Monday, December 14, 2009

Obama and the Democratic party

atthew Yglesias' disagrees with Matt Taibbi's critique of president Obama (and Brad DeLong agrees with Yglesias). Yglesias reads Taibbi's critique as "the latest [article] ... claiming everything in the world would be great if only Barack Obama were more left-wing." Yglesias goes on to say that, Taibbi's article "suffers from the same basic conceptual flaw as the vast majority of this literature—it ignores congress." Yglesias and DeLong are, however, missing Taibbi's point.

The point is not that things would be rainbows and unicorns if Obama were more left-wing. The point is that neither Obama nor the Democratic party are putting up a fight against reactionary and obstructionist members of congress. On the one hand, politics is the art of the possible; on the other hand, you don't know what's not presently possible until you try to fight for it and lose.

I think liberals and progressives would have been much happier if we had arrived at what we have now on the economy, jobs, health care, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, by losing a vigorous political fight instead of lying down and passively complying with the Ben Nelsons, the Olympia Snowes, and the <spits on floor> Joe Liebermans.

Would we have better bills from congress if the Democrats were actually fighting against the Republicans, if Obama were actually fighting against the Blue Dog Democrats? Perhaps not.

My grandfather used to curse any baseball player who took a called third strike: "We're not paying you to look at the ball!" There's no guarantee you'll get a hit if you take a swing, but you're guaranteed to not get a hit if you don't take a swing. We didn't elect Obama and give him a Democratic majority to look at the ball. Take a few swings, you bastards!


  1. Your grandfather anecdote brings up a really important point. Regardless of policy considerations, voters despise politicians that they perceive as weak. And the way the Democrats in the House and Senate behave--with the exception of a few sacked-up members like Grayson and Pelosi--is, and makes them look, like grotesque weaklings.

  2. In what sense do you consider Nancy "Impeachment is off the table" Pelosi to be "sacked up"?

  3. She is relatively sacked up with respect to Republicans. She doesn't fetishize "bipartisanship".

  4. I am soooo behind your thinking.

    I haven't said anything yet at my site to indicate that I've stopped supporting Obama due to his lie-down-and-take-what-you-think-you-cannot-change negotiating attitude yet, but I'm close.

    And it's not the "weakness" argument that motivates me. It's the "we are the majority now" argument that gets my blood flowing every time Lie-berman and the Rethugs grin on the tube as they win another concession - or make a further demand after going on record as only wanting "one more concession."

    Not yet as I've said. But I'm very close.

    And I don't see Nancy as very "sacked up," either - no matter that she does have her moments.

    Her personal details as to having financially benefitted from the wars, etc., have finished her with me.

    But that's me.


  5. The problem is that Democrats, being better people for the most part, than Republicans, negotiate in good faith and are honest about their motives and goals.

    Republicans do not do likewise.

  6. It is simply stupid to try to negotiate in good faith with those who have proven time and again that they are your enemies. There's no moral high ground to be had by showing intellectual charity to them.

  7. The GOP knows how to ruthlessly exploit power. The Dems do not, or at least refuse to. I wonder if it is because they simply have no spine or if it is because so many of them take the same corporate money as the GOP and fear losing it.


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