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Dealbreakers and Dreaming of the Good Republican

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bernie-sandersAbove: neoliberal sellout, probably to the right of the last real liberal president Richard M. Nixon

I basically agree with the overall thrust of DeBoer’s intervention into the Sanders-and-feminism debate. Obviously, Clinton has been subject to all kinds of sexist abused and criticism, some of that is inevitably going to come from Sanders supporters, but most Sanders supporters are not sexists and there are reasonable ideological reasons to prefer Sanders to Clinton. (I also recommend Rebecca Traister’s argument from the other end.) I can’t resist, however, pointing out one of the strangest tropes to become a thing among the leftier-than-thou set:

What’s not strange is that, as a socialist, I would not support Hillary Clinton, who is to the right of Richard Nixon.

Omitted: a single issue on which Hillary Clinton is to the right of Richard Nixon, let alone a full comparison that would show Nixon far to Clinton’s right. (Nixon only vetoed some of the environmental legislation that massive veto-proof majorities of a Democratic Congress put on his desk! Oh for the days of real liberals in the White House!) We’ve been through this many times and I won’t go through it in detail again, but since it’s of particular relevance to the upcoming election, let us consider Nixon’s first choices as Supreme Court nominees: William Rehnquist, Warren Burger, Lewis Powell, and Clement Haynsworth. He got only 3 out of 4, but this was enough to do stuff like effectively overrule Brown v. Board. Clinton’s Supreme Court nominees would be justices like Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. SPOILER: these justices would be well to the left of William Rehnquist, fairly reflecting the ideologies of both nominating presidents.

But the strange tendency of allegedly tough-minded leftier-than-thous to fantasize about imaginary Republicans who are better than contemporary Democrats aside, at least deBoer is talking about not supporting Clinton in the primaries, which in itself is fair enough, right? Alas, things started off on an even sillier level:

To begin with, I have repeatedly and publicly said that I won’t vote for Bernie Sanders due to his stances on Israel, immigration, and guns.

I…what can you even say? Bernie Sanders — far enough to the the left as to, as Traister says, be significantly less likely to win the White House than Hillary Clinton if he got the nomination — is not left-wing enough to be a Democratic nominee worth supporting? This isn’t unprecedented — Naderites ran a third-party candidate against noted neoliberal sellout Paul Wellstone, remember — but this doesn’t make it any less unserious. And even leaving aside the fact that “dealbreakers” don’t really make any sense in the context of electoral politics, these dealbreakers are highly uncompelling. What practical difference would Bernie Sanders being a wet on gun control (while representing a tiny rural state in Congress) make? Do you think he would veto any of the zero gun control bills Congress would pass in his first term? Seek out liberal judges specifically because they support Heller? Do you think anyone who gets elected president of the United States is going to eliminate American aid to Israel or get well to the left of Sanders (who supports a progressive version of comprehensive reform, the DREAM ACT, and expanded DACA) on immigration? Do you think these differences are enough to be indifferent about Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz becoming president of the United States, likely with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress? (There would be a lot of heightened contradictions, I’ll give you that.)

Look, if your support for the leader of a major brokerage party that has to assemble a national majority coalition is conditional on the candidate having positions that are identical to yours, you really should stop paying attention to (and certainly forget writing about) electoral politics and spend your time worshiping at the altar of a stagnant pool instead.

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  • Denverite

    Omitted: a single issue on which Hillary Clinton is to the left of Richard Nixon

    You could argue that Clinton would never institute wage and price freezes under any circumstance.

    • Murc

      Scott meant to put “right” in that sentence, I believe. I think.

      • Denverite

        I know, I’m saying that instituting nationwide wage and price freezes is well to the left of anything Clinton would do.

        • Rob in CT

          Yeah, that works… though the example itself shows how much things have changed. Wage & price freezes don’t even belong on the left/right spectrum anymore. They’re entirely outside the Overton Window.

          • Scott Lemieux

            No it’s a terrible example unless you think literally any state intervention into the economy is left-wing. Wage and price controls control wages much more effectively than prices.

            • Denverite

              unless you think literally any state intervention into the economy is left-wing.

              You’re being silly. Your overall point is spot-on, but denying that government control over prices and wages isn’t way to the left on the left-right spectrum is just silly.

              • Scott Lemieux

                Again, this is only true if you think any state intervention into the economy, including antt-labor ones, is left-wing.

                • Denverite

                  this is only true if you think any state intervention into the economy, including antt-labor ones, is left-wing

                  No, you can think that a government diktat commanding businesses not to raise wages or prices is a left wing intervention without thinking that all conceivable interventions are.

                • You can, but if your interlocutor thinks that downward wage controls (on working class and other low Income groups) is not left wing, and that “wage and price controls” are typically downward wage controls on low income earners, then your example isn’t going to work even if you believe otherwise.

                  Raising rhe minimum wage: generally left wing. The conservative govt raising the minimum wage combined with slashing benefits and lower income tax benefits: not so left wing.

                • Denverite

                  You can, but if your interlocutor thinks that downward wage controls (on working class and other low Income groups) is not left wing, and that “wage and price controls” are typically downward wage controls on low income earners, then your example isn’t going to work even if you believe otherwise.

                  Raising rhe minimum wage: generally left wing. The conservative govt raising the minimum wage combined with slashing benefits and lower income tax benefits: not so left wing.

                  This doesn’t make any sense. Nixon’s wage and price freezes applied to everyone, not just low wage workers. In fact, if the early 1970s was anything like it is now, because high income individuals see higher wage growth than lower income individuals, it would affect them more.

                  Talking about labor market interventions in the abstract is all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t change that this:

                  https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Executive_Order_11615

                  is way on the left side of the left-right spectrum.

                  [ETA: I didn’t know, but just found out, that wage and food price controls were LITERALLY a left wing creation. As in they were instituted by Robespierre’s government.

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_maximum%5D

                • Scott Lemieux

                  You can, but I think you would be wrong.

                  Anyway, as some said above the best way of characterizing wage and price controls is not as “left-wing” or “right-wing” but as “shitty policy nobody favors.” If that’s your best argument that Nixon is to Clinton’s left you don’t have an argument.

                • Denverite

                  If that’s your best argument that Nixon is to Clinton’s left you don’t have an argument.

                  I’m not arguing that! You criticized FdB for not identifying a single issue on which Nixon was to the left of Clinton. I offered wage/price controls. That’s all. You’re certainly right that Nixon wasn’t to the left of Clinton on like 99% of stuff, especially once context is considered.

                  Incidentally, did you see Luck is out 2-6 weeks with a lacerated kidney?

                • Well, I don’t know much about the actual order (the link was interesting). I’m just commenting on the form of argument. If Scott is factual wrong on the actual effect and intent, then there you go.

                  I will say that it is unimaginable to me than any politician would propose such a think today. It clearly has the form of a bank closure (hence “stabilising”). Prima facie, since I’d guess prices are more likely to grow than wages over a 90 day period, it probably is progressive rather than regressive. Scott?

                • Scott Lemieux

                  I, personally, think it’s unlikely that wage and price controls in peacetime would have progressive effects. But since I don’t think it actually matters I’m happy to concede the point.

                • Malaclypse

                  Right, but if your argument that wage/price controls are leftish involves Robespierre, it isn’t a strong argument.

                • Ok, it doesn’t really make sense to view the controls in isolation:
                  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixon_Shock

                  On the afternoon of Friday, August 13, 1971, these officials along with twelve other high-ranking White House and Treasury advisors met secretly with Nixon at Camp David. There was great debate about what Nixon should do, but ultimately Nixon, relying heavily on the advice of the self-confident Connally, decided to break up Bretton Woods by suspending the convertibility of the dollar into gold; freezing wages and prices for 90 days to combat potential inflationary effects; and impose an import surcharge of 10 percent,[11] to prevent a run on the dollar, stabilize the US economy, and decrease US unemployment and inflation rates, on August 15, 1971:[12][13]

                  Nixon directed Treasury Secretary Connally to suspend, with certain exceptions, the convertibility of the dollar into gold or other reserve assets, ordering the gold window to be closed such that foreign governments could no longer exchange their dollars for gold.

                  Nixon issued Executive Order 11615 (pursuant to the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970), imposing a 90-day freeze on wages and prices in order to counter inflation. This was the first time the U.S. government enacted wage and price controls since World War II.
                  An import surcharge of 10 percent was set to ensure that American products would not be at a disadvantage because of the expected fluctuation in exchange rates.

                  Is exiting Bretton Woods particularly left wing? I don’t see it, myself. It seems rather technical rather than ideological.

                • Right, but if your argument that wage/price controls are leftish involves Robespierre, it isn’t a strong argument.

                  Indeed.

                  And really, the intent was similar: to deter price gouging (or perceived price gouging). I guess we can think of being ok with price gouging as right wingish (libertarian, certainly). But I suspect there’s a broad ideological spectrum against it. I wouldn’t be surprised if various facist movements were against it, for example.

                  This feels like one of those things where there is a surpface structure that resonates with some things that are thought of as progressive (rent control?) but just isn’t particularly.

                • From what I can tell, they don’t work (esp against inflation) and are superseded by interest rate/monetary supply control.

                  ETA: oh and price controls go back to Roaman times.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  I’m going to take the occasion to leave this here.

                • Ok, my reflection is that the Nixon shock is not a left wing thing at Clinton would do the moral equivalent of. I believe HRC would keep us off the gold standard. I believe she would support measures to control inflation (though probably via the Fed).

                  So even if the controls were left wing and the shock was left wing (I don’t find them particularly so), I think Clinton would do the equivalent.

                • Den write, as my iPad likes to call you, thanks for pushing this. I learn some stuff!

            • Entirely depends on how controls are designed and enforced. Meg Jacobs’ Pocketbook Politics is very good on how left-wing the Office of Price Administration was in WWII.

            • cpinva

              “Wage and price controls control wages much more effectively than prices.”

              yeah, I kind of noticed that when he did it. oddly, the prices didn’t actually freeze, they turned into slush, wages however froze solid.

    • Rob Patterson

      Nixon proposed the Family Assistance Plan in 1969; this program would have provided direct cash payments to the working poor. I suspect that this is something that “Nixon was a liberal” people would point too. Certainly U.S. politics was more liberal in general, in some ways, pre-Reagan.

      • Hogan

        He proposed it as a substitute for AFDC, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. And wanted to fund it through block grants to states and municipalities. So not really.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I don’t find the argument that Nixon is more liberal than Clinton because LBJ was very persuasive.

        • Rob Patterson

          I don’t think Tricky Dick was more liberal than any modern Dem, but direct cash payments to the poor is a liberal idea.

          • Four Krustys

            Only if you consider Milton Friedman a liberal.

          • He proposed it as a substitute for AFDC, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. And wanted to fund it through block grants to states and municipalities. So not really.

            You can’t take things in isolation.

      • I don’t know if I’d even go that far. More “floated a trial balloon because Moynihan was bugging him, then completely disavowed it, then savaged McGovern for proposing something more modest.”

        • Rob Patterson

          I was not aware that he disavowed it; the article I linked says he continued to push for it until the 1972 reelection campaign started. Also, direct cash payments are arguably (and in the abstract) more “liberal” than food stamps, so even if one was to replace the other it still looks like a liberal proposal.

          But OK, Nixon was not a liberal so obviously I must be wrong.

          EDIT: And yes, I ran across this in the opening section of the Ta Nehisi Coates article where he discusses the Moynihan memo from 1965.

  • Manny Kant

    For people like Freddie, politics is about posturing and self-expression. It’s entirely narcissistic.

    • Pat

      People like Freddie also absorb a lot of right-wing logic and arguments, and learn to never question them. Many of us do this as kids. For example, my dad, as an entrepreneur, hated paying taxes on his income. So he disparaged big government, moochers supported by taxes, etc.

      Funny thing, though – his whole business model depended on strong environmental regulation. The machines he designed were to help clean sewage and industrial waste water, and they worked. But no company would buy them without being fined by the EPA. Nonetheless, the culture he espoused eventually destroyed his business model (and the wildlife he loved).

      It took a long time before I really came to grips with the contradictions inherent in that worldview, which let me discard it. Most of my sibs never bothered. So they are still carrying those ideas around.

      • tsam

        as an entrepreneur, hated paying taxes on his income.

        SO DO I!

        So he disparaged big government, moochers supported by taxes, etc.

        Foreign wars, the NSA surveillance program, the defense budget, McDonald’s, WalMart, GE, Halliburton…I hate those moochers supported by taxes too!

        Nothing wrong with that.

      • Linnaeus

        But no company would buy them without being fined by the EPA

        This reminds me of a client of mine, who installed a stormwater treatment system in order to meet regulatory requirements. He installed it ahead of schedule, before the appropriate regulatory agency had finalized his design plans (which did end up being approved soon after). He mentioned to me (paraphrasing here) that that was the difference between private industry and goverment: private industry gets things done while government moves too slowly and inefficiently. I refrained from pointing out that had not the regulatory agency required that he do something to mitigate the pollutants in the stormwater discharge coming off of his property, he would have done nothing at all.

  • humanoid.panda

    At this point, its pretty clear that FdB is gunning for Connor Friedsdorf’s gig of sonorously explaining to liberals that the only way to maintain their integrity is to shut up and let republicans run things,right?

    • Srsly Dad Y

      No, he’s really more of a left millenarianist.

    • Ktotwf

      Deep cover conservative. Mark my words.

      • Rob in CT

        No, sadly, leftier-than-thou type fits the evidence just fine.

        • Ktotwf

          IDK, Leftier than thou doesn’t quite fit his eagerness to be published in National Review

          • Rob in CT

            How about useful leftier than thou idiot?

            • Lev

              Pretty fair. Given how steamed he was when a modest protest campaign persuaded Brendan Eich to leave Mozilla and flat-out racism forced out Donald Sterling, it’s unclear exactly how the actual left could do politics in a way that would make him happy. I still don’t understand it.

              • humanoid.panda

                Wait, he actually defended Donald Sterling?

                • Malaclypse

                  Technically, he was merely upset that nasty liberals criticized Sterling.

                • Lev

                  Well, he didn’t so much excuse the racism as argue that it was a violation of free speech rights to actually hold him to account for what he said. Which is I believe the Conservative First Amendment.

                • weirdnoise

                  Well, he didn’t so much excuse the racism as argue that it was a violation of free speech rights to actually hold him to account for what he said. Which is I believe the Conservative First Amendment.

                  In brief, the Conservative First Amendment is all about who says it.

              • Anna in PDX

                His basic default attitude is concern troll (usually from the left but sometimes because of hurt feefees on the right / misogynist / racist spectrum somewhere). Liberals are too mean to conservatives and (at the same time) insufficiently pure. That is really his entire schtick.

          • Matt McIrvin

            He has a strange trembling fear of political correctness, and specifically feminists, that comes up over and over.

    • FMguru

      He always seemed like a wannabe who is very upset that liberals haven’t anointed him The Smartest Guy In The Room Who We Should All Shut Up And Listen To, and so he’s now a free-ranging pity party who will probably end up on wingnut welfare, endlessly writing about how liberals are wrong and dangerous and stupid and illogical and big phony phonies, because they failed to recognize his brilliance.

      Spurned lover, basically.

      • liberals haven’t anointed him The Smartest Guy In The Room Who We Should All Shut Up And Listen To

        I’m ok with anointing him the fixed up version.

      • Rob in CT

        Yeah, this makes sense, given the BONERS indicent and various incidents between him and LGMers.

        • FMguru

          Yeah, the way he rolled up with his “you feminists are feministing all wrong! you need to listen to me, the guy who is objectively smarter about how feminism works than all of you” and then responded to them laughing him off their site by declaring that liberalism and feminism are doomed and corrupt and being driven into a ditch by closed-minded idiots who fail to understand the brilliance of one FdB and his warmed-over Peretz-era TNR ideas really does tell you everything you need to know about him.

      • kped

        sounds like a male Camille Paglia when you put it like that.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          (shudder) TWO Paglia things running loose and squawking is two too many…

          Now, would that be an Appolonian male Camille Paglia, or a Dinonysian male Camile Paglia?

          • Malaclypse

            Whichever is less fun.

            • BiloSagdiyev

              Dang. I heard that Dionysian male Camille Paglia was a blast at parties.

              • kped

                So, Appolonian it is then!

              • tsam

                Aren’t the Dionysians the ones locked in the bathroom crying?

                • weirdnoise

                  I thought they were locked in the bathroom puking.

  • Murc

    To begin with, I have repeatedly and publicly said that I won’t vote for Bernie Sanders due to his stances on Israel, immigration, and guns.

    I… what?

    I understand having a candidate whose views you consider so odious you won’t vote for them no matter what. If the Democratic Party ever nominates Andrew Cuomo (which, thankfully, it seems to be in no danger of actually doing) I would not vote for him, I don’t care if the Republicans are running Zombie John Calhoun.

    But this is just crazy. These aren’t even issues that Bernie is radically wrong on; he’s a squish as opposed to an active opponent. That doesn’t precisely speak well of him but if your moral calculus is calibrated such that they make a candidate beyond the pale, I think it might be time to reconsider some things.

    • Denverite

      I understand having a candidate whose views you consider so odious you won’t vote for them no matter what.

      I had the pleasure of voting against a particularly odious Democratic politician (currently in prison) four times — twice in the primary, and twice in the general election. I voted Republican when that candidate didn’t seem to have a chance to win, and Libertarian when the race seemed close. He was transparently corrupt, and what’s more, I’d be shocked if his IQ was above 90.

    • Rob in CT

      Hell, even then you’d be wrong, IMO. Andrew Cuomo could be the worst Dem president in a century and be better than Zombie John Calhoun. ;)

      But let’s make it closer. Cuomo vs. Kasish. Ugh, right? Cuomo is still the right choice.

      It’s important that the Dems don’t nominate Cuomo so we avoid that choice, and I figure there’s pretty good odds on that.

      • Warren Terra

        Andrew Cuomo could be the worst Dem president in a century and be better than Zombie John Calhoun. ;)

        At least it’d be a novelty if the Republicans nominated someone who appreciates brains.

        • Rob in CT

          Well played.

          FWIW, the issues FdB identifies with Bernie do bother me slightly. Well, 2 of the 3 anyway.

          If you find a national politician who disagrees with you on 2 or 3 things… that’s pretty damn good.

        • Davis X. Machina

          Appreciates brains? A major-party nomination going to a zombie would be a great step forward for America.

          So far, all the undead have achieved is the vice presidency, with Cheney.

          • Hey now, we’re not taking the blame for Blam-Blam.

            He’s a fricking Cyborg…

            • tsam

              I thought vampire–what with the non-functioning organ where a heart used to be.

              • Warren Terra

                No, he has an actual human heart – the first recorded heart implant surgery.

                Technically, he added one more human heart to his collection.

                • Hogan

                  (He has the heart of a young boy: keeps it in a reliquary under the coffin he sleeps in.)

            • Ahuitzotl

              is this welcome back? I seem to not have seen you commenting for a while?

      • I feel absolutely certain in predicting that the Dems will not be nominating Cuomo. Unless there’s a brokered convention, in which case all bets are off.

        • Rob in CT

          I mean ever.

          • I thought you might. No change required in the serious portion of my comment, no change required in the joke.

        • Lev

          Never happen. Cuomo is copying the 1990s Clinton playbook that the Clintons themselves are doing everything humanly possible to distance themselves from. This should tell you something.

          • Phil Perspective

            Cuomo is copying the 1990s Clinton playbook that the Clintons themselves are doing everything humanly possible to distance themselves from.

            Really? The Clintons aren’t distancing themselves from it that much. Just tweaking around the edges.

      • erick

        Cuomo would likely be the worst Dems president in 100 years, but even if he ruined things so badly that he cost Dems the next few elections he’d be the better choice than the Rep because of Supreme Court nominees. Bush may have been the Rep version of Cuomo but Roberts and Alito are on the court for what 20-30 more years ago least?

        • Scott Lemieux

          And, really, I don’t think Cuomo is more conservative than Carter. He won’t and shouldn’t be a presidential nominee, of course, but the idea that it would be better to have President Ted Cruz than to vote for him is really silly.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Bernie on Israel: “not a fan” of Netanyahu.

      Clinton on Israel: writes an editorial in which she explicitly criticizes BDS without one word against Israeli policy; promises to invite Israeli PM in first month of her admin, and “increase” security and defense cooperation.

      If Bernie isn’t 99th percentile there for US senators, he’s 98th. While Hillary is in the 50s or 60s, which is actively bad.

      • humanoid.panda

        Also worth noting: back in the 1990s, admittedly before she became a New York Senator, Hillary was famously the most pro-Palestinian voice in Clinton’s admin, and she and her husband played an important role in Bibi’s 1999 defenstration. The backstory here is a little more complicated than you present it.

        • Davis X. Machina

          Don’t contradict the Narrative. It’s not seemly.

        • kped

          Also, from her leaked emails (you may have heard of them), her and her staff do not think highly of BiBi at all.

          • humanoid.panda

            Are you telling me that an op-ed is not an honest reflection of a presidential candidate’s opinions? The horror!

          • NonyNony

            Clinton has had e-mails made public? I had no idea!

            Do you think she’ll publish them in an e-book the way Jeb! did?

    • Kazanir

      As a noted deBoer defender (I know, I know) this is definitely the thing that honks me off about him the most. I hate it when everyone projects their own delusions onto WHY Freddie writes the things he does, but this really feels like he was burned bad by Lamont 2006 and Obama 08/12 (which he has himself admitted) and decided that THIS TIME HE WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN NO MATTER WHAT, in spite of Sanders being the closest realistic* candidate to his views that will come along in probably his lifetime.

      (* Let’s just stipulate that Sanders has more of a chance than any 3rd-party candidate and not fuss over whether he has a 1% or 5% shot at the Democratic nomination, shall we?)

      The specifics of his beefs with Sanders are even sillier. I cannot see where Bernie’s immigration stance in particular is bad, and he’s clearly going after this as an issue on the campaign trail even harder than Clinton is. I don’t have a problem with a few votes against horrible guest-worker provisions in the context of his obvious commitments to human welfare and how he’s actively making it a larger campaign issue. (Someone please chime in here if he’s actually horrible on immigration and I’m just underinformed?)

      Anyway. The whole larger debate about Sanders supporters and sexism is depressing because it feels impossible to get a sane word in edgewise. The cycle of overheated rhetoric continues on (ugh) BOTH SIDES although in general I feel like a few politically immature folks and/or trolls on the Sanders “side” are more to blame. More specifically I can’t really fault someone like Sady Doyle for getting real mad and posting 50 tweets about how horrible they are — it just ends up making it pointless to try to say anything useful. And I don’t see a broader solution. (Twitter is the worst.)

      • humanoid.panda

        Sanders made comments to the extent that while he supports immigration reform, a totally open borders policy is both unworkeable, and, from point of view of American citizens, immoral. That really pissed off both the Vox crowd an a lot of hyper-lefties.

        • Kazanir

          Yeah I saw that. This is also something that goes hand-in-hand with the “Nixon is to the left of all modern Democrats, don’t you see” rhetoric. If people are basing their opinion of Sanders’ immigration stance on a single interview where he shot down what he felt like was a Koch-style talking point, then isn’t that just an unserious way of dealing with politics? After reading the back-and-forth of the Vox crowd with Loomis and Theroux I don’t feel like I should take Dylan Matthews especially seriously when he starts saying that Sanders’ views on immigration are immoral…

          • humanoid.panda

            When Matthews criticized Sanders for that interview, he flat out stated that the only moral immigration policy is to let anyone from a poorer country to come to the US at will. That is, to put it mildly, insane.

            • Murc

              When Matthews criticized Sanders for that interview, he flat out stated that the only moral immigration policy is to let anyone from a poorer country to come to the US at will. That is, to put it mildly, insane.

              No, it isn’t. It is the only moral immigration policy.

              It was, in fact, our immigration policy for hundreds of years, predating our existence as a nation.

              My great-grandfather on my father’s side was an illiterate Sicilian laborer with a criminal background. The country welcomed him with open arms. He didn’t have to do anything to come here legally aside from coming here.

              My mothers family has been here since before the Revolution and the same standards applies to hers. Looser, even.

              Without an immigration policy that welcomed my descendants, I don’t exist. By what moral right do I deny people the opportunities which my ancestors exploited to the fullest extent?

              I’m prepared to be slightly flexible on “anyone.” Slightly. We probably shouldn’t take people with contagious, communicable diseases or who are actually wanted criminals. Aside from them, I’m comfortable with us using the same standards that got my great-grandpappy in the door.

              • Lee Rudolph

                It was, in fact, our immigration policy for hundreds of years, predating our existence as a nation.
                […]
                Without an immigration policy that welcomed my descendants, I don’t exist. By what moral right do I deny people the opportunities which my ancestors exploited to the fullest extent?

                This point (modulo the substitution of “ancestors” for “descendants”…) can not be made too often or too forcefully.

                • humanoid.panda

                  Fair enough. This is the most moral policy in the absract sense of the world. In practical terms, that stance is bound to bring to power people to the right of Trump- and that’s a frigging moral conundrum to consider.

                  [Also worth noting- the logistical barriers to people coming over here in the 19th century were prtty high, as well as the legal barriers for non-white immigration. I can’t even start to imagining the racist tsunami an open borders policy in a world in which people of color are most likely to migrate will trigger.

              • Malaclypse

                We probably shouldn’t take people with contagious, communicable diseases or who are actually wanted criminals. Aside from them, I’m comfortable with us using the same standards that got my great-grandpappy in the door.

                Co-signed.

                Many of my paternal ancestors were, when they migrated, members of a dangerous religious cult that had, in 1857, fought a semi-actual war against being incorporated into the United States. If we can let them in, I’m hard-pressed to think of people we should not let in.

                EDIT: Also:

                Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
                With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
                Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
                A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
                Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
                Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
                Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
                The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

                “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
                With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
                Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
                The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
                Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
                I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

                I’m proud of that. I’m saddened that isn’t us any more.

                • humanoid.panda

                  Except that, as matter of fact, a higher proportion of Americans are foreign born than at any time since the 19th century, and a higher proportion of these are people of color, and the racial backlash to immigration is not nearly as bad as it was back then. Pining for a lost golden age is almost always a fool’s errand..

              • brad

                It was our policy for years provided you came from the right part of the right continent.
                I don’t truly want to disagree, but you’re idealizing a bit.

              • L2P

                By what moral right do I deny people the opportunities which my ancestors exploited to the fullest extent?

                I’m not so sure “my ancestors got to do x, so I can’t morally deny x to anyone now” is any sort of argument. There’s lots of benefits people had 150 years ago we don’t have anymore.

                I mean, your ancestors could take advantage of the Homestead Act. So we can’t morally deny 160 acres of land to every immigrant? Or can we morally oppose it currently if our ancestors didn’t take advantage of it? So I can totally oppose open immigration because my ancestors came under the current regime?

                Or what exactly? When CAN I morally oppose some benefit my ancestors got? My ancestors got to dump trash in a river. Does that mean I have to let immigrants do that too?

                Can’t follow that moral reasoning at all. Glad it gives you comfort, but I’m not buying it.

            • matt w

              And even if the view is defensible as an absolutist blue-sky sort of view, it is beyond unreasonable to expect an elected politician with a rank above city councilor to endorse it.

      • Alex.S

        The TLDR is that Sanders opposed the 2007 bill because labor was opposed to the guest worker provision.

        Then in 2013, labor was on board with the reform and he voted for it.

        Which is fine, as he was reflecting his constituents. And it also shows how critical deal making and getting multiple groups on board is to passing complicated reform.

      • UserGoogol

        …Sanders being the closest realistic* candidate to his views that will come along in probably his lifetime.

        This is arguably a nitpick but: Eh, I’m optimistic about long term trends in politics and Freddie’s lifetime is going to stretch for several decades into the future. I can easily imagine the 2048 elections having a rather left-wing electable candidate in it.

        But I mean, holding your breath until that happens is not a very productive strategy in the meanwhile.

    • DrDick

      This makes no sense to me at all. Yes, Sanders is squishy on the gun issue, but he is certainly better than Clinton on Israel and about the same on immigration.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    As I began this post, I thought, “has Hell frozen over? Scott’s posting something in agreement with FdB!” Then I got two paragraphs in and realized that Hell is as hot as ever ;)

  • Malaclypse

    Since people like Freddie keep forgetting the obvious, this is who they praise:

    Nixon’s spirit will be with us for the rest of our lives — whether you’re me or Bill Clinton or you or Kurt Cobain or Bishop Tutu or Keith Richards or Amy Fisher or Boris Yeltsin’s daughter or your fiancee’s 16-year-old beer-drunk brother with his braided goatee and his whole life like a thundercloud out in front of him. This is not a generational thing. You don’t even have to know who Richard Nixon was to be a victim of his ugly, Nazi spirit.

    He has poisoned our water forever. Nixon will be remembered as a classic case of a smart man shitting in his own nest. But he also shit in our nests, and that was the crime that history will burn on his memory like a brand. By disgracing and degrading the Presidency of the United States, by fleeing the White House like a diseased cur, Richard Nixon broke the heart of the American Dream.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      The above quote is by the late Dr. Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson, full text here:

      He Was A Crook
      http://www.theatlantic.com/past/unbound/graffiti/crook.htm

    • Philip

      It’s good for the soul to be reminded, now and again, what a vile creature Nixon was. The only positive thing that I have ever been able to think of to say about him is that he’s only America’s second most evil president (the “honor” of most evil president is, of course, reserved for Jackson).

  • Ktotwf

    ”Neoliberal” is a useful political descriptor. Not a big fan at all of the Center-Left’s campaign against it as some marker of OTT Left-Purity.

    • Srsly Dad Y

      Yeah, but (if I follow what you’re saying) sometimes it is true that critics on the left conflate the American and European meanings, as if American neolibs fully supported IMF-style austerity and deregulation, which, generally, they have not.

    • joe from Lowell

      “Fascist” is – or at least was – a useful political descriptor, too.

      But from overuse, it’s come to be meaningless, a mere frowny face emoticon, in most of its usage.

      Same thing here, maybe a little less severe.

      • Ktotwf

        ”Fascist” describes an extremist ideology though, neoliberalism IS the modern Overton window.

        • joe from Lowell

          neoliberalism IS the modern Overton window.

          I could not agree more, though I suspect we’re coming to the point from different directions.

    • djw

      ”Neoliberal” is a useful political descriptor.

      Your beef is with the likes of Freddie, not with those who observe the extraordinary flexibility of the term in contemporary discourse. (He also recently used the ‘neoliberal’ epitat to criticize/dismiss the Yale students critical of Christakis.

      • DrDick

        In Bonehead’s case, it just means someone I do not like. Much like the conservative use of “socialist”.

  • joe from Lowell

    Let’s say you want No War, because of all the people who die in war.

    Candidate A would conduct a drone program, killing perhaps 100 people a year.

    Candidate B would invade Iran, killing perhaps 200,000 people per year.

    By what sort of moral reasoning is the difference between 0 and 100 a giant moral absolute, but the difference between 100 and 200,000 is not meaningful? How are 100 people more important that 199,900?

    • Malaclypse

      For a long time, I voted third-party, for exactly this reason. “They all start stupid wars,” I said, and that statement wasn’t wrong. And, in 2000, I was really pumped for the idea that the Greens might get 5%, and matching funds, in MA. (And, the one thing in my defense is that MA is hardly a swing state).

      On Sept 11, I was working in Boston, and public transit wasn’t working. I was living in Watertown, and a coworker in Arlington, so we walked home together, talking. And I still remember the moment I said “I never thought I’d say this, but I really miss Bill Clinton. Bush is a fucking idiot, and having an idiot in charge right now is gonna get a lot of people killed. One thing about Clinton, he’s not an idiot.”

      And that’s one thing I learned that day, and for the rest of that bloody presidency. It doesn’t matter if the lesser evil is still evil, as long as the lesser evil fails to kill as many people.

      • Rob in CT

        Yeah, similar things happened in my mind over the same period.

        Which is why, even though I disagreed with interventening in Libya, I didn’t lose my shit over it and go off in a huff to vote for a 3rd party (or not vote at all). Obama’s policies have been significantly better than those of his predecessor and that’s a win. I’m not satisfied and will continue to argue with Joe about war & peace (provided he doesn’t decide people with slightly different moral calculus than him are being “sleazy” of course), but only an immature fool adds all that up and says Both Sides Do It.

      • DrDick

        Pretty much.

      • BigHank53

        Back in the eighties I met a Democratic candidate for US Senator, Endicott Peabody, and as a result I cheerfully voted for Warren Rudman. He might have been a Republican but at least he knew what the charts at his own speech had printed on them.

        • matt w

          It was said that Endicott “Chub” Peabody was so illustrious that he had not one but three towns in Massachussetts named after him. Peabody, Marblehead, and Athol.

          (Irrelevant but obligatory.)

          (Oh, and in “athol” the “a” is as in “cat,” the “o” is as in “row,” and the stress is on the first syllable.)

          • tsam

            There’s one of those in northern Idaho, where a very cool amusement park is.

            ETA: An Athol, that is. Same pronunciation.

      • Anna in PDX

        First paragraph: Ditto me but in Oregon. (I don’t think we were near the matching funds threshold, but we were a safe state and that was at least part of my rationale for my Nader vote in 2000).

        The rest of it: I think the scales dropped from my eyes in November 2000 during the Florida mess, but the Bush admin really was worse than my wildest dreams, and I am pretty pessimistic about politics in general.

    • Joe –

      I agree with you more often than not. This comment is the most I’ve ever agreed with you.

      • Anna in PDX

        Chiming in again to say yes, this is really well-put. I may steal it. Thanks Joe

    • Arla

      By what sort of moral reasoning is the difference between 0 and 100 a giant moral absolute, but the difference between 100 and 200,000 is not meaningful? How are 100 people more important that 199,900?

      Thank you for putting this so succinctly and perfectly.

      This is something that always baffles me from some of my fellow 20-something lefties. Of course the Democrats are too hawkish, too cozy with corporate interests, etc. etc. etc., but it takes truly remarkable callousness–or at least incredible stupidity–to disregard that it’s precisely the most vulnerable people (be they domestic or foreign) for whom the differences between the Dems and the GOP matter most.

      • Rob in CT

        Throwing up your hands and saying a pox on both their houses is far easier than the alternative. You get to think you are pure of heart and you don’t have to do anything! Win-win.

        • Arla

          Yep. I was always under the impression that lefties are supposed to care about the impact of policies on the lives of people most at the margins of society. Maybe I’m missing something.

          • tsam

            Well see, you’re just naïve. Life’s not fair. The world’s not fair. Pick better parents and socioeconomic status and things will be better for you.

            • I tried to pick better parents but then they started talking about “breaking and entering” and “restraining orders” as if those were real things.

              • Arla

                Bourgeois nonsense.

                • That’s what I said to the cop before he got his taser out of the holster.

              • tsam

                Some people just have no sense of humor.

            • Warren Terra

              Pick better parents .. and things will be better for you.

              I’ve never read one, but I’m given to understand this is more or less the plot of every Horatio Alger novel.

              • tsam

                Didn’t he lean pretty hard on the rags to riches via bootstraps mythology? (Never read one either, this comes from my admittedly unreliable memory of unit in a college class)

                • His stories contain both bootstraps and kissing up to rich benefactors.

                • Warren Terra

                  I remember being taught about him in grade school, about his books being the iconic works of the Great Depression and how they all featured some young striver overcoming great disadvantage through rigorous morality and hard work. And then, years later, reading reassessments from people who’d actually read some of his books, that explained that the usual formula did indeed involve such heroes (often not terribly likeable ones), but that they usually prevailed not through their own labors but instead because some wealthy older gentleman would recognize their virtue and bequeath them a fortune, or arbitrarily employ them at a high level, or give them their daughter and heir’s hand in marriage, or such. Not so much hard work earning a just reward as stoic acquiescence to the stratified nature of society arbitrarily being rewarded by a benevolent aristocrat. Quite a regressive message, actually.

                  ETA see also this Wikipedia article.

                • tsam

                  Further reading on your link indicates that he was a precursor to Ayn Rand (and probably an influence)

                  For Alger’s characters, wealth was the product of a meritocracy, and the direct consequence of “honesty, thrift, self-reliance, industry, a cheerful whistle and an open manly face”. However, in some of Alger’s works there is also an implied belief in hereditary determinism, explicitly contrasting achievement based on merit.[3] This contrasting achievement would often be another character such as a stepparent or the child of a rich family

                  The “openly manly face” thing is cringeworthy as hell.

        • tsam

          Plus you get to be one of the Kool Kids who’s figured out this whole politics thing while the rest of the idiots battle it out in partisan rhetoric.

          Two Senators: Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders. Equivocating between the two of these is either criminal ignorance are or criminal intent to defraud the listener/reader.

    • Dilan Esper

      One big problem with Joe’s analysis is that there’s no evidence whatsoever that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have started the Iraq War. Indeed, Bill Clinton tried to start it in 1998 (sending Berger and Albright on a speaking tour to promote it) and Hillary, of course, voted for it, REPEATEDLY voiced her support for it, and never attended a single protest or ever acknowledged that the anti-war left was right.

      Another problem is that I am not even sure the Iraq War would have been possible if Clinton had been a peacenik who pulled our troops out of the middle east and other places. Instead, Clinton moved the country in an incredibly hawkish direction, creating new legal justifications for murdering Serbians and Iraqis and creating the extraordinary rendition and torture program. And, of course, maintained a decade long air war against Saddam Hussein, who was no threat to the US.

      • Bruce B.

        On the flip side, the last years of Clinton’s administration included taking counter-terrorism seriously. They stopped one big effort. It seems likely to me that a President H. Clinton would (as would Gore, presumably) have kept that team in place. They might not have been able to stop 9/11 from happening, though it’s well within the realm of possibility. But it’s a bit hard for me to see her using it as justification for a war on Iraq.

        • Scott Lemieux

          It strikes me that if Bill Clinton wanted to invade Iraq he would have invaded Iraq.

          • Lee Rudolph

            You obviously don’t understand how sneaky the Big Dog is.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              the whole saga of the late 90s and early 00s and how Bill Clinton manipulated Gore, Nader, Bush, Cheney, OBL *and* Saddam Hussein is the very epitome of nefarious

              • Mellano

                That’s a little far-fetched, no? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

          • joe from Lowell

            It strikes me that if Bill Clinton wanted to invade Iraq he would have invaded Iraq.

            He was stopped by those college kids yelling at Madeleine Albright.

            Our leftist betters are never wrong; the awesome power of protest changes things.

      • joe from Lowell

        One big problem with Joe’s analysis is that there’s no evidence whatsoever that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have started the Iraq War. Indeed, Bill Clinton tried to start it in 1998

        One big problem with Dilan’s analysis is that you have to make things up in order for it to be valid.

      • Malaclypse

        Another problem is that I am not even sure the Iraq War would have been possible if Clinton had been a peacenik who pulled our troops out of the middle east and other places.

        If the only acceptable president is one that dismantles the overseas Empire, I don’t think even Jill Stein is pure enough for you.

  • kped

    Scott, you missed the best part.

    It’s also strange that our political class continues to think that the way people argue on social media is still more important, substantively and politically, than the economy, foreign policy, social issues, or the environment. That is really, really strange.

    …that is his entire shtick! if not for complaining about how other people argue (well, how liberals argue, conservatives get a pass), Freddie wouldn’t exist online! When he actually allowed comments, I even made that point to him – that he never actually advocated for anything other than people not talking in certain ways.

    He doesn’t post about the economy. Or foregin policy. Or social issues. Or the environment. He posts about how everyone else is doing it wrong.

    So why does he find it strange that others are interested in the same trivial crap he is?

    • Rob in CT

      He has zero self-awareness.

      • Arla

        If Freddie did not exist, it would have been wonderful to invent him.

        The thing is, I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong in all his criticisms of some of the online discourse. I really have seen a lot of bad analysis and worse behavior from “SJ Tumblr” (sorry for even using that silly term)…but it seems to get disproportionate focus from him.

        • kped

          It is his only focus really. And that is why that sentence stuck out like a sore thumb to me. Like…really? Him of all people making that criticism?

      • joe from Lowell

        He has zero self-awareness.

        Freddie, saving throw from projection/hypocrisy. 1d20. You need….22.

  • Bruce Leroy

    1) freddie has said that he believes withholding a vote should be a tactic that leftists use strategically to force party to the left. he points to effectiveness of tea party doing so to pull party right. not sure I agree on efficacy long term. but i don’t think its totally fair to say this is cause he just wants purity.

    2) he has also stated that he would vote for candidates in general elections when doing so is meaningful. for instance he voted for obama in 2012 (i think) cause he thought indiana was going to be in play.

    3) i’m pretty sure he still prefers sanders over any other candidate, just doesn’t want to say he is pro-sanders cause of the issues he disagress with. which is annoying.

    • Murc

      he points to effectiveness of tea party doing so to pull party right.

      That’s… not at all how the Tea Party pulls the Republican Party right, tho. They do that by providing their votes, enthusiastically, to candidates of their choosing. That’s how they claimed Cantor’s scalp.

      • Bruce Leroy

        yes, that is an empirical problem with his claim.

        • tsam

          Right–and even on the face of the statement, getting the “left” to act like the Tea Party (finding the craziest, most incompetent and unprepared bastards and running them against people who are actually doing a respectable job aside from that ONE ISSUE THAT MAKES US SO SO MAD) won’t do the left any favors. The left already suffers from Stockholm Syndrome from the constant criticism they take from ostensible leftists like DeBoer.

        • Barry_D

          “yes, that is an empirical problem with his claim.”

          There are a fair number of people who read ‘correlation is not causaltity’, and took it to mean ‘negative correlation Is Causality’.

      • NonyNony

        Not only that, but when their favorite candidate loses the primary election they STILL show up and vote for the Republican. See McConnell, Mitch in his last Senate race among many, many others. They know how to vote for the “lesser evil” and advance their own cause while doing it.

        If the lesson you’re taking away from movement conservatives is that they get their way in the party by withholding their votes, you have not spent much time observing how the movement conservatives have captured the Republican Party.

        • kped

          Yup, it’s all incremental steps. And organizing at every level, not just “durrr, we elected Obamaaaaaa, no need to do anything else”. That’s what the Democrats do, and they are now losing nearly every level of government, from as low as local school boards to as high as State Governor.

          Saying the left needs a tea party doesn’t mean they need nut jobs electing nut jobs. It means they need people engaged 24/7, 365, who actually understand that to get things done, you have to elect people. At all levels. Every year. Stop naval gazing and start working.

      • Bruce B.

        That, plus many millions of dollars’ support in cash and services from plutocrats who find the Tea Party crowd useful and/or are part of it themselves, since being rich isn’t at all incompatible with being a nihilistic fool.

    • kped

      The tea party didn’t withhold votes. They pushed candidates they wanted in primaries, and got out the vote to make them win. And they ignored the people laughing at them and continued to vote for the nuts, and now we are blessed with the Freedom Caucus. Do Freddie and his leftier-than-thou ilk do this? No. They advocate not voting for people, but not for an alternative. Like them or not, the tea party had an alternative.

      • Bruce Leroy

        absolutely agree. but, they voted for their candidates in the primaries regardless of their electability. like those two senate races (akin and ??). they were willing to sacrifice some representation in short term for much more conservatives reps in long term. i think that’s what he wants. i don’t think his argument for how to achieve it is convincing though. i just think his point of view is a little more nuanced than is sometimes given credit.

        • keta

          It’s no secret the right wields total unelectables spouting far-far-far right bullshit in an effort to “moderate” the (still insane) messaging of the far-far and far right nincompoops. Most sane people recognize this for what it is.

          What sane people also recognize is that this tactic only works if credulous punters lap it up.

          “Nuanced” doesn’t really come to my mind when espousing this tactic for the left. What does come to mind is not understanding your base.

        • kped

          Is that what he wants though? He doesn’t seem to want to organize, or put recommend his readers vote for person A in primary vs person B (he is still not over Lieberman winning. Feels betrayed by…the left!!!! The same left who primaried Lieberman and got Lamont on the ballot. Not their fault that Lieberman got more votes).

          People don’t give him credit for nuance because he doesn’t articulate any. Want to see action? Look at Kos, or Digby, who are constantly talking up candidates and allowing you to donate directly to them, and urging people to volunteer and try to elect better Dems. What does Freddie do?

          Telling everyone else they are doing it wrong, then going to his room to listen to Morrisey isn’t going to get better people elected.

          • Rob in CT

            Christ on a pogo stick.

            I can work myself up, still, about the ’06 senate election. I was (and am) really angry at Joe Lieberman. So much so that I was happy to register Dem and vote for Ned Lamont, a guy about whom I knew very little (and who is probably more of a “neoliberal sellout” than half the actual Dems in congress). It was all about the war.

            Holy Joe won by running third-party and collecting a lot of Republican votes (note the strategic voting by Republicans there!), along with a minority of the Dem votes cast (though a significant minority, IIRC).

            It was very frustrating. It wasn’t the fault of The Left, though.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            “Telling everyone else they are doing it wrong, then going to his room to listen to Morrisey isn’t going to get better people elected.”

            Also, it encourages Morrisey, and I think that needs to stop, too.

        • djw

          but, they voted for their candidates in the primaries regardless of their electability.

          Something Freddie seems to be explicitly declaring beyond the pale for purity reasons. So I really don’t see any analogy here.

        • Pseudonym

          It’s important to note that the Tea Party (in contrast to Democrats) isn’t actually particularly affected by whether or not they win elections or accomplish anything. Democrats losing an election means losing affordable health care. The Tea Party losing an election means getting [more] affordable health care, but having/getting more opportunities to rail about the unconstitutional actions of that un-American near in the White House.

          Also, it takes a lot less time and effort to break things than to make them work, so getting power for two years every decade or so is sufficient in many ways for the Tea Party types.

          • Matt McIrvin

            Well, some Democrats are affected by whether or not they win. The type of Democrats who constantly demand that other Democrats withhold their votes over purity issues are probably the least affected.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Yup. There’s a reason that Nader’s coalition ran the gamut from white academics to white college students. Heighten-the-contradictions arguments tend not to be very attractive to the people upon which the contradictions will be heightened.

    • Rob in CT

      Re: Tea Party… I don’t think “withold their votes” is the right frame. They vote! They vote in the primaries. For right-wing insurgent candidates. Not to draw any sort of real equivalence, but the lefty version of that is… voting for Sanders in the primary (as opposed to whining about how he’s not perfect).

      If TPers had instead simply stayed home, the GOP might have moderated!

      To be fair, it took me a while to get this too.

      edit: well, hell, Murc & kped beat me to it.

    • Ktotwf

      Well, the biggest problem with the Tea Party is that it seems to have made the GOP unelectable at a national level. Not a model I would prefer for the Democrats.

      • Bruce Leroy

        there’s only been one presidential election since rise of tea party. and they’ve taken and kept house, and taken senate. this remains to be seen.

      • Murc

        Polling suggests all current GOP candidates who are polling above 5% would be competitive against either Clinton or Sanders.

        The Republicans could absolutely win in 2016. Never doubt that.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          ^ incredibly depressing but also true thing about our fellow citizens

        • solidcitizen

          Are they polling well nationally in Ohio, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, and Colorado? Trump, Carson, Rubio, or Bush could be polling well ahead of Clinton or Sanders, but unless they win both Ohio and Florida plus a couple more, it doesn’t make a difference.

          • Malaclypse

            Let’s imagine the Republicans nominate whoever you think is the worse of the bunch. It’s next September, and Hillary is at 57% nationally, and the state-by-state is looking even better than 2012.

            And on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, terrorists blow up a train carrying chlorine as it passes through Chicago. 5000 people die.

            Or it turns out that the Big 4 accounting firms were conspiring to submit fake financials to the SEC. The Dow drops 10,000 points overnight, and trading is halted for three days. Within the month, unemployment is at 9%.

            Or the 69-year-old Democratic nominee has a stroke. A week later, she drops out, endorsing Martin O’Malley, who scrambles to get a team in place, as well as answering allegations that he turned a blind eye to police brutality while mayor of Baltimore.

            Still think President Cruz is impossible?

            • humanoid.panda

              Of your three scenarios, no.1 is hard to game (the President gets to be Presidential and that reflects on his party, and it will take a while for the GOP to be able to raise the TREASON flag, but national security is an issue on which GOP has advantage).
              No.2 will almost certainly doom the Democrat if it happens in the summer, but will be too late to change minds in the fall.
              No. 3 is complicated. If it happens, say, 2 months from now, its bad news. If it happens after Hillary has a VP choice, not much harm done.

              I think your general point stands, but your examples are problematic..

              • UserGoogol

                Even if the GOP does play the treason card as quickly as possible, the rally around the flag thing is a pretty significant thing. Look at how quickly Bush’s poll numbers went up after 9-11. Loyal GOP partisans might blame Obama on day one, but loyal partisans are by definition not swing votes.

                • Matt McIrvin

                  Historically, rallying around the flag means support for the President, regardless of party. But I’ve been wondering for a long time whether that’s changed. The Republicans have been able to so completely claim patriotism and macho-man posturing as their brand. Today it may mean rallying around the Republican Party.

                  The last time we had a crisis under a Democrat that produced major poll movement was the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. And that actually did get Jimmy Carter a big short-term support boost until it was clear that the administration wasn’t going to fix it.

                  On the other side of the coin, Bush got significant (if smaller than 9/11) poll bumps for starting the invasion of Iraq and for catching Saddam Hussein, but Obama got nothing for getting Osama bin Laden, the great villain of 9/11. Maybe it just wouldn’t work for Democrats any more.

            • A. You are correct.

              B. You are also a ray of fucking sunshine.

            • solidcitizen

              Of course, but Murc is citing national polls (or so I assume) as reason to believe almost any GOP candidate has a shot against Clinton or Sanders. If Murc had said, “I can think of several implausible scenarios where Cruz ends up President, so the Republicans could absolutely win in 2016,” I would not have made the comment I made.

            • Murc

              Hillary ever being at 57% nationally would be insane. That’s “the Republican candidate is caught enthusiastically having sex with a dog” levels, and even them the dog would probably have to be a terrorist.

              • rea

                Or a male dog . . .

          • Murc

            Are they polling well nationally in Ohio, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, and Colorado?

            The last time I looked, which was admittedly some weeks ago, all of the top four (Trump, Carson, and Rubio) were polling competitively with Hillary and Sanders in both Ohio and Florida. Of course, it is early days yet, much of the country doesn’t even know a primary campaign is going on; for them, that doesn’t start until next year. But still.

            Mal’s apocalyptic scenarios are also possible, of course, but a Republican could simply… win. That could happen. Hillary’s absolute ceiling of support is probably 55%; that’s not a huge margin and assumes she hauls down Obama levels of support, which she will not.

            • Rob in CT

              Obama’s 2012 51-47 (47, *giggle*) was a solid thumping, for our modern age.

              55-45 would be landslidy.

            • solidcitizen

              I will concede a Republican can win given the right set of circumstances, but as far as Ktotwf’s point that they are “unelectable” nationally, I didn’t take “unelectable” literally. We would, however, have to be looking at a situation where Clinton or Sanders did worse than Gore while running against a GOP candidate who is running to the right of a 2000-era Bush.* I’m not sure I see anyone in the GOP field that can pull that off and I don’t see any evidence that the voters of Ohio, Florida, Colorado, etc. are looking for a right-wing President.

              *Bush’s incumbency and our mid-war footing exempt the 2004 election in my mind.

            • NonyNony

              Hillary’s absolute ceiling of support is probably 55%;

              Note that Obama had 53% support in 2008. When Bush had driven the economy into a ditch, McCain was running probably the worst Republican presidential campaign I’ve seen in my lifetime, and as a nominee who was easily one of the top 3 political campaigners in my lifetime.

              Saying that Clinton’s ceiling of support is 55% is like saying that if I jump high enough I might reach the moon. In our current political climate, unless her team does some AMAZING work with GOTV, her ceiling is more like 51% (Obama’s portion of the electorate in 2012).

              (All of this supports your point – Democrats are far, far too capable of buying into the idea that because all of the Republicans are crazy there’s no way they can win. Sorry folks – I live with these people. They will vote for the insane person telling them what they want to hear over the Democrat every time. Even if the Democrat is ALSO telling them what they want to hear.)

              • tsam

                Democrats are far, far too capable of buying into the idea that because all of the Republicans are crazy there’s no way they can win. Sorry folks – I live with these people. They will vote for the insane person telling them what they want to hear over the Democrat every time. Even if the Democrat is ALSO telling them what they want to hear

                A-FUCKING-MEN.

                Some liberal leaning people think a crazy candidate or Dem favorable polls is an excuse to not bother with voting.

                • humanoid.panda

                  I think that with very, very small exception of the FdB to good to vote people, pretty much anyone who follows politics enough to know how polling is going is voting. The left-leaning non-voters are marginalized people, not spoiled upper-middle class liberals having ennui.

                • tsam

                  You’re probably right–my thoughts on it are based on anecdotes rather than actual evidence.

  • altofront

    Ironically, such arguments often counterpoint the domestic achievements of Nixon’s tenure (not much his doing) with Clinton’s somewhat bellicose foreign policy. (Ditto for Obama and drones.) This of course overlooks the fact that Nixon committed war crimes that would make George W. Bush blench.

    • Hogan

      Nixon committed war crimes that would make George W. Bush blench wish he’d thought of them.

      Fiksed.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Similarly, some of the reporting on Obama and the drone war seems to be grasping for some way in which Obama is a worse warmonger than George W. Bush. Obama ramped up the drone war over what was going on under Bush, but it was basically because it was just getting started under Bush. And it’s very strange to think of this as actually worse than, say, the invasion of Iraq and everything that followed from that.

      But people like Greenwald and Conor Friedersdorf seem to be trying to nudge the reader in the direction of thinking that drones really are worse than invading Iraq, and to sorta-kinda imply that the Democrats are now to the right of today’s Republicans on foreign policy, without ever explicitly saying so, because explicitly saying so would be absurd. And in 2012 there was a particular emphasis on insisting that people had a duty to not vote for Obama because of this.

      I feel ambivalent about this because I don’t approve of what Obama is doing with drones, and I think it’s important to keep up pressure on him and on the next President regardless of party, but the primary voices doing this have this strange tendency that makes me think they’re trying to pull something.

  • Charlie

    If you’re not careful, FdB will bring the substantive and rhetorically savvy “dad jeans” insult.

  • taylormattd

    I am in no way surprised to see Freddie DeBoer mentioned in this discussion.

  • brad

    As much as he’s a fun playtoy to kick around and use as an example of common flaws, the “great mystery” to me is why anyone would really care what Boners says, especially at this point. The world only exists to mirror back his self regard, and we’re all such awful people for not doing so.

    • Lev

      What, you don’t think politics consists of purity contests in which maximal value is attained by holding out for the candidate who shares all your issue positions and emphases? Mere tests of your moral mettle?

  • hylen
  • keta

    Oh, for fuck’s sake.

    If everybody stayed home because there was no single candidate that professed lily-white representation on every single fucking issue that mattered to them then where would we be?

    Seriously, in an age where we need the electorate more informed, more engaged and more active this FdB guy is sniffing that since nobody polishes his pole to perfection, he’s going to sit it out?

    Fuck him, and the bag of shit he’s hefting.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Yyyyyep. I’m not going ashore to look at his mango collection, but did he mention proportional representation? When I was a boy, the moral handwashers and purity dancers used to sniffle that, “oh, if only we had proportional representation, then I could vote for a party that suits my precious moral superiority to a tee.”

    • tsam

      If everybody stayed home because there was no single candidate that professed lily-white representation on every single fucking issue that mattered to them then where would we be?

      Between this and laziness/apathy, I think we get exactly what we have now. Less than half of the eligible population voting, making things like voter suppression pretty easy to get done.

      • Davis X. Machina

        The trick is to get the voters to suppress themselves — for example, convincing them that it’s all a shuck, that the truly discerning see right throuhgh it, and that voting just encourages them.

        • tsam

          It’s working. I personally know too many people who spout the same old falsehoods…

          My vote doesn’t matter
          Electoral College
          I’m just cancelling ONE opposing vote
          Politicians don’t listen anyway

          None of these statements is totally false, but none of them excuses not voting.

          • Matt McIrvin

            I’ve heard another one: “I’m so disgusted by this state that I don’t want to participate in it any more, though I’m too poor to leave.”

            Basically, that the people and society around one are all so horrible that one is no longer morally obligated to help make things incrementally better; only total rejection is left, and the implied punishment that comes from letting the place destroy itself, even if it destroys you too.

            I don’t actually have a counterargument to that one. And I suspect that some of these others are really that one in disguise.

  • JKTH

    Er…why does he list immigration? This has been explained repeatedly but he opposes guest worker programs that are rife with exploitation. That’s not being an opponent of immigration reform or even a squish. At best, *I guess* you could say it makes it less likely he’d get country club Republicans on board with it…

    • Arla

      I think it’s in reference to this. It sounds like he wants to give undocumented immigrants who are already here legal status, but isn’t in favor of allowing much in the way of more immigration.

  • sleepyirv

    The Clintons have been victims of the most baseless, nonsensical, cruel criticism in the past few decades (though Obama will soon give a run for their money) with the criticism of Hillary being flavored extra with a form of virulent sexism. So it’s hard to tell if Hillary incorrectly labels all criticism as being baseless, that she rejects criticism because of some political calculus, or both.

    When Bernie started yelling at Clinton, it was because she put him on defensive. This is because Hillary is a great attack dog and knew Bernie’s weakspot. I don’t think it had anything to do with some passive misogyny on Bernie’s part. Just as obvious, Bernie was not being racist when he spoke of Vermont wanting to protect its guns because it’s a rural state. He was just making the basic point that everyone in Vermont hunts. Now, maybe Hillary thinks Bernie is being sexist and racist. Maybe she just thinks this is a good way to peel enough liberal votes off for the primary (this seems unnecessary to me, but whatever). Whatever the reason, I don’t think I need to accept her analysis or that of her supporters.

    If I wanted a better messenger, I would vote for Hillary. She’s good at the stuff. Since I want to win in November, she’ll probably get my support. But, if I focus just on policies, Bernie is the better candidate.

  • ASV

    I wonder if there was a time in the midst of the New Deal consensus when people on the right pined away for a real conservative like Woodrow Wilson.

  • Buckeye623

    Don’t forget the Notorious RBG has an authoritarian streak in her – not saying she’s not more liberal than conservative, but she’s no Sotomayor.

  • rewenzo

    I interpreted Freddie to be saying that he doesn’t stan Bernie – he’s not a Berniebro, in other words, because he’s not enthused about his policy positions on several fronts. (This was in the context of accusing Traister’s article of calling him a Berniebro, which I don’t think it was.)

  • kped

    Scott…please, please read the new Salon article (seriously, what happened to that place? It’s a hell hole now. Other than Digby and Marcotte, I can’t read that crap anymore, and this article shows why):

    Salon article.

    Note: If your article includes multiple links to your rad Youtube videos, I won’t take you seriously.

    • kped
      • Malaclypse

        Regardless of her neoconservative outlook on war and foreign policy, certain“Facebook Liberals” who hate Bush but love Hillary also forget that Clinton and Bush aren’t very different in terms of foreign policy.

        This is shockingly stupid and ignorant. But wait!

        43% of American voters are independent, so allegiance towards political party is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

        Which is why, in 2008, after trashing the world’s economy and bogging down in two unwinnable wars, and nominating the least-qualified vice-presidential nominee of the modern era, McCain only got 45.7% of the vote. Because there’s no more allegiance to political parties.

        • tsam

          43% of American voters are independent, so allegiance towards political party is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

          HAHA! Gud 1 bro

          • humanoid.panda

            The 3AM ad had racial overtones! WTF?

      • joe from Lowell

        I spent six straight years arguing with those people about Obama, and now they’re my allies.

        I once wrote a comment lauding Bernie for the political smarts behind the “damned emails” comment, saying it was strategic and effective and showed a capacity to recognize opportunities and polish the brand, as well as a sense of timing – and I got back furious replies from other Sanders supporters, saying “You take that back!” “Bernie’s the REAL DEAL!”

        • tsam

          Some people REALLY want him to be someone who hasn’t had a career in elected politics.

          • kped

            “he’s differen’t, he doesn’t pander”

            “Well, he has to vote like that on gun control, he’s from a rural state!”

            Nope…no contradiction there at all…

            (and that isn’t to disparage Sanders in the least. He is a politician. Better than most. But he is still a politician, beholden to his constituency, as he should be. I’m just adult enough to admit it, too many of his followers are not).

            • tsam

              Yeah–and the premise that a career politician can’t be a decent person or a good option for elected office is just silly.

              (I happen to think Sanders is great, but I think Clinton is going to pound him–at least in the long game)

              • kped

                I don’t even think it will be a long game. March 1, this thing is over.

                Does the media choose the freaking primary schedule? It’s like they make the primaries like this to continue news cycles and narratives. Feb 1 Iowa. Then Feb 9 NH. Then nothing until Feb 20. So it’s just days of “OMG! What does Iowa mean??? No wait, what does New Hampshire mean????)

                Then March comes along and you get like 15 states in one day, and it’s game over for the fringe guys (see Huckaby and Santorum).

          • joe from Lowell

            Like the “Republicans are going to win if we don’t support the safe establishment candidate,” people seem to be having arguments they really want to have about leftist insurgent candidates, even when they don’t really have much to do with this race.

            Bernie is a very successful politician and legislator, who has cut a million deals. He’s not some babe in the woods. An unprincipled, blindly-partisan O-bot like me would never vote him if he was.

            • tsam

              An unprincipled, blindly-partisan O-bot like me would never vote him if he was.

              Heh–same here. Knowing how the game is played is a huge part of competence.

        • Matt McIrvin

          I am leaning toward voting for Sanders, essentially as a message vote on various issues. But what worries me about the most enthusiastic of the Bernie people is not that they want Sanders to win, it’s that many of them clearly think he WILL win, both the nomination and the presidency. I’ve seen articles written just in the past couple of weeks about how Sanders is trending toward winning, and the media are colluding to make you think otherwise.

          I’m wondering what these people are going to turn into when he doesn’t get the nomination. I guess, as John Cole recently pointed out, they’re not half as annoying as the 2008 pro-Hillary PUMAs, and the PUMAs turned out to be a non-problem in the general election.

          At least Sanders is giving off powerful signals indicating that he has zero interest in sabotaging the general election campaign, which is a thing I like about him.

          • joe from Lowell

            I’m wondering what these people are going to turn into when he doesn’t get the nomination.

            Why wonder? You’ve been watching them try to “kill the bill” and whatnot for the past six years. They’re going to “turn into” exactly the same Firebaggers they’ve been all along.

            There are Naderites out there. The way I see it, Bernie’s campaign for the Democratic nomination will serve to bring them a little more into the party.

    • “Bernie Sanders never uses euphemisms.”

      Yeah, right.

      • kped

        And what a bizarre criteria that would be anyway. But again, he is a Rand Paul Democrat…aka, the very definition of Brogressive. There is a brilliant take down of him in the comment section of Salon, ripping him as a rich kid who won’t feel the consequences of a Republican win, which is why he can be “above it” all like he is.

        • joe from Lowell

          Since Sanders performs as well as Clinton or better in the head-to-head with Republicans, and since the Democrats enjoy such a built-in structural advantage in Presidential elections, arguments threatening a Republican win don’t really seem to apply this year.

          • Brien Jackson

            Yeah, concerns about Sanders’ electability are really overblown. A world where he can win the Democratic nomination is a world where he can definitely beat any of the possible Republican candidates.

            • humanoid.panda

              Could be, but Joe’s argument about polling is not really good evidence for that. Sanders is doing ok now, before a billion dollars of sludge are poured over his head. How will he look in September 2016?

              • joe from Lowell

                You mean, how will he look, in a Presidential election year, when the right attacks him and everyone goes to the their partisan corners?

                I say he’ll look like the Presidential frontrunner.

                It isn’t 1988. It isn’t 2002. Stop ducking for cover.

    • tsam

      Other than Digby and Marcotte

      There’s a pretty important name missing from this list.

      • Pat

        Yeah, but he links to his articles from here, so we don’t have to worry about it.

        • tsam

          I’ll let it slide. THIS TIME.

      • kped

        …lol, I can’t believe I forgot that one name! I actually do read Scott’s stuff there as well, I swear!

  • arthropod

    Nixon’s first four SCOTUS picks were actually Burger, Harry Blackmun, Haynsworth, and Harrold Carswell. Powell and Rehnquist came later.

    • matt w

      I read it your way too at first, but I think Scott is saying “first choices” for Supreme Court in the sense that Bork was Reagan’s first choice for the Supreme Court and Kennedy wasn’t, and Miers was Bush’s first choice and Alito wasn’t. The four that Scott named were Nixon’s first choices for those seats; Blackmun and Carswell weren’t first choices but only got nominated because the senate voted Haynesworth down. So Blackmun isn’t exactly to Nixon’s credit, since he wouldn’t have got on the Court without the Senate Democrats.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yes. The four listed were Nixon’s four first choices.

      • rea

        Blackmun was only liberal in hindsight. When nominated, he seemed like a Warren Burger clone (the Minnesota Twins, they were called).

        • Scott Lemieux

          Right, and in his early years his voting record was in fact pretty similar to Burger’s. He moved left in part because of the reaction on both sides to Roe v. Wade.

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