Prove It To Me, Baby

SteveB over inWhiskey Fire’s comments:

There was a piece in the Economist about Obama, saying he showed promise but needed to prove his “seriousness” by going after the teacher’s unions on merit pay and charter schools.

When I read that, I wondered, “What are Republicans required to do to prove their seriousness?”

For some reason, it’s only Democrats who are required to fuck over their constituents to prove their seriousness. No member of the pundit class demanded, in 2000, that George W. Bush demonstrate his seriousness by taking on the oil industry. And who would dare to suggest that Huckabee needs to prove his seriousness by taking on the Christian right and advocating the teaching of evolution in public schools?

And it’s Democrats who always have to “prove” that they’re willing – and even eager – to use military force. Because the voters need to be reassured that a Democratic President won’t be a total pacifist. No reassurance required that the next Republican President won’t get us into another stupid war.

The story cited:

Mr Obama cannot change his experience deficit; but he can change his substance deficit. His economic policies (like those of the other Democrats, it must be said) are crowd-pleasing stuff. He is iffy about free trade. He wants health insurance for all—and expects the rich to pay for it. He wants schools to get better, but he panders to his leftist base by eschewing merit pay for teachers and independent charter schools. On Iraq, he affects not to have noticed that the “surge” in and around Baghdad is producing palpable successes, and clings to the idea, beloved of his party base, that all troops should be withdrawn even before he putatively takes office.

I bring this up not to talk about Obama at all, really, but to talk about the pressure placed on prominent Democrats to prove they’re not really Democrats before being anointed by the power structure to go out and actually get the votes of, you know, voters. Prove you’re not a filthy lily-livered liberal traitor, and then you can go run for president and shit. It’s Obama, today, but it could be Edwards tomorrow, being asked to repudiate, I don’t know, the American Bar Association, and you think I’m kidding and right now I kind of am, but come on, teachers are part of the leftist base right now? That’s where we are, and so Obama needs to tell them to go jump off a cliff? The fuck?

If by some miracle my Primary Boyfriend, Chris Dodd, were to become the frontrunner, he’d have to personally waterboard someone while talking about it on a secretly wiretapped phone in a commerical for Verizon before Tim Russert would think he was for real. They ask you to stab that which you love most in the heart in front of them, and sometimes I think it’s in no small part just to see if you’ll do it. How willing are you to gain their approval, to follow their guidelines for who is and who is not serious, to get them to nod and smile at you? Honestly, that Economist story reads like a dare, like this is the fifth grade, and Obama needs to come out in favor of cootie protection next.

I have no real problem with somebody compromising in order to advance an agenda in which the person doing the advancing genuinely believes, but I have a problem with the idea of compromise being elevated above what the compromise itself is about, with the idea of repudiating supportersjust to do so, as it seems the Economist is suggesting Obama do. I don’t know who that appeals to, even in imaginaryland, because the punditry half the time spends its days wishing for compromise and effectiveness and the other half the time wishing for boldness and maverickosity and manly smells, and after a while everything starts to sound shouty and dumb.

What I think people need to keep in mind right now is that we’ve had a good five or six years of arguing against the entrenched DC consultancy class that runs campaigns and listens to Washington assholes about what is and is not good politics. That’s a good amount of time, but they’ve had 20 years of whipping themselves over how bad it is to be a liberal (spit, hack, wheeze) and hurt me again, Daddy, and looking tough, and we’re not going to blow that over in a minute. Whoever is the nominee is going to face a tide of this kind of shit, encouraging him or her to run away from the very people who got him or her into the big chair. Whoever is the nominee is going to get this kind of panic thinking thrust on them.

And we need to say, you know what? You don’t need to do that. We’re enough for you. We’ve got your back, and we’ll be here, and we’re who you need to listen to. Believe me, we’ll tell you if we don’t think you’re serious. We need to counter the voice that will say, “fuck ’em over to prove you love us more,” because that’s a powerful voice and it ain’t going away. We have to beat it back with our bare hands, and keep doing it until the idea of running away from your “leftist base” of teachers and factory workers just sounds on its face like the most ridiculous thing in the entire world.


12 thoughts on “Prove It To Me, Baby

  1. What I think people need to keep in mind right now is that we’ve had a good five or six years of arguing against the entrenched DC consultancy class that runs campaigns and listens to Washington assholes about what is and is not good politics.
    IIRC, six to seven years is about how long Krugman says it’s going to take for the current housing market and related economic crisis to settle back out.

  2. It’s this, “We need a liberal to ‘fix’ welfare” crap.
    At least with Nixon we got the EPA and some other goodies.
    The right isn’t playing that game anymore.
    I was watching the dvds of Homicide and one of the writers said that they didn’t do something that we were all hoping for in the last season because, “We didn’t want to give the viewers the satisfaction.”
    I remember thinking that was so mean of them. Why won’t they give us the satisfaction? And it wasn’t just because they didn’t want to give a cliche ending. They actively didn’t want to give us something satisfying because some how that would prove their uncoolness.
    The consultants are playing the game of, “We can take group A for granted AND I can entice group B by dissing group A since they who won’t leave.”
    This is a media buying strategy. Is there a message to a group that isn’t locked in that I can appeal to? What do they need to hear? Is one group that is so entrenched that I can dis with no consequences? Might this group also be kind of an abused spouse? Might they be okay with me dissing them? One of the things that always got me was how the California teacher’s union advertised on the MOST anti-union radio station in the bay area. Why did they do that? To prove that they were reaching out to the people who needed to hear their message or some non-sense like that?
    This is the opposite of preaching to the choir, this is preaching to the Hell’s Angels. Why? To impress the choir. To prove that they don’t just preach to the choir. “See? We are being fair and balanced! We can advertise on a station that hates us and disses us all the time just to prove that we respect their other opinions and we might pick up a supporter because they will respect that we aren’t AFRAID of differing opinions.
    News flash. Not. Gonna. Happen.
    They will take your money, spit in your eye and laugh about what suckers they are to believe them. And if you point out to the teacher’s union just how much they hate you they will say, “Well they are entitled to their opinion.” Okay, but why do you have to pay for the privilege of them beating you down? They will do that for free.
    In the newspaper biz in the olden days occasionally they wanted to prove that they weren’t controlled by the advertisers so they would write a hard hitting story about some advertiser/industry.
    The Industry/ Advertiser would fail to appreciate that it was a fair story and threaten to pull their ads. Some times they did pull their ads. This was good for the newspapers credibility, but bad for the pocketbooks of the publisher. The low-end sales guys HATED it because they would get calls, ‘Your editor is KILLING me in your newspaper, you tell her that they just lost 200,000 a year in advertising!”
    Now a publisher/editor who knows that the quality of the story is important for the value of the whole paper will say, “Okay, see you later.” and get new advertisers. But others will say, “Hey don’t do stories like that any more reporter!” They will then apologize to the advertiser. As time goes on the value of the editorial will have less and less value because people can tell when punches are pulled. So it is a downward spiral, in trying to please advertisers they will lose readers. The advertisers are paying for the eyeballs on the editorial that then wander over to the ads. But when the editorial is weak the eyeballs go away.

  3. The Republican meme that I’d most like to see some Democrat adopt is “run government like a business”, because nowadays, most businesses are about metrics. So, health care, what do the metrics tell us? Universal health care, now. Defend marriage? The metrics tell us, “be more like Massachusetts” — lowest divorce rate, for some reason or another. Iraq, what do the metrics tell us? Mission accomplished, baby — no WMDs, no Saddam, those were the goals, we’re gone. Changing the goals mid-course, nuh-uh, that’s the sort of crap a failing startup does as it spirals in.
    So take that good old slogan, and throw it back in their faces.
    Education is an especially interesting case. We do not know how to make teachers more productive, in terms of kids-educated-per-teacher-per-year. Teachers are educated professionals, and in a growing economy, wages rise faster than inflation. That means that the education budget, measured per-pupil, must increase faster than inflation, else eventually the teachers (intelligent, educated professionals) will go get some other job whose wages ARE growing faster than inflation. This, in turn, means that education must get funded with a tax that grows as fast as peoples’ incomes, and that tax happens to be regressive (i.e., a property tax, the usual case) then eventually things are going to get very far out of whack. You want serious? That’s serious. I’m still waiting for anyone of our idiot candidates to address this problem, instead of feeding us a steady diet of charter-voucher-snake-oil.

  4. The last paragraph is the right call to action. Yes, yes, yes!
    But it will take many years to de-trench the consultantocracy.
    In the meantime…

  5. They do it to break the Democrat. And if that Democrat does do what they want, then I say a great big “FUCK YOU!” to that Democrat.
    Dick Durbin cried when he apologized for nothng, and lost all chances of amounting to anything worth fighting for. Same for every Dem who said something mean about Bush or according to the press disrespected the troops.
    The problem in this country is that the Democrats ARE a bunch of punk assedpussies (there’s no other way to colorfully express that and I ain’t apologizing for saying it!!!). Find the one that doesn’t put up with this crap from the media, who in fact uses the media to get their, yes, THEIR, message out, that’s the one.
    Edwards is trying. Hillary has been dealing with it for 16 years, Dodd does it sometimes, but that’s about it. I mean, can you picture LBJ or Tip O’Neill caving into the Bushies evey time that psychopathic idiot says boo?
    It’s simply unimaginable. That’s the down side to Bill Clinton, that triangulatin stuff. We need a candidate who throws that middle finger around like a red white and blue flag, fer spaghetti monsters sake, not some appeal to the likes and desires of the Broder crowd. No more Carter’s or Dukakis, or Kerry’s who won’t do a throwdown with the fascists and sociopaths that have come to the fore of the GOP.
    And please tell them to take their fucking religion and shove it up their fucking asses. Please. Really. Sick of it. Your religion or lack thereof is nobodies business but yourselfs.

  6. I’m waiting for a “Bud Light Dude” commercial ending with a clip of Obama’s Republican pandering with an inserted clip of Democrats replying “Dude!”

  7. Hardly original for me to say this, but the dems have GOT to learn how to get their message out. Shrub says he’s dissappointed that the congress doesn’t give him a spending bill of carte blanche for his pet projects —ooohhh, we’d better hang our head in shame. Shrub says the lack of full immunity to the Telcos is emboldening the enemy –oooh we’d better give him that.
    Huck says he’s a Christian and gets a bump on his voters. When are the dems going to learn that the social programs are a direct sign of faith (cf. Luke, Preferential Option for the poor, etc.)??? Especially for Obama (as he’s not a Southern Baptist), if he gets the nomination he had better find a great way to show that he has “values”

  8. Recently I got a call from a Democratic party fundraiser and I let the guy on the other end of the phone have it (I’m also quite willing to let my Senators and Rep have it when they act like assholes, so I’m not just abusing some poor schmuck who’s volunteering for this job). One of the things I said, which I still feel very strongly about, is that not only are the Democrats failing to stand up to Bush, the worst and one of the least popular Presidents in history, but they are also spending their time vocally fucking over their base, and I mentioned specifically the vote to condemn Move On for the Petraeus ad. The guy I spoke to asked me why I thought they’d done that, and I said they were buying into the whole Republican language, the whole worldview, and there was no reason for them to do so, not when we’d gone to great trouble to elect them to REPUDIATE that worldview.
    He said that he would pass my sentiments on, though I doubt it made any difference.
    But it’s true, Athenae, and you’ve hit it on the head. Not only do they take us for granted (or think of us as ATM’s), but they think it’s all right to spit on us as well, just to show that we don’t own them, or that they don’t have to listen to us.
    News flash, guys: You DO have to listen to us! We are the people, we elected you, and we can push for primary challenges to you if you treat us like shit, and we will vote against you if you take us for granted and pretend that all that’s necessary for a Democrat to be successful is to be like the Republicans.

  9. Seems to be Obama wants the über-rich to pay for our health insurance.
    Sounds good to me. They don’t need a third yacht or fifth house near as much as billy needs a kidney.

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