Garry Wills writes flawed argument against Unger’s proposal

Pulitzer Prize winning author Garry Wills wrote a rebuttal of sorts to Roberto Unger’s proposal that Obama must be defeated in the 2012 election.

I’m disappointed that this is the best that Wills could do.  You tend to expect more from Pulitzer Prize winning authors but what can you do?  I once heard E. J. Corey give a seminar at one of my former (and now shuttered and mothballed) work sites and have come to understand that Nobel prize winning chemistry and engaging speaking skills do not always co-express.  Still, I expected Wills to try harder.  I’m not a winner of any prizes but I can shoot cannonballs through this post.

For exmple, take this paragraph early on:

I freely admit that Unger’s principles are better than Obama’s, that next to him Obama’s credentials as a progressive are muddied and blunted. If I had to choose between them as men of probity, I would prefer Unger as quick as the eye can blink. But in politics we never choose men of much probity. One of the recurring comedies of American politics is the rapture with which people elect a shining prince, and then collapse into self-pitying cries of betrayal when the shine comes off once the candidate is in office. A refrain of dismay runs the fairy tale in reverse: “We elected a prince and he turned into a frog.”

As we have been reminding Democrats for the past 4 years, the elected delegate count at the convention was much closer than the media let on.  Obama was not nominated by a landslide of overwhelming proportions.  He got through on a squeaker in elected delegates.  The number that separated them was less than 100 and may have been as few as 17.  Four of those delegates were taken from Hillary’s total in Michigan and the rest were unassigned delegates in Michigan that were given to Obama even though he wasn’t on the ballot.  To cinch the nomination, his campaign paid the superdelegates and their state campaign committees handsomely with finance industry largesse. Given the numbers, Clinton was more than justified in demanding a floor fight but with the media narrative so carefully constructed against her, she would have looked like an usurper. So, Wills is wrong here.  More than half of the party did not fall for a shining prince, whether Wills liked their choice or not (I suspect not.  Guys of Wills’ ilk were unabashed and uncritical Obama supporters, we have observed.).

Believe it or not, some of us voters evaluated the candidates carefully and selected someone who ran on issues, not her personal saga of self-actualization.  And we didn’t expect the new president to solve all of the world’s problems all at once.  We expected the new president to govern like a Democrat.

Not too much to ask of a candidate who ran on the Democratic party ticket.

Moving on.  Next he tells us why we should vote for the party, not the man (or presumably the woman):

That is why one should always vote on the party, instead of the candidate. The party has some continuity of commitment, no matter how compromised. What you are really voting for is the party’s constituency. That will determine priorities when it comes to appointments, legislative pressure, and things like nominating Supreme Court justices.

So, what is Wills saying here?  Is he acknowledging that Obama was some kind of decoy and not really a Democrat?  After his election, doesn’t the president informally become the head of his party?  Assuming that the party will take care of things, what is the role of the president at this point?  Conversely, if it is expected that he will craft policy that is in line with his party’s values, what are we to make of the four year spectacle when he has clearly NOT done this?  I’d be more than willing to let Obama off the hook for acting like a moderate Republican for the past four years if he’s not really expected to be the head of the party in a public sense but that leaves me wondering, who is running the show in the Democratic party?

Wills tries to define what’s in it for voters:

To vote for a Democrat means, now, to vote for the party’s influential members—for unions (including public unions of teachers, firemen, and policemen), for black and Latino minorities, for independent women. These will none of them get their way, exactly; but they will get more of a hearing and attention—“pandering,” if you want to call it that—than they would get in a Republican administration.

Ahhh, yes, do you mean the public unions that Obama tweeted good luck to in last week’s Wisconsin recall vote?  That worked out well.  What Wills is suggesting here is that the Democratic party become the insincere party of “special interests” instead of a party of vision of how the working and middle classes prosper in this brave new world.  A Democratic voter might reasonably expect the head of his party to aggressively defend the values of the party but Obama does not really display a passion for that kind of thing.

Wait.  This is satire…right?

Then he goes on to tell us how Romney represents the plutocrats, yada-yada-yada.  And Obama once infamously said that he is the only thing that stood between the bankers and the pitch forks just before he slapped them on the wrist and let them go.  By the way, there are a ton of unemployed people out here.  Hello?  Please spare us the lecture.

He saves the best for last.  Moving right into insulting…:

The etherialists who are too good to stoop toward the “lesser evil” of politics—as if there were ever anything better than the lesser evil there—naively assume that if they just bring down the current system, or one part of it that has disappointed them, they can build a new and better thing of beauty out of the ruins. Of course they never get the tabula rasa on which to draw their ideal schemes. What they normally do is damage the party closest to their professed ideals.

Yes, this is the goal.  However, the party that is closest to our professed ideals is, sadly, not professing our ideals anymore.  Even we FDR style liberals are out of the loop, nevermind our loopy hippy cousins.  The party damaged itself in 2008 when it humiliated one candidate at the expense of another, rewrote the rules, used misogyny and was never held accountable, and rigged the convention with barely a peep of protest from its leaders.

More insults follow about how stupid we are and how independents are naive and ignorant and probably racist.  You know the drill.  Then there is the Nader fiasco.  I didn’t vote for Nader in 2000.  I voted for Al Gore because I actually believed in the dude.  Yes, the Naderites were pretty stupid back then because there really was a difference between the parties in 2000.  But when the party jettisoned all those differences in pursuit of the money from Obama’s backers in 2008, well, they kind of sold out.

And the evidence of that is overwhelming.  Sorry, Garry.  I could cite many examples from the badly structured and unaccountable bailout, to the insufficient request for fiscal stimulus, to the neglect of homeowners, to the even more egregious neglect of the unemployed, to the healthcare plan that makes us carrion to the insurance companies, to the badly played debt ceiling fiasco of last year, that’s just to start.  The clearly unconstitutional “kill list” that could include any American citizen deemed to be a threat goes beyond anything even I expected from Obama.  And Obama squandered his Congressional majority in his first two years, which goes back to point one about voting for the party. Apparently, he’s not really a people person when it comes to motivating his own party to do what he wants.  That involves confrontation and Obama’s agin’ it. Where did that reticence to engage Congress get us, Garry?  I guess the political and party affiliation of the president is important after all, eh?  I’m practicing my Canadian because I’m hoping one of my kids will move there and sponsor me.

Throughout his post, Wills shows over and over again that his is unable to imaginate any other Democrat than Obama as a presidential candidate.  I can only assume that to Wills, Obama must be *the* ultimate Democrat for president.  Wills is buying into the idea that there is no other candidate for president from the Democratic party who embodies the ideals of the Democratic party more closely than Obama.  If the party is corrupt and ineffective for the vast majority of Americans who voted for it, welcome to politics, suckers!  When the Democrats nominate their candidate in September, they will be saying that that person represents all of the best of that party in terms of values, skills and potential.  It simply does not get any better than this.

But here is the most important reason why Roberto Unger is on to something and Garry Wills is not:

The coming apocalypse of the “etherialists” is avoidable because Barack Obama is not the nominee yet.

Stop talking nonsense down at us and focus your ire on the party leadership who got us into this mess.  They’re the only ones who can get us out before the general election in November.

Weird…and probably misleading

I read this WaPo article, following a link from Atrios.  It’s about when Tim Geithner considered leaving and he recommended Hillary take his place as Secretary of the Treasury.  So, the summary goes like this: Geithner was ready to leave a couple of years ago and when they asked him who would be a good replacement, he suggested Hillary.  Here’s the run down of how that played out including the part that Atrios finds weird in bold:

Geithner had submitted a list of names to the White House. Chief of Staff William Daley appeared to “slow-walk” and rob the Clinton suggestion of any momentum, according to one of the administration officials. But actually, Daley was conducting his own vetting process, another official said.

He broached the idea with Clinton. An administration official familiar with the exchanges characterized her response as “cautious interest.” A person close to Clinton had a different take: “She listened respectfully and politely.”

Daley called a few trusted eminences on Wall Street, sounding them out on the personnel switch. Their response was resoundingly positive, both officials said. She had never been a banker, but as a senator from New York, Clinton had cultivated many relationships within the financial sector. Some of them had been longing for the kind of attention they had received from her and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, but rarely got from Obama.

And unlike Geithner, who disdained high jinks on Capitol Hill, Clinton had an intuition for political risk. She knew committee chairs. As the debt crisis worsened in the United States and Europe, Clinton’s popularity abroad would have also allowed her to talk sense to other leaders.

Weird indeed, considering that these were the very same bankers who rejected Clinton for Obama in 2008.  Back then, I suspect that Hillary looked a little too much like rehab so they threw their weight behind the guy who might like to party with them later.  That didn’t work out so well for any of them, or us, for that matter.

It doesn’t surprise me that the Clintons cultivated the bankers.  They’re politicians.  It’s what they do. Of course, there’s a difference between cultivating and prostitution. But as Karen Ho’s book, Liquidated, explained, bankers distrust Yale graduates as being too liberal.  I know that sounds facile on the surface but conditioning and tribalism are not easy things to overcome, even for the banker crowd.

In any case, by the time Geithner was ready to retire from Treasury, the damage was already done.  The article reports that sources close to Clinton says she listened “politely and respectfully” to the suggestion but it doesn’t sound like she was interested.  She’s not stupid, which is probably why only a national emergency will ever persuade her to take the VP position and maybe not even then.  Why the f^&* would she want to do clean up after Geithner?  They didn’t get along almost from the beginning when he wanted to move into her territory at State.  At State, she’s not sullied by all of the domestic crap.  If Obama and Geithner made a royal mess of things and didn’t support the homeowners drowning in their mortgages, they couldn’t pin it on Hillary.  Her political reputation doesn’t take any hits.  Dragging her into Treasury would definitely do her in.

I think it says a lot about Clinton’s professionalism and capabilities that Geithner even suggested such a thing.  It’s like saying she’s the best that Obama has in his cabinet.  She can do practically anything.

But note who “slow walked” it around the White House.  It was Chief of Staff William Daley.  There is a political component of this that the Chicago boys don’t like.  Were they afraid she’d get more face time?  Get in to the office and find that there were things she actually could do after all?  Make Obama look even worse than he already does?

I don’t know.  There’s not enough information for me to go on, although I’m sure it is more meaningful to the people in the immediate vicinity of Washington.

What this article *does* do is associate Clinton’s name with Wall Street’s in a potentially negative way, implying that she would be friendlier to them than Obama has been (hard to imagine that, to be honest).  We’ve seen this kind of thing before whenever the voting public starts getting wistful about Hillary.  Suddenly, there are articles about “Hillaryland!” at State and how she doesn’t run State like a man would, like that’s a bad thing.  But it’s all rumors and innuendos, intended to put you off your kibble if you’re a Democrat constructing all of the possible 2012 election scenarios.

Nevertheless, we can’t deny that the bankers took a good look at both candidates in 2008 and decided to pass on Hillary, despite the “attention” she gave them as their senator from New York.  They threw all of their weight behind Obama in a major way.  Let’s not pretend that the bankers had nothing to do with Obama getting the nomination. It has always been my suspicion that the Clintons weren’t overwhelmed by the “complexity” of the financial industry, after their experience and time to reflect where things went wrong.  The fact that the bankers seemed receptive to the idea of Hillary going to Treasury indicates that they thought they didn’t have much to fear from her after they’d already rewritten the rules in their favor and endorsed the blank checks in 2008-2009.

It was the White House that blinked.

Also, Atrios has an Asshole Test about children of illegal immigrants.  Cut out and carry with you.  This is useful.

More of this please.  It could be a series.

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BTW, this is what Hillary said in September 2008 and gives a pretty good indication why she didn’t get the nomination.  She put too damn much emphasis on bailing out people with bad mortgages.  Her priorities were all wrong even it turns out she was prematurely right.  Hmmm, if we’d elected her, we might actually be on our way to recovery right now and looking forward to a second Clinton term instead of dreading the future:

Read it and weep

From the New York Times article on Obama’s hit list summarized by Katiebird below, we find this tasty nugget that went unreported:

It was not only Mr. Obama’s distaste for legislative backslapping and arm-twisting, but also part of a deeper pattern, said an administration official who has watched him closely: the president seemed to have “a sense that if he sketches a vision, it will happen — without his really having thought through the mechanism by which it will happen.”

In fact, both Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the attorney general, Mr. Holder, had warned that the plan to close the Guantánamo prison was in peril, and they volunteered to fight for it on Capitol Hill, according to officials. But with Mr. Obama’s backing, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, blocked them, saying health care reform had to go first.

Holy snot! So weird for the NYTimes to report anything like this for Hillary.  Well, obviously, this is not a principled position.  She did it to make Obama look bad.  But I don’t understand why the NYTimes is mentioning it.  It’s just so unlike them.

Where’s a factchecker when you need one…

Hillary, the VP rumor and what men don’t understand about powerful women

Gosh, it seems I have a lot to say today.

Charles Pierce is freaking out about the poll numbers.  Oh, sure, it was all fun and games to poke at Obama until someone loses an election.  After yesterday’s dystopian description of Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago that chilled me to the bone, Charles is backtracking today and telling the left to suck it up and vote for the bastard.

Not so fast, Charles.  In fact, if the Democrats want to dodge this rendezvous with electoral obscurity, now is the time for voters to lay down the law, draw a line in the sand and say, “You Shall Not Pass!”.  I’d make any grand bargain on Social Security and Medicare my rubicon but there are half a dozen other legitimate issues that Democrats should be forced to defend vigorously before voters yield.  No, I am not afraid of Romney, believe it or not.  At this point, the states are gleefully slashing through all of women’s reproductive rights and there are already 5 votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. Democrats yielded women’s issues without much of a fight so they can’t fall back on that old trick anymore.  I hate private equity firms and sons of rich family firms as much as anyone but Obama’s negotiations with Wall Street have been so godawful that it hardly makes a difference who’s the coldhearted Mr. Moneybucks in the White House.  In this case, it is perfectly fair to talk about equivalence.  Pierce just better hope that Democrats fare better in Congressional races.

My problem with Obama is that it’s not enough to have good intentions but a hostile opponent in Congress to blame stuff on.  You need to look as though you’ve actually broken a sweat defending our rights and quality of life and Obama hasn’t.  No one in my generation should settle for a Democratic president doing a lackluster job and then throwing up his hands in frustration and saying, “It’s inevitable that your life is going to suffer.  Deal with it, late babyboomer.  Sucks to be you.” I’m not settling for that.  We knew the job was going to be tougher than average following a disaster like George W. Bush.  He shouldn’t have run for the job if he wasn’t ready, and it was obvious that he wasn’t.  No excuses.  He had his chance to sit it out and wait but he had to have the White House now, now, now.  So, now it’s his responsibility and solemn obligation not to screw us over even if it’s really hard to do.

But it’s not Pierce alone who is starting to panic and grasp at straws.  Over at the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky is testing the “Hillary-Biden VP Switch” idea again and seeing if it gets any more traction than it did before.  I’m not sure Obama would get the bang for the buck everyone expects from this ticket though and in some respects, it might almost be worse.

For example, did you know that recently Hillary compared the VP position to being First Lady?  That’s not necessarily derogatory but does touch on something that I think men just don’t get about powerful women, which I’ll get to in a moment.  The reason why Hillary says VP is like First Lady is because although the VP can be an important and influential advisor to the president, constitutionally, the position doesn’t have much power.  The VP can break ties in the Senate annnnd, that’s about it.  Otherwise, the VP is just hanging around for the president to experience some catastrophic event.  It’s sort of like being a political vulture or hyena.  A carrion pol.

I just finished the Passage to Power by Robert Caro about LBJ’s Kennedy years and what happened to him when he was VP was a textbook case of what you do not ever want to happen to a person with as much power potential as LBJ.  Johnson was a Senate powerhouse, a legislative genius who understood every representative and senator in Congress, their hidden desires and flaws, and how to manipulate those desires and timing to generate momentum and force legislation through.  The Kennedy brothers brought Johnson in as VP in order to neutralize his power and they were exceedingly successful.  They were so successful that they jeopardized their own policy agenda.  And Johnson was miserable as VP.  He was emasculated by the Kennedys who made sure that he couldn’t even make a trivial speech without having it cleared by the Attorney General.  When JFK was assassinated, Johnson revealed himself to be a great leader.  If he’d been as astute on Vietnam, we’d be worshipping him along with FDR and Lincoln.  But if Kennedy hadn’t met his fate in Dallas, Johnson would have faded into obscurity and the Civil Rights Law of 1964 might never have happened.  I’m no fan of Obama’s but even I wouldn’t wish that on him just so someone else could benefit.

I’m of the opinion that had Hillary wanted the VP in 2008, she could have had it.  We don’t know how it all went down but my suspicion is that she knew that she would be de-balled like Johnson if she had accepted the position and so she pre-emptively asked for State if Obama won.  And so the original choice for SOS, Joe Biden, switched places with Hillary.

So, assuming this is true, why would she want to be Obama’s VP now?  My guess is that she wouldn’t.  What really drives me up a wall about Tomasky’s post is that it reflects the guy’s point of view about what would save Obama’s ass in this election.  The focus is still on saving Obama at all costs.  Yes, he is tremendously inexperienced and doesn’t seem to be learning his job very well.  Yes, he’s not a very good politician and doesn’t act like he likes being around legislators and gladhanding for votes.  Yes, he made too many deals with Wall Street, the insurance companies, the religious right to the detriment of his base. Yes, the economy is terrible and he’s done nothing about unemployment.  Yes, he’s planning to give away all the money the late baby boomers PREPAID into social security for their retirements.  But somehow, the guys feel we’ve got to re-elect this man.  I don’t understand it.  It’s got to be a male graduate student guy thing, the cluelessness of being near the top of Maslow’s pyramid. I keep picturing that iconoclastic image of soldiers pushing the flag up Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima.  So much struggle for so little payoff.

But that’s the problem.  They act like Obama is the most-ut and those around him are expected to sacrifice their own needs for his future.   I understand that Obama has this power over people.  They want to help him achieve his own personal goals and it doesn’t seem that important that his goals should be subordinated to the welfare of the country. This is where the reasoning behind the guy thing breaks down.  For that matter, some women don’t get it either.

But if that’s the case, why the Hell would a woman with Hillary’s power and ability continually put her own needs secondary to Obama’s?? We don’t expect Obama to sacrifice his ambitions for the good of the party or country. If I were her, I wouldn’t do it.  I wouldn’t put myself in a four year sound proof booth just to help Obama achieve self-actualization as a two term president, country be damned.  What would be in it for me?  Would I be able to influence policy?  Sha!, Obama’s smartest guys in the room, like Kennedy’s, aren’t going to let her anywhere near a lever of power.  So, without the ability to affect policy, what is she reduced to but a series of ceremonial appearances where she would be dragged out in front of crowds of Democrats, like some hostage, to make Obama look good.  At the end of four years, she’s going to be permanently associated with whatever failures Obama’s administration is notorious for without having had any opportunity to influence them.  And with that she’s supposed to run for office in 2016?  Like some 69 year old Chernyenko who the party is going to feel obliged to unenthusiastically endorse until some young whippersnapper beats her in the New Hampshire primary?  Are you f^&*ing kidding me?

Did it never occur to these guys that maybe she has her own ambition that is independent of and does not make reference to Obama’s?  If I were her, I’d never settle for less than the top spot because I would have the confidence to know I’d be good at the job.  And if I couldn’t get the top spot, I’d leave politics behind and become a powerhouse on the outside, holding Obama’s feet to the fire on gender equality or education or scientific infrastructure or something equally important.  There’s no point to being powerful, competent and smart if there’s no way to exercise it.  And there’s apparently no place in American politics for a woman who is not seen as a traditional helpmeet to a man.  But seriously, ladies, why do it for a dude who is not your husband and who is secretly driving you crazy with his bumbling incompetence?

Tell them to shove their shotgun wedding, Hillary.

Nice guy(s)

Clinton, surrounded and forced to give up her delegates on the floor of the Democratic Convention 2008.

If you’re wondering if the reports of bitterness between the Obama and Clinton camps are real or not, consider the fundraiser that Obama held with his donors a couple of days ago to help retire Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign debt:

Four years ago, the Obama fund-raising machine worked to bury Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now his contributors are opening their wallets for her.

Obama campaign officials have asked the president’s elite donors and fund-raisers to donate to Mrs. Clinton’s defunct presidential campaign committee, with the goal of retiring $245,000 in debt left over from her 2008 White House bid. As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton is barred from engaging in political activity or actively fund-raising for herself.

People familiar with the effort said the campaign’s outreach grew out of discussions with Mrs. Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, who has agreed to headline a series of major fund-raisers for Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign, including one this Sunday at the Virginia home of Terry McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Clinton has also been approached to help raise money for Priorities USA Action, a “super PAC” founded by former Obama aides that has had difficulty attracting donors.

But wait, you say, wasn’t there a deal struck back in 2008 that Obama donors would help Hillary retire her debt?  That’s why the campaign was only suspended, not ended and that it’s a common practice and courtesy and good for unity?  And anyway, Hillary hit the campaign trail with Bill and worked her heart out to help get Obama elected.  Surely, that was worth helping her retire her debt.

Apparently not:

It is not unusual for victors to help their former opponents pay down campaign debts: Mitt Romney and his family made contributions this year to the campaign committee of Tim Pawlenty, for example, after Mr. Pawlenty dropped out and endorsed Mr. Romney.

But Mrs. Clinton’s debt has in the past been a point of contention between her supporters and those of Mr. Obama. She ended her White House bid in 2008 with $20 million in debt and loans, and while Mr. Obama asked his top donors at the time to help defray it, many of them — still fuming after the contentious primary fight between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton — refused to do so.

Ahhhh, it’s all coming together now.  So, back in 2008 when Clinton donors had maxxed out their contributions to Hillary, they expected that Obama donors would step up and do the right thing.  But the Obama assholes from Wall Street and the “creative class” donors weren’t satisfied with the ritual humiliation of Clinton on the convention floor where they staged a phony roll call vote and forced her to fork over her delegates on live TV.  Nope, they threw all of that loyalty stuff out the window and had a little tantrum because she had the nerve to continue winning after they told her to stop running in February of 2008.  18,000,000 voters and winning all of the major primaries meant nothing to them.  They did not feel obligated to honor their promises, because that just the kind of Democrats they are.  Nice.

That $20,000,000 debt, by the way, was on top of her own money.  They were loans that she had to take out to fund her campaign because the party juggernaut wanted her out even as the voters still wanted her in.  For the last four years, she’s been dragging this giant debt around, unable to do her own fundraising to retire it while the Obama donors watched.  It has taken them four years while she’s been working her ass off to do what was expected of them.  What is wrong with these people?

So, now, the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak.  The Clinton donors hold the cards.  They don’t have to give a penny to Obama for his run in 2012, that is, not until Obama’s donors pay up.  I’d say the split is very real and could be a significant factor in this year’s election.  It goes beyond the donors.

No wonder why Hillary isn’t going to go to the Convention this year.  Besides the fact that she works round the clock as Secretary of State, why the hell would she want to return to the scene of the crime?

Obama and his donors are definitely not scoring points this year.  Loathsome isn’t descriptive enough.

Update: The AP has a new article on the detente between the Clinton and Obama camps.  As is the norm these days, it is trying to make the completely unrealistic expectation that Hillary will run in 2016 look believable.  But anyway, just ignore all that stuff about them being frenemies.  They’re all kissy-kissy now and meeting at Terry McAuliffe’s house tonight to swap checks.

I almost thought this was lifted straight from the Obama campaign spin office until I got to this nugget:

When Obama’s health care bill was in trouble, he and his staff, which included several veterans of the Clinton White House, called on the former president for help. In late 2009 and early 2010, Bill Clinton went to Capitol Hill to rally support and worked the phones with wary Democratic lawmakers.

After the Democratic party was battered in the 2010 elections, Obama called in Clinton for an Oval Office meeting. Afterward, the two made an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room to talk to reporters. When Obama had to leave for a holiday party, Clinton stuck around, relishing in the attention and the give-and-take with the press.

That day in the briefing room underscored what some Democrats see as their one major worry in pairing Obama with Clinton too often. The ease with which Clinton connects with a range of audiences can call attention to the challenge Obama sometimes faces in doing the same thing.

But that certainly hasn’t stopped the Obama campaign from seeking Clinton’s help in winning a second term, and Clinton has made it clear he is ready and willing.

Wait! Wait!  I thought Obama’s angelic rhetoric inspired swooning in some of his audience members.  Wasn’t he supposed to be so extraordinarily politically gifted that potential enemies would melt on their first encounter?   

{{snort!}} Too funny.

I can just imagine what that fundraiser is going to be like tonight.  Kissy-kissy may very well turn into kissing asses.  Oh, to be a fly on those walls.

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More details about John Edwards’ campaign life came out this past week.  He is on trial for illegally using campaign funds to pay off his girlfriend, Rielle Hunter, during the 2008 campaign season.

I was an Edwards fan until I actually saw him in action in 2007 at the YearlyKos meeting in Chicago and had a Malcolm Gladwell Blink! moment.  I had a similar reaction to George Bush Sr. when he made an appearance at Pitt a long time ago.  They both made my skin crawl.

Anyways, his one time campaign aide, Andrew Young, went above and beyond the call of duty to protect Edwards going as far as claiming paternity for Rielle and Edwards’ daughter, Quinn.  But there are other unsavory details as well.  Young’s nickname for Elizabeth Edwards was Ursula after the evil sea witch from The Little Mermaid.  I have mixed feelings about Elizabeth Edwards.  She seemed like the Lady McBeth type, extremely ambitious but projecting all of that onto her smarmy husband.  But she was also a human being with her own tragedies and triumphs and she didn’t deserve to have all the crap she went through in her last four years dumped on her while she was undergoing treatment for a terminal disease.  A little kindness and attention towards her might have gone a long way.

Anyway, John Edwards is still a louse and a narcissistic PT Barnum of a politician and all of us who thought he could have sincerely done something about The Two Americas should seriously get over it like a bad high school crush.

Opposite Day on Rushbo

Hillary Clinton and Harvey Weinstein at Time's 100 Most Influential People Awards

Hey, according to Rush Limbaugh, Hillary Clinton is just a secretary!  And he calls us “libs” like it’s a bad thing!  {{snort!}}

If Rush is going out of his way to make Hillary look like nothing more than a typist, she must be having a pretty good week.  You can listen to her speech from last night’s 100 Most Influential People Awards here.  Heck, she’s having a pretty good month. Was it the badass Hillary texting or was it the chill Hillary chugging beer straight out of the bottle?  Or was it her phenomenal approval rating?  Gosh, who knows but we haven’t seen the right this bent out of shape about Hillary since 2008.  Relax, Rush, Nancy Pelosi says if we’re well behaved girls and boys, we can vote for her in 2016.  And Nancy has a bridge to sell us in San Franciso.

It’s delightful.  Hillary can handle Rush, I’m sure, but before long, maybe we can listen to Rush from his new home on blogtalkradio.  A girl can dream.

Just Sayin’…

So, Hillary made an appearance at Syracuse University this morning. The line to get in was long and many people didn’t make the cut to get into the auditorium. It was filled to capacity. Mitt Romney should ask her how she does it. Among the waiting were people who wrote her name on the ballot in 2008 and still admired and respected her. She also managed to talk a lot of students into joining the foreign service.

Can anyone remember any other Secretary of State getting this much love? Because I don’t.

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman writes that Obama’s political team seems to not know what it’s doing and it hasn’t gotten any better on the economy in the past three years. From Obama’s Missing Theme:

Let’s not get into the question of whether he could, in fact, have done considerably more. The point for now is that this is not the story the administration has been telling, at any point. First they insisted that the clearly inadequate stimulus was just right; then they have tried various anodyne slogans nobody remembers, all of which seem to imply that we’re doing just fine.

Presumably this reflects the judgment of the political team, which apparently believes that pointing out obstruction conveys an impression of weakness, and that happy talk is better than a Trumanesque campaign of hammering the do-nothing Republicans in Congress. But I have seen nothing these past three years suggesting that the political team has any idea how to play this game — and the happy talk leaves them completely flatfooted every time the economy underperforms.

For the past few months there has been an evident drift into complacency, a belief that a string of good jobs numbers will validate the happy talk. That’s a bet that can easily lose Obama the election.

Ah-ha! You guys thought we wanted Hillary because she had lady parts, didn’t you? Confess. Remember Tweety saying that the only reason she won her first term as senator was because people felt sorry for her being a cuckolded wife? I can almost hear him chatting up Sally Quinn about it over the bacon wrapped dates. Au contraire. Women who came of age during the 60s, 70s and 80s didn’t do it all so that we could coast to some high profile job on the slipstream of some guy.

Looks like she’s the real deal, dudes, and your guy is just another guy who counted on his suave demeanor and golf swing to get him to the top. I don’t think Obama has any idea what’s coming his way this campaign season. The media and the party made it so easy last time, he barely needed to campaign. People were falling all over each other just to bask in the light of his reflected glory. He has never had to deal with the right wing noise machine before. Karl Rove is a diabolically clever person and Obama still thinks he can coast on his cool.

Jeez, he even has an unearned Nobel peace prize.

{{rolling eyes}}

I’d almost feel sorry for him except that the rest of us are screwed no matter who claims the White House.

Badass cool and Srsly funny

Yesterday, the tumblr textsfromHillary received the following submission:

Funny thing was, it really was from the Secretary of State’s Office.  When I saw it yesterday, I thought it was a fake submission.  Turns out it was legit because afterwards, she posed with the guys who set up the tumblr:

What the heck is scrunchie time??

Ahhh, I see.  Her staff wants her to stop using scrunchies in her hair on bad-hair days.  Turns out that with all of her travelling, it’s a pain in the ass to have to deal with playing with hair all the time so she grew it out.  Now, she uses a scrunchie when she doesn’t have time to deal with it.

I can so relate.

Monday: So much going on

Update: So, TPM is trying its hand with a little expectation setting. To TPM, it is unthinkable that Hillary will get a crack at the nomination until 2016. The subtext is, “don’t even think about it, bitches”. Like we’re going to be satisfied with that. Hokay, suit yourself. But don’t expect me to vote for YOUR guy in 2012 just because you think I don’t have anywhere else to go. And if it turns out that you find you need me come late October, I’m just going to tell you to wait until 2016.

Also, Rick Warren is a dick. It now looks like both sides of the aisle are engaging in a lot of black-white thinking on welfare reform without considering that there was a right way to do it that would have been both liberal and not redistributory. Europe does it all over the place. So, you know, I reject arguments from both sides while putting myself firmly in the liberal camp. I can promise you that Hillary would never have Rick Warren at her inauguration.

Nothing good ever comes of a bad seed.
**********************************************
I’m in the local Starbucks (found a bit of serendipitous change in my pocket this am) waiting for my car to be fixed. It’s going to be painful but I can’t get around central NJ without a car, so there’s that.

There’s so much worth commenting on that I’m not quite sure where to start. Let’s start with an answer to Violet Socks’ question, “Why are we hearing so much about Hillary 2016?“. This is related to the question, “Why are we hearing so much about welfare reform?”, although at first, you might have missed the connection. In case you missed it, the NYTimes had a big piece on its frontpage yesterday about how welfare reform has left so many people without any visible means of support. It quotes some former Clinton officials who actually *resigned* over welfare reform. {{rolling eyes}} And while the abandonment of so many families during this little Depression is indeed disgraceful and horrifying, the NYTimes is most definitely slanting this story. Here’s why:

1.) Welfare Reform, or Clinton’s promise to “end welfare as we know it” was about putting people to work. I think I’ve mentioned this before but if you’re a liberal, the last thing you want is to create a permanent underclass of people whose lives are tied up in generational poverty. What the vast majority of welfare recipients really want is a job. Yes, there are people who will never be ready for the workplace. Yes, there will be people who have problems with substance abuse or criminal behavior. We need different solutions for those people and while a job is better for people who have run afoul of the criminal justice system, there are just some poor people who shouldn’t have to work in the same way that some middle class stay at home mothers and rich heiresses don’t have to work. Some poor people may not have the emotional wherewithal to go to work each day. We need to do something about that and help them. But the vast majority of people on welfare want to work. It’s not easy to survive on a measly check each month and it’s no way to raise your kids. Putting people on the road to work is a good thing and if that’s what Clinton meant (and I’m pretty sure that it was) then a liberal should be for it.

2.) Clinton’s plan included housing vouchers, healthcare, childcare, training, all the support mechanisms you needed to put people back to work. The Republicans shot that down. Repeatedly. There are votes on the issue and you can go back and look them up. The Clinton reform bill was generous. The Republican bills were much less so. MUCH less so. Eventually, Clinton signed a bill and it was awful but he was able to soften it in his next term. But liberals seem determined to whack Clinton over this for even bringing the subject up. That’s called denial, my friends. They want to deny that welfare had a problem by trapping people in poverty. If you’re a lefty and you’re still pissed over this, get over it. Being poor forever, even if the government is giving you a check is not a life and expecting people to be grateful to you for that is delusional. In fact, you could have seen Clinton’s Welfare Reform bill as a way to strengthen the social safety net for all of us. I know I would have been delighted if after my severance bennies had run out I would have been able to sign onto a government healthcare program while I worked my way back into the middle class. Yeah, that would have been great. No wonder the Republicans were so agin’ it.

3.) In the present, there’s nothing stopping the federal and state Congresses all around the country from approving a second stimulus package for a giant jobs bill or extending welfare benefits. You could call it “emergency TANF extension” or something suitably mellifluous. We do it for unemployed people all the damn time. I am a lucky recipient of such an extension and I am extremely grateful that it has allowed me to pay my insurance bills, my heating bills, food for my adolescent eating machine. I also paid a shitload of taxes from my severance benefits so, youknow, I don’t feel the least bit guilty about this. Last year after I was laid off I still managed to support a family of four on the taxes I paid. The thing is, Republicans would like it if I wasn’t so calm right now. They would prefer it if I and my other unemployed colleagues were desperate and completely broke. Why? So I would turn on Obama and the Democrats. That’s part of their plan. The only thing that is standing between frantic welfare recipients and stability for them and their children is the fact that Republicans want us to get to the point where we are so angry we will turn on the politicians who may still have a conscience (the jury is stil out on that one.)

I’m no fan of Obama and I have plenty of reasons to vote for someone to the left of the Democratic party so what the Republicans are doing has absolutely no impact on me. I wasn’t going to vote for him under any circumstances and I sure as hell won’t vote for a Republican, whose current behavior is rapidly changing my mind about the existence of supernatural forces of evil. But what would make me change my mind about electing a Democrat to the White House? Well, it would matter a great deal to me if Obama bowed out and Hillary threw her hat in the ring. Yep. I’d vote for that ticket.

And, I suspect, there are a LOT of women who have finally woken up and smelled the coffee and realized that we need a champion for us in government. It sure as hell isn’t coming from NOW, NARAL or Planned Parenthood, who seem scared of their own shadows and afraid to rock Obama’s boat. But if they roll over for Obama and demand almost nothing from him, they’ll be completely useless to women going forward and the attacks on us will start to accelerate. So, really, women’s organizations are worse than useless. What we need is a big, dramatic thing to happen that would say loud and clear that things are about to change in a big way.

Why does it have to be Hillary? Because she is a legitimate player. If her own party hadn’t turned on her in 2008, she’d be president right now and running for her second turn. She’s been our “foreign president” and the world loves her and respects her. Even the State Department seems to be running smoothly and hers was the first department to give gay employees all the rights of their straight colleagues. AND she is unabashedly pro-female. She doesn’t shrink from this. No one has managed to shut her up about it and she’s not afraid to confront congressmen about reproductive rights in the strongest possible terms. I haven’t seen Obama even come *close* to confronting the Republicans on these issues in the way that Hillary has.

So, she’s very popular, capable, committed, competent and women are starting to see that we need her. THAT’S why Pelosi is trying to deflect pro-Hillary sentiment to 2016. You know, it’s utter bullshit to believe that Hillary will run in 2016. She’s not. By then, she really will need to dial it back and retire. And by 2016, the damage will be done to the economy, my generation and women. No matter who makes it to the White House, Obama or Romney, the result is going to be the same. On this reality, the lefties are also closing their eyes and wishing. I’m looking at reality straight in the face and you know, it’s not going to happen, guys. There is no 11 dimensional chess game. And if what I read in Karen Ho’s book is correct, we are teetering on the edge of a true catastrophe. In fact, this is not a game. To be perfectly honest, your best hope of turning things around in all respects, is Hillary.

Which is why the NYTimes rolled out that piece about Welfare Reform. The purpose was to taint the Clinton legacy. Just watch, every time people get a little wistful for the Clintons, welfare reform and banging the drums for war in Iran start to ramp up. It’s so damn predictable I rarely read the papers anymore. And you know WHY these two things keep coming up over and over again? It’s because just like right wingnuts, lefties have buttons that can be pushed and these are the two that the political operatives and wealthy know drive lefties absolutely crazy and cause them to vote against their best interests.

So, there you go, Violet. Pelosi is trying to make people wait for Hillary in a scenario she knows is never going to happen. It’s 2012 for Hillary or never. She’d prefer it was never, for reasons known only to Pelosi. I suspect that Pelosi has been in power for so long that she has lost perspective and doesn’t realize that it’s not all about her. Being a liberal doesn’t mean a damn thing if you can never vote liberal on anything. But it sounds like Pelosi is fighting a losing battle. People around her must be whispering about calling Hillary up from the bench. So, the NYTimes rolls out the welfare reform bill and makes it sound like it was all Bill’s fault. A few years ago they and the Washington Post engaged in a series of “The State Department is being run by HillaryLand” posts, remember those? Yep, we were supposed to overlook all the evidence that she was doing a great job and be suspicious of the fact that she manages the department in a different style than her predecessors.

Too late. She’s good. And she projects confidence and command everywhere she goes as the Hillary texting tumblr shows:

Now, I know that Obama doesn’t lay around on the couch texting. (*I* do that) He’s probably playing golf. But here’s the thing, lefties: there’s nothing you can do or say to make me prefer him to her. Nothing. You can call me a racist, Republican, stupid, uneducated, insane, It. Does. Not. Matter. I want HER and not him. He is not entitled to a second term. He’s a lousy president and under him, women’s rights are eroding at an alarming rate. He’s too close to Wall Street and the culture of “smartness”. I see the future, guys, and you do too. It’s not going to be good. And no matter how much Pelosi protests, I am not going to wait until 2016. What the hell does she think we are? Children? Does she think she can get all parental and say something that will make us wait and that will somehow satisfy us or make our concerns less urgent? Well, it won’t. Get Obama out and put him on some fricking speaking tour. Let *HIM* do fundraising and supporting the Democratic party loyally. Get him and Geithner and all of the rest of his Wall Street crowd out of there and give us a dramatic change. Make the Republicans cower in their holy skivvies. Give us Hillary.

Pick a side, Digby

One more time, with feeling:

and

Back when the 2008 primary season started to heat up, DailyKos purged its Hillary Clinton supporters.  Oh, yes it did, you doubting Thomasinas.  You can’t believe that a “news site” like DailyKos would be involved in hurrying them off the site as quickly as it possibly could to make way for the Obama ads but it did.  And it wasn’t nice about it.  I was one of the first victims.  That’s why I’m here at this blog.  And to be honest, I never regretted it.  But as we were picked off, one by one, Hillary’s supporters got less of a voice in the left blogosphere.  Pretty soon, a Democratic party loyalist got the distinct impression that the entire party was converting to Barack Obama with all of the fervor of a religious reformation.  The jihad quickly spread to other blogs and the comment threads filled up with Obama zealots who were enthusiastic about killing the infidels.  Some of those Hillary supporters fled to this blog and a few others.  We weren’t welcome anywhere else.  And mind you, we’re only talking about February of 2008.  It happened quickly and thoroughly, almost as if someone had given marching orders for sites to be flooded with anti-Hillary rhetoric.

Digby held out for awhile but even she succumbed.  In the book, the Bloggers on the Bus by Eric Boehlert, Digby confesses that she was “chickenshit”, intimidated by her commenters and somewhat dependent on ad revenue.  Ok, fine.  We get it.  It took her by surprise four years ago.

But what is her excuse now for being a Doormat Democrat and not holding the party accountable for its rampant misogyny and sexism?  Believe me, I hate to be doing this, pointing out the party’s ugly history, but it isn’t doing enough to combat the crazy assholes on the right.  It is the Democratic party’s feet we need to hold to the fire, not the Republicans.  The Republicans wouldn’t have been able to get this far if the gates weren’t already down to let the barbarian horde in.  Where have the Democrats been for the past decade?

And what is Digby’s role in this?  I’ve got a problem with her co-writer, thereisnospoon.  Back in the Great Purge of DailyKos 2008, right in the middle of the Rec List Hostage Crisis, blogger Alegre, who was a well respected Hillary blogger on DailyKos, got fed up with the pressure to convert and decided to stage a “writer’s strike”.  It was symbolic, of course, but its purpose was to call attention to the way that Hillary voices were being marginalized and persecuted on the largest and most influential group blog.  Markos made fun of her.  (nice going, Markos.  How very impartial)

Alegre’s strike post got a lot of comments.  Let me just highlight one:

Don’t let the door hit you (39+ / 0-)
on the ass on your way out.

I have not been posting much or commenting much in the past months, but I have been reading almost everything.

You are propagating baseless, self-serving, inaccurate, and whiny meme’s on a regular basis.

You smear and deride with the worst of the lot, and you expect people to overlook your own behavior?

Spare us the drama.

Buh-bye.

The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

by RedDan on Fri Mar 14, 2008 at 05:26:55 PM PDT

straight from the HRC blast faxes (4+ / 0-)
really sad, actually.

Head to Heading Left, BlogTalkRadio’s progressive radio site!

by thereisnospoon on Fri Mar 14, 2008 at 05:39:18 PM PDT

[ Parent ]

Oh, look!  It’s thereisnospoon, suggesting that Alegre was getting her marching orders from Hillary’s campaign.  We were very fortunate here on The Confluence to be invited to Clinton’s press briefings and got email updates but these were strictly informational.  No one ever asked us to do anything.  I kind of liked the low pressure tactics.  I never felt indoctrinated by Hillary’s campaign and I doubt that Alegre did either.  In fact, when it comes to the writer’s strike on DailyKos, Alegre got that idea from me.

This morning, Atrios pondered why it is that women are told that their issues are a distraction.  It’s always the wimmen.  Why is that?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s because, it doesn’t really serve the purposes of the Democratic party or the Obama administration to rehash old history now, does it?  The last thing they want is an uncomfortable spotlight directed their way so that all the ugliness of four years ago is revealed in all of its glory. “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”  They would much prefer that the Republicans take the blame for all of the wretched mess that happened to women.

But Digby has to take a stand.  What is the role that thereisnospoon plays on her site? The Democrats are never going to do right by us if no one holds them accountable and forces them to act instead of sitting back and letting them bask in undeserved glory.  If you support the Democratic party, no matter what it does or *doesn’t* do, it will not do anything for you.  And the attack on women is so severe that to do nothing and say nothing on your behalf is a crime against your own sex.  That goes for NARAL, NOW, the Feminist Majority, Emily’s List and any other women’s advocacy group that has lost its brass ovaries in the past several decades. They are taking your contributions and giving them to Democratic organizations.  What are they demanding in return?  Why don’t we ask them? If they do not have the courage to stand up for women now, and hold the only party who pretends to care accountable for its actions, then we will continue down this spiral of fewer and fewer rights and less and less respect.

Make the Democrats answerable for all of the less than progressive candidates they are supporting this year.  Make them explain why they are supporting an independent male in Maine rather than a liberal woman.  Force Obama to vigorously defend you.

Women’s groups are not keeping up.  When Occupy is taking to the street, demanding economic equality and non-believers are organizing and demanding recognition as a influential voting bloc at the Reason Rally this coming weekend, women’s groups are timidly hiding behind the Democratic party, hoping it will protect them. They’re still trying to work with the system that screwed them over four years ago. Fuck that shit.  Organize a rally in DC, women.  Get your act together.  No one loves you more than you love yourself.  Let’s stick up for ourselves and make the Democrats court us as aggressively as they court the pro-illegal abortionist lobby.

Make a choice, Digby.  Get rid of your party mole or watch women’s rights get whittled away by the Democrats themselves as they pretend to protect them while doing nothing.  Now is the time, when they are telling us to shut up and sit down, to stand up and raise Hell.

Do I expect Digby to actually do this?  No, I expect that she’ll read this post and that she and her discussion group will laugh about it.  Her conscience will feel a twinge but she won’t act on it because she doesn’t want to alienate herself from the group.  Right, Digby?  And they care about women HOW, exactly?

And for those of you ladies who naively think that DailyKos is some innocuous Democratic news site, pay attention: DailyKos is a site that uses thought reform tactics to promote authoritarian Democratic party propaganda.  Whether it started off with this intention is debatable but there is very little doubt in my mind, after having seen it in action in the 2008 election season, that it was exploited by the political campaign operatives and that Markos put his thumb heavily on the scales for the Edwards campaign and then Obama’s campaign.  Alternative voices were purged.  Here are some posts I wrote a few months ago to warn people about the dangers of thought reform in the political blogosphere.

You’ve been Love Bombed

Phobias

Categories

Ok, I think we’re on to something here

Finally, those of you doubting Thomasina’s who are caught completely off guard about what is happening this year and can’t possibly believe that Hillary was done in by her own party, go back to the origins of this blog and read from the beginning.  We followed it very closely.  It is not a pretty story.  You will be disgusted.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pantsuit

I’ve got a theory that the last thing Republicans want is for the Democrats to start advocating for women.  It suits them just fine that there are so many libertarian and conservative Blue Dog Democrats running for office.  It works in the Republicans’ favor that so many new Democratic candidates are center right.  The minute that the Democratic party starts to get energized and stops sitting on women, the non-religious and labor, the Republicans will be in trouble.  As long as the Democrats take no stand, the Republicans win.

Think about it.

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