Calm Down, People

First of all, the race is still wide open.If I was a more passionate Obama supporter, or if I wasn’t putting my tiny bit of energy into a) passing Prop 11, b) defeating Prop 8, and c) passing local Props X and Y here in Torrance – badly-needed school bonds for our local schools which have all passed the date at which they should have been rebuilt – I’d be worried and trying to figure out what I can do.

I still believe both that he will and that he should win; but I hear the people who are deeply convinced that he’s really Emma Goldman in drag and dark makeup.
First, I don’t think he is. I think that he’s a deeply careerist politician who was brought up by people on the left and used them like Kleenex to advance his career. He’s never in his career done anything outlandish, brave, or deeply controversial, and I just don’t see it that anyone is that good a deep-cover agent as to be able to cover it up.

Next, I believe deeply in the homeostasis of the American system. As reassurance, let me offer this AP article:

Conservative Democrats who’ve been a thorn in the side of liberal party leaders could grow into a major obstacle to Barack Obama’s agenda if he is elected president.

Majority Democrats are positioned for big gains in next week’s congressional election. But many of the new faces would join a growing chorus of “Blue Dogs” who often part from the party base on big issues like taxes and increasing federal spending.

That could set up a roadblock for Obama, who has promised to broaden health insurance coverage, start a new round of public works projects and improve early childhood education, among other things — all initiatives that would require substantial government spending at a time of soaring deficits.

The 49 House Blue Dogs – about one in every four House Democrats – could grow by as many as 10 in Tuesday’s election with wins in mainly Southern, conservative-leaning districts. Overall, Democrats are expected to pick up 20 or more House seats.

Look, it’s simple to me. Even given a filibuster-proof Democratic majority, the Democrats Congressmen who will be up in 2010 know that if they step too far to the left, they will be ex-Democratic Congressmen, and if there’s anything a Congressman hates, it’s having to pick up his own lunch tab. And I believe Obama would like to be a two-term President. And he knows what will happen if he goes all Dennis Kuchinich on us.

So everybody take a deep breath here. Go get out the Republican (or Democratic vote rather than hanging out here and bickering. Jan 20 will be here soon enough, andI’m deeply confident that no matter what color the hand that’s raised in oath will be, in the long run the Republic will do just fine.

24 thoughts on “Calm Down, People”

  1. At one level, you may be correct. At another, I wonder if you are.

    Do voters in “blue-dog” districts have a problem with nationalized health care? We don’t know: but since they are, in many instances, middle or lower income demographically, it stands to reason that the Democrats can “close the sale” on that issue. As always, the problems won’t become manifest until later (and will no doubt be blamed on the Republicans, as usual).

    Do such voters have a problem with more porkification of the budget? That, too, is doubtful.

    I agree that the blue dogs may–at the very least–slow down such brilliancies as card-check, FOCA, gun control, and similar culturally-driven hot-button issues. But I certainly don’t see them standing in the way of a “soak-the-rich”, Wall-Street-bashing, anti-growth economic policy.

    OTOH, I honestly don’t see McCain holding the line on very many of those issues either, so perhaps it’s academic.

  2. So, you would prefer to think he will follow the Carter model rather than the Nixon/LBJ model?

    Besides for him being black, I don’t see the upside you’re seeing. And I would posit that an incompetent/corrupt first-really-black-although-not-if-you-listen-to-Charles-Ogletree president would do more to screw up racial relations in this country than electing the incontinent old white guy who will muddle through, never mind the gnashing of teeth that would follow.

    I honestly think there’s a whole lot more downside to Obama in the racial healing game than upside. Seriously, do you think hanging a Carter- or Nixon-esque rep on the first black to get there would be a good thing?

    If Obama wins, I’ll find religion and pray that you’re right about this. But going by the evidence, I think we’ll be in for a bad four years.

  3. Always remember that one thing that never changes (except over multi-decade periods) is that America is :

    40% Right-wing
    40% Moderate
    20% Left-wing

    The right has higher birth rates than the left, but new immigrants usually get duped into being in the left, as their only source of information is television, and they usually don’t come from countries that are mature democracies (and hence don’t know how to sift through political information).

    40/40/20. Clinton learned this in 1994, and adapted accordingly. Carter never learned this, and paid the price. Bush II remarkably forgot this around 2005, for reasons I still haven’t understood.

  4. As far as patriotism goes, America breaks down as :

    70-72% are pro-US
    20% are neutral/uninterested
    8-10% are anti-US.

    The blue dogs fall in the 70%, as do virtually all Republicans, and a good chunk of ‘careerist’ white-collar immigrants. The neutral group has many minorities and some lower-skill immigrants. the 10% fifth column is where Ayers, Wright (and his audience), Ward Churchill, a depressing number of American Muslims, and La Raza types reside.

    I think Obama is part of the 20%. He is pro-US only to the extent that it helps his personal advancement. But he is not anti-US beyond using anti-US friends, as there is little profit to be had.

    Yet, a President absolutely has to be among the 70% that is pro-US. Clinton was. Obama is not. He is in the 20% group. Thus, if helping America helps Obama, he will do it. If hurting America helps Obama (such as by increasing his popularity in Europe), he will do it.

  5. While he probably won’t go full Kucinich, there are plenty of things that the Blue Dogs will roll over for, I fear. In addition to what David Hecht mentions at #1 above, I’d add protectionist trade policies.

    I live in the district of Chet Edwards, who is probably considered a Blue Dog. My sense is that all is forgiven (or ignored) here among his constituents as long as the pork keeps rolling in. Plus there’s the old chicanery of allowing the Blue Dogs to take turns voting against things as long as none of them actually lose. Didn’t LBJ gain a lot of power early in his House career through doling out campaign funds from the national committee? I’m guessing that there are plenty of Blue Dogs who won’t bite the hand that has the potential to feed them from the campaign cash machine Obama has invented.

  6. I think A.L. has a good read on what the Obama Administration will do, but I somewhat disagree on the reasons.

    First, Obama knows how to take the long view. Whose campaign kept focus and accumulated advantages, and whose tried to dominate the daily news cycle with gimmicks? Patience is sometimes a virtue.

    Second, while I think Obama is a left-liberal, not a moderate, he also prefers to bring a broad coalition with him. We’ve become so accustomed to the Bush/Rove 50 percent plus one strategy, we’ve come to accept it as standard. It wasn’t, and far from growing a Permanent Republican Majority, its finale appears to be 41 Senate seats (and the 2010 Senate class looks like more GOP losses) and 165 Congressmen. Obama listens to people who don’t agree with him, and he makes pragmatic changes. He managed to write an Open Government bill with Tom Coburn. He managed to get videotaping of police interrogations in Illinois by unanimous vote, completely disarming initial police opposition. I think Obama has the potential to be a great president not because his beliefs are relatively closely aligned to mine, as national political figures go, but because he is going to listen to Blue Dog Democrats even when he does not agree with them. He got a lot of support from Red State Democrats in the primaries, both voters and endorsements, and he is aligned with the Howard Dean 50-State Strategy that promises to bring more Blue Dog Dems into Congress. (Liberal and Moderate Republicans having gone extinct, it’s hard to see where a significant influx of far-left Democrats could come from.)

    As an aside, McCain might be able to govern in this sort of bipartisan way, except one sees evidence that he, like Bush, hates complexity and likes simple stories with a villain. The fact that in a few rare instances (in particular, campaign finance and immigration) the villain will be another Republican does not make up for this. And as for Palin, her limited record offers nothing encouraging on this score.

    Third, the Republican Party will be too small to obstruct for its own sake. If they want to oppose Obama’s acts on principle (and probably lose), that’s their prerogative. Manipulating Congress for mere political advantage will be impossible in the House and, with so little margin against filibusters, difficult in the Senate. There were many reasons the 1994 Clinton Health Initiative failed, but one stands out. Bill Kristol, beginning his decade-long initiative to ruin America for the benefit of the Republican Party, advised the Republican Party to “Sight unseen reject it.” This led to the amazing spectacle of Republicans voting against the very same compromise plans they had themselves introduced. Insofar as the plan was to make Democrats look disorganized and feckless, it was a complete success. How it contributed to American health care, not so successful. The 1994 Democrats were too stupid to counter this breathtaking cynicism, and they still hadn’t learned by the 2002 Iraq War resolution and Homeland Security Act, where Mr Kristol’s fingerprints are also apparent. Obama is the first post-Rove candidate who appears to have found an antidote to the electoral success and poisoning of political discourse the Bush Clown Show brought us.

  7. I think that he’s a deeply careerist politician who was brought up by people on the left and used them like Kleenex to advance his career.

    I think that’s pretty much dead on, and that there will be much wailing from the left when they realize it.

  8. _He’s never in his career done anything outlandish, brave, or deeply controversial_

    You must have your threshold for “controversial” set pretty high, if you don’t think voting against a bill to prohibit killing infants who happen to be born alive as a result of botched late term abortions isn’t _controversial_.

    And I’m still curious why an armed liberal doesn’t have the least twinge of doubt about elected a former board member of the Joyce foundation; Have you ever addressed that?

  9. I still want to hear more about why how a man runs and is portrayed by his campaign is the best indicator of how he will govern. On its face that just seems like like maddeningly naive. Maybe we need to have a discussion about how candidates have historically matched up to their campaign images. GW Bush in his first campaign you wouldnt recognize. Remember the guy that scorned nation building ;)

    I gotta be honest- this seems like a rationale, not a reason. I think people have decided to vote for Obama and now they need to justify it. Fine, but please have more to say than ‘well if he governs like he’s been talking since the end of the primaries’…

  10. For those who can’t get enough of the polls as this comes down to the wire, there’s a brand new “study on MSM poll baises”: in this election season, by Mark Schilling and Len Adleman (THE Adleman of RSA, if that means something to you).

    The overall results are unsurprising – there’s bias, who’da thunk? – but what might be useful are the offsets that you can use to somewhat despin the numbers in the next few days.

    [ Link fixed. Though I think Tim meant to direct readers to the first paragraph of “this post at his blog.”: — M.F. ]

  11. _He managed to get videotaping of police interrogations in Illinois by unanimous vote, completely disarming initial police opposition._

    So without Obama the bill would not have passed? Or would it have passed short of unanimously? Or would we be in the process of electing one of the “original sponsors”: of the bill who carried it 99 yards before Obama’s mentor gave the ball to Obama to pad his stats?

    Obama has no discernable, transparent record of acommplishment in the Illinois Senate. He is a cypher, which is why people spend so much time on his associations.

  12. As I understand it, the interrogation bill had been languishing under the previous sponsorship. No one wanted to pass it over police opposition.

  13. AJL: In 2002, the Illinois Senate was controlled by the Republicans. The interrogation bill was not even presented for vote. In 2003, the Illinois Senate, the House and the Governorship went Democratic for the first time in 26 years. The bill got a vote and IIRC many, if not all, Republicans voted “present.” A whole lot of Democratic legislation that had been bottled up got passed that year. Obama probably could have gotten more, but he had begun preparing to run for US Senate. Obama could have done more in the US Senate, but he was running for President. If he starts campaigning to head the Major League Baseball Commission next year, I’m calling for his impeachment.

  14. Dude… I don’t get it. Obama’s going to be a pragmatic centrist despite having a Congress that’s, if anything, more liberal, and running on promising

    1. Protectionism.
    2. Destroying the secret ballet for labor unions. Which, given the other hints we have about his tolerance of dissenting speech, we should be concerned about even more.
    3. Raising taxes well beyond simply moving back to the pre Bush tax cut levels. Corporate, payroll, capital gains, you name it. All of which have significant potential to really mess up the economy.
    4. His and his party’s extremely cozy relationship with the parties on wall street they say need regulating (despite being already quite heavily regulated).

    I mean… jeez. Is there really any chance he doesn’t push forward on these fronts? And these policies would be extremely damaging to the US economy and hard to undo.

  15. Armed Liberal, I’m a huge fan of yours and always will be, so forgive me when I ask what somebody has to do that will qualify as “outlandish, brave, or deeply controversial?”

    I can’t gloss over his associations and activities with the likes of Ayers and Wright for example. Let me put it to you this way: if John McCain had launched his career in Randall Terry’s house would that not be controversial?

    Given the current financial crisis, how Obama’s involvement with ACORN’s direct actions for housing, and his participation in a lawsuit against Citibank to open up their lending practices, or his prominence on Fannie’s & Freddie’s contribution list not controversial?

    How is the Obama campaign’s financial practices not controversial when they have turned off every safeguard against credit card fraud and been notably lax in record keeping?

    There’s a lot more, AL, as you very well know. Quo vadis, on this, my Democratic friends?

    Just sayin’

  16. #13 PD Shaw:
    Ever since Obama’s “President of Earth” world tour, I’ve been wondering what his intent was. At the time, I couldn’t imagine that he’d be so bold as to be drumming up illegal foreign donations. I am no longer certain of that, but I still wonder about his ultimate goal.

    Win or lose next week, this election could be a stepping stone to Secretary-General of the UN in 2011 or 2016. If he wins, he has said he wants to enact treaties that would give the UN more authority over the US. And he would certainly appoint someone loyal to him to the Security Council. But if he loses, he could still use that loss to play for sympathy on the world stage.

    The only obstacle that comes to mind is that, according to wikipedia, “the Secretary-General cannot be a national of any of the Permanent Members of the Security Council”. Given that there is already enough uncertainty about his citizenship to have inspired a number of lawsuits demanding proof, how hard would it be for him to declare himself a citizen of Kenya or Indonesia? (After his Presidency has ended, if elected.)

    Is this just insane ramblings on my part? Quite possibly. Could it happen? I don’t think anyone would be terribly surprised. Either way, it’s food for thought…

  17. Ok, two new Obama proposals that i would like to hear reconciled with him not being a radical.

    1. Obama “intends”: to bankrupt the coal industry. Intentionally.

    _”So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”_ Obama (for audio follow the link)

    2.Obama intends to create a “civilian security force”: “just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded” as the military.

    Now any ideological way you look at this, establishing a new standing national military to be used domestically outside of the purview of the traditional armed forces is massively radical… nothing like it has been proposed in decades. The implications are staggering. Whether you prefer allusions to Brown Shirts, or Praetorian Guard, the idea of a domestic force that matches our independent military is rife with dangers to the republic. Just imagine if Bush proposed this…

    I’m not a chicken little when it comes to this stuff- i never thought Bill Clinton was some terrible danger to the republic and of course scoffed when Bush’s mild controversies were taken to the extreme. But how can Obama at least not raise the hackles? He’s a cypher we know little about. He has in a short time shown a scary aversion to free speech and opposing viewpoints and seems more than willing to use the powers of the state to silence critics. And he now is making it clear he is willing to shut down industries he doesnt like, and perhaps raise a personal army for some nebulous reason.

    Yeh, its a crazy to accuse the man of attempting to make himself an emperor, but i think the idea that this man is potentially dangerous should be addressed at this point. We know his past and his associations, however in depth of extensive you want to assume they were. But _specifically,_ why shouldn’t these two proposals bother me?

  18. Mark, I think you’re off-base a bit.

    His comments on coal were about new plants – and I’m not excited about new coal-fired plants either – although I might not want to rule them out as strongly as he seems to be suggesting.

    The civilian defense force doesn’t seem to be domestically focused; I’ve heard a lot of smart counterinsurgency people talk about the need to do some kind of civilian extension of the current CAP that extends and improves our nation-building capabilities.

    How is that a bad thing?


  19. _”His comments on coal were about new plants “_

    Specifically, yes. But via his general policy on taxing C02 emmisions, doesnt that apply to existing plants as well? Regardless, i don’t see any way this doesnt raise energy costs in the long run. We’ve seen what virtual bans on nuclear power has done to that industry and to electricity production.

    _”The civilian defense force doesn’t seem to be domestically focused”_

    I think it would have to, via Americorp as an example. Realistically the idea that anything close to the size and funding of the military is possible as an overseas entity is just impossible. From Obama’s “website”:

    _He will establish a Classroom Corps to help teachers and students, with a priority placed on underserved schools; a Health Corps to improve public health outreach; a Clean Energy Corps to conduct weatherization and renewable energy projects; a Veterans Corps to assist veterans at hospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters; and a Homeland Security Corps to help communities plan, prepare for and respond to emergencies._

    This all pretty standard Alinskiesque strategy is it not? Obama is suggesting new organizations with hundreds of thousands of new employees and perhaps a half trillion dollar budget if he is serious. All beholden to the federal government and staffed by the activists Obama has trained and been trained by over the years.

    That would be a radical increase in government power at the very least, and theoretically (whatever this Homeland Security Corps means specifically) you have some sort of domestic entity with executive and quasi military powers, at least to some extent.

    I do find that worrisome. Even if you trust Obama, how about the implications down the road?

  20. Mark B: Good substantive questions.

    _Obama intends to bankrupt the coal industry._

    Interesting quote. My initial reaction is that Obama seems to have had a rep in Illinois as pro-coal, with Illinois having some of the largest coal reserves in the US. I’ll look that up, but my gut reaction is that this might be an example of Obama’s cynicism. How does this pass Byrd?

    A.L. _His comments on coal were about new plants_

    I don’t read it that way. I think he’s talking about existing plants that build new generators or make substantial improvements — that’s when traditionaly heightened environmental regs hit. It’s also why a lot of our coal plants are old and inefficient. The regulators think they are encouraging improvements when in fact they are discouraging them.

    Back to Mark B: _Obama intends to create a civilian security force “just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded” as the military_

    I don’t think he’s got the money for it and if he does, it will probably go to healthcare. I think its the regulatory side where Obama’s liberal instincts will be felt most. He’ll make big business do it as a hidden tax.

  21. Winds isn’t letting me link to the American Coal Council blog, but its June 27, 2007 entry captures what I think are the views of Obama and coal: Obama is not to be trusted by industry or environmentalists:

    bq. _For the past several years, the junior Senator from Illinois has been willing to stand by a struggling southern Illinois coal industry. As we noted in this blog, he has openly supported the industry in votes and with legislation like the Coal-To-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007. So many in the coal industry believed that Senator Obama’s credentials as a coal supporter were solid._

    Later Obama reached out to the Greens:

    bq. _While his aides described this about face as a “clarification,” the media described this new position as “backtracking,” the coal industry saw the “clarification” as as a one-time ally turning his back on them, and the environmental groups saw it as a definitive victory._

    Later the Greens reconsider their comfort level with Obama:

    bq. _On the other side of the issue, some members of the green movement are feeling equally betrayed, . . . Obama comes out looking a lot more like a talented but still ordinary politician rather than someone truly revolutionary who is going to lead the way to a new kind of politics._

    I frankly don’t think Obama is that interested in environmental or energy issues. I don’t think he understands that his tax will probably do nothing to reduce carbon emissions.

  22. It seems that parentheses are allowed as characters in URLs, but cause comment malfunction when the “text to display” instructions under POST A COMMENT are followed. This is a particular problem with links to sections of Wikipedia articles, as their URLs typically use “(” and “)”. “”: is the solution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>