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Thanks Obama Franken!

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It’s hard for a pundit to make an argument so silly it stands out, but Josh Kraushaar’s attempt to blame Al Franken for Donald Trump being the Republican frontrunner did it:

Look­ing for a cul­prit to blame for all the po­lar­iz­a­tion, grid­lock, and bad feel­ings in Wash­ing­ton? Point to Sen. Al Franken. No, that’s not a joke.

[…]

Ima­gine, for a mo­ment, the state of the 2010 midterms without Obama­care in the equa­tion. Re­pub­lic­ans would have run against the stag­nant state of the eco­nomy with some suc­cess. But without the gal­van­iz­ing op­pos­i­tion to Obama’s health care law—Re­pub­lic­ans net­ted a whop­ping 63 House seats that year—Demo­crats would likely have nar­rowly kept con­trol of Con­gress, and con­tin­ued to press for­ward with Obama’s agenda. There would be tea-party-aligned Re­pub­lic­ans elec­ted, but ab­sent the wave, not enough to form the con­cer­ted op­pos­i­tion that emerged. Vet­er­an Blue Dog Demo­crats like Reps. Ike Skelton, Gene Taylor, and Chet Ed­wards (among oth­ers) would likely have been reelec­ted, and be­come bridge-build­ers between parties

[…]

The no­tion that Obama was fated to face an in­transigent Re­pub­lic­an op­pos­i­tion has al­ways been off-base. [Hails of derisive laughter. –ed.]

[…]

That’s where Al Franken comes in. If it wer­en’t for 312 voters in Min­nesota, Obama’s am­bi­tions would at least have been cur­tailed by le­gis­lat­ive real­it­ies, and the tra­ject­ory of his pres­id­ency would have looked much dif­fer­ent. Franken, the first in­sult com­ic to get elec­ted to the Sen­ate, cir­cuit­ously paved the way for the rise of a much dif­fer­ent type of en­ter­tain­er—Don­ald J. Trump.

Even if the assumptions here were true, the argument has an obvious problem, in that it amounts to a claim that the Democrats could maintain control of Congress as long as they never really did anything. But, of course, neither the causal nor the political logic here makes any sense:

Long story short, by shepherding a major social reform that has cut the uninsured rate in half while coming in well below its projected costs and bringing health-care inflation down to its lowest rate in recorded history, Obama angered Republicans, forcing them to nominate an ignorant, bigoted clown.

And it’s even worse than that. We’ve dealt with this particular pundit’s fallacy from the right before, but the idea that a Democratic Party that promised comprehensive health care reform and settled for Rahm Emmanuel’s piddlyshit half-a-crouton would have been in such a stronger position that it could have retained control of the House in 2010 is about as clearly wrong as a counterfactual can be. And, in addition, there’s no reason to believe that in this scenario that the Republican conference would be an iota less radical. (The Tea Party, after all, emerged from the astroturf over TARP and the ARRA, not the ACA.) So, the idea that Al Franken is responsible for Donald Trump is dumb on every possible level.

The election that eventually produced Franken is important for a lot of reasons. As someone noted in the most recent thread about voting, if 313 people had been persuaded by some variation of  [Econ 101 told me my vote doesn’t matter/Obama will carry Minnesota anyway/why can’t I custom order my candidate on the internet what with today’s technology/Both Sides Do It/elections are a Meaningless Distraction from my Foolproof Plan to eliminate all internal combustion engines from American soil by the end of summer] nonsense, there would be 20 million people without access to health care and those lucky enough to retain it would be paying more for it. There would also be no Dodd-Frank (and hence, among other things, no CFPB). And had Franken won by enough of a margin to be seated immediately, it might have been at least a marginally better ARRA. Your vote doesn’t matter until it does, and what constitutes a vote of historic consequence isn’t always obvious ex ante.
…more from Ezra.

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  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Thanks, Lizard People!

    • Average Lizard Person On The Street

      Don’t blame us! This is all on you primates!

      • tsam

        Where are the moderate lizards? Why aren’t they speaking up?

    • timb

      If I don’t vote for the lizard, then the wrong lizard might get in!

    • Tyto

      Vote for the lizard: it’s important.

    • so-in-so

      “Better the Lizard than the Wizard”.

  • Rob in CT
    • Joe_JP

      Good article including the alternative universe where some Republicans realized the bill was going to get passed, was not hell on Earth & throw their support and get something in return (e.g., maybe Medicaid expansion would be optional w/o need for SCOTUS doing it for them).

      The alternative is basically blaming Dems for passing major policy when they have a supermajority in Congress & the Presidency & try to get Republicans to be involved and they refuse. Oh, btw, it’s pretty good policy.

    • Nobdy

      One take away from Klein’s article for me was a reminder of how unimaginative Republicans are.

      Klein reminds us that Republicans basically accept Medicare and even Medicaid, which are more radical socialized medicine, because they’re used to them at this point. They feared Obamacare and were driven to insanity by it because it was trying something new, but within a couple years it will have settled in and they will be fine with it because they are used to it.

      Republicans are like children who cry and scream and wail when you try to get them to taste broccoli. Then they say that broccoli is the most disgusting thing they have ever tasted and they’ll never eat it. Then after they’ve tasted it a few times and are used to it they claim they never really hated it.

      But when you try to get them to try eggplant do they learn from the broccoli experience? No, they cry and scream and wail like they were being murdered all over.

      And they only have one policy idea for dinner, which is chicken nuggets (AKA tax cuts for the rich, tasty in the short term but very very bad for the nation’s health.) No matter what the situation you are in or what you’re trying to achieve their policy is ALWAYS chicken nuggets. Chicken nuggets now, chicken nuggets forever, chicken nuggets until you pry them from my cold dead hands.

      That’s basically Republican policy.

      • heckblazer

        From what I saw, they didn’t oppose because it was something new, they opposed it because they wanted to deny Democrats a win.

        • Matt McIrvin

          And specifically because it was associated with Obama. The idea minimal politically risky move for them would be to “repeal” it and replace it with the nearly identical Ceci N’Est Pas Un Obamacare Health Care Act.

        • Yes. Major conservative pundits had been vociferous since HRC tried to get her major health care bill through that they were worried that it would work not that it wouldn’t. Maybe the kind of mouth breathing, tea party morons who were in congress during the ACA fight and after were stupid enough to believe that the ACA wouldn’t work/would kill jobs. But the top leadership and every pundit over the age of 30 knew perfectly well that health care reform was the holy grail of democratic politicking and that if it worked, and if people knew it worked, we’d have democratic voters as far as the eye could see.

          • Pat

            And don’t we wish that they had been right! Where are our Democratic supermajorities in the the states that really, really needed healthcare, like Kentucky and Mississippi?

            • Well, remember: the Democrats lost in 1968 and 1972, too.

              It isn’t the passage of health care bills that swings people behind the Democrats, but the functioning of the health care system those bills provide, and that’s a decades-long process.

              • Scott Lemieux

                I get tired of pointing this out, but the Reconstruction, New Deal and Great Society congresses all ultimately suffered major midterm losses too. The idea that good policy brings immediate political rewards is just a pundit’s fallacy.

                • NonyNony

                  Speaking of fallacious pundits, Bill Kristol predicted that if health care reform passed, Republicans would never win another election for a generation. That’s how I knew that the ACA wasn’t going to be a political winner for Dems even if it was the right thing to do.

      • timb

        Did you have to use broccoli as your example. Somewhere, Nino Scalia’s ghost stopped haunting the innocent for a moment to share a laugh with the ghost of Rush Limbaugh (yes, I believe Limbaugh is dead and his producers just keep weaving past shows together for broadcast)

      • Murc

        Klein reminds us that Republicans basically accept Medicare and even Medicaid, which are more radical socialized medicine, because they’re used to them at this point.

        How are we defining Republicans, tho?

        Your basic “my racist uncle” Republicans have, certainly.

        The actual wielders of power in the Republican Party have not and never will. Conservatives never accept the use of money to provide basic services to people in need. Ever. They’re still trying to repeal the New Deal. The NHS, of all things, is under threat in the UK.

        • Rob in CT

          This is a good point. The hardcore ideologues still want to repeal the New Deal.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Plus, it’s not really radical to relieve insurance companies of inherently unprofitable customers, and the original Medicaid was structured so that states didn’t have to provide it to many categories of “underserving” poor people.

      • JG

        Brilliant

      • Rob in CT

        I do kind of love this.

  • brad

    The small but clear tell is calling Franken an insult comic. Fat jokes are mean, yes, but poor Rush’s fee-fees.

    • Nobdy

      Rush Limbaugh called Michelle Obama fat.

      That’s the pot calling the kettle fat, only the kettle is in excellent shape and the pot is obese.

      He also compared a 12 year old Chelsea Clinton to a dog.

      In terms of insults, he deserves whatever he gets.

      I know that’s obvious.

      • JL

        Fat jokes are wrong no matter who they’re directed at – when you make them you aren’t just insulting the person you’re directing them at. However, Franken having written a policy-focused political comedy book in the 1990s that also had some fatphobic bullshit, doesn’t make him an “insult comic.” The distinction made below between Franken and Don Rickles seems useful here.

        Semi-relatedly, if we’re now blaming entertainers who got elected to office for paving the way for the rise of Trump, what about Reagan? Or Schwarzenegger, or Jesse Ventura?

        • brad

          Yep, we all learn with time and I suspect that even without being a Senator today Franken would have found a different title and occasional focus, but it’s not wrong to say it was wrong.

        • Richard Hershberger

          You forgot Sonny Bono, whatshisname who played Gopher, and going back a few decades, George Murphy. And probably a few more I forgot.

          For all that Republicans like to whinge about the Democratic Party and Hollyweird, they are the ones with a history of getting all tingly in the nether regions (take your pick which) at the prospect of voting for an actor.

          Are there any Democratic politicians apart from Franken who come from the entertainment business? I can’t think of any. And Franken turns out to be a policy wonk.

          • Hogan

            whatshisname who played Gopher

            Fred Grandy. I hate myself for knowing this.

            Are there any Democratic politicians apart from Franken who come from the entertainment business?

            Helen Gahagan.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Pink down to her underwear!

            • Richard Hershberger

              Helen Gahagan.

              Good catch: a name I only know from Tom Lehrer. Looking her up, I am quite enchanted to learn that her one Hollywood is where the expression “She who must be obeyed” comes from, and that she had a long-lasting affair with Representative Lyndon Johnson.

          • DrS

            Cooter was a Dem, although he’s pretty conservative.

          • randy khan

            It may depend on what you think of as the entertainment business. Bill Bradley and Tom McMillen were basketball players before they entered politics. Heath Shuler was an NFL quarterback before he was elected to the House.

            Jerry Springer was the mayor of Cincinnati, but I think that was before he had his show.

            Steve Peace, a long-time Democratic state senator in California, was a screenwriter and an actor (and his credits include Attack of the Killer Tomatoes).

    • JustRuss

      Indeed. Sure, Franken’s not above insulting people, ie Lying Liars and Big Fat Idiot. But it’s not the foundation of his humor.

      • hamletta

        Exactly. Don Rickles is an insult comic. Al Franken is not.

        • Rickles for Senate!

          • timb

            Trump without the violence

            • Richard Hershberger

              By all accounts, Rickles is a really nice guy, beloved by everyone who know him. I think this is a big part of why his shtick works. There is a huge difference between playing grossly offensive and being grossly offensive. On some level, you have to let it through that this is an act. Otherwise people will simply be offended. Exhibit A: Andrew Dice Clay.

          • JustRuss

            Hockeypucks of the world unite!

      • timb

        Weirdly enough if you read his books, policy was the foundation of his humor.

        I LOVED his books

        • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

          “Why Not Me?” is an overlooked gem. It’s probably funnier that he’s a Senator.

          • Jordan

            “Why not me?” is fucking hilarious.

            • Fake Irishman

              “We are now a two-car campaign!”

            • Fake Irishman

              … and what’s so great about it is its insight into little quirks of laws that are so important for industries I recall his entire “campaign” was about eliminating a requirement that only banks could own ATMs, which got him the backing of the insurance industry and other heavies wanting to get a piece of lucrative ATM fees.

              It kind of is an interesting connection to realize that the comedian who understood enough about politics and policymaking to mock that sort of thing was the Freshman Senator on the banking committee making some really interesting contributions to Dodd-Frank (e.g. he and his staff came up with a really innovative way to connect ratings agencies with finance firms in such a way to ensure that ratings agencies would actually have an incentive to evaluate firms’ mortgage-backed securities honestly and not exaggerate their quality.)

  • Peterr

    I have this vision of an SNL skit this fall, where Stuart Smalley counsels Fake Donald Trump on how to have more self-esteem.

  • CrunchyFrog

    The two things that could have prevented the blowout loss in 2010 were, in order of importance:

    1) Fix the economy sooner
    2) Provide a messaging campaign to counter the GOP message campaign

    (2) may not be obvious to political news junkies, but in mainstream low-information-voter America two of the right wing’s most strident anti-Obama messages successfully seeped into the public consciousness. First: that Obama and the Democrats were giving away all kinds of free money to the “undeserveds” and causing the deficit to skyrocket as a result. Look, I know all the arguments showing this was bullcrap, but unfortunately a lot of low-info in-between voters heard this and bought into it. Of course, decades of GOP propaganda about the “tax and spend” Democrats, etc., had laid the groundwork that made these messages easier. And decades of the Democrats not actually fighting these perceptions and in many cases buying into them. Second, while the Democrats were ultimately able to get all of the Democrats in the Senate to vote for ACA they again lost the messaging campaign about what ACA did.

    (1) is more important and is the single biggest, fairest indictment of the Obama administration and, to a large degree, Senate leadership. The idea that “no one could have known” in January 2009 that a bigger stimulus was needed (and to a large degree a different kind, one with fewer tax breaks and more projects with high economic multipliers) is just bullshit – a lot of influential people did know and screamed it at the time. The idea that “this was the best we could do” is questionable given that once authorized, additional funding could be passed through reconciliation, hence not subject to filibuster.

    But even if we accept that, ok, in February the Democrats weren’t going to pass a bigger stimulus, by July it was damn clear that the economy was even worse than they’d feared and more was going to be needed. At the bare minimum they should have at least tried for more – go on TV to ask for more, etc. Instead, the administration public statements throughout 2009 about the economy were like Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House saying “all is well” while destruction rained around him. Finally, in December Obama hosted a “jobs summit” with CEOs – resulting in nothing. It can be argued that by December it was too late to affect the economy in time for the election, but even recognizing the problem publicly and taking more action would have helped at election time.

    We can only hope that if the Democrats get lucky enough to win both houses and the Presidency again they will be prepared for the legislative and messaging fights ahead.

    • Captain Oblivious

      The two things that could have prevented the blowout loss in 2010 were, in order of importance:

      0.1) Get out the fucking vote
      0.2) Make sure there are strong candidates in all races

      1) Fix the economy sooner
      2) Provide a messaging campaign to counter the GOP message campaign

      FTFY

      The Dems’ #1 problem in many states, including here in Florida, is they’re fucking inept at running campaigns. We can’t even find candidates for some state-level races.

      • NonyNony

        And your 0.1 and 0.2 points are exactly lined up with my idea below. Dems can GOTV when it’s a national election, they’re pathetic at it in other elections. It’s time to bite the bullet and go all-in on running off-year elections as if they were national elections. Because at this point they basically are.

        • Steve LaBonne

          And I would sign up for recurring $$ donations if they built a credible organization for doing that. (And volunteer as well after I retire- as a civil servant I can’t do it now.)

          • NonyNony

            The problem seems to be:

            a) Candidates at the national level from marginal districts always seem to overestimate their ability to run a local campaign that “threads the needle” between them being a Democrat and them being “not that kind of Democrat”. They are wrong – those kinds of campaigns stopped being effective in the 1990s – but for some reason they still try it.

            and

            b) The state-level Democratic Party apparatus mostly sucks across most states. Part of this is due to the fact that some states never had a good Democratic party apparatus to begin with, while others have been systematically destroyed by various Republican initiatives[*]. Most of them seem to be little feifdoms that are somehow able to coordinate during a presidential election year – possibly because of the additional funding that presidential elections bring in – but then fall apart in the off cycles.

            [*] term limits, for example, have destroyed the Ohio Democratic Party apparatus in ways that I have to assume are an accidental bonus to Republicans because I can’t believe they gamed out the 12-dimensional chess that would have been required to predict just how much damage they would do to Democrats and how beneficial they would be to Republicans.

      • Phil Perspective

        The Dems’ #1 problem in many states, including here in Florida, is they’re fucking inept at running campaigns. We can’t even find candidates for some state-level races.

        It’s certainly that way all across the old confederacy. The state parties are almost uniformly a joke. And often times the candidates they do recruit are even a bigger joke than the state parties.

      • TheTragicallyFlip

        Obama firing the 50 state organizers brought on by Howard Dean as DNC Chair and after winning, sending home the “Obama For America” volunteer army he’d assembled during the 2008 campaign seems especially relevant here.

        The Democratic party sucks at mobilizing votes because powerful actors in the party choose to have it that way. Why they do that is another question, but some set of institutional incentives seems to make them want this (even Dean doing the 50 state thing was widely opposed at the time by other party powerbrokers).

        We could also talk about candidate selection by the DCCC/DSCC being about Washington Consensus ideology not what will play well in a given district to win.

        • PJ

          Can someone verify happened to OFA post-2008? Some people say they were working for years afterwards, others think Obama told everyone to go home.

          • Rob in CT

            Second this question. I’ve seen the same opposing claims.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The problem is that 1)ARRA could perhaps have been marginally better but no stimulus that could have conceivably improved the economy enough to materially affect the 2010 elections could have passed Congress and 2)there’s no way in hell any messaging campaign could have produced the kind of swing that would have been necessary for the Democrats to retain the House.

      Maybe the Democrats could have taken actions that reduced the magnitude of the defeat, but the were not holding the House in 2010, period, any more than John McCain could have won in 2008 with better messaging and a better VP pick.

      • timb

        Exactly. That was a 63 seat loss. Better commercials wouldn’t help. Only the return of the 2008 electorate would have mattered and it wasn’t gonna turn up, because it was a once in a 30 year occurrence. For God’s sake, he won Indiana and that won’t happen again forever

        • Pat

          Nancy traded her Speakership for health care.

          • Lee Rudolph

            In the good old days, a couple of chickens would have sufficed!

          • Scott Lemieux

            Nancy traded her Speakership for health care.

            No, she didn’t. Had any of Obama, Ried or Pelosi been dumb enough to take the advice of people like Rahm and Barney Frank they would have sacrificed health care and Pelosi would have lost her speakership anyway.

          • TheTragicallyFlip

            I don’t think that’s what happened, but a good trade if so.

            • Fake Irishman

              ….and a huge (though not big enough) stimulus with a $90 billion clean energy program and sorely needed investments in transit, intercity rail, road repair, clean water, clean air, and toxic waste clean-up and , student loan reform, Pell grant expansion, tighter credit-card regulations, comprehensive financial reform with a consumer protection bureau, the end of the ban on gays in the military, a large food safety bill, better wilderness protection, the expansion of CHIP, Lilly Ledbetter, among other things

              Now, I would have liked to have added the Waxman-Markley Climate protection bill, a five-year comprehensive transportation bill, some form the the Employee Free Choice Act and ENDA to the list, but even with the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, it was one of the most productive Congresses in U.S. history, alongside with those in 1965-66, 1933-38, Reconstruction and 1861-62 when the Confederates took their ball and committed treason, leaving the group that remained the ability to pass a generation’s worth of critical legislation regarding internal improvements.

              So even if it did cost the Democrats the House in 2010 (and I agree with Scott that it didn’t), but Pelosi got a darn fine price for her speakership. She’s one of the most effective Speakers in history.

      • random

        Also, the larger trend of the mid-term demographics becoming more and more Republicany was observable before Obama showed up.

      • TheTragicallyFlip

        “but no stimulus that could have conceivably improved the economy enough to materially affect the 2010 elections could have passed Congress”

        We’re talking about Feb 2009 here, where Obama is at ~70% approval. Was the GOP really going to stop a $1.2T stimulus? I think Snowe et al were going to cut $50B from whatever Obama asked for to prove their fiscal bonafides but ultimately let it through.

        But even if McConnell can maintain perfect caucus discipline, fine, let them demand the stimulus be under $1B and blame them ceaselessly for 2 years when growth is weak/slow.

        Everything we’ve seen from inside the admin on this subject says that with a few marginalized exceptions, they thought what they got was more than enough, and never seriously considered asking for more either initially or later. Obama wasn’t even presented the >$1T stimulus option, it was cut from the menu.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Was the GOP really going to stop a $1.2T stimulus?

          Well, yes, of course, but as you’d know if you’d read Grunwald’s book or any other comprehensive reporting there’s also no way in hell that there was uniform Democratic support for a $1.2 T stimulus.

          But even if McConnell can maintain perfect caucus discipline, fine, let them demand the stimulus be under $1B and blame them ceaselessly for 2 years when growth is weak/slow.

          This just has no chance of being effective.

          I think Snowe et al were going to cut $50B from whatever Obama asked for to prove their fiscal bonafides but ultimately let it through.

          Nope. Not only did they want to cut the number, they clearly had an upper limit and also did further substantive damage (getting more tax cuts, for example.) The idea that they would have voted for a trillion dollar stimulus had Obama just asked for it is just entirely unfounded.

          • TheTragicallyFlip

            I followed this closely at the time and don’t recall any bright lines being drawn. Other inside reporting since says Obama’s team figured the economy would rebound on its own and the stimulus was just insurance/padding. They were delusional and the too-small stimulus has little to do with GOP opposition, they didn’t even ask and didn’t think they needed it. That there was even a $500B package presented to Obama as an option speaks to this.

            Hell, they could have asked for $990B or $950B instead of $850 if they knew they needed more than they could get.

            • Fake Irishman

              Grunwald said they started a bit smaller with the thought that Congress would do what it always did: add money and projects to the bill (which would be great!) Instead, the GOP coalesced around blocking it, and the Maine moderates, Snowe and Collins set the arbitrary ceiling of $800 billion.

    • NonyNony

      I think that 1 is incredibly important regardless of whether they were trying to win an election or not.

      But 2 runs afoul of the fact that Democratic politicians and both the federal and state-level Democratic parties refuse to treat off-year elections as national elections. I do not understand why this is – Democrats win when the elections are national, they lose when the elections are local. It seems like what you want to do is treat those off-year elections like the ones you win not like the ones you lose

      A national message, with the President as the leader of the party out there stumping and cutting ads. I know that saying that the President should be in constant campaign mode in addition to all of their job duties is stupid, but as Donald Rumsfeld might have said “we go into elections with the electoral system we have, not the one we wish we had.”

      • Steve LaBonne

        In 2010 all the chickenshits were busy running away from the President as fast as they could. The only silver lining is that many of them got what they deserved.

        • timb

          Because the shape of the electorate was obvious

          • Exactly. NonyNony’s comment gets cause and effect reversed.

            Democrats run national campaigns in presidential years because they know there will be an electorate that will reward them for doing so.

            • NonyNony

              I get that that’s what they believe, and I think it was true up through the 1990s.

              I don’t think it’s true anymore. I think that the only way Democrats are going to win in off-year elections is to invest in a massive GOTV structure. Running local campaigns where you’re hoping that name recognition and goodwill with the voters will help you retain your seat is a losing strategy.

              (As to the mechanism for why I think this stopped working in the 90s – Democrats who grew up in the Depression era started dying off. They were a reliable source of Democratic votes up until the 90s. Now Republicans are benefiting from the fact that older voters turnout themselves at election time without any help because the “Silent Generation” is far more Republican than the “Greatest Generation” was. So what worked then won’t work now and they need to do something different. And that something is G.O.T.F.V.)

        • Phil Perspective

          And who were those chickenshits in 2010? Clowns that Rahm Emanuel, you might have heard of him, recruited to run!! Almost all Blue Dogs and New Dems. So yes, Rahmbo deserves a lot of the blame for that.

          • I think this is backwards. The Blue Dogs and New Dems, horrible as they were, were swept into the election in 2008 on a wave of pro-Democratic fervor in areas that had previously been purple to red. In the 2010 election cycle, in which Republicans were on a revenge mission and democratic voters were complacent, they were swept out of power again and replaced with actual republicans because that is what their voting districts really supported. More progressive or bluer dems wouldn’t have gotten in in the first place, or would have been swept out too. Look at Massachusetts, for example. The right wing was apeshit after the Obama election and money poured in here for Scott Brown. And democratic voters were lazy and wanted a “perfect” person and failed to support the democratic candidate. That’s not because she was a terrible candidate (though she was) its because people who are angry and filled with hate are better voters than people who have just won a major presidential election.

            • Rob in CT

              Yeah, this. The Blue Dogs sucked, but the alternative was not pure progressives but Republicans.

              • kped

                The Blue Dogs showed how much better at politics Pelosi is then…nearly everyone. She got them to vote against their futures all the time. Boehner and Ryan can’t get their trouble makers to vote for things that are 99% in their favor.

                (well, that says either Pelosi is just that good, or the blue dogs weren’t as crazy as the tea party. Probably a bit of both to be honest).

                • humanoid.panda

                  I think the Phil Perspective view of Democratic politics can summed up thus:
                  1. Democratic Elites are Quislings for giving up on the 50 State Strategy.
                  2. Democratic Elites are Quislings for recruiting Blue Dogs and moderates to run in red states and districts.

                  Each of these deep thoughts is problematic, to say the least, but to hold them concurrently you have to be republican state senator level stupid.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  I think the Phil Perspective view of Democratic politics can summed up thus:
                  1. Democratic Elites are Quislings for giving up on the 50 State Strategy.
                  2. Democratic Elites are Quislings for recruiting Blue Dogs and moderates to run in red states and districts.

                  The number of people online who 1)talk a lot about being upset that the 50 state strategy was abandoned and 2)have any idea what it was would appear to be a null set.

                • I’m in the set!

                  Of course, I think you have to be smart about it, but I think you should have party infrastructure everywhere and each state party should have plans to take advantage of key opportunities that may arise as well as doing long slow work.

                  Politicians can be sticky. If you have a wave that gets you a senator in a generally red state that gives you at least 6 years and sometimes a career plus potent ion to put some pressure on the cheap in an opponent’s safe state.

            • TheTragicallyFlip

              Even accepting this (I don’t fully*) Rahm did his damndest to make sure even deep blue districts got shitty neoliberal candidates.

              * Yeah, like Alan Grayson lost his red district in 2010, but his blue dog peer in the next district lost by even more than he did, so it really doesn’t seem like voters are looking that closely at how liberal/conservative the Democrat is in those situations like activists do.

    • JustRuss

      Regarding number (1), don’t forget that one of Obama’a goals was to get the Republicans to play nice. We laugh now, but in 2009 that didn’t seem exceptionally delusional, especially in certain quarters of the Beltway bubble. And that meant a watered-down stimulus. Didn’t work out, of course, but at the time “compromise with Republicans so they’ll be willing to work with us” seemed sort of reasonable.

      Whether a larger stimulus would have turned things around fast enough to impact the 2010 elections is also a fair question.

      • Scott Lemieux

        And that meant a watered-down stimulus.

        1)Um, again, Al Franken was not in the Senate when ARRA was passed, and Specter wasn’t a Democrat yet. Getting Republican support for the ARRA was not some fetish on Obama’s part; it was absolutely necessary.

        2)Even if Democrats did have 60 seats, it’s pretty clear that there weren’t anywhere close to 60 Democratic votes for a trillion-dollar stimulus.

        • timb

          There are, indeed, any number of written reports about the administration being desperate to keep the stimulus under the trillion dollar mark, just because of the optics.

          • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

            Those “optics” were essential for a lot of GOP & moderate Dem votes. $1T was a specific deal breaker.

            • ….as demonstrated by the Republicans’ adoption of the term “trillion-dollar stimulus” as their talking point about the $787 billion stimulus.

              • JKTH

                Yeah (A) the “optics” were incredibly stupid both in foresight and hindsight and (B) I’m not sure how much of a deal breaker it actually was. Were those Dems really willing to let Great Depression 2 happen on their watch over optics?

                • Not, not “Yeah.”

                  Most people who watched the episode closely don’t share your doubts about whether or not the Trillion word would have been a dealbreaker. As you may have noticed, the bill both (A) passed and (B) wasn’t a trillion dollars, at a time when the bill’s opponents had adopted “trillion dollar stimulus bill” as their talking point. Their doing so supports, not refutes, Dr. James’ point.

                  The notion that there was money left on the table is one that requires some evidence. When a bill just barely passes after a great deal of controversy, the smart conclusion is that a more ambitious bill would have failed.

                  And, once again, the Recovery Act required Republican votes, not just Democratic ones, because Franken hadn’t been seated and Specter hadn’t yet switched.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  The notion that there was money left on the table is one that requires some evidence. When a bill just barely passes after a great deal of controversy, the smart conclusion is that a more ambitious bill would have failed.

                  Yup. I mean, it’s possible that some small amount of money is left on the table, but the idea that hundred of millions was left on the table is highly implausible on its face and contradicted by the best reporting on the ARRA’s passage.

                • Were those Dems really willing to let Great Depression 2 happen on their watch over optics?

                  Quite possibly.

                  Look at the EU.

                  Elites everywhere are in the grip of austerity insanity. No amount of evidence and no amount of suffering seems to shift this.

                  So, yeah, I don’t think they would have framed it that way, but of course the wobblers could convince themselves that it wasn’t necessary or wouldn’t help or would be harmful.

        • tsam

          1)Um, again, Al Franken was not in the Senate when ARRA was passed,

          This is not doing a good job of supporting the thesis that Franken is responsible for the rise of the Kardashian Overlords and also fruitcake.

          Just sayin’

      • Matt McIrvin

        Also, the Democratic majority elected in 2006-08 inevitably included a lot of really quite conservative Democrats in conservative districts. It was extremely hard to get them to agree to anything that wasn’t watered down.

        In the end this is just not a very left-wing country. It’s not “center-right” in the ridiculous modern sense of, say, Mitt Romney, but any Democratic Congressional majority will still necessarily involve some people who won’t play along with broad social-democratic initiatives.

        • Phil Perspective

          I think Sanders campaign is disproving that.

          • Someone is counting their chickens pretty early.

            • Yeah, Sanders 2016 is a point on an upward-sloping trend line. The movement and vision he’s championed will be stronger in 2020 than it was this year, just as it is stronger this year than in 2012.

              • humanoid.panda

                I think that Joe’s point is true, but note that even if Sanders is a viable candidate nationally, there are barely any Sanders Democrats running in safe, let alone swingie or red, districts.

              • Breadbaker

                Yes, Sanders is sucking up all the oxygen (and the money) for “Sanders Democrats” (which is, of course, semi-oxymoronic, since he’s never been a member of the party). If we know anything, it takes a lot of hard work and organization to lay a foundation for viable, reliable candidates even in left-leaning districts. Let alone to ensure that reliable outliers have dependable heirs available (see Rockefeller, Jay and Harkin, Tom). People bitch and moan about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and yes she controls a lot of money that she pisses away, but nobody is foreclosed from creating an alternative organization to groom and recruit candidates and present them to the DCCC as faits accomplis.

      • TheTragicallyFlip

        “that didn’t seem exceptionally delusional”

        I think it did to anyone who had been watching how McConnell and co behaved in the 2006-2008 congress under Democratic majorities. We even had McConnell quoted admitting that the plan was to oppose Obama at all costs. It was explicit, there was no intention to work with Obama or make deals.

        • humanoid.panda

          McConnel made his “our goal is to make Obama one term president” comments after the 2010 elections.

          • randy khan

            Actually, it was just before the elections, but you’re correct that it was after the ARRA and the ACA.

    • Warren Terra

      The idea that “no one could have known” in January 2009 that a bigger stimulus was needed .. is just bullshit

      This really isn’t the relevant question. The economy was much worse in January 2009 than the incoming administration was told a couple of months earlier, it was much worse than people were generally being told, and it was worse than anyone actually knew in January 2009. This is only tangentially connected to the debate you confuse it with, ie what the proper size of the stimulus was. People like Krugman looked at the same statistics the Obama administration had and said we needed a bigger, different stimulus – but, critically, that’s doesn’t mean they knew just how bad the economic situation really was, it means they had different economic ideas.

      Also: the ARRA wasn’t the size it was because of particular, mistaken views about the state of the economy, nor even because of particular, possibly mistaken policy prescriptions given what was believed about the state of the economy. Instead, the size of the ARRA was determined by politics, and the need to coddle some especially dumb senators. It had to be held below a particular benchmark figure not because of any misapprehensions about either the state of the economy or economic theory, but because some Senators thought that figure sounded too big. Similarly it was less efficiently spent than was desirable because it had to pass the Senate.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        (Keyneisan hat on)

        Technically, even if it’s not efficient, it’s just good that it gets spent. Which is, of course, an impossible thing to get across to the bonehead caucus. Just on a gut and moral/religious worldview, the very concept of Keynesianism stirkes them as wrong. They think this is all because we have all been sinful and bad and must sit around and suffer for 5-15 years and wait for The Economy (and/or Great Pumpkin) to come back.

        • JustRuss

          In this case, “not efficient” refers to the tax cuts included in the stimulus, which for the most part don’t get spent, they get hoovered up by the one percent and squirreled away. I do like the rest of your comment.

          • JKTH

            …the tax cuts in the stimulus didn’t go to the one percent.

            • Rob in CT

              I remember, back when Conservatives ran around complaining about Obama raising their taxes, pointing out over and over that no, in fact he (or rather Congressional Dems + him) cut them – the 2% employee-side FICA cut. Which was a major chunk of the tax cutting in the stimulus (some of the other tax cuts were, IIRC, tax cuts that are routinely re-upped, so not really new/special, like adjusting the AMT).

              Given that damn near everyone with a job pays FICA taxes, it was a very broad-based cut and thus one of the most stimulative tax cuts possible.

              • brendalu

                Except at least in Illinois, where they immediately raised the state income tax by the same amount.

                • Rob in CT

                  Well, that’s the thing. Lots of states raised taxes b/c unlike the feds, they can’t just make money. CT taxes went up too. And that all would’ve happened regardless of what the feds did (indeed, it would’ve been worse, as a lot of ARRA funds plugged state-level budget holes).

                  So people might’ve been right in the sense that they personally might have been paying more in taxes, but it wasn’t Obama or the federal-level Democrats’ fault. State-level, maybe.

                  That’s hard to explain to folks who don’t want to understand it, of course.

              • Fake Irishman

                … and adjusting the AMT (which really has very little stimulative power in comparison to infrastructure, direct aid to states, or FICA tax cuts (which were funded by the treasury, not Social Security’s trust fund)), was the price of the Maine Republicans.

    • Rob in CT

      I really don’t think passing a slightly larger stimulus would’ve saved them, nor would “better messaging.” Both would have been nice, and would likely have helped at the margin (maybe they lose 55 seats instead of 63, or something like that. Which is worthwhile!).

      A significant portion of the D coalition sits on their hands in mid-term elections. Changing that is, quite clearly, hard! I’m not sure what would work. I’m fine with the idea that the Dems should have better message discipline and run “national” campaigns and all that – though cat herding will be required for that. I’m just not sure it’ll do all that much.

      For better or worse, the D coalition is younger, poorer and browner (and larger!) than the R coalition. Those demographic groups have, as I understand it, *always* turned out at lower levels, particularly in mid-terms. In times when they’re not clustered on one side, this doesn’t do all that much. In times when they are (like now), you get a crazy see-saw effect.

      • One reasonable point made in the voting threads is that voting isn’t cost less and, indeed, the U.S. Makes it rather expensive and more expensive of or worse off groups. Having to take a day off to vote is brutal for many people even when it isn’t job threatening. Taking the day off in a gerrymandered district is esp pointless.

        States which hold off off year elections for anything are engaged in a blatant form of voter suppression.

    • JG

      There was mass hysteria about spending and THE DEFICIT in 2010 (that the media sadly fueled) so if anything a bigger stimulus would have been politically worse in the short term.

      I don’t know if a bigger stimulus was possibly but it would have been impossible to pass one without substantial tax breaks. Alternatively you can say Obama is an eeevil neoliberal which is why he didn’t pass a bigger stimulus (rolls eyes).

      The real problem is that Dems suck locally and midterms are terrible for us. We need better candidates/organization and our goddamn voters need to get off their asses for midterms.

    • tsam

      1) Fix the economy sooner

      That’s not really how economies work–especially in ones that are more on the market side than the planned side like ours. Economic stimulus has been proven to work, but the results vary due to the millions of variables at play.

      2) Provide a messaging campaign to counter the GOP message campaign

      Yeah, but you’re working against a well-entrenched belief among Americans that (1) a federal budget works like a household or small business budget–despite that fact that Econ 101 would make it clear that they’re not comparable in any way and (2) that government spending is BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD. I don’t know why, but it’s BAD BAD BAD. Those silly beliefs predate the right wing media machine and are likely never going away.

      • kped

        Yup. One variable people aren’t mentioning: The world economy was in shambles as well, so that would always be a drag on the US economy in 2009/2010, the height of the recession.

        Also, the stimulus was a multi year program. Adding 300 Billion or $500 billion to it would be maybe $50 to $100 billion per year more. Are there projects to spend that on? I’d say yes (at the very least this money could have went directly to states to keep government employment levels up…state austerity was probably the biggest drag on the economy. Public employment dropped huge under Obama, but mostly due to state budget problems), but there are no guarantees this would have made life noticeably better overall in 2010.

        • Scott Lemieux

          but there are no guarantees this would have made life noticeably better overall in 2010.

          This too. Even a better stimulus almost certainly wouldn’t have improved the economy enough to flip the 2010 midterms.

          • los

            Why is Trump again taking too long to make america great again?

  • JohnT

    Following Kraushaar’s logic, on no account is meaningful legislation ever to be passed. If it is illegitimate to pass your headline legislation when you have convincingly won the Presidency, 59-60 Senate seats and a House majority then when is it legitimate?
    I’d love to know the total numbers of votes the Dems elected in those contests had versus Mitch McConnell’s friends and colleagues – I am sure it was a lot more.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Following Kraushaar’s logic, on no account is meaningful legislation ever to be passed.

      Add “by a Democratic Congress,” and you’ve got it!

  • The two things that could have prevented the blowout loss in 2010

    Nothing and nothing?

    (1) is more important and is the single biggest, fairest indictment of the Obama administration and, to a large degree, Senate leadership. The idea that “no one could have known” in January 2009 that a bigger stimulus was needed (and to a large degree a different kind, one with fewer tax breaks and more projects with high economic multipliers) is just bullshit – a lot of influential people did know and screamed it at the time.

    Two important things:

    1) The damage *was* underestimated, and by a lot, by the BLS. This isn’t incompetence or anything…accurate numbers take time.

    2) Summers et al believed they couldn’t get significantly more in one chunk (but maybe they could get more later). That wasn’t bonkers at the time.

  • Captain Oblivious

    Of all the GOP whines I’m tired of hearing, “The Democrats made us do it” easily tops the list.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Well, we did burn the pot roast. And then we fell down the stairs. And walked into a door.

      • Breadbaker

        And are no longer as young as the cute girl next door.

  • [Hails of derisive laughter. –ed.]

    But Republicans expressed their willingness to cooperate with Obama before he – I can’t do it with a straight face.

  • BGinCHI

    So National Journal has a guy who is even dumber than Ron Fournier?

    Is their Human Resources department staffed by bonobos?

    • JustRuss

      In defense of the bonobos, Kraushaar is clearly a competent poo-flinger.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Is their Human Resources department staffed by bonobos?

      Hmmm… I think the interviewing process could be a lot more fun.

  • DrDick

    This of course ignores the fact that the GOP went ballistic bonkers the moment the *N-CLANG* won the election and publicly vowed to block everything.

    • ColBatGuano

      Yeah, the fact that Obama doesn’t match the complexion of every President in U.S. history has a bit to do with our current situation. While most of the Tea Party organizing was astroturf, there were a significant number of old folks pissed off that whitey wasn’t running things.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      I have lately consulted my fuzzy memories of 2007, when we first started to see the freakout brewing. And I think normal people (you know, us guys, totes normals) looked at it and thought, “Really? You’re going to lose your shit over this? In 2007?”

      We had no idea.

      • tsam

        Yeah, and every time I thought they had taken the racism as far as they thought they could without endangering themselves, they went flying right by that boundary at 100MPH and kept on going. And then they act like they’re shocked when dirtbag racist sloppy fucking pig ends up with the presidential nomination 8 years later. I guess that’s Al Franken’s fault somehow–or those 312 total jerks in Minnesota.

      • Rob in CT

        In 2007, after you fucked everything up?!?!?!

        It was, at the time, to me, amazing.

        But now? I look back and laugh at me.

  • bobbo1

    And, as Ezra points out, the Republicans were thrilled to rile up the base in the form of the Tea Party, thrilled that it helped them get their big win in 2010. That they now (pretend to) regret this is absurd.

    • timb

      I thought Ezra’s best point and one not emphasized enough, was how John Boehner KNEW hw wouldn’t be able to overturn Obamacare

      • tsam

        Right, but that sure didn’t save that chicken from almost daily fuckings.

      • kped

        Boehner’s problem was he assumed everyone was as cynical as him, that the show votes were enough, because this was clearly obvious. It probably did shock him to learn that it wasn’t just the rube voters, but actual elected officials, who thought that by stamping their feet enough, Obama would reverse his health care law.

  • CaptainBringdown

    Ima­gine, for a mo­ment, the state of the 2008 election without the Iraq war and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression in the equa­tion. Democrats could have run against Bush’s other failures with some success. But without the gal­van­iz­ing op­pos­i­tion to Bush’s greatest failures, Demo­crats would likely have nar­rowly won con­trol of Con­gress and been denied a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate necessary to pass the ACA.

    Thanks, Franken Bush!

    ETA — I mean, we could work backwards and play this stupid game all day long. Yeesh.

    • Anna in PDX

      Frankenbush is a great band name.

      • Lee Rudolph

        You will not, perhaps, be surprised that Rule 34 applies.

  • rdennist

    I love the part where the problem is by cutting uninsurance, medical inflation and doing it on the cheap, the President didn’t solve a ameliorate a large problem with many effects (including deficit projections, Paul Ryan). No he angered Republicans.

    Republicans, you’re not there to nurse your feelings, you’re there to govern.

    On the other hand, this line is perfect no matter who is nominated.

    “forcing them to nominate an ignorant, bigoted clown.”

  • j_doc

    Sociopathy all the way down.

    It’ll be a while before we have good numbers on lives and QALYs saved by the ACA, but it’s a pretty sure bet it’ll be more than 0. I’d guess thousands per year at least. So according to his guy, all those people should have died/gotten sick in order to…? Have politer Republican cocktail parties?

    It’s like the “we’ll make Flint residents pay for 35% of their poisoned water because reasons”. Health care and clean water are seen as cookies, not fundamental human rights. But I can’t imagine they would apply that reasoning to their own health care or clean water, so the only reasonable conclusion is that they think large swaths of people around them are not really human. Gee, maybe that’s the root cause of Trump, not the ACA.

    • David Hunt

      It’ll be a while before we have good numbers on lives and QALYs saved by the ACA, but it’s a pretty sure bet it’ll be more than 0.

      Allow me to add a bit of anecdata to the discussion. I’m sure it saved the life of my best friend. She has health insurance because of the ACA. If she didn’t have that, she wouldn’t have been getting regular checkups. Those regular checkups found a tumor. Her health insurance meant that she could get it removed without her and her husband losing there house (which is also their place of business and, thus, a their major source of income).

      Since the thing was “benign” (i.e. it wasn’t throwing cancer cells into other parts of her body, just growing to a scary size in one place), I think she’d be alive right now without insurance, but I’m sure that it would have gotten her eventually if she didn’t have insurance.

    • Breadbaker

      The human right, of course, is the equity in AIG, Citi, JPMC, etc. that was saved by the bailout package, without any adverse consequences other than borrowing at significantly below market rates from the Fed, and two full Presidential terms of essentially zero interest rates, that can then be lent to consumers at credit card rates (with the bankruptcy “reform” limits on their ability to discharge their debt) and God forbid they ever have to follow the rules of mortgage adjustment (or will just use the shareholders’ money they aved to pay fines for blatantly violating it).

  • Warren Terra

    This seems somehow relevant to this display of Republican tribalism, stupidity, and eventual self destruction:
    Lawmakers Chug Raw Milk to Celebrate Legalizing Raw Milk, Are Mysteriously Overcome With Stomach Illness

    • JustRuss

      And here I thought those “Obama should oppose drinking bleach” jokes were over-the-top.

      • Rob in CT

        Seriously, it’s time. Do it, Obama.

    • heckblazer

      Huh. All the people I personally know who support raw milk are Democrats or Greens.

      • There are fringe groups on the right into this sort of thing–Ron Paul and John Birch types primarily.

        • Nubby

          Don’t forget the La Leche League.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Are they Larouchites?

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Have they formed a dark alliance with the Al Jaffee Blecch League?

      • Warren Terra

        The ailing legislators quoted in the linked news story (not the Gawker link I posted, the story it links to) are Republicans. But, yeah, I could see where this issue could unite anti-technology idiots of the left with anti-sanity morons of the right.

      • tsam

        I would bet there’s a lot of overlap with anti-vax, anti-GMO, Gluten-is-poison, and other psychotic, superstitious dummies.

        FFS one of my friends keeps posting shit in facebook that insists marijuana cures cancer!

        • The Dark God of Time

          It’s good for relieving the nausea and loss of appetite due to cancer treatments, which in some cases may be the major factor in a cancer patients’ survival. But I’m not aware of any research outside of Petri dish experiments demonstrating direct cancer-fighting properties for MJ.

          • tsam

            They’re either legalization propaganda or wacky hippy homeopathic nonsense. They don’t even try to support the claims, they’re just looking for dingbats who don’t think about stuff before they share it.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Hmm…. so Bob Marley just wasn’t smoking enough of it. I see.

        • los

          posting anything on facebook cures something…

  • tsam

    This Obamacare thing sure has made a mess of this once fine nation.

  • AuBricker

    Well, it’s not like the Republicans ever elected an actor.

    Poor Josh Kraushaar would have blown a gasket had his own party ever elected, say, Ronald Reagan, Fred Thompson, Clint Eastwood, Fred Gopher Grandy, Sonny Bono, or Arnold Schwarzenegger to some state or federal office!

    • Breadbaker

      Grandy even attended the same college as Franken. They would have been together there for a year.

  • Rugosa

    Even if the assumptions here were true, the argument has an obvious problem, in that it amounts to a claim that the Democrats could maintain control of Congress as long as they never really did anything. This strategy is working quite well for the Rs, isn’t it? They have congress and most state goverments for the foreseeable future.

    • los

      Different ‘public service’ appeals to different voters (as fed by the ‘liberal’ msm)
      But actually, Republicans aren’t true do-nothings, because Republicans enact plutocrat welfare.

  • gusmpls

    Credit where it’s due. Kraushaar doesn’t assert that Franken’s win was illegitimate as many Minnesota wing nuts do.

  • Rob in CT

    Over at Outside the Beltway, during the various Debt Ceiling standoffs, I used to quote Lincoln:

    “You will rule or ruin, in all events.”

    Truly, they have become the Party of Calhoun.

    It’s not just the racism, though of course that’s a part of it. It’s the idea that the only way things can legitimately occur is if they agree to it. Thus, Democrats can win multiple elections, hold the WH, House, and a 60-seat Senate majority, but their doings aren’t legit. Nullification.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yeah, I talk about this in the “derisive laughter” link in the OP, but this idea that it was completely illegitimate for Democrats to pass legislation with a mere 60% supermajority is so idiotic. (It was also a common feature of the judicial attacks on the ACA.)

      • Rob in CT

        I googled “rule or ruin” to make sure I had it exactly right, and came across a 2013 post from you, with that as the title, making the same point. Hah. I didn’t post in that thread, either b/c I wasn’t around here yet or I just missed it. Right up my alley.

  • Area Man

    The Party of Personal Responsibility strikes again.

    This is yet another example of how Republicans expect our political culture to treat them as beyond moral accountability, as one would regard a virus or an earthquake. They just can’t help what they are! It must be the Democrats’ fault for inciting the Republicans to do stupid and evil things, and then for failing to stop them once they’ve riled them up. Amazingly, this is treated as a reason not to elect Democrats, while the more obvious solution is ignored.

    • los

      Also phrased, “The nine most terrifying words in TeaSpeak are: I’m Ronald Reagan, and I’m here to ‘help’ (you).”

      “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Reagan administration, and I’m here to help.”

      “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: We’re the Republican Party, and we’re here to help.”

      “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: We’re the Republicans, and we’re here to help ourselves.”

  • Dilan Esper

    A simple way to test these theories about liberals’ “culpability” for Trump is to reverse them.

    George W. Bush, after all, did exactly what they accuse Obama of doing– he got a ton of partisan stuff through, such as big tax cuts and his version of Medicare prescription drugs, based on his congressional majorities. He did manage to get some Democratic votes for his stuff, but it was a hugely partisan era. He made partisan Supreme Court appointments, pushed a partisan war, etc.

    Did liberals respond by voting for or supporting anything analogous to Trump? No. They supported normal, mainstream liberal candidates, went to anti-war and Occupy Wall Street marches, etc.

    It’s only the right that throws these sorts of tantrums.

    • los

      Yes, because politicians who don’t throw tantrums are ‘evil establishment insiders’.

  • Even if the assumptions here were true, the argument has an obvious problem, in that it amounts to a claim that the Democrats could maintain control of Congress as long as they never really did anything.

    Really? Seems to have worked pretty well for the Republicans.

    • tsam

      That’s only because they have their own media machine that brainwashes intellectually lazy or challenged (or just plain assholes) into believing that laying in the street and being a human speed bump in Congress IS doing something. It’s stopping a Kenyan Muslim Fascist Socialist Marxist Communist Muslim Usurper from turning America into a haven for ISIS and sharia law also aborting all the babies and making more black babies so they can all take over and kill all the white men and rape all the white women. It’s slavery, see?

      TL;DR: Republicans don’t have very many intelligent voters.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Seems to have worked pretty well for the Republicans.

      1)Uh, when they have control of either the federal government or state governments they do plenty of stuff. Horrible, horrible stuff. Residents of Kansas and Wisconsin and Louisiana would be surprised by your claims that Republicans don’t do anything when they control government. You also must have been asleep from 2001-2006 inclusive.

      2)But this is missing the point. Even if it was true that the Democrats can only maintain power if they never do anything, that’s a really stupid reason not to do anything. You get elected to do stuff.

      • Thrax

        Mostly agree, but their version of “doing stuff” is mostly “cut taxes and wait for nirvana to arrive,” with maybe a dash of “reward our cronies and slash funding for people who don’t vote for us.” But I think the real point here, as you say, is that you try to win elections in order to do stuff, not to position yourself to win the next election.

        I think it’s revealing that Kraushaar thinks the Democrats were stupid to pass health care reform because they would have done better in the 2010 elections. Even accepting that dubious premise…and then? What great things would they have been able to do with 220 seats in the House and 54 in the Senate in 2011-12? Avoided some stupid budget standoffs, but otherwise, with everything getting filibustered, the output looks a lot like the Congress we actually had.

        His assumption seems to be: you have power, and that’s an end in itself. And maybe it is if your view of the purpose of holding power is (1) to cut taxes and (2) keep the other guys from doing things (and, possibly, to undo the things the other guys have done, but that’s a bonus), but that’s not the way a party that cares about governing thinks.

  • Joe Bob the III

    To stick the insult comic and entertainer labels on Franken is in stark contrast to his actual political persona. I find there is actually disappointingly little comedic performance in Franken’s political style. There is room in political rhetoric for some biting humor. Franken has been so diligent at playing this straight that I think he has gone too far in the other direction.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Agreed. What’s he going to do,end his Senate career when he retires at age 89 by saying, “The Aristocrats!”

  • If you feel the need to include this in the opening paragraph of your article:

    No, that’s not a joke.

    It should be a warning to yourself that what you are writing is, in fact, a “joke”.

    • Scott Lemieux

      “No more questions about whether this is a joke.” [Reporters lower hands in unison]

  • Breadbaker

    Let’s posit the other direction here. President Sanders is elected but while he gets a small Democratic majority in the Senate, the House stays where it is and Speaker Ryan remains hostage to his “principles” and the Tea Party. So effectively nothing in passed in Congress (but we get an excellent Supreme Court justice to replace Nino).

    Now it’s 2018. Every legislative package on which Sanders was elected has been stymied. The Democrats literally cannot add to their Senate majority (look at this map). Indeed, they will likely lose a seat or two (Indiana, Montana, North Dakota). The 2010 gerrymander remains in place. How do you run that Congressional campaign?

    When the message from the other side is, “that socialist in office hasn’t accomplished squat; let’s keep it that way!”

    • los

      but in 2020
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_2020
      which
      1. will expose many red seats,
      2. and would be sanders reelection, with coattails,
      3. and those 9 years old (2011) gerrymandered redistricted districts, will have lost their gerrymander accuracy.
      4. and 2020 will be a census year, with redistricting in 2021.

    • Rob in CT

      Yeah, I’m thinking the Dems are fucked in 2018. Whether it’s President Hillary or President Bernie, btw.

      Somehow, they have to fire people up to vote our the obstructionist Republicans. Obama and the Dems in congress in his time have been unable to do this.

      I doubt Clinton would be able to do it. I doubt Bernie would be able to do it, though I guess I have some tiny hope that his unconventional nature might make it possible. Not much hope, just a fool’s hope…

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