Preaching to a Choir of Cynics 92

“We have been told that we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics.  They will only grow louder and more dissonant.”Barack Obama, New Hampshire Primary Concession Speech, January 8, 2008

So it was then and so it still is as we move into the second year of Barack’s presidency.

The hue and cry of the status quo has risen to a fevered pitch as it dies a slow public death by a thousand cuts and the shifting expectations of the electorate.  The unaffiliated wing-nuts have come forth in their hundreds of thousands to complain that someone isn’t paying attention to their nonsensical, low-information rants.  The fringes of both parties explode in fits of blubbery rage at the slightest provocation or with no provocation at all.

The campaign we waged and won against the status quo candidates in 2008 was always going to be followed by a decades long battle with an establishment grown quite secure in its enormous wealth and power, but with much less civility than in the last presidential election since it will be fought by the remaining die-hards of all stripes or those heavily invested in the current system.  Anyone who thought Obama could actually govern any differently than he has so far should be considered dangerously naive and sent to bed without dinner.

Until he saw if We The People had his back at the grassroots, our new president has a family to protect which makes him very vulnerable indeed.

I am not here to discuss the various and sundry missteps of the president during his first year in office.  I didn’t expect perfection and understood the nature of the challenge he faced leading a nation of overfed and petulant children locked in a deadly embrace of fanatical single-mindedness and debilitating lethargy.  As far as I can tell, the man has governed according to the campaign platform he ran on and that’s about all we could expect absent huge changes in We The People to force changes in Congress, neither of which emerged last year.

The only way the bully pulpit is effective is when the folks in the pews are engaged and paying attention.  When all they hear is the choir arguing at the top of their ample lungs about the color of their robes as the church burns down around them, it is little wonder that America’s political parishioners run for the doors instead of hanging around to get burned.  We needed millions of voices calling for change, yet all we got were a couple hundred thousand fanatics calling for heads and a Congress largely insulated from their complicity in funneling billions of dollars to private interests at the expense of the public good.

How could the American public be inspired to any sort of action when the chorus of cynics insist on using aggressive, old school tactics at every turn?  How could we expect an evolutionary moment in American society to be continued when our lizard brains seem to be firmly in control?  What happened to the grassroots movement that Barack built in every single state during the primaries to win the election?  When did our community-organizer president decide We The People couldn’t be relied upon to get the job done given our historic lack of vision and focus?

I am guessing he came to that realization on January 21, 2009 and has seen little reason to revise it since.

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92 thoughts on “Preaching to a Choir of Cynics

  • Tom Wright

    Not into the brevity thing, be ye?

    Irony is that saving the asses of the monied allows them to continue without interruption the corruption of civil society, furthering what even its author Judge Posner has backed away from: deciding cases in regard to their effect on the economy, by which he and allies meant wealth as opposed to labor.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      You are dinging me for being too wordy on an essay that is just over 500 words? Wow. That gives a whole new meaning to short attention span.

      As to the rest of your comment, I don’t see how it relates to what I wrote but am willing to consider a follow-up attempt. Are you saying that Obama has saved the asses of the monied classes via the latest Supreme Court ruling?

      I am not sure how that is possible given the make-up of our system of government.

      • Tom Wright

        “Brevity” was riffing on Quinn’s possible Lebowski reference.

        TARP saved the monied classes, who now will now control further elections thanks to the Supremes. Stretching the topic, I guess. But “evolutionary moments” means species get wiped out, and that did not happen. Right wing crazies are always with us, the wealth still controls the Republicans, and our Democratic Party is a big and unfocused tent (block that metaphor!).

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Ah, I see now. I am not sure what to think at this point given the recent ascension of Volcker in Obama’s economic roundtable.

          The Supreme Court may actually have put the final nail in the coffin for the efficacy of political advertising, such as it is.

          The ruling may lead to an innundation of corporate political messaging, but I think it will have the opposite of its intended effect.

          • wendy davis

            I’m hesitant to assume Volcker has really and truly become ascendant. Obama’s Banking Fees schtick was meant to aid Coakley, but was too little, too late, nobody buyin’ that one.
            So now he’s upped the ante; wouldn’t you have loved to have been a fly on the wall during THOSE talks?
            I really could make the case that the 54% declared that it WANTED big, but good, goverment in the wake of the catastrophes of the last eight years. Big, great moves; it’s not what we got. You’re right that he was/is pretty conservative, but what he promised and heralded was very different than what he’s fought for.
            In terms of HCR, I think one of the reasons it all got away from his was that he couldn’t articulate a message about what he DID want from Congress, and people got very nervous, with only the talking points against it. Plus he would just accede too easily to Blue Dog demands far too easily. So much became about ‘I can live with this,’ or I can live without that.’ The lines in the sand shifted weekly with the tides.
            Plus: Look what I got you in the backroom deals with Pharma and Insurance.’ Whaaaaaa?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            There is no way to ensure good government if it is too big, especially at the federal level where accountability becomes impossible. I think that is part of the problem with the current notion of progress as espoused by progressives.

            Progress must include an honest analysis of intractable problems we’ve thrown money at for decades in an effort to develop innovative new solutions to address them for good. We have been divided on the question of state versus federal government since the before the ink was dry on the Preamble, so our strategic and tactical thinking must account for that foundational rift.

            I still believe there is a way to govern as a progressive and get the coalition you cited behind each and every initiative. Problem is the democratic Congress forgot all about Obama’s electoral victory and moderate conservatives and ex-republican independents who made it happen during the primaries.

          • *

            I was just reviewing MSNBC news videos and I got the impression some of the big movers and shakers within the republican party, not sitting members of course, clearly recognize that what SCOTUS did would have a definite negative impact across the entire political spectrum. In short, both democrat and republican will find themselves in the caught between a rock and a hard place with no wiggle room within the next 10 months. Give it a week and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some serious an heavy bipartisanship legislation being hammered out in Congress. Their political livelihood depends on their mutual cooperation.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I can’t help but think a backlash is coming because the collusion has become so brazen that that sheeple are starting to pay attention again. The Supreme Court decision could just be the straw that broke Joe the Camel’s back.

  • quinn esq

    So, let me see if I understand you.

    The guy who wanted to be elected so he could lead the Changes needed, had actually lost his faith in We The People waaaaay back during the NH Primary?

    And this realization also drove him to dismantle the grassroots movement of those most desirous of change (but only after they’d elected him)?

    And then to govern in a fairly crappy manner, but that was all he could do because Congress is complete shite?


    • wendy davis

      Not only dismantle, but poke fun at, in a move that he and Rahm thought would prove politically expedient. Sorry boys; didn’t work.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I had the date wrong. Mea culpa. Obama’s belief in the American voter was pretty much discounted the day after his inauguration.

      The grassroots movement that began during the campaign was dismantled by the democratic party’s reaction to the “mandate” they claimed on January 21 as well.

      Congress writes the laws. He had to govern within the system he inherited that We The People did absolutely zero to change.

      Did you see something different?

  • brewmn61

    “And this realization also drove him to dismantle the grassroots movement of those most desirous of change (but only after they’d elected him)?”

    How could Obama dismantle the grass roots? That sounds like the grass roots failure to keep itself mantled to me. As Jason notes, the idea that we could just expect Obama to overturn decades of increasing corporate control over our politics is naive in the extreme. He still has to get a congress to agree with the important stuff he wants done.

    Now I know we can bog ourselves down in the specifics of what he has and hasn’t done so far (and there is plenty of fair game for criticism there). But on both of his major domestic initiatives to date, the effective opposition has come from rogue Democrats combined with a lock-step Republican Party. That is where the problems lie, and where popular pressure needs to be applied.

    He’s generally getting kudos from the left for calling for reimposition of Glass-Steagall. But I’m guessing when the same forces that whittled the stimulus bill down to minimal effectiveness and may have killed health reform do the same to financial re-regulation, the “grass roots” will again blame it on Obama.

      • SleepinJeezus

        Eggzackly, bluebell. The whole populist thing is growing pretty weary when it is subsequently so skillfully compromised by the WH and Congress before any harm can come to the corporate owners. For example, see how strongly the Dems actually campaigned AGAINST the public option even though polls showed consistently that the electorate was in favor of it. It took a whole lot of “tear down this wall” moments for the Dems to be able to maintain the ruse that they were doing the people’s work while still serving their masters. I mean, they almost were forced to include the public option despite themselves. How would THAT have played on K Street? Dodged a bullet on that one, they did.

        What they don’t understand coming out of MA Senate race is that the American people can smell a fraud from a long ways off. This first year of Obama has been a disgustingly dishonest exercise in populist “Change We Can Believe In” as political theater, and the Dems are about to pay the price for their mendacity unless they get serious about governing in place of simply selling out to the highest bidder.

          • SleepinJeezus

            Wendy, I have seen in so many instances hereabouts that your brain works quite well on its own. It is for this reason that I consider your words to be high praise, and I thank you for it.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Good points, Brew, but I think it is less about republicans and “rouge democrats” aiming to derail our more perfect union and more about finding solutions that are palatable to a majority of the country.

      Those solutions exist and they aren’t found in either party right now. Progress in America in 2010 needs to be as conservative as it is liberal. That requires paradigm-breaking leadership.

      I am sure this isn’t the last time those of us in the true center of the country try to find a way to bring our divergent halves together.

      • kgb999

        You are CRAZY. The majority of the country voted for the 2008 democratic platform. They already HAVE solutions that are palatable to the majority. That’s what elections ARE.

        The center-right meme is a LIE created by conservatives. I’m out here. Nobody even really knows what conservative means. It’s a brand not a belief system. Most folks OVERWHELMINGLY support liberal policy when it isn’t characterized in terms of an ideology. DC is a fantasy land.

        Thankfully, the polls are unambiguous. No way the dems go conservative. I’ll betcha a couple donuts … we can square up next time I visit my ma.

        • amike

          I wish the majority had voted for the Democratic platform. I’m willing to bet a buck you can’t stand on a street corner and find one in one hundred passers-by who can honestly say they read or the party platform or can cite one plank from the Democratic Platform with a any degree of accuracy. I’m willing to double down on that bet if 1 in 10 TPM readers have read the Democratic platform of 2008 or remember anything it says.

          I’m willing to make the same bet regarding republicans and their party platform, btw.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          No where did I mention center-right anything, but we are a centrist country. We like our change in nice little bit-sized chunks.

          The majority of the country has never voted for anything. Sixty-percent of the country turned out to vote in 2008 and 54% of them went for Barack Obama.

          They didn’t vote for the “democratic party’s” platform. They voted for the president’s platform and playbook, which the democratic party threw out as soon as he was inaugurated.

          • Jon Wisby

            I can go either way on this, both make sense ‘in context’.
            Before I get comments on my typos, (“too” clever)

          • wendy davis

            Thanks; I missed the true meaning of the term. I thought ‘rogue’ meant ‘breakaway’ or something.

          • Jon Wisby

            rogue (rōg)


            An unprincipled, deceitful, and unreliable person; a scoundrel or rascal.

            One who is playfully mischievous; a scamp.

            A wandering beggar; a vagrant.

            A vicious and solitary animal, especially an elephant that has separated itself from its herd.

            An organism, especially a plant, that shows an undesirable variation from a standard.



            Vicious and solitary. Used of an animal, especially an elephant.

            Large, destructive, and anomalous or unpredictable: a rogue wave; a rogue tornado.

            Operating outside normal or desirable controls: “How could a single rogue trader bring down an otherwise profitable and well-regarded institution?” (Saul Hansell).

            I never could understand Palin’s use of the term as some sort of badge of honour. Since her adoption of the term rogue it has been conflated with maverick, this could be the source of your confusion.

    • kgb999

      If he lets Rham do to financial reform what he let Rham do to HCR, Obama will deserve blame. But by most accounts Rham has his foot on a banana peel and the Biden/Axelrod faction is ascendant. So there is reason for hope.

      The MA loss is the best thing to happen to democrats since Obama’s election. It empowered all the right people. I think you are going to see some democrats fighting for their jobs. This redirect may have saved you guys total decimation in 2010.

      • clearthinker

        It’s worse than that, kgb.

        Conservatives stand for (or used to stand for):

        a) very limited foreign engagement (maybe even isolationist)

        b) shrinking government

        c) balancing the budget

        d) curbing social programs

        By that measure Bill Clinton is the best conservative president in a generation. In fact, he’s the best moderate GOPer that has run.

        The joke is that with GW Bush and the neo-cons, they were

        a) foreign adventurists

        b) increased government size (despite claiming to want to do the contrary… drowning it and all of that)

        c) gave us the worse deficits and unchecked spending of all time

        If people were honest, they would realize that the GOP as represented by the Bush and neo-con/Atwater crowd are, in fact, radicals.

        But up is down and down is up on Fox News and so people use that vocabulary.

        Why, just the other day, oleeb was deploying elites… so you can see how the left has even been straightjacketed into this Newspeak.

        • Ripper McCord

          I disagree with both kgb and you, CT, ona couple of critical points. First, kgb, most conservatives I have met or know (through living in the buckle of the Bible Belt for 40 years) really DO understand their party philosophy and many policy positions. And as a result, CT, Bush is highly disfavored now by a majority of those conservatives, who consider him an anomaly or traitor to fiscal conservatism at best.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            This mirrors my own anecdotal experience with conservatives in my own life, though I think the real answer is a massive amount of the country simply doesn’t care about politics of any sort.

          • clearthinker

            If what you and JEM say is true, we’d be seeing more of the Bush I philosophy on FNC rather than Bush II. (And Cheney and Rove wouldn’t be popular guests on FNC.) While they may reject Bush II in a rather narrow way, they haven’t rejected the overall radicalism of the party.

            I’ve met people like you’ve described, so I point out the list above (and explicitly state what JEM says below about Clinton) — and what their faces turn red.

            Framing is everything.

            To some extent their rejection of Bush II is as ill-conceived as their support of him. After all, by 2004, the agenda was quite clear… and at that point, I knew several life-time GOP voters who recognized that the party (not Bush) was destroying the country. And yet Bush II won.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I don’t think the corporate propaganda machine is going to push a new meme, but that counter-narrative could certainly develop at the grassroots.

            It will most show itself online and in the primary elections, though probably not until 2012 given the general level of disinterest in the mid-term general election, which usually drive primary turnout. Ironic as we should really see the opposite reaction from the electorate given the wide-spread distaste for incumbents.

            We The People are still mostly idiots when it comes to civics.

  • Cindy Etal

    How could we expect an evolutionary moment in American society to be continued when our lizard brains seem firmly to be in control?

    That pretty much says it all.

  • kgb999

    You keep complaining, the fighters will keep fighting. Feel free to enjoy the fruits of our success. Were it not for MA, the Volker plan would not have come out on top. The narrative from the WH is clear – the decisions came down as a direct response.

    No offense, but if people listen to you, the resulting failure of the democrats would make the republican implosion look like a construction project. You are simply wrong on the correct strategy and tactics to achieve progressive goals in this environment.

    Obama told us to FORCE him, he didn’t tell us to curl up and wait for a couple decades hoping the glacial status quo would change itself.

    Interesting thought. Obama(Rham) neutralizing the netroots/grassroots is probably one of the biggest reasons there was no ground game in MA. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Thank goodness it worked out for the best, eh.

    • clearthinker

      There is plenty of ground game in MA. If only 1/10 of the Dem machine in MA were working it would overwhelm most states’ ground game. However, if you look at in the districts where Coakley did well, turn-out was low. There was a very definite message being sent out.

      However, I still don’t believe it was specifically directed at Obama specifically (from my anecdotal research of talking with several dozen people in MA). It was about “not being entitled to an office”. It was about “being responsive”. Coakley came off poorly in both categories.

      Obama took that message to heart, however. He has never felt entitled to the office, but it’s clear he felt he needed to be more responsive to the people.

      We may well look back at that election as Obama’s Bay of Pigs. If you recall from history, JFK had foundered for awhile until he took full responsibility for the chaos on Cuba that day.

      Knowing how to pivot is a key for any politician.

      With regards to netroots: Brown’s campaign should inspire everyone here as we are presently in primary season.

        • clearthinker

          I wrote a blog about it a week ago about national office (House of Representatives). Anything more local than that is too quirkily based on local details.

          I recommend not running for office personally, but getting deeply involved in a campaign backing someone who can win (probably someone with real leadership and/or governing experience).

      • cube3u

        Turnout was low compared to the Obama turnout in 2008; turnout was comparable to a non-presidential general election and much higher than a special election usually has. If anyone rational and schooled in practical politics was expecting a repeat of the record 2008 election, well I want some of what they were smoking.

        I agree with it being a reaction against entitlement politics. Here’s some phrases from the Brown campaign–independent; this seat is the people’s seat, I drove 200,000 miles for you; I went to 90+ events instead of less than 20. Call it a smart campaign with what seems to be a sincere candidate (yeah, I know, but “seems” is the operative word here).

        • clearthinker

          My point was not the absolute level of the turn out but the relative one. Areas which Coakley took had lower turn out overall then districts where Brown triumphed.

          That is very telling.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Your inability to practice politics without getting personal is one reason why the democrats keep failing to achieve governing majorities. Your inability to understand nuance in the written or spoken language is another.

      Where exactly did I say anything about curling up and waiting to die for decades? I said it was a decades-long project that will require patience, persistence and pragmatism – things most liberals do not have.

      You want it all and you want it now!

      Also, what “fighters” are you talking about? A bunch of bloggers bitching about single payer and TARP? That is hilarious. Without millions of people marching on Washington and around the country, there is no fighting going on outside of your own fevered imagination.

      All you guys do is complain, the very crime you accuse me of. Irony continues to be lost on your ilk.

  • Ripper McCord

    All due respect, Jason, but centrism is the indulgence now, not the salvation. Although I have in the past agreed with the president’s thoughtful, rational approach in many matters, it has become clear that there is no one on the other side of the aisle with whom to reason.

    And on basic principles, petitioning the government for redress of grievances “politely” seems like a quaint idea in the age of teabaggers.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I think you are confusing Clinton’s centrism (which was really quite republican in nature) with the type of centrism I am discussing.

      True centrism understands that this country is mostly fiscally conservative while being mostly liberal on social matters. The latter comes with a huge caveat because the way democrats typically attend to social matters is with massive government programs while the former hasn’t been true in the republican party for decades.

      So what we get is this back-and-forth pendulum swing of ineffective policies from both parties with neither delivering solutions I would call innovative and sustainable, each playing to the 10 percent of their party who will reliably turn out to vote in primary elections.

      I think the last president to truly understand how to govern this nation with an understanding of both halves of our societal psyche was LBJ. I think Obama had a similar goal in mind but was twarted by the democratic Congress and the “liberal” netroots.

      • tiggers thotful spot

        The country with the biggest debts in the world is mostly fiscally conservative.

        LBJ understood this which is why he brought us Vietnam and the War on Poverty at the same time.

        Here in opposite-land TPM, things am logical.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I am speaking of perception not reality. Of course our reality has never lived up to our ideals or else we wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place.

          • tiggers thotful spot

            Which is another way of saying you don’t look at our reality when describing what this nation “is”.

            I could as truthfully say I am a better basketball player than Kobe Bryant, of course my reality doesn’t live up to my ideal. LOL.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            No, when it comes to politics you look at the perceptions of the voter in order to craft a set of solutions and messaging that brings them back into line with reality. Starting in the opposite fashion simply reinforces the status quo.

            Your analogy falls far short of what I am talking about, but it is a nice strawman to derail our attempt at conversation and offers some insight into why democrats continue to fail at politics, despite Obama’s spectacular victory in 2008.

  • Cindy Etal

    Something that has been dismissed time and again is message strategy. The extremists on the conservative side have consistently repeated, ad nauseam, lies and distortions when campaigning and/or opposing legislation (see Scott Brown). That’s their message strategy, straight out of the neocon blueprint.

    As I mentioned elsewhere, during the Bush II years, this strategy was used to such excess that people either believed what they heard or became too confused to act. It effectively induced a sort of public paralysis.

    Those who knew what was going on wrote their furious letters and sounded off, but no one was listening. Message fatigue had set in. That gave Bush II pretty much carte blanche to finish sacking the country.

    Until democrats take message strategy seriously and develop an effective way to counter the false-message blitz, there will be no meaningful progress in this country. We’ll be mired in a stinking status quo while China and other countries leave us in their dust.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      It’s all about tone and tenor in my mind. Obama was the best democrat in a generation on the campaign trail yet was totally inaffective at messaging as president.

      I think that is because of the way the democratic Congress operates versus the republicans. They never ever deviate from what their president is throwing down. It’s been that way since Reagan.

      That allows for a consistency in the messaging that is key to believability.

      • Cindy Etal

        You make some good points, Jason. Also, as policy and legislation are crafted, so should the accompanying message. It seems with the democrats the message is always an afterthought. That gives the republicans a golden opportunity to frame and set the tone for the issue and puts democrats on the defensive when it’s hashed out in the media and on the campaign trail.

  • destor23

    Sigh, it is sad and for whatever reasons the financial crisis and our response to it combined to help make real reforms impossible. At the end of 2008, with Bear gone, Lehman gone, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and BofA all on the brink we had a chance to dismantle and defang the engines of the great middle class economic malaise.

    Instead we recapitalized them. They were holed up in the OK corral, out of ammo and we delivered them boxes of bullets to get them shooting again. I think Obama now realizes this but didn’t at first and thus the (too late) ascension of Volcker.

    Meanwhile, the Supreme Court once against recognizes corporate interests as personal interest as if the health care bill isn’t proof enough that corporations are well represented in congress.

    You’re right, it’s wrong to expect miracle or instant change and we shouldn’t be fair weather friends to the president but the status quo is not only trying to reassert itself, the forces of change have in some cases worked against their own interests.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Totally agree with this assessment of our missed opportunities to finally fix the regulatory structures that were dismantled in 1999.

      I especially love the Tombstone reference as that is one of my favorite westerns. (The Kurt Russell/Val Kilmer version, of course, as once again Costner was a bit long-winded for me. Ironic complaint coming from me, I know.)

      I have pretty much decided to give the president his entire first term to play out whatever strategy he has developed. I am sure it is comprehensive and mostly unspoken as he strikes me as the type of guy who would be a wicked card player.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      The only way is thorugh one primary election at a time.

      We also need more consistency in our grassroots advocacy if we want to see change in the perennial fools who continue to dine on the dying body of the Republic.

      It’s long past time for a decade of weekly protests by Tea Bag Conservatives and Looking Glass Liberals alike on every street in America.

  • SleepinJeezus

    So, call me a cynic, already.

    As pointed out upthread by you and amike, the electorate may not have known the details of the platform for the Dems when they voted in 2008. But they most certainly voted for “Change You Can Believe In.” And the electorate is not nearly as stupid as you and Obama/Emanuel and Congress (including, most particularly, Baucus and his committee) seem to think they are.

    What we have gotten is kabuki theater in exchange for the populist promise that we were about to reverse the misery of the last 20 years. And nowhere was this more apparent than in the actual “delivery” of the HCR reforms.

    Much has been discussed about how vital was the “public option” to true health care reform. Good arguments on either side really missed the point. The point is that the desire for a public option (even single payer health care) was remarkably popular among the electorate, despite the millions of dollars spent and the over-the-top rhetoric and fear-mongering used in effort to defeat it. (“They’re going to kill Grandma!” fer chrissakes!)

    Yet, Obama and Emanuel made certain that any public option and other less “insurance industry friendly” provisions would not be included, even as they pretended that they were in favor of them.

    I am not the only one who can smell a fraud perpetrated on the people in service of the corporate owners for whom Obama and Congress works. Indeed, the displeasure noted in the recent MA polls over “business as usual” in Washington is genuine, yet it has little to do with partisan bickering and sausage-making and everything to do with pols who serve the interests of the oligarchs at the expense of We The People.

    Yeah, call me a cynic. But then riddle me this, batman. Where would YOU place Obama and Congress on a spectrum that includes a craven whore on one end and a statesman on the other? I think the voters in MA did just that, and registered their contempt for the result in choosing the “populist outsider” in the election.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      That you continue to commingle the president and Congress just proves the level of naiveté you continue to bring to politics despite your advanced years. Ironically enough, that is the same thing David Gregory does on Meet the Press, so you are in good company.

      I suspect you didn’t even read what I wrote nor the many comments that followed because this rant has zero to do with what I am discussing or what I have consistently said I believe. Your reply is a good example of why “progressives” have failed to accomplish a damn thing worthwhile in more than forty years.

      Ask yourself this: How exactly did you expect Obama to fix something as dysfunctional and unbalanced as the United States in a single year, let alone an entire term in office? Hell, it took FDR four terms, a luxury Obama can’t afford which requires strategies that early reformers never had to consider.

      So, carry on smartly, Weepin Jeezus, if this is all you have to offer the discussion.

      • SleepinJeezus

        “And the electorate is not nearly as stupid as you and Obama/Emanuel and Congress (including, most particularly, Baucus and his committee) seem to think they are.”

        I see no “commingling” of Congress and the Presidency in this statement. Indeed, a second grader would see that there is a separate consideration of both entities in the construct of this sentence. Why else would they each be named?

        The fact that they are both held in contempt for their mendacity in promising Change whilst preserving the oligarchs agenda at any cost does not indicate that they are one and the same. Instead, it shows just how pervasive the corruption is in Washington.

        It is you, my friend, who are naive in your assertion that Obama looked around for direction the day after his inauguration and, having supposedly found no operating instructions from those who elected him, decided that it was necessary to abandon populism and simply once again launch into politics as usual. Pretty strong leadership toward “Change You Can Believe In,” that!

        (Cue the complaint that I should read what you meant and not what you said in three, two, one…)

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Obama looked for us to continue marching in our millions to ensure that Congress got the message and most of the country went straight back to sleep.

          I didn’t say he should look for direction. I said he needed an active and attentive audience at the grassroots which never materialized. You don’t read what I write, let alone understand what I mean, so your continued caricature of my positions is not a surprise.

          I trust the able readers of TPM to sniff out who is a reactionary bullshit artist and who is trying to honestly figure out how why we didn’t get the results we were looking for in November of 2008 – republican, democrat and independent alike.

          • SleepinJeezus

            Your vapid excuses for Obama/Rahm – who has shown himself to be no less a shill for the corporatocracy than any Member of Congress – is really quite disgusting. There is absolutely no denying that Obama as a true populist could have steamrollered the powers that be to provide Change We Can Believe In as promised. Instead, he has perpetrated a fraud, and we are no more in control of a representative democracy than we were before he gained office.

            In electing Obama to office, we provided the vehicle in which he could effectively do the People’s Work. Your insistence that he should somehow ride in the back seat whilst we drive the damn thing is preposterous, given the fact that he alone possesses the license to operate but instead chooses the comfort of riding along in the corporate limousine.

            And, yes, I am very confident that the readers at TPM are indeed capable of sniffing out the bullshit artist, and at the very least your expiration date as the champion of the Great Obamawon has obviously expired.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            What a surprise that you heard nothing I have said and offer this threadbare strawman instead.

            You have also been absolutely wrong about everything the entire two years I have been coming here, so forgive me if I take prognostications to be more scared bleating from fading anacronysm.

            The days of your type of “progressive” tactics being effective are long over. I am going to try different tactics but you are free to keep pissing up a rope as long as you want.

            What’s it been, over forty years now? Must be quite a puddle you got going.

      • SleepinJeezus

        “How exactly did you expect Obama to fix something as dysfunctional and unbalanced as the United States…”

        Answer is simple: By putting one step in front of another in a progression TOWARD an objective other than “What kind of change would my corporate bosses allow me to do?”

        “… in a single year, let alone an entire term in office?”

        There is nothing in anything I have written that would lead anyone to assume that I expected political Nirvana at the close of the first year of this Administration, or even in my lifetime for that matter. Yet, it is expected that you will continue constructing strawmen such as the “impatient Progessives” to justify your weak-kneed defense of Obama that he can do nothing until the conditions within the electorate are just right to somehow glide into real change we can believe in without first planting a flag and fighting for it.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          “Progressives” of your ilk are weak-kneed. Have been for more than forty years and have been slipping the blame that entire time because of folks such as yourself who rather scream in impotent fury that do anything new to ensure that progress takes place.

          • SleepinJeezus

            More mealy-mouthed platitudes – but then I’ve come to expect nothing more from you as seen in the entirety of your post as written. No solutions at all. Just reasons why Obama is rendered impotent waiting for Godot.

            “Just wait,” sez the great prevaricator known as jason “Obama will begin leading this country forward just as soon as we can promise him that he won’t get hurt or have to take any risks or actually need to stand for any principles other than reelection. If we will deliver non-controversial, moderately static Change to his front doorstep, he will endorse it. I promise!”

            Yeah, what a hero we’ve elected as the leader of the free world. Comes complete with a leash, and can be expected to perform tricks for whosoever gains control of the other end. You might find it refreshingly “post-partisan” or whatever. I find it to be contemptible and worse than ineffective in the face of the buzzsaw that is the ascendant fascist opposition.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Have you ever read a single history book?

            It doesn’t appear that you have because you are talking about revolutionary changes to an entrenched system without the benefit of revolutionary forces.

            Point to a single president who made the changes you suggest absent massive and nation-wide protests and marches. Name one man who was the political Juggernaut you expect Obama to be.

            You can’t because that president doesn’t exist.

          • SleepinJeezus

            Name one President or leader who successfully negotiated a time of extreme crisis, mouthing populist platitudes (on occasion) while carrying water for the ownership elites regardless of the cost to the populace. Marie Antoinette is about the best example that comes to mind, and she most certainly got the “massive and nation-wide protests and marches” that you insist are so necessary for Obama to genuinely focus upon “Change You Can Believe In” instead of his corporate benefactors.

            It ain’t a problem of history that has Obama so severely compromised by his obeisance to his corporate handlers. It’s a problem that plays out continually in the press and the polls in real time. And the fact that you never acknowledge that critical point says a whole lot more about your schoolgirl infatuation with the Obamawon and a whole lot less about your analytical abilities.

            You would excuse Obama for being ineffective and increasingly unpopular, blaming it instead on Congress and on those who elected him into office. You seem to think Obama rises above the cesspool that is Washington, and that he will hit his stride as a leader if only we will drain the cesspool. Look again, dear jason. We definitely need to drain that cesspool, and we elected Obama to lead the effort. Instead, we see that Obama has simply risen to the top where he does nothing but await his turn to circle the drain.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Again, you duck the question with a strawman argument. LBJ had King. FDR had the labor movement. Obama has a nation of fuzzy couch burritos and Yosemite Sam bloggers.

          • SleepinJeezus

            No strawman here! I duck nothing. Obama has pHarma and Goldman Sachs and…

            When you care to acknowledge the degree to which Obama is owned by the monied oligarchs, you may have some credibility to lend to your analysis. You otherwise embarrass yourself as an infatuated cheerleader for the totally awesome Obamawon. Step aside, boy, and leave the heavy lifting to the adults. Your googley-eyed crush on this celebrity who would be President if only we would be more aggressively worshipful is better placed in Teen Beat.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Just as soon as you acknowledge the degree to which the entire system has always been owned and only relinquishes control to the degree by which We The People become engaged at the grassroots.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            If you’ll notice SJ . . .

            All that bluster and broad brushing of anyone and everyone ol’ Bluster Butt doesn’t want to deal with the memes of “Looking Glass Liberal” and “the days of your type of “progressive” tactics being effective are long over…” and “…why ‘progressives’ have failed to accomplish a damn thing worthwhile in more than forty years…” is coming out of the piehole of some neophyte blogger-boy that all of sudden became such a political expert and know-it-all, in what, the last 4 or 5 years?

            Dayum … He must dislike the baby boom generation cuz his daddy was a looking glass liberal that didn’t take his crap and he’s never gotten over it.


          • SleepinJeezus

            And what is so amazing is the way in which he presents as such a sucker to be abused by the corporate realpolitick, all the while patting himself on the back for being a boy genius. I recommend him for his expertise on kneepads and chapstick, perhaps, but maintain that his political analysis has all the substance of a popcorn fart.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            Well SJ … A buck says . . .

            . . . ol’ Bluster Butt won’t admit that his momma would be pampering him when his daddy was trying to talk sense to him.


          • Jason Everett Miller

            Wow. Look how personal you get. Then you wonder why you have never been able to do anything ut jerk your puds in a circle and jizz all over the rest of your crew.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            PS: I didn’t mention the Baby Boomer generation once, but I find it interesting that you introduce the generational gap into the conversation.

            You guys have been tone deaf for decades and totally disconnected from reality. Must of been the “hi-fi” cranked to 11 and all the acid you took as a teen.

            I would simply ignore you, but that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as mocking you for your political naiveté at such an advanced age.

  • tpmgary

    This is an interesting discussion. Thanks for generating it, Jason.

    Someone mentioned the Democratic party platform in 2008.

    Can anyone define the Democratic party platform in 2010?

  • tpmgary

    To run around in circles suggests some form of order.

    So perhaps the Democratic party platform is more accurately stated thusly:

    “Fire around in circles, run in all directions.”

  • Michael

    Fire around in circles, run in all directions.

    That about sums it up, and this ‘article’ puts it into practice. Jason, you splash a little vitriol in every direction, just so we all know it’s not YOUR FAULT, then offer a Panglossian defense of Obama. We’re getting screwed and according to you it’s all our own damn fault. You may be absolutely right, but pointing that out advances our cause exactly nowhere. Go cry in your beer until you have something more substantive to say.

  • OldenGoldenDecoy

    You ARE what you eat . . .

    Now put down the cookies, doughnuts and Cheetos, set aside the citicoline – tyrosine – phenylalanine & Taurine for a month and try and come back to earth.


  • OldenGoldenDecoy

    The meme found throughout . . .

    We The People…
    We The People…
    We The People…
    We The People…
    We The People…
    We The People…
    We The People…

    That is … only we the people… that Mister Bluster Butt and his minions approve of . . .