“I’ll vote for him – I’m just saying…” 76


Has anyone else had a conversation with another Obama supporter that includes the above sentence ?  This conversation occurred with my best friend over the weekend as we discussed our mutual candidate.  He has been supporting the man for longer than I, being too practical to support a firebrand like Kucinich.

Yet, based on “the moves” Barack has “been making” over the past few weeks, talking to him is like talking to a bottle of Prozac, a decided downer.  Anyone who may have read what I write here would know what my predictable response was to such doom and gloom pronouncements based on an incomplete understanding of the candidate.  I started to pick apart what it was that was worrying him about Obama’s recent statement and it came down to an incomplete understanding of the man and his positions, one fueled by a reliance on the corporate media for the underlying narrative.

My friend had read his book and looked at the website and had apparently watched speeches, yet he was unable to wrap his head around Barack’s recent policy positions.  I asked which ones.  He  said, “All of them, but especially Iraq.”  I asked which position he has changed, because as far back as I can find he has been advocating a slow, yet immediate, withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq at a pace of one to two brigades a month depending on actual conditions.

We were both in the military, so he knows as well as I do how big a pain in the ass it will be to get out of Iraq.  If Obama can accomplish it and not leave a smoking ruin in the wake of our departure it will be a huge feat.  If we leave a fully-functioning democracy, it will be a miracle of epic proportions.

I asked my friend if perhaps he was setting the bar too high for the man.  That if we expect Barack to never change his mind or tactics based on new or evolving information that we are placing inhumane limits on him.  What rational person doesn’t change their mind based on new or evolving facts?  What person can’t even admit for the possibility?  This was the gist of our conversation and it sort of ended without really making any headway on why the corporate media continues to misrepresent and twist Obama’s positions.

I also never really got a chance to explain why I think it is damaging for his supporters to use sentences like the one this blog is named after.  It’s not about my friend or any number of independents and democrats already voting for him.  It is about those would-be Obamicans.  They will  be the key players in our time with Barack at the helm of the nation.  We need a governing majority to make possible the changes we need.  We won’t get one if even Barack’s  earliest supporters let CNN and MSNBC and Fox continue to drive the narrative.

That’s the next conversation I am looking forward to having with my friend.  He is a smart and savvy guy.  I am hoping I can make him see the benefit of overwhelming confidence in our candidate as the formula for winning over the vast majority of reasonable conservatives that exist in this country.  We need to quite treating the republican faithful like the entire group are Bush dead-enders.

It is clear from the primary numbers that the game has changed.

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76 thoughts on ““I’ll vote for him – I’m just saying…”

  • dijamo

    Jason, I think would-be Obamacans and Independents would rather have a candidate that is not idealized to the point that his supporters can’t criticize his positions. Remember the kool-aid / Obamabots meme? Maybe the FISA issue has helped to blunt some of that criticism – that his supporters are willing to question him when he takes a stand that is against what they believe in and STILL be able to walk away saying I’ll support him regardless even though he is not without flaws.

    I’ll be honest that one of my worst fears was that when Obaam began to move to the center, some of his new idealistic voters who bought in to the “not a politician” theme would not be willing to stand with him when he made pragmatic policy shifts. That has not happened to a large degree here. People were angry and disappointed, but they still recognized that Obama is about more than one issue.

    The FISA debate, as heated and angry as it got, was helpful in the long run to have Obama be able to withstand fierce criticism from his supporters (which he had not had to face up to that point) and for his supporters to show that they are not following blindly. They expect much of him and while the FISA issue was a lost cause, Obama may take more caution in moving to the center on issues that strongly motivate his base in the future.

    Also – I think had Obama known in advance how hard the pushback would have been on FISA from democrats, he may have taken the other position. Having already said publicly he would voe for the bill, he could not then cave to the “liberals” and had to stand behind what I still believe was a poor and unprincipled decision. I’ll vote for him anyway, I’m just sayin’

    • Alex39

      I don’t happen to agree with dijamo about the FISA bill, but I agree with her 100% about the more important point. Dissent on the left is not damaging Obama, especially not dissent as mild as “I’m just sayin.”

      People have to feel comfortable “just sayin.”

      On a brighter note: I watched John McCain be interviewed by Meredith Vieira this morning, and it was hypnotically horrible. Afterward, when I turned to my spouse, all I could say was “tailspin.” He was talking over her in a rambling way, failing to answer the question, getting lost in the middle of his own sentences, stringing together incoherent phrases, and blinking too much, constantly. I’m actually starting to feel bad for the guy.

      • dijamo

        See what humor does? The John McCain limerick thread has you feeling badly for the putz. Someone needs a refresher on the battle midset:

        “We do not train to be merciful here. Mercy is for the weak. Here, in the streets, in competition: A man confronts you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy.” John Kreese, The Karate Kid

      • JasonEverettMiller

        The “I’m just saying….” is followed by an ellipsis, which in my friend’s case included every slanted media narrative out there. I think a lot of people think that criticism won’t hurt Obama.

        I disagree.

        The wrong kind of criticism or half-hearted support over some vague “disappointment” can definitely hurt Obama with convincing persuadable voters to give him a landslide governing majority in November.

        How can my friend hope to persuade anyone to vote for Barack if he is assuming the spin is actually the facts? That means Obama’s entire message is bullshit, but that’s OK because he is better than McCain. That will not give us the margin for victory that I think we need this year. The popular vote needs to mirror the landslide that is sure to take place in the electoral college. I think that sort of victory would show that the entire country, conservative and liberal, were ready to get to work and quite being divided over stupid shit.

        I would really like to wake up that Wednesday morning feeling that sort of thing was possible.

        • dijamo

          Obama’s not perfect, but he’s a million times better than McCain. You may have perceived Obama differently than some of his supporters in anticipating his pragmatic compromising nature, but many people did not. You may think FISA’s not a big shift, but other people disagree vehemently. Some folks thought he was going to take a stand, roll up into Washington and completely change how the game was played. He may still do that yet, but he needs to win the White House first to even try. An Obama supporter expressing vague disappointment at Obama is nullified by the outright fear and loathing and disgust with which many “just sayin” folks view McCain.

          “Yes I dislike what Obama did on this particular vote and he’s not perfect, but McCain on the other hand (insert all the reasons why McCain is a total asshat).” That conversation for me would more convincing if I was an undecided Obamacan or independent than asserting Obama’s has not moderated any of his positions in the general election.

        • sgt

          “That means Obama’s entire message is bullshit…”.

          How right you are! Tell me what you KNOW about him. Personally, I think he’s dangerous to our country. He will have all Americans supporting WORLD POVERTY…which is a nice dream, but it won’t raise standards…just lower those of the USA. (He’s already submitted this).

          Though I like the man, I think McCain would be chewed up and spit out by the ‘powers-that-be’. The only candidate whose is capable of handling the vultures is Hillary, so I’ll be doing a ‘write-in’ for her.

          It’s sad news when we, as Americans, have reached the place where we can only choose the lesser of evils!!!

          • JasonEverettMiller

            Tell me how you KNOW this crap about him? Prove it with facts. Links. Essays. Past behavior. Something beyond your own supposition.

        • Michael Powe

          Well, what part of his message is not “entirely bullshit”? His “universal” health plan is anything but. His 180 on FISA is well-documented. True, he wants to get troops out of Iraq, but he supports the use of private contractors like Blackwater. He’s engaged the status quo on Cuba, and calls Iran a “grave threat” to American security, one on a par with the old Cold War Soviet threat (a completely ludicrous rightwing talking point). He was against the death penalty, except when politically expedient to be for it. He was for gun control, except when it was politically expedient to be against it.

          It seems to me that basically, you’re asking/telling people to line up and drink the kook-aid because it’s the only way he can get elected. Really, what does that say about your candidate? That he’s so weak, that he has so little positive going for him, that the people who support him should not hold him accountable for his publicly-stated positions.

          It’s crap to call his FISA reversal a “media spin.” He threw the 4th amendment in the crapper because he figured by so doing, he’d gain more votes than he’d lose. It’s crap to call his reversal of position on the death penalty for baby rapers “media spin,” — it’s not “media spin,” it’s facts on the ground.

          If he can’t stand tall and defend liberty now, why on earth would you think that he is suddenly going to grow a pair on January 20, 2009? Why should he? You and millions of other Obama-bots have already stated that you’ll vote for him, regardless of his positions. He can do whatever he fricking wants. Criminy, if he advocated a nuclear attack against Iran, you’d vote for him. It’s a politician’s dream: absolutely no accountability required by his core constituency.

          He’s no modern ML King … he’s channelling Adam Clayton Powell.

          Thanks.

          mp

          • JasonEverettMiller

            I have refuted your crap comments before, point by point, and really feel no need to do so here. Needless to say you don’t give an accurate portrayal of either his positions or of the context in which those issues took place.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      I hear you on all those arguments – they are familiar and often stated at TPM – but again they are framed by some underlying “fact” that he has moved to the “center” on certain positions. I deny that as some sort of indisputable fact and attribute it to a lack of understanding of his original positions or perhaps a lack of context with regards to what we can hope to accomplish during one or two Obama terms.

      My main argument is that Obama was idealized not by the vast majority of his supporters (neither my friend nor I took that position, though a few certainly did) but by the corporate media narrative instead. His political competition characterized his support that way and it stuck. Same thing with the Flip Flopper narrative, a perennial favorite of the corporate media as well as the neocons.

      Based on my fairly in-depth research on Obama, I don’t think he has “moved to the center” at all. I will agree his refined positions and not really cared what his “base” might think. I think that is why he will continue to get republican and conservative independent votes. I think he will get all but the most ardent of liberal votes as well.

      I think ultimately you are right. It was a wake-up call for ideologues on both sides to understand that Obama is way more of a pragmatic politician than many people believed. (An especially nice turn for Hillary’s supporters who picked her for the same reason.) It also gave him a chance to be his own man and fight for his position as a principled stand, despite its opposition from the left.

      Really, the only thing I disagree with in this comment is the notion that Obama didn’t know how fierce the push-back would be on this. I believe he made a principled stand based on his own heart and mind. He is smart enough to know how soundly the move would be criticized. He would have had to have been an idiot not to know that in advance, which is clearly not the case either.

      At the end of the day, I think much of this will be worked through by November and every camp will know that Obama won’t be especially beholden to any one ideology. As it should be for an American president.

      • bluebell

        Is it impossible for you to understand that Obama is not the only person who takes principled stands and that many of us “just sayin” aren’t willing to abandon our principles just to elect him? I may vote for him and I may not. I won’t change my opinions on core issues or shut up about them either. If he wants my vote he’s going to have to earn it. The Demoratic Party is not a cult, it’s a coalition of different interests. If he wants to keep the coalition together, he’s going to have to figure how to represent all segments of the coalition.

        • JasonEverettMiller

          Is so hard to understand that saying you disagree with Barack and then making character attacks if you still intend on voting for him is a self-defeating tactic?

          If you don’t plan on voting for him or support another candidate, just say so. Don’t play the “concern troll” bit on every single issue. If you make character attacks or repeat the bullshit narrative coming out of the corporate media, expect some push-back this year as well. We are all a little bit tired of perfectly good candidates getting torn down by the system in addition to our own left wing.

          There isn’t a single thing he has done that I disagree with that would require me to “sacrifice my principles” over the difference.

          Nothing is quite so absolute in my world. Nor in the most other people’s worlds.

      • Michael Powe

        His personal ideology of “Obama for President” is the only one that counts for him.

        OTOH, what some people call “beholden to ideology,” others may call “standing on principle.”

        As is so often the case, the candidate who gets the nomination is the lowest common denominator candidate — the one who offends the least number of people in power, and concomitantly who has the least to offer to those out of power.

        All that is really happening this summer is that the voters are seeing that the emperor has no clothes. This is not unusual, nor shocking. It’s simply the image of another missed opportunity for progressives and Democrats alike.

        Thanks.

        mp

  • destor23

    Jason,

    I think, maybe ironically, that there’s a sense of urgency to all of this “I’ll vote for him, but…” talk. I had kind of the opposite conversation with a friend of mine this weekend where she said, “I was a big Hillary supporter but I’m surprised how quickly I got over it. It’s like I just realized how bad the last 8 years have been.”

    An observation like that can cut both ways, though. On one hand it can inspire Obama enthusiasm where we must win at all costs, lets get the White House and everything along the way are details that can be noted but aren’t worth getting worked up about.

    On the other hand, it creates a sense of urgency where you say, “I want Barack to win but to fix our problems he has to go at them full bore. We borrowed $1 trillion to fight a war and as a result the dollar has been devalued, oil and commodities prices have risen and the American standard of living is slipping. We can’t afford to spend money for 18 more months in Iraq! Get them out now!”

    At a certain point any moderation on Obama’s part is worrisome because we have big problems that can’t be solved by moderate means. When the country has been so badly mismanaged that living standards have slipped for the better part of a decade (and this is something I’ve never seen before) then you can only fix things by taking extreme action.

    I’m not advocating that necssarily, just musing on mindsets.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      I think you hit the two mind-sets on each side.

      Those who think we must move with all available speed, even if we have to cram our agenda down the throats of a good portion of the American electorate to get it done. Then there are those who think that taking a more measured approach at consensus building in the beginning before we go full speed ahead with the agenda.

      The former can sometimes lead to great changes with unknown side-affects, such as further polarizing the country and adding to the dwindling Bush Brigade. The latter sometimes seems like too much deliberation or preparation but can actually lead to more effective and longer-lasting outcomes.

      Being a technology consultant and film producer leads me to lean toward the practical and pragmatic crowd, however, as a screenwriter, I can certainly see the passion and principle involved with running full-out from day one of taking over with giving two shits to anyone standing in our way.

      I think we can actually get both ends if we manage this project properly. Some proper planning and marshallings of our resources is a great place to start. It also brings people from both sides of the aisle into the solution building phase and prepares them to work together when we have to actually roll up our sleeves and make sacrifices.

      The Navy SEALs have a great saying: Slow is Fast. I have found it to be invaluable in a number of situations not nearly as life-threatening as the ones they face. Moving too fast on this could have seriously damaging consequences.

      • destor23

        So you’re ex military, a software consultant and a film producing screenwriter? Where can I see some of your film work? Anything online?

        • JasonEverettMiller

          Not much long-form stuff is available on-line, but you can see some of my consulting work and a reel of clips from my Navy days at my YouTube page.

          I hope to have at least one script sold this year, so hopefully I will have something better to point to in the near future when I finish this ten-year overnight success route I have been taking since leaving the military in 2001 to go to college and learn all about the Internet and try being a civilian for the first time in my adult life.

          I realize it is an odd resume. :O)

        • JasonEverettMiller

          PS: Not really a “software consultant” as much as Internet strategy and creative. Business process analysis, web design, multimedia development, video production, etc. Jack of trades, master of some.

          • destor23

            It sounds very cool. I’ll check your youtube channel. And good luck with the screenwriting. Keep us updated on your auccesses so we can support you.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      No, he changed his mind rather than stick to a earlier position that wasn’t applicable to the new circumstances. He decided that the Uber Liberal stand on this was a luxury we couldn’t afford given other threats.

      Intelligent, thoughtful, principled. Willing to piss off his base if he disagree with their take on an issue. That means he will make principled stands for progressive changes as well. He will govern for the concerns of everyone in the country and not just those in his party’s base.

      Sounds exactly like the president I am looking for.

      That you don’t agree with the decision (and neither do I) is certainly obvious and within your rights as a citizen, but to characterize his actions as “caving” is just more of that Orwellian crap that we need to quit using among ourselves.

      It’s bad enough when the media does it.

      • bluebell

        LOL. You really know how to convince a voter don’t you? Don’t you know you have to win votes and keep them clear through till November and then motivate those voters to go to the polls and vote for your candidate? You are not finished until you’ve done that.

        Yours,

        Uber liberal member of pissed off base.

        • JasonEverettMiller

          If you are part of the Uber Liberal Base then you need to seriously reassess your ability to look at America and this election objectively enough to get another democrat in the White House.

          No candidate will ever be perfect or be perfectly “liberal” as you define them. Any candidate who would be the Perfect Liberal Champion will never get elected. That is pretty easy math to get in this country.

          We simply don’t have an American electorate that will enable your perfect candidate to get elected right now. I suspect if you give Obama a chance to coax your fellow citizens back to the left that in 8 or 16 years a Dennis Kucinich could actually get elected with a landslide.

          We just don’t live in that country yet.

  • DKC/Feral Cat

    I have firm creds as a lefty rebel. So my criticisms of Obama’s centrist policies have worked very well with my Republican acquaintances in my conservative county. Many of them are going to vote for Obama because a) McCain is stupid b) they like Obama’s conservative business and social views. So I’m helping while being true to myself in my effort to shift the policies of the U.S. away from corporatism and military empire.

  • loki redux

    I also never really got a chance to explain why I think it is damaging for his supporters to use sentences like the one this blog is named after.

    Still this overriding authoritarian sort of thinking with you, huh? Damaging to use sentences like this? Geez, what sentences are we allowed to use?

    Jason, do you really not see it? Do you really not get it? You have been very consistently telling people what they can and cannot say regarding Obama. (thankfully, they seem to be ignoring you!) You, I suppose, really think it is for the best to try to govern peoples speech, but is it? Is that what you really want to do?

    Today we have an account from you of a conversation with a “friend” who buys into FOX News’ narrative about Obama despite being a long time Obama supporter and despite being “very smart and very savvy.” OK… *rolls eyes*

    Assuming all this is true, can we not all just decide that this guy is a twit and move on? Does it really have to turn into “Watch what you say…” again? You seem to have taken it upon yourself to save Obama from his supporters. You’re a self appointed one man watchdog, it seems. Do you go to bed at night with righteous self-satisfaction that you did your job today, to the best of your abilities, for the good Senator? Can you not help yourself?

    How do you know his FISA decision wasn’t a calculated political move? Are you in his head? It bothers you, but you accept it and move on. Others are botherd by it and want to discuss it, but since you’ve moved on you think everyone else must do the same with the same swiftness as you did. “Make haste! The MSM is watching and they will take your words and play them incessantly on the air and you will be the reason Obama loses in November!”

    Jason, do you not see this silliness of all that. The over-the-top, concern-trollish (Not to say authoritarian) mindset at work there?

    Take a deep breath and calm down dude. You are fighting with the wrong people. You are pushing the wrong people. You are annoying the wrong people. We like Obama, we will vote for him. But can we please just talk about him any way we see fit? Please? Can we please?!

    Jesus!

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Look, one more time and with more than a little bit of frustration in my voice, these are my OPINIONS! What is so hard to get about that, Mister McCarthy? I am entitled to my opinions, whatever they may be. You can disagree, but don’t try to “shame” me into not voicing my opinion.

      If I consider being all doom and gloom and Barack isn’t who he says he is as damaging to our candidate’s chances, that is a reasonable position for me to take based on a number of governing factors.

      You can explain why you think I am wrong about that opinion, but to criticize me for having an opinion is to practice exactly what you think I am preaching. You are free to get angry about my opinion as well. Whatever.

      I think it is you that needs to take a breath, because you cart out this bullshit on every single post I make.

      Do you think that smart people don’t let the corporate media dictate the narrative? So, everyone who watches CNN are idiots? If they aren’t political junkies they are naive? Someone can be smart and savvy and not yet have broken themselves of the corporate media’s game. (Rolls eyes…)

      You have made turned into my self-appointed watch dog, out to make sure that I never voice an opinion in a way that you disagree with or take as disparaging. Do you go to sleep at night patting yourself on the back for having taken me down a notch or two?

      That you continue to misconstrue my point and to strip every bit of nuance and context from my opinions says way more about you than it does about me.

      • loki redux

        Disagreement and argument and discussion is what I’ve been advocating from the beginning. You…not so much. I want people to be able to speak. Even if it is speaking ill of someone. You…not so much. You want people to get in line or shut up. Now…who’s McCarthy here?

        • JasonEverettMiller

          Provide one single quote from me (with a link) to where I said get in line or shut up. That is not and has never been my position.

          I am advocating waking up and dissecting the corporate media narrative. I am also advocating that educating one’s self will lead to a diminishing of the type of attacks that I am talking about.

          Barack’s supporters need to stop doing McCain’s work for him by couching every critique of our candidate’s positions as being emblematic of a deep character flaw or a dramatic reversal of opinion that cooled the nature of support.

          “I’ll vote for the guy – I’m just saying…” is very central to a very specific type of commentary and is what I am speaking about.

          You are comparing apples to orangutans.

          • loki redux

            Wrong. I am not comparing anything.

            You regularly make remarks like “don’t use sentences like that.” You were a big advocate for NCSteve’s call to not say anything bad about Obama for the next four months. You actually appear to think that if everybody fell into line with that thinking all would be fine with the MSM. That they wouldn’t just make shit up.

            That if only we here at TPM would all act like you and speak only well of Obama…well then that’s the ticket to the WH. That is wrong and it is naive. It is my opinion that you are fighting the wrong fight.

            With all the wonderful work Bob Somerby does over at the Daily Howler, he has never advocated silence from the American people. Not even for “just four months.” I think you would do well to emulate him. Fight the MSM narrative, by all means. Just stop with the insulting way you go about trying to convince others.

            It has become abundantly clear to me at this point that you genuinely do not understand where I’m coming from. How wrong I feel your tactics are. You truly do not get it. (and clearly you feel the same about me! ;^}) Oh well. I guess that’s the long and the short of it then isn’t it?

            Cheers.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            Again, you can’t provide an actual link, just vague accusations that clearly negated by this blog in and of itself.

            You also don’t seem aware of what ellipses mean. It means the sentence in question ends with whatever offal the corporate media is feeding millions of Americans. This coming from people who could probably be woken up if we supply information rather than simple acceptance of their misconceptions.

            I would be more than happy to debate the merits of different tactics with regards to the progressive changes we all agree this country needs to make. I would be more than happy to explain why I disagree with Obama on any number of things. I am able to explain my disagreement in a way that doesn’t leave doubts in the minds of the reader as to whether I think Barack deserves to be president or not. I also feel no need to demonize republicans as we debate solutions, which seems to drives the far left crazy.

            NCSteve never called for people to say nothing bad about Obama. He didn’t even advocate a lowering of the bar as you seem to imply. That has not been my stance either. Instead, we ASKED that Obama supporters look objectively at their words and make a determination of whether or not that is helpful to his chances in November. Many critics, such as yourself, refuse to look at the actual language being used vice the disagreement being voiced.

            If you are unable criticize Obama without making character attacks, then I would suggest you be ready to have many conversations just like this one.

          • loki redux

            NCSteve never called for people to say nothing bad about Obama. He didn’t even advocate a lowering of the bar as you seem to imply.

            Many critics, such as yourself, refuse to look at the actual language being used vice the disagreement being voiced.

            Here are the actual words.

            And oh, finally, here’s a last idea, directed specifically to frame number four that others have been trying to get across in more polite fashion. Could I please trouble some of you to kindly REFRAIN FROM THROWING ANYMORE GODDAMN CHUM INTO THE WATER?? Not forever. Just four more months. Just hold it in, make a list for later use and just put a damn sock in it for four more stinking months. It would be appreciated. Thank you.

            Given your authoritarian mindset, revealed in the posts you make, I can certainly see why none of that is a problem for you.

            Nice.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            Note your inability to understand metaphor or nuance or context. “Chum” in this case relates directly to critical remarks by Barack’s supporters that equate disagreement with on on issue as evidence of his disloyalty to voters. Yes, I agree, that such people should put a sock in it or go ahead and come out for McCain.

  • hometown

    “he will make principled stands for progressive changes… for the concerns of everyone in the country…”

    Are there examples of where he has done anything like this in the past, to be the basis for confidence he might do it in the future? I am not asking for examples of what he has said he would do, after all, he SAID he would vote against telecom immunity. I am asking for examples of what he actually has done.

    It worries me that his support seems to based on beliefs about what he will do that are not founded on any evidence of what he has done.

    Instead, the support seems to come from what he says he will do, but no one is supposed to be concerned when he fails to follow through on his promises. Other elements of support seem to arise from out of no where. They assume he has positions he does not have. When this is pointed out, then one is accused of supporting Bush. But of course, Obama supported Bush on the telecoms.

    • BH

      Here’s a fairly old blog where I compare Obama’s track record on various issues to McCain.

      Short summary: Obama’s actual voting record (as opposed to just what he’s said) puts him head-and-shoulders above McCain on the environment, on women’s issues (including reproductive rights), on civil rights in general, on labor, and on education, whereas McCain does better with the pro-life groups and slightly better than Obamaf on gun rights (NRA gives McCain a C to Obama’s F).

    • JasonEverettMiller

      His resume speaks to a long history of fighting for progressive causes. The legislation he championed at both the state and federal level is very progressive as well – from government transparency to increased health care funding for women and children to nuclear non-proliferation.

      That he doesn’t have a super liberal agenda for every single item on America’s plate is fine with me. That he takes a more pragmatic view on national security doesn’t bother me. That he seems how conservative means can be used to accomplish progressive ends doesn’t bother me either.

      This country has all kinds of people who we need to get involved in this national project, not just liberals.

      • Lux Umbra Dei

        Well said.

        There is something in Obama’s candidacy that transcends laundry lists of hot-button issues.

        Issues, indeed, are what separates us into multiple constituencies, and I think Obama means to take the first steps in the withdrawal from that partisan precipice that endangers the country.

        What I like about Obama is that he seems to go beyond being merely a billboard of various positions. He seems to want to represent all of us, in all our diversity.

        So I think I agree that although the “I’m voting for Obama, but….” talk is okay for after all this is Liberty House here at TPM and we may do as we will, but there is a bigger picture than the minor disappointment that the candidate doesn’t share all the individual speaker’s positions.

        • JasonEverettMiller

          Thanks, Lux, and you seem to get the point that beyond the world of democratic politics is an electorate reeling after a sustain 40-year ass kicking by the corporate and political “elite” in this country.

          If the narrative among his mainstream supporters becomes, “Barack is the lesser of two evils. Nothing special, just barely better (and younger) than McCain….” then the landslide we need to back away from the cliff will not happen. If every single disagreement on an issue becomes a betrayal, how the hell can he get the votes he needs?

          I am just completely frustrated by the lack of vision and imagination I am finding on the left this year. Hell, the republicans seem to have more imagination than the far left does with regards to Barack’s candidacy. Most of them say don’t agree with anything he stands for policy wise, but support him enthusiastically in spite of it.

          What the hell is going on with the far left these days? Do they have Stockholm Syndrome? Too many years in the wilderness, fighting the DLC and the RNC?

  • hometown

    Thanks to both for your replies, but, again, I was asking for specific examples. “Here is federal legislation that Senator Obama sponsored and got passed. It supports progressive goals, and McCain voted against it”

  • hometown

    That’s a great site. Thanks. I found 126 items sponsored by him in the current Congress. As far as I can tell, none have become law. Is that correct?

    The count includes issues such as

    “A concurrent resolution honoring the life of Percy Lavon Julian, a pioneer in the field of organic chemistry and the first and only African-American chemist to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.”

    ” A concurrent resolution condemning the recent violent actions of the Government of Zimbabwe against peaceful opposition party activists and members of civil society.”

    and

    “Purpose will be available when the amendment is proposed for consideration.” (there were several of these)

    I don’t see how to search by sponsor for prior congresses.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Under “Find More Legislation” beneath the main search box is a link to searching multiple fields and past Congresses.

      Also, the ones that make into law are kind of hard to get at, so you might need to do different searches to find what you are looking for. There are different searches for co-sponsored bills, which are very typical as well.

      The site has a ton of information, but the information architecture makes finding it challenging.

  • ondioline

    I know I’m late to the party here, but I really appreciated the OP and the dialogue that followed. One person in particular has really surprised me on this thread, and in a very pleasant way. But that’s a digression…

    One Merit Sticker and a REC for Mr. Miller…

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Great blog. Lays it out in a much more digestible form than the Library of Congress site. I will link to your blog now when I get that question. Thanks!

  • wwstaebler

    My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that you, Jason, are advocating a “greater good than ourselves” position, while some of your critics are still locked into “it is my right to do and say whatever I interpret as my right” position.
    I applaud you, both for your principles, and for being able to defend/support then, even under duress.
    I feel saner whenever LuxUmbraDei weighs in. Then things seem immediately re-aligned in proper, balanced perpective. My appreciation, and thanks, to both of you.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Thank you for the kind words and the accurate assessment of my positions.

      I find it humorous that some people call me authoritarian or conservative in my pleas for self restraint. It is clear they have never read a blog of mine that relates to policy.

      My friends and family would find that funny as well given that I mostly advocate completely changing the way we do everything, from the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top. I speak long and often about the need for an Evolution of the Revolution to finish what was delayed in 1968.

      As far as this place goes, I am trying to clean up my language now, while still being cheeky and assertive. I am also trying to figure how to position all these different arguments in advance of my Obama Calling this fall. Obviously I wouldn’t cuss on a phone call, but positioning of the items we fight about here will be critical as I suspect it will be the same stuff people ask about via cold calls. The freaking media are masterful at pushing a manufactured narrative.

      Not sure how to find that balance, but I am going to keep working on it over the coming weeks. I think I will start by taking “douche bag” out of my lexicon. That one seems to piss people off. :O)

  • dimitry

    ==while some of your critics are still locked into “it is my right to do and say whatever I interpret as my right” position.==

    I think that it freedom of speech, the cornerstone of our democratic system. Advocating self-censorship is really anti-democratic at the very core. It goes beyond ideology and resides in the basic philosophy of the person.

    I was born and raised in the Soviet Union by dissident parents and have very solid liberal background. I really have not found a way to make native born Americans understand that pulling back on criticism of the leader of our party is counterproductive to the very goals he is supposed to represent and our party supports.

    It really makes me frustrated that I can’t make you guys really see this for what it is – an attempt for sanitized, Orwellian “newspeak”, a pile of platitudes as old as the ages.

    Debate and free speech is healthy and strong, it promotes understanding and mature appreciation and respect for differences. Self-censorship creates unresolved tension, suspicion and rumor. it is bad for you as a person and it is bad for the country.

    • loki redux

      Self-censorship creates unresolved tension, suspicion and rumor. it is bad for you as a person and it is bad for the country.

      This is exactly right. And encouraging self-censorship, as Jason and others continue to do, is no better.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Calling good manners and not shooting ourselves in the foot by sabotaging our presidential candidate as Soviet-style censorship is just ridiculous.

      If you want to make points that people consider valid or credible, then stating the actual context of the conversation correctly is a great place to start.

      No one is advocating what you and Loki and gasket and the rest seem to think we are saying. We have explained it a million different ways and all you get is, “Shut up, get in line, there will be disagreement with our Master and Motivator Obama.”

      I ask for links to comments I made and that say none are provided. You point to this blog as proof of the sentiment, when it is clear that I speaking of being worried or disgusted or disillusioned based on corporate media narratives.

      When someone cites a single corporate media source as being cause for their concern, my automatic response is “Really? You trust the media?” Then it is quickly followed by laughter or derision or explanation, depending on who you are and how your present your arguments.

      If the best you guys can do is scream, “You’re not the boss of me!” then I don’t suspect we’ll ever have a rational or reasonable conversation here or anywhere else.

      • loki redux

        Self-censorship is what you advocate. Pull out whatever Orwellian phrase you like to make it sound better but it is still self-censorship. Your inability to recognize this speaks volumes regarding your ability to even have a “reasonable or rational conversation.”

        • JasonEverettMiller

          You replies say way more about you than they do about me. Your inability to apply reasoning to your view of this issue is stunning.

          • loki redux

            Reason? Rationality? You? Har-dee-har-har! Check out your history pal. Oh, and while you’re at it…look up “Orwellian.” Better yet, look in the mirror.

    • wwstaebler

      If you think I am suggesting a suppression of anyone’s right to free speech, then I have been unclear. My point is, that, within the context of a right to free speech, each of us has a choice to make: we can use our respective voices constructively, or destructively, or even some combination of the two extremes. But we need to decide on priorities before we speak. If you care about free speech so much, would you personally be willing to sabotage the election of a man who believes in dialogue — free speaking, in other words — in favor of a man who has one militant, neocon-oriented world view? And then there is the issue of personal namecalling, which, in my opinion, moves nothing forward.

      • loki redux

        wwstaebler,

        You seem to have bought into the notion that being critical of Obama, here in the TPM blogging threads, will actually “sabotage” Obama’s campaign; that daring to post a blog, or a comment in someone elses blog, expressing dismay about this stance or that vote of Obama’s will somehow encourage the MSM to use this to help elect McCain.

        I for one reject that entirely foolish idea. It is naive and it is wrong. So everything else that is said after that is indeed moot.

  • stillidealistic

    Jason, I think I love you…

    I too am concerned about the negative rhetoric, not that everyone is supposed to be in lock step…I just continue to be afraid that supporters reservations cannot help but feed the feeling by those who haven’t decided that it may be a mistake to vote for Obama if even his supporters have reservations.

    I’m so excited to vote for this guy I can hardly wait for Novemeber. McCain is an IDIOT of monumental proportions and I can hardly believe there is a thinking person in the country who could actually vote for him…

    • JasonEverettMiller

      You hit it exactly.

      This election isn’t about the liberal base of the democratic party. It’s not about the conservative base of the republican party. It is about 70% of the electorate on both sides of the spectrum who reside in the “center” that Obama has a chance to lock down.

      By voicing disagreements (Good!) as evidence of disloyalty (Bad!) we really give undecided republican and right-leaning independents voters a reason to pause and step back. They start stinking that even democrats consider the guy a “crap shoot” or “politics as usual” or “the lesser of two evils” then why shouldn’t republicans vote for their guy over ours.

      The reason Barack got so much right-leaning support in the primaries is that his own “supporters” weren’t tearing him down all over the place and the republican mainstream was willing to take a chance on someone they might disagree with who is nonetheless ethical enough to include them in the national debate and in crafting solutions.

      The faith-based initiatives stand is a perfect example of suing conservative means for a progressive end and one I support whole heartedly, even though I am agnostic and believe in a separation of church and state in most absolute sense.

      It’s all good, though. We will get it right this year. You have your crazies and we have ours. I think the pragmatist on each side can keep them isolated enough to minimize the impact of their recalcitrant natures on the big work we have in the decades ahead.

  • Synchronicity

    I have seen on this site on occassion a similar sentiment, that we should set aside our differences…. etc… I remember a blog posted suggesting that I should not express my perceptions regarding Hillary Clinton because the author was tired of hearing people express theselves during her campaign. My response was to declare that I would stop responding as soon as she and her compadres stopped doing outrageous and ridiculous things.
    What I hear is that you would feel more comfortable if you did not have to hear about any form of dissent regarding Senator Obama’s candidacy because you would like for people out there still making up their minds to be able to hear a ‘happy’ message from those who do support him or at least do intend to vote for him.
    Can I just say that I think that is ridiculous, not even intelligent in my view.
    There will always be a level of tension between polarities.. good and bad, light and dark, support and dissent. I think the thing to be fighting for is that it all gets fully expressed.
    While it might help convince someone to vote for Senator Obama if I were blindly supportive or at least never expressive of my own opinions, in contrast I think it might persuade them more to hear my full view of support and dissent and why I still intend to vote for him (as long as he doesn’t muck that up). In fact I am fairly certain as I have already persuaded many to consider Senator Obama for president that they trust me more because I offer my full perspective and trust them to have their full opinions and to draw their own conclusions.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      See all of my comments above to the other people who continue to misconstrue self-restraint with censorship.

      Say whatever you want, but understand that there are consequences to those actions and words are not just words. If we end up with president McCain, saying I told you so will be cold comfort for my family.

      The difference between the Primary Election and the General Election are too numerous to count. I pointed out all kinds of shit about Hillary that I didn’t like. Used some pretty strong language too. Guess what the consequences of those words were? We are FIGHTING and CLAWING to get democratic votes from pissed Hillary supporters. Who pissed them off? Not my candidate.

      See, actions get reactions. Words have consequences. Criticizing Obama in a way that casts doubt about his honesty and integrity and fitness for office is self-defeating. If it sends a single to undecided voters that even his supporters think he is nothing special, then why should they vote for him? A republican will vote for a republican over a lackluster democrat any day of the week.

      Why would democrats want to promote an environment that makes it harder for the democrat to get elected with a big enough landslide to end the partisan bullshit that has Congress gridlocked?

      THAT is my point. Not some Orwellian and Stalinesque plot to squash out dissent. I love dissent. Love to hash out a Super Duper Progressive Future. I disagree with a number of policy positions and votes that Barack has made. So what? I am supposed to be such a child as to think he will rule with an iron fist based on the whims of 10 or 15% of the electorate? I am supposed to be so short-sighted as to think the only way to convince the nation is to treat the other side they way we have been treated? Is that progressive? Is that liberal?

      To me, the positions the far left are taking are every bit as unreasonable and over-the-top as those that have been coming from the far right these last 40 years.

  • mcrose68

    I agree that it’s a very positive trend that the leading candidate is:
    a) willing to hear about, think about, and make informed decisions based on honest information.
    b) supported by an intelligent electorate, willing to provide honest feed-back and express dissent where an argument would be productive.
    :
    But the blog-author makes a valid point

    ->Lending any credit to the narrative put out by “Rove’s Boys” doesn’t do anyone any good.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Great points. I find that there is still mostly lucid and smart people looking at Obama this year, from both sides of the political spectrum. That is an important development if we want to actually fix our problems rather than bitch about them for the next 8 years.

  • loki redux

    “I’m rubber and you’re glue” is not a grown-up style of debate.

    Yes, so you should really stop practicing it.

    Loki said:Take a deep breath and calm down dude.

    Jason responded:I think it is you that needs to take a breath…

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Yes, counseling the same restraint you counseled for me based on a continued misunderstanding of my arguments.

      Not quite the same thing as what I was suggesting, but great job at continuing to pull quotes out of context to refute the contention that you don’t debate in a substantive and informative fashion.

      Touché!

      • loki redux

        Yes, yes, I keep forgetting, everything you say or do is forever to be construed as positively, brilliant, rational debate. Everyone who disagrees with you is irrational…the “far left.” Pointing out a contradiction is pulling quotes out of context.

        Must be awfully nice living in your fantasy world!

        Cheers!

        • JasonEverettMiller

          Your inability to discuss any difference of opinion (with Obama or me or anyone) rationally & reasonably is on display for all to see. I leave it to outside observers to decide who is being logical or not.