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    • What Toronto’s Election Means for Progressive Viability
      As many have heard, John Tory, the mainstream right wing candidate, won convincingly in Toronto and Olivia Chow came in third place, even doing worse than Doug Ford (brother of the famous crack-smoking Rob Ford.)  Much hand wringing has ensued that progressive just can’t win elections in Toronto. While it’s true that Toronto is hard [...]
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I’m just taking it all in

All around the left blogosphere, there is a sudden realization.  It’s like, what the hell did we get ourselves into?  There’s panic about the Grand Bargain Obama almost struck last summer, about the imminent death of Medicare, about the austerity measures in Florida.  We in the research industry could have told you all about that.  The idea is to shed as many in-house positions as possible, offshore them or hire people back as contractors, and vastly reduce the employer’s responsibility for health care and other benefits.  By the way, contractors do not have any labor protections and no unemployment insurance.  They sometimes don’t get paid or not in time to pay their own bills.  Your only right is the right to walk away.  It’s cruel and it’s brutal and it’s happening to people who have degrees in STEM fields, do hard, mental work and have ZERO union protections.

This happened on Obama’s watch.

Not Bill Clinton’s watch.

I have to say that I’m a little disappointed with Bruce Dixon’s appraisal of the Obama vs Republicans situation.  For the most part, he is right.  Obama is so far right that it drives Republicans crazy and leaves Democrats no where else to go, theoretically.  There’s always a place to go.  You just might be too chicken to go there.

What pisses me off is the way he dumps all over Bill Clinton- again.  This tendency to blame Clinton parallels what we see on the right when it dumps all over the unemployed.  It’s all *their* fault.  The attention is always directed elsewhere, away from the true culprits.  Bill Clinton is like a frustration ball.

I hate to have to climb the water tower with a bucket of paint to defend Bill Clinton yet again but it seems necessary because the left seems to be completely unmoored.

When Bill Clinton said he wanted to “end welfare as we know it”, he didn’t say “end welfare period, now and forever”.  He meant transitioning people from a lifetime of poverty with no skills or hope to one where they would be able to get training and a job. Who here thinks it is preferable to collect a subsistence check than a real paycheck?  Raise your hands.  The Clinton plan was to provide health care, housing vouchers and child care while people made that transition.  The Republicans seized an opportunity to provide quite a different plan.  I supported Clinton’s plan wholeheartedly because I don’t like the idea of generational poverty.  It’s not liberal.  YOUR mileage may vary but then YOU might not be a liberal.

Bill Clinton nominated Lani Guinier, an out of the box thinker on voting rights, as Assistant Attorney General in 1993.  The Republicans had a holy shit fit.  How quickly we forget.

Bill Clinton was the one who wanted to allow gay soldiers to serve openly.  The Republicans had another fit about that.  We ended up with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Bill Clinton appointed Hillary to reform health care.  She couldn’t get it through due to forces in the Republican party and her own party (ever wonder why?) but she vigorously championed SCHIP for children.  Anyone remember what Rush Limbaugh did to that kid who was severely injured in a car accident with his sister?  Disgusting.  That’s what SCHIP brings out in Republicans.

Bill Clinton appointed the last two liberals to the Supreme Court.  I’m sorry but I don’t see Sotomayor or Kagan as being champions of liberal philosophy.  They only look liberal in comparison.

Yes, Bill Clinton made some mistakes.  He appointed Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Robert Rubin.  They turned out to be an axis of money induced evil.  I’m assuming he had a reason for this, like the Democrats before Clinton were notorious for being anti-business and maybe he wanted to change that image.  Maybe he thought he could manage it.  Balance competing interests. Rely on an intact regulatory system and Al Gore’s election.  But that evil triumvirate was an unknown quantity when he hired them.  In 2008, they had a paper trail, which is presumably why Hillary kept her distance. What was Obama’s excuse?

Over and over again, the president who left us with a surplus and nearly full employment throughout his two terms, who held off a punitive budget deal during a government shut down and who was pursued by some pretty batshit crazy Republican Javerts throughout his terms in office, is pointed to by the left as some kind of Republican mole.

I know the left is going through a crisis of conscience but don’t lose your heads and try to rewrite history.  When you need the Clinton Democrats to help you, they’re going to remember how you turned Bill Clinton into a scapegoat or let other more savvy operators turn you against his legacy.

And let’s not forget where Bill falls on the left-right spectrum of recent former presidents and where Obama is in comparison.  Here’s the graph from Krugman’s blog post on the subject:

Back in 1992, the “center” was much farther left than it is now.  People tend to forget this because we’ve been stuck firmly in the right since George Bush usurped the presidency.  If Clinton was a centrist, he was a pretty fricking liberal one, which is what drove the Republicans nuts in the first place.  They were foaming at the mouth before he took the oath of office the first time.  He hadn’t even done anything yet.  There was no triangulating and they already wanted to lynch him and make sure he didn’t succeed.  But he did anyway.

Obama is a totally different story.  He is the appointed president of the independents, moderate Republicans and financial class.  He didn’t win the nomination.  It was given to him.  THAT’S why he’s so insensitive to the Democratic base and the liberals.  It’s because he didn’t have to earn it with the voters.

Don’t blame Clinton for what the party has brought on itself.  Blaming Clinton is about as effective as blaming the unemployed for having no money.  It changes nothing.

What I want to know is where are women’s advocacy groups?  Why is Occupy the face of labor?  Why are the left bloggers keeping conspicuously mum over the massive loss of STEM jobs?  Why is it that the atheists are the ones who have to organize for knocking some sense into the country’s dialogue?  Whatever happened to reason?

All I see is gratuitous hits on Sarah Palin, jabs at Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and a whole lot of hand wringing.  The left blogosphere looks like it’s afraid of it’s own shadow, terrified that challenging the Democrats and Obama to actually *do* something will bring on Armageddon.  It’s too late for that.  It’s already here.  If you don’t challenge the Democrats, then you are part of the problem and maybe even complicit.  And if that’s the case, you are going to lose all credibility and any power you have left.

So, stop doing it.  Focus on putting pressure on the Democrats.  Ignore the Republicans.  They aren’t going to change.  You can only make progress by pressuring your own side to do something.  And that something does not include introducing a measure in the blogosphere to condemn Bill Clinton.  Get a grip.

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