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Our Conclusion, As Always: Both Sides Do It

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Americans-Elect

It’s like David Broder never left:

Obama arguably deserves as much or more blame for that failure as Boehner. The President has also struggled to stand up to the far left. “Fairly or not, Obama and Boehner, as much captives as leaders of their respective parties, will be indelibly identified with the dysfunction of their times,” The Post’s White House bureau chief, Juliet Eilperin, explains in her own look at the relationship between the two men. Like PK, she focused on the failed grand bargain of 2011 as a turning point the duo never recovered from. “But it was Obama, the one who felt stranded at the altar in the past, who decided to move on. At the start of 2014, the president decided to pursue a strategy that emphasized executive action … The moves came with political costs — and a lawsuit, filed by Boehner, challenging Obama’s authority.” The only time they really cooperated this year was on trade promotion authority.

If I understand correctly, what being on “the far left” means in this instance is “opposing massively unpopular Social Security cuts.” And Obama was supposed to “stand up” to the “far left” by continuing to make offers to Republicans he knew they would refuse. This is one of those times where to state an argument is to refute it.

In case you think I’m being uncharitable, earlier there was this:

President Obama, already a lame duck, is less likely than before to get big ticket items out of Congress. McCarthy will not be nearly as worried about his legacy at this stage of his career as Obama is in the twilight of his presidency. This will make it harder for him to take risks or go out of his comfort zone. As a result, there will almost certainly be no meaningful movement on issues like tax reform next year or any kind of grand bargain that would raise revenue.

If you think there was any chance that the House would pass a “grand bargain” involving tax increases with John Boehner — or anyone else — in the speaker’s chair, you really have no business being paid to write about politics.

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  • Hogan

    President Obama, already a lame duck, is less likely than before to get big ticket items out of Congress.

    So you’ve found a number smaller than zero? That’s super. Here’s a cookie.

    • I got an F- once in high school, but no one gave me a cookie for it.

    • tsam

      President Obama, already a lame duck, is less likely than before to get big ticket items out of Congress.

      Captain Obvious is Obvious.

      • Derelict

        Ah! But this is what makes Obama cautious now. He’s not issuing any executive orders on anything that . . .

        Whut?!?!?!

        • tsam

          I’m sure liking Obama’s “O HAI, U MAD BRO?” approach lately. Because I’m not sure if you noticed, but THEY MAD!

          • Derelict

            They mad, and jelly!

  • joe from Lowell

    At the start of 2014…

    You know, if you ignore the first five years of Barack Obama’s presidency, it’s like he never even tried to work with Republicans at all.

    • Warren Terra

      At the very least, he could have joined one of their eleventy attempts to repeal Obamacare. I’m sure if he’d shown such bipartisan spirit the Republicans would for the first time have sincerely proposed a workable alternative to the ACA.

    • tsam

      Yeah–it’s like he never ended up getting hosed by his silly idea that there were a few Republicans left that wanted to govern the country. I will give the man this: He fucking tried a hell of a lot longer than I would have. I don’t have much patience for that sort of shit.

      • Warren Terra

        I think it’s not entirely clear to what degree Obama actually expected that extending the hand of compromise this time would get it grasped rather than bit, and to what extent he believed it was necessary to be seen extending the hand of compromise, in order to increase the legitimacy of his proposals and to gain for those proposals the support of pundits and of Blue Dog Democrats (especially in the Senate). Certainly at least some of Obama’s behavior was the latter.

        • tsam

          Well, there’s a good reason he’s the president and I’m the twitchy malcontent bitching on the internet because he didn’t cure cancer in his first 100 days. It’s because he knows how to do that stuff, where I want to chop the legs off of people who pose opposition for the sake of being contrary rather than genuine concern for getting the job done.

          I know he didn’t have much of a choice–he still needs legislation to sign, and if you just tell the Republicans to suck it when they have a majority in the House, no bills for you, Mr. President.

        • joe from Lowell

          I think Obama figured it out after the Recovery Act, but he had to go along with people like Baucus when they wanted to hand-hold Republicans through the ACA.

          • cpinva

            honestly, that’s not where I would have put my hands, they’d have been wrapped around something just above their shoulders.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Clinton/Papelbon ’16!

  • Malaclypse

    At the start of 2014, the president decided to pursue a strategy that emphasized executive action … The moves came with political costs — and a lawsuit, filed by Boehner, challenging Obama’s authority.

    I used to be a liberal, but after Obama made federal subcontractors offer sick leave, I’m outraged by the ACA.

    • Epsilon

      +1

    • toberdog

      Oh, very, very good. Paging Michael Berube!

      • Timurid

        Michael Buble might work better in this case…

    • tonycpsu

      *applause*

    • LeeEsq

      We joke about this all the time but there is actually good science behind why people to complete flips when their former party of choice does one thing they do not like.

      • Hob

        The point of the joke (at least, Bérubé’s original version) was just to highlight how absurd and irrational such statements are as political positions. That has nothing to do with whether there’s “good science” (whatever you mean by that) to describe why people might do something irrational. If someone’s trying to drive drunk, you don’t refrain from pointing out what a bad idea that is just because there’s “good science behind drunkenness.”

      • Warren Terra

        But also, people lie about their substantive beliefs and their motivations – they lie to pollsters, and at least as potently they lie to themselves.

        There was a good example on one of the Bloggingheads podcasts this weekend: Republicans polled three months ago said by a large margin the most important trait in a potential leader was ideological consistency, someone who stuck by their principles. Republicans polled a weeks ago said the most important thing was business experience. Did Republicans consciously change their beliefs? No – but they fell in love with Trump and with Fiorina, transparently unprincipled weathervanes with (albeit bad) business experience. So, to remain happy with themselves, they changed their internal narrative, and now tell themselves a different story about how they pick a leader.

        • Morse Code for J

          Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

        • Linnaeus

          Republicans polled three months ago said by a large margin the most important trait in a potential leader was ideological consistency, someone who stuck by their principles.

          This reminds me of a good friend of mine, who says that he is both moderate and independent (FWIW, I think that he is neither). He wouldn’t say that ideological consistency is the most important trait in a leader, but he has said on more than one occasion that he thinks that conservatives are generally more consistent and less hypocritical and liberals.

          Now, while I do think that a liberal person is certainly capable of both 1) inconsistency and 2) hypocrisy and that 1) is often a necessity in actual working politics, I quite disagree with him that conservatives are more consistent. I’ve tried to point this out to him, but to no avail.

      • John Revolta

        Mike Royko, in 1981, summed up a typical letter he would get: “I’ve been reading you for years, and I always thought you were a fair, responsible reporter. But ever since you started writing about guns, I realize I was wrong. You are a liar, irresponsible,” etc. etc.

  • Epsilon

    “The President has also failed to stand up to the far left.”

    I seriously cannot believe that sentence could withstand the scrutiny of any kind of editing process.

    Yeah, do you remember how the president allowed the far left to nationalize the health care industry and enact single payer? And got a guaranteed minimum income enacted?

    Both sides do it, indeed.

    • Murc

      Also, even if it were true, no discussion on whether or not the far left was in any way, you know, correct.

      Because of course what matters is that the President is Daddy and always charts his own course regardless of what the unruly children think. It doesn’t matter that the children might be right, it just matters that Daddy tell them “No.”

      Really, that’s not limited to the President. A lot of political writing in that way seems to judge leaders on how successful they are at cowing people rather than the actual correctness of their actions.

      On the occasions I see mainstream articles talking about someone like Boehner being neutered” or “crippled by” the far right, there’s never any discussion on the actual policies at stake and whether the far right is demanding reasonable things of Boehner or not. And, well, they aren’t, but from the point of view of many writers this doesn’t matter. Boehner is Leader, and they are Followers, and if the Followers are not lining up behind the Leader then something is wrong with them or something is wrong with him.

      • DrDick

        Once again, the Dems are not truly Manly Men(TM) who govern with Manliness!

    • CP

      “The President has also failed to stand up to the far left.”

      Part of me just dismisses any argument based on the premise that there’s even such a thing as a “far left” in America (or, arguably, even a “left”). The left edge of our political spectrum are people like Elizabeth Warren and Paul Krugman whose argument is that it’s possible to go back to the sort of reasonably taxes, regulated, and unionized society that we had in the mid-20th century without destroying the space-time continuum, and probably desirable. Nobody’s calling for state ownership of the means of production.

      Calling any American politician “far left” would be like calling Andropov and Gorbachev “far right” because they deviated from the established orthodoxy. It might be true in the sense that they’re at the edge of their own political spectrum, but that’s more of a commentary on how insanely far that spectrum is tilted towards the other extreme.

      • postmodulator

        I sort of like the theory that Bernie Sanders identifying as a socialist is okay with voters under 30, because they’ve spent their entire adult lives hearing Republicans call every positive development “socialism.” Like, they used the insult so much it stopped being an insult.

        • CP

          Well, I’m under 30 and I’m pretty sure I agree with this. That was my comment a year or two ago when a poll came out that said that the word “capitalism” polled worse than “socialism” in my generation. It’s not that we’re actually socialist, just that the word in our experience has never meant anything more than “what teabaggers and 1%ers call people who don’t agree with them.”

          I’d argue that in the context of American politics, “socialism” never meant much more than that. But it’s much more glaring nowadays, a generation after the Soviet Bloc went belly-up and China let in the market economy.

          • Manny Kant

            What are Eugene Debs, Norman Thomas, and Michael Harrington, chopped liver?

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Reminds me of how Billy Bragg said he came to look into socialism as a young man: Margaret Thatcher kept talking about how horrible it was. He knew he didn’t like her. So he looked into it… and now he’s a successful stand up comedian with a guitar!

        • joe from Lowell

          There was period in 2009 when socialism polled net-favorable, and the conclusion was that the Republicans’ association of the term with Obama was causing his then-sky-high favor abilities to rub off on it.

      • DrDick

        For the WaPooh, anything even slightly to the left of Reagan is the “Far Left”, especially if it represents positions overwhelmingly supported by the majority of Americans.

        • Derelict

          Considering how the conservative movement has spent the last 25 years screeching about how [Clinton/Gore/Obama/Hillary-Sanders-Biden] is an ultra-left extremist highly comparable to Stalin and Pol Pot, is it any wonder that the definition of “far left” has migrated to the point where Reagan is a leftist?

          Hell, our discourse has deteriorated so badly that we can’t even broach the idea of raising taxes to pay for critical needs. Even mentioning, say, an increase in the gas tax to pay for roads and bridges gets the speaker branded as a “tax-n-spend liberal.”

        • Ahuitzotl

          Reagan: centrist
          Nixon: leftist
          Eisenhower: far leftist
          All democrats: maddog communists
          ?

      • Epsilon

        Exactly right. The goalpost shifting in American politics (particularly in the media) has just been jaw-dropping.

      • Origami Isopod

        The left edge of our political spectrum are people like Elizabeth Warren and Paul Krugman whose argument is that it’s possible to go back to the sort of reasonably taxes, regulated, and unionized society that we had in the mid-20th century without destroying the space-time continuum, and probably desirable.

        To be fair, there are people further left than that, but they’re pretty much a statistical blip.

      • ajp

        There is a far left-I know some people who fit the bill. But they are so minuscule in number, and have effectively zero political power, that you can pretty much get away with saying they don’t exist.

        In my ideal sane world, Bernie Sanders’ positions would be considered centrist. Just the bare minimum that all sane and rational people agree upon. I like Elizabeth Warren too, but she’s not some radical leftist. I don’t know what this “far left” of which he speaks is-it’s certainly not represented in Congress. I’m not sure I’d call anyone who doesn’t reject capitalism or at least call for very fundamental changes to capitalism “far left.” Not even Bernie Sanders.

        Although I think we have to realize that institutions and whatnot are inherently conservative. Not necessarily politically conservative, but conservative in the sense that they have a lot of institutional momentum-they perpetuate and replicate themselves. So, you may have say democratic capitalists in Cuba, but they’re not going to get openly “elected” to the National Assembly of People’s Power. Just like I don’t see any far leftist being elected to Congress. I mean, there might be, I dunno, Huey Long, but even he wasn’t trying to eliminate capitalism.

        The both-sides-do-it bullshit when it comes to “far left” and “far right” falls apart because the right wing and far right have had an increasingly bigger voice within the Republican Party over the past couple of decades.

        And while the Democratic Party has consistently moved leftward over the past couple decades after a brief rightward lurch, I *still* wouldn’t say that the far left has nearly as much of an influence on the Democratic Party as the far right does to the Republicans. No Democrat fears the far left. There is an ascendant left wing voice in the Democratic Party. Not merely “left wing in comparison to the DLC” but actually left wing. But despite all the people “feeling the Bern” it still seems to me that the left wing doesn’t have nearly as much sway as the right wing, and that’ll take a bit of time to correct if it ever does.

        • Derelict

          You have to look at all of this through conservative lenses. Obama is a socialist because he nationalized healthcare. Warren’s suggestion that there be mild regulation of an economic sector that has proven itself incapable of self regulation, and has proven itself criminally dishonest, is extreme leftism bent on destroying capitalism. Bernie Sanders’s stance on the Estate Tax is nothing short of wanting to establish an American version of the killing fields of Cambodia.

      • Les Ismore

        The Eloi from The Time Machine. There’s your far left.

    • DrDick

      The stupid, it burnsssss!

      • MAJeff

        But, not enough stupids burn, especially those comprising the political press corps.

        • DrDick

          They appear to be fire (and firing) proof.

    • cpinva

      what is this “far left” of which you speak? I’ve seen no evidence of its existence, other than in the minds of republicans.

  • D.N. Nation

    Obama arguably deserves as much or more blame for that failure as Boehner.

    Ahh, the ol’ Fournier Tell(TM). “(Democrat) is just as bad. *Probably worse* even, because they’re mean.”

    Just say you’re a tried-and-true conservative and get it over with, you stooges.

    • Rob in CT

      The soft bigotry of low expectations: right-wingers are just expected to act like lunatics. Democrats? They have to govern like responsible adults whilst placating the lunatics. Since this is impossible with the GOP controlling congress, Democrats are to blame.

      • postmodulator

        Lunatics or children. “What a great budget, Congressman Ryan! I’m going to hang it right here on the fridge.”

        • Rob in CT

          Well, except that IIRC the sequestration resulting in spending somewhat *below* the original “Ryan budget” ask. Which is fucking depressing.

      • brewmn

        This exactly.

    • WabacMachinist

      Or, just admit that you like decade after decade of dysfunctional government because dysfunctional government makes good copy.

  • Lurking Canadian

    The Republicans refuse to compromise on a single point of their program.

    The Democrats refuse to compromise their entire program.

    See? If you only read the first four words, it’s true! Both sides do it!

  • Halloween Jack

    there will be pressure on all the candidates seeking leadership positions to pledge that they will abide by the Hastert Rule.

    Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    (deep breath)

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    • creature

      How can you tell when a (Republican) politician is lying? When they promise to adhere to the Hastert Rule!

    • What’s the Hastert rule, avoid banks, always pay in cash?

      • Vance Maverick

        No (and it’s nothing to do with high-school wrestlers either). Don’t bring a bill to the floor unless it has the support of a majority of the majority — i.e. no bills whose support is concentrated in the minority, even if they could pass.

    • Lee Rudolph

      Hastert Rule, Hastur Rule, same difference.

      • Ahuitzotl

        Hastati rule?

        • rea

          Triarii rule, hastati just prepare the way . . .

  • BiloSagdiyev

    Some people have issues and can’t stop showing the rest of us. Your average young anarchist who thinks kicking over trash cans and breaking windows is going to make something good happen — probably beaten as a child. A lot. I mean, a lot.

    And your centrist ninnies? Best I can tell, their main emotion when it comes to politics is MOMMY AND DADDY STOP FIGHTING!

    Sorry. That’s how politics works. There’s going to be conflict. If we didn’t have conflict, there’d be no politics. (If we didn’t have maniacs and paste eaters comprising 28% of the population, demanding that we all eat a dinner of flaming tire and shards of glass, we could all get along…)

    • Rob in CT

      Please. Tire Rims and Anthrax (possibly John Cole’s best post ever).

  • Alex.S

    The Grand Bargain never even got far enough for the “far left” to kill it. The proposal died when the party leadership on the Republican side took a look at it and decided it couldn’t happen. The Democratic leadership was preparing to mobilizing it against it, but a lot of them also were waiting to see what the actual trade-offs were.

    What was Obama supposed to do next to stand up the far left — cut Social Security with no deal from the Republican party?

    • Lurking Canadian

      Yes.

      • petesh

        More specifically, he was supposed to want to cut benefits.

        • LWA

          The Grand Bargain never even got far enough for the “far left” to kill it

          Its like that Facebook meme floating around about all the ways in which America is already a socialist nation- all the wildly popular things we take for granted that would be called socialist if proposed today.

          The scare-quote “Far Left” is actually most of mainstream America.

          • ColBatGuano

            The “Far Left” is coming from inside the house!

            • cpinva

              it keeps calling too, I wish it would stop.

  • Derelict

    Let’s see:

    We have 17 Republicans running for president, and the current front runners are proposing a tax-the-rich scheme (Trump) and the tithe everyone scheme (Carson)–neither of which are GOP orthodoxy on taxes. The Republican Speaker of the House is ousted because he just can’t contend with the band of vandals in his caucus who want to destroy the government. The Republican Party national chair can’t even get any of the top three presidential candidates to meet with him and quite obviously has no control over anything.

    But you will never, ever, EVER see the headline “Republicans in Disarray.”

    That’s the real “tell” of political journalism these days.

    • tsam

      “Disarray”, like colors and that pencil if you’re not careful, are in the eye of the beholder.

      Look for spin like: “Meet the candidate who is disrupting party politics!”

    • DrDick

      The MSM are terrified of admitting (even to themselves) that one of our major parties has dived into the abyss and is totally comprised of lunatics, thieves, and scoundrels.

      • so-in-so

        For some reason, the “liberal” MSM seems happy to admit that, as long as it is the Democrats. Could it be the corporate paymasters?

        • tsam

          Wow–corporate paymasters…

          So I’m listening to The Takeaway on NPR during my lunch drive to the store.

          A former GM CEO (Someguy Ifergithisname, I think) was being interviewed to help with context for the current Volkswagen scandal.

          At one point in the discussion, in response to a question about how a boardroom feels and acts in this sort of crisis, this fucking turd comes out:

          “Well, in a crisis, and incidentally, this is the opposite of what Hilary Clinton does, you put everything out there. You get it all out and start to deal with it”.

          tsam: “OH FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE. Jesus, what the fuck do I even listen to this shit for. Who the fuck is this clown?”

          Of course there was a vigorous defense of GM over the ignition switches, which douchey mcdoucheface insists was completely unknown to upper management while people were dying in their fucking cars.

          UGH> Now I’m mad again. THANKS A LOT SO-IN-SO!

          • This reminds me why I never, ever listen to NPR if I can help it.

            • tsam

              The sad part is that they’re miles ahead of any of the cable news places (maybe just because the BBC News Hour is a regular on there), but still giving a platform to corporate propagandists, teabaggers, and warmonger neocons–AND TAKING THEM SERIOUSLY.

          • Derelict

            “Well, in a crisis, and incidentally, this is the opposite of what Hilary Clinton does, you put everything out there. You get it all out and start to deal with it”.

            HA-HA-HA-HA! This is especially rich coming from someone from GM (faulty ignitions, anyone?).

            No, sir: In my experience dealing with corporate malfeasance, the usual response in the boardroom is “Let’s hunker down, deny everything, destroy as much evidence as we can et away with, and hope nobody notices.” And, in general, the outcome is a string of lawsuits in which the settlements grow ever larger until they hit some eye-popping number and the general media picks up on whatever the problem was. And even then, most boards try to keep everything hidden.

            I can only conclude that our GM exec was completely dishonest, completely delusional, or had lied to NPR and the person was never a GM exec.

            And NPR sucks donkey dong. I stopped listening back in the ’90s when the odious Cokie Roberts was being presented as a centrist.

            • tsam

              I just the thought the interjection of Hilary Clinton was just hilariously scummy. Also maddening, too.

              I mean, Clinton’s handling of this email thing “what do you mean, wipe it, like with a cloth??” was cringe-worthy to the extreme. But the relevance to a giant corporation’s board room is non-existent, and the comparison between politics and business is completely groundless.

          • so-in-so

            Sorry Tsam, Guess I should have started with a trigger warning?

            Yeah, NPR is definitely aiming for “least-worst” news provider category.

            • tsam

              No need for that. I was the one who sat there listening to it like the masochistic weirdo I am.

    • catclub

      and the current front runners are proposing a tax-the-rich scheme [Much, much, less](Trump) and the tithe everyone scheme [also tax the rich much, much, less](Carson)–neither
      both of which are exact GOP orthodoxy on taxes

      FTFY.

      Trump is completely conventional in his tax proposal. I view this as a mistake on his part. Even the rubes might understand that it is the usual huge giveaway to the wealthy.

      • Derelict

        Yeah, I wrote that before hitting the TPM rundown of what Trump actually unveiled. Color me surprised that ending the Estate Tax and cutting capital gains and the top rate were his signature items.

        • Warren Terra

          Jeb! and The Donald have now put forth very similar plans:
          1) Top-bracket income tax cuts
          2) Corporate tax cuts
          3) Kill the estate tax
          4) Close the carried-interest loophole.

          That’s three enormous gifts to the very wealthy (one of those only to the very wealthy) and one swipe at a certain type of parvenu asshole bankster – rich folks, or would-be rich folks, but not the same sort of rich folks as the sons of George Herbert Walker Bush and Fred Trump.

          Trump (but I’m unsure whether Jeb!) also proposes to cut capital gains taxes, another huge gift to the wealthy, and to his sort of wealthy in particular.

  • rickhavoc

    Not to shoot the messenger, but the tagger on this is “The Post’s White House bureau chief, Juliet Eilperin” who, for those who know, is indeed the love child of Broderism, going all the way back to her “views differ on shape of the Earth” coverage of, all things, climate change. A talent for getting it wrong in multiple venues seems to define the WaPo.

  • Aubergine

    And to think Jeff Bezos spent incinerated $250 million on the WaPoo to bring us this insightful bit of insightfulniess. For that kind of scratch you’d think he’d insist on a higher level of hackery.

    • so-in-so

      You go with the hacks you had have, not the hacks you might wish you had…

      • catclub

        except before burning that $250M, Bezos did not have those hacks.

        • so-in-so

          I assumed the hacks came as part of the package. You don’t drop that much change and start hiring fresh hacks.

  • wengler

    If Bernie becomes President this woman’s head will literally explode, right? Not figurative literally, but literally literally. In that it will start shaking uncontrollably and then burst, sending bits of brain and skull onto the walls and ceiling.

    And then someone can come by and cover her corpse up with a ‘Feel the Bern’ t-shirt. Everybody on the fence about Bernie needs to think of the possibilities here.

    • so-in-so

      Think of the pay-per-view possibilities!

    • kayden

      It will probably explode if Secretary Clinton wins given how the media is playing along with the Repub narrative that the emails/private server nonsense is a scandal to end all scandals.

  • Avattoir

    “The moves came with political costs — and a lawsuit, filed by Boehner, challenging Obama’s authority.”

    If I understand the authors’ gist, that “lawsuit … challenging Obama’s authority” supposedly has some value beyond Boehner being able to point it out to the House GOP Freepdumb caucus.

    There are massive examples of the SCOTUS screwing with Congress’ authority, but not so much with executive power.

  • Bitter Scribe

    President Obama, already a lame duck…

    I’m sorry to be a Definition Nazi, but this constant misuse of “lame duck” makes me crazy.

    “Lame duck” is properly applied to a politician who is serving out his term of office after losing an election. Herbert Hoover was a lame duck between November 1932, when he lost to FDR, and March 1933, when FDR took office. (BTW, during that time, Hoover tried to pressure FDR into abandoning the program he had just been elected on, proving that Hoover had learned nothing.)

    I guess if enough people use “lame duck” in the wider sense of any officeholder who will not be standing for re-election, ipso facto that will become the definition. But it annoys me because it conflates the sense of failure from the old definition onto politicians who really don’t deserve it, especially presidents, who are constitutionally barred from serving more than two terms.

    • I’m normally a “meanings change, language is fluid, get used to it” kind of guy, but I agree. The use of “lame duck” to refer to a second-term president is incomprehensible. I suppose you could kind of stretch it to apply to Obama losing a Democratic Congress, but I don’t see how that’s useful.

    • tsam

      I think it’s become part of the definition now. I have the same problem with media types constantly using “radical” to describe authoritarian and/or theocratic monsters, rather than the correct term “reactionary”. It pisses me straight the fuck off, but I can’t do anything besides complain about it, which doesn’t seem to be working.

      • Lee Rudolph

        I have the same problem with “red” used in reference to Republicans and other rightists.

        • tsam

          Because of the connection to communist governments?

          • Lee Rudolph

            To the left in general (and well before Communism, much less communist governments).

            • tsam

              I didn’t know red was associated with that before Mao and the Soviet Union.

              But thinking more about it–that must be where those guys got the idea for red as a symbol.

              • DrDick

                It goes back to the French Revolution, I believe.

                • humanoid.panda

                  The 1848 French Revolution, to be exact: that was the moment when the working class radicals split up from the bourgeouis republicans, and emraced the color red.

                • IM

                  red Phrygian caps

              • tsam

                Nice–thanks, guys!

                • so-in-so

                  In between, there was Garibaldi.

                  I think the current Red vs. Blue was an artifact of TV news maps ca. 2000?

                • Matt McIrvin

                  Yes, completely by chance the maps that most of the major TV networks were using on election night 2000 happened to use the same color scheme, red for Republicans and blue for Democrats (they had not been consistent previously, nor had the major parties chosen a single color to represent themselves).

                  [Edit: Wikipedia says I’m wrong here; the coding wasn’t anything that happened on election night 2000 either, it was something that emerged in discussion afterward.]

                  And since the election was disputed and hanging on a single state, there was a lot of talk about election maps in the aftermath. There was a much-reproduced one showing election results by county that used the same red/blue convention.

                • Warren Terra

                  @Matt,

                  Yeah, as Wikipedia says, my recollection is that the color assignment to the parties wasn’t consistent immediately after the 2000 election. Pretty much everyone used red and blue in their graphics, for obvious patriotic reasons, but the different newspapers (and possibly different television programs) weren’t consistent: some had the Dems red, some had them blue. The standardization emerged later.

        • DrDick

          Likewise.

      • UserGoogol

        There’s a certain logic to treating radical more broadly. It has a deep association with the left, but ultimately it refers to any sort of extreme change that goes to the “root” of society. Reactionaries have a complicated relationship to this concept: they want to change institutions which are very core to society, so they’re radical in that sense, but they do this in the name of preserving some “deeper” core. It’s good to have more specific words like reactionary, but I think “radical right” captures things pretty well. The radical left has plenty of other words for itself, anyway.

        • tsam

          Good points–that makes sense.

          I’m still going to whine about it, though.

    • burritoboy

      Hoover spent the next thirty plus years telling anyone who would listen how wrong and evil FDR was. His magnum opus (which is this thick volume of writing about orchids………no, it’s about how bad FDR was) was fairly recently first published by the Hoover Institution. (That it lay in manuscript for roughly 50 years before even the institution founded by and named after him would print it should tell you something about it.)

      • humanoid.panda

        Hoover is a really fascinating figure. Looking at his pre-presidential career, no one, with possible exception of Grant and Eisehnower, ever came close to be better prepared for presidency. The man, quite literally, saved tens of millions of lives in Russia in the early 1920s. Even in his response to the Great Depression, he was not quite as terrible as any other mainstream Republican (and great many mainstream Democrats), would have been. And yet..

        • Rob in CT

          I always got the sense that he really, truly believed that charity + a slight step-up from government could get it done.

          And I also got the sense that if the country had been full of people like him, maybe that would be true.

          • matt w

            …really rich people?

        • Pseudonym

          What is it about winning a war that makes one prepared for the presidency exactly? Sure, it gives one that critical “executive experience,” and being a top general is unmistakably a political position, but I’d think some experience with actual elected government would also be an important factor.

          • so-in-so

            Dealing with large, bureaucratic organizations, politics (anyone really believe you get to be top general without politics?) and “friction”, plans not working out and having to adjust on the fly. Seems like reasonable preparation; otherwise we are limited to former governors of California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and… as potential candidates. How well has that worked?

          • Hogan

            As a practicing Quaker, Hoover would have made a really bad general. In fact he was organizing and distributing food aid in Europe during and after WWI.

            • so-in-so

              Don’t tell Major General Smedley Butler that.

            • Hogan

              Oh–I see what you meant. Sorry.

          • postmodulator

            Izzy Stone said that the one advantage it gave Eisenhower was that he wasn’t intimidated by the Joint Chiefs. He thinks that JFK, having left the Navy as a Lieutenant JG (right?) went along with the Bay of Pigs because he wasn’t quite up to the task of saying no to the brass yet.

            (If Aimai ever starts commenting again perhaps she can check me on this.)

        • burritoboy

          He became rather unhinged after he left office, however.

    • IM

      and Obama is anything but. He seems rather unchained since the 2014 elections.

    • Hmm.

      Wikipedia reserves this narrow sense for “Lame Duck President”:

      In U.S. politics, the period between (presidential and congressional) elections in November and the inauguration of officials early in the following year is commonly called the lame duck period. In regard to the presidency, a president is a lame-duck after a successor has been elected, and during this time the outgoing president and president-elect usually embark on a transition of power

      The term “lame duck President” traditionally is reserved for a President who is serving out the remainder of his term after having been defeated for re-election.

      I think if the successor is of a different party then the Pres is a lame duck even if they didn’t specifically lose.

  • kayden

    “President Obama, already a lame duck”

    Umm, no he’s not.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/obama-turns-the-lame-duck-narrative-its-head

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