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Deserve’s Got Nothing To Do With It


Glenn has found yet another “provocative” (or is that proactive? Third party vanity campaigns — a totally strategically dynamic new paradigm!) piece arguing that True Progressives should be working to throw the election to Romney. I probably shouldn’t take the bait, but this one is built around a particular fallacy I’ve never really addressed before, so I might as well. The piece has a lot of common errors — green laternism, an allergy to historical perspective — but this is the real key to his argument:

But, let us be clear. Win or lose, Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama will all be fine. They win either way. Lucrative lobbying, banking, and advising jobs await all of them. “Speaker fees,” often six-figures, will be plentiful. The gravy awaits, and it’s all good. Of that we can all rest assured. What of the economic fortunes of the vast majority of the American people? Obama’s former supporters? The unemployed? Underwater homeowners? The victims of fraudulent foreclosures?

Well, here’s some news: He’s just not that into you. We’re adults. It is time to get over it. You owe him nothing because he has done nothing for you and plans to do nothing for you – unless you count the positive harm of cutting Social Security and enacting the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If voting for such a person “rocks your boat,” feel free. But surely it can be understood why more than a few people may feel differently.

The idea that Obama has “done nothing” for his constituents is obviously absurd. (Hint: when a True Progressive dismisses, say, a massive expansion of Medicaid as being too trivial to even be worthy of consideration, the well-being of the less affluent may not actually be their top priority.) But I want to focus on the argument that progressives don’t “owe” Obama anything. Well, of course they don’t. No part of the coalition, from socialist to Blue Dog, “owes” their vote to the Democrats. What progressives do have a moral and ethical obligation to do with their vote is to advance progressive values. Obama and Axelrod (and, it must be said, most people urging people to support third parties) will be fine if Republicans win — but nobody actually thinks this is important. The issue is what happens to the “the vast majority of the American people” if enough people were to take Prasch’s advice. How does withholding support for Obama advance the progressive values that Obama is being criticized for not sufficiently advancing?

As with virtually all such arguments, Prasch spends very little time on this question, and rather devotes most of his attention to a litany of things Obama has done that were not sufficiently progressive, and linking to other such litanies. But in and of itself, withholding support from leaders of parties in two-party systems don’t agree with you on every issue is puerile. Positing a President who agrees with you about everything (and, implicitly, can win a majority coalition and will have the powers of a Westminster Prime Minister to enact this agenda) as a solution to political problems is no less narcissistic wankery coming from a leftier-than-thou Obama critic than from Tom Friedman.

So how exactly would throwing the elections to Republicans advance the progressive interests Obama is neglecting? He has an answer:

Anyone who has ever gone shopping knows that their bargaining power depends ultimately upon his/her willingness to walk away. The ability to walk away explains why the service we get from our local dry cleaner is significantly better than what most of us get from our local cable provider. When you have a choice, and demonstrate a willing to take that choice, you become empowered as consumer (I might add that the same is true of labor markets, which explains why most employers prefer a higher level of unemployment than their employees). Right now, a deeply cynical reelection campaign is betting that progressives will be too afraid of Romney to seek to empower themselves. This, let us remember, has been the strategy pursued by an increasingly right-wing Democratic National Committee for close to thirty years. Every four years we are asked to vote for the lesser evil. In a couple of weeks we will all learn if this plea will pay off again. The question is, will we learn? Will we learn to bargain with a faithless leadership of the Democratic Party? If not this election, then when?

This voters-as-consumers thing is silly. “Walking away” isn’t actually how political change works in the real world — never has been, never will be. Conservatives didn’t take over the Republican Party by running third party vanity campaigns. Before the Great Society, it was the segregationists who got routed, not the civil rights and labor groups who eventually prevailed, who were threatening to take their ball and go home. A left-wing third party threw the election to Bush in 2000, but this certainly didn’t radicalize the Democratic Party. Indeed, according to Prasch the Democratic Party has actually been moving to the right. I think this is dumb — I don’t long for the Golden Age of the Democratic Party 30 years ago when Robert Byrd was the Senate majority leader and four years of unified rule produced pretty much bupkis — but certainly Obama is only marginally more progressive than Gore. “Bargaining” by throwing elections doesn’t actually provide you with any leverage, not least because the strategy is self-discrediting in subsequent. People who believed Ralph Nader when he spent a year telling them that George W. Bush was a harmless moderate no different than Al Gore aren’t going to get fooled again when you say the same crap about Mitt Romney hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and two massive upper-class tax cuts later.

Actual progressive change is hard work. Magical thinking about third parties that agree with you about everything doesn’t make hegemony go away. It’s a bad idea not because Democrats “deserve your vote” but because if it “succeeds” it actively bad for the interests and values progressives are supposed to care about, in exchange for no benefits whatsoever.

…rea in comments: “If your town has only two dry cleaners, and one turns your suits purple when you take your clothes there to be cleaned, your ability to walk away in the course of bargaining with the other is somewhat constrained.”

…and, yes, what Pierce said.

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  • The good news is that GG probably doesn’t have the power to sway a single persuadable vote. Those who listen to GG never were in play anyway.

  • I don’t owe anything to Obama. But I do owe something to my fellow Americans.

    My husband makes a very nice living. We are going to be ok no matter what. But I’m not willing to screw over those whose situations are little more precarious just so I can feel superior to my fellow liberals.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I don’t owe anything to Obama. But I do owe something to my fellow Americans.

      That sums it up well.

    • LeeEsq

      Here, here.

    • DrDick


    • Bruce Baugh

      I agree. If the Medicaid expansion is rolled back, it’s very likely I’ll die before 2016 – I have surgical needs upcoming, and the limited resources of the permanently disabled. Now I can make that choice for myself as I wish, but I don’t feel I have the right to make it for the many thousands of my fellow citizens who are also there now, or will be in the next four years.

      If my vote could change the Washington consensus on pointless, vile, rotten warmaking, I’d cast it with that in mind. But peace is not an option, whereas the choice between “somewhat less war” and a “lot more war” is. And in the meantime, there are other issues to consider too.

  • Walking away from a job is a voluntary, discretionary act.

    Walking away from a vote is an abrogation of responsibility. I consider voting for a third party candidate to be an abrogation, if it’s done out of a sense of disgust with the two choices available.

    I know this will raise some hackles, but the debate is far too complex to get into in comments, I feel. Suffice it to say that if your choice is “Obama, but for…” then vote for fucking Obama, and if you truly prefer Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, then by all means vote because you support them. Life isn’t fair.

  • I still think that what Greenwald and Prasch want is, not a better or more liberal Democratic Party, but a Republican in the White House, preferably all the time. Whether it’s because they’re Republicans in disguise or because they figure they’ll make more money on liberal outrage with a wingnut running the show, I don’t know.

    And ultimately, the “Obama and Axelrod won’t suffer” argument neglects to mention that the people making that argument are usually just as unlikely to face hardship. I just wish like hell some of these folks could put themselves in the shoes of the millions of people who would suffer. But that requires empathy, and Republicans tend to purge that from their systems early in life…

    • tt

      I don’t think so. The simpler explanation is that they really are just stupid.

    • Janastas359

      This. Johnathan Bernstein spends a lot of time talking about how most of the conservative talking heads give out bad advice because they prefer when a Democrat is in office, as it gives them something to rail against.

      Why doesn’t anyone ever think about the leftier than thou professional left this way? It’s a lot more profitable to drum up outrage about a guy you don’t agree with.

      • tt

        Isn’t the opposite the case? If Romney gets elected GG just becomes another generic left blogger. He needs Obama in office for brand differentiation.

        • david mizner

          In fact, he’s rose to prominence during the Bush administration, back when every liberal liked him because he was blasting one of “theirs.” His beliefs by a large have remained the same; what hasn’t is his target.

          • burritoboy

            He did not arise as a critic of Bush’s economic policies, however. Insofar as he’s had any sustained economic narrative, he advocated for a return to Clinton’s economic policies.

            But Prasch’s piece precisely opposes Clinton’s economic policies. That’s because it’s relatively uncontroversial that Obama did and does, in fact, pursue economic policies very much in the mode of Clinton. If anything, Obama was more Left on economics than Clinton, even though he admittedly did recycle much of Clinton’s economic policy team.

            • In fairness, it’s hard to argue against a team that was in place while 23 million jobs were created in a time of economic crisis.

              • Cody

                Someone hasn’t been watching the Romney ads!

          • Janastas359

            I don’t know about that. I guess it depends on who your audience is. Imagine if Mccain were in office and going around the country saying that America never needs a universal healthcare system. I’d be a lot more likely to read and agree with Matt Stoller if he were arguing the opposite case.

            On the other hand, when his articles consist of how bad Obama is because we only got 85% of the ideal instead of 100%, I’m more inclined to think of him as crazy.

            In other words, I think Mizener might be proving my point – partisans are more likely to agree with fellow partisans when the other guy is in office, but more inclined to fight it out when their guy is in.

            • Janastas359

              I think it’s a lot easier for say, Rush Limbaugh to fill his program every day with Obama in office than when Bush was in office.

          • His beliefs by a large have remained the same


            He spent the Bush years arguing that closing Guantanamo and bringing the prisoners onto US soil was important. Now he’s decided that it’s irrelevant because of some novel argument he ginned up only after Obama agreed with him. He spent the end of 2008 (and also 2009-2012) citing the cost of TARP to the taxpayers as a crucial issue, only to declare that the cost of TARP to taxpayers was irrelevant when he realized the taxpayers would get their money back. He spent the Bush years railing against Bush’s claims of inherent executive power to fight terrorism, only to drop the subject completely when Obama renounced them and cited Congressional authorizations as the basis of that power, without ever bothering to note the shift in what had formerly been a core concern of his.

            I could go on – and on, and on, because the list of Greenwald’s flip-flops is extensive – but I think I’ve made the point.

            • david mizner

              That ‘novel argument’ on Gitmo is that its system of injustice shouldn’t be transferred to the United States or anywhere else. No liberal should be happy about maintaining indefinite detention and military commissions even if he or she is willing to accept them as a cost for being able to shut down Gitmo. You can bet that those locked away indefinitely without trial and their relatives don’t care whether the prison is located in Cuba or Illinois.

              The “novel argument” is support for civil liberties, and you can bet that Greenwald and other civil libertarians wouldn’t have been happy if Bush had tried to “resolve” the problem that way.

              • I didn’t ask whether you think the novel argument is a good one.

                Obviously, since it’s made by Glenn Greenwald against Barack Obama, you think it’s brilliant.

                But it it’s so brilliant now, why wasn’t it brilliant enough for him to mention in 2007?

                In 2007, Greenwald understood that bringing the detainees to the United States would not mean keeping them under the same status, but rather, by bringing them onto US soil, would greatly enhance the protections they enjoyed under the Constitution, and the ability of the courts to enforce those protections. He argued this, repeatedly, in his denunciations of establishing the prison at Gitmo.

                But by 2009, he (and therefore you) completely forgot that obvious point, which had formerly been central to his argument.

                It’s amazing how many of the core planks of his (and therefore your) positions you’ve forgotten as soon as it became necessary to do so in order to avoid giving Obama credit for anything.

                • david mizner

                  You should really avoid this topic; you don’t know what you’re talking about. I fake it on other issues, but I happen to get paid to write about this one.

                  Anyway, you claim that “bringing them onto US soil, would greatly enhance the protections they enjoyed under the Constitution.” It’s precisely because this wasn’t clear that many people — Feingold, Bernie Sanders among them — weren’t keen on the idea.

                • “Do you know who the fuck I am” is a dodge employed by someone losing an argument.

                  Anyway, you claim that “bringing them onto US soil, would greatly enhance the protections they enjoyed under the Constitution.” It’s precisely because this wasn’t clear that many people — Feingold, Bernie Sanders among them — weren’t keen on the idea.

                  And post-2009 Glenn Greenwald. Pre-2009 Glenn Greenwald, on the other hand, made that argument himself, many times. Gee, I wonder what changed?

            • Murc

              … I’m not the worlds biggest Greenwald fan, joe, but this seems wrong to me.

              He spent the Bush years arguing that closing Guantanamo and bringing the prisoners onto US soil was important. Now he’s decided that it’s irrelevant because of some novel argument he ginned up only after Obama agreed with him.

              Er… Greenwald still thinks closing Guantanamo is important. He just thinks that Obama doesn’t give a fuck about Gitmo and is lying when he says he does.

              That’s wrong, of course, but it’s different than ‘not caring.’

              He spent the end of 2008 (and also 2009-2012) citing the cost of TARP to the taxpayers as a crucial issue, only to declare that the cost of TARP to taxpayers was irrelevant when he realized the taxpayers would get their money back.

              A legitimate hit. Greenwald is almost always awful on economics.

              He spent the Bush years railing against Bush’s claims of inherent executive power to fight terrorism, only to drop the subject completely when Obama renounced them and cited Congressional authorizations as the basis of that power, without ever bothering to note the shift in what had formerly been a core concern of his.

              How does this count as a shift?

              If Greenwald had spent the Bush years saying ‘If only these things Bush is doing had the explicit backing of Congress, it would all be legitimate!’ that would be one thing. But I don’t recall seeing that from him.

              It seems to me that Greenwald finds both the ‘inherent executive powers’ AND the ‘authorized by Congress’ justifications to be illegitimate. When the first was being made, he argued against it. When the second was made, he argued against THAT. It would be a bit funny to do it otherwise, wouldn’t it?

              He might very well be wrong, of course, but you’re saying his priorities keep shifting, and I don’t think that’s at all accurate. Greenwalds priorities seem the same as always.

              • Er… Greenwald still thinks closing Guantanamo is important. He just thinks that Obama doesn’t give a fuck about Gitmo and is lying when he says he does.

                No, he doesn’t. That is not the argument he writes about, anyway. What he writes is that Obama did actually want to close Guantanamo and bring the detainees to the US, but that all of a sudden that doesn’t matter because (insert novel argument here).

                Greenwald is almost always awful on economics.

                I can respect people who hold a position I dislike. I can’t respect people who change their position like he did on this.

                But I don’t recall seeing that from him.

                He didn’t phrase it that way, but he did spend quite a bit of the Bush years writing lawyerly pieces about the Constitutional basis of war powers, and denouncing Bush for his executive power theories. Please note that last part – he didn’t just denounce the particular uses of power, but considered it important to denounce as well the constitutional theory behind them. Noting that he hasn’t flip-flopped on the former doesn’t get him off the hook for treating the latter as a major issue under Bush, and then ignoring it under Obama.

              • david mizner

                Oh, sure. If Bush had said, I’m going bring Gitmo detaineers to the U.S. but keep them locked up for the rest of their lives w/o due process, Greenwald woulda said Awesome!

                Do you ever pause and think about the stuff you’re writing?

                • If Bush had caved and agreed to close Gitmo and put all of the detainees into the civilian prison system, Greenwald would have no doubt recognized that for the victory it was, and given credit to himself and his allies for that accomplishment, and pointed out how important it was because those detainees would now have greater access to the courts and heightened protections – even as he would have pushed for more.

                  But since that was Obama’s actual position, not a cave imposed on him, then Greenwald has completely ignored the important distinction between domestic and extra-territorial that he used to consider so important.

                  Since you have, once again, utterly whiffed on understanding the point, your bitchy little posturing doesn’t mean all that much to me. Yes, I think about what I write before I write it. That’s why I so consistently get people like you hung up like this, and feeling the need to gin up straw men and pose as if they aren’t losing an argument.

        • Lyanna

          Not in the least. He rose to prominence during the Bush years, because of what he said then. He’s coasting on his anti-Bush work now, fame-wise. The “Obamney” bandwagon isn’t actually that popular.

  • rea

    If your town has only two dry cleaners, and one turns your suits purple when you take your clothes there to be cleaned, your ability to walk away in the course of bargaining with the other is somewhat constrained.

    • Nice analogy

    • FlipYrWhig

      Ah, but that’s when you start your own dry cleaners, which uses only eco-sensitive chemicals and uses the least amount of energy (only renewables) and charges virtually nothing and has your suits ready instantaneously and creates no waste. They would totally get all of the dry-cleaning business in town, if only somebody put up money to start it, but they won’t, because it’s all corporate, man.

      • burritoboy

        But, if you look at your town’s actual politicians, the one town councilman who actually might be willing to entertain your fantasies (Obama) is somehow the bad guy. The other members of the town council want to outsource all the town’s drycleaning to WalMart (Romney), or make you pay in gold for drycleaning (Johnson/Paul), or want to feel you up when you’re picking up the drycleaning (Cain) or declare drycleaning a modernist heresy and against the spirit of Thomas Aquinas (Santorum).

        • Janastas359

          It’s like they don’t have any idea how hard it is to wash gold dust off of your clothing.

        • John

          This analogy has become too complicated.

    • Not if you’re Prince.

    • Cody

      No, the correct solution is just to start appreciating purple suits.

      And once everyone in the town has purple suits from the dry cleaner, they will unite and open up a new nicer dry cleaner!

  • parrot

    i find GGs logic suffocating, yet full of malarkey … perhaps he’s concussed or has the bends … someone should make him sit out the 4th quarter …

  • Malaclypse
    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      More or less.

      I think it’s very important for progressives in contested states to vote tactically for Obama for precisely the reason that Pierce gives: keeping Romney and the GOP out of office is critical.

      I think his logic breaks down a bit when we’re talking about very red and very blue states (like Massachusetts, where he votes or Oklahoma where I do).

      And his argument about Jill Stein — saying he’d have considered voting for her in Massachusetts, had she not said that progressives are voting for Obama out of fear–seems really kinda odd for me.

      Because, in fact, Pierce case is built on fear of Romney. But (and I agree with Pierce about this) it’s perfectly reasonable to fear Romney.

      Rather than disagreeing with Stein, then, about what motivates (or might most plausibly motivate) progressives to vote for Obama, I think Pierce’s best case would be to say that, unfortunately, fear is reason enough.

      Except that still doesn’t explain why someone who is as unenthusiastic as Pierce (and I) am about Obama should nonetheless vote for him in a deep red or deep blue state in which there are other options that one feels better about (since Pierce quite clearly doesn’t feel better about Stein, I’m not sure why he needs to make his rather convoluted argument about fear).

      As for my part, I have the luxury (I guess) of being deprived of the choice. In Oklahoma, my only choices for President will be Obama and Romney. And I’ll vote Obama. Like Charlie Pierce with very little enthusiasm (especially because my vote is entirely symbolic), but also no hesitation.

      • david mizner

        Yes, this is odd.

        his argument about Jill Stein — saying he’d have considered voting for her in Massachusetts, had she not said that progressives are voting for Obama out of fear–seems really kinda odd for me.

        I was thinking about voting for her but then she uttered a line of boilerplate rhetoric!

        For me the argument against voting for Stein in places like NY, where I live, is to help avoid a sitch where Obama wins the electoral college and loses the popular vote.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          Another area of Jill Stein concern:

          Activist friends of mine in the Philly area have recently told me that Stein’s running mate, Cheri Honkala, is locally rather infamous as a kind of attention troll. Of course, given the fundamentally symbolic nature of a vote for someone like Stein, one might dismiss concerns about the bottom half of the ticket as fairly abstruse. But since I know people who are perfectly willing in principle to vote for a Green candidate, but opposed even Honkala when she ran for sheriff because they didn’t want her near any actual power, I think one would need to think seriously about her before pulling the lever for Stein.

          But, as I’ve already said, I don’t even have that choice where I live, so, for better or for worse, I don’t have to come to any conclusions about it.

          • JL

            Oh man, I encountered (and met) Cheri Honkala at the RNC protests. She seems like someone who genuinely cares and has good views on a lot things. But everything was always about her and the Green Party. She was as bad about trying to co-opt everything as the people at Socialist Alternative are, or the Ron Paul fanatics.

            That’s not why I’m voting for Obama over Stein. There are worse things than being a well-intentioned co-opter. But it does not surprise me that she has a rep as an attention troll. She seemed to like being the focus of everything.

            • Hogan

              Cheri Honkala cares about her group of people. Everything and everyone else is a means to that end. Before she was all about the Green Party, she was all about the Labor Party; but she was never all about either of those.

              She comes out of a hard leftist faction that believes that we need a revolution, but the working class will not be its agent; it will be the poorest of the poor, who are the ones she tries to organize. She makes temporary alliances that allow her to keep pursuing that strategy (e.g., running for sheriff in order to talk about foreclosures), but I’ve never seen any sign that she’s given up that strategy. I mean, if that’s your strategy, what tactic besides entryism is ever going to work at all?

        • For me the argument against voting for Stein in places like NY, where I live, is to help avoid a sitch where Obama wins the electoral college and loses the popular vote.


          And really, in a sane political climate this wouldn’t be necessary. Whatever problems the Democrats exhibit, they aren’t the drivers of the insanity.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Except that still doesn’t explain why someone who is as unenthusiastic as Pierce (and I) am about Obama should nonetheless vote for him in a deep red or deep blue state

        Because 1)it doesn’t accomplish anything and 2)the more votes third parties get, the more likely we are to get a successful spoiler campaign like 2000.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          Point #1 makes sense…though casting a vote for a major-party candidate in a very blue or very red state doesn’t accomplish anything either.

          Do you have any actual evidence for point #2? Over the last century, third-party candidacy that have threatened to spoil have generally been one-off affairs. The one exception I can think of is Perot’s Reform Party, and there’s simply no way in which any third party candidate is going to receive anything remotely like the percentage of the vote that Perot did. Or to put this another way: a third-party candidacy that itself doesn’t generate enough votes to potentially spoil anything isn’t going to produce a future third-party candidacy that will.

          Finally, though Pierce poo-poos the idea of voting system reform, the one thing that might actually bring it about would be regular threats of spoilage. However, 2000 was, in fact, a perfect storm that’s unlikely to happen again. There’s very little chance that a third party will ever spoil a presidential election in the future, which is precisely why Democrats who love to warn about spoilage never raise a finger to eliminate the problem by promoting IRV or other voting systems that would eliminate it.

          • Incontinentia Buttocks

            On the likelihood of spoilage: Compare and contrast Democratic efforts to counteract GOP voter suppression methods with Democratic efforts to eliminate the problem of third-party spoilage by reforming our vote-counting system. The difference in effort reflects, among other things, the actual severity of the threat.

  • AuRevoirGopher

    Left-wing progressives are the only people that consider losing a viable political strategy. We should get Obama elected on Tues. and on Wed. start fighting his plans to cut Social Security, which does seem to be one of his deeply held beliefs. (For reasons which remain mysterious to me.)

    • Murc

      Left-wing progressives are the only people that consider losing a viable political strategy.

      This is straight-up not true. Plenty of Republicans are more than happy to be rid of Linc Chafee, chris Shays, and Arlen Specter. They view their defections/primary defeats as victories, and think the party is stronger, better, without them in it. They would rather have Democrats occupying those seats rather than people they deem Republican Apostates, because there’s a possibility the Democrats can be defeated by true believers, whereas the Apostates poison the party from within.

      Not saying they’re correct. But this isn’t a viewpoint confined to the left.

      • mpowell

        Primarying a Senator is a lot different than primarying a sitting president, much less attempting a 3rd party campaign.

      • Cody

        I don’t see how these are the same things. I believe that Republicans genuinely believe these primary upsets are going to win.

        Ex: Mourdock in Indiana. They see defeating Lugar in the primary as a victory, but they would have still voted for him in the state-wide election if he had somehow won the primary.

        They don’t see losing the seat as a victory, but perhaps a necessary risk.

    • Hob

      A deeply held belief that he has made no progress on in the last four years, has proposed no specific legislation for, and has made no discernible attempt to sell to anyone in his party who wasn’t already a Blue Dog. Much like his deeply held belief in taking away our guns.

      • Hob

        To be clear, I’m not saying it’s impossible or even extremely unlikely that Obama will get behind some kind of shitty compromise deal that will include Social Security cuts. I’m saying it’s ridiculous to say that this is a “deeply held belief” for him.

        • AuRevoirGopher

          OK, perhaps I was being a bit sarcastic about the deeply-held stuff because I can’t think about this without a somewhat incoherent rage. How about a deeply-held belief that they might have to do it for political purposes? In any case, what presidents believe doesn’t matter, it’s what they do. And Obama has obviously left the door open to cut SS benefits.
          Hasn’t proposed anything, you say? Romney hasn’t given details on his tax policies, but we can read between the lines, right? It’s the same w/Obama and SS.
          Both Obama and Biden have said in meticulously-prepared speeches that they will never privatize SS or give it over to Wall Street. Who has ever charged that they would? What critics are they responding to? Nobody. Listen to the dog that doesn’t bark.
          I mean, as long as they are mentioning SS in a speech, why not promise to stop any proposed cuts to SS, including any raise in the retirement age? Such a promise would be incredibly popular (even w/Republicans) and leave Romney flummoxed for a response. And, not for nothing, it would be great policy, both moral and just, and help preserve the greatest legacy of the Democratic Party. So they’ve set it up that if they do cut a shitty deal, they can correctly say that they only promised no privatization.
          What’s infuriating is that all this is meant to attract the imaginary independent voters who will reward Democrats in the 2014 elections for being Grown-Ups. That, at least, does seem a deeply-held belief of Plouffe, Obama, and all the rest of the Wall Street Democrat crowd.

          • Cody

            These ideas are not popular. Much like privatizing SS isn’t popular. He mentions it because he is constantly implying Romney/Ryan will privatize it, without directly saying it.

            As far as his SS cuts…

            Americans want them. Probably because Americans are stupid. Old people are voting the person who has a VP candidate crazy about dismantling SS, even though it will hurt “them” the most (although Ryan has promised to put it off to fuck over the next generation instead of the current, cause you don’t want to pass on debt to your children – just death and poverty!).

            In summary, Obama’s SS comments are politics. I’m not sure if he holds a deep desire about it. I doubt anyone except his advisers know, but I understand his reasoning for mentioning it.

            • Hob

              Yeah– the “dog that doesn’t bark” argument makes no sense to me. It assumes that politicians make promises in order to reliably constrain their future behavior; and also that if a politician does something destructive and unpopular, that people won’t complain as long as this breaks no specific promise. Both of those are obviously false.

              There’s nothing at all weird about saying “I won’t privatize SS” when you’re running against someone whose party has in fact tried to do that and will probably keep trying. If Obama said “I won’t make any SS cuts” then he would also be running against a significant segment of his own party. That would be a noble stand, as Gopher said, but it’s sure as shit not something anyone is going to do in a presidential campaign.

    • FlipYrWhig

      FWIW, I think people have misinterpreted the call for a “grand bargain,” which I’m pretty sure only really means “doing a mix of revenue increases and spending cuts at the same time.”

      • Murc

        Off-topic a bit, but I am outraged by the possibility of an affirmative endorsement of a Grand Bargain by the Obama administration precisely because I think it means “doing a mix of revenue increases and spending cuts at the same time.”

        The government needs to be doing so much more, not LESS. Fucking around with entitlements, especially during a time of great need, in exchange for some paltry revenue increases, is bad policy AND bad politics. The “shared sacrifice” people prattle on about has already occurred for the 99% over the past 30 years; now its time for the 1% to sacrifice as well.

        Thankfully, I am (somewhat) convinced the Obama Administration has no intention at all of signing onto any such bargain, but is merely entertaining such talks as a way of playing the Republicans.

        I could be wrong about this, tho.

        • mds

          Fucking around with entitlements, especially during a time of great need, in exchange for some paltry revenue increases, is bad policy AND bad politics.

          Indeed. Not to mention that it would be trivial for a future Congress to deep-six the revenue increases (Witness how quickly Congressional Republicans repudiated the military spending “sequester” after voting for it). Meanwhile, trying to roll back “entitlement” cuts would be much more difficult. And the entitlement cuts would be hung squarely around the Democratic Party’s neck. Anyone who doubts this is free to observe how well Romney / Ryan are doing in Florida by attacking phony Medicare cuts, all while desiring to eliminate Medicare completely.

          Besides, as people such as Kevin Drum have pointed out, the bulk of the spending reduction advocated by the failed Simpson-Bowles plan has already been agreed to, yet revenue increases still aren’t on the table. Offering to cut even more spending in exchange for easily-reversed tax increases is something of a mug’s game.

        • FlipYrWhig

          I lost a longer comment do to fat-fingering, so I won’t try to reconstruct it, except to say that I don’t think we need to presume that spending cuts involve cuts to beneficiaries.

  • People who actually want to make progressive change happen look at history and consider what did and didn’t work. Third party defections from the Democrats – such as in 1968, 1980, and 2000 – have never, ever worked. They set back the cause, leading to substantial shifts to the right in American politics.

    What are we to make of people who, claiming to want to bring about progressive shifts in American politics, keep recommending actions that have been proven to produce rightward shifts?

    • Leeds man

      It’s Trickle Down Progressivism!

    • But espousing the opposite, leftward shifts in the party, can be viewed as socialism, unless you can create a narrative ahead of time that inoculates against it.

      We need a leftist Clinton, pure and simple: someone who can simply and effectively make an emotional case for, as an example, single-payer healthcare.

    • JL

      What are we to make of people who, claiming to want to bring about progressive shifts in American politics, keep recommending actions that have been proven to produce rightward shifts?

      In many cases, at least IME, that they’re too young to have vivid memories of the last time this happened.

      Which isn’t meant to be a slur. I wasn’t born yet in 1980, or old enough to vote yet in 2000. But not remembering the past vividly can make it harder to internalize its lessons.

  • burritoboy

    Beyond Prasch’s rhetoric, we need to see where Obama’s economic policies fall within the real possibilities in 2008-2012 – the real heart of his argument. One thing we can note is that Obama’s economic policy is the most leftwards of all the world major economic players during that period. One could argue that the PRC response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis was more Left (in some highly convoluted sense), but I’m not sure how far we get comparing the domestic politics of the US to the PRC.

    Most of the major Western democracies had worse or significantly worse economic policy trends over the period. The largest (Merkel’s Germany, Cameron’s UK, Sarkozy’s France) pursued strong austerity programs. Those countries started from more Left starting positions but pursued hard monetarist economic policies (moving most of Europe’s secondary economies into destroying much of the Left’s gains over the previous century). Obama’s USA started from a more Right starting position but strongly expanded the social safety net.

    Looking over the landscape, only France’s Hollande (and he was only recently elected) pursued a similar course to Obama among the major Western democracies.

    • AR

      Arguably Australia was a bit more to the left than the US and was fairly close to the US starting point; but much of that was based upon their central bank being generally less worried about inflation and more concerned with unemployment, when compared to the Fed (plus their PM is slightly to the right of Obama on “culture war” issues). It goes more to the case that the biggest mistake Obama made was not being more aware of who he was putting on the Fed Board, an issue that I think nobody can argue McCain would have been better about (let alone Romney).

      • burritoboy

        I’m not sure you can call Australia a major player in the world economy, though. Some of the smaller Western democracies probably had better responses to the economic crisis than Obama – but the other major players were mostly significantly worse than Obama.

        • AR

          They are G20 with GDP roughly on par with Spain and Russia. That seems big enough to be relevant.

          Israel and Sweden probably had the best response overall, but they are probably small enough to not be an apples to apples for the US.

    • Cody

      This may be a bit off topic from your post, but I think the response in left-European countries is a good example of the problem with Conservatism.

      When the economy collapsed people naturally blamed their leftist policies. This is normal, right? When something doesn’t work, you try something different. Even if it wasn’t the cause, I understand the idea. However, Conservatism has no sense of this. They immediately went far-right in economics. This failed miserably. The conservative response? Must mean we didn’t go Right far enough!! Darn Liberals ruined our crazy austerity!!

      This happens here too. You see a lack of enthusiasm about the stimulus policy. It didn’t work “well” enough, but it did make progress. It’s natural for people to think we should try the other side’s plan is worth a shot. I suspect most left-leaning people who vote Romney are doing it for this reason – it’s time for something different. Yet the people on the Right never have this swing, if their policy didn’t work they need to just go further right.

      I feel like this is how our politics keep swinging towards conservatism.

  • david mizner

    To demonstrate Obama’s progressive bonafides, you really shouldn’t link to a list of ‘accomplishments’ that includes tightening sanctions on Iran, Dodd-Frank, beginning the drawdown in Afghanistan, improved America’s image abroad, Elena Kagan, and telling Mubarak to go.

    In fact, he’s been bad, from a liberal perspective, in all these areas. None of these things is reason to vote for Mitt, but taken together they’re a pretty good denunciation of his presidency.

    • burritoboy

      That’s not Prasch’s argument – which is focused on Obama’s economic policies. It is Greenwald’s argument, but I don’t know how Greenwald, as libertarian, supports Prasch’s economics, which, so far as I can tell, is meld of neo-Keynesianism and institutionalism.

      • david mizner

        Although GG seems not to have a well developed economic philosophy, there’s no evidence he’s an economic libertarian. All the evidence points in the opposite direction; for example, he’s been outspoken in his opposition to the effort of elites to cut Social Security and Medicare.

        Anyway, I wasn’t talking about those arguments, merely objecting to the Washington Monthly List. Even the best list shouldn’t be mistaken for an argument, and that list sucks.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Has GG ever expressed an opinion on economics outside the context of attacking Obama for unrelated matters?

          • david mizner

            Not many, but that only supports my primary point — calling him an economic libertarian is baseless.

            • DocAmazing

              He does spend a fair bit of time at Cato.

          • During the Chicago teachers strike, he was supportive of the teachers. Didn’t write about it but he did consistently tweet about it, and also often retweeted those of us who took very outspoken stands in favor of the teachers.

            • burritoboy

              How much of that was that the Chicago teachers were fighting against Mayor Rahm, versus a more general support of union rights?

        • burritoboy

          This isn’t precisely a strong defense of Greenwald. If anything, it’s rather dubious that Greenwald has been a civil rights libertarian (a position I can respect) for so long without paying attention to libertarianism’s economic policy positions (positions which are simply absurd).

          It’s not at all clear that Greenwald actually is more Left than, say, Larry Summers (or Barack Obama) in their economic theories. Before Greenwald got pissed off by Obama’s policy in other realms, he was either entirely uninterested in economic policy simply or a fairly standard supporter of Clinton’s economic policy. And, again, Obama’s economic policies and policy team are extensions of Bill Clinton’s.

    • AAB

      I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument, based on her actual SCOTUS votes to date, that Elena Kagan has been “bad.”

      • david mizner

        I’ll defer to Scott on this; I do know that the main worry about her was in the area of civil libeties-state power, and that she joined with the cons on the court to weaken Miranda and to allow the execution of a mentally retarded woman.

        Bad is subjective sure. Bad compared to a Romney nominee? On the contrary. Bad compared to a liberal lion, a counterweight to Roberts or Scalia? Absolutely.

        • AAB

          I would strongly disagree with this. It’s reasonable to expect that Kagan will have some worrying tendencies in some civil liberties areas, and she’s issued a couple votes so far that have been bad in that respect, but you’d have to be grading on an insane curve to say that Kagan has been remotely “bad” to this point. Even on the “liberal lion” scale, she’s been just fine. And she has the added benefit of being a truly fantastic writer, which has led to a couple of outstanding dissents (most notably, in the Arizona campaign finance case).

        • Jim

          I’m not sure that Kagan has written enough opinions for us to make a solid judgment about her. Looking at her list of opinions, the most notable one was her opinion rejecting the imposition of life sentences for juveniles. Most of the other decisions were for a unanimous court, and in Williams v. Illinois she would have strengthened the Confrontation Clause in a way that Alito (for the majority) did not. You could argue that she hasn’t taken on high-profile cases that would let her show off her chops, but I’m not sure there’s enough to decide she’s a disappointment for siding too much with Scalia, Alito et al.

    • …for certain retroactively-defined values of “bad.”

      • david mizner

        No, I — along with a bunch of people more prominent than I — opposed all these things — the surge in Afganistan, the admin’s killing off the best parts of financial reform, his slowness to back the revolution in Egypt, the nomination of Kagan, his civilian-harming, hardliner-empower Iran policy, and a hundreds actions that have hurt America’s image abroad — in real time.

        • You decided they were “the best parts of financial reform” only after “he killed them off” (which is also bullshit). For example, the Volker Rule and the CFPB used to be “the best parts of financial reform,” right up until they made it into the final bill.

          But even by your bullshit standards, you’re arguing that reversing a 30 year trend of deregulation and pushing through the most stringent set of financial reforms in 70 years is “bad.” Not just “good not great.” Not just “not as good as it could have been.” Bad.

          Same thing with “slowness to back the revolution in Egypt.” Only in the deluded mind of the most devoted, irrelevant wankers could a President of the United States backing a popular uprising against a longtime military ally who be described as “bad” because of its pace. If I had told you any time before Obama’s actions that a POTUS would do that, you’d be telling me I’m imagining things, and you wouldn’t ask me about speed.

          Same thing with Kagan – getting someone like her on the Supreme Court was a fantasy of the left, right up until Obama named her. Oh, and then, once you knew her as Obama’s nominee, you decided she wasn’t good enough. Congratulations.

          Iran? Right up until, and even through the first part of, Obama’s presidency, you were talking about bombing runs against Iran as an inevitability, even something Obama was pushing. ZOMG, he’s threatening nuclear war through the phrase “all options.” Now, you’ve come up with yet another excuse why his exceeding of your expectations isn’t good enough.

          Yeah, you denounced these things “in real time.” You sure did, david – as soon as you saw they were Obama’s positions, you were against them. That’s what I said.

          • AuRevoirGopher

            You forgot Libya. If we had known a year ago that Libya would hold free, fair and transparent elections in 2012, and that it would go peacefully with an overwhelming victory by moderate secularists, it would have seemed a miracle. Now all we hear about is Mali.

            • You’re right. That one is particularly egregious, because it isn’t just a flip-flop on the particular issue, but an abandonment of what is perhaps the core principle behind liberalism and liberationism: the rejection of “stability” as an excuse for maintaining a dictatorship.

              Because the liberal, democratic post-revolutionary government can’t enforce order as well as the dictator it replaced – yet – that is supposed to be an argument for keeping the dictator. That is the thinking of a Kissinger, of a Buchanan, or a Kirkpatrick.

              And, as of March 2011, of a Greenwald and a mizner.

            • david mizner

              Weird comment. It’s the (most) supporters of intervention who ignore all the troubling news coming out of Libya. It’s opponents who, along with good journalists, keep pointing out that the country remains in peril.

              • AuRevoirGopher

                Having a vengeful, homicidal loon running the country would be a bit more perilous.

                • Malaclypse

                  Are you referring to Gaddafi in the past tense, or Mittens in the hypothetical future tense? Because your statement makes a good deal of sense either way.

                • david mizner

                  You don’t know that. People have been declaring victory since the moment Gaddafi was murdered, but there’s still widespread violence and chaos.

                • AuRevoirGopher

                  david mizner. He can’t be beat. He won’t be beat. Still, the “people” you refer to include the people of Libya, who seem pretty pleased with the way things have gone and would probably appreciate it if you would dig in to a big steaming bowl of STFU.

                • Hogan

                  People have been declaring victory since the moment Gaddafi was murdered, but there’s still widespread violence and chaos.

                  It’s like you’re not even reading jfL’s comment:

                  Because the liberal, democratic post-revolutionary government can’t enforce order as well as the dictator it replaced – yet – that is supposed to be an argument for keeping the dictator. That is the thinking of a Kissinger, of a Buchanan, or a Kirkpatrick.

                • david mizner

                  As if a lack of order were the only problem in Libya.

                  I opposed the (illegal) regime change mission because there was no telling what the effects on the country and the region would be and because there was good reason to fear they would be terrible — as bad, if not worse, than the terrible status quo.

                  The jury’s still out and will be for several years. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying or stupid.

          • Murc

            No offense, joe, but this seems a bit… I’m unsure of the term. Panglossian? I don’t know.

            Put it another way; would someone who actually does believe all the things that you say david is lying about it (your point was that the only reason david is expressing these beliefs is out of some pathological need to indict Obama, and will craft his statements with that in mind regardless of his ACTUAL beliefs, yes?) have behaved ANY different than david actually did?

            • Yes.

              They would have raised these arguments before Obama’s actions, not waited until he was committed to a position before, shockingly, adopting one that allows them to denounce him.

              your point was that the only reason david is expressing these beliefs is out of some pathological need to indict Obama, and will craft his statements with that in mind regardless of his ACTUAL beliefs, yes?

              This implies a degree of awareness and intent, and the degree to which he is aware of his pattern of behavior is unknowable.

              • Murc

                They would have raised these arguments before Obama’s actions, not waited until he was committed to a position

                Don’t you… kind of have to wait until somebody commits to a position before you can criticize them for it one way or the other? Isn’t that how it works?

            • david mizner

              Follow the sequence:

              2008: banks crash the economy
              2008-2010 – liberals say, “break up banks!”
              2010: Obama kills effort to break up big banks
              2010: liberals say: bad.

              • Murc

                Er… did this really happen?

                For Obama to have killed such an effort, two things are required; for such a thing to have been possible, and for his intervention to have made it not happen.

                I haven’t seen any evidence that the former is true, and the latter is… dubious at best.

                To be fair, Obama is way weaker on financial regulation than I’d like. His failure to at least try and prosecute the banksters is indication enough of that.

                • david mizner

                  Long shot of course, but — and people forget this now — there was genuine and momentum for a strong bill — ad yeah, the Obama admin killed Brown-Kaufmman.


                  “Geithner’s team spent much of its time during the debate over the Senate bill helping Senate Banking Committee chair Chris Dodd kill off or modify amendments being offered by more-progressive Democrats. A good example was Bernie Sanders’s measure to audit the Fed, which the administration played a key role in getting the senator from Vermont to tone down. Another was the Brown-Kaufman Amendment, which became a cause célèbre among lefty reformers such as former IMF economist Simon Johnson. ‘If enacted, Brown-Kaufman would have broken up the six biggest banks in America,’ says the senior Treasury official. ‘If we’d been for it, it probably would have happened. But we weren’t, so it didn’t.’”

                  You can add the stronger derivatives measure, which the Obama admin opposed.

                • Murc

                  You know, I knew there was a reason I had a fair amount of skepticism-slash-contempt for the guys on Obama’s economic team.

              • burritoboy

                Er, no. Some liberals certainly advocated for breaking up the larger financial institutions, but quite a few didn’t. It’s by no means clear that having a lot of small banks is a necessarily more “liberal” or “leftist” position. In some sense, the more doctrinaire “Left” position would be to have a few large but heavily regulated firms (at least, this would have been the standard policy thrust in post-war continental European Keynesianism). It’s true that the “smaller is better” strategy is a pretty hoary one within American liberalism, but that doesn’t mean it’s in actuality the correct policy.

                • Cody

                  This debate came out in another thread recently.

                  I’m very skeptical small banks are any more liberal, as they are not heavily regulated and tend to only need to lend to reputable members of the community. Using the word “reputable” very loosely.

        • Cody

          his slowness to back the revolution in Egypt,

          I’m confused here. I thought you were against the military in Afghanistan, but you’re complaining we were too slow to be involved in a possible conflict in Egypt?

          I don’t understand your foreign policy perspective. Are you for promoting violent revolutions to enable democracy, but against actually doing something?

          Is your policy literally “I support you doing this, but I’m not going to help”. Maybe that’s actually the entire libertarian philosophy.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Dodd-Frank was an improvement on the status quo. Kagan, if not strictly optimal, is fine, certainly far better than anyone Romney would appoint.

      • david mizner

        Romney would be worse than Obama in all these areas; that has nothing to do with my point.

        My point was rather narrow — don’t rely on a bad list, esp. when you’re someone adept at making a sound prObama argument.

        • Scott Lemieux

          But it does. The Kagan nomination might have been marginally suboptimal, bit not only was it not bad, it was a net good. A Supreme Court that had Elena Kagan as the median vote would be a massive improvement. Kagan and Sotomayor count as significant accomplishments.

          • david mizner

            Well my baseline isn’t what exists now but what is, or might be, possible — Michael Harrington’s “left win of the possible.”

            Anyway, I’m surprised you endorsed Pierce’s unenthusiastic vote. Woulda thought you’d vote for him with at least a little enthusiasm.

            • Scott Lemieux

              I don’t fully agree, because my baseline is “what can reasonably expected of a president of the United States” (by which metric Obama looks very good) rather than “how does Obama compare to my political views which are generally well to the left of the median American voter” (by which my endorsement would, like Charlie’s, be unenthusiastic.) But either way, throwing the election to Romney is really dumb and third-party politics at the national level is ineffectual wankery at best and actively pernicious at worse.

              • david mizner

                Are you actually saying that Kagan was as liberal a justice as he could have gotten onto the court?

                • Scott Lemieux

                  No — I’m talking about Pierce’s endorsement. As I’ve said many times, Kagan was clearly suboptimal (although not “bad.”)

                • L2P

                  Kagan is about as progressive as you can reasonably expect to be nominated by any president who can actually get nominated.

                  We’d all like to see Chemerinsky or somebody like that on the Supreme Court. That is not happening in our lifetimes. We may, if we’re lucky, continue to see slightly-lef-of-center ex-prosecutors who are liberal on economic issues.

                  That’s the difference between realism and fantasy.

                • david mizner

                  That would be a more convincing argument if Obama himself hadn’t installed a more liberal justice on the court.

  • You may think I’m kickin’ you, Glenn. But it ain’t so! What I’m doin’ is talkin’, you hear? I’m talkin’ to all those idealists down there in Florida. I’m talkin’ to all those idealists in Wisconsin. And all those idealists down there in Des Moines.

    And what I’m sayin’ is there ain’t no third party gold!

  • Erik Loomis

    The idea of a so called leftist using consumer capitalism as a model to reject a president is funny.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Look, if you don’t like New Coke, you just walk to Pepsi! This will empower you to get a higher wage!

      • I have a very hard time taking any version of the left seriously that has festishized individual political choice as consumer consumption to the extent of comparing it to shopping.

        • Lyanna

          Shopping. Yes. Exactly. This is a great point that articulates something that’s bugged me about third party voters, but I’ve never been able to pin it down. That’s what the inappropriately self-centered, self-expression oriented, “you don’t own my vote!” argument comes down to. Politics = shopping.

          • And both come down to this: The expression of my highly liberated individual will > collective responsibility.

            • Lyanna

              Oh, it’s even better than that: The futile expression of my highly liberated individual will > collective responsibility.

  • scott

    We got hamburgers, and we got hot dogs. What, you want something else? (sounds of guns cocking)

  • Are there any “progressives” attacking Obama and arguing against his reelection who are not white males?

    Or put it this way: How many non-white males think that Obama has done nothing for them?

    • IM

      You have never heard of Jane Hamsher?

      • Malaclypse

        Also Yves Smith over at Naked Capitalism.

      • Jane Hamsher is a black man?

        • IM

          she isn’t a white male, that much is true.

    • Leeds man

      Badly posed, TheBobs, since there are always exceptions. “What percentage of progressive anti-Obamaites are comfortable white males?” would be much more telling. I’d be surprised if it were less than 95%.

      • Janastas359

        Greenwald is particularly bad on this, since he doesn’t actually live in the country anymore.

        I understand that he has good reasons for this, and that you don’t need to live in a country to comment on it. At the same time, if Greenwald manages to help throw the election to Romney he’ll experience almost none of the negative effects of his actions.

        • david mizner

          Right because U.S. foreign policy has no effect on people in other countries.

          • mds

            Uh, John McCain might have invaded Brazil while mistaking it for Cuba, but President Romney would probably not declare Brazil Iran’s path to the sea. The effect of President Romney’s foreign policy on a well-off American expat in Rio is not likely to be very severe … unless Mitt makes enough of an ass of himself to trigger sufficiently massive indiscriminate anti-American riots throughout South America. Which I’d rate less than a 50-50 chance.

          • Janastas359

            It’s almost as if I qualified my statement with “Almost none.”

            I’d also say it’s a pretty foolish argument that someone who lives in say, Brazil, will be affected as much by a US President as someone who, you know, actually lived in the US.

            • david mizner

              It’s a foolish to say “you don’t need to live in a country to comment on it” and then contradict yourself in the next sentence.

              • Janastas359

                How exactly are “People outside of a country have every right to comment on that country,” and “People outside of a country have less skin in the game than people inside of that country” contradictory?

                • david mizner

                  We should be debating the arguments on their merits or lack thereof, It doesn’t matter who’s making them.

                  You’re arguing that the arguments of ex-pats automatically have less credibility than those of Americans; in your words, he’s “particularly bad on this” because he doesn’t live full-time in the U.S.

        • Ex-pat here.

          This is probably wrong. Now I’m out of country by (semi-) pure choice (i.e., a job). But as I understand it, Glenn is an ex-pat because he has to choose between living in country and keeping his committed relationship together. A regime that changed that would be a boon to him.

          Similarly, he almost certainly has friends and relations living in the US. So he doesn’t feel them “directly” but if, e.g., my mom was kicked off Medicare it’d be a big deal for me.

          But even if he (or I) were in country, we’re probably well off enough to be fairly insulated from a lot of the downside of Romney (in a direct sense). But we’d both care rather passionately.

          It’s just not helpful or accurate to go there. Even if Greenwald were made slightly more indifferent to negative Romney effects by living elsewhere, it’s hardly enough to make a difference and it’s distracting, at best, to claim otherwise.

      • Badly posed indeed. No argument from me there. My only excuse is that I am lying in bed on percocet and my brain is not functioning optimally.

    • david mizner

      Greenwald links to two women of color making such arguments — they’re invisible to Obama’s defenders because they undermine the claim that Obama’s critics are motivated by privilege and/or racism.

      The fact is, not many prominent people of any color or gender are making these arguments, but LGM’s intrepid reporters seem to locate just about all of them.

      • mds

        Note to Merriam-Webster: Update the plural of “anecdote” immediately.

        • spencer

          Heh indeed +1.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks


        Very, very few people are making these arguments at all. Some of them, however, are women and people of color.

        While you can always find some people who want to “heighten the contradictions” and let the GOP win, at least in this electoral cycle, on the left their numbers are vanishingly small.

    • “effective evil”

      The writers at the Black Agenda Report think President Obama is counterproductive at best and history’s greatest monster at worst. Those guys are way more pissed than any of the white guys LGM regularly clowns.

      • Paula

        Those guys are pretty far left. Not to mention, they only have a handful of readers who seem to make the same truther-like comments on their site. Is there some hidden larger constituency for BAR?

        Also, anecdotal evidence is somewhat contradicted by the actually-quantified-via polling support that Barack Obama has among Latinos, Asian Americans, and yes, African Americans.

        Finally, I keep imagining how I would feel if right-wing ideologues wrote the stuff at BAR and uncomfortable with the fact that 1) it’s not that hard to imagine and 2) some of it would actually be pretty offensive.

  • Trollhattan

    Jesus, when did the Glenns–Greenwald and Reynolds–morph into one UberGlenn? With the consumer choice rant I presumed I was reading a Reynolds excerpt–he of the going-Galt-with-tipping to show those DFH waitresses there are consequences for voting Democrat(ic).

    Put another way: Greenwald has cemented his irrelevance.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I certainly have my disagreements with GG on this, but this is unfair. When he writes about issues as opposed to electoral politics, GG is good. Reynolds is abjectly useless writing about anything.

      • rea

        GG can be pretty abjectly useless about the issues, too.

        • But it is a far cry from Reynolds’ who really is spectacularly useless on everything.

        • Paula


          Never mentioned enough. Blanket forgiveness there.

          The fact that GG apparently can’t connect the dots between corporate funding and the WAR ON TERROR either makes him a dissembling hustler of his liberal reader base or a damn fool.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks


        GG is consistently pretty terrible when it comes to electoral politics, but he remains very good on other issues.

  • Sam240

    Scott, during the Clinton administration, we had hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis. We even had a Secretary of State during the Clinton administration who said — on national TV — that the deaths of half a million Iraqis who were under five years old was worth it. Under Gore, we would still would have had hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis. Does it really matter weather their deaths came from starvation or from weapons?

    Back in 1992, we were told that we had to keep Bush out of the White House, because, if we didn’t, he would work hard to pass NAFTA and destroy Welfare. When Clinton came into office, what did he do? He worked hard to pass NAFTA and pass legislation destroying welfare. When Clinton was president, and when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, not only did we get NAFTA, but we also got an expansion of the death penalty and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

    What did Clinton do right? I can’t think of anything. And, when I asked another progressive who found fault with the Nader candidacy what Clinton did right, he couldn’t think of anything, either.

    Then along comes Gore, who, when he ran for president in 1988, was a pro-life (forced-pregnancy) Southern conservative who introduced us to Willie Horton. Gore even voted for an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1984 that stated life began at conception. Who did Gore pick for vice-president? Joe “I was endorsed by the National Review for the Senate in 1988 and 1994” Lieberman. As an added bonus, the governor of Connecticut at the time was a Republican. Therefore, Gore’s first act as president would have been handing a U.S. Senate seat over to the Republican party.

    Gore may have mouthed progressive rhetoric during the 2000 campaign, but that was only after his campaign fell into trouble, and there was every reason to believe that the 1988 Gore was what we were going to get if he were elected.

    The difference between Gore in 2000 and Obama in 2012 is that we have reason to believe Obama will usually try to move things in the right direction. He has done some things right during his first term, even if he’s not perfect. On the other hand, based on what the Clinton administration did, and Gore’s own pre-VP record, one had a whole lot of reasons to believe that Gore wouldn’t even try to move the country in the right direction. The major difference between Gore and Bush seemed to be how they would make things worse. With Obama, at least, we have someone we can push in the right direction.

    • Hob

      I feel the same as you about those actions by Clinton, including the Iraq sanctions. But if you’re saying that the damage caused by the invasion and its aftermath has not been significantly greater than the damage caused by the sanctions, that’s insane.

    • What did Clinton do right? I can’t think of anything.

      Yea. Apart from the 8 years of peace and prosperity, and the shrinking income inequality, and the 23 million jobs he created, more than any President in history, he really sucked.

      BTW, he opposed welfare reform as the Republicans who controlled both houses of Congress proposed, and managed to mitigate it to a large degree.

      “Mend it, don’t end it” ring a bell?

      I really suggest you read up on history. Clinton wasn’t perfect, far from it (I have major issues with his 1996 Telecom act) but he was far from the failure you seem to think he was. History will be very very kind to Bill.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        What did Clinton do right? I can’t think of anything.

        Though I think there are plenty of reasons to criticize Clinton (and Obama), I couldn’t help but think of this.

        • spencer

          I knew what would be on the other end of that link before I even clicked. Sometimes they just write themselves.

      • Sam240

        I didn’t know that blowing up Serbia counted as peace.

        The increase in jobs during the Clinton administration was 20.7%. The increase in jobs during the Harding and Coolidge administration was 28.4%. Does this mean that the Harding-Coolidge economic policy brought about prosperity?

        This “prosperity” was brought about by a stock bubble which burst shortly after Coolidge left office. Likewise, as Dean Baker points out, the latter half of Clinton’s presidency saw a tremendous stock bubble. At its height in 2000, the price-earnings ratio of stock was over 30, which was twice as much as its historic average. That’s a stock bubble, and its burst led to the 2001 recession.


        The prosperity of the Clinton era was just like the prosperity of the Coolidge era: driven by a bubble that popped just after the president left office. If I criticize Coolidge, I have to criticize Clinton.

        As for welfare as we knew it — he didn’t mend it; he ended it. He had the ability to veto a bill. He worked to create one instead.

    • Malaclypse

      What did Clinton do right? I can’t think of anything.

      You could start here.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yeah, Newt Gingrich working with a Republican president — what could have gone wrong?

      Also, to see the Al Gore of the ’88 primaries as the “real” Al Gore is like seeing the Mitt Romney campaigning for governor in Massachusetts as the “real Romney.” In addition, the fact that Gore got beaten like a rented mule in the ’88 primaries makes clear that you don’t need to throw elections to Republicans so stop Southern conservatives from winning the Democratic nomination.

      • Sam240

        Newt Gingrich was gone by 2000.

        I don’t see how your Gore-Romney comparison holds up. If the real Gore was someone who was conservative only so that he could win in Tennessee, he would have revealed his true progressive positions in his 1988 campaign. He didn’t; he ran as a conservative. If Romney hid his real views so that he could win an election in Massachusetts, why couldn’t Gore have hidden his real views so that he could have won in the 2000 primaries?

        Furthermore, if Gore were really a progressive, he would never have selected a senator as a running mate when he knew that senator would definitely be replaced by a Republican. Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland was a Republican; he would have appointed a Republican to fill Lieberman’s seat. There were plenty of senators from states with Democratic governors, and those senators would have been replaced by another Democrat.

        Had Gore’s running mate been a senator from a state with a Democratic governor, and Gore won, the Senate would have been under Democratic control: a 50-50 split with Gore’s VP providing the deciding vote. Instead, had Gore won the election with Lieberman, the Senate would have been under GOP control, 51-49.

        In other words, Gore’s pick of Lieberman indicated that, if elected, Gore’s very first act would be handing control of the Senate to the Republican party! What type of progressive would deliberately hand over the Senate to Republicans?

        The fact that Gore didn’t care that his VP pick would leave the Senate in Republican hands shows his true colors in 2000. He was a conservative, and the progressive act was just that.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Newt Gingrich was gone by 2000.

          What this has to do with evaluating the Clinton administration is…not obvious.

          he would have revealed his true progressive positions in his 1988 campaign.

          You’re missing the point. Gore in ’88 made a calculated (and bad) choice to run to the right. There’s no reason to believe this, and not the moderate liberal Gore of both the 2000 presidential campaign or post-2000, is the “real” Gore.

          As for Lieberman, it was a poor choice for other reasons, but Gore had no way of knowing at the time he was picked that this would have flipped control of the Senate.

    • Anonymous

      My take:

      I think this is basically right with a few quibbles: the Clintonites did an enormous amount of good re-funding federal agencies and helping unions re-solidfy their public sector postions among other things, and Gore was not pro-life (impossible for a national Democrat; he was against federal funding through Medicaid which is a different thing, though wrong of course) in 1988 nor did he “bring us Willie Horton”. This is a right wing myth.

      That said, the Democratic party is I think more progressive today than 10 years ago, though arguably less progressive (abstacting from the remaining southern blue dogs) than 30 years ago. That’s not anything to do with third parties, but has a lot to do with the decline in the importance of campaign fundraising as fewer voters watch network tv and internet fundraising allows both parties to be less dependent on big donations, Citizens United or not. The Clinton people were desperately underfunded just like all the Dem candidates before them. Being “corporate” made the New Democrats competitive in national elections against the crazy-ass Newt Congress, but it also had very bad effects on their policy.

      Even though Obama may be too close to Wall Street, he isn’t tied to big finance the way the New Democrats were tied to the certain sectors of industy that funded their campaigns (e.g. the awful story of Big Sugar and the Everglades); that’s why Dodd Frank could be as tough as it was; even if it wasn’t enough it would have been unthinkable 10 years earlier. That’s excellent for the party and for liberals.

      So yeah, it makes more sense for progressives to support Obama than it did to support Clinton/Gore, not because Obama himself is more progressive and/or effective as a politician, but because he’s working under slightly better institutional environment to get things done without selling out completely.

  • Leeds man

    Great Pierce article. I particularly liked

    Obama owes the disgruntled. Romney owes the crazy. And that makes all the difference.

  • nitpicker

    Glenn Greenwald as Napoleon:

    We’re dealing with some tough fighting in Spain/drone warfare. We should open up another front in Russia/domestic policy.

  • My favorite bit:

    A fairly miserable flu is preventing me from writing much today

    A mere 1,341 words later, he’s done!

    • Reilly

      The smell of greasepaint, the footlights. They’re like a tonic. The show must go on!

  • curious

    There’s a certain lever of vitriol concerning this topic that is disconcerting to me. even if you disagree with the tactical arguments (strong or weak as they may be), could there at least be some compassion for those with similar ideological ideas dissuaded by significant parts of the process and results coming from the Dems to the point of questioning their political morality? How often can progressives and their ideas be derisively dismissed by party leaders before they start to get fed up? As misguided as some of the reactions have been, what has been the detailed proper alternative responses floated in these critiques besides voting dem?

    How can we hasten the process of “Actual progressive change” in the short and long term? And how can either party be moved in this direction? At this point, this seems like a more inclusive and useful discussion (which I’ve heard in bits and pieces in many of the comments and articles,but not cohesively–please correct me if i’m mistaken).

    • Progressive change is not made through party politics. It is codified through party politics. If you want to make progressive change, presidential campaigns is not the way to do it. Work with labor unions, environmental organizations, community activist groups, etc. Then organize people for the change you want that will be forced through the political system.

      • curious

        It seems to me that both parties has co-opted this strategy for their own ultimate motivation: winning elections and retaining seats. This of course makes sense until it goes so far as taking advantage of those on the ground coalitions then dismissing their expectations and demands once it becomes politically expedient (often right after electoral victories). This suppresses those gains on the ground by implying to first time participants to be cynical and distrustful of the electoral process–and then not vote or be involved in the future.

        I understand the constraints the president has had in moving good legislation into law. But his strategies have limited tangible gains he would have made regardless of the opposition. For example, we could have gotten the public option with the same level of support, but Obama dismissed single payer immediately (the GOP would have dismissed it as the apocalypse regardless). So it’s not just that he abandoned some campaign promises–he actively negotiated them (or anything close to them) out of the discussion. This is demoralizing and deflating for grassroots organizing, and why actual achievements become cheapened in the eyes of many in the base. How can this erosion of faith amongst the most ardent supporters be prevented?

        • Hogan

          So it’s not just that he abandoned some campaign promises–he actively negotiated them (or anything close to them) out of the discussion.

          Obama promised single payer? When was that?

          • curious

            He promised to at least consider it publically, even though he didn’t believe it would be politically possible once he got elected. While this may be a change from his previous position, it was clearly reasonable and in fact correct as the GOP’s response bore out.

            That is quite different than his position once he the debate began. There was no discussion, just a declaration.

        • FlipYrWhig

          We could have gotten the public option? Seems to me that the entire health care debate determined quite systematically that we could get what we got and were on a knife’s edge of getting the jack-squat option.

          • curious

            I don’t think so. We were on the knife’s edge regardless. The republican response showed that whatever Obama presented would have been just as vigorously combatted. What eventually passed was legislation they demonstrably supported during Clinton, and was implemented by Romney, but their position then and since was to characterize the bill as evil incarnate, facts be damned.

            So if the GOP strategy is purely contrarian and obstinant, why not push for the next best thing to negotiate to what you’re really after and use their aggressiveness against them? People do this everyday when they negotiate salary with potential employers.

            • Scott Lemieux

              You’re missing the boat here. The pubic option wasn’t taken off the table in advance, and Republicans weren’t the issue. The issue is that because there were 0 possible GOP votes in the Senate, every Democrat was needed, and there was no chance in hell that Byah, Lieberman, Nelson et al. (most of whom Obama had no particular leverage over) were supporting a public option.

              • FlipYrWhig

                Yup. Far too few of the healthcare reform postmortems have taken into account the role the right flank of Senate Democrats played. That always gets lost when people talk about what The Democrats did, could have done, or wanted to do.

            • Cody

              Classic mistake here. You assume the vote for single-payer is along party lines. Sure, no Republicans would vote for it.

              Neither would a decent minority of Democrats. This is the issue. In order to have single-payer, we will need to have elected more Progressive Senators and Representatives. This is where the grass-roots come in. Obama would have been much much more Progressive if he had a Progressive Senate, even if just due to the pressures of those Senators. Instead, he had an ultra-conservative Senate, with some of the normal conservatives being “Democrats”

              • Paula

                Well, you miss the point.

                “Obama had 60 votes” really is the liberal version of “Keep your gov’t hand off my Medicare.

                Only if you think certain -Ds were actual liberals.

      • bradP

        Loomis, how do you “organize people for the change you want that will be forced through the political system” without playing party politics?

        What’s the alternative to spending a lot of time and effort getting your preferred candidate elected?

    • JL

      The vitriol that I’ve seen from the other side of this debate (including from people that I generally think of as friends and allies) is beyond anything I’ve seen on LGM. The left is pretty good at vicious infighting.

      Loomis talks about progressive change and how it’s made quite a lot, though I can’t remember offhand how much of that has been in posts and how much in comment threads. Part of what it comes down to (as believed by both myself and Loomis) is that when it comes to elections and mainstream parties you have to start at the bottom levels, with local/state races. Another part is that you need a mix of through-the-system and outside-the-system action. You need people in the streets, and you also need people showing up to party meetings and working on campaigns. These may or may not be the same people.

      Another part that I’d add is that movements for sociopolitical change should build institutions, build social services. See the free breakfast programs and medical clinics set up by the Black Panthers (at least one of which still stands today), Common Ground Relief in post-Katrina New Orleans (built largely, though not entirely, by left-anarchists, and still in operation), the current Occupy Sandy Relief effort operating in NYC under the Occupy banner (which I’m hoping to go contribute to at some point), and the frequent community service projects and flood cleanup around Appalachia done by Mountain Justice (an anti-coal group). Not everyone in all those groups is particularly clueful about how to effect broad political change (and in fact, plenty of the individuals involved are exactly the sort that hate Dems from the left and vote for third parties or not at all), but that sort of institution-building and community connection is valuable both from a humanitarian perspective and from the perspective of getting people to appreciate you and your cause. It does a lot of good from a nonpolitical perspective, and it shows them that you’re not scary and allows you to demonstrate your values in a public and useful way.

      • curious

        thanks for your response. I definitely agree with your bottom up position–i just don’t think the dems agree, which is a problem. From my perspective, it seems like there’s an expectation within the leadership that demographic changes alone (specifically immigration) is on the verge of turning the tide towards Democratic sustained control and the passing of increasingly progressive legislation. Hopefully this will be the case, but so far the hispanic registration and turnout numbers, though slowly increasing, are largely terrible and have left states like Texas and Arizona dependably red despite minority majorities for some time now. I’ll submit that both parties are ignoring the nuances regarding the diverse perspectives and motivations of Latinos, but regardless this belies an ambivalence towards serious participation in local organizing and leads me to your point.

        Local and state politics are essential, i agree. But the national party is unwilling to divert significant resources locally to win local community boards and offices, especially if it may even appear to cost them nationally. It costs serious and ever increasing amount of money and resources to win even local elections, which limits the quality pool of potential candidates. Combine that with an aversion towards being at all affiliated with groups like the very ones you offered (see ACORN, Van Jones, etc) and from what I can tell are some serious obstacles to progressive advancement from the ground up–and in this case from a former community organizer, no less.

  • cpinva

    apparently, i’m not a very good liberal/progressive, because i have no innate need to feel superior to all other liberals/progressives. is obama the “perfect” liberal/progressive? hell no, of course not, and he never was or claimed to be. anyone who seriously thought otherwise should start taking their meds again, they need them.

    if i lived in a state that i was positive was going 99.9999999999999999999999% for obama, would i consider casting my vote instead, for either mr. johnson, or ms. stein? hell no! they’re both delusional, though at least ms. stein’s delusions are positive ones, whereas mr. johnson is strictly nutcase delusional. i don’t want to be giving delusional candidates/parties any reason to think they have an actual chance, ever, which is what my vote for them would do.

    am i voting for obama out of fear (as mr. pierce & ms. stein opine?)? hell yes! the very thought of a romney/ryan white house scares the living shit right out of me, as it should anyone with at least two functioning synapses. if you thought 2008 was bad (and it was horrible), it would pale beside the romney/ryan catastrophe awaiting us, should they gain the oval office. FDR and a packed court, on their best day, wouldn’t be able to put that humpty dumpty back together again.

    the bottom line: any so-called liberal/progressive, giving serious thought to not voting for obama, and urging others to not vote for obama, is either a complete, blithering idiot, or a liar, just looking for lots of free publicity.

  • Matt

    Another thing I’ve never been able to figure out – how does the “he’s done nothing for you” logic work going *forward*? Because if you think the leadership of the Democratic Party doesn’t care enough about progressive issues NOW, why would they suddenly decide to care about them when the people that DO don’t even vote for them?

    • Janastas359

      I think that the idea is that Democrats rely to some degree on getting progressives to vote for them, and if the progressives leave the party because they’re not being represented, then Democrats will begin to lose elections, and thus work to court the progressives and bring them back into the coalition.

      Of course, the opposite might happen instead; Democrats compensate by bringing in some center or right groups into the coalition, etc. During some of the Mcgovern obituaries a week or two ago I read an article that said that Democrats compensated for the loss of strong labor support by allying more strongly with the corporate world. I’m not well versed in party history so maybe I have that wrong, but that has always seemed to me to be the danger in progressives supporting third parties or bolting from the Democrats – that they give up whatever power they have in the party to a decidedly less powerful faction.

  • bob mcmanus

    Obama can have a two-word second inaugural address:

    “Hello Suckers”

    Ezra and Lemieux will get all misty and faint with masocism.

    • Trollhattan

      What would Willards be, grabbing his balls while intoning, “I’ve got’cher jobs package, right here”?

    • The true progressives express their aggressive individualism by voting for Stein and feeling wonderful about themselves. Moral purity!

      • bob mcmanus

        It’s all I’ll have if Iran goes up in flames in December and SS goes down in February.

        It ain’t very much at all, but I think it will work better for me:”Darn, fooled again. What a disappointment.” That’s not working anymore.

        You trust Obama. You want to trust Obama. That is what makes you feel wonderful, your faith and optimism.

        I can’t anymore.

        • Jim

          It’s all I’ll have if Iran goes up in flames in December and SS goes down in February.

          But what will you do if Obama wins?

          • bob mcmanus

            Scout the next battlefields.

          • bob mcmanus

            And apparently not voting will make me more responsible, at least I hope so.

            I will no longer be able to luxuriate in my disappointment.

        • I trust Obama?

          Why the hell would anyone trust a politician?

          • Scott Lemieux

            People who want and expect their presidents to be wholly trustworthy benevolent daddies are just very, very odd. I wouldn’t fully trust President Zombie Paul Wellstone.

        • You trust Obama. You want to trust Obama. That is what makes you feel wonderful, your faith and optimism.

          I remember when you were writing this line about Iraq withdrawal and DADT repeal.

          I trust my own judgement about probabilities – and you know what? I have a good record.

          All you’ve got is kneejerk cynicism and a well-practiced pose.

          Tell you what: you keep being grouchy, and I’ll keep being right.

        • Malaclypse

          It’s all I’ll have if Iran goes up in flames in December and SS goes down in February.

          I wish I believed this prospect dismayed you, rather than give you a frisson of smug self-righteousness.

    • Leeds man

      Voting for a third party would of course be more nuanced, as it would involve sadism and masochism.

    • Cody

      Well, some of us have a leftist position in politics.

      It’s unfortunate that I’d prefer jobs and a mildly functioning economy to the conservative paradise of ever-increasing wealth inequality.

      But hey, we can’t all be conservatives like you.

  • sandrahn

    I’ve never posted here & have only read this ridiculous blog a handful of times–your pieces against Greenwald are utterly ludicrous but I won’t waste my time going into that.

    Liberal pundits like you NEVER EVER EVER deal with this fundamental issue in your trashing of left critics of Obama:




    When Bush tried to destroy social security, he was stopped by strong, committed, organized resistance from liberal Democrats, liberal groups. Pundits like you shouted to the rooftops.

    It is absolutely GUARANTEED–you can bet all your money on it–that the same exact moves by Obama to destroy social security will NOT receive the same liberal resistance. You’ll just sit around whining about it, satisfied with scraps like a corporate healthcare policy, crap appointments to the Supreme Ct like Kagan & Sotomayor and…oh yeah…the right of gays to openly commit mass murder of Muslims. Big whoop.

    Liberals like you just sit back and DO NOTHING when Democratic presidents attack FDR’s achievements and the legislation of the Great Society.

    The SIMPLE BASIC FACT is that Obama can invade any country he wants, declare martial law, sign a law declaring the first amendment and labor unions illegal and mindless liberal robots like you WON’T DO SHIT.

    As long as a Democrat is in office, liberals sit back and whine, complain AND DO NOTHING while that president trashes and shits on every single liberal achievement of the last century.

    You can’t argue that I’m wrong because it’s ALREADY BEEN PROVEN TO BE TRUE TIME AND TIME AGAIN.

    Obama signs a law legalizing indefinite detention without charge — AND LIBERALS LIKE YOU make noises about what a terrible thing this is and don’t do shit. And think so little of such a fundamental violation of our constitution that you trash critics of the president who signed that law.

    When a GOP president does that, liberal groups get off their asses and work against him.

    So go ahead and support your messiah Obama who’ll keep away the horrifying rightwing monsters. The same Obama who’ll enable the corporate paradise of a powerless impoverished population with no protections whatsoever.

    I’m sure you’ll be writing blogs complaining about how his INEVITABLE & PROMISED moves to cut medicare, medicaid & soc. security when he opens the door to further destroying our social safety net–and continues his despicable moves toward making the surveillance police state firmly entrenched into our legal system. I’m sure you’ll make some noises about how terrible it all is.

    And you won’t do shit about it.

    Greenwald’s great sin is that he gives a damn about the great liberal achievements of the last century and is disgusted with the way the Democratic party is pissing on them in their endless campaign to distance themselves from their base, who they despise. He sees the Democrats and Obama exactly for what they are and wants liberals to DO something about it instead of just sitting around whining about monsters.

    But yeah, let’s continue on this same old road we’ve been on for so many yrs now: support a party that despises its own tradition, its own principles, its own base–a party that has ENABLED the monsters of this modern GOP to exist in the first place.

    • I recommend capitalizing more random words.

      • I WILL capitalize RANDOM words and YOU WON’T DO SHIT about it.

        Shit. SHIT.


    • laura

      “…support a party that despises its own tradition”

      What tradition is that I wonder. Are you under the impression that the Democrats are less pacifist today than 40 years ago? Less committed to basic civil rights? Less committed to progressive taxation? Less committed to expanding the New Deal to include health care? None of those things are remotely true and if you think so you don’t know much history.

      • Scott Lemieux

        There’s nothing like tough-minded leftists who long for the Golden Age of the Democratic Party, when real liberals like Richard Russell and Robert Byrd controlled the Senate.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yes, under Bush we got atrocious economic policies, torture and a horrible war. But the latter GENERATED LOTS OF INEFFECTUAL OPPOSITION! Winning! Maybe if we get really lucky, Roe v. Wade will be overturned! THERE WILL BE LOTS OF PROTESTS! 20 states will ban abortion, but PEOPLE WILL BE PISSED OFF! Antonin Scalia will see the protestors and CHANGE HIS MIND!

    • Marc

      Glenn, you really should sign your own name to your love letters to yourself.

    • FlipYrWhig

      I’m not sure you’re really providing a distinction between the “strong, committed, organized resistance from liberal Democrats, liberal groups” epitomized by “pundits shouting,” which is the good reaction, and “whining about monsters,” epitomized by pundits “whining,” which is the bad reaction. What does Glenn Greenwald DO apart from using his media platforms to shout, complain, lament, scourge, etc.? I don’t think you have a coherent theory of how some talk is ACTION THAT IS ORGANIZED RESISTANCE and other kinds are THE INEFFECTUAL WHINING OF ENABLERS.

      • Reilly

        What does Glenn Greenwald DO apart from using his media platforms to shout, complain, lament, scourge, etc.?

        He teaches his minions to STOMP AROUND THE STAGE and CHEW THE SCENERY. He knows something LIBERALS LIKE YOU are too blind to see — THE SOCIAL VALUE OF OVERACTING!

    • Cody

      I saw all the capitalized words and assumed this was a heighten the contradictions post.


  • Christopher

    How does withholding support for Obama advance the progressive values that Obama is being criticized for not sufficiently advancing?

    The very fact that you’ve phrased your question this way shows that you do think progressives owe their vote to Obama.

    That question casts voting for him as the default, and voting for anybody else as anomalous behavior that must be justified.

    The thing is, that progressive criticisms of Obama are generally coherent and correct. So at the beginning of your argument you concede that voting for him doesn’t actually advance certain progressive goals. The solution is to argue that voting for Obaama furthers the goals they ought to have. By naming themselves progressives or leftists they’ve tied themselves to a number of issues that they are obligated to care about.

    Also, I believe it was djw who wrote an early post explaining that people DO owe Obama their vote.

    PS I don’t think you can consistently respond to criticisms of drone warfare with “Well, I don’t see how that’s any more evil than any other President” but respond to the end of the ACA with an anguished cry of “YOU MONSTER! These are human lives you’re playing with!!!” You can really only do one or the other.

    • Scott Lemieux

      he very fact that you’ve phrased your question this way shows that you do think progressives owe their vote to Obama.

      You’re missing the point. Progressives don’t owe anything to Obama. They do presumably owe it to themselves to advance progressive values. Throwing elections to Republicans in exchange for no benefits undermines progressive values. See?

      PS I don’t think you can consistently respond to criticisms of drone warfare with “Well, I don’t see how that’s any more evil than any other President” but respond to the end of the ACA with an anguished cry of “YOU MONSTER! These are human lives you’re playing with!!!” You can really only do one or the other.

      This is an utter non-sequitur. First, feel free to criticize Obama’s drone warfare. Second, throwing the election to Romney won’t stop drone welfare, but it is likely to mean that many people will suffer or die needlessly because they will be denied medical care they would receive if Obama is re-elected. See the difference?

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