Steve Benen’s argument (as I interpret it anyway), that the ‘kill the bill’ debate provides a constructive hashing out of the differences within the Democratic party rests on three fundamental premises: 1) the quality of that debate (when Benen says quality, he’s saying it’s based on policy ramifications rather than politics and name-calling) is substantive, 2) that the Republican debate is clearly not substantive and ineffectual, and 3) that Democrats want largely the same goals. These premises are not wrong, but they guide us close to reality in how off they strike me as being.
- The Quality Of The Debate Is Good. This is frankly a charitable assessment of the situation. There are too many examples so I’ll point to two that are representative from the centrist side: Nate Silver (who Benen specifically cites) and the White House (the most important player in this drama). Nate Silver’s piece is titled “Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy To Oppose The Senate Bill”. Robert Gibbs (Obama’s Press Secretary) is straight dismissive and mocking of Dean, widely recognized as a major-league health care advocate. I mean fuck, he supported the watered-down SOB a month ago! Yet now his critique is irrelevant. Lest I lay all the blame at the other side of the debate, I invite you to check out the blogs I frequent: OpenLeft and FireDogLake. I love them to death, but we should not pretend that progressives are more high-minded on the regular when it comes to verbally abusing our centrist brethren.
- The Republican Debate Is Clearly Weak And Pathetic, And Does Not Shape The Ongoing Intra-Party Struggle. Ah, if only I could say with certainty that it didn’t. The thing is, while their debate is pretty facile, it’s still managing to guide our intra-party discussion. I’d cite something specific, and I’ll dig if a commenter wants to, but I think the fiasco this summer of trying to get Olympia Snowe to sign on is a big indication that their ideology still has a stranglehold over the proceedings. This is especially the case when we concede major ground to Lieberman and Ben Nelson, who may be Democrats, but they sure argue for shit that looks pretty Republican to me.
- Democrats Largely Want The Same Goals. Well, that depends. We all want ‘health care reform’, but as I’ve argued long and repeatedly, when it comes to defining that reform, it suddenly looks like we are gunning for very different things. A failure to recognize that- that there are some things that for each party are essential to the proceedings- mars discussion from the get-go, as I’ll explain in the next post.
This is unfortunately a longcomplicatedbutbrutallyimportant tm point, so I’m gonna have to finish up in a second post. Sorry! I really am trying to keep it pithy. But, as I think this second post will indicate, part of what’s destroying the quality of the debate (and the entire tree of democracy) is too much ‘pith’ and not enough substance. Pith is fun to say.
Filed under Dialog, FAIL!, FireDogLake, FMP (Eff My Party), Health, Howard Dean, Ideological Transparency, Media Clusterf%@!$#, OpenLeft, Policy Wonkery, Political Calculation, Radical Critique
I’m adding a new feature to the daily roundup. Every day I will give a suggestion for a call to make to a congressperson. Mine are pretty much all gonna be directed at Marcy Kaptur (till I move to Cleveland, at which point, I dunno, do I really need to call Kucinich?) and Sherrod Brown (Voinovich if I’m feeling quixotic), but you can always take my suggestion and adapt it to your own. Today’s:
Thank Sherrod Brown (202-224-2315) for co-sponsoring the Vitter-Coburn amendment to the Senate Health Care bill, requiring all Senators and Representatives to enroll in the public option.
The amendment was originally introduced by Republicans who thought that this would make Democrats wary of the public option. Little did they realize that some Democrats actually believe that government programs can do some good. Did they think we were just sticking up for them as some maniacal rich-white-guy hating plot? Brilliant move by Sherrod, and props to Dodd, Mikulski, and Franken for joining on. Digby (Beautiful) and Daniel DeGroot (Exploiting Conservative Character Flaws And Weaknesses) have more. But on to Friday’s belated roundup:
On a very related note, Sirota decries the resurgence of the parlor general (Afghanistan & Ghostbusters’ Clarion Call Of Distance Bravery: “Go Get Her, Ray!”), now joined by the parlor warmongering pundit. As always, politicians’ distance from the costs of their actions leads to further devastating costs borne by others.
Mike Lux writes about the strained relations between Obama and progressives (The President And His Base). Lux opines that progressives who try and directly challenge Obama are misguided, that our fortunes rise and fall with him. It falls, he says, to Obama to reach out and constructively engage with progressives. I don’t really see how that’s going to happen until we threaten him somehow, as his inclination has been to supporting the lamest parts of the Party and Republicans over true progressives- he takes us for granted, that is absolutely the root of the problem. Is he just going to wake up without being shoved? Anyway, the discussion is worth reading for a sense of the strategic discussions that go on in progressive online communities.
FireDogLake and Huffington Post below the jump:
Filed under Bernie Sanders, Call-Ins, David Sirota, Digby, FireDogLake, Jane Hamsher, Les Leopold, Mike Lux, OpenLeft, Robert Byrd, Sherrod Brown, William Black
Pretty big load today, but there’s a bunch of folks I love writing over at Huffington Post, and I didn’t want to miss the chance to highlight them. But anyway, as always, I’ll start off with OpenLeft:
David Sirota has a couple of pieces up with more on the Afghan escalation. The first, How Do You Ask A Man To Be The Last Man To Die For A President’s Political Image? brings up the disturbing (but I think very much worth considering- it’s not like this hasn’t happened to otherwise great presidents past) proposition that Obama’s decision had less to do with what’s best for Afghanistan, the “war on terror”, national security, and our troops’ safety and more to do with… political calculation. The second, Um, About Obama’s Afghanistan Campaign “Promise” addresses some commentators’ position that this escalation was exactly what Obama indicated during the campaign. Sirota claims we were misled as to the scale of the escalation. Digby (Fergawdsake) is no less frustrated with the announcement, but has some words for those, like me, who were once Obama fanboys who are shocked, shocked!, at the escalation. Joan Walsh at Slate (The Poster Boy For Progressive Self-Delusion) is also on point in this regard.
Chris Bowers (Senate Health Care Updates: Public Option, Stupak, Amendments, And Process) has a general overview of where we are in the Senate health care bill sausage-fest (get it, the Senate is overwhelmingly made up of corrupt ancient White males, and politics is as disgusting as sausage making!) Things aren’t looking great for both public option and Stupak, but we must soldier on (and kill that sucker if it contains Stupak in the final version).
FDL, Huffington Post, and Digby below the jump:
Filed under Chris Bowers, Cynthia Gordy, David Sirota, Digby, Elizabeth Warren, FireDogLake, Jane Hamsher, Jennifer Brunner, Joan Walsh, Leo Gerard, OpenLeft, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, tristero, Tula Connell
Between Barack “Nobel Peace Prize” Obama’s recent announcement that we’ll be committing 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and the New York State Senate’s cowardly vote against civil rights, it’s been a rough couple of days. But we soldier on. I’ll be writing more this weekend about the responsibility we young progressives have to carry on fighting (despite feeling pretty betrayed by the party that was supposed to represent us), but for now, here’s a routine roundup. I might do more on Afghanistan later also, but as you can imagine the coverage is too extensive to jot down in less than four hours.
David Sirota (Some Simple Questions After Obama’s Afghanistan War Speech) and Chris Bowers (No Defined Rate For, Or Number Of Troops Involved In, The 2011 Withdrawal) both take Obama’s Afghanistan decision to task. Sirota deals with cost in life and dollars, the media’s warped perception of war, and the contradictions in hypothetical Bush-era anti-war activists giving Obama a pass on this one. Bowers points out that as with so many promises, this one lacks firm commitments. I’m not holding my breath.
In another diary (Changing The Goalposts On Healthcare Reform), Chris Bowers addresses criticism from some progressives who feel that as the healthcare proposals now under consideration don’t live up to even our meagerest demands, it’s not worth voting for. Bowers still thinks it’s worth it, and while I’m not particularly happy about it (and have asked whether it’s worth it myself), I have to agree with him right now for the reasons he cites, in addition to some addressed by Digby (Bargaining Power).
FDL and Huffington Post below the jump:
Filed under Chris Bowers, David Dayen, David Sirota, Dean Baker, Digby, FireDogLake, Jane Hamsher, OpenLeft, Robert Reich, Ryan Grim, Scarecrow
Bear with me as I work out the kinks in this feature. It takes way longer than I thought it would.
Chris Bowers has a couple pieces that provide a bit of long-term perspective as to what progressives can expect from the next few years in Expect A Few, Small, But (Mostly) Worthy Changes Under Obama and Even Small Victories Against Corporate America Are Enormous. It’s not perfect (I know some of us are still reeling from the Afghanistan decision), but I do think it’s an opening. We’ve got an opportunity the likes of which we haven’t had in a while. It’s up to the citizen sector to take advantage of it fully.
David Sirota takes on the exhausting task of wading through Ross Douthat’s tortured logic in Ross Douthat, Selective Deficit Disorder & The Zombie Lie Machine. Sirota is taking on one of the most important and underreported stories out there, how government and mainstream media continue to shortchange the American people’s welfare while glutting our perpetual war machine. His coverage shows where our national priorities, expressed in spending, really lie.
FireDogLake, Huffington Post, and other offerings below the jump:
Filed under Arianna Huffington, Bob Churcher, Chris Bowers, Chris Kromm, David Dayen, David Sirota, Digby, FireDogLake, Glenn Greenwald, It's Getting Hot In Here, Nick Engelfried, OpenLeft, Racewire, Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, Siun