Now that the esteemed Senator Ted Kennedy has been laid to rest next to his brothers in Arlington Cemetery, I feel compelled to comment on why I see his legacy as a reflection of what is most wrong with our political environment here in the United States of America.
Ostensibly a representative republic, We The People exercise very little control over who we send to Washington DC and seem oddly reluctant to bring in new blood to help move the country in more innovative directions. For much of our nation’s history, we had a steady turnover in Congress due to a large number of voluntary departures. As soon as it became clear that these clowns weren’t leaving of their own accord, it was our duty, and actually a protected right for every American as of 1964, to turn these folks out if they failed to live up to their oath of office. Yet for the last forty years, the average turnout for presidential general elections has been under 60 percent, and the turnout for primaries barely registers on the scale of influence.
This is how we created the government we have instead of the government we need.
As much as the Lion of the Senate actually did in his long and distinguished career, none of which I dispute was largely beneficial to the country in general, the journey itself seems mostly marked by a long and undistinguished series of failures to accomplish his stated goals due to a rigid set of partisan blinders as well as an almost willful inability to see beyond his party to do what was right for his country.
Ted’s time to head into the sunset was in the mid 1970s, after he decided to not run for president and long before he took a sitting president to the convention, thus ensuring the election of Ronald Reagan and all the crazy shit that followed. Ted’s partisan disregard for Jimmy Carter is largely responsible for our current state of affairs. I can already imagine the flaming that last sentence will bring to the blog, but I stand by that assessment and would apply it to every member of Congress, in both major parties, over the last forty years who kept their seat by maintaining the fiction of representative government. They played the game they always have in order to be reelected, sacrificing their morals and ethics as much as necessary depending on the individual member and/or issue.
A shell game at best.
The reflective desire on the part of the democratic faithful to canonize Kennedy, both while alive and after he died, is another symptom of our political disease. The republicans did the same thing with Ronald Reagan and an assorted crew of mediocre deities. In both cases, the action simply confirmed the opinions of each party toward the lack of sanity and reason of behalf of their political rivals. How could anyone with half a brain cell possibly think so highly of that SOB!? is the cry from the fringes of each party and has just enough truth for the moderates of both to ensure our partisan divide continues to widen while our country goes down the shitter.
On the flip side of the sainthood coin is the need to vilify each and every political adversary to point of caricature. Sarah Palin cast as the conservative witch that all good liberals must cast on the bonfire is a perfect example of that trend. No matter how many republicans on this site disavow her more inflammatory comments, the idea that they think she is the messiah of the republican party is a democratic prejudice that won’t go away. Every critique of the republican party is couched in the idea that EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN believes that Bush was the Second Coming and would usher in an era of the Christian States of America.
So what can we do about it?
That remains the challenge of the next generation. How can we fix our broken political system to actually deliver the return on investment in government that our tax dollars represent and our outcomes rarely reflect? I think it is incumbent upon the moderates of both parties, as well as the sensible independents that defected from both over the years, to meet every single fringe posting from their side with facts and shame.
It can only be done by the grassroots moderates of each party, because the fringe won’t listen to anything that comes from the opposing party. I have been at TPM since April of 2008, over a year of which I have been a registered republican, and have been able to make very few inroads with the Looking Glass Left despite the basic similarity of my positions as a former member of their clan. Mostly it seems they are pissed because I gave them such a jaunty name. Something with the same panache as the Rapture Right. Labels can be helpful in defining the fringe, but when we try to apply them to the majority, the process falls apart.
Which brings us to the most nefarious part of our journey today, the ever-expanding wardrobe of the Corporate Media Complex.
I have posted clips from the movie Network repeatedly. I would do so again here as being entirely appropriate, but for some people embedded video clips makes it impossible to see the rest of the post. A film that was an award-winner in 1976 may seem an odd place to find parables to today’s environment, but the simple fact is that we have known about this fantasy we have created for more than 30 years now. It has gotten worse almost in direct proportion to everything else that is fucked up today. Small, disconnected policy decisions made during a time of national crisis have been maintained in the absence of any credible evidence to suggest they should be maintained.
Further, both parties have spent us into bankruptcy based on mistaken interpretations of the actual threats we faced as well as the solutions we should implement to meet those challenges, real or imagined. Be it terrorism or communism or fascism or whatever-the-fuckism, Americans have been played the fool since at least the end of World War II, and most likely since the very beginning of the country as a group of enlightened aristocrats sought to carve off the most profitable piece of a well-established empire to call their own.
This is yet another one of those blogs that I have no idea how to end. The problem is much too big for my mediocre skills. I hope to spark comments, both pro and con alike, as well as any recommendations that seem fit to the occasion. Beyond that, I usually feel much more powerless to affect anything resembling real change absent some sort of divine intervention I don’t really believe exists outside of our own ability to evolve beyond our limitations.
Jason, that is a very thoughtful essay.
The problem is that as an electorate, we are motivated more by pain than pleasure. In other words, things have to get incredibly bad before we vote out a set of fools en masse, even if only by a relatively narrow margin (the ‘en masse’ refers to the fools, not the voters). People, otherwise, stay in their comfort zones and ignore politics.
Yes, we vote because we don’t like something, for the most part. That is why the Right realized that it could use one issue to rile a relatively small segment of the population (abortion, preeminently) to create a segment that would stimulate its nucleus accumbens with every pull of the electoral lever.
I voted for Obama because I had SMALL hopes for him and a great deal of FEAR of a McCain/Palin Presidency.
But I’m not an optimist by nature, not an activist, only someone who is trying to understand what the hell is wrong with us/myself as collective and individual electorate(s).
Thank you for the thoughtful comment.
I confess to a total lack of understanding when it comes to knowing what will shock America out of its somnolence. It seems we have entered hell by way of the best intentions of both parties and nothing “moderates” have to say makes the slightest bit of difference.
I was much less of an optimist as a pissed-off independent waiting for the democratic party to deliver all of the very worthwhile goals they had espoused for my entire life. As a newly minted reformist republican, I feel a sense of optimism that I never felt as an independent. There is a battle to be won and it isn’t happening on the fringes nor will it be happening in the ranks of those who opted out by way of disenfranchisement with both major political brands.
It is in the center of both parties that Americans can still be called to arms to deliver us from the depredations of extremist ideologies by way of consistent participation in the political process.
Oh, here we go again. Bashing the “people of this country”, “Americans”, “citizens” and this really accomplishes a lot–blaming it all on the American citizen.
The reality of it is, those in power have learned to IGNORE US. Let me say this again. THEY HAVE LEARNED TO IGNORE US. It is not that we are not out there making our voices heard but between the corporate puppet wack jobs (“Town Hall meetings”) and a media that no longer covers US, we are buried under layers and layers of mire. Add to it essays like yours, in which you blame “Americans” for their somnelence or somberness or something like this, well, hell, I think I will just stay in front of the television. What’s the point?
I am someone who is still using all the normal channels of a “democracy” only because I have been using them my entire life and I know no other way. They USED to work (protests, writing letters, calling, etc). After all, Nixon did step down (contrast this with Cheney and Bush).
But these normal channels do not work anymore NOT because we are not USING THEM but because we have a media that is stupid and entertainment driven
and politicians have learned they can ignore people and get away with it.
Last year, I was one of 200 people who attended a protest to end the war in Iraq. We held it near the capitol where I live. There was a moment where someone said, “there is no one here from the media? Is there anyone here from the media?”
NOT ONE. Sure, we can take pictures and post them on U-tube but the point is even with press releases, THE “MEDIA” MEANING THE LOCAL NEWSPAPERS AND TELEVISION STATIONS DID NOT SHOW UP FOR OUR PROTEST. Please contrast this with the 60’s or 70’s. No one from the local media SHOWED UP.
So who would you like to blame in this scenario? It infuriates me when I read pudnit after pundit whining about how “apathetic Americans are” but let me tell you. We are OUT THERE but no one, including even you apparently, gives a damn anymore. We’re all just a bunch of apathetic losers now. Well, sht. Maybe I will just skip that next health care meeting. Whose the real fool here?
And contrast the coverage of a similar size Fox led tea pot party.
Your comment, while very passionate and heart-felt, is an example of why we are failing as a country to deliver on our promise.
The average turnout for midterm primary elections is 16 percent. That is not getting involved. That is staying home until November and then bitching a lack of real choice and having to pick the lesser of two evils. We all claim to be involved but how many of us really are? The political junkies are but most people’s answer is: “I don’t do politics.”
I blaming the majority of the country who can’t be bothered to vote twice a year every two year like clockwork. That is what will make politicians listen to us in way they never have.
“Your comment, while very passionate and heart-felt, is an example of why we are failing as a country to deliver on our promise.”
Your comment shows you are the most condescending prick on this entire site. Hell, maybe the entire left side of the blogosphere.
Hmmm. You really don’t pay attention. I am not “left” nor have have ever claimed to be. As to the rest of your continuing attempts to derail important conversations with ad hominem hackery. Keep trying.
“what will shock America out of its somnolence.”
Becoming a third-world nation?
I think you are probably right, which is why things are starting to change.
Could you say more about Ted’s disregard for Jimmy Carter? In those years we had no television or radio, so we missed a lot of history. I saw a bit of that era on teevee bios during His funeral week, but I was unfamiliar with it.
I was only ten at the time but have since come to understand the period via the historical record as I researched Jimmy Carter over the years.
I really had no opinion of Ted until I saw his path intersect with Carter’s by way of the 1980 democratic primary. Seeing how damaging the extended democratic primary in 2008 was to Obama’s general election run, I became convinced this dynamic was at play in 1980 as well.
Barack avoided the same fate and prevailed in the general, but I think he might have gained an even wider margin had he not needed to tack left to win the nomination.
Well, shoot, that didn’t illuminate much for me. Guess this blog isn’t for history lessons.
Wendy, here is a little bit of the story. I don’t remember the convention but I have heard over the years – that vague “heard” – that Kennedy cost Carter his second term.
It also looks like the NY Times will be previewing the Kennedy bio and there is something there today. It is one of those stories political buffs love to talk about.
Thanks, blue. I only became interested in the Kennedy part of the story when I became interested in Carter himself. Most of this is new to me.
Jason, I was 12 on the day Reagan was elected. I stayed up that night watching young, well-dressed, slick-talking NCPACers explain how epochal the change for this nation was, how America could have self-respect again, how ‘our values’ would prevail.
It was probably the most disheartening thing I have ever seen in my life. I don’t blame Kennedy for it. The American people must bear a share of the blame.
I don’t “blame” Kennedy as much as I think he made a tactical error with unintended consequences for the long-term progressive strategies he seems to have always had for the country but never quite fully delivered.
Maybe Kennedy’s move was tactically poor. I don’t doubt it, having seen a generation of Democrats run tactically poor campaigns against Republicans.
But I think you’re not giving enough ‘credit’ to Reagan, who lit up the Republicans’ pleasure bulbs like Sarah Palin does, and also (unlike her) those of the ‘moderates.’
Remember,it was more than just Carter who was swept out in that election. Liberal lions like George McGovern, Frank Church, Birch Bayh… Kennedy was the ‘last lion’ standing. (I have no idea if he was up for election that year, but as a Kennedy he had lifetime tenure in Massachusetts, and that is certainly not his fault. But the other ‘lions’ were gone.)
It still seem that whatever gains Reagan may have been to make that year, it would have been exceedingly tough unseating a sitting democratic president with a united party behind him and a country very wary of the GOP brand that close to Nixon.
The odds, from an historical perspective, would have all been in Carter’s favor but for a very long and bitter primary battle against his own party’s most popular member that left him emasculated in the eyes of a country that was already feeling vulnerable.
The primary race left just enough doubt to get the country to roll the dice on Reagan.
Gee, wonder why the Democratic Party was not united behind Jimmy Carter — you could make an argument that he was too centrist or moderate to unite his base behind him. He certainly was not lighting up their pleasure bulbs.
Obama looks to be making a similar mistake.
This may be part of why Obama is losing part of the middle as well: if he won’t stand up for his backers, who will he stand up for? Independents don’t want someone who is in lockstep with one wing(nice mixed metaphor,isn’t it?) but they don’t respect anyone who is clearly disloyal either.
There you go confusing yourself with the base again. Ideologues are not the base. The base is the silent majority in each party who actually turnout to vote. Most ideologues don’t fall into the category.
What cost Carter the election was the failure of the economy (due to gas prices) and the PR failure of his rescue mission in Iran (and of course, Ray-guns was bargaining behind his back with the Iranians for weapons.). I was 17 when I worked for McGovern in his first campaign, you figure out how old this made me for Carter’s term and subsequent re-election bid.
A challenge to a sitting president by one of the most influential members of his own party was a blow to Carter’s image that nothing would repair.
All the other things you mention would have been easy to overcome given the place where the republican brand was at the time. Reagan shouldn’t have been able to get elected dog catcher.
I understand your view of this issue given the history you shared. I just don’t agree with it for a number of reasons.
Jason, I agree that voter apathy, an uninformed public, a system gamed to favor re-election, and an entrenched duopoly that limits any independent challenge has created a government almost completely out of whack. It’s true that much of this began to take hold under Reagan and has grown to a point where the federal government is almost dysfunctional when it comes to doing the “people’s work.”
But you’re castigating Kennedy for challenging the incumbent while condemning that very system of assured incumbency. It is not the fault of any one politician and especially not one who fought against the corporate interests because it’s the corporate stranglehold on DC and the media that is largely responsible for the misinformation (and apathy for that matter).
Neither the left nor right has a corner on truth, legitimacy or morality (though today’s political right seems at times almost proudly dishonest and corrupt). But it doesn’t follow that all solutions to our problems are then found in the middle. The left and right have different definitions of our social compact but when it comes to policy, either one can be unfaithful to it. And politics today is almost all spin (not true of the past). Besides, that middle line of moderates has been moved. The left has been demonized for so long as radical that a true moderate liberal can be called extremist by the right and a “moderate” of today would have been on the right side of the aisle before Reagan.
Presidential incumbents and Congressional incumbents are two totally different things, Don, but I do regret giving an impression that I was castigating Kennedy. I certainly don’t think he deserves castigation, but constructive criticism always seems appropriate to me.
Fair enough. Lobbying, not just corporations but powerful lobbies like the NRA or influential groups like the Christian Right (diminished somewhat) distort the system more-so than ever (I omit unions, environmental groups, trial lawyers, etc. as powerful lobbies because they usually lose out to corporate interests).
I’m not so sure that the presidency is much different from the congress in regards to the systemic lock on elections. It may be more apparent in congress (with the open door to lobbyists) and no term limits but the same institutional duopoly (you can probably list some of the independents for president last year but I’d bet 99% of the public cannot) and fundraising advantages apply.
How many presidential candidates get to the finals without corporate cash? How much of the presidency is politics over policy? Rahm Emanuel, just like Karl Rove, understands whose bread to butter. And I cringe at how cynical I sound about politics these days, but I calls ’em as I sees ’em.
Obama mostly made it through the primary election on hundreds of thousands of hundred dollar donations and republican voters in open primaries. Bill Clinton was most a grassroots effort as well, if I remember correctly.
If were as much a lock as you surmise, we would be talking about the Hillary Clinton presidency and the far left would be moaning about her compromising all of their most important goals.
I think the rise of the career politician led to the rise of lobbying. We had very little of that sort of nonsense when a healthy percentage of Congress quit before each election. As soon as they set up camp in DC, though, the wolves started coming out in force.
I think we are all trying to be a little less cynical and a little more optimistic, as hard as that is right now. Wash, rinse and repeat. We are in for a long transition I am afraid.
Agree. But Hillary wasn’t far behind Obama. He did raise more in individual contributions than most but also more in industry money. And he hasn’t kept the lobbyists out of the WH; the revolving door is still spinning. The President is not only president but leader of the party and chief fundraiser (even presidents with 20% approval ratings can pull in large donations-wonder why that is?).
Obama, for example, appears to have received about 10% from donations under $1000 and, what, about 20% under $2000. Who has the greater influence, a lowly individual who gives a few hundred dollars, a PAC giving hundreds of thousands, 527s spending millions in ads or a bundler bringing in millions from industries and large individual donors?
Also, the money poured into congress spills over to the president in that he has to cut deals with congressmen who are influenced by lobbyists filling their coffers, not to mention media spending (the health insurance industry alone is spending $1.4 million a day pushing their agenda).
I guess the proof for me is in his performance, which has thus far appeared to try and accomplish what he ran on.
I don’t care where his money came from or where it comes from because most “corporate” money is simply sliced and diced data from individual contributions. If he continues to be consistent with his campaign platform as well as his two books, I will continue to generally support his efforts.
If he comes out next week and announces a deal to “kill” the public option for now, I will think he is a grandmaster and is indeed playing chess while everyone else plays checkers. A bill that is supported by even a token handful of republicans will go a long way toward getting a strong public option by way of Medicare reform.
At least that is how I see it, now that I have apparently been successful at transforming myself into a “real” republican.
Yes, Obama will be judged on his ultimate accomplishments. But the money is corrupting the whole system, especially with regard to incumbency as you said. But it also acts as a gatekeeper regarding what gets discussed and how it’s debated. And of course, we’re paying for this. All of the money comes from our pockets ultimately. Setting aside the influence benefiting moneyed interests instead of the general public, how many jobs could be created with just that $1.4 million a day the health insurance industry is throwing away on their “message”?
I agree with this analysis, plus the Republican machine became a thing of genius under Reagan.
We are not bankrupt. That is the same bullshit I heard for the last fifty years.
The economic oligarchy has soooooooooooooooo much money, so many assets hidden and otherwise that debt nationally is a figment of the imagination of right wing pundits.
A one percent tax on stock trades would CLEAR THE NATIONAL DEBT IN A FEW YEARS.
Work with both sides.
Both sides of what.
There once were two sides, hell ten sides. Where is Dirksen? Where are the liberal repubs?
They are gone.
TED KENNEDY CARED ABOUT THE POOR, THE MIDDLE CLASS AND WORKED FOR THAT END HIS ENTIRE LIFE.
What in the hell has McConnel ever worked for except corporations and the monied oligarchy.
Jason I do not buy this anymore
I am not surprised that this is your reaction to my blog, Dead Eye. Your own journey has pretty much determined your view on this particular subject.
The facts are that despite Ted’s good works, his inability to guide the democratic party to a place that captured the imagination of the silent majority is also part of that legacy. The “other side” is all the people you will never know but determine the outcomes of elections.
They are the people you deride as centrists but can be guided by way of redefining the center you refuse to admit exists.
Yeah, well, thank goodness we have Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, the Nelsons, etc. to do that. I’m sure their versions of “the Dream will never die” are out there somewhere on the internet.
Thank goodness we do or the president would be even more upside down on this current debate. The only way to get this country moving in the right direction will be through a series of progressive compromises to begin the long, hard road of deprogramming a significant number of our fellow citizens.
Or I suppose we could round up every republican (and democrat and independent for that matter) who doesn’t agree with the far left and toss them in reeducation camps. Might be a bit quicker than coming up with actual solutions, but I am sure it would feel good to finally “win” while the rest of us continue to lose.
Really? You think their contributions have been helping him make his case? I’d apply the old cliche with friends like these who needs enemies.
I prefer Sun Tzu: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
The Blue Dogs contributions will lead to a bill that is as bipartisan and progressive as this first effort was ever going to be. They are acting as the Rosetta Stone between the ultra conservatives GOP and the mostly moderate democratic party that nonetheless sounds extreme to much of the country.
Changing a paradigm by fiat only works if you want to wreck the country like the last administration. If the goal is to fix the country, a little more patience and strategy is required than most of the far left seem willing to have.
Why do you assign to Ted Kennedy the job of guiding the Democratic Party “to a place that captured the imagination of the silent majority”?
You not only assign that task to Kennedy but in so many words criticize him for failing.
Because he was the Lion of the Senate, the democratic party’s undisputed don.
Very authoritarian view of the world and a rather complete lack of understanding of where public opinion started in the 1950s.
Dear DD . . . My fellow “Old Warrior” . . .Just quietly step aside and get that touch of gray out of the way before the Bluster Bus blows your pajamas off.Signed,A fellow “Old Warrior,” incorrectly labeled and presumed member of the “Looking Glass Left” …~OGD~Oh … but before I leave this empty space . . .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibsnBpzBT-4
As a foot note for those who presume they have a read on history…
Humans have a tendency of attempting to stuff the genie back into their own self-made bottle.~OGD~
Your generation were the glass blowers, not mine and not my brother’s.
And . . .
And Mister Bluster seems to be pissed that our generation doesn’t miss the double-standard he sets out, nor have any problem sticking those glass blown bottles right up the asteroid-orifices of overly wordy blustery types that denigrate, stifle, and vilify others for some jackass political agenda.
Mister Bluster doesn’t realize that he’s just too damn transparent.
Since I have yet to bring orifices of any kind into the discussion, the true ideologue who debates with ad hominem attacks instead of facts is easy to unmask.
Bluster on… Bluster on… Bluster on…
Oooo … “ad hominem attacks” … Check.
Next in line out of Mister Bluster will be the ol’ saw of hiding behind the safety of an anonymous screen name as Mister Bluster continues the overly wordy blustery type of rhetoric that denigrates, stifles, and vilifies others for some jackass political agenda.
Broken record rhetoric is not a logical argument. You speak to no one but yourself and the gullible left wing of the democratic party who “think” the same way.
Broken record rhetoric is not a logical argument?Huh? I wonder why Mister Bluster employs “broken record rhetoric” in his arguments?Oh … that’s right. Mister Bluster is unable to see the double-standards he sets.Too damn transparent in his ways~OGD~.
Because you keep offering the same shit as responses. Perhaps if you ever commented on what I actually wrote than what you think I wrote, we might actually begin to communicate. As it is, you seem perfectly content to stink up your own house.
Sneer all you want — the men of your generation were still backing Bush in 2004.
I didn’t vote for Bush. In fact, the turnout in 2004 was as pathetic as all our elections and the result was pretty much even, so the historical record is hardly this cut and dried.
Sarah Palin cast as the conservative witch that all good liberals must cast on the bonfire is a perfect example of that trend.
Is anyone forcing Sarah Palin to spend any more time on the stage than allotted?
I know she wasn’t for real when she started making up the Constitutional role of the vice-president.
I knew the media was going cash in on Sarah Palin when they didn’t seriously ask her how she planned to accomplish her goals as vice-president if the Constitutional says otherwise.
This blog wasn’t about Palin or her crazy rise to notoriety. She is simply the most recent example of demonization of political opponents and isn’t confined to the left side of the house, which I mentioned.
but if she wants to get off this ride all she has to do is step off.
And then we can stop using her as an example.
Again, it could just as easily have been Coulter or Limbaugh or Gore or Clinton or anyone the fringes of both parties demonize. Please try not to take all my words quite so literally as there is a good deal of allusion and metaphor in there as well.
Like Sarah Palin, any one of those individuals can resume a life outside the spotlight. No one is forcing them to continue a public or political life.
As someone who considers himself left of center, I don’t think Obama went left as stated in this post but he is stuck in the mushy middle. His approach has been moderate as many on left have called for him to be more aggressive with several of his initiatives.
He hasn’t gone far enough in several key areas. I think he has to be pulled more to the left.
I wasn’t commenting on Obama’s effort to date. I actually think he has remained remarkably consistent and largely effective given the liberal bleating from the far left and the intractable obstruction from the far right.
Intractable opposition from the entirety of the right, in Congress.
Clean your house.
Takes time. We have election every two years, not every seven months.
Crazy rise? Who’s dissing your Republicans now? Since Palin had a 72 / 21 favorability rating among Republicans as of July as per Gallup, her support among mainstream Republicans is a fact, not a Democratic canard. She was also coming in a close second to Romney in a mock primary.
You need to explain why the Republicans fell for her so hard.
Because she reminds them of themselves, just a egular ‘merican. Kinda like Dubya.
What the difference between Dubya and Sarah Palin? LIPSTICK!!!!
That joke will never get old!
Not harboring ill will toward someone and thinking they are a political leader are two different things. Again, you confuse what the numbers are saying because you apply your own liberal filters to polls done on republicans. It is comparing apples to orangutans.
For this statement alone:
‘I think it is incumbent upon the moderates of both parties, as well as the sensible independents that defected from both over the years, to meet every single fringe posting from their side with facts and shame.’
I will Rec’d. with one caveat. I don’t believe it is only incumbent upon moderates – but for all who profess to prioritize honest and quality government (equating to best for country and society).
So sick and tired of different tenets and actions applied dependent only upon political source as opposed to uniform outcry for all lies, distortions, misrepresentations, ethical and moral infractions, or worse.
By large, I endorse and support most elements of your post. As usual, it is well sourced and well written. Greatly appreciate the time, thought and effort.
Hey, Sam, thanks for the kind words and the thoughtful response. I totally agree with your caveat. All Americans, regardless of label or intention, should be willing to speak out against shit that doesn’t sound right.
It’s not like its a secret. Even those who stay silent know the crazy shit we are all talking about. The political stances that aren’t in any way, shape or form credible. The opinions that are ridiculous on their face but we accept out of some sense of loyalty to the crazies because they are our crazies.
I became a republican as a statement of refusing to allow labels to define my political ideals. I could just as easily reached into the New Deal past of the democratic party for that identity.
Ironically, one of the reasons I’m an Independent is the same!
I was an independent until I realized the futility of being such in a two party system. I am just dumb enough to think I can change one party to be more to my liking.
Good luck with that!
Exactly. I am sure that you love the new improved Republican Party you are planning to create dearly — it just bears an extremely limited relationship to the Republican Party which actually exists. Unless you are extremely careful most of your effect will be to enable the latter.
More inane musing from AJM. The only political constant in this country is change. You better love yourself some new republican party as well, or nothing the democratic party wants to achieve will ever happen.
The political stances that aren’t in any way, shape or form credible.
There’s the key to it all and it is the only thing that can turn the lock, credibility. We have abandoned credibility. An opinion is considered something sacred, because it is personal, rather then a theory yet to be proved. An opinion has become a partisan declaration. Watching Tom Ridge on Maddow, he managed to call her evaluation “radical”. Talk about having had the warning decades ago, what is next, calling her “liberal, fanatical, criminal! Whooo!” You know the music, and it was decades ago. Rachel made a very rational evaluation of the history we have learned related to the run up to invading Iraq. But Tom is now toeing the party line and it defies logic.
Other examples of credibility abound. To get old, we can simply consider that G. Gordon Liddy, a convicted criminal related to Watergate, is given a platform to discuss politics. Oliver North is given a platform to discuss the military, after lying to Congress. Sanford, Ensign, and Burris – it’s not isolated to one party. It’s insidious that these people remain in power when they have lost all credibility.
It seems to me the apathy is spreading because there does not seem to be any way to stop it. Dubya and Cheney offered no-bid contracts, and billions of dollars disappear. Contractors get paid for products and services before they are even provided, and in some cases, regardless of whether they were provided. Wall Street and the financial industry run rampant and we put up billions to save their bacon with nothing to show for it provided to the American people. One might allow favoritism to the wealthy if they paid their fair share of taxes, but they are not. This is a one way relationship. We’re looking for signs this will actually change, but except for the rumor Obama would provide Change We Can Believe In, there do not appear to be many changes. I know, give him time. The time is now for HCR. Then will we move on to the other issues, like war crimes?
It was after midnight when I wrote this. Can you tell?
Either way, some good thoughts in there. I do believe the apathy is a result of an American trait to provide an unlimited amount of self-justification for their actions rather than any actual powerlessness. We have all the power we need yet decide not to exercise it.
It happens every two years like clockwork and most states even publish the dates well in advance. They are called the primary elections and barely 16 percent of us bother to turn out during midterms and less than 30 percent turnout for presidential election years, with this last year as no exception, despite the hype and press.
It wouldn’t take much of an increase in the primary turnout to totally change the make-up of both parties. We could make them reflective of FDR and TR. Ike and LBJ. We could make them something completely new that can work together to achieve a common set of goals as articulated by We The People and who we send to Washington.
Or who we send home.
There’s a lot to comment on, but here’s one thought: The view of the moderates as opposed to the fringe (if we are to divide things that way) is not inevitably the proper view.
On the one hand you hold the moderates up as elixir for our country, yet at the same time see the need for radical change. The moderates by nature seek to maintain the status quo for the most part (e.g. stop people from getting kicked off their health insurance when they get sick, but let the health insurance companies continue to exist in order to profit off of health care).
Sometimes we need to take a principled stand on the issues at the grassroot level. Other times we need to compromise. It shouldn’t be: no matter what the issue, I am a moderate. It should: what is the issue, where do I stand and where I am willing to compromise based on the evidence (and my heart).
One simple example: Moderates would have told Kennedy not to send in the national gaurd to force the integration of schools.
I think you make a lot of good points, but misunderstand my use of the word moderate. I think moderates are the ones that have a very fluid view of historical reality.
They would look at the use of the National Guard to enforce desegregation much the same way as they would view using the National Guard to quell the riots following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
In both cases, the mechanisms of the state were used to enforce the rule of the majority.
Sometimes our language is not up to the task. Currently the fringe is often used to describe people like the loons who show up at these town halls, but in the course of our history the fringe has included those opposed to slavery and for the right of women to vote, as well as those opposing the war in Iraq.
If what you’re talking about are ideological moderates as opposed to the fanatics, then I would be more inclined to say you’re on the right track as far as the grassroots movement.
I am talking about ideological moderates vice ideological extremists.
Most of the “fringe” movements you mention, though, were widely supported by a diversity of Americans. Even people with anti-war sentiments has been a fairly wide majority for a number of years.
It is less about ideas for me than it is about methodology.
It appears that by your definition moderate is conflated with flexible thinkers. There may be little or no overlap with those whose opinions are in the political center. Centrists can be just as dogmatic as those at the ends of the political spectrum.
What you speculate and what I speculate that the ‘moderates’ would have thought about calling out the National Guard to enforce integration differ. Got any data or do you live solely in an imaginary world?
You are the one doing the disputing, so it isn’t on me to provide data for an opinion that doesn’t require any. This country has mostly hewed to a centrist path on most issue, sometimes swaying to the right or left, but mostly steady as she goes.
‘Moderates’ sound good, at least, the word does. (And I appreciate your qualification that it refers to methodology, not ideology.)
But who is a moderate? Lindsey Graham? Joe Lieberman? Ben Nelson? Mary Landreau?
I would accept that all of these are ‘moderates,’ but their value is really as weathervanes, that if they tack left (on anything) it is a sign that a hurricane is driving them in that direction.
I think of myself as a ‘moderate.’ Hurricane Bush has driven me far to the left.
I don’t consider anyone in Congress to really fit that description, though I was pleasantly surprised by Lindsey Graham’s comments on why he voted for Sotomayor’s confirmation. I think the others you mention as well as many more do indeed blow with the prevailing winds, which makes any of their sensible statements automatically suspect for me.
I though Obama was (and still is) essentially a moderate who had too much faith in the current crop of GOP representatives being composed of people he could work with to be progressive and innovative and fiscally responsible. A state of being that I consider very possible with a slight modification of our individual frames of reference.
Then again, I have been accused of tilting at windmills, so perhaps I am the one with too much faith in the “silent majority” of both parties and their ability t mitigate the influence of their respective fringes.
Please explain why your opinion about what moderates would have thought about using the National Guard to enforce desegregation should be thought to be persuasive without data?
Your proposed decision rule ‘I said it first so I don’t have to prove it’ doesn’t cut it.
You have alternative views or data? It was actually the National Guard that had to be taken over by Ike because Arkansas governor was deploying them to stop the enforcement of the Supreme Court’s decision.
Right on . . . AJM . . .
And you’re comment there AJM was in response to a prime example of a faux-centrist (poser) with an overabundance of dogma, as if you didn’t know it already. How else can one take someone who describes himself as a Republican progressive conservative?
It’s quite easy if one actually understands history and is willing to learn from it.
In 25 words or less.
Explain American history in 25 words or less?
That you don’t see how utterly unrealistic that expectation is explains why the far left is having such a hard time understanding some fairly simple points about the average voter.
Maybe you should do your own homework and come back when you are an A student.
**Ad hominem attack**
Come back when someone’s an A student?
To hang Mister Bluster on his own words:
Mister Bluster just can’t see the double standards he sets.
Again … Too damn transparent in his ways.
Telling someone to do their own homework and come back when they can debate at the level of an A student who actually know the allusions being offered at TPM is not an ad hominem attack.
Absent the entire rest of the thread, perhaps it could be construed as such, but there is context in every communication that you continue to dismiss as soon as anything is said that suits your argument.
It is the same technique your pal Rove perfected under George Junior. Irony continues to elude you.
Mister Bluster sets the rules, expects everyone else to go by them, yet he himself never abides by them. Mister Bluster is not a nice person.
No where in that comment was any mention of rules, but this is another nice strawman. You getting those on clearance somewhere?
Ah yes … He never mentioned rules . . .
Mister Bluster doesn’t quite get the meaning of prima facia when related to his continuous complaints of his prima facia rules against “ad hominem attacks” and the “strawman”…
And then Mister Bluster goes on to use a strawman to complain about what is perceived by Mister Bluster to be a strawman within the rules Mister Bluster has set out.
There’s that double-standard again . . .
He must be Mike Woodson’s doppelgänger.
You point to strawmen of mine that you never to actually quote. You imply the sin without using my actual words to make the point valid.
It’s his TM.
More rules.. More rules.. More rules..
You’d think Mister Bluster was still serving in the Navy and playing acey-duecy at the chief’s club… vary the game and or the rules at Mister Bluster’s whim…
Yo ho Yo ho … A sailor’s life for me. . .
For God’s sake, jason, how can you possibly ever hope to maintain any credibility when you so casually rewrite history to make it bend and fit your argument, when in fact the reality of events discussed so often completely undermines your point?
Eisenhower certainly did NOT call in the troops to Little Rock to “enforce the rule of the majority.” He took the extraordinary measure of using Federal Troops in this enforcement action precisely because it was so vehemently OPPOSED by the majority. (Hell, even the police in Little Rock refused to enforce the law or protect the school-bound citizens from the mob set against them.)
Eisenhower acted upon principle; upon a belief in Civil Rights and in an exercise of his oath to defend and uphold the Constitution. (This dispute was triggered, after all, by Brown v. Board of Education wherein the Supreme Court – certainly not majority consensus – determined that schools must be desegregated.)
Eisenhower wasn’t interested in triangulating the issue to arrive at consensus. He wasn’t interested in negotiating incremental change. He never sought a bi-partisan solution. He certainly wasn’t looking for the middle ground in Little Rock, but rather was insistent upon standing fully upon principles that are inviolate.
You insult Eisenhower and the memory of this courageous example of true leadership by your flip assertion that this was an act of a politician representing the majority.
And you totally surrender any credibility you might have had in your argument that ideologues who insist there are principles that cannot be compromised stand in the way of progress. Eisenhower stood tall in defense of the Constitution and against the majority mob in Little Rock. And it is through this radical, in-your-face political move that Civil Rights in this country took a major leap forward.
Fuck the Insurance Companies and their “Health Insurance Enhanced Profit Reform” legislation, Mr. President. Be a rebel, and let’s start insisting on legitimate health care reform that cuts the extreme waste in the present system and that establishes health care as a right for every man, woman, and child in this country. Charge the Dems in the Senate to get it done, with or without GOP approval or the approval of the astro-turf mobs. Universal Health Care is a civil rights issue. Get it done.
Wasn’t Eisenhower an “Old Warrior”?
And SleepingJesus: As it was appropriate in response earlier in the thread I once again say that I await the onslaught of Mister Bluster’s response to rationalize his position related to your comment and his answer resembling a twelve-fold twisted pretzel (no mustard).
Picking jaw off of keyboard now . . .
The racists may have been majority in that state, but they were not the majority of the country, which is why Ike felt comfortable using military troops to enforce those rules.
He was enforcing the majority rule, as handed down in the Brown v Board decision. There is certainly nothing in what I wrote that could be construed as bashing Eisenhower and what he accomplished during his presidency. He was the last true conservative to sit in the Oval Office and his record reflects that.
That you would presume to lecture me on historical accuracy is pretty funny given the limited accuracy of this comment with regards to the historical record.
A “jason world” reality tendered in support of a “jason world” argument once again. But I wouldn’t expect any different.
What next? The Civil Rights Movement was a mainstream majority enterprise?
Hey. I lived it. If you think 1950’s America was a majority in favor of school desegregation you, my friend, should explain that to the heroes who fought so hard to make it all happen – DESPITE the calls from the centrists and the mealy-mouthed middle who insisted we need to take our time and accept incremental changes and blah, blah, blah.
You’ve lost all credibility, jason, in your disingenuous attempts to twist history in effort to make your arguments. The historic record prevails, and it don’t look so good for your “go-along-to-get along” style of politics over principle.
I’m left feeling almost embarrassed for you, but then again you deserve the indefensible corner into which you have painted yourself with the lack of integrity of your arguments. Guess that’s what happens when you so easily surrender principles in favor of a “greater good.”
By the time Ike was sending in troops, it was mainstream idea supported by the majority that had been building since the end of the Civil War.
This is not my world. This is the real world, well documented by dozens of historians.
The rest of your comment seems more of the same bombastic and hyperbolic reaction to everything I write. I would be embarrassed for you but it would clearly be a wasted emotional response to an ongoing series of partisan rants.
Good luck massaging the historical record to suit your rather murky and contradictory goals.
I am more than happy to let the historical record speak for itself. You, sir, are delusional and arrogantly dismissive of many who gave their lives in pursuit of equal rights in opposition to the “majority” mob. What a world is this “Jason world.” You’re welcome to it! Just don’t expect the rest of us to get on the bus for the ride to your fantasy land.
There is the predictable strawman for you slay and throw on the bonfire so you and the rest of the loons can dance around chanting war songs.
I offer the opinion that Ike took over the Nation Guard and sent in federal troops to quell the racists in Arkansas because that was the way the trend was going in the country at large and had been going for most of the country over the course of the previous century since the End of the Civil War. Somehow that becomes evidence that I dismiss the civil rights movement and all the brave people who sacrificed their lives and reputations to create that environment.
Only in the deranged mental landscape of the true political ideologue is such an illogical leap even possible. Keep on flying, Peter Pan!
Are you truly serious in expressing your opinion as fact that “By the time Eisenhower was sending the troops in, the only people who opposed civil rights were ideologues” or “Troops entering Arkansas in 1957 was the end of nearly hundred years of struggle”?
This is really too funny. If my grandson’s High School History teacher were to receive such an explanation of the Civil Rights progression in this country as you have conjured here, he’d paint a big “F” on it and staple it to a job application for Burger King.
It’s really tough taking you seriously anymore, such is the level of intellectual dishonesty you choose to employ. About all the credit I can muster in your favor is that even YOU gotta’ know that so much of what you write is nothing but hooey. The contortions to which you will go in your attempt to cover over ass in defense of your many incredible “statements of Fact from jason world” is almost entertaining. Kinda’ like watching a little girl playing “dress up” in her mother’s clothes. Kids say the damndest things, after all.
As for any integrity in your arguments, you consistently offer up half-baked opinions as “facts” that are about as substantial and as useful as a fart in a mitten.
Thanks for the laugh. And I’m sorry for you that it sucks to be exposed as a poseur.
We are not going to discuss the complexity of the civil rights movement in a couple posts on a blog. You continue to use strawmen arguments as those are the only type you can slay.
Then you throw in some choice ad hominem attacks without providing a shred of evidence that by the end of the 1950s the country was already moving toward passage of that landmark legislation that would arrive in 1964 by way of that hundred-year struggle.
The contortions your go through in order to disagree with fairly straightforward and non-controversial opinions is what remains comical. The fact that you never respond with anything resembling a thoughtful opinion of your own is what remains so damaging to your party’s long-term goals.
Good luck confusing tactics with strategy.
And to think . . . SleepingJesusThis is what the center-right has to offer as moderate?If so, they have a hill larger than the current centrist-libertarians to climb before ever being taken as serious representatives of the people as whole. Just saying ya’ know…~OGD~
Did you see, OGD? We’re reduced to the same old “ad hominems” and “straw men” and all the other whines that come up every time someone gets the better of him. (Which, btw, is actually about as challenging as identifying the comic relief in a Michelle Bachmann interview.)
Gotta admit, though, the Black Knight from jason-world is persistent!
“Alright, then! We’ll call it a draw!”
You have yet to actually debate anything but your own prejudice and stereotype at every turn.
Until you make a comment to what the thread was actually about – career politicians destroying the American government – anything you offer is by definition ad hominem.
As always. Ad nauseum. You are a broken record that has been playing the same lame tune since 1968.
“I think moderates are the ones that have a very fluid view of historical reality”
Amen, Brother! Your flowery bombast comes back to skewer you. Perfect!
Let’s put the quote in context shall we? You didn’t even reply to a message where the quote supposedly came from. Do you even read this stuff before hitting submit?
Source for claim that majority supported ending segregation? Saying it was so does not make it so.
Saying that the Supreme Court correctly interpreted the Constitution does not equate to the assertion that the majority of Americans wanted to stop treating black Americans as badly as they had been treating them. What — the majority of Americans who had been mistreating blacks ‘wanted’ to end segregation but were just waiting for the Supreme Court to tell them to?
By the time Eisenhower was sending the troops in, the only people who opposed civil rights were ideologues.
That is why all that legislation passed with such wide margins every time it came up for a vote. Saying the whole country was racists and segregationist doesn’t make it so. Troops entering Arkansas in 1957 was the end of nearly hundred years of struggle.
Have any of you so-called liberals even read People’s History of the United States or watched Keep Your Eyes on the Prize?
“I think it is incumbent upon the moderates of both parties… to meet every single fringe posting from their side with facts and shame.”
So left-wing fringe we’re talking Kucinich and his army of socio-pathic terrorists, and right-wing fringe … hm… something like the whole Republican caucus barring Maine, and the small wierd group of people who voted them into office.
Something like that?
Okay, think you have a deal, as long as you hold up your end of the bargain. I’m real impressed with your work on Farrar by the way. Promising!
/end of snark.
Seriously, as I’ve said, as much as you want to believe this madness is equal opportunity wierdness, I really think you’re very wrong.
Comparing the more strident leftists, however unpleasant they may be to you personally, to right-wing wackos like Chris Broughton is beyond misguided.
I am not equating ideals or tactics of each fringe. Obviously both have significantly different makeups and have inspired vastly disproportionate responses from the truly crazy in each camp.
I am comparing the response of the opposing party to the ideas of the fringe.
In both cases, it provokes a circling of the wagons and a condemnation of all that is OTHER! By failing to reign in the eccentricities of each party’s fringe, the moderates in both are failing in their duty to mitigate the influence of the extremists tendencies in any political movement.
For what it is worth, I do not believe the expression of each fringe is simply defined by the word “madness” and would agree the right fringe must lay claim to the bulk of the insanity that has resulted in modern American politics.
Jesus. Let’s start with where we agree. I was never a fan of Teddy’s. At all. Full stop. I am no fan of how the Democratic Party has organized itself these past 30-odd years. Network is well worth watching. And things need to change. There, those are the areas where we agree.
Now. Jason. In the kindest possible way, I want to ask, “Have you fallen on your head lately? A lot? Or…. were you (real hesitation to ask this, because it gets personal) dropped maybe?” I know about these things, suffering as I have from post-concussion syndrome lo these many years. But you appear to me as a newcomer to the region. A stranger in a strange land. And you’re babbling. Making no goddamn sense at all. In need of a firm slap and then a cold drink.
Start here. You are the self-proclaimed KING OF COMPROMISE. Compromise, you luvs it. Compromise R U. Nooooooobody on this site can compete with you, when it comes to compromise. You are THE MAN for wanting bipartisan, practical, legislative, no airy-fairy schtuff, no unelectable fringe ideas, no “out there” radical madness.
Naturally, this would lead you to conclude that Ted Kennedy is basically Satan. He is “largely responsible for our current state of affairs” and “his legacy as a reflection of what is most wrong with our political environment here in the United States of America.” I’m sorry… but…. Nurrrrrrse! Jason’s off his meds and he’s frightening people! (Wink.)
Dude. Every article I read about Ted’s career talked about his ability to make deals. His friendships across the aisle. And while you especially seem to detest his last 20-30 years in office, those were the years MOST marked by compromise. FOR DECADES, TEDDY WAS CONGRESSIONAL COMPROMISE.
Naturally, to make your case, you’d have to run as far and as fast away from these facts as possible. This probably explains you writing… Ted K is “largely responsible for our current state of affairs.” He’s to blame for Reagan? No. the person most to blame for Reagan is RONALD GODDAMN REAGAN. And who’s 2nd most responsible? The powerful people who devoted their lives to working for him and backing him. 3rd? The moronic voters who put him there. 4th? The guys who screwed it up on the Democratic side. Like Teddy.
You have taken your “both sides are to blame” thing and stretched it to the point where I just read it and think… Jason’s lost. He’s talked himself into shit so deep that it’s clogged his intake valve. I really hope you shake it off and clean the pipes dude, but I can’t be polite anymore. You’re saying stuff that is destroying your credibility. I don’t feel as if you can weigh differences and distinctions anymore. A 4 year old could cry and a grown man beat it with a bat… but you’d feel forced to mention that the kid had irritated him with its crying.
I mean, you say shit like this – “Coulter or Limbaugh or Gore or Clinton or anyone the fringes of both parties demonize.” Think about that, will ya? The Right demonizes Al Gore. The Left demonizes Ann Coulter. You list them as equals. Casually. I’m sorry, but that’s criminally insane. If not, then fuckit man, let’s elect Coulter and Rush in 2012. And I agree with Obey, the day you start comparing Broughton and Farrar to… I donno… single payer activists here…. is the day the chat ends.
When this stuff is pointed out to you, you recognize there’s a failure in the thinking process and you shift to lines such as, “By failing to reign in the eccentricities of each party’s fringe, the moderates in both are failing in their duty to mitigate the influence of the extremists tendencies in any political movement.” Which sortof sounds sensible. Until you stop and think about it. And then it just sounds nutbar again.
e.g. I can take a Top Ten list of RW assholes who get huge media play, people who are genuinely dangerous about violence, who are deeply racist and sexist, and who seem to live in some anti-scientific and anti-international world (namely, Rush, Coulter, most of the GOP congressional leadership, Palin, etc.) AND THERE IS NO REAL DEMOCRATIC TWIN. Same with the radicals on the ground. I know the Right freaks believe the Black Panthers are out there, organizing, and if so, yeah, I might call that a radical grassroots fringe – but who do the Dems really have that compares to people screaming about the anti-Christ and death panels and keeping their kids out of schools and who bring guns to political events? NO ONE, JASON.
But you know me… I’m just the David Farrar of the TPM Left.
All that being said, I really, really loved the C.S. Lewis book.
Holy moly Quinn. You just knocked my socks off. You hit the nail on the head, split the log in two, slam dunked it. Thanks for saying it so well. I’m in a sweat.
I’ll bet Farrar gets more of Jason’s recs than you do.
Farrar deserves more. He’s top notch entertainment.
Although that guy who used to juggle chainsaws and babies was pretty stellar too.
Bravo Quinn … Ya’ know this minefield is just too rich to pass up . . .What is it about the following two graphs that this “Old Warrior” is having a problem wrapping my incorrectly labeled and presumed “Looking Glass Left” head around?
So there’s no need to “…vilify every political adversary to point of caricature..”? What? Oh … I see. Just the one’s that Mister Bluster deems are worthy of his divisive epitaphs and who he wishes to vilify. OK … Now I’ve got it.And then this beauty that underscores what I just pointed out in my last graph above…
And in addition, I can only guess that with the reasoning expressed in the last sentence of that second graph there’s no basis for the labeling “liberal X conservative = progressive” (the Obama equation) when applying that to what is now supposedly the majority because the process falls apart and it can be thrown in the ash can now.A person seriously needs a road map, a GPS and seeing-eye dog to wander through some of this bluster.Come spot…~OGD~
More illogical linking to blogs or comments you clearly don’t understand in order to make unclear points. I find it odd that the biggest issues I have with anyone around here are the old warriors such as yourself who can’t get over the past and try to shove me into their bullshit paradigm of a failed, far-left agenda that is anything but progressive.
It is the equivalent of the right fringe, but for my own good this time.
Just look how they turn out to shout down opinions that they don’t like. Claiming there is no liberal left and they certainly don’t debate like the far right fringe, yet you all use the same exact tactics as them, albeit for far more altruistic ends. You continue to offer the same lame solutions that simply do not work as effectively as you claim and won’t accept any data that is counter to your rather limited view of reality.
You and the other old warriors around here are the reason I didn’t join the democratic party, despite the similarities I may have with from a humanistic and egalitarian standpoint with regards to government and industry, both profit and nonprofit.
You can align yourself with a hate spewing pastor like Steven Anderson. You can be in the same party as Hitler apologist Pat Buchanan. You can abide Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, etc., but are repelled by “old” liberals?
Dr Tom Coburn (R-OK) told a grieving woman with a husband sent home post-stroke with a feeding tube that she shouldn’t look to government for help. Michael Steele told a woman grieving the loss of her mother to cancer partially because of limits placed on care by private insurers that she was just looking for a photo-op. Coburn and Steele are not the fringes of the GOP, they are the core of the Republican party.
If you are a Republican, you need to address the ills being manifested by GOP party leadership as a first step.
A democracy depends on an informed public. If the opposition believes that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 or that the VA is advising veterans to terminate their lives, there is going to have to be an education program before there can be a dialog. Grassley is telling people that Obama wants to pull the plug on grandma. That is the GOP leadership, not the fringe.
A two-party system is important, but when see fear-mongering and race-baiting from the GOP, I don’t see anyone to reach out to in a good faith manner.
Kudos . . . by rmrd0000 . . .
We “Old Warriors” take the BS from blustery windbag types the likes of Mister Bluster with the proverbial grain of salt the size of a horse’s salt lick…
Now … I await the onslaught of Mister Bluster’s response to rationalize his position related to your comment and his answer resembling a twelve-fold twisted pretzel (no mustard).
Or … On second thought, no response whatsoever like the sound of the wind blowing tumble weeds down a desolate stretch of Route 66 eighty-miles East of Barstow.
Where’s my GPS?
Come spot . . .
The advice given to Democrats does get old. Republicans show up at health care events with weapons and Democrats are the problem? Conservative can tell the public that the solution to insurance problems is to ask your neighbors o hold bake sales and car washes.
Republicans can be caught on camera telling people in dire health situations to just go away and the image is not considered important by MSM.
The crazed Liberals were correct about the war in Iraq and the dangers of uncontrolled business. Laissez-faire banking did it’s best to do what Russia, China, and Osama could not do, destroy the United States of America.
How does one justify being a Republican? It’s hard enough fighting the Blue Dog Democrats.
The Blue Dogs exist because the country tilts right (ever so slightly). The Democrats cover a wider spectrum than the GOP. This used not to be an issue when the parties weren’t so affiliated with sectionalism and geography.
Dems are their own worse nightmare. Instead of getting mad at the Jasons for trying to offer political solutions, they should get mad at the Kumbayanists who offer new-age, touchy, feeliness to politics. They are the ones gutting the Dem party of their fight.
The Dems like to brag about the big tent. This factionalism is the down side of that. When they try to please everyone at the same time, they end up accomplishing nothing.
I, for one, would welcome a Democrat aggressiveness that is not necessarily tied to extreme left politics on all fronts. I’d like to see an aggressive left but with a bit more respect for financial soundness. In many ways, the Dems are just as lost as the GOP.
Since both sides are more concerned about their jobs over national policy, you see what you get. By rewarding politicians with reelection for pandering, you get what you get. Jason makes a good case for that, especially in the example of Kennedy challenging Carter. Again, the Dems were their own worse enemy.
People here laugh about the GOP discipline, but you can see how that gets results. Maybe the Dems should just chuck the Blue Dogs out? Superior numbers in name only doesn’t by you much as you can plainly see.
Is a public health care option a moderate Democratic position or Leftist?
Is closing Guantanamo moderate or Leftist?
Is an Iraq withdrawal moderate or Leftist?
Great comment CT.
Nice to see you are getting a sense of humor too.
Because the only place you seem interested in reaching is out to throttle the idiots who are currently in charge rather than simply convincing the grassroots and letting them handle the tools in Congress.
There is no need for to say a thing about the current GOP “leadership” and the damage they did to the country. They were voted out for a reason. That fight is over the democratic party won. That is what I think you are missing in this blog, besides confusing the hyperbolic statements from the far right as having anything to do with my ideas in any way, shape or form.
That makes a nice strawman for you to defend, but wasn’t based on anything I actually said.
I voted for Obama in the general election as well as my first republican ever. All house-cleaning begins at the grassroots. To expect the top to change before you will deign to speak to those at the bottom is perhaps the most asinine political tactic I have ever heard, but good luck with it.
Right, this blog claims that Teddy is Satan. With a single line you condemn your entire comment to the trash bin of more far left idiocy.
PS: It is quite obvious from your rant that you didn’t really read my blog, naturally, nor did you even read the much smaller comment that you replied to.
It continues to come as no surprise that the ideologues on the left that exist as the mirror image of those on the right would fail to recognize themselves in tactics they used to deplore in others.
That is the nature of ideologues on the left and right.
I just re-read quinn’s comment, and it certainly appears he read your blog post. Didn’t agree. But read it, yes.
And your unctuous dismissal of his comments seems to have been anticipated as well.
And he had your lunch.
Better luck next time with all the convoluted nonsense and the “jason-world” reality. You’ll just have to get used to the idea that there are some sensible people who just aren’t going to get onto that bus to tour the landscape of your design.
I never even implied that Ted Kennedy was Satan nor did I imply the vast majority of spin his rant brought into the discussion. You offer tangential asides as “rational” arguments to a very specific and focused proposal, then get offended when I respond in kind.
Not good enough Jason, and you know it.
I refuse to respond to criticism of words I never wrote and ideals I do not hold. As soon as Quinn wants to talk about what I actually wrote, I will be happy to have that conversation.
– Ted K is “largely responsible for our current state of affairs”
– “his legacy as a reflection of what is most wrong with our political environment here in the United States of America.”
– “Coulter or Limbaugh or Gore or Clinton or anyone the fringes of both parties demonize.”
You’re making insane historical, political and moral judgments. The first two sorts are just weird, the last are outright repugnant. And when called on this crap, you claim you never said any of it. You claim you never meant to castigate Kennedy. You say you aren’t drawing moral equivalences. And yet you won’t back away from any statement doing exactly that.
If you do not mean what you say, be man enough to say what you mean.
Careerist politicians – as evidenced by Ted K. and a majority of the US Senate – are responsible for our problems.
Don’t blame me because you read what you want to see, even with a sentence like this that clearly places the blame in a non-partisan fashion:
Not sure why I even bother with some of ya’ll, because you clearly aren’t interested in having an honest dialogue about how to move the country forward.
No more so than the idiots I heard on NPR last night from the GOP who debate as if they never even read the legislation. Even the ones who are medical doctors. The only thing is theater, at best, and has both left and right wings to the stage.
The only thing is theater, at best, and has both left and right wings to the stage.
Yes Jason. That’s exactly what it is. That is all it will ever be. And the right has succeed in moving those goalposts through the framing of the debate. So why are you on a quixotic quest to find this mythical middle ground. I want facts to determine the policy. Not ideologies. Facts don’t temper themselves to compromise. That is what determines my views on positions.
What the fuck is so special about bi-partisianship? Why are you so determined to help us Looking Glass left see the error of our ways? Why aren’t you working on them? Between the two of us they are armed and we aren’t. Timothy mcviegh was not a leftest, hell we haven’t had any good nutjobs since the Weathermen. So why are you determined to help us out here?
It’s called working together as a country. It has nothing to do with Congress. There hasn’t been a true “bipartisan” effort in Congress since the 1960s.
My “quixotic quest” is to move the middle back to a more rational spot, while you seem to discount the whole idea that we could ever have common goals that we pursue from ideologically different places instead of fighting over the basic goal itself. When the assholes on the right and left wings start to actually direct the play, what is on stage will feel chaotic and without meaning.
It is the error of the Looking Glass Left’s inability to have reasoned and rational discussion with political rivals without demonizing them and treating them as the “enemy” at every turn. It is also the LGL’s inability to set long-term goals and interim steps to get there. They want it all, NOW! Those sorts of tactics is counterproductive to everything the LGL seems to stand for.
It has zero to do with ideas or ideals. We will find a sane middle ground if we can figure out someway to stop this pendulum swing of fringe politics.
Jason, I know where you’re coming from, brother, and I agree with the overall sentiment of bipartisanship where it can be found. Nonetheless, the current GOP obstructionism and Swiftboating of Obama and his agenda is demonstrably partisan and dims any reasonable hope for bipartisanship.
And I have to wholly disagree with your views that Kennedy wore partisan blinders in attempting negotiations for health care with Nixon (see your own link and read why) or that he should have resigned in the ’70s. In fact, the majority of Teddy’s legislative victories came in his latter years and owe no small debt to his bipartisan skills.
Nonetheless, I’m Rec’ing this for overall effort.
Hey, Rip, I know Teddy was your boy and I don’t discount any of the many fabulous contributions he made after his expiration date in Congress should have passed. I was trying not to be too brutal because I think he was mostly a great guy except for his performance in 1980 and 1969.
The main point of my blog was that despite the current “leadership” in the GOP, the grassroots is changing, for good or for ill. They have had the failure of their entire way of thinking shoved in their face and will be looking for a new expectation of their Congressional leadership.
I maintain that with just a little bit of innovation, the democratic party could turn the silent majority of the republican party and lead to the election of guys like this in primary elections all over red American.
Isn’t that outcome worth just a tiny amount of restraint?
Nice job of bullshitting,Jason. Make nice to the person you are arguing with — hey, I’m a good kid I too don’t discount Teddy’s fabulous contributions(I just think he should have quit before he made them.}
So, um, you think that if the Democrats showed just a tiny little bit of restraint in attacking the –how shall I say this — Republican fringe – the liberal Republicans would find it safe to come out of the woodwork and get elected all over Red America?
You are the reason the democratic party continues to fail at uniting the country behind a common purpose.
Teddy was representative of career politicians and whatever small contributions he made in those fifty years could have been magnified a hundred fold by having a steady turnover in Congress. As I said, every politician in both parties is guilty of the same, yet you only hear the criticism of The Lion, the patron saint of the democratic party.
Your limited understanding of me and the grassroots of the republican party is only matched by your limited understanding of American history.
You are the reason the democratic party continues to fail at uniting the country behind a common purpose.
That common purpose you speak of seems to be electing moderate Republicans we can work with.
Jason I suggest you get involved with your local Republican party org, not some DC council candidate in heavily blue Washington but across the river in a county in MD or VA. Get to know some of their grassroots people, the ones who are the foot soldiers who get out the vote in elections, the precinct committeemen. See how far bipartisanship and moderation gets you with them. Try building support for a reality based candidate or two. They’ll run you off.
It’s your job as a Republican to change your party, not ours. Take your party back and get rid of the teabaggers and religious nuts who ran it and our country into the ground. See if you can create a groundswell of support within your party to end the crazy nonsense and disinformation campaigns against any and all legislation we propose.
If you look closely enough Republican politicians agree with much of what Democrats are proposing on heath care reform, or at least mouth those sentiments. 161 out of 197 amendments accepted to Kennedy’s HELP Committee bill were proposed by Republicans, 52 out of 162 amendments to the E&L bill in the house, but you’d never know it by the vitriol coming from the right over the last month and a half. That was in June and early July before the insurance companies teamed up with the Swiftboaters and teabaggers to make “news” for the media to swallow.
That crazed partisanship from the Republican grassroots, the wingnuts who dominate your party and the moneymen who finance your campaigns have forced virtually your entire house and senate delegations to try to scuttle the bill at any cost.
You’ve done yourself no favors by letting the furthest fringe dominate the discourse in your party. Their month long temper tantrum has pushed your politicians into the anti-reform position which Frank Luntz warned would lose Republicans the health care fight back in April.
There can be no negotiations with people who won’t negotiate. There is no reasoning with dining room tables. Your party has made it’s intentions clear, they seek to destroy health care reform for no other reason than to hand the president and his party a political defeat. And they’ve done it with a dishonest, foolish PR scare campaign against provisions that aren’t even in the bill.
They chose to paint themselves into that corner not us. And no amount of compromise or conciliaton on our part can change that. Only people like you can. So get to work.
Yep, you said it.
Thanks for the tips. I am doing all those things already, mark. I am working on the republican party while at the same time hoping to inspire the democratic party to finish the work it still has to do rather than calling the job done.
The reception to CT and other moderate dems and independents offering the same advice proves this isn’t a republican or democratic thing. It is a group of ideologues who can’t seem to understand that nine-tenths of getting a message across is in the delivery.
I am working on my own delivery day-by-day, but I suspect nothing I will ever say will ever be taken objectively by those operating on the fringes of your party. They may share the same ideals as you, but they certainly have no respect for the manner in which you approach those ideals.
They are the left equivalent to what is happening on the right, whether that is hard to take or not, it happens to be true when viewed from the “right” angle. I am not so sure why it is such a controversial idea to point out that the democratic party is responsible for driving grassroots support from the members of both parties.
The transformation of the GOP leadership is going to take much longer than democrats can afford to wait to be more strategic and less tactic in how they talk to moderate conservatives and independents.
We Democrats are just getting started reversing the disaster of the last last 28 years Jason, we’re hardly resting on our laurels. We’re not waiting around for the Republican party to get it’s head on straight.
I’m able to talk to the fringes of my party and get them to listen in no small part because my message is the same as the president’s on down. We’re not tearing ourselves apart over public option/single payer. We’re not tearing ourselves apart over Afghanistan. I don’t have a problem with messaging to indies either.
I suspect you’re right, nothing you ever say will be taken “objectively” by anybody in my party if what you’re talking about is shrinking government, including it’s regulatory power or it’s ability to promote the general welfare. We’re pissed about the wasted three decades and the utter disaster of those policies. A whole lot of us have seen our opportunities dim, not the least of whom is your own generation Jason. Millions of people my age and older (I’m 53) in all walks of life, will now have to retire later if we can retire at all, which means the ability of millions of younger people like you to move up is seriously impaired.
And who do we blame for that? The party that changed the rules, made it easy for bankers, health insurance execs, mortgage brokers, hospital corporations, all kinds of financial predators to game the system and get rich at our expense. And until your party actually changes it’s ways and stops advocating those policies and lying about ours my work appealing to indies isn’t going to be hard at all.
I have never talked about shrinking government beyond taking a round-turn on it operations and making it spend the money we dedicate to the effort much more wisely.
Obama said it best as far as I am concerned: It isn’t large government or small government, it is smart government.
That sounds fine to me but it’s not the position of the Republican party and hasn’t been for about 30 years.
The democratic party hasn’t been liberal for over 40 years, so what exactly are you getting at?
Neither party is living up to its charter, but I suspect the democratic party has changed as much as they are likely to given that they are in charge now.
Changing the GOP seemed an easier task to me.
I suppose it depends on what you define as liberal but I think you’re wrong about that. 40 years ago it was Democrats who were demanding an end to the stupid war in Vietnam. For the last 4 years it’s been Democrats demanding an end to another stupid war in Iraq. It was Democrats who formed the Church commission.
It was Democrats who demanded and won a raise in the minimum wage in 1997 and 2007. It was Democrats who kept Reagan from means testing Social Security in 1982 and turning it from a insurance program into a welfare program. It’s Democrats that pushed and passed Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Clean Air and Water Acts and did what they could to keep Republican presidents like Reagan and GW Bush from gutting them. They had Republican support in some of those efforts but they were Democratic initiatives.
Recently Obama and the Democratic congress passed a $787 billion dollar stimulus bill, pure liberal Keynesian economics to jumpstart the economy when the Republican alternative was a Hooverite plan to cut taxes and freeze government spending for 5 years. We’re working on a health care bill that increases competition, covers almost everybody and pays for most of it by cutting out fraud, waste and profiteering. We’re working on a new energy plan that will cap emissions and promote alternative energy. Neither of these bills change things as fast or as broadly as I’d like but they are a start in the right direction.
You may be right about changing the Republican party. If you have another disastrous election cycle new leaders might emerge from the rubble calling for a radical change in message. But frankly I don’t see it. Your rank in file is still wedded to the same foolish, self defeating ideology that almost destroyed the country.
The democratic party was responsible for Vietnam, Mark. The only people protesting the war were people who wouldn’t be bothered to vote back then. There is a reason why it lasted until 1975, despite the most vocal protests in recent memory.
The last truly progressive and long-lasting changes made to the United States were done under LBJ’s administration, granted, but that doesn’t absolve the party of the part they played in the Cold War policies that the country pursued.
Go back and look at the historical record on all those items you cite. The roll call vote in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – probably the most classically “liberal” of the bunch – was a landslide. Ditto on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Even the Clean Air and Water acts got the signature of a crazy republican president who proved he could have a sane and sober moment due to the needs of the nation.
I think you misjudge the rank-and-file of the republican party based on my interactions with most conservatives. They are very much offended by what the party has become and are starting to express that disgust, despite the continued footage of crazy assholes at town hall meetings or the occasional right wing lone wolf preying on their enemies.
I don’t deny that today’s democratic party gives the appearance of being progressive, but the historical record seems one long on rhetoric and short on accomplishment, with all the truly revolutionary progress having been made via consensus efforts over a number of years. I wouldn’t point to the stimulus bill as an example of enlightened leadership, however. Nothing that is “on the president’s desk” by the end of his first month in office was going to be neither affective nor sustainable.
We continue to view the same historical records through what are vastly different frames of reference.
The democratic party was responsible for Vietnam, Mark.
In part but it was Eisenhower’s administration that refused to acknowledge Ho Chi Minh’s win in the UN conducted Vietnamese election of 1956.
The only people protesting the war were people who wouldn’t be bothered to vote back then.
The voting age was 21 in 1968, even so Bobby Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, both Democrats were the only antiwar candidates in the race. RFK might have won if he’d lived.
There is a reason why it lasted until 1975, despite the most vocal protests in recent memory.
Those protests forced Nixon to wind down our involvement in 1972 and get out of the war in April 1973.
The last truly progressive and long-lasting changes made to the United States were done under LBJ’s administration, granted, but that doesn’t absolve the party of the part they played in the Cold War policies that the country pursued.
Oh I’d say the Community Reinvestment Act (enacted in 1977 under Carter and strengthed under Clinton) did a lot to stop redlining and the bilking of big city residents by bankers. And what Cold War policies are you talking about? The Peace Corps? Radio Free Europe? The Helsinki Accords? The Israeli/Egyptian Peace Agreement? Giving the Panama Canal back to Panama? (Reagan hated that one) Or murdering a duly elected Socialist president of Chile? Waging wars in Central America during the 1980s that cost 250,000 campesinos their lives?
Go back and look at the historical record on all those items you cite. The roll call vote in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – probably the most classically “liberal” of the bunch – was a landslide. Ditto on the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Yes they were, but by 1968 the Republican party abandoned their liberalism completely. Racists like Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms and Phil Gramm left the Democratic party and embraced the racist Republican party it’s “southern strategy”. George Wallace ran for president twice as an independent racist in 1968 and 1972.
Even the Clean Air and Water acts got the signature of a crazy republican president who proved he could have a sane and sober moment due to the needs of the nation.
Nixon didn’t have much choice did he? Our cities were choking in smog back then. The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was burning. A veto would have been overridden and would have cost him the 1972 election. Nixon was crazy but he wasn’t stupid.
I think you misjudge the rank-and-file of the republican party based on my interactions with most conservatives. They are very much offended by what the party has become and are starting to express that disgust, despite the continued footage of crazy assholes at town hall meetings or the occasional right wing lone wolf preying on their enemies.
Yeah well I guess that explains the 12% popularity rating of Republicans in congress doesn’t it. Regardless I know lots of conservatives who swear they’re no longer Republicans but spout all the same death panel guv’mint takeover nonsense as the people they always vote for do.
I don’t deny that today’s democratic party gives the appearance of being progressive, but the historical record seems one long on rhetoric and short on accomplishment,
In case you haven’t noticed Republicans controlled the agenda for most of the last 28 years.
with all the truly revolutionary progress having been made via consensus efforts over a number of years.
We haven’t had “revolutionary” progress since 1783.
I wouldn’t point to the stimulus bill as an example of enlightened leadership, however. Nothing that is “on the president’s desk” by the end of his first month in office was going to be neither affective nor sustainable.
It wasn’t meant to be sustainable, it was meant to keep the economy from falling into a depression for a couple of years while rebuilding infrastructure too and it’s working. You can argue that the world would have been better off without the US government doing anything but my point here is the difference in approach, liberal Keynesian fiscal stimulus or a conservative freeze of government spending.
We continue to view the same historical records through what are vastly different frames of reference.
I have never said there were zero achievements or successes.
What I am saying is that by and large for the last forty years we have gotten more corporate-controlled than ever and it is reflected in both democratic and republican policy. Along with that, more people are worse off than ever before.
Denying any sense of personal responsibility – either actual or shared – is not going to help bring moderate republicans and independents around to moving forward.
So we’ll go back to regulating Wall St., inspecting our food and drugs, and fixing the rigged health care and energy markets and you can figure out how to convince the insaniacs who run and populate your party how that’s a good thing. Or you can pretend like they do that it’s a commie/Nazi plot to take over the country.
It’s not up to me or the republican grassroots. The only way to get rid of the “insaniacs” that run the GOP is for the majority party to convince the moderates to vote for different people.
Confirming their worst suspicions, even the ones that are mild compared to the far right’s accusations, seems an odd way to convince persuadable voters.
I think your measured and patient recital of facts will be more beneficial to changing the republican party in the long run than spending another second talking about the far right fringe who have taken over the GOP.
The only way to get rid of the “insaniacs” that run the GOP is for the majority party to convince the moderates to vote for different people.
Your insaniacs make up the vast majority of it’s grassroots too. As for what you’re saying here it sounds like the Republcian party won’t change until it hits rock bottom.
I don’t know what you mean by this:
Confirming their worst suspicions, even the ones that are mild compared to the far right’s accusations, seems an odd way to convince persuadable voters.
Confirming whose worst suspicions? There’s a whole lot of people who used to call themselves Republican where I live. They can’t stomach that party label anymore, but aren’t willing to call themselves Democrats.
They’d like to think Bush was just an aberration. They’d like to think George Ryan was just an aberration. They wish another St. Ronnie would come along and tell them it’s morning in America so they can thump their chests and bellow “we’re no 1!” again, that less taxes will balance the budget, insinuate that white Christian people built this country and make ’em feel special again, tell ’em a rising tide lifts all boats and give ’em a fat juicy raise cuz they’re drowning in debt.
Some of ’em wised up last year, some of ’em went back over to the crazy side this year. Some more will wise up next year. It’s no fun recognizing every political tenet and politician you believed in was a fraud. But eventually they’ll get over it. A lot of people did in the 1930s too. Let’s hope they don’t have to get over it that very hard way.
My reply here. I still think you are too firmly on the left to have a truly objective view of this particular issue.
Not taking the bulk of the blame for Vietnam as a party is also intellectually dishonest and continues to bring a doubt of credibility from people who might see things slightly differently from yourself.
JFK and LBJ were the presidents that allowed the Cold War to spin off that particular little bastard child. They then escalated it beyond belief and certainly beyond the morality evidenced in most of their other actions.
That, for me, is the saddest chapter of what should have led to much different America than one I was born into.
Republicans were isolationists from WW1 right up til Pearl Harbor. They paid dearly for it for a decade and then went overboard the other way with their screeching about “who lost China” and then McCarthyism. When Ike came into office he took the same stalemate in Korea Truman and Stevenson would have taken. Then he let the Dulles Bros, overthrow legally elected governments in Guatemala and Iran, which have been haunting us ever since.
No doubt LBJ escalated the Vietnam War with combat troops but there’s a lot of evidence JFK wouldn’t have if he had lived. And since the end the Vietnam War it’s the Republican party that has consistently wrapped themselves in the flag, fed the military until it was bloated beyond belief and necessity, painted Dems as weak on defense, fought secret illegal wars in Central America, traded arms for hostages with the Iranians and went nuts in Iraq. So please don’t give me this crap that there’s some equivalence between the parties on foreign policy. Your guys have been anything but a steady hand.
About the only Republican foreign policy successes of the last 50 years have been Nixon going to China, which all the pundits were right about, only he could do it, because if a Democrat had gone the Republican party would have screamed treason. The other is GHW Bush rejecting his loony SecDef Cheney’s suggestion that we stir up and back a revolution in Ukraine in 1990. Not going crazy and not doing something incredibly stupid is what passes for a Republican foreign policy success in my book.
No argument with any of this.
Not really. This is all a pretty typical, if overly simplistic and moderately biased, recital of the last hundred years or so.
Yeah, like his quixotic campaign to keep us out of the Neo-Con War of Choice in Iraq. He failed at that. miserably. Guess it proves your point of just how ineffective he was. Could have taken his place with the rest of the”reasonable centrists” and REALLY accomplished something. What a failure!
I can’t believe you actually wrote this paragraph without holding tongue-in-cheek. Ted Kennedy’s Progressive legacy of legislative accomplishments will stand against any such charges that it’s a “long and undistinguished series of failures to accomplish his stated goals.” What a ridiculous standard you apply when you point out as a failure the fact that Ted Kennedy didn’t accomplish all his dreams and aspirations for this country.
It’s undeniably a far better place than it otherwise would be because of the incredible legacy of hard-fought successes he realized. And he did this by being a bit more multi-dimensional than the “go-along-to-get-along” pol you would celebrate as the effective leader. He had his deeply held Progressive ideology upon which to stand as a mighty foundation. And he had the ability to work the process to achieve what was possible – most importantly, WITHOUT compromising his Progressive ideals.
After all, there really are TWO components to the effective statesman: Ideology AND the ability to work the process. Your focus upon process alone is precisely the reason that we are now so bereft of leadership in Washington, left wondering “what do the Dems really stand for?”
I could trust Ted Kennedy that he would not sell us out. I trust few others like that in Washington. With Kennedy, I knew that he would not now be included among the majority of our Senate who bend over backwards to make certain the Insurance Industry needs are taken care of before we even consider the actual needs of those who are sick and dying because of the lack of health care reform. He would have insisted that we are better than that. And then Ted Kennedy would have negotiated the possible on behalf of the sick and uninsured, and the bottom line would have placed us upon the road to universal health care. I have little faith that these others – Dem & Republican – have the passion for such a fight. They just want to get a deal accomplished. They hope to be “effective politicians.”
Good luck with that. If you won’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Your kind of DLC triangulation and centrist posturing has proven this to be true for far too many years now.
Fifty years of effort, a bare handful of progressive accomplishments as a result. His efforts stand on their own, such as they were, whereas our needs were so much greater.
I guess the question is would we have more progressive accomplishments if there had been a few more Teddys in the Senate to back him up?
Perhaps. Or if he had followed the lead of those progressives before him and bowed out gracefully to support a new generation if leadership to carry on the fight.
Care to name names? Just how many of the next generation of leadership do you think were blocked rather than enhanced by Kennedy’s continued presence?
Leadership is not inherited when one generation steps down — it is created when more persuasive ideas are presented.
Your miracle of a Republican council candidate sounds remarkably like a standard liberal Democrat.
Look at the link in my blog that takes you to an examination of Congress. More than a third used to leave office before running for reelection at all. Of the two-thirds that remained, most of them left following a second term.
When the voters refuse to vote and the incumbents refuse to leave, we get a dysfunctional government that continues the bad habits of the past and misses most of the opportunities inherent in the future while pissing all over the process today. We are being killed by institutional lethargy caused by a surfeit of old people in Congress who have been perched there for decades and will not leave.
All for “the good of the country” of course.
I don’t think you realize how much congress has changed over the years and how partisan it’s become because of gerrymandering at the state level. Most house seats are safe for one or the other party.
That may or may not be a good thing. But what sure as hell wouldn’t be a good thing is a raid turnover of house seats every 2 or 4 years. You’d have a know nothing congress full of dilettantes led around by the nose by a permanent political class in DC, long time staffers elected by no one and all powerful chairmen of the parties. No thanks.
The history of Congress up until very recently included an average of 35% turnover every two years by voluntary retirements. The voters need to provide that service in the primaries because members of Congress no longer quit until they die. It is a lifetime quest to bleed the golden calf.
Not a single gerrymandered district can stand up to even a modest increase in primary turnout. Progressive challengers never get through to the general in either party, thus unseating a lackluster incumbent, because the incumbents fans are the only ones who vote.
That results in mostly Lesser-of-Two-Evil general elections and the continued trickery of the permanently-endowed incumbent class we can’t seem to get rid of no matter how many people seem to want them gone.
Your response to Markg8 about the expectations of incumbents to die in the traces of their legislative seniority is a good thing to keep in mind. But I am not sure if that addresses the problem of gerrymandering that Mark brought up.
You say: “Not a single gerrymandered district can stand up to even a modest increase in primary turnout.”
Isn’t that what the shaping of a district is about? Reducing the chances of that “modest increase” happening?
16% turnout is why gerrymandering doesn’t matter in the primary. It is only important in the general when the race becomes incumbent against democratic challenger.
Piggybacking my ditto to SleepinJesus. Thanks for putting my thoughts about Teddy into words.
Sleepin is a master as you can tell from his avatar.
His eulogy was the best on the site, hell most sites.
Thanks, DDay. Your words are most kind and greatly appreciated.
jem – ot
still not standing, but kicking (a bit)
back is thrashed, but will return asap
keep up the fight friend, it is wortthy one
Keep up the rehab because we need you on the front! Thanks so much for dropping by.
Jason, you might have an argument if any of your moderates had accomplished anything in the last 40 years. Kennedy didn’t hold the Senate hostage.
The generational change argument only makes sense of the next generation actually has an idea. (Giving the right everything they want does not count as an idea.)
What are you for? All I ever hear from you is you are for incremental change. Meanwhile, the right has driven this country so far and so fast into lunacy that they can practically threaten the lives of Democrats without the MSM even noticing they’ve said anything remarkable.
I agree, Bluebell, and your post made me wonder about this: did the republicans identify any problems that needed to be solved during their reign? Considering that they came into power during a time of peace and prosperity, it would have been a good time to reflect about our country’s direction, and what might work better for its citizens.
Instead, they went on vacation. Even when warned about a clear and imminent danger, they played golf and cleared brush. There was no introspection about health care (which to a man/woman they all claim needs attention now). There was no review of our country’s infrastructure, which is sorely in need of repair. There was no attempt to beef up security, despite warnings from the Clinton administration and later PDB’s, which were blown off.
My point is that, tragically, there was nothing in place to evaluate the situation, or at least it seems that there wasn’t. I work in a very small medical office, and one thing we do repeatedly it to look at how things are, and try to make them better. Is that too much to ask of our President?
Bush seemed to just revel in the lack of traffic jams; the ability to vacation whenever, and get a bottle of water by just asking. I don’t think there was anyone in charge of problem-solving; of asking, “How might we do this better?”
Obama may not be doing things the way we all want him to, but I don’t think anyone can honestly say he is just treading water. I wish he would kick more ass, but I probably would have already been impeached if I had been elected, so I will defer to his intellect and choices.
Oh, you aren’t giving them enough credit! The problem the Republicans identified was that the middle class, particularly the wage earning middle class, had too much power and that was getting in the way of maximizing the take of the top 1%. They set about remedying that situation quite effectively!
Long hours, job insecurity, declining wages and benefits, all contribute to making the middle class insecure, fearful, exhausted, distracted and receptive to their messaging.
Yes, Bush got 4 weeks vacation every summer and what does the average wage earner get – I think it’s less than 2 weeks. Many get none at all just as they get no health benefits.
I seem to remember they spearheaded lots of de-regulation for all sorts of industries, including the financial markets. gutted the clean air act, allowed higher mercury emissions from power plants, and yes,they got some help from enough corporate-minded dems. They helped convince Bill Clinton that NAFTA would be good for the hemisphere, and look how well that worked out for everyone involved. They got Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito on the Supreme Court; gosh, I think they had a lot of ideas. Most of the Senate Dems even voted for the most recent two.
Clinton was far more conservative than he was liberal. The republicans didn’t convince him of anything. He did it all on his own. The DLC is actually who pushed the idea from word one. In fact, but for token resistance from people like Sanders and Kucinich and Feingold, the entire government has been complicit in our fall form grace.
If in fact such a state has ever existed in this country.
I know this is all supposed to be total conservative America’s fault, but it really isn’t and can only create more animosity with people who could easily be convinced to support some pretty progressive ideals given the right pitch.
Clinton is really a moderate Republican. He, too, was of his times. He reduced government size, balanced the budget, increased the general prosperity, was pro-business, and conducted successful peacekeeper missions.
All things that the GOP loves as talking points.
Only they don’t accomplish them as well.
In a perfect world, an Hillary-Obama ticket would have been the GOP winner over the democratic ticket of Kucinich-Sanders.
We just don’t live in that country, much to the consternation of many on the far left.
they can practically threaten the lives of Democrats without the MSM even noticing they’ve said anything remarkable.
My point is that mostly people don’t pay attention to politics, moderate or fringe or republican or democratic, which is why nothing of any real substance was accomplished.
My point is also that the country doesn’t reflect the majority because the majority doesn’t vote in primary elections and can barely be bothered to turn out for presidential general elections.
I think the process is screwed because We The People are mostly absent, except for political junkies like me and you.
jason, for some mysterious reason, I find I’m more often in agreement with you since you made a commitment to being a Republican than when you first started blogging at TPM.
I think this particular post needs more work, but it’s a good start in tackling an ambitious problem. You say:
The thing I object to here is not the jaunty label you’ve given the Left, but the perpetuation of the myth that the “moderate middle” can save this country from the radical fringes. Clearthinker often makes these very same claims, and to you both I would point out that this theory is conveniently self-aggrandizing. Check this out:
Sound intriguing? There’s more:
The above paragraphs were written in 1995.
To this day there is no definable creature as a “moderate,” at least not like there is in countries with more than 2 parties. What defines an American moderate? Is a moderate someone who is anti-abortion and anti-death penalty, or pro-abortion and pro-death penalty?
Actually, it’s not my opinion that the mighty middle won’t save the day because there is no mighty middle:
That’s from an article in 2006, eleven years after the first article I quoted.
So, on the one hand you are correct that we are to blame for the mess that is Washington. On the other hand, however, it appears to be hopelessly unavoidable. The answer might not lie in the V-shaped middle per se. The answer to our political woes more likely lies in acceptance of our unbridgeable differences.
Moderates are the morons who vote based on the best sales pitch. The incoherence of their political worldview would cause their heads to explode if it was explained to them in a way they could understand.
Jason seems more offended by the way in which left-of-center political opinions are expressed than by the substance of the ideas themselves, even to the extent of preferring Rush Limbaugh over the imaginary radical leftists that haunt his fevered imagination.
I am offended by the lack of progress on ideas that I feel personally very strong about. The delivery is the message in politics. Lack of self-awareness has kept progressives from progressing for more than 40 years. This comment is emblematic of that problem.
“I am offended by the lack of progress on ideas that I feel personally very strong about.”
Me too. But we have been living in an era where the overriding political argument is that all taxes are bad, and government is the problem, not the solution. Blaming Ted Kennedy for this, is, to be polite, requires a wild leap of faith. Our current political problems are almost exclusively a result of the rise of the Reaganite Right and a gleefully complicit media.
“The delivery is the message in politics.”
If you think liberal messaging is the problem, and have a message that you think will persuade people to support a more progressive platform, please share. In my conversations with so-called moderates and conservatives, I’ve tried everything from gentle, patient argument in favor of my chosen policies to screaming “Nazi” in their faces. Nothing works, because the “government is bad” idea is part of these people’s political DNA. They simply refuse to believe there might be an effective government solution to certain social problems, even as they collect and depend on their Social Security and Medicare benefits for their basic survival.
Then there’s the media. Can you really argue with a straight face that the media plays it straight when it comes down to Democrat vs. Republican? Conservatives still dominate the political discussion in the media after lying this country into an intractable, hugely costly war, and allowing laissez faire economics to bring us to the brink of another Great Depression? When real world failure doesn’t persuade the media to challenge these people’s assertions, what in the hell do you think will? And, yet, Obama is required to defend his proposals in a way George Bush never was, even when it was clear what a miserable excuse for a president Bush was turning out to be.
Maybe I’ll take you more seriously when you offer some ways that progressives can get their messages heard. But to keep pretending that Tom DeLay and Nancy Pelosi are simply two sides of the same coin is beyond ridiculous.
Continuing to caricature my ideas as Tom Delay and Nancy Pelosi as being the same is why we will continue to not actually communicate on this or any other issue.
As soon as you can provide a quote of that opinion, it is simply another example of an ad hominem attack meant to confuse the actual discussion at hand, which is the damage that career politicians in both parties have done to our country.
Given your interaction with me, and even moderates of your own party, it is no big surprise to me that you meet zero acceptance from conservatives you may stumble upon. You have two modes as far as I can tell: Right on, brother, I can agree with that! or Fuck you, motherfucker, I will kill you and everyone in your family!
See how hyperbole and exaggeration can derail a conversation every time?
Thanks for the attempt at disagreeing profoundly with my premise without getting personal. I disagree with your interpretation, of course, but I understand how you arrived there.
I think you are applying yesterday’s labels to a group of people who have never asserted themselves. I am not talking about how “moderate” has become as polluted and perverted as “liberal” or “conservative” as effective ways of defining political constituencies in America.
We need a massive increase in turnout of those voters who have traditionally stayed home for primary elections. It includes 84% of the electorate, so we aren’t talking a small influence increased primary participation could potentially unleash.
I will continue to work on how I explain what I am talking about, though, because I think finding some sort of true, rational middle for the country is the only thing that will get us off this Möbius strip of corrupted politics.
As in the past, I totally agree with you about the problem of voter turnout. I just don’t apply any kind of political-persuasion label to the people who don’t vote, nor do I fantasize about the possibilities should they ever turn out. I don’t consider non-voters to be the “middle” or persuadable one way or the other because we don’t know what they are other than non-participating. I agree that if non-voters actually voted, we would have a representative democracy. You see more potential there than I do, however, possibly because you’re younger than I am. I am likely more skeptical about that bloc ever changing.
I think labels in general are pretty useless, and my point in linking to those articles was to demonstrate that, more than anything else. Labels are a marketing gimmick. I disagree that they are even useful for defining the “fringe.” In order to have a “fringe,” you have to have a “mainstream.” Who decides who is fringe? Certainly no “fringe” elements think they are “fringe,” right? So other people (like you, for example) are defining who the fringe is.
I’m trying to learn how to read you, jason. I don’t always succeed, but I do try.
For me, the “fringe” is not defined so much by ideas as by their methods.
Non-voting is reflected in our lives every single day in a million different ways. 86% of the country doesn’t vote in primary elections, so it stands to reason that using the general election as the baseline is where we are failing.
I don’t fantasize about the middle, so much as I dream of seeing a more representative government that is a reflection of the silent majority instead of the more vocal members of both parties and of no party at all.
Funny that you say you are older. I wouldn’t have pegged that for some reason as most of my troubles around here seem to come from those who are youthfully challenged.
I don’t get the terms. What is a moderate? What is the fringe? Is, for example, wanting a health care system equivalent to the rest of the first world a fringe idea or a moderate one? On a global scale, it is moderate… In the US, it is fringe-worthy.
I also disagree with your assessment of Kennedy. He was a compromiser and gave voice to the liberal movement. He argued for the left but never failed to try and negotiate the best possible reality.
He was a Mass. Senator. That is a state. Using national statistics to lump a small states’ behavior is asinine. I suggest you broaden your research into state and district level breakdowns and determine which regions elect incumbent more than others. I think you will be surprised. In fact, compare it to the rise of television.
You are doing good work by attempting to free your party from its mass neurosis. But chiding the fringe as somehow equally culpable is absurd. You are creating a false dialectic from which a terrible synthesis will birth.
Kucinich + Bachmann minus crazy does not equal moderation. Because in Bachmann’s case, there is only crazy. If you can find salience in her views, then Godspeed.
It’s about tactics not strategy. The fringe of both parties use tactics that have decidedly negative consequences to their stated goals. No where did I mention specific policies, because I don’t think it is about ideas. It is about the expression of those ideas and the solutions designed to solve them that can be accepted by a country as diverse as our own.
The moderate, to me, is the silent majority who barely bother to vote. It is the silent majority of each party who get totally turned off by the shrill cries of the opposing party’s fringe. It is a silent majority that must help mitigate the damage that each fringe does to the conversation by taking them to the wood shed when they get out of line.
If you had gone to the link about turnover in Congress, prior to our modern rock start politicos, most members voluntary quit after only a term or two. The election of incumbents has remained largely unchanged through history while the average tenure of those incumbents has increased exponentially. We don’t vote in primary elections which is why incumbents don’t lose their jobs more often since they decided to stop leaving on their own.
Kennedy is a symptom of the career politician disease. His canonization by the democratic party, like the deification of Reagan before him, is the critique I was offering. I allowed at the very beginning of the piece that I thought he tried to do good things for the country and sometimes he even succeeded at those tasks.
This was not meant to be a critique of his career but more of the idea that without people like him who have been in Congress for decades, how much more could we have achieved?
I agree with this wholeheartedly with Quinn, and I never liked Kennedy either (Chappaquiddick was way too much rich privilege for me- no honor), but the consummate compromiser he was and his heart was in the right place. However, Quinn is full on correct about your irreconcilable logical dichotomy here. If you don’t like him then what does that say about your philosophy of choice?
I don’t accept your so called center becuase the center is defined not by truth but by the media framing. Fox and friends are like conservative paramilitaries. They exist to shift the conversation right. Truth does not matter. AND THEY ARE WINNING YOUR MIND.
So a respectable hardworking senator/vice president/nobel prize winner who dedicates his retirement to trying to solve the most serious problem humanity has ever faced (climate change) is considered as “crazy” as a former deadhead (coulter) who realized she could make a fortune calling liberals nazi’s.
Or a man who barely escaped the Nazis who went on to make billions and has donated most of it to education and democracy organizations in Eastern Europe and the third world (george Soros) is considered the eqivalent of drugaddled racists on the radio (or worse Savage, beck, etc.). These people are not the other side, they are nihilists funded to shift the conversation right and stop government from working.
This is Bull Shit. And your equivocation is exactly that equivocation.
I grew up a ‘tom mccall’ republican, now I am
classified a hard left. Nonsense. I have never stopped believing in the paramount importance of the individual to work hard and do his best.
But here is the rub, Government has to work, I hate taxes but we have to live together and that means we need some sort of governance. And that Governance has to be based in fact. Truth Matters. Have you seen countries where government doesn’t work and everything is privatized? You know Somalia, the Conga, Afghanistan. Hmmm-great places.
So I look at our political debates by looking for the facts. Then I make a position and I argue for it based on those facts. I don’t think there is anything holy about our system and I am not afraid to challenge its precepts or to look abroad for other examples of good governance (I guess that is what makes me such a liberal in your eyes). I also regularly read conservatives who are also fact based (will, Samuelson, frum, etc.), but I can’t help but note that Goldwater himself when he died said that republicans were too conservative for him. Wow- that says something.
But you claim to just want compromise. Truth be damned. Great, lets compromise with an ideology that works great on paper (lassie faire capitalism) and real world history and case studies be damned. Wonderful! That is what has gotten us into so many messes (see U.S. Health care, Iraq rebuilding, 2008 financial meltdown, or for that matter the stupid Senate Filibuster) I don’t get it. Why are you enthrall to a mythical ideal that you say you despised (the Kennedy example) Why not become enthralled with facts.
I guess what I am saying is that you should upgrade your weather vane to incorporate the whole scientific method. Then take your stand.
another leftest nutjob
Hey now … Hold on a second . . .
Just because she says so?
In the parlance of that scene she was what would be known as a “lot slut.” A poser. A hanger on. A dingleberrie…
And you DO know that Patrick Leahy is Deadhead? Right?
Forty plus years on that road, from behind the curtain, and I’ve seen it all.
Funny … Now that I think about it … Ann hasn’t changed one iota.
Sorry OGD. Its what she claims.
Truth is she is not a serious person so who knows. Here is my favorite clip of her (vs Al Frankin)
shows exactly how stupid Jason’s Quixotic quest of equivocation is too.
The ‘evils’ of the New Deal vs. the Holocaust.
Yep that’s the worst action of the century. Granny gets a meager paycheck. These are not serious people.
Truth is she exists for the same reason the blond bimbo faux news anchors exist. To give political nihilism and obfuscation a pretty face.
Regardless Jason needs to sort his head out (and grow some balls too).
Ann Coutler is not representative of anything. As for growing balls, yours appear to have shrunken miserably these last few weeks. Not enough iron in your diet?
Maybe. However I have never backed down when someone called me out. I will either fight my point or concede that I am wrong and move on. I do not simply ignore valid points and run away. Which is what you are doing.
I believe I said: Truth is she exists for the same reason the blond bimbo faux news anchors exist. To give political nihilism and obfuscation a pretty face.
But you are right, however it was you who brought her up.
Ever seen Network?
I Seemed to hit a nerve. Scared to respond to Q or Obey I see.
I respond to those who make valid points or criticisms about what I actually wrote.
Long, rambling ad hominem attacks that have exactly zero to do with what I wrote are strawmen arguments and don’t deserve even as much time as I have spent discussing them with you.
I am more than happy to spar with anyone over the actual content of my blog or my comment. Chasing me from thread to thread, quoting my words out of context about unrelated matters and then hounding me about beliefs I do not hold is beyond rude. It is starting to be pathalogical and should not be encouraged with anything beyond a mild rebuke or perhaps derision. Simply ignoring such stuff may help alleviate it as well, but I doubt it. We are talking about Boomer ideologues after all.
They NEVER let shit go.
Wow, I didn’t write about any of that, but I find it curious that is what your read. I am going to have to come back to this as I am running out of time this morning.
Oh, Jason…a month from now, maybe two. I am just so not ready to do this yet. The man is barely cold.
If you want to talk “republicrats” I’m with you. If you want to talk about how remiss we have been as a people in getting to the point where so few vote, and allowing the lobbyists to own the politicians…I’m all over it.
But not Teddy Kennedy. I can’t do this right now. Not yet.
This blog wasn’t about Teddy and wasn’t meant as a critique of his career. It was about the lack of turnover among incumbents, of which Teddy was the most recent to retire by way of funeral.
It wasn’t about “republicrats” either because without those republicrats nothing in Congress would get done and very little would be palatable to the majority in either party. The republicrats were the only thing that has kept the democratic party from another defeat on health care reform.
It was also about the dangers of deifying any political figure. The right is as guilty of it as the left, of course, but the only way to comment on the phenomenon is to point it out as it occurs. I understand that is uncomfortable and tried to be as gentles in my criticism as I could be given the importance of the subject to me.
At any rate, thanks for dropping by.
No, but I’m stuck on what you said about Ted’s long primary battle with Carter causing his defeat, ensuring Reagan’s election, and that Ted’s disregard for Carter being responsible for our current state of affairs.
I thought Carter lost because of the endless counting of the days the hostages were still detained, and that Reagan won because he helped a large segment of America believe that “government IS the problem.” (and the crowds went wild, cheer, cheer…)
Political campaigns have become vicious and too well-funded with corporate money, and many will say anything if they think it will help them get elected. “Is Barack Obama a Muslim?” “No…………not as far as I know…”
“Did you know that Dick Cheney has a superbly wonderful daughter, and I am sure he is proud of her…(Didja know she’s GAY??) Swift-boating, daisy-petal-plucking nuke ads, now the Independent Women’s Forum (Michelle Bernard, Tweety’s favorite) telling women that government-run health care could mean they will die of breast cancer. Arrggghh.
But right now there is a wholesale attempt to delegitimize a President; not to just critique his beliefs and policy-attempts,to engage in debate, but to conflate him with Hitler, Mao, Dr. Kevorkian, Osama bin Laden, and if there are any elected moderates objecting to the demonization wholesale, they sure aren’t apparent.
There are several misconceptions that need dispelling. Kennedy was not a positive factor in the Dem Presidential Campaign of 1980. Here is a piece — from Kennedy’s own neighborhood, the Boston Globe — that discusses how people felt at the time and in retrospect. To challenge the sitting President, especially with a liability like Chappaquiddick, really divided the Dems and gave the Independents a clear “vote of no confidence” signal. The election was close. It wasn’t good.
By the way, Carter’s “malaise speech” (named by the GOP and now even used in docs about Kennedy) was called “A Crisis in Confidence”.
Here is Carter’s speech that supposedly was at odds with Kennedy’s vision and motivated Kennedy to challenge Carter.
I wonder what would have happened if the country had really put energy issues more forward? Cheap, secure energy is the driver behind all that you see around you. In fact, it’s what generates enough wealth to help those on the lower economic rungs. Without it, it doesn’t matter how big your heart is — you will have nothing to give the poor.
I’m glad you wrote this blog, Jason. There are a number of points that need to be raised. I’m sure these points will make little sense to those who worship at the alter of Kennedy, but people who have these issues should remember how the Reagan groupies appear to them. The similarities are clear.
Also a disclosure: I met Kennedy several times during the 1990s — and not at campaign events. This is the era that Kennedy rehabilitated himself and everyone points to…
As usual, the situation is more complex than people typically want to admit. Much history is either forgotten or not known. And I’m not referring to Chappaquiddick.
First and foremost: unless you are a MA resident, he wasn’t your Senator, he was theirs. This is important. A lot of working folks didn’t like Kennedy precisely because they felt he wasn’t working on their behalf — and they were the working poor as well. The role of the Senator, first and foremost, is to represent the state… not be a national figure. (This is sort of reverse boundary blurring from what Cheney claimed his role in the Senate should be.)
Next: Kennedy most definitely hurt Carter in what became a close election with Reagan. Would Carter have won without Kennedy? We don’t know that answer. But the race was very close (how close? Reagan was worried about an October surprise) and Kennedy didn’t help. (Think of it this way: who would have been implicated had Obama lost in 2008?)
At the time, Kennedy challenged not only a sitting president, but someone who was fighting a hostage situation. I have never heard why Kennedy needed to run in 1980, it was have been very easy to wait until 1984 where the field was far more wide open. (Kennedy, of course, famously couldn’t answer the question to Roger Mudd either, but that’s another story.) There can be little doubt that Kennedy put himself over party — and did his part to help usher in the era that people here now complain about.
(Side note: Did everyone see that Carter was seated just outside the frame of the ex-Presidents at Kennedy’s funeral? Here is a man who is about as classy as I’ve seen an ex-president. And the only one to date who attempted to formulate an energy policy which we now see would have very much helped keep the country secure.)
Next: Kennedy polarized the SCOTUS confirmation process. He literally invented Borking. Now you may view this as a good thing in the case of Robert Bork, but Kennedy really derailed the nomination that, until then, was considered a shoo-in. Bork, after all, was every bit the scholar as you can imagine from any nominee from either side of the aisle. So the next time you complain about the politicizing of the confirmation process remember where it began in the modern era.
Now couple this fact with another: Kennedy’s reckless behavior especially with women and drink, particularly in the late 1980’s and 1990/1 culminated with him having to testify during a rape case (his nephew was charged).
How does this tie together? Well, Kennedy was essentially neutered during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Clarence Thomas. One of the least accomplished nominees in recent history at the time of his confirmation — and now the most right leaning on the bench.
Do you think Kennedy could have borked Thomas? I think so. Easily. After all, he took down Bork, a recognized scholar with a real record, who was considered a shoo-in. But at the time, Kennedy simply wasn’t up to his job. So Kennedy helped (by omission) put Thomas on the bench. Again, this is not good for the broader agenda of progressives regardless of how much legislation passed. This is the Supreme Court, after all.
Is this critique unfair? Kennedy didn’t think so.
Now it’s true that Kennedy calmed down in the 1990’s. Some attribute it to Vicki… but a good deal has simply to do with age (he was already into his 60s). And believe me, by the time I met him, my first impression was shock: his years of carousing and drinking took a very heavy toll on his body and it was plainly visible on his face (it was hard to see it on TV, but that’s the magic of mass media).
Of course, this is also the period where Kennedy is lauded for his legislative skill. However, at that point he had already put in 30+ years into the Senate — a body where everything derives from Seniority. That makes life a lot easier to legislate. (If you truly want to see a skilled Senator at work, look at the rapid rise of LBJ who came to literally take over the Senate in just a few short years — that is the reason why much of the 60’s legislation went through Congress while he was president — and there were breakthrough civil rights reform in the late 1950’s when he was Party Leader.)
Does this diminish the legislation Kennedy did get through Congress? No, of course not. But there is some basic truth here — Kennedy evolved over a long period of time to what people now want to retrofit on him. And before he was the ‘lion’, there were some highly politically ambitious things he did which didn’t help his party at all. Or the causes he wanted to advance.
What pains me is that people like Waxman (has everyone here read his book?) are not nearly as lauded — but are more consistent about “getting the job done”.
People want their mythical heros — on both sides of the aisle. It gets in the way of sober evaluation and helps us to continually repeat mistakes that we should not be making.
Thanks for the additional insight, CT. You got my point totally that it is less about the specific achievement as much as it is about how careers of that nature have polluted the political process on both sides of the aisle.
Jason, I like this post simply because it brings up the question – what are we to do about congress? There was a nice thread here a week or so ago about term limits that was very interesting to me – some different points were brought out on the issue that I had not considered.
I heard bits and pieces of an interview on NPR yesterday(?) with a lobbyist. He was smooth, very smooth. How do we get these guys (lobbies) away from congress? Congress will not give them up voluntarily, will we have to literally gather up Bwrakfat and her pitchfork crew and descend on the Capital? There seems to be no group of citizens willing and well funded enough to get any type of serious discussion on the campaign finance reform.
How do you suggest we get Congress back to working for the people?
By the way, I do think that the media was a little calmer about Kennedy then Reagan – at least what I hear.
Thanks for dropping by. I think our challenge remains the fact that 35% of Congress used to quit prior to reelection and now almost none of them leave except in the same fashion as Senator Kennedy.
If we showed up in the same numbers for primary elections, the only time an incumbent is truly vulnerable in American politics, then there would be no more lobbyist in DC. It would be too expensive to compete in a political process that involved multiple months in all 50 states.
As it is, all they do is feather the nest of the incumbent, throw money at the general election and hope to God We The People never wake up to where the real power lies.
Kennedy’s death is too close for me to feel comfortable putting his life’s work on the dissecting table. Some of this is the historian in me, and some of this is a sense that rushing to judgment is inhumane. Nothing said here, pro or con, would lose any value said after the traditional forty days mourning. My “fifty years effort” no doubt will leave less behind than his…I’ll have to rely on the charity and kindness of those who will speak about it.
An interesting sentiment… but one that Kennedy’s publisher apparently doesn’t abide. Nor even Josh Marshall.
Gee … WOW . . .
Josh or Kennedy’s publisher doesn’t abide…
Hmmmmm … Letting others think what’s appropriate?
Who in the heck gives a big whoop what they think?
I’ll think for myself … thank you very much.
Is that clear enough.
Sorry to have opened any lingering wounds, mike. This was meant to be less about Ted specifically as it was about our need to both canonize and demonize politicians as well as their having become career legislators instead of the citizen legislators they were meant to be.
To put Gore on a par with Limbaugh and company, is, as Quinn opined, to be criminally insane.
To claim that Palin is “demonized” is to be bashit nuts.
Sorry, pal, but I sure wouldn’t want to be in the same foxhole with you.
What I said was Gore and Clinton inspire the same sort of derision on the right that Limbaugh and company inspire on the left. I also said that to discount that fact as irrelevant is why the democratic party has been mostly ineffective since the 1960s.
So in Teddy’s absence, which of the heroic “moderates” and “centrists” do you think will spend their life’s work fighting for the less fortunate, Olympia Snowe? Kent Conrad?
I love the Big Dog, wish we could get him in the Senate.
Someone more effective than any of the current crop in Congress. Hell, if we could just get the same caliber of folks as we had just a few generations ago it would be a vast improvement.
Well, stating the obvious has some benefit , I suppose.
But the issue you describe, good government, really goes much deeper then how many people vote.
And the idea that the right-wing core of the republican party somehow equates to the “progressive” wing of the democratic part, if I read you correct(since you fail to define them) is absurd.
I can appreciate you not offering solutions since you admit to not having any, outside of the hope that somehow people will wake up to your idea that just electing different people to office will solve problems, yet I might be a bit more enthused if you could have somehow mustered up at least one.
In fact your whole argument is based on generalities and untrue assertions like ,” …..the idea that EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN believes that Bush was the Second Coming and would usher in an era of the Christian States of America”. (and I just cut and pasted at random)
You may think a so called “centrist” approach is best since you go out of your way to equate anyone else as radical, but that approach is the true “father” of the state of this nation.
When something is wrong or bad or deadly ,pick your favorite word, it demands immediate change not incremental change.
A racist judicial system that imprisons one million black men is better then if it imprisoned two million black men?
I can’t take your argument serious.
You continue to misread my writing, so I will continue to not bothering to explain myself further. Namaste.
Yes Jason, You did. Although I will confess to some conflation with your many many comments over the year. But please, save your response for Quinn. He is smarter then I so I would rather you defend your logic there.
To tell the truth I don’t get it. You cite network and then write this:
So what role are these aristocrats playing? Instead of following the money- You jump right into their shell game of “he said, she said”. This party says this and that party said that, so the truth Must lie in the middle.. Yes? NO.
I don’t care much for the democrats but they certainly are not guilty of ‘spending us into bankruptcy for false threats. ONe side made shit up. The other at least acknowledges reality. The middle does not lie in between.
Regardless you are likely right about the aristocrats- so what does that mean to you?
But please save your energy for a response to Quinn.
I’m sorry, this isn’t very well thought out.
“Every critique of the republican party is couched in the idea that EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN believes that Bush was the Second Coming and would usher in an era of the Christian States of America.” Every critique DOESN’T SAY THAT. MANY of us said that what was really wrong with the Republican Party was that they were willing to lock-step, even when their leadership was obviously WRONG.
“The reflective desire on the part of the democratic faithful to canonize Kennedy, both while alive and after he died, is another symptom of our political disease. The republicans did the same thing with Ronald Reagan and an assorted crew of mediocre deities.” Not well thought out, either. Kennedy, a rich man, championed the poor (look it up) and did as well as anyone in the face of opposition, Reagan championed his own (the rich).
You seem to keep talking about “progressive compromise” when there isn’t any to be had with the foam-at-the-mouth Luddites who have taken control of the Republican Party. Universal health care or even a public option is “Fascism”? Really? Then chain me to the goddam wall, OK? When they haven’t got one cogent argument, they just MAKE SHIT UP.
I’m sorry it’s time for the more grown up people to run this country for a long time.
I respect your honest effort at seeing past original bias, Jason, but you’re not there, yet. Are there bad Democrats? Sure. Unfortunately there are. But there is also an inescapable truth: the Republican Party has an antiquated idea and ideal of what an individual’s relationship should be to society and societal groups, their idea of individuals working only for their own good, or their own family’s good was outmoded by the time we had any significant civil cooperation and synergistic organization (some time in the middle ages, I’d think, certainly before the industrial revolution). They are in asymptotic pursuit of an individual having to give less and less for the common good, and their government and civil structures doing less and less for the individual until they reach a point that all that we spend on goverment will be for the military and nothing spent on anything else (to the point that the military will become the tax collectors).
Your idea that there is a “progressive” compromise between people that can think and these knee-jerks is laughable.
Do Democrats indulge in “us versus them”? Sure, ALL HUMANS DO. But we haven’t called them traitors for disagreeing with us, and we haven’t said that they should be shot, either. (Nobody I know has, anyway.)
And if all Ted Kennedy did was stop Robert Bork from getting on the Supreme Court, I think all of his salary and all of the money spent is his campaign were well worth it.
This comment gets at the heart of the issue many take with this post….How to compromise with those that seek none?
It’s a bit hard to talk about climate change with those that claim it doesn’t exist, or discuss reproductive rights with someone calling you a baby killer.
The progressive movement in this country was born out of the republican party, so once again your lecturing is light on facts and long in the tooth.
Yes, Jason, the progressive movement was largely Republican about a century ago. But equally, the Republican party started out opposing slavery around the Civil War, and about a century later was opposed to the Civil Rights movement. It doesn’t, at this point in time, matter who was anti-slavery or who was progressive a century or more ago. In more recent history, the Democratic party has been more often supportive of progressive positions.
We’re working with the Democratic and Republican parties that exist today, not the ones that existed in the past or will exist in the future. If you want to work at moving the Republican party to a more centrist or moderate position than it currently holds, please do and I hope you succeed. But the people we have to deal with now are the ones who are currently in office and currently setting policy. Not the ones who were in office a century ago. Not the ones who may be in office in a decade or in half a century. The ones who are there now.
I, unfortunately, don’t have any suggestions as to how this can be done. I don’t see any way to work with or compromise with people who make it clear their only goal is to ensure that health care reform doesn’t pass and that the current president fails. I wish I did. Also unfortunately, I don’t see that any good will come of waiting for the electoral process to put other, possibly more reasonable, people in office before doing health care reform.
Republicans apposed to the civil rights movement?
As far as the public record is concerned on all major civil rights bills from the 50s and 60s, the legislation was supported equally by both countries. Nor were they all that apposed to desegregation or suffrage or most of the other progressive changes to the country that gained widespread support at the grassroots of both parties.
The primary election process is the only way we have to change the parties absent armed insurrection. I think a huge opportunity exists to inspire new generations of voters to understand the reason why.
I was actually thinking more of the Nixon era than of the LBJ years. When the “Solid South” shifted from Democrat to Republican.
I know you talk a lot about the primaries being the important thing. In a way I agree with you. Unfortunately, in most places you have to choose a party in order to participate. I’ve always been an independent. It’s been a long time since I voted for a Republican, but I have done so a few times in the distant past. I’ve also voted for some local third party candidates, but I never saw any point in doing so in a national race since the vote would usually be in effect a vote against the less objectionable major party candidate.
Frankly, I think the biggest problem we face is the fact that money drives the political process. Candidates feel the need to support positions of people who can make big campaign contributions if they want to get elected. I wish I knew a way to change that, but unfortunately haven’t a clue. When “big money” takes over, it’s hard to dislodge it (here I’m thinking financial market reform as well as health care reform). One of the things I liked about Ted Kennedy was that he remained true to his position over time. So many politicians seem to change positions with the campaign contributions. Or say one thing to voters during elections but act otherwise once elected. Frustrates me no end. How can you tell which candidate will hold true and which can be bought?
The primary election seems the most logical place to by-pass money corrupting the system. They can’t finance every candidate, so incumbents winning is largely a result of only 16% turning out to vote.
I was an independent last year who registered Democratic to vote for Obama in the DC primary and the registered republican to vote for him in the DC general. I think party should be a cloak that is worn for the proper occasion, such as getting a candidate you feel strongly about through the primary process, regardless of party.
I suspect I will change party as often as necessary as dictated by my local election laws. That is until we pass a national law that says closed primaries are unconstitutional. We need national election standards but probably won’t get them until we actually start voting in much bigger numbers than we have seen the last fifty years, especially in the primaries.
You argue that Ted’s time to head off into the sunset was in the mid 70s after challenging Carter. Interestingly enough, all of the bios on him suggest that’s when he settled down and did his best work. By continously turning out members that don’t represent us well, don’t we also run the risk of them being completely bought off by lobbiest, for even a cheaper price than they are now paying? I worry that we would end up with a bunch of part-timers looking to climb the industry ladder, even quicker.
I think he should have ran for president in 1972 or 1976 and failing that, stumbled off into the sunset to help mentor a new breed of democratic leaders to take his place.
I think we had nearly two hundred years of voluntary turnover in Congress that kept the machinery humming more smoothly. That special interests played less of part due to the higher rate of turnover. That it wasn’t until politicians set up shop in Washington for as long as they could manage that we really started to see the sort of corruption we are dealing with today.
I think we failed to learn some very important lessons for quite some time.
…Could be right about that. Well, we certainly know things can’t get much worse than they are now.
Not much to say–pretty much been off-blog for the past 3 weeks due to a few things–but I really like the discussion elicited here.
I think that most agree with you on your main point, that the primaries are damn important. So the question of questions is how can we get voting in primaries to be a prominent feature in American thinking? How can we make 30% the norm in off-years? How can we later make it 50%?
My last blog here, which was half a month ago, was trying to figure that question out. The main point was
but maybe a big part of it is culture. We need to create a culture that recognizes primary voting to be essential. Sounds easy to say, but it’s probably the implementation that’ll kill ya.
Thanks for dropping by and for adding to the discussion. I missed that blog you mention, but think all of your suggestions are right on. I think we have a chance in 2010 to get the same sort of primary turnout we got in 2008, which was about 30 percent. That would likely lead to a general election turnout that is higher than the norm of less than 40 percent of midterm years.
From there, I think you are right in that it will be a cultural shift most likely impelled by the generational shift already underway. For my part, I plan to take as many people as I can find to the DC primary this year, though it is a bad example because the DC primary is always higher than the general because of the democratic party’s dominance of the politics here.
Keep tilting at windmills, my friend, and don’t forget the Dos Equis!
Dos Equis is good stuff. Negra Modelo too. But those new metal windmills are hard to fight. The tines are WAY up there…..
Wrong, but I done debating this. You are convinced the republican party is mostly crazy and not a single national poll substantiates that. Only your own biases and stereotypes.