There’s no consistent theme in this collection of posts. Or maybe there is but I can’t find it yet.
To start off, let’s say for a moment that Democrats actually get their $#@% together and decide to primary Obama. (not exactly a fantasy and not nearly as remote as it was last week at this time) Who is the most likely person to succeed, I mean, besides the obvious?
My guess is Jim Webb, Senator from Virginia. Now, Webb has a few liabilities and I’ll get to them in a minute. But with Webb versus Obama, you would get the classic matchup between the Stevensonian and Jacksonian parts of the Democratic party. The Stevensonians have their hands on power right now, or what’s left of it, since they’ve made a total mess of things. But the Jacksonians have the votes the Democrats need to win next time.
RealClearPolitics featured a conversation with Webb yesterday about how to win back the Reagan Democrats. I actually don’t like the term “Reagan Democrat”, which is why the media is probably going to use it every chance they get. I’m certainly no fan of Reagan and have been a liberal all my life. But Webb actually gets it better than most people who are sticking a label on disaffected Democrats:
We’re talking about why voters didn’t come around. Webb is weighing my report the morning after the election: Democrats won the smallest share of white voters in any congressional election since World War II.
“I’ve been warning them,” Webb says, sighing, resting his chin on his hand. “I’ve been having discussions with our leadership ever since I’ve been up here. I decided to run as a Democrat because I happen to strongly believe in Jacksonian democracy. There needs to be one party that very clearly represents the interests of working people … I’m very concerned about the transactional nature of the Democratic Party. Its evolved too strongly into interest groups rather than representing working people, including small business people.”
Webb seems less at home today. He identifies himself as a Democrat. But he has few Democratic leaders to identify with. He won’t say this. His criticism is discernibly girdled. He begins to tell a story about a conversation with a Democratic leader and pulls back. “I don’t want to talk about that,” he mutters. “I have had my discussions. I’ve kept them inside the house. I did not want to have them affect this election, quite frankly. I didn’t want to position myself in the media as a critic of the administration.”
But criticism is in order. Democrats’ suffered historical losses from Congress to the state houses last week. It’s an apt moment for Webb to step in. He is an atypical politician. Politics is not his alpha or omega. He’s authored more than half a dozen books, succeeded as a screenwriter and won an Emmy for his coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut. This success outside politics empowers him to be less political. Yet what suits Webb to criticism is not that. It’s the political sociology he embodies.
Webb represents an endangered species. It’s more than his red state Democratic stature, although that would be reason enough. The moderate House Democratic coalition lost more than half its lawmakers last week. But that Blue Dog set is still more common than Webb.
Webb’s one of the last FDR Democrats. An economic populist. A national security hawk. His Democratic politics are less concerned with social groups than social equality (of opportunity, not outcome). His values were predominant in the Democrat Party from FDR to JFK, the period in the twentieth century when Democrats were also dominant.
Before we go on, notice how the conventional wisdom saturated media, in its quest to shape a narrative (or under orders from someone else) positions Blue Dog Democrats as “moderates”. Anyone who has been paying even a minimal amount of attention to politics knows that Blue Dog Democrats are just as conservative as their Republican colleagues. But I digress.
In some respects, Webb is similar to Hillary Clinton. (He could have lifted that last paragraph right out of our credo.) He’s got enough governmental experience to make Obama look completely unqualified: Combat vet, former Secretary of the Navy, Congressional liaison, novelist, journalist, Emmy winner, lawyer, Senator. His son enlisted and served in Iraq, yet he is not an Iraq War proponent. In 2008, there were rumors that he was up for consideration as Obama’s VP. But he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in the VP position. Is it because he had concerns about Obama or because he wanted the top position some day? As far as superdelegates go, I think he held out as uncommitted for a long time. Actually, I wish all of them had waited but that’s besides the point. Karma will take care of the ones who jumped aboard the Obama bandwagon early.
Now, for his liabilities.
He had a problem with women serving in the military back when he was Secretary of the Navy. That was more than 30 years ago. People do change, especially after women prove themselves and put stereotypical concerns to rest. (Myiq is coming around nicely) But he wrote some position paper on the subject at the time that may dog him. And although he claims to not particularly like special interest group politics, women are not a special interest group. They are half of the population. It is unacceptable for any politician, no matter his personal beliefs, to discount their issues as the self-absorbed concerns of a special interest group like Obama has. He’s going to have to address this.
Then there is his personal life. He’s on his third wife. Hey, some people are difficult to live with. But more than that, his current wife is a securities and corporate lawyer. Now, I don’t know about securities and corporate lawyers. Law never did appeal to me. Too dry and the word parsing would drive me nuts. But I would very much like to know where Hong Le Webb stands on certain issues because she could potentially have significant influence on her husband.
The rest of the liabilities are trivial. The media had a minor $%^# storm over one of his books when he was running in 2006. He will have to learn how to tame them if he wants to be president. It can be done but he’ll have to gird his loins.
As for us, we should never just accept what the party operatives send up to test the prevailing winds. As voters, we are obligated to research every one of these potential presidents very carefully. Failure to do so could result in another Obama. So, what else do we know about Webb and can we live with it?
On another note, Anglachel has two new posts to savor slowly over your morning coffee. Check out The Truth of the Bitter White Elite Class for these nuggets:
Well, let’s see. If most men vote Republican and most women vote Republican, just where are the voters to give Democrats a victory? I think men and women pretty much have the electorate covered. The problem is not just that the Democrats have failed miserably in delivering something that resembles even the watered down version of liberalism that was promised two years ago. The Republicans delivered less on their campaign promises and created greater pain for ordinary people in their regimes since 2000 than the Democrats have managed to do, so why are the Dems floundering so badly?
A percentage can be ascribed to the backlash against any party in power. Except for FDR, the majority party always loses a little in the midterms. A big percentage of the backlash vote, but an even greater amount of the voter attrition – failing to vote at all, should be laid at the feet of the pitiful performance of the White House and Congress to get Main Street economics back on track. The Merry Banksters, of course, are flush. Not everyone is suffering in the Great Recession. Frankly, on both of these counts, the Republicans can’t claim any high ground. They lose when they are the majority party, and they would have been shoveling even bigger buckets of cash to their Wall Street base.
The rest of the rejection needs to be chalked up to the unrelenting assault on the cultural and ethical integrity of the white working class voters, something the Republicans do not do. Oh, they hold that class in as deep contempt as the Obamacans do, and they actually do engage in comparable attacks on those same people. The difference is they go after “unions”, which is a voluntary association, not after their color or their cultural expressions. The attack on unions allows them to treat the working class with contempt as well as to undermine an institution that provides upward a for women as well as men, and for anyone regardless of color.
But the Stevensonians have reified the concept of racism into a demographic – the bitter white working class – and have identified that group as the traitors to the good and the just, the filthy apes who once were true to the party but followed the siren call of Reagan racism and now delight in their infamy. The proof of this betrayal is that they voted for another Bubba when given a chance, someone all the Very Serious People know was trying to rise out of his place. The wretched, bitter Bunkers, clinging to guns and God, they are doing The Precious in. Never mind, as per Bartel and Krugman, that the working class whites were the least likely to defect from the Democratic party and were the first to return when offered something material.
Hmmm, maybe there is a theme to this morning’s post after all.
In her most recent post, Democrat for a Day, Anglachel rips The Precious for apologizing for being a Democrat. Painful.
Pivoting in a different direction, Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline has a couple of posts that could be related – to each other. The first, Engaging the Public, is about a recent editiorial in Science regarding how we sciency types can engage the public. Many of us geeks cringe when we read the mainstream media’s reporting on science in the news. Unfortunately, Science the journal, doesn’t have much to offer as a remedy. Lowe is critical of the pablum Science serves up but concludes:
Real scientific research is quite bizarre by the standards of many other occupations, and I don’t think that people get to understand that. (I might add that the ways in which science gets compressed for dramatic effect tends to obscure all these things – TV and movie scientists are always so sure of themselves, and get their rock-solid results so quickly). So rather than start off by trying to teach everyone lots of details, I’d rather that more people understood what the whole effort is like. . .
I have to agree with Lowe on the movie star image of science and geek culture. If you’re into science or technology, you’re either a bitter social outcast like Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network or an arrogant SOB trying to play god with an improbable set of scientific breakthroughs, ala Splice. Do any of you non-geeky types have any suggestions on how we can open up our world better so you can grok what we do?
His other post is about Where Drugs Come From: The Numbers and is a brief summary of a paper that recently appeared in the journal Nature Reviews. Derek dispels the notion that industry ruthlessly exploits government funded science:
First, the raw numbers. In the 1997-2005 period, the 252 drugs break down as follows. Note that some drugs have been split up, with partial credit being assigned to more than one category. Overall, we have:
58% from pharmaceutical companies.
18% from biotech companies..
16% from universities, transferred to biotech.
8% from universities, transferred to pharma.
That sounds about right to me. And finally, I have some hard numbers to point to when I next run into someone who tries to tell me that all drugs are found with NIH grants, and that drug companies hardly do any research. (I know that this sounds like the most ridiculous strawman, but believe me, there are people – who regard themselves as intelligent and informed – who believe this passionately, in nearly those exact words). But fear not, this isn’t going to be a relentless pharma-is-great post, because it’s certainly not a pharma-is-great paper. Read on. . .
Don’t hold back, Derek. We pharmabots can take it. Go read the whole thing if you want some easy to read analysis of where drugs get discovered and by whom.
And now, a couple of podcasts to recommend.
If you’re interested in where women fit into the Enlightenment, check out Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time podcast on Women of Enlightenment Science. You have to have an appreciation of somewhat dry, intellectual conversation in upper crust British accents. But this podcast is full of fascinating details about famous women you probably have never heard of, like Emilie du Chatelier.
The Naked Scientists, also from across The Pond, podcast from Cambridge University. If you’re interested in all things geek with a bit of cheek, check them out. One of their recent podcasts features neurobiology how it is being used by marketers, retailers and no doubt, a politician near you. To be forewarned, and all that rot…
And now, for our musical interlude to start your day.
Get out there and work your ass off!
Filed under: General Tagged: | Anglachel, bitter white elites, Blue Dogs, drug discovery, engaging publc in science, FDR democrats, In our Times, Jacksonians, Jim Webb, neuromarketing, Reagan Democrats, Science, Stevensonians, the naked scientists, women of the enlightenment