newt Gingrich announced his run two days ago, Ron Paul's now officially in, and Mike Huckabee is set to announce his decision tomorrow night (on Fox News, naturally).

In other words, the 2012 race is finally shaping up on the Republican side. There will likely be no nomination race on the Democratic side, since Obama will assumably crush any upstart Democrats who take him on.

One thing worth considering at this point, though, is that we're still a long way off from the 2012 election. And a lot can happen in a year and a half. Pundits who are predicting "the 2012 race will be all about X" (no matter what "X" is) stand a good chance of being wrong. Events have a way of overshadowing carefully crafted campaign plans.

The most interesting speculation I've heard yet for the 2012 election is that we could see both houses of Congress switch hands next year. Democrats have a lot of seats in the Senate to defend, and a very thin margin of control. The House, as always, is more volatile and if Democrats can successfully portray Republicans as overreaching their mandate in radical ways, they could take the House back.

But while contemplating amusing scenarios, a word of caution is necessary, once again. Anything could happen. We have no idea what "Issue Number One" is going to be next November. The Republicans are now getting serious about the presidential race -- much later than expected -- but nobody can predict with any degree of confidence how everything is going to play out. And anyone (in the media, especially) who tells you differently is fooling themselves.


Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

A group of Democrats in Pima County, Arizona are certainly setting an impressive goal for themselves: forming a new state. Pima County is much more liberal than the rest of Arizona, and these guys are tired of being part of such a red state. From the story by Reuters:

Although Baja Arizona [the name of the proposed new state] would be created from just a single county, it would hardly rank as the smallest territory to be granted statehood. Pima County exceeds Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut and New Jersey in land mass and surpasses several other states in population, including Alaska, Montana, Wyoming or the Dakotas, according to the U.S. Census.

Even so, it has to be seen as the longest of long shots. The path to carving a new state out of an old one is daunting, with many high hurdles along the way. The last time it happened, we got West Virginia during the Civil War era. But for setting their sights high and for such a bold move, we've got to at least give the group an Honorable Mention for the attempt.

But our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to fiercely independent Bernie Sanders (we're bending the rules a bit, we realize, since Sanders isn't even officially a Democrat). The Vermont senator not only reintroduced his "millionaires' tax" bill this week, but he is also using his leverage on the Senate Budget Committee to force other Democrats to stake out a better bargaining position in the upcoming battles over how to tame the deficit. As R.J. Eskow explained in the Huffington Post this week:

Today's budget debate is being framed as if the president's proposal is the "left" and the Republican proposal is the "right." Actually, the president's offering a center-right plan and the GOP's offering a radical-right plan. The budget plan that most closely reflects public opinion is the one offered by the House Progressive Caucus, and that's being dismissed as coming from the "loony left" -- even though polls show it represents the real "center" of public opinion.

Smart economists agree that's the best approach. Nevertheless, diffident Dems keep entering these negotiations afraid to represent the public's will or best interests. That has to change.

Sen. Sanders, and now Sen. Conrad, have increased the likelihood of getting a budget that more closely resembles what the public wants and needs. Sen. Sanders had to face down Sen. Conrad and the other Democrats on his Committee for a week. That took guts. He held out for the best possible deal, then compromised and settled.

Like they say: You gotta know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em. By facing down Conrad and the other Democrats on the Committee, he did them a favor. Now they can negotiate from a stronger position. Whatever happens, they'll be able to tell the public that somebody in Washington was looking out for them.

Some of us have been arguing for a long time that the progressive movement is too attached to the Democratic Party leadership, and more of the country's elected Democrats need to join with their House colleagues and negotiate for the public's best interests and voters' preferred policies. Sen. Sanders has shown them the way.

Read the whole article for more details, it's worth it. For the past few years, we have watched Democrats bargaining away their own strongest positions before the horse trading even begins with the Republicans. Somebody's got to teach Democrats how this game is properly played, and this week Bernie Sanders seems to be the best candidate to show such leadership.

For this, Senator Sanders has earned the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

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


Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Instead of handing out a Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award this week, we're going to semi-rescind the one we handed out last week.

Last Friday, we awarded the MDDOTW to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, because he hadn't made good on his promise to force the Senate to vote on Paul Ryan's budget (which has already passed the Republican House). A week ago, we wrote:

Reid threatened to throw his weight around, and force the vote. Then he didn't do so, in the best week he had to make it happen (to be fair, we will consider rescinding this award, if Harry does force a vote soon). For showing such weakness, and for issuing such an empty threat, Harry Reid is this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

Upon reflection, we decided that this was too harsh and too hasty. After all, the absence of a vote doesn't preclude a future vote. Watching the news this week, we didn't see anything about Reid scheduling a vote, so yesterday we decided to call his office up and ask what was going on. We felt it was only fair to give them a chance to respond, as it were.

A leadership aide in Reid's office assured us that the Majority Leader is indeed planning on holding a vote on the Ryan budget, "before the Memorial Day break" (two weeks from now). The aide went on to explain that Democrats had to get through the debate over oil subsidies, but that the Ryan vote would happen before the end of the month.

This brought to mind the fact that Reid does his best work just before vacation breaks. Think back -- almost every big vote on important legislation has happened right before the Senate takes a few weeks off. The threat of giving up their vacation time is the strongest motivating force in the Senate today, and Reid has always shown he knows how to use this leverage to its fullest extent.

So we're declaring that last week's MDDOTW award is hereby being held in abeyance. If Reid forces the Ryan budget vote, we will rescind it entirely and give him a MIDOTW to make up for it.


Friday Talking Points

Volume 167 (5/13/11)

As promised, we're back to our regular format this week, where we offer up talking points for Democrats everywhere to use in debate. Most especially Democrats who happen to be booked on the Sunday morning political chatfests, but they work equally well for watercooler arguments as well.


   Playing politics?

The first one is from none other than Paul Ryan himself. The Ryan budget is the giant weak spot in the Republican Party right now, and Democrats need to poke this weak spot every chance they get.

"I heard that Paul Ryan told Politico that he thought Harry Reid was, quote, playing politics, unquote, by holding a Senate vote on Ryan's own budget proposal. Ryan introduced his budget in the House and got all but four Republicans to pass it without a single Democratic vote. Why wouldn't Ryan want the Senate to vote on his budget bill? It boggles the mind. What Ryan is apparently saying is that he was never serious about his bill becoming law in the first place -- because if he was, he would welcome a Senate vote on it. By admitting that he was never serious at all about his budget plan, Ryan is also admitting that he has been the one 'playing politics' all along, not Reid."


   Where is the courage of your convictions?

Once you've stuck the rhetorical knife in, twist it.

"When Paul Ryan introduced his budget proposal, he was hailed as being 'brave' and 'bold' and all kinds of other wonderful things by the Republicans. The Ryan budget passed the House, but now Republicans appear to be afraid of holding a vote on it over in the Senate. Why would they fear such a 'brave' and 'bold' Republican budget plan? You'd think they'd be happy to go on record supporting the Ryan budget, so they can return home to their voters and campaign on their wonderful ideas for the budget. Instead, Republican senators appear not to have the courage of their own convictions -- probably because the public has resoundingly rejected the radical ideas contained within the Ryan budget. Republicans are afraid the Ryan budget is going to become a metaphorical boat anchor around their necks, out on the campaign trail. No wonder they're afraid to vote."


   Corporate welfare for oil companies

Democrats are missing a framing opportunity in the midst of the debate over stripping all the tax loopholes the giant oil companies now enjoy. It's a good debate to have, mind you, but it needs a snappy term. Luckily, one already exists.

"Democrats are fighting to end corporate welfare for oil companies, and Republicans are fighting to allow oil companies to avoid paying their fair share of American taxes. Everyone is tightening their belts at this point -- everyone, that is, except the oil companies. They're doing great, and are on their way to making hundreds of billions in pure profit this year, out of your wallet or purse. Democrats think that it's time to end the corporate welfare written into the tax code specifically for the oil companies -- which would lower America's budget deficit by tens of billions of dollars. Republicans are fighting for the oil companies to continue enjoying their corporate welfare, which allows them to avoid paying their fair share."


   Obama's securing the border

The president gave a speech down on the U.S.-Mexican border this week, and he pointed out a few realities which Republicans really don't want to hear. Democrats need to begin echoing these points in earnest.

"Our southern border has never been more secure than under President Obama. Less people are getting through, more people are being sent back, and the border is much more secure than it ever was under George W. Bush or any other recent president. Republicans who can't admit that the border is more secure now than ever will, as the president said in his speech, never be happy with anything short of alligators in a giant moat. Of course, with the price of alligators these days, doing so would explode the deficit [pause for laughter]. Now, the border situation isn't perfect, but it never will be until we devote tens of thousands of men and hundreds of billions of dollars to patrol every single inch of the border 24/7 -- which we quite simply cannot afford and is never going to happen. But give Obama some credit, folks -- he's done a better job of securing the border than anyone else in recent memory."


   No wonder Ensign resigned...

This one is just pure snarkiness, I admit.

"No wonder Nevada's John Ensign resigned his Senate seat. Now that the Ethics Committee has issued its extensive report on Ensign's behavior during and after his affair with a married woman on his staff, Ensign will be facing possible charges from the Justice Department over the illegal things he allegedly did to cover up the affair. Ensign quit the Senate right before the Ethics Committee was to issue this report, and now it's easy to see why he got out when he did. Well, the Senate can't touch him now that he's stepped down, but the Justice Department still can."


   Friday the 13th

Boy, I really am in a snarky mood today. Heh.

"Poll after poll shows how dispirited the Republican voters are about the choices they're being offered for the 2012 presidential nomination race. The more Republican candidates who jump in the race, the lower the Republican voters' enthusiasm seems to get. Newt Gingrich threw his hat in, and Ron Paul entered the race on the auspicious date of Friday the Thirteenth, but still Republican voters aren't showing much love for the field. Perhaps they'll get more excited if Donald Trump announces his presidential bid."


   The ultimate comeback

This one has been rattling around in my brain for a few weeks now. It's childish, I fully admit. But it's also effective. When talking to people who have nothing good to say about President Obama ever (for instance, your uncle or cousin who lives in a red state), from this point on Obama supporters have an ultimate rejoinder to toss into the fray. As I said, it's more like a playground taunt than reasoned political debate, but then even playground taunts occasionally have their uses. So the next time Uncle Zeke gets too annoying, come back with the following:

"Yeah, well, say what you want about Obama, but he got Bin Laden, didn't he?"


-- Chris Weigant

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: Democrats For Progress
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


19 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [167] -- Happy Friday The Thirteenth, Ron!”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    There will likely be no nomination race on the Democratic side, since Obama will assumably crush any upstart Democrats who take him on.

    When was the last time that a Democrat entered a primary race with a sitting Democrat president?

    In any event, if that happens this time around we'll have to come up with a decidedly more descriptive term than upstart. I can think of a few choice words, not surprisingly. :)

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    How does the Progressive Caucus budget proposal differ from the one outlined by President Obama?

  3. [3] 
    dsws wrote:

    When was the last time that a Democrat entered a primary race with a sitting Democrat president?

    Well, LaRouche called himself a Democrat in 1996. If that doesn't count, you have to reach all the way back to 1980.

    Let's see again, when were the last times there was a sitting Democratic president who was eligible to run for re-election?

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    When was the last time that a Democrat entered a primary race with a sitting Democrat president?

    When Ted Kennedy challenged Carter for the nomination in 1980...

    It's was a bruising scorched Earth contest that left Carter weaker (if that's even possible) and Reagan mopped the country with him...

    Before Bin Laden, I would have said that Obama might be in for a Primary fight. His numbers were tanking and that tanking was accelerating...

    However, since Obama took out Osama, the numbers have spike up a tad, but more important, the downward slide was arrested..

    Obama will have to screw up really bad (always a possibility) to earn a Primary fight..

    If there is a Dem Primary fight, the GOP could nominate Donald Duck (and they might) and he would be a shoe-in...


  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Sorry CW, but #4 is a load of carp...

    Let's take a trip to the border and ask the people who actually LIVE there if the border is "more secure than ever"...

    Obama et al points to lower arrests as proof that the border is more secure..

    Yet we have lawmen testifying under oath that the reason the arrest numbers are lower is because BP agents have been instructed NOT to make arrests...

    So, let's not follow that BS line of reasoning that the border is more secure than ever..

    It ain't... Period.

    As to #5, are you SURE you want to cap on the GOP regarding corruption and/or sexual peccadilloes??

    Shall we trot out all the Dems that have been busted for the same things?? :D

    #7.... Spike the football much?? :D

    Like I said previously...

    We're Americans.. We love to gloat... :D


  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    Yet we have lawmen testifying under oath that the reason the arrest numbers are lower is because BP agents have been instructed NOT to make arrests...

    That should be amended to say:

    We have lawmen testifying under oath that they have been told that Border Patrol supervisors have instructed BP Agents NOT to make arrests but rather TBS people.. And THAT is why the arrest numbers are lower.

    My bust...


  7. [7] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:


    For the first time ever, I am cross-posting a comment from another site here, because it is so excellent. This came in over at Huffington Post, and was in response to a comment on #7 (quoted as the first line).



    standard wrote:

    "It actually took you a week to come up with that 'answer'?"

    To be fair, it took George W. Bush--who was also in a position to deploy Navy SEALS--sev­en and a half years to NOT get bin Laden.

    What Bush43 did do was run the National Debt through the roof (setting the stage for economic disaster), not regulate the banking industry (further setting the stage for economic disaster), cripple our civil liberties, and something else. What was that? Oh! Now I remember. It was: NOT get bin Laden.

    He didn't get him with appeals. He didn't get him with our SEALS. He didn't get him with a drone. He didn't get him in his home. He didn't get him river-ford­ing. He didn't get him waterboard­ing. He didn't--sm­irking ear to ear. He didn't--wo­rking year to year. He didn't get him in a day. He didn't get him any way. Although the GOP it sadden, Dubya didn't get bin Laden.

    So, say what you will about Obama, he got Bin Laden.

    (With apologies to Theodor Geisel for using his poetic model, purists for using near-rhyme­s, and President Obama for somewhat "spiking the football".­

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    and President Obama for somewhat "spiking the football".­

    Americans love to gloat!! :D


  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:


    To be fair, it was George Bush who developed the intel that directly lead to the execution of Bin Laden.

    Further, it was George Bush that developed and implemented the policies, without which Obama would have had jack squat to work with..

    Finally, George Bush did it, IN SPITE of all the personal attacks and political attacks from the Left AND from Obama...

    Any fool can order SEALs to attack...

    But without the foresight and sheer guts displayed by the Bush Administration, Obama would have been completely and utterly clueless on where to send the SEALS...

    "Dems da facts, Jack!!"
    -Bill Murray, STRIPES


  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    That may have come out a little harsher than I meant it..

    Sorry, it's been a REALLY bad week..

    All my point is, is that Bush deserves the credit for all the things Bush did that enabled Obama to do what Obama did...

    If one is completely fair, Bush deserves MORE credit as he was the trailblazer.

    Obama simply followed Bush's lead..


  11. [11] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Oh, c'mon. That Dr. Seuss takeoff was funny. Admit it. Be a man. Or do I have to quote Larry the Cable Guy back to you?



  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Oh, c'mon. That Dr. Seuss takeoff was funny. Admit it. Be a man. Or do I have to quote Larry the Cable Guy back to you?


    OK OK.. Credit where credit is due. That WAS pretty funny... :D

    And pretty damn original too...

    So, yep.. You do get a kewpie for originality and a kewpie for humor.. :D


  13. [13] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    Oh, c'mon. That Dr. Seuss takeoff was funny. Admit it. Be a man. Or do I have to quote Larry the Cable Guy back to you?

    speaking of which, did you get to read the galactic empire times website that i posted on last week's FTP? i realize i was a bit late to the party, but it was pretty funny.

  14. [14] 
    akadjian wrote:

    speaking of which, did you get to read the galactic empire times website that i posted on last week's FTP? i realize i was a bit late to the party, but it was pretty funny.


    I was also pretty amazed at the entire site. Star Wars fans always take it to another level.

  15. [15] 
    akadjian wrote:

    p.s. Trump's out ...

    If there was ever any doubt that this was more than just a publicity stunt.

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    Obama got hit with a double-whammy of bad news..

    First, Trump is out..

    Second, his Bin Laden bump in the polls has been completely erased...

    Shoulda released the photograph... Might have been able to hold onto that bump a bit longer...


  17. [17] 
    akadjian wrote:

    "I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election." - Donald Trump

    Sure, Don. Sure thing. :)

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    "I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election." - Donald Trump

    Sure, Don. Sure thing. :)

    Self-esteem doesn't seem to be a problem for Trump.. :D


  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    On the other hand, stranger things have happened.

    In 2008, we elected a guy with absolutely ZERO leadership experience and the business sense of a walnut..

    We Americans can be a crazy lot sometimes... Trump might just have pulled it off. :D


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