I’m not angry often. I don’t believe anger is an emotion that makes things better for anyone but yourself, and even that is rare. This is generally a political blog, and in politics, anger is poisonous. I can’t say this enough; the average voter in this country (NOT voters on either extreme side of the political spectrum, but those who actually decide elections) is NOT motivated by anger, cannot be motivated by anger (usually), and actually reacts to expressed anger with disgust, for the most part. They don’t want to elect angry people, they want to elect competent people. They don’t care what WE think the issues are; they want to elect someone who knows and understands the issues and will do something about it.
Put simply, the general public already thinks all politicians suck, so you reiterating that politicians suck does nothing to advance the political process.
But I’m becoming angry with the far left these days, not just because they’re being unfair to the president and the Democrats, but because they pose as political “experts,” despite the fact that they seem to know nothing about how politics actually works.
Let’s start this rant by reminding you that the man occupying the White House currently got to where he is in spite of the fact that:
- He is a black man;
- He had a father who was a Kenyan Muslim;
- He has an unusual name;
- He didn’t have a ton of political experience when he ran and;
- He had to beat one of the most established legacies in Democratic politics in the primary, and a respected war hero politician in the general election.
Barack Obama could very well be the most brilliant politician of our day. He knows what’s up far better than we do. To NOT defer to his judgment except in extreme circumstances is much like hiring a mechanic to repair your car and then telling him how (s)he should rebuild your carburetor. Put simply, if you think you can do it better, then do it. Otherwise, shut the hell up, because you sound stupid when you criticize an expert.
That is why all of you Monday morning quarterbacks out there – those of you who are constantly going on about how big a screw-up Obama is, and how he “should have” done something that YOU think would have “worked better” -- just look pathetic. Seriously, you look sillier than shit, and it’s pissing most liberals off, because you’re affecting the discourse, and you’re making it more difficult to beat the right wing, which absolutely MUST be our first order of business for the next several election cycles. Pardon my French, but FUCK the Blue Dogs. THEY are NOT the problem. The problem is the extreme right, who are hell-bent on dismantling this country, one brick at a time.
All these “woulda coulda shoulda” outbursts coming from some of you demonstrate nothing more than an incredible political naiveté that is absolutely vomit-inducing. Seriously, many of you sound like that blowhard uncle we all have, who's an expert on every goddamn thing, despite the fact that he can't seem to find a job that pays more than $10 an hour. The people I’m talking about NEVER seem to read actual news stories, and they rarely deal with actual facts. Instead, they watch talking head shows, take everything that fits their current belief system, and discard everything else.
Sound familiar? Yep, you’re right. Some of these folks act the same way toward left wing talking heads that the right wing does with theirs. And it’s not smart. “Absorbing more information” only makes you smarter if you bother to verify the information you’re given, and you also put it into a proper perspective.
And as is my tendency with this blog, I’m going to give specific examples of what I mean. That makes me different than most bloggers, who make sweeping proclamations that are unsupported by any sort of reality. These are memes pushed by the far left on blogs and in comments, and they’re just plain STUPID. And I'm showing you why they're stupid.
Obama and the Democrats should have made the stimulus bigger.
You’re right, of course. To be effective, the stimulus should have been a lot bigger.
And for the record, my unicorn would be much prettier if it farted glitter, too.
You see, what we want to do and what we can do are often very different things. It would have been nice if President Obama could have just demanded $2 trillion in stimulus right out of the gate, but how realistic was that, really? Perhaps if the Republicans hadn’t already run up $12 trillion in extra debt, we could have taken on a little more. If that had been the case, Obama could have explained that our debt was only 35-40% of GDP, and pushing it up to 50% of GDP was not unprecedented.
But you know what? The Republicans had run up the debt, and the level of debt was more than 80% of GDP. Suddenly, a country that was used to being told – by liberals, no less – that a $400 billion deficit was dangerous as hell, was looking at a deficit of nearly $1.7 trillion, even without a stimulus package. What do you think would have happened had Obama spiked it up to nearly $4 trillion in one fell swoop? More importantly, who do you imagine was going to vote for such a bill, besides a handful of progressives in safe districts?
And that doesn't even take into account the whole “Democrats spend money like drunken sailors” meme, which has been tossed around for years, even though it’s untrue.
See, the problem with politics is, at some point, idealism runs into reality. It’s great to say Obama “should have” gone for $2 trillion in stimulus, but what’s the point of doing so, if you have no chance of getting it? Obama was actually told by experts that the most he could hope for was about $400 billion and he got twice that, thanks to a few carefully placed tax cuts for average people. What he got, in a country that was already looking at huge deficits, was actually quite amazing, politically speaking. Here was a president who’d taken the oath less than a month earlier, and he was able to usher through a single bill that cost taxpayers $800 billion over 3 years, and did so with zero Republican votes.
And let me disabuse some of you of something else. There’s this idea floating around out there, that perhaps Obama should have proposed a $3 trillion bill that would have been negotiated down to, say, $1.5-2 trillion. If you think that’s how bills become law, you do not understand the process. MOST negotiations occur while a bill is being written, not while it’s on the floor of the House or Senate. If you ask for too much in a bill, you kill it. If a bill for $3 trillion in stimulus had been presented, it never would have seen the light of day. Ask Dennis Kucinich how many of his bills actually end up being debated on the House floor, and then ask yourself why that's the case. There are hundreds of bills on the floor of either chamber at any one time; they only have time to deal with those with a realistic chance of passing. A $3 trillion bill would have had no chance. Not only that, but killing that bill might have killed the very idea of a stimulus in the public's mind altogether. A $400 billion bill was turned into a nearly $800 billion bill, which is something of a miracle, but the way you push through a bill like that is to start low and push it higher, not the other way around.
Obama caved on the Bush tax cuts.
One problem with some of these arguments is that they’re too simple-minded to take seriously.
The fact of the matter is, the Bush tax cuts are not just tax cuts for the rich; letting them expire would have meant everyone's tax bill would have risen, at a time when the economy was still trying to recover. These tax increases would have hit everyone on January 1, 2011, and the new GOP Congress was to take office two days later. They would have entered Congress with a promise to save everyone by reducing their taxes back down to where they had been, and they probably would have been successful. They had a majority in the House, and a tax reduction probably would have also passed the Senate. And there are enough Democrats in conservative districts that it’s quite possible such a tax cut bill might have passed with a veto-proof majority. Not only that, but knowing Republicans, they would have extended them for far longer than 2 years.
Obama, being smarter than us, politically, saw this, and he circumvented the process and made a deal, getting an extension of unemployment and several other concessions that he knew Republicans would never go for on their own. And he extended them for only two years, instead of the ten or more the GOP would have gone for.
If you’re going to accuse Obama of "caving" on this, you should at least tell the truth. The Bush tax cuts were going to be extended, regardless; that Obama got something for them, and limited that extension to two years, instead of ten or more, means he took a negative and turned it into a net positive.
Obama put Social Security and Medicare cuts on the table, and capitulated on a debt ceiling deal.
Once again, politically speaking, this notion is pure stupidity.
Obama never ACTUALLY put such cuts “on the table.” To say so makes you politically naïve. One of the key components of legislative politics involves posturing. For months, Republicans had been demanding cuts in entitlement programs in order to raise the debt ceiling. (Yes, I know John Conyers said they hadn’t a week or so ago, but that’s not true. This is why you have to check facts, REGARDLESS of source. Here is just one example. And here's another. And here's yet another. Note the dates. You get the point. Check facts, even when John Conyers says it. )
If you’ll recall, the original deadline for raising the ceiling was April 15, then it was May 16. Through some clever accounting, Treasury was able to extend the deadline to a “drop-dead” date of August 2. (Just between us, we probably had another week or two; neither Obama nor Geithner seem particularly careless about things like this.) So, after months of watching Republicans dicking around with the phony debt ceiling “crisis” and demanding huge entitlement “reforms” every step of the way, Obama finally called their bluff.
Contrary to what some lefty blogs told us, however, the president NEVER made any specific detailed cuts public, and probably didn’t make any privately, either. He simply dared them to mention something specific that they wanted to cut. (He did this before, by the way; how many times during the health care debate did Obama challenge the Republicans to come up with specific things they wanted to do to health care reform, and they never responded.) He threw out a number, too; $4 trillion.
This was great politics on a number of levels. First of all, it forced the Republicans to panic. I know many of you naysayers don’t actually pay attention to what happens; you’re too enamored of your own feigned “expertise” to notice. But what happened was priceless. Within hours – on a weekend, no less! – Speaker Orange Boner proposed a much smaller spending cut package, containing ZERO cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. And Miss McConnell came out of his turtle shell long enough to offer up a proposal that would actually give the president authority to raise the debt ceiling.
Why would they not take him up on the offer to cut? Because they're already on record trying to kill Medicare. I mean DUH! He knew they would NEVER want to be on record as wanting to harm seniors to that degree.
Not only that, but if you were paying attention (I know, you were too busy kvetching to notice), a whole lot of Democrats appeared all over the media, promising to protect Social Security and Medicare, come hell or high water.
In other words, where some very narrowly focused individuals saw Obama sacrificing Social Security and Medicare to the far right to resolve a phony “crisis,” the reality was, he was attempting to tar and feather the Republicans, politically speaking, while simultaneously helping the Democrats look good to everyone outside the Tea Party.
And look at the “deal” he made. The deal pretty much guarantees the Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of 2012, and limits initial tax cuts to $22 billion before the beginning of 2013, at which time, IF we do our jobs right, Democrats will take back the House, and we’ll have put a major dent into the “Party of Hell No.” In other words, if you people would stop whining about the Democrats and start attacking the worst political problems we have, then 90% of these cuts can be reversed. No harm, no foul.
To understand politics, you have to look at the entire landscape. You have to step back and view everything, and stop reacting to isolated acts before you understand them. And by all means, you need to trust political allies and wait to see RESULTS before you pass judgment.
Three times in 7 months, the Republican Party has drawn a line in the sand, and all three times, President Obama went toe-to-toe with them and got them to accept a hell of a lot less than they said they wanted. If you believe the Orange Boner’s claim that he got 98% of what he wanted, then you are one gullible human being. He and the Republican Party got exactly dick. They got to save a little face, by agreeing to a “deal” that amounted to a clean debt ceiling bill, with a few token cuts thrown in to appease their base. The bill largely guarantees that the Bush tax cuts will expire, and it guarantees that for every dollar they agree to cut, fifty cents MUST come from defense.
I'll say that again. If they extend the Bush tax cuts beyond 2012, according to this bill, they have to cut the equivalent amount in spending and HALF of that amount will have to come from Defense. During an election year.
Seriously, if you think that’s what the Republicans envisioned as a debt ceiling “deal” heading into this thing, I wonder what they’re smoking on your home planet.
President Obama should stop reaching out to Republicans. Why does he think he can win them over?
This could very well be my favorite, because it’s so enormously clueless.
First of all, President Obama has a stellar education, and, well, see what I said about the odds of him becoming president in the first place. Do you REALLY think he reaches out to Republicans because he's starry-eyed, and he thinks that, someday, they will turn away from the dark side of the Force? If you think that, then what do you think that says about you? Arrogant? Narcissistic, perhaps?
Obama KNOWS that GOP leaders will slap his hand and drop a dookie on it besides. He COUNTS on it. The whole purpose for reaching out to Republicans is to look better than they do. See, what he knows, and some of you apparently do not, is that the vast majority of voters HATE the constant fighting and bickering. They WANT everyone to work together to get things accomplished. That means, every time he reaches out and they slap him, he gains points with the voters who actually make or break the elections.
By being the adult in the room, he makes Republicans look more and more like the petulant children they are. Yet, some on our side seem to think it makes him look weak, which demonstrates a very low maturity level, to say the least. Politics isn’t about “weak vs. strong.” The reason why Obama keeps winning, politically, is because he understands this. I hear the phrase “Obama’s playing chess while the rest of us are playing checkers,” which sounds good. But the fact is, Politics actually IS checkers. It’s pure common sense; it’s not full of difficult concepts; it’s actually very simple. The problem is, because many on our side don’t understand the game, and they feel the actual game is beneath them, they attempt to move their pieces to avoid a checkmate, but keep getting jumped by the moron who doesn’t know much, except that he’s playing checkers.
The fact of the matter is, President Obama is smarter than any of us, politically speaking, and he’s been able to accomplish a hell of a lot in spite of tremendous odds against him. And he’s done all of it without selling us out at all, despite the plaintive cries of some who seem to like to whine about every damn thing.
What's the purpose of all the vitriol against Obama? By the end of Bill Clinton’s first term, he had already sold out welfare, signed a bill that allowed a few rich folks to control our airwaves, and punted health insurance reform to the next generation, to name just a few colossal screw-ups. Yet, he never received this much grief from the left side of the political spectrum. When I started discussing politics on the Internet in late 1995, I belonged to a group of hardcore lefties (The Lying Socialist Weasels) who championed Bill Clinton as one of the greatest presidents in history. Now, many of those SAME far left liberals can’t go a day without bashing President Obama. They never give him the slightest break, despite the fact that he’s taken us away from near-depression (economically, anyway), and passed a health insurance reform bill that paves the way to a universal health care system, if we would bother to start working toward that. He also worked with Congress to restore most of the financial regulations that Clinton and the GOP had stripped away, and forced banks and credit card companies to treat consumers like consumers, rather than serfs.
And he did it all while being blocked by the most extremist Republican Party that has ever existed. Clinton got all the credit in the world for everything he did, yet the same goddamn people who give Clinton a ton of credit seem unable to give Obama any, despite the fact that Obama’s track record on progressive issues blows Clinton’s away.
What’s maddening about all of this is, as bad as you may think the Democrats and Obama might be, the current incarnation of the Republican Party is far worse. And the politics played by many on the far left has become dangerous and stupid, and it has to stop. Get smart, politically, or the assholes on the right will keep on winning, and you can forget about progressive policies ever being enacted.
Politics is about strategy, and it’s about developing a long game. Our side caused the election of 2010 to come out the way it did.
One example: our side attacked the Blue Dogs mercilessly, which is about the most politically tone deaf thing I have ever seen. Blue Dogs are conservatives. They represent conservative districts. In many cases, they represent majority-Republican districts. Now, when you work against these people, who the HELL do you think is going to replace them?
To certify the stupidity on this, I have heard a number of people say something to the effect that, given the choice between a Democrat acting like a Republican and a Republican, voters will choose the Republican. They’re paraphrasing Truman, of course, who made that statement over 60 years ago.
Am I the only one who’s noticed that the Republican Party of 1948 and that of 2011 are a bit different? The current incarnation of the Republican Party is dominated by radical right wingers. Even the few of them who could be somewhat moderate find themselves cowed by the radical elements in their party they depend on to win elections.
Therefore, when you quote Truman in 1948 to describe politics in 2011, you demonstrate your idiocy on several levels. While you can make the case that Blue Dogs are acting like Republicans of 50 years ago, they are FAR removed from the Republican Party of today. NOT EVEN CLOSE.
Our side just has to get smarter, politically. Instead of constantly bitching about President Obama, follow his goddamn lead. We'll be much further ahead politically if you do that.