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Repudiate! Refudiate!

[ 151 ] October 28, 2013 |

Via Mr. Bogg, Conor Friedersdorf is very concerned about the future of the Democratic Party.

During President George W. Bush’s tenure, most Republicans felt that criticizing him would just help Democrats. Only the end of his presidency freed them to see its flaws clearly. Staunch conservatives who voted for him twice suddenly found themselves swept up in a Tea Party rebellion against his team’s approach to governing. They felt chagrin at the ways he had transgressed against their values, and they resolved to change the GOP so that the same mistakes would never recur.

Will some Democrats behave similarly when President Obama leaves office? Right now, most feel that criticizing the White House can only help House Republicans. But one day soon they’ll be able to look back at Obama’s two terms with clearer eyes. How many will feel chagrin at policies that transgressed against their values? How many will pressure their party’s establishment to change?

We may start finding out during the Election 2016 primaries….

Hillary Clinton is poised to be the candidate of continuity. Like Bush and Obama, she would govern as an executive-power extremist, is implicated in the civil-liberties transgressions of recent years, and would almost certainly seek to expand rather than rein in post-9/11 powers given to the national-security state.

Will she be acceptable to liberals and progressives?

What’s missing here seems to be an understanding of how the 2008 Republican primary actually played out.  To my recollection, the only candidate that ran on an explicit repudiation of Bush administration security and economic policies maxed out at 24.57% of the vote in the meaningless Montana caucus, and averaged well below 10% for the bulk of the campaign despite his aforementioned monopolization of the anti-Bush position.  And in 2012, that same candidate rocked all the way to an average of 11% of the GOP primary vote, despite again monopolizing the “repudiate Bush” position. And so, if Democrats in 2016 repudiate Obama to exactly the same extent that Republicans in 2008 repudiated Bush, they’ll likely select… wait for it…  a candidate who supports policies that are virtually indistinguishable from the incumbent President.

Perhaps more importantly, the Tea Party reaction, such that it has been, was only incidentally about Bush, and entirely about Barack Obama.  I know it bothers Conor to think about his political allies as neo-confederate fanatics largely animated by racial animus, but you go to war with the friends you choose, not the friends you… uh, choose, I guess. And of course, you can tell how much Republicans hate George W. Bush based on the 84-15 majority that thinks he was a good President.

I’ve said it before and (sadly) I suspect I’ll have to say it again:  I can appreciate why Conor Friedersdorf takes himself very seriously, but I can’t understand why any progressives take him seriously at all.

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  1. brad says:

    Never let it be forgotten that one of young Conor’s first notable “achievements” was being a fill-in for Megan McArdle.
    Like McMegan he’s part of the club, and in exchange for not calling the people at the lunch table whom he disagrees with traitors or communists they will continue to link to him. So his continued success is inevitable, and eventually he and Luke Russert will inherit the sunday shows.

  2. Malaclypse says:

    Staunch conservatives who voted for him twice suddenly found themselves swept up in a Tea Party rebellion against his team’s approach to governing.

    Which is why the Tea Party is synonymous with being against tax cuts for the rich and stupid aggressive wars.

    • Funkhauser says:

      Unless you define Bush’s “approach to governing” comprising with including not spitting on Democrats. In which case, yes, the Tea Party opposed that.

    • Clark says:

      Of course, that is a crock of horseshit. There was no Tea Party rebellion against GWB because it’s not about limited government.

    • DrDick says:

      Or why so many of them now regard him as a great president. This turns the stupid up to 12.

    • Heron says:

      Yeah, I mean, the “Tea Party” didn’t even exist until that first Spring when Rs started freaking out about the auto bailout(and more about why we weren’t giving the unions even more of a shaft on it than we were, really). Trying to argue it was about Bush is laughable; until he left office most Republicans were still arguing there was no problem and that there was no Depression or Recession; they didn’t even start bringing back discredited liquidationist arguments until the inauguration.

  3. efgoldman says:

    I can’t understand why any progressives take him seriously at all.

    Do they? I mean, unlike some people, i have a life, and can’t just read blogs and other media all day, but all the places I go (and see many of the same commenters) mostly mock him.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      One Glenn Greenwald takes him very seriously.

      Of course Greenwald also links to white supremacists to attack me, so not exactly a progressive there.

      • Bill Murray says:

        Does anyone else think GG is a progressive?

        • Timb says:

          He’s something different

        • YourUnwashedSocks says:

          Anyone who pays attention to what he says, does, and writes.

          Only fantasists here don’t think so.

          Whatever Loomis’s resentments, he’s pretty well given up his weird fever dreams about Greenwald’s politics.

          • sharculese says:

            Anyone who pays attention to what he says, does, and writes.

            So… other public onanists?

            • YourUnwashedSocks says:

              You find Greenwald’s reporting not worth your attention? Really?

              • sharculese says:

                I find loaded questions that put words in my mouth to be tedious and not worth my time, if that counts?

                • YourUnwashedSocks says:

                  You said those who pay attention to Greenwald = public onanists.

                  What did I miss?

                • sharculese says:

                  The forest for the trees mostly.

                  Would it help if I rephrased it as a breathless screed attacking anyone to my perceived right?

                • DrDick says:

                  You missed bringing your dirty sock.

                • YourUnwashedSocks says:

                  The question is why commenters here shun the facts and persist in characterizing him as a rightist. BECAUSE CATO isn’t an answer. BECAUSE PORTUGAL DRUG REPORT isn’t an answer.

                • sharculese says:

                  I swear I characterized him as a jerk-off, not a rightist, but whatever man, glad you could accuse me of more things I didn’t say. I mean, that’s what you became a True Righteous Bearer of Only the Most True Truths, for, right?

                • DocAmazing says:

                  Greenwald’s a Libertarian, full stop. He’s written some good stuff, and he’s written some real shit. He can be a useful ally at times, but it pays to keep an eye on him. See also: Balko, Radley.

                • DrDick says:

                  DocAmazing – I am honestly not sure his political philosophy is that coherent. He certainly has a strong libertarian streak, but he is also a strong civil libertarian, which is antithetical the libertarianism.

                • YourUnwashedSocks says:

                  of course. Everyone knows about his secret agreement with the Kochs to (secretly) advance their agenda while publicly denouncing them, their influence, and everything they stand for (except some civil liberties principles upon which liberals and libertarians obviously agree); while actively working for progressive candidates and causes, etc. And while vehemently denying any affinity or agreement whatsoever with economic libertarianism.

                  No, no one here is harboring any fantasies. No way.

                • sharculese says:

                  No, no one here is harboring any fantasies. No way.

                  I mean, you are, since you keep trying to tear down arguments nobody actually made, but the rest of us are fairly grounded in reality, angry dude.

                • YourUnwashedSocks says:

                  See below. And ask aimai if he secretly works for plutocrats. Those arguments have been made here, many times.

                • Halloween Jack says:

                  People who shoot up theaters and schools are worth paying attention to, if only to dodge stray rounds. That doesn’t exactly commend them.

                • YourUnwashedSocks says:

                  Yep, because reporting on NSA surveillance is exactly like mass murder. Are you for real?

              • DrDick says:

                I do not know anyone here who has called him a “rightist.” I think most of us could get behind “incoherent wanker” however.

              • YourUnwashedSocks says:

                DocAmazing, IIRC, has indeed made that argument on other threads.

                • YourUnwashedSocks says:

                  that was supposed to be upthread and for sharculese

                • sharculese says:

                  WELL THANK FUCKING GOD! Now that I’m no longer laboring under the mistaken delusion that I’m supposed to have any fucking clue what’s going on, things are making a lot more sense.

                  Have you considered that possibility that your reactions are colored by the fact that DocAmazing and/or aimai are, in fact, ghost nymphs from the counterclockwise dimension?

                • DocAmazing says:

                  Yeah, and it happens to be a fact. Greenwald has taken a fair amount of Koch money through Cato. He’s certainly no leftist, and has never claimed to be one. He’s strong on civil liberties, in the main, just like Radley Balko, and, like Balko, is plain vanilla Libertarian. Doesn’t mean the guy hasn’t done valuable work, but it’s just dumb to ignore his connections.

                • YourUnwashedSocks says:

                  Yeah, cuz every time someone links to those claims and the supporting evidence you pretend they didn’t and go right on with the same smears.

                • DocAmazing says:

                  It isn’t a “smear” to call Greenald a Libertarian. It’s an accurate statement. “Libertarian” is just a political party.

                  Do you deny that Greenwald worked for Cato?

                • Random says:

                  Do you deny that Greenwald worked for Cato?

                  More importantly, do you deny that Greenwald is an incoherent wanker?

                • DocAmazing says:

                  Actually, Greenwald has written some valuable stuff, and hsi championing of Snowden was laudable. He tends to go waaay overboard, and swing wildly at potential allies, but he’s hardly alone in that.

      • wengler says:

        Greenwald also broke the biggest story of the year. So for all of his faults, he’s playing a different game right now.

    • J. Otto Pohl says:

      LGM is the only place I have ever seen Conor Friedersdorf or Glen Greenwald ever mentioned.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Well, that’s because Greenwald is a shy, retiring fellow, always glad to cede the spotlight to others more outgoing than himself. He’s easy to overlook.

      • Warren Terra says:

        Well, an op-ed about Greenwald has been in the top five most emailed stories at The New York Times for the last two days straight, the detention and harassment of his partner (husband?) at Heathrow earlier this year made the BBC World Service’s top-of-the-hour news briefs (among a -lot of other worldwide attention given), he was Edward Snowden’s chief contact, handler, and press spokesman while at The Guardian (and before that a major advocate of Manning), and he’s generally been a loud and controversial figure in the blogosphere for the best part of a decade, with some significant presence in broadcast and print media for a couple of years now. But, sure, it’s your personal impression that you only hear of him at LGM that matters. I guess he’s not the talk of Ghana, eh?

      • Halloween Jack says:

        Somebody needs to get out more.

  4. sharculese says:

    but I can’t understand why any progressives take him seriously at all.

    Because like a lot of internet progressives, Young Conor mistakes writing like he just got a pity handjob from his thesaurus for seriousness.

  5. Shakezula says:

    That first paragraph in your clip is such a heaving load of mendaciousness; if I weren’t somewhat familiar with Mr. Freesderp, I would think he was parodying all of the conservative bloggites who now claim they “held their nose” to vote for Bush II.

  6. sharculese says:

    Also, from Mr. Bogg’s post script:

    They are more concerned with attacking truth-tellers like Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden than they are keeping anyone accountable or demanding transparency. That’s what they are really good at– justifying why the powerful should stay so and attacking the ones who challenge power. And, if needed, providing a handy social lifestyle issue to keep the division.

    Dear brogressives, if you are wondering why nobody likes you and everybody calls you derogatory terms like ‘brogressive,’ this is it. I don’t go out of my way to attack your priorities as illegitimate, mostly because that’s idiotic and not something I think is even true. When you do the same to mine, it makes me regard you as an untrustworthy ally I would never ever work with on anything. You want to know why you’re irrelevant? It’s because you insist on marginalizing yourselves rather than exercise even the smallest modicum of tact.

    • rea says:

      That quote is from Jerome Armstrong, who delivers it in he context of criticizing progressives for caring too much about the constitutional right to abortion.

    • Aimai says:

      I keep having this argument with some very sweet people on the internet and it just makes me shake my head. Ok, sure, id like a world in which the powerful fell under the rule of law and were punished but we are actually in a world where when one powerful guy from my team gets rotated out he getscreplaced with someone evil from the other team. I lose an advantage, a more evil group gains an advantage, and the one thing that is vindicated is an abstract principle. Capitalism, power, inequality, imperialism dont take a hit.

  7. Burt Harbinson says:

    The Tea Baggers have received a huge pass on their racial dog-whistles that they send from the day their so-called movement began. These were the same bigoted assholes who yapped about “family values,” “states-rights,” or whatever the euphemism-du-jour was to enact and execute their neo-Confederate agenda.

    • Ahuitzotl says:

      Yeah, I always found the periodic slow-learner types in that crowd hilarious, the ones that hadn’t gotten on-message yet and still carried outright outrageous racist slogans and images. Talk about spilling your hand.

  8. Deggjr says:

    The Democrats just can’t get enough good advice from Republicans. The Republicans’ hearts are so big they offer their finest thoughts even though they may hurt their own party.

    • Timb says:

      Man, that’s the same thing righties say about media reports re Republican fighting

      • Gregor Sansa says:

        Media to Teahadis: Pulling the trigger on that gun caused that bullet to go through your foot. Perhaps you shouldn’t do that.
        Teahadis: Shut up, lib.

        Brogressives to progressives: If you’d just pipe down about our stupid foot, I could start shooting this gun, which would be totally awesome.
        Progressives: Shut up, wingnut.

        You’re right, the response is perfectly symmetrical.

  9. Murc says:

    Like Bush and Obama, she would govern as an executive-power extremist, is implicated in the civil-liberties transgressions of recent years, and would almost certainly seek to expand rather than rein in post-9/11 powers given to the national-security state. Will she be acceptable to liberals and progressives?

    I will almost certainly not vote for Hillary Clinton in the primary, but I’ll damn sure pull the lever for her in November if she chooses to run. (She might not. She’ll be 69, and Presidentin’ is hard, grueling work if you take it at all seriously.) Because she’ll be good enough, and she’ll be significantly better than whatever howling loonie the Republicans put up.

    The idiotic part of that column, as Robert notes, is the idea that any of the sturm und drang Conor posits will play out during the primary. It is indeed possible, maybe even likely, that we’ll get putative liberals who kept silent about the worst aspects of the Obama Administration come out against them when Obama is an ex-President and if a Republican wins the White House. But those people are the sort of people who are going to shut up during a primary; the only people who will raise a hue and cry are those who have been doing it all along.

    • William Burns says:

      Considering that Friedersdorf never said that the sturm and drang would play out in the primary, and clearly rather doubts that it will, it’s hard to see how that could be the idiotic part.

  10. William Burns says:

    To be fair, the 2008 campaign is irrelevant, as it occurred before the end of the Bush presidency.

  11. sharculese says:

    Repudiate! Refudiate! would be an awesome title for an A Silver Mt. Zion song. Or I guess now that Godspeed is sort of back together it could be a Godspeed song, too.

  12. Francis says:

    “They felt chagrin at the ways he had transgressed against their values, and they resolved to change the GOP so that the same mistakes would never recur.”

    which is why repeals of NCLB, Medicare Part D and the USA Patriot Act have passed the House with large Republican majorities, only to die in the Democratically controlled Senate.

    they haven’t? doesn’t that utterly gut CF’s thesis?

  13. cpinva says:

    “but you go to war with the friends you choose, not the imaginary friends you … uh, choose wish you had, I guess.”

    there, fixed that for you.

  14. Rarely Posts says:

    I just read the Armstrong link (via TBogg), and I saw this:

    The oomph of the Democratic party in the blogosphere today can be summed up with a cursory glance at posts and comments on Balloon Juice, Little Green Footballs and Booman Tribune.

    Is Little Green Footballs now part of the progressive blogosphere? Because that I did not know. Also, as an LGM commenter, I’m feeling a bit snubbed.

    • Linnaeus says:

      Charles Johnson seems to have had a John Cole-esque conversion experience.

      • Rarely Posts says:

        Wow. I just visited the site, and it looked like a sane place. I honestly can’t believe it. Last time I looked at LGF (a long time ago) it was filled with steaming racism, if I’m remembering correctly. I never would have seen that conversion coming.

        In contrast, although John Cole was often an incorrect conservative hack back-in-the-day, he was always funny enough that I could see he couldn’t remain a conservative forever. Conservatism and humor do not survive well together.

  15. Rarely Posts says:

    As for political strength of the liberal blogosphere, it’s funny that Armstrong completely ignores Donna Edwards and Elizabeth Warren.

    Arguably, they are two of liberal blogosphere’s biggest electoral accomplishments, and both have a lot to do with the Bankruptcy Bill. As a DC resident with a handful of friends who are Hill Staffers, Edwards’ defeat over incumbent Wynn in 2008 sent a huge shock through the Democratic House members – for the first time in awhile, they feared a liberal primary. And, a lot of Edwards power came from the liberal blogosphere.

    And, then when Warren ran, I got behind her immediately because of Warren Reports (her blogging against the bankruptcy bill on TPM). Once again, the liberal blogosphere had helped catapult a strong liberal to the top.

    It’s just odd to suggest that the lefty blogosphere hasn’t had any influence politically in light of those two successes, both of whom have probably had ripple effects on other Democrats.

    Not to mention, Armstrong seems to imply that the liberal blogosphere got behind Clinton and not Obama. Speaking solely as one liberal blog commenter — I preferred Obama to Clinton (and still do).

    • Aimai says:

      i don’t know if we can take Warren as a liberal bloggosphere success. She ran in a blue blue state with extreme local support because actual local democrats were pissed off at Scott Brown and at Martha Coakley. She got an assist from running at the same time as Obama who was very popular in her state. She and every other democrat running in MA was actually part of what was called a “co-ordinated campaign” with the Obama campaign in which local groups worked for Obama and each candidate dropped literature or doorknocked for the others in order to free up Obama campaign workers to go up to New Hampshire. In short: she would have run and won even without the liberal bloggosphere although she was also our darling.

      • Mad Monk says:

        But does Warren clear the Primary field the way she did (she ended up running unopposed) without the backing of the LB? I doubt it…

        • Rarely Posts says:

          Exactly this. The most notable liberal blogosphere victories involve primaries where our involvement leads to the Democrats selecting a better candidate than they otherwise would. I suspect Warren’s support in the blogosphere helped clear the primary field. And, that’s similar to Edwards, where her big win was taking out the Democrat, Wynn, in the primary. The general wasn’t strongly contested.

  16. Sly says:

    Hillary Clinton is poised to be the candidate of continuity. Like Bush and Obama, she would govern as an executive-power extremist, is implicated in the civil-liberties transgressions of recent years, and would almost certainly seek to expand rather than rein in post-9/11 powers given to the national-security state.

    Will she be acceptable to liberals and progressives?

    Unless libertarian foreign policy priorities suddenly and inexplicably become the sum total of liberal and progressive political goals, then the answer to that question is going to be “Yes.”

    And everyone, including CF, knows it. This is just more ham-handed and pointless guilt-tripping over DronesManningNSASnowdenAwlaki, about which the overwhelming majority of the Democratic coalition couldn’t care less.

    • Rarely Posts says:

      I’m a liberal Democrat, and I’d be very open to a solid candidate challenging Clinton in the primary and distinguishing himself or herself on the basis of being less in favor of war, less in favor of the drug war, and more in favor of the Fourteenth Amendment. It seems unlikely that a primary challenge would succeed, but I’d be open to it.

      The question is: would CF and the libertarians get behind a liberal Democrat who took those positions but remained a solid liberal on issues of the social safety net, economic regulation, social liberalism, higher tax rates on the wealthy, and environmental protection?

      Somehow, I doubt it; they’d still be pulling the lever for the Republican because “Freedom !11!!!”

    • Elihawk says:

      It’s the same Friedersdorf we saw last year: Completely and inexplicably confident that all of his hobby horses are the overwhelming policy preferences of liberal Democratic voters, despite all evidence to the contrary.

      • Jeremy says:

        Well, if it weren’t for icky partisanship, the progressive faction of the Democratic Party would realize that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were both closer to their policy preferences. At least on all the issues that matter to Conor Friedersdorf.

        • DocAmazing says:

          Friedersdorf’s a Libertarian. He’d consider Jill Stein’s economic program very undesirable.

          • Jeremy says:

            Well, yes, he would totally hate for Jill Stein to be elected. That’s not actually going to happen, so he’ll just tell left-of-center voters to vote as if it’s a purity contest, not a presidential election. If the Greens were competitive, he’d have some reason for true progressives to vote for a different unelectable candidate or party.

          • Warren Terra says:

            That was rather Jeremy’s point: Freiersdorf can claim support for the things he likes about Jill Stein, because she’ll never influence policy and prove him wrong. Freiersdorf gets to use her as an empty, even a dishonest, cultural signifier, to falsely portray himself as being open to leftward impulses and constituencies.

      • Halloween Jack says:

        I’m not so sure that he’s even as confident of that so much as he’s a chronic scold; if you really cared about smashing the police state as much as I do, so-called “liberals”…

  17. bobbyp says:

    Perhaps more importantly, the Tea Party reaction, such that it has been, was only incidentally about Bush, and entirely about Barack Obama.

    Exactly.

  18. Seitz says:

    Where was I when TBogg started writing again?

    • Halloween Jack says:

      Dunno? I’m still not sure if he just needed a break, or for some reason didn’t want to jump ship directly from FDL to Raw Story. At any rate, it keeps me from having to acknowledge the House of Jane “Grover Norquist BFF 4eva” Hamsher for any reason whatsoever.

    • TribalistMeathead says:

      It’s only been a few weeks since he started writing again.

  19. Jordan says:

    Well, Friesdorf is whatever. He isn’t a progressive, so who cares.

    But sharply criticizing (from the actual left) the last two years of Obama’s presidency seems like a pretty good thing! As does advocating for a non-Clinton nominee. It will have no impact on governance, but might make things better in the primaries (maybe!). We can do better – and can win – with someone other than Clinton. Am I wrong here?

  20. Josh G. says:

    Under normal political circumstances, a Democratic continuity candidate in 2016 would be a losing proposition. It’s hard enough for a political party to win three consecutive Presidential elections, let alone do so when the economy remains stagnant and people are generally unhappy with the status quo.

    But these are not normal political circumstances. The present-day Republicans have gone out of their way to alienate anyone who’s not an affluent Christian white male of middle age or older, and that shows no sign of changing. Their appeal outside the South and parts of the underpopulated West is very limited. The electoral college math, which favored Republicans in years past, clearly favors the Democratic party now, because the Republicans have made themselves into a regional party. Nixon’s Southern Strategy is played out and has become a substantial liability.

    Can Hillary Clinton win the general election in 2016? Probably, but I think a lot of Democratic voters (myself included) will be holding their noses on the way to the voting booth. I think Friedersdorf is right that these issues will play out in the 2016 primary. Remember that primary elections are not the same as general elections, since they are dominated to a far greater extent by base voters. This is why it’s an old adage that candidates often pivot to the left (for Democrats) or right (for Republicans) in the primaries, then go towards the center for the general election. But that’s much harder to do now than it was in a pre-YouTube era, and harder still for someone with Hillary’s lengthy track record. Whether or not NSA surveillance will be an issue in the 2016 primaries, it’s clear that economic policy will be. And an increasing number of Democrats have become increasingly disillusioned with Third Way neoliberalism. This has been the case for some time and is in fact one of the major reasons why Hillary lost the 2008 primary. Many people seem to think that Hillary will walk away with the nomination in 2016, but I believe that a credible progressive challenger like Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown could give her a real run for her money.

    • Elihawk says:

      Yeah. If theres’ a left turn in the Democratic primary in 2016, it’s going to be about domestic issues and the economy not OMGDRONEZ. But Friedersdorf doesn’t care about those kind of things.

      And it’s worth mentioning that the insurgent almost never wins a Democratic Presidential nomination (See Dean, Bradley, Hart, Kennedy) except in 2008, in part because the African American vote nearly always goes with the establishment candidate. That didn’t happen in 2008 for obvious reasons, but it likely will again in 2016.

    • Martin says:

      I think this is very well argued, and my post below about three and out is basically a response to this. I myself have historically been a centrist type voter, very enthusiastic about Obama and only marginally less so for Clinton, Gore, and Kerry. But my focus has generally been intensely to try to get the fringe left to come on board in the name of the greater, Dem-vs-GOP good.

      I’m saying this as a preamble to the notion that for the first time in a long while, I wouldn’t have much impatience at all for a Dem who was pissed off about drones, Lawrence Summers, NSA, and so on. In fact I might be inclined to vote for Warren over HRC myself, understanding that Warren is far superior to Nader — but she’s not all that different from Bradley or even Jerry Brown in ’92 (whom I voted in the NYS primary against fait accompli nominee Clinton!). If I can vote for Jerry in ’92, I can certainly vote for Warren. I think my days of saying “You guys! Shut up! We have to beat the GOP at all costs!” may be over for the time being. Dems, have your say about the centrist, Third Way-ers, I might even join you……

      • panda says:

        The big problem is that I think you and Josh upthread make the same implicit assumption: that there is a large cohort of progressives who will only vote for Clinton while holding their noses. This might be true for us, hyper-political lefties, but I think every single poll puts her favorability among Dems at something around 70%-80%. An insurgent candidate, if one is found, might catch fire in his/her own right, but I don’t think there is a hunger for a non-Clinton like the one that existed in 2008.
        Also, from the political standpoint, Clinton has the unique capacity to run as the continuity candidate, or the change candidate (Hillary, the road not traveled!). Substantially, this might be bunk, but even among lefties there is a general perception that a Clinton would have been a tougher president than Clinton, and if there is anything politically active Democrats want now is a president who will pick up fights with Republicans.

        • Lee Rudolph says:

          even among lefties there is a general perception that a Clinton would have been a tougher president than Clinton,

          Well, at least among lefties with a penchant for Chestertonian paradoxes.

          • panda says:

            I, for myself, think it is a preposterous idea. Hillary, for example, would have given up on the ACA after the Brown election. Still, you can’t deny many, many, people who find flaws with Obama’s being the last adult shtick yearn for a more aggressive approach to the opposition. Given how the Clintons are mis-remembered as partisan fighters, I can easily see how people may decide that Hillary would be a tougher president than Obama.

            • Lee Rudolph says:

              I, for myself, think it is a preposterous idea.

              Y’know what I think is preposterous? It’s not a failure to copy-edit before hitting “Submit Comment” (I mean, sometimes I do that, and I’m never preposterous!). It’s not even a failure to re-read one’s own words when someone quotes a few of them (I mean, I love to re-read my own words, even if it does sometimes require reading someone else’s framing of them). But it might, just might, be a failure to re-read one’s own words when someone quotes a few of them framed so as to draw attention (not meanly! I mean, I’m never, never mean!!!) to a lapse in one’s earlier copy-editing.

  21. Martin says:

    Context, context, context. There was never a “normal” section of Bush’s presidency in which his approval ratings were not declining. He had the massive 9/11 spike and two smaller spikes when the Iraq War began and when Saddam was captured. He managed to keep his rating above that crucial 50% mark around Election Day 2004, after which the buyer’s remorse at having reelected him was powerful, well before the Tea Party. In his last year his rating got down to 25% (you can see the whole range there).

    So here’s the thing. When Obama’s approval rating gets as low as Bush’s (or even, say 35%), at that point it becomes appropriate to wonder exactly in what way Democrats will decide to refudiate him, not earlier. In addition to whatever else is true, Obama is objectively better at being president than Bush.

    • DrDick says:

      Hell, my cat would be a better president than Bush the Dimmer.

      • El Guapo says:

        What?? Do you know how many wars we’d be in if your cat was President?!?!111!

        COTUS would be all like, meh, don’t care about anyt—POUNCE! DRONEZ!!!!1!!1 MWAHAHA, nom nom nom. Now pet me. But not anymore, I’m bored of you.

        A wet hairball in Ted Cruz’s loafers wouldn’t be half bad tho.

    • Martin says:

      Also, If you take Bush out of it, the normal thing is for former presidents to improve their reputation on their own side. See Reagan, Clinton, GHWB, Johnson, even Nixon. That is the more normal way of things, right? You could even argue that GWB’s rep is better today than it was on 1/20/09, because people forget things and stuff.

      • panda says:

        I think Jennifer Rubin made some noise about Bush being vindicated as his favorability rating was higher than Obama’s approval rating few months ago. This might have been the most stupid thing she wrote in a career devoted to the pursuit of foolishness.

  22. Martin says:

    Another thing I wanted to say is that I think the regular rules about three terms and out (Reagan-Reagan-Bush) may have been repealed for right now. The Democrats have done better in the popular vote 5 out of the last 6 elections, and Democrats have good reason to think that 2016 will work out OK. Because the Dems were denied the White House in 2000, that blunted the hubristic effects of doing so well in elections, and kept the Dems’ bad tendencies in check, which has helped them in the last couple of cycles. And meanwhile, the Republicans aren’t behaving like a party that thinks it’s out of touch, as the Dems most certainly did in 1988, for instance. 2015 ought to be the equivalent of 1999 in the Clinton cycle, at which point the GOP was throbbing with frustration that they weren’t in the White House, and very consciously engineered a “compassionate conservative” candidate who could masquerade as a centrist. It’s possible the GOP will still go for Christie — indeed, I feel this is fairly likely, and he may well beat HRC. But it’s tough to envision the red-meat right going for him etc. If you think of the Bush 2000 election as a bait and switch, it may be that the Republicans’ fundamentally dishonest way of governing has just finally run into diminishing returns, so the regular tricks won’t work anymore. It’s a different way from saying the same thing everyone says, which is that we don’t have a regular conservative party anymore. All of their incentives have been wholly short-term for a while now, and that kind of thing leads to a treadmill mentality (copyright Bill James) which simply ensures that you won’t reach your goal.

    • Tom Servo says:

      Does anyone think that’s a rule? Because it’s not a very good one. The recession, mistrust within his own party, the fact that he basically lacked any charisma whatsoever and that Clinton was a young fresh face at a time of a resurgent youth culture. I dunno, there are so many things unique to Bush, and the 1992 Republican Party, and 1992 demographics, that you really can’t say that the rule is three terms and out. Bush could’ve won that election if any of those things had blown slightly the other way-I don’t think you can take away a rule about three term party fatigue. Although maybe it then would’ve been four terms and out-I don’t know who in the hell would’ve run in 96 without a popular incumbent. Maybe the same assclowns.

      I actually voted for Bush in 92 (though I would’ve pulled the lever for Dukakis and Mondale had I been old enough years before). The Reagan Revolution was already solidified anyway, Bush was ok, and I didn’t want to contribute to the Third Way “New Democrat” bullshit catching on.

      • EliHawk says:

        Yeah. A lot of people talk about the ‘two terms’ and out rule too in the context of 2016, and ignore the fact that nearly all of those elections (1960, 1968, 1976, 2000) ended up being very narrow defeats and have their own complicating factors.

  23. Random says:

    Please tell me I coined the observation that he’s the Libertarian Ross Douthat.

    Please?

  24. The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    BooMan has replied replied as well.

    Amusing quote:

    I just find it bizarre to be lectured by a man who first came to my attention as Mark Warner’s agent to the blogosphere.

  25. Lyle says:

    If the Tea Party folks are neo-confederates, why was their only one Confederate flag at the WWII barricade protest? If they were what you say they are, there would have been more Confederate battle flags.

  26. Gregor Sansa says:

    A Palin-Brogressive-Dalek hybrid is truly the stuff of nightmares. But while Palin fits the Dalek mode, convinced of the inherent superiority of all people like her, I think the brogressives are really more like cybermen, intent on eliminating their weak human emotions identity politics.

  27. Ronan says:

    Youre all a nice bunch of people over here
    But y’all some some idiotic hobby horses

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