Giving It Away

Oliver:

If President Obama is doing what is within his power to depress his base vote and give the Republican party a new lease on power, well he’s doing a great job at it. If his goal is to be a strong leader and a great Democrat, he’s failing miserably at it. 2010 was a repeat of 1994 and 2002, when all the force of moral good on the side of liberalism can’t overcome a Democratic party that simplywill not fight. If he continues on this path, and nothing – absolutely nothing – has shown me otherwise, he’s setting himself up to replicate the Democratic losses of 1980 and 1984 no matter who the Republican nominee is.

We sent him to Washington to stand up and fight. Instead he’s cowering and retreating.

John:

… they are watching a President be submitted to racist smear campaigns by folks outside the party that make any and all of the bullshit the Clintons went through look like small potatoes, and NO ONE is raising any hell in defense of the President. It’s all go along to get along. The only congressman who called the Republicans out was defeated. The rest just sit there and whisper behind the scenes about how Obama won’t tell them what he wants.

So basically fuck everybody, is what I’m left with at the end of today. Except Nancy. Nancy’s the only one I like anymore. I’m all for primarying Obama in 2012 if Nancy can be the nominee.

I’m done wondering which bunch of nitwits is the worst bunch of nitwits, really, Obama’s nitwits in the White House or the Democrats’ nitwits on the hill. As far as I’m concerned they all suck, and I’d like to kick them all in the nuts. I don’t think I’m in the minority in that opinion. They’ve got a president whose kink appears to be making everybody like him, not that surprising in a career politician, and ten to twelve attention whores on any given day who know the only way to get on TV is to fuck their own party with a rusty chainsaw, and it’s been hard because Bush broke the whole country.

And so okay, it’s hard. It is hard. If I’m in there, in the fishbowl, and not out here among the barely employed, I see where it looks hard. I hear all the teabagging screaming and the nonstop Republican chorus on the Sunday shows and I read the wanky editorials and I think that’s all there is. If I’m in there, I hear that it’s hard. But I’m not in there. I’m out here. And out here, it’s harder.

It’s harder not just because the economy has sucked for the last three years but because for the Midwest, for any place at all that makes stuff besides hedge fund managers and other Future Douchebags of America, the economy has sucked for the last three decades. Three decades in which Democrats in power have cheerfully repeated Republican propaganda that anything that actually helps people is just too expensive for our wondrous free market to bear, and we must immediately cut it all so that we can have a budget surplus. Which we will then give back. To some people. Thus making the market free.

Or something. It’s been a 30-year mishmash of supposed reform all meant to tighten the vise of the great around the necks of the powerless and what bothers me isn’t so much Republicans winning that argument, it’s watching Democrats give it to them. That’s what’s pissing people off today. It would be one thing if Obama, having lost critical votes, gave a press conference talking about what a tough fight it had been and how we just don’t have the votes and blah blah blah fuck-the-Republicans-cakes.

Instead it’s “we had to do this to get unemployment extended,” which even if that is true and I don’t grant that it is, puts a temporary solution above the long-term fix.While I sympathize with this:

So too here: if the President had failed to negotiate with the robbers in the Senate, they would have begun starving the hostages, who arenot in a position to sacrifice themselves to the cause of Republican obstructionism. Instead, by pushing through this compromise, the President has (hopefully) enabled the unemployed and underemployed Americans to find their way to relatively safety. Now, it’s only a battle for political, not actual, survival, with only elections rather than meals and homes at stake in the near term.

Trouble is, it isn’t only elections at stake in the near term. Elections are about things, fundamentally they’re about how we want to run the country and we can either have the argument about how we’re doing that or we can say fuck it and just make it all somebody else’s problem. Republicans have been starving the hostages for years now and they keep getting away with it because the temporary solution is always the easiest, the most popular, the most expedient thing. And so we never actually have the argument, and we never actually win or lose it. And thus we lose it anyway, because the status quo is the middle- and working- and lower-class loss.

I sympathize, I do, with the argument that Obama couldn’t win here, with the crap-ass Congress he has and his own inherent bent towards being concilatory. Trouble is, his job at that point wasn’t to win. It wasn’t to compromise in the hopes of winning even just a little.

It was to sharpen his teeth and lose, HARD.

The way we’re all going to be losing, year after year after year, because we keep avoiding the argument.

A.

21 thoughts on “Giving It Away

  1. hoppy says:

    If the Labor Movement operated the way Obama does, Americans would still work 12 hour days, no overtime pay, one week vacations, no medical insurance, no retirement, etc. The Labor Movement understood that you have to sacrifice today in order for tomorrow to be better, so the went on strikes that were murder on their members. But, over the long haul they prevailed.
    Obama, while claiming to take the long view, seldom can see beyond tomorrows Congressional votes. Yes, playing hardball with the Repubs would leave some people off of unemployment insurance come January. But, it would also lay the groundwork for real progress. Now, the groundwork is only there for further capitulation everytime the Repubs dig in their heels in their quest to hand all of the wealth in the nation to the top 2% of the wealthy.
    Obama just lacks the experience, the judgment, the staff, and the balls to be a president. But, he sure can read a good speech.

  2. pansypoo says:

    butbutbut it’s a trap. right? RIGHT?!?

  3. iEGN! says:

    Apparently, the wrong people are taking hostages (politically speaking), no?
    (Personal note, you can take OBI off the blogroll, but – por favor – leave a link up for the KSFO/Spocko page.)

  4. Henry Holland says:

    because for the Midwest, for any place at all that makes stuff besides hedge fund managers and other Future Douchebags of America, the economy has sucked for the last three decades
    My family was able to live a comfy middle-class life because after my Dad got out of the Air Force, we moved to Los Angeles (where he was from) and he went straight in to a very nice union job helping to make rockets that could wipe out the planet in 6 seconds. He saw which way the wind was blowing and he retired in 1992 and yep, within a year, the defense industry here imploded. Blacks used to be able to make a decent middle class wage working in the heavy industrial factories that lined the 110 Freeway but those were gone by the 1970’s, now the cities those places were in are what NWA rapped about.
    The music business is dead (look at the credits of albums made from the big band era > ca. 1990 and you’d be amazed how many were made in Los Angeles) and the movie business only hangs on because there’s still enough deluded, stupid people with a lot of money who think *they* know how to beat the odds that sees only a handful of movies a year make a profit. It’s amazing how much everything has changed here in the last 30 years…

  5. filkertom says:

    Yet again, I love you.
    I am not one to give up. I have not given up. But I have given up on understanding the motivations of this president. I refuse to believe that he is so fucking thick, sobipartisanship uber alles, that he does this stuff innocently. But I cannot fathom what his intentions truly are… without heading toward the conclusion that there is truly some sort of evil going on.

  6. CVS says:

    There is only one political party in power, and it never changes. Call it the Money Party. It doesn’t matter whether the Democrats or Republicans supposedly have the majority, because the Money Party ALWAYS has the majority. Get it? When we vote Republican or Democrat, we might change the fringes, but the core Money Party majority always stays intact.
    The problem with Obama is not with Obama, but all the people (myself included) who thought a product of the Money Party could ever be anything more than that. The reality of the situation is that the system is broken, epic fail, the experiment is over, and we finally know the answer to Ben Franklin’s retort when he said “A Republic, as long as you can keep it,”
    about 200 years.
    Democracy is hard work, and maybe the human race is not mature enough to sustain it for long periods of time. But that’s the reality. What we’re experiencing right now is the Money Party trying to milk the last few drops of blood from the beast before peak oil, peak water, peak food, peak climate change, peak whatever, comes along and changes everything.

  7. Robert Earle says:

    Ezra Klein, who pays attention to this stuff and is pretty darn smart, essentially disagrees with you.
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/12/how_the_white_house_cut_the_de.html

  8. noblejoanie says:

    If someone in the Obama administration reads just one blogpost, please let it be yours.
    You’re a gifted writer with a heart, an almost extinct combination. Love you, blogcampsister.

  9. pansypoo says:

    republikkklans are addicted to tax cuts. we need an intervention. THEY are the ones who act like greeks. not the government.
    teevee gnews still love zombie reagan. truthiness prevails AGAIN.

  10. Sandman says:

    Folks, the time has come to select a new nominee for the Democratic party in 2012. I’m still thinking HRC should resign as SoS and kick Obama’s ass in the primaries. If not her, then Howard Dean. We need a fighter. We can’t survive four more years of Obama’s monumental weakness and incompetancy. At this rate, even Palin could beat him in a national election.

  11. TJ says:

    I’d say Cole, Obama, and the entire Village do not realize there are no more free moves left. If a politician decides he has to give the rich a feel-up he is automatically going to be screwing somebody else lower on the food chain. And they may sit and take it, but they’re not going to be happy about it.

  12. @Robert, one only has to look at the linky Ezra blogs from to understand, he is the new David Broder for the X Generation. ‘Nuf said.
    RP

  13. Robert Earle says:

    I’ve always just loved the” ‘Nuf said” kind of construct. Oh gee. I hadn’t looked at it *that* way. ‘Nuf said? Gosh, sorry for the trouble.
    You wouldn’t want to maybe look at the actual numbers and consider the stimulative effect of the overall package on the economy, etc? Nope. He got hired by the Washington Post. “‘Nuf said”

  14. Drouse says:

    We have just 23 days to get Obama and Biden to resign. Let them deal with Nancy, who know just what she is up against. Oh Santa, I haven’t asked for anything in years so just maybe this once?

  15. Cassie says:

    “While I sympathize with this:”
    But you can’t possibly, if you think it’s anything short of cruel to oppose helping those unemployed that can be helped.
    We’ve been dangling out here on a limb long enough. If some us can be helped, don’t grudge us the aid.

  16. willf says:

    Ok, let’s consider the effect of the taxcut deal on the whole economy.
    First, it doesn’t do squat as a stimulus. It gives a lot of money to rich people who will stick it away somewhere safe and not spend it. It will also give a lot less money to unemployed people who will spend it right away, thus stimulating the economy. The fact that the amount of money to be spent by poor people, thus stimulating the econmy, is approximately 1/1000th or less the amount to be stuck away safely by the richies has apparently escaped your notice. Also escaping your notice isthe fact that this plan is a backdoor way of gutting social security, and bankrupting states and counties. It’s penny wise and pound-OMFG-we’re-going-to-have-to-start-eating-squirrel foolish. We need to extend UI benefits, yes, but not at the expense of killing Social Security and letting starve-the-beast-agenda politics thrive, or it’ll get a lot fucking worse.
    Wee Ezra has his new cocktail-weenie addiction to blame, I don’t know what your excuse is.
    Adding: Cassie, I am sorry for your predicament, I have spent years unemployed myself and I don’t begrudge you the money, but does it have to come with such a price? Isn’t there any way to help you without killing Social Security? Without turning our cities into Hoovervilles and further bankrupting our states and counties?
    That’s what makes this deal so damn rotten, Obama and his buddies in the GOP have taken ordinary people hostage in order to get their way.

  17. Robert Earle says:

    “The fact that the amount of money to be spent by poor people, thus stimulating the econmy, is approximately 1/1000th or less the amount to be stuck away safely by the richies has apparently escaped your notice.”
    “…around $95 billion in tax cuts for wealthy Americans and $30 billion in estate tax cuts…$120 billion in payroll-tax cuts, $40 billion in refundable tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and education tax credits), $56 billion in unemployment insurance”

  18. Robert Earle says:

    And as far as “killing Social Security!!”:
    Every year the Trustees of the Social Security Trust Fund issue a report on the status of the Fund. In their report, they do a 75-year projection. Well actually, they do three projections, one making pessimistic actuarial and economic assumptions (“high-cost”), one making optimistic assumptions (“low-cost”), and one making “intermediate” assumptions. When they issue the report, you always hear the pessimistic assumption projection get reported (The Social Security Trust Fund is going to be bankrupt by 2035!!” Occasionally, you hear the intermediate projection get reported. But you almost never hear about the optimistic assumption.
    Now, the Trustees Report has been getting done since 1985, and since 1985 guess which set of assumptions has come closest to fact as the years have unfolded. Yup, the optimistic ones.
    In the most recent report, as has I think always been the case, the optimistic projection shows the Trust Fund *not* ever running out between now and 2085 (the 75 year term of the projection). It gets closest in about 2050 (though not very close) and then starts growing again.
    Yes, I’ll be interested to see what a cut in employee payroll taxes does to the projections. But I am not *at all* worried about the health of Social Security.
    Summary table from the most recent report:
    http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2010/IV_LRest.html#366403

  19. tw says:

    There are 698 days until the next election.
    If the illusion of choice boils down to a Democratic quisling versus another GOP looter ghoul (with Bloomberg lurking just offstage) then we will be treated to a chance to pick between a war with Iran and a holy war with Iran. In either case whatever tattered shards of civil liberties remain will need to be curtailed so as to keep the gated American community safe while watching the corporate news.
    A viable standard bearer for a national Green Party needs to be found and right damn soon.

  20. Robert Earle says:

    “A viable standard bearer for a national Green Party needs to be found and right damn soon.”
    If I were you, I’d go with Nader.

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