This is a comment turned into a diary in response to a comment:
You make a valid point, but I’m a bit bothered by some of these comments. I hope that the “pony pwogwessives” type comments are not too prevalent here
I am going to be as honest as I can here. At 63 and having been involved with Democratic politics and liberal activism either as an observer or participant since the late 60s. I was heavily involved in student activism against the Vietnam War. I was involved in the civil rights movement, worked for a women’s right to choose before Roe v Wade. And had a strong belief in gay rights since my days as a theater major and working in theater in the 60s and 70s. When LGBT’s are your close friends you quickly understand they are people deserving of your respect and the same rights.
I am going to tell you what I believe ( please notice this is my opinion and mine alone I do not presume to speak for all progressives let alone all Moose ).
Progressives, liberal, Democrats whatever label you choose to use, are very good at focussing on a single target when out of the White House. We tend not to be very good when we do gain the White House. The circular firing squads start popping up right after the inauguration.
At the first sign that the Democratic President, I don’t care who it is, isn’t adhering to some progressive ideal the desertions from his or her camp begin and the verbal fist fights start amongst our own. Now some of this comes from the fact the Democrats really are a big tent party. You cannot invite the Hatfields and McCoys to the party and not expect some punches being thrown. I can live with this and I can understand it. What I do not get is the failure by some to look at the big picture. What I do not understand is the epistemic closure that is just as prevalent on the left as it is on the right.
Now lets talk about Progressives and Obama. First some things to keep in mind
1) The beginning of his election was the 2004 Democratic Convention speech. If you don’t remember it. I strongly suggest you go back and view it. This should have been the first sign to Progressives as to who and what motivated this man and who he was as a person.
If you don’t listen closely he sounds like the Progressive’s Progressive, but if you listen closely you also hear and realize something else. You would have heard that he was someone who wanted to work with everybody to make this country better. Everybody not just Progressives or even Democrats. This should have been the signal that should he become President he was going to hold out his hand time after time no matter how many time it got slapped away. This should have been the clear signal that he was not a brawler.
2. He did not run as a Progressive. He ran as someone who desperately wanted to bring the American people together. Yes he had and does have progressive ideals, but ideals and workable policy are very different things and sometimes they bisect and sometime they do not.
3. He got nominated for what he represented, a real break from the past,more than any single policy position. Hell the differences between his policy positions and Hillary’s were almost non existent.
4. Then the Crash happened and we saw another side of Obama. While McCain was flapping his arms, suspending his campaign. Obama was staying calm going to Washington and basically running Bush’s meeting at the White House on what should be done. To many Obama became the President then and there. A month and a half before he was even elected and months before he would actual sit in the Oval Office. ( this may also be why so many think Obama signed TARP into law and not Bush )In other words McCain/Palin knew or should have known at that moment the election was over. Obama had won and nothing was going to change this fact. Progressives should have seen that his agreeing to the bail out/TARP as a solution meant that his ideals or ideology were not going to get in the way of saving a country from disaster.
OK as President. The minute he started making his appointments Progressives started going off the rails. Geithner, Summers, Bernanke OH MY. And here is where I part ways with Progressives. We are a capitalistic country. Period end of story get over it. We are a market based economy. Period end of story, get over it. Obama did exactly what FDR did first. He saved the banks. And in order to save the banks he needed folks in place that understood the financial markets, knew Wall Street and knew how to talk to the Street. Did he make all the right policy choices? No. Then again neither did FDR if you actually go back and look at what FDR did year by year as opposed to looking at his Presidency as a total. And certainly look at the first two years of it after the Depression was already two years old.
Hate the bankers or love them you cannot escape the fact that our economy requires them. Bust then up you say, make them smaller! They control too much of it! I am hard pressed not to agree with this sentiment, but I agreed with the sentiment not the policy at the time. Had Obama moved to break them up, actively punish them for what they did, most of which was sadly legal, the markets would have gone into complete melt-down. We needed stability not more turmoil. Progressive on the other hand seemed all too willing to say fuck em who cares. A President does not have this luxury.
Now lets talk Obama the leader or “weak” leader as so many on the left now like to claim. Let’s talk about Obama the negotiator or bad negotiator as so many on the left like to claim.
This meme started with the stimulus. It not enough! It’s too small. Where’s the WPA? etc etc etc. This meme was pounded by Krugman and quickly picked up by others. At the same time McConnoll had let it be know to all Republican members of Congress their game plan was going to be simple. NO NO NO NO NO NO to anything and everything. They had one goal and one goal only – one term! And this is when Progressives should have gotten Obama’s back instead of biting it. They should have realized who the real enemy of progressive values were and it wasn’t Obama. They didn’t, the circular firing squads were forming.
Then Healthcare reform. First, came the deal with the drug companies. Hate it if you must, but he took an enemy of reform off the field and got $80 million to help offset the Medicare Part D drug prescription plan thus reducing costs to seniors. Is it as good a negotiating prices? Maybe not, but it was a twofer and having one less entity spending millions fighting Healthcare reform was important.
Then came the Public Option. Obama didn’t fight for it! Really? The PO was was in the very first HCR bill that came out of the House. and it kept coming back. It was quickly realized that not only wouldn’t the Republicans go along with it, but a number of Democrats wouldn’t either. Not to mention good ole Joe Lieberman a necessary vote like it or not. All the bully pulpit pounding was not going to change this fact. So the choice was to say the hell with it because I cannot get everything or move the ball forward with a modified plan. Some Progressives started to actively and loudly say ALL OR NOTHING! KILL THE BILL lead by that Progressive standard bearer and Norquist hugging Jane Hamsher. Short sighted to say the least and down right in the words of RAHMMMMM: f’ing r – d. So
we ended up with the Mandate. Exactly what we would have gotten under Hillary. Call me shocked 🙂
And now let me relate a little story. I work in OFA with someone was an intern to Jean Shaheen during the healthcare fight. She recorded the calls letter and emails from constituents for or against. The activist on the right out worked progressives by a margin of two to one and this was true across The Hill not just Shaheen’s office. We were lucky to get any healthcare reform at all let alone the bill we ended up with. The right outworked the Progressives yet again.
Now were there mistakes made? You betcha. We/Obama allowed the messaging to get away from us. The right latched onto a few simple messages and pounded them. Our response was weak to say the least. Obama maybe shouldn’t have left so much of the writing of Healthcare reform to the Democrats in Congress, especially Blue Dog Dems. Thus making the whole process take too damn long and become too damn messy. This gave the Republicans way too much time to mount their attacks. And I also think the stretched out process allowed the Tea Party to really solidify. So yes, mistakes and big ones were made. Then again did Progressives show up at Town Halls to fight back? No they stood on the sidelines sniping on the blogs and mouth agape at the lies being thrown about as facts.
Now we come to just before the mid-terms and Obama drops the call to kill the Bush tax cuts. And the Progressives go nuclear. And here we have a classic example of Progressives screaming and not working. First House Democrats were absolutely petrified of letting the the tax cuts expire. They just were not going to do it before the mid-terms out of fear of loosing their seats. Progressives could have easily picked up the phones called these guys and said I’ll have your back, I’ll work my ass off to keep in the House. They didn’t. But the right did and in the end they lost and lost big.
Next we no longer had a majority in the Senate. So if Obama was going to keep a big promise before the mid-terms DADT. Get a lot of the unemployed kept on unemployment insurance heading into Christmas and get the START treat ratified a deal had to be cut. Gays in the military were happy, the LGBT community was overjoyed, more than a few unemployed folks could breath a sigh of relief that Christmas wouldn’t be totally miserable. Again Progressives should have gotten the President’s back. He did things things they supposedly believed in. Instead they focused on what he didn’t do. Focusing on the negative as opposed to the positive.
Reality by the mid-terms Obama had accomplished 85% percent of his agenda. Quite a feat for any President let alone a President faced with what Obama faced coming into office and a opposition party that was dead set on getting him thrown for a loss. And yet what did far too many Progressive focus on and scream and moan about? What he didn’t get done or how what he did get done wasn’t a Progressive’s wet dream.
So far do you get why some of might say “pony pwogwessives?” And I have even gotten into the budget battle or the debt ceiling fight where Obama was out numbered and fighting from a weakened defensive position and yet still managed to keep the Republicans from storming and over running the castle. The budget fight turned out to be in Obama’s favor once the numbers were actually run and closely looked at.
And the debt ceiling fight? If Boehner got 85% of what he wanted he wanted very little. The Republicans bought into ifs, and and maybes not actual hard numbers. The debt ceiling was pretty much passed as a clean bill, what Obama wanted in the first place. All the other stuff, the Super Committee, budget in the out years is pretty much meaningless since anything they do can easily be undone by the next Congress. However this will require folks to step away from their keyboards and actually work to get Democrats elected. Will they or will the signs that they have already given up the fight before it is joined hold up?
So in conclusion if I slam Progressives it isn’t for their ideals it is for their willingness not to really fight for those ideals. To depend on a single individual to do all their fighting for them. It is the very bad habit of winning elections and then thinking the job is over. Republicans sure as hell don’t, why do we?
I don’t think I have ever said this here, but . . . flame away 🙂