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.

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20 Responses

  1. Seriously?

    continuity of commitment, no matter how compromised.

    What does that even mean?

    • See what I mean about standards of pulitzer prize winners?
      Just not what they used to be.
      Sad.
      Or maybe it really is satire.
      I dunno.

      • It sounds like what Orwell described in his essay Politics And The English Language. Among other things, Orwell described the strategic and tactical use of deliberately confused and confusing language to justify the unjustifiable while covering up the fact of doing so.

  2. If Obama can win a Peace Prize an illiterate can win a Pulitzer.

  3. I’m noticing this occurring more often of late. Just as the righties no longer bother to use the more civil (and accurate) pro-choice identifier instead of pro-abortion, men all over the political map seem to have forgotten that women are also police officers and firefighters.

    While Wills may believe that the Naderites hurt the Democratic Party, he ignores the point that rioting Republican hacks in suits stopped the voting in Florida and Republican hacks on the bench of the US Supreme Court awarded the presidency to person who won fewer popular votes.

    In fact, the Tea Party seems to be winning over the Republican Party. Their challenges to moderate party members have worked. The GOP establishment is on the run.

    It may very well be the re-making of the Democratic Party by having serious Democrats demanding that their representatives govern as Democrats can re-create our party, removing it from it’s status as Obama’s entourage.

    • I noticed that same point…it’s two thousand freaking twelve and some people still can’t bring themselves to use firefighter and police officer. Makes it hard for me to take anything this guy says seriously.

      And what’s with “independent women”? Other minority groups didn’t seem to require that modifier.

    • The Nader RepubliGreens played a very minor role in getting Gore defeated. But they should be given credit for their evil intentions, and their evil intentions were precisely to defeat Gore if they could. I don’t know if their logic was “leninist” or if they and Nader especially were motivated by personal spite over Gore not consulting with Nader the way I read somewhere that Nader thought Gore should.

      The people who voted Green were preening self-actualizing posers, nothing more. As was Nader, and as was Michael Moore for a brief sad little moment there (“vote your dreams, not your fears”).

    • A vote for Romney is not going to be read as a vote that Democrats govern as Democrats. A liberal third party vote may be (if it’s not lumped as ‘Other’).

  4. This so-called intellect’s piece is beyond insulting, as if I’m a little girl who needs to listen to my “wise” old daddy – a winning strategy (not) to get me to trot back into the “Democratic” fold. Yet he’s practically conceding that Obama is not a Democrat. You know, vote for Obama because, even though he doesn’t represent Democratic Party principles, it’s still voting for the party, if only in name. (Would this country even have been formed if we’d had intellects like this running the show?)

    There are some of us, Garry old boy, who have integrity and will not be coerced. I never have and never will vote for Obama. After all, I’m a Democrat. Perhaps, Garry, you should listen to me, a hardworking, highly educated “girl” of almost 70. I can explain it in easy-to-understand terms, Garry, so that even you might get it: I will vote for the Democratic Party candidate when that candidate is actually a Democrat. Oh, and I will never vote for a war criminal.

  5. Wills is 78. Perhaps it is time that he retired.

  6. Here’s an interesting Michael Klare article from TomDispatch reposted at Energy Bulletin called Is Barack Obama morphing into Dick Cheney?http://energybulletin.net/stories/2012-06-21/barack-obama-morphing-dick-cheney

  7. After all of these years, we still have to listen to a lot of crap about Nader in 2000? I, too, voted for Gore but I really didn’t want to. I agreed that there was little actual difference at the time largely due to my having paid attention to what Gore and the Clintons did during the Clinton Presidency. They started out sending him to help deregulate coal burning power plants in Ohio and ended by deregulating the banking system just after having dealt with the damage caused by the previous deregulation of savings and loans.

    While I am quite sure that this will not fly here, that experience was the primary driver in my not wanting to vote for Hillary Clinton in ’08. Nothing we have seen the past few years has been dissonant with what I saw during the Clinton Administration, and to say that the problems we have seen the past few years are new and unprecedented would require an almost total disregard for the precedents set then.

    Please get off of the 2000 Nader voters backs; they were just a little more perceptive than the rest of us and should be honored for that, not demonized as is the wont of those “Democrats” that are more than willing to give their mandate for war crimes, amnesty for fraud on Wall Street, diminishment of civil liberties/the social safety net and offshoring of jobs now.

    • I disagree. After what the Clintons had to put up with during the 90′s, the Naderites were absolutely not in touch with reality if they thought there was no difference between the parties.
      The Republicans knew exactly what they were doing when they forced a moderately liberal president to shelve his most ambitious projects. And yet, Clinton still performed better than Obama is doing because Clinton was a politician and he learned from his experiences.
      As for Gore, there are some people who have a knack for synthesizing an image of the future from the clues that they pick up. Maybe they have an excess of imagination, or do what is called “lateral thinking”, or can extrapolate. Whatever it is, Gore has it. Nader and the Greens did not.
      And that is what makes all of the difference.

      • So, in a few years are you going to be telling us that “after what Obama put up with during the teens…” those of us who think him despicable are simply not in touch with reality? Clinton’s second term was a complete disaster from a liberal perspective, and the only reason that he was supported to the degree he was was because of Republican attitudes and actions towards him bringing out the tribalist instincts of those of us who were just tired of being called traitors for expressing our political viewpoints; in other words, we had nowhere else to go. Does that sound familiar? It ought to, because that is precisely what we are seeing now. Unsurprisingly, I have been predicting similar results to the 2000 vote for the past three years; ’08 was merely prelude to the play we are about to witness and the characters remain largely unchanged.

        As for extrapolation (or whatever), you should note that the situation that we are looking at right now was the one that both Nader and the Greens were predicting from the actions of the DLC prior to Clinton’s second term. You must not be remembering correctly what was being said at the time if you do not remember the term “corporatist” featuring largely in their message. .

        I’m sorry, love your stuff, but when it comes to your attitudes about the Clinton’s it seems like you just were not paying much attention at the time.

        • Actually, I’m the one who was paying attention. It is the left that seems to have forgotten what liberal means.
          I completely reject the term “corporatist”. I don’t like labels and that one, in particular, has no meaning. It’s a buzzword that the left uses to help each other identify themselves. As I’ve written before, in every corporation, there are stakeholders. Shareholders are stakeholders and we have a legitimate beef with them. But workers, the community, government, vendors- all of those people are stakeholders in a corporation. A corporation by itself is not necessarily a bad thing. And note that I am not saying that corporations are persons. I am saying that corporations are necessary entities that are required for certain industries. For example, it is very difficult to build cars without corporations. It is very difficult to package food without a corporation. It is almost impossible to discover drugs without a corporation, as many struggling scientists are finding out. So, when you say “corporatist”, you are condemning a lot of people without being specific. Not only are you making the problem worse, you’re not even ferreting out the root of the problem. You aren’t pinpointing the specific people within the corporation and their partners in crime outside of the corporations that are causing the most harm. This is one of the reasons I don’t like the Green party or many dogmatic lefties.
          I don’t have a problem with business or corporations as long as their worst instincts are reined in with rules. The problem is that the financial industry and the bonus class don’t like rules.
          So, enough of that.
          As for Clinton, I don’t understand what it is about the left that makes them reflexively loathe everything about Clinton.
          I’ve heard all that crap about welfare reform and I happen to agree with the Clintons. It is wrong to throw money at people. Period. It’s immoral to give people subsistence level checks every month and walk away from a problem expecting that people will just dig themselves out of poverty by themselves. Real liberals should totally reject that. Clinton’s policy was to put people back to work, to give them housing vouchers, daycare for their kids, education and training, and health care. Republicans HATED all of that. Their idea is to make sure that government doesn’t work so that Americans will see all of these underfunded, undermined initiatives and reject them. So, they undermined all of his proposals. We didn’t get universal healthcare. Imagine how that would have changed our political landscape. And Clinton’s welfare policies were undone by Republicans and made harsher. He was able to mitigate some of that later. But I don’t consider his initial ideas conservative in the least. They were probably more radical than we give him credit for because they would have lead to a more European style welfare state for all of us and Republicans knew it.
          NAFTA? Please. The trade agreement was already pretty much done when Clinton came into office. As trade agreements go, it was less destructive than we think. Mexico and Canada are our two biggest trading partners. It makes sense to lower trade barriers and bureaucracy between our nations. It saves time and money. And as far as outsourcing goes, our appliances, hardware and drugs are not being made in Guadalajara. They’re being made in Korea, China and India. So, NAFTA is another tribal bugaboo that is made to look bigger than it is. Sure, labor standards could have been reinforced. I believe the Republicans stripped those out of the agreements.
          Clinton appointed Bader-Ginsburg and Breyer to the SCOTUS. They are the most liberal members of the court. Period.
          It was CLINTON who raised taxes on the rich. That’s not progressive enough for you??
          It was Hillary Clinton who helped usher through SCHIP. That’s not liberal?
          It was under the Clinton administration when the internet took off and for more than a decade, it flourished in a free, unregulated fashion. It’s the reason I can write this overly long comment to you without being hauled off to jail.
          It was Clinton who took a look at the privatization scheme for Social Security and passed on it.
          Yes, he had some jerks working for him at Treasury. Yes, Gramm-bliley passed during his administration and he signed it. But there was a veto proof majority for that anyway. Yes, Brooksley Born was ignored. But you forget that in the wake of the financial collapse in 2008, Clinton acknowledged that he was too trusting even though the bulk of the dismantling of oversight of the financial industry happened under Bush. Why is the left spending so much time kicking it’s own side when it should be aiming its wrath at the Bushies? Did you read The Big Short? It was the Bush administration that let the whole thing to to hell in a handbasket, not Clinton.
          But here’s the thing that the left conveniently forgets: Clinton was the first Democrat that had to go up against the movement conservatives. They used a scorched earth strategy to harass him and his wife for eight. straight. years. That cost the Clintons and their friends and appointees millions of dollars in legal fees. For two years, we heard nothing but Monica. We had congressional hearings, and an *impeachment* over a blow job. Clinton couldn’t even bomb bin Laden’s hideouts in Afghanistan without the Republicans screeching “Wag the Dog!!” Where were you when all of that happened??
          And yet, he still got things done. He left office with a surplus. The country was at peace. He made government more efficient, with Gore’s help. I have relatives who were federal workers who very much appreciated Clinton and loathe Obama because Obama doesn’t know squat about administering government departments. Real wages for Americans went up under Clinton.
          I have much bigger problems with Obama than I ever did with Clinton. I think Obama’s 2008 primary “victory”, bought with financial industry funds and DNC collusion, has seriously undermined our democracy. What Obama did to “win” the nomination was far, far worse than anything Clinton has ever done and a much bigger threat to liberalism. This is the thing that the left has completely ignored to its own peril. There is a reason why the left has been almost completely emasculated in the past 4 years. It did it to itself when it signed on with the Obama-DNC plan. Given what a colossal mistake that was, it’s probably no wonder that the leaders of the left who were bedazzled with Obama are blaming Clinton for everything. I think it’s called projection or some other psychological thing where people try to put the blame for their own mistakes on someone elses shoulders.
          Anyway, there’s no comparison between Obama and Clinton. Clinton was and always will be an unabashed Democrat. He’s not afraid to say it and he has distinctly Democratic values. Obama? I have no fucking idea what he believes but he sure doesn’t govern like a Democrat. The data on that is in.
          I believe, no, I *know*, that if Hillary had been elected, she would have come into office with a policy to rescue homeowners after the collapse of the housing market. She would have been able to work with Sheila Bair to implement it. She would have avoided Summers, Geithner and Rubin because they weren’t her advisors on the campaign anyway. That alone should have told you something. The Clintons learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others.
          Obama has learned nothing. He’s not a natural politician and he doesn’t like to do the kinds of things politicians have to do in order to get things done. But he’s very good at being sneaky and manipulating the party system.
          As for reading me or not reading me, that’s entirely your choice. But I refuse to ignore facts and history and jump on the left’s pointless “let’s bash Clinton!” bandwagon just so I can make some of you more comfortable. If it sounds like nails on a chalkboard to you, don’t read me. I don’t make a living off this blog so I’m not under any pressure to acquiesce to an audience who wants their preconceived and incorrect notions reinforced. I’ve always said that if I were the only person reading this blog, that wouldn’t be a problem for me. Who knows? When I’m dead and gone, someone might look back on all of this hypergraphia and discover that I was on to something after all. I will never know but being unpopular or going against the tide in my own lifetime? Not really a problem for me. I’m much more aware of what went on during the 90s than most young lefties and I have a good memory.
          So there.

          • Wow! An awful lot of points here to address.

            1. Perhaps you reject the term “corporatism” because you are not using it in the same way that we are? Corporatism is a recognized political science term with a specific meaning. It does not have anything to do with the validity of corporations or the needs of their shareholders. In it’s most simplistic sense, it describes a political system characterized by a state run for the sole benefit of corporate elites, backed by the coercive power of the state. Think Fords and Carnegies. In the sense in which is is used, it very specifically classifies the people who run the state, and they are not necessarily those who are elected to public positions.

            “I don’t have a problem with business or corporations as long as their worst instincts are reined in with rules. The problem is that the financial industry and the bonus class don’t like rules.” Exactly! Corporatism is the ultimate goal of powerful corporate oligarchs to governmental rule making which they do not see as being in concert with their worst instincts; the process is called government capture by corporate interests.

            Which brings us to point number two. All of the examples you cite in some way destroyed a portion of the social contract for the governed. Welfare was never the huge economic beast that it was made out to be; it was just a way of helping people over the hump until they could get their shit together. That some of the underclass abused it was not up for debate, the question of why they did so was. I am from the South and can tell you that those here who did so had few choices in life, and welfare was not the picnic that it was made out to be. It provided a bare subsistence that was supplemented in places by other programs that made it possible for people to get off of it…but only in places. Here in the South we have a permanent underclass for a reason, and that reason did not change just because a few people were less hungry.

            What the inner cities and rural areas actually saw as a result of the draw down of welfare was a rise in crime caused by an even more desperate underclass which still could not get an education or a decent job; either for themselves or for their children. The savings gained by virtually eliminating it were only lost to increasingly socialized costs elsewhere. Ultimately, the best case for welfare was in times like we are seeing now; can you imagine what an economic stimulus it would be for both those who have been unemployed and are losing their benefits and the communities in which they live? THAT is what it was really for. The topic is not as simplistic as you would have your readers believe.

            Neither is the topic of NAFTA/CAFTA or health care reform. The issue with the trade deals was that they mainstreamed a legal platform not subservient to the state; an unelected regulatory body that people are still being arrested for protesting at G8 summits, that are only being enlarged by the new and exciting trade deals (passed off as jobs bills) by the Obama Administration. They institutionalize a race to the bottom. There is a reason why the “Fair Trade” Bill that was supposed to be a followup was never passed. The motivating factor for health care reform was not universal health care (look at he committee plan!), it was to subsidize an existing private health care monopoly that was destined to fail within twenty years due to the weight of its’ own excesses.

            And so on and so forth. The ultimate point is that Clinton engaged in many “Nixon to China” moments that we are seeing the full fruition of now, when there are few bills passed that anyone could describe as unfriendly to business. Both the Greens and Nader knew what the ultimate trend would be and pointed it out at the time.

            I just think that it is extraordinarily unfair of such as yourself to not even listen to what they have to say before you dump on them. They were right, and they still do not get the respect that they deserve. There is a column up over at Ian Welsh’s site right now on Greece; I wish you would read it. It tells you what we are looking at, and there is one particular point that should be heeded: There as here, the left is not allowing the creation of enforcers of Party Doctrine, and that will leave the way clear for the worst sort of enforcers on the other side of the equation.

            Giving people like the Clinton’s credibility whilst damaging that of those who pointed out at the time the trendlines of their actions will ultimately be counterproductive.

          • 1.) Just because a term is used by political scientists in a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s use will continue to be defined in the way it was intended. I think what you refer to as “corporatist” was called “fascism” in my day. This term has gotten away from those of you who coined it to mean a specific thing. Now it means any corporation that operates for any reason is evil. No? You know this is true. I went to YearlyKos in Chicago and got my ass handed to me at breakfast after Edwards gave his PT Barnum speech because I worked for a corporation. If people don’t mean to imply that every stakeholder in a corporation is guilty of being evil, heartless human beings, then they should be a lot more careful how they sling that word around. Whenever I hear it now, I just write the speaker off as the most clueless person on the planet who has no idea how impossible to do certain things without the structure of a corporation. Yes, I know you’re going to say that’s not what the word means and I don’t think you are listening to me. That’s what your fanbase is interpreting it to mean and it is hurting people whose employers have pulled up stake and moved to Chindia as well as being insulting. Your word, not mine. If it was invented by political science I have to wonder if the intention was to create a faceless, unresponsive entity onto which people could pour their frustrations. Congratulations! It worked and now those of us who work for them have absolutely no allies either within or without. It is a divisive and imprecise word. Stop using it.

            2.) We obviously see welfare reform very differently. BTW, I was in college when Reagan came into office. Yes, I was the first generation of Americans who was severely impacted by the Reagan years. It was under Reagan when Pell grants went under the ax and states started cutting back on funding and when tuition started to rise and when newly divorced mothers couldn’t get any public assistance if they were full time students. Yep, no food stamps, no rental vouchers, no childcare subsidies, nothing. You could only get those things if you were a part time student who also worked. I knew mothers in that situation who struggled more than you will ever know because of Reagan. They could barely feed their families on the lousy money they were getting and the restrictions on the number of classes they could take meant that they stretched out their educations far longer than was necessary or good for them and their families. They were failing in both areas. But that’s what Reagan brought to our national discourse- a meanspirited, hard heartedness where people had permission to look women with 4 kids in the eye or a first generation student from a working class family and say to them, “What makes you think you are entitled to an education? Who told you that we had to help you get through school?”

            I’ve been there, asshole. I’ve had relatives on welfare. They were anything but lazy freeloaders.

            I’m the last person in the world who would accuse welfare of being queens as Reagan did. But I also know that if the Clintons had gotten healthcare reform and all of the other welfare reforms, many lives would have been improved beyond description and people who are laid off now, like yours truly, wouldn’t be spending half of our unemployment benefits on COBRA.

            As for NAFTA, I will once again reiterate that we are not losing our jobs to Mexico. We are losing them to Asia. Also, when Clinton came into office, the trade deal that was negotiated by Bush Sr. was almost completed. The labor standards were scrapped by Republicans.

            Yes, Republicans raised taxes. Let’s see, it was about 1986 when they raised them on late babyboomers such as myself who as a new college graduate was among the first to pre-pay my social security benefits. Yes, Bush Sr raised taxes. IIRC, he wasn’t particularly selective about whose taxes he raised. It was CLINTON who specifically raised them on the wealthy and down the road made sure that people on the lower end of the income ladder paid little to nothing. As I recall, Marjorie Margolis-Medvinsky cast the deciding vote in the House. She was later targeted by the Republicans for removal and she lost her seat.

            You give Clinton far too little credit. You continue to ignore the fact that the only two liberal justices on the SC were appointed by him. You ignore all of the work Hillary Clinton did on healthcare reform (not talking about SCHIP) and how she was shot down by members of HER OWN PARTY. You forget about Lani Guinier. You forget that it was Bill Clinton who first announced that he wanted to allow gay soldiers to serve in the military and that he was forced to walk that back by the crazy religious right in the armed forces.

            As for the Greens, I hold them partially responsible for the indiscriminate way they have attacked every faulty product as some kind of malicious negligence. As a pharma researcher, I have seen many drugs pulled off the market and companies sued by class action lawfirms who with the aid of somewhat naive federal courts have extorted billions of dollars from company coffers. Oh, they *deserved* that, right? I also know how emails and memos can be distorted and how PR campaigns can demonize and how what looks like an unintended or unknown side effect can permanently injure a company going forward so that it has to cut back on research or is forced into an unwanted merger or acquisition. I’ve seen 20 years of that shit result in the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of scientists whose employers decided to plunder what’s left of the company for the good of the shareholders and reduce costs by shipping our jobs overseas.

            I don’t know who the hell you are but you haven’t been reading my blog for very long or you would know that I AM the working class that you are purporting to help. I am the college educated daughter of a military family, the first on either side to go to get a degree. I AM that future social security beneficiary who is going to get screwed. I lived through the Reagan years without the benefit of a family infrastructure who knew anything about higher education. I am that professional worker who got laid off in their middle age and can’t find a job anywhere. I am that person who pays a fortune for health care. I am that person who is currently living on unemployment and my savings. I am that person who worries about losing my house. I am that person who has to put a teenager through college. I am that person who has to deal with a deteriorating school system.

            Do not come here from your lofty, detached poli-sci perch and preach to me the meaning of the word corporatist or presume to tell me the history that I lived through. I don’t use labels because I believe that thinking through thoughts without predefined shortcuts is the best way to understand a problem. If you don’t like it, there’s a whole universe of blogs you can visit who will pander to your secret desires to be flattered for your perspicacity and divine wisdom. I doubt you will find that kind of flattery here.

          • O.K., Got my breath back. Onto a few more of your points.

            You know who else raised taxes on the rich? Reagan and Bush I, so what’s your point?

            SCHIP is fine as far as it goes. The reality of a simplified single payor system or expansion of Medicare was out there in ’93 as well. You will note that it got just about as much attention then as it did now. The problem with SCHIP is that it buys into the concept of private insurance, which was (and still is) the problem in the first place. Give someone a monopoly and they will use it to enhance their profits, SCHIP does nothing to attack the underlying problem with our healthcare industry; it is unaffordable. Subsidies that one must vote for periodically do nothing to change that reality.

            The internet is a fabulous thing, I’m not knocking it. It was, however a new technology at the time and it takes a while for new technologies to find their way to the point where existing corporations can profit from it. What has happened since should be far more indicative of trendlines than the period of which you speak.

            Bush could not have done what he did without the deregulation that the Clinton’s advocated for. He stood up to the Republican Party on issues like letting the budget lapse, but he could not do so when the topic du jour was gutting the very regulations which were passed in response to the last Great Depression? Pull the other one; this is something he wanted. He praised Alan Greenspan and the Chicago School to the skies whenever he got the chance. The “jerks” that he put into positions of responsibility were the jerks of his choosing, and it should not go unnoticed that Bush II was so pleased with the Rubinites that he packed his own cabinet with them. Historical revisionism will not help him there.

            By no means was Clinton the first Democrat to go up against movement conservatives; I remember the Reagan Administration as well. By the time Clinton showed one could have easily said “been there, done that and bought the T-shirt.” I was right here when Clinton wanted to bomb Afghanistan and was wondering how he had the temerity to blame all of our problems with Islamist radicals on people that a previous Administration had moved there, paid and trained. The problem then as now lay with our foreign policy, and it was gutless of him not to point out such a blatant fact, They got what they paid for, and that is what he should have been pointing out.

            Finally, if I have a problem with the Clinton’s, it should go without saying that my bona fides are good with regard to Obama. I loathe the man, but I am at least honest enough with myself to know that he has built on the precedents of his predecessors. I cannot in good conscience criticize him for ignoring the left but not point out that he used Clintonian triangulation and DLC infrastructure to do it. I could never in good conscience discuss his hawkish foreign policy as in any way contrasting with Hillary Clinton’s when the proof of her votes (and her attempts to distance herself from them whilst a candidate) are there for all to see. Especially now that we have seen how very thin her protests were in light of her actions as Secretary of State.

            Bottom line: Gore was always a weak political apparatchik. He was put on the Clinton ticket to gain liberal bona fides that he then sold out as soon as he was sworn in. As President he would have acted exactly as he had as VP, Lieberman was there to be his babysitter, and he knew it, That is why he did not want to campaign with Clinton, that is why he did not have the full recount, that is why he did not fight the SC decision, that is why he ultimately said that he could do better work in the private sector than in the Public, And I agree with him.

            He is a better man and has done some good things since he failed to gain the Presidency. His epitaph will not be of the sellout that he would have been as a corporatist flunky President, and I am happy for that. It does not make anything said about him at the time of his candidacy wrong, however.

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