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It seems our president has a knack for giving something to everyone while pissing off everyone in the process. I don't think President Obama had wrapped up his speech this afternoon before the left was calling for a primary challenge and the right was saying, "oh, hell no."

And from the political middle, where most Americans reside? Crickets as usual. (At least until the next Pew poll comes out in a few days and shows they are definately "meh" on the whole thing.)

Let's cool the vitriol for a minute and consider the politics behind all of this.

I think the main reason we are all so surprised by the "great Obama cave" is that we are so unfamiliar with compromise. That's not a knock on anyone's intelligence. It's an astounding lack of experience with political compromise in the past two decades or so. And yes, I blame Republicans.

Consider this: When was the last time you remember the Republicans compromising on anything of substance? Before the Clinton impeachment? Before the 1994 midterms? I honestly can't remember. We have all just adjusted to the reality that Republicans simply do not compromise. On anything. Ever. For any reason.

My political history books tell me that -- once upon a time -- the final policy was the preference of the 51st vote in the Senate and the 218th vote in the House. Of course our new political reality that involves filibuster abuse shifts the Senate policy to the 60th vote.

These days, Congress is more polarized than ever. According to the link cited, two-thirds of the polarization is explained by the replacement of moderates with extremists of both parties in Congress. I blame the non-participation of moderates in primaries -- whether that is structural (closed primaries, fund raising advantages of incumbents) or psychological (apathy, frustration with politics in general).

Now let's look at some of the provisions of The Compromise and some possible outcomes.

The DEATH Tax

This is an issue where the Democrats lost the messaging war years ago. I remember Republicans talking about this in the late 1990s when they were covering their own rich asses. Never once did I hear a Democrat point out that the estate tax only benefits the super-rich or even push back on the Death Tax lie. Instead, the Republicans sold the public on the myth that it would mean farmers and business owners would have to turn everything over to the evil government rather than pass that along to the kids.

Interestingly, the original 13 colonies had primogeniture laws that allowed eldest sons to inherit vast properties. That hero of the right, Thomas Jefferson, argued for the abolition of such laws:  

In 1776 he succeeded in obtaining the abolition of entail; his proposal to abolish primogeniture became law in 1785. Jefferson proudly noted that "these laws, drawn by myself, laid the ax to the foot of pseudoaristocracy."

The modern inheritance tax is a way to keep the American aristocracy somewhat at bay. IMHO, though, the problem is that the inheritance tax only serves to protect the largest of the large estates that can take the tax hit and still make millionaires out of teenagers.

Anyway, here's the reality as explained by Ezra Klein. There actually was essentially no estate tax this year, but it was originally scheduled to return in 2011. Under the original sunset, the estate tax excludes the first $1 million from any taxes and levies a top rate of 55 percent. The Compromise exempts the first $5 million and sets a tax rate of 35 percent. Klein notes that the difference amounts to a difference in revenue of $10 billion. Here's the Estate Tax wiki, FWIW.

So if you want to scream about something, scream about that.

Unemployment benefits

I'm going to go ahead and argue that this is the most important concession to come out of The Compromise. If this thing passes intact, federal unemployment benefits would be extended 13 months. As Senator Sherrod Brown reminds us, every dollar in unemployment benefits generates $1.60 in economic activity.

The flip side of this argument is that this will cost $56 billion and the government will have to do a whole lot of taxing to recoup that.

Tax cuts for the wealthy

The real thing that the left is screaming about is the bonus tax cuts for the wealthy. Does anyone here remember the 1980 Republican primary, because I sure don't. But the point is that George Bush Sr. (the saner one) called supply side economics "Voodoo Economics." Well Bush got beat and became vice president, the economy eventually recovered -- due in no small part to FDR-like massive defense spending increases -- under Reagan, and thus the theory of supply-side was validated in the public imagination if not among economists with degrees and stuff.

I tend to support economics-based tax cuts for the rich and business on one condition: they prove that they created jobs. I recommend tax credits for the wealthy and businesses. That places the benefits at the back end and serve as a reward for actually creating the jobs. An upfront tax cuts is an invitation to take the money and run.

When I covered economic development in Pennsylvania in the late 1990s and early 2000s (we had Republican Tom Ridge and Democrat Ed Rendell as governors), there was a lot of corporate welfare tossed around. However, businesses did not get the benefits without jumping through a lot of hoops intended to ensure that the tax money was really creating jobs. Maybe this is too simple to actually, you know, work.

But the real question we should be asking is whether we care about these bonus tax cuts for the rich because of the deficit or because we would like to fight back in the class war for a change.

CBO and OMB

One thing that seems to be missing from all of this is a score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) or any sort of analysis by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). To refresh, CBO is a group of really smart economists who work for Congress. They do economic forecasts on all sorts of legislative proposals except (maybe) naming post offices. The OMB does similar work for the White House. This analysis doesn't happen overnight (usually). The media are tossing around a lot of figures, but I want to see what CBO has to say before making any conclusions.

A Game of Chicken

Now let's look at some politics of all of this.

Short run. It is very possible that this goes nowhere. The aforementioned CBO score might show some really grim numbers. It might show that it will be a huge budget buster that does very little for the economy. In fact, that's what I'm sort of predicting. This might make even the moderates in Congress shy away and do nothing this year.

That said, regardless of what the CBO says, I'm also predicting that The Compromise goes nowhere. For example, the bug-fuck crazy Michele Bachmann hates the unemployed so much that she just might vote down the sweetheart deal for the wealthy if it is tied to unemployment benefits. We also know that liberals are not particularly enamored with the deal. Nancy Pelosi might -- just might -- find the votes for this, but I doubt Harry Reid will find 60 votes. Hell, Bernie Sanders might filibuster the thing and he's the only Senator who has the guts to do an actual talk-fest filibuster right through New Years.

Medium term. Now let's assume that it does pass. There are three possible outcomes: The economy improves, remains status quo, or gets worse. Considering the costs, only the first outcome can be considered desirable. We already know that the economy is improving, but not very quickly. Deficits and debts aside, we can assume that The Compromise won't hurt much and will probably help some.

In that case, President Obama will look like a hero this time next year.

Of course, there is every possibility that the economy will actually get worse regardless of The Compromise. Considering the wave of debt crises hitting the European Union, that is not outside the realm of possibilities, especially if our foreign creditors like China suddenly call in our foreign debts. Maybe we can give them Alaska in exchange for canceling the debts.

In this case, the Democratic message had better be that the Republican demands in The Compromise are to blame. And unlike a lot of Republican messaging, we will probably be telling the truth.

Long Term. The real problem with stimulus spending and tax cuts is that it does indeed create debts. This has been a problem since the New Deal and World War II. In fact, we are still paying off that war. In the 1950s and 1960s and even into the 1970s, the United States diligently used budget surpluses to pay off a relatively modest debt.

Today, that doesn't happen. Keynian Economics says to spend your way out of a recession and then step back. Okay. But ever since Reagan started running up the debt, the country has made absolutely no plans to pay off the debt after recession spending. Sure, we pay the interest, but none of the principal. No one wants to accept that we will have to raise taxes to pay off the debt -- spending that will not provide tangible benefits. The theory, of course, is that spending grows the economy, but we never have any plans to recover enough government revenue to repay all of that spending. Hence the $14 trillion debt.

2012 Election

Good gods. Some days I wonder if President Obama can take a piss without someone saying 1) you're doing it wrong and 2) primary him. What the fringes of both parties seem to forget is that presidential races are still won in the middle. If this whole thing works -- and like I said above, I doubt it will pass and I doubt it will work if it does -- then Obama is going to get the credit and we will, at long last, see some Democrats ride his coattails into office. If it doesn't work, then sure. Let's consider a primary challenge.

But until we see how this whole thing shakes out, any cries for a primary look silly at best and are premature and dangerous at worst. And we will not see even the beginnings of the effects until at least late next year.

Why silly? Do you honestly expect Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Russ Feingold, Anthony Weiner, Alan Grayson or Dennis Kucinich to read some diary and say, "mounting a primary challenge against a sitting president with a reasonable amount of support and awesome fund-raising seems like a wonderful idea"? No. There is a lot more that goes into such a decision and I wouldn't vote for someone who does make that choice based on that reason. (Strike that last candidate, by the way. Kucinich will probably run anyway.)

Why dangerous? If the vitriol continues at this level, the middle might very well sit out the primaries. On the other side, even the insane right couldn't nominate Huckabee or Trancredo. They got McCain, who was spun in the popular media as something of a center-right guy. I would suggest getting used to President McConnell or President Romney. If you like that, sit it out. I have a feeling that OFA is already accounting for the pissed off far left who won't turn out over issue X, Y or Z.

Disappointment

Am I disappointed with Obama? Not really. I operate under no delusions that he will "change the way Washington works." Actually, strike that. If a significant number of Congressional Republicans actually support this thing, then Obama will have taken one step toward repairing how Washington works. Politics used to be about the art of compromise. The Republicans took a "my way or the highway" approach in 1995 and never quit, no matter how many seats they lost.

Much of the anger over the ill-fated compromises, most notably on the health care bill, is born from this frustration. How many times have the Republicans promised their support for bill X if it had compromise Y and voted against it anyway?

More justified anger can be directed at people like Ben Nelson, who might as well be a Republican, and Bart Stupak, who was a pretty reasonable Democrat until he decided that a bullshit abortion amendment was more important than getting health coverage for most Americans.

I have a feeling that so many Blue Dogs lost in 2010 because the voters decided to actually elect a Republican if their congress critter was going to act like one.

Besides, Democrats have a big tent by default. The Republicans hounded the moderates and a lot of center rights out of the party and the Democratic Party is the only alternative. Therefore, our numbers are artificially inflated. Sorry to break it to you.

Finally, I always saw Obama as a center-left guy. Campaign promise are the starting point of negotiations. We just have to accept that reality.

Leadership

I read a lot about Obama's alleged lack of leadership. My challenge: define presidential leadership. Is it behind the scenes deal-making and log-rolling? Publicly berating congressional Democrats for not falling in line? Personally change the rules of the Senate? Take up residence in Sherwood Forest and rob from the rich to give to the poor? Change his political view to somewhere to the left of Chairman Mao? Coming over with a six pack and mowing my lawn?

I will admit that the Democrats (not just Obama) should have been a lot more vocal during the August of the Town Hall. How soon we all forget about the address to the joint session of Congress on Sept. 9, 2009. (Let me refresh: "You Lie.")

The alleged "lack of leadership" is largely a result of the modern media. When was the last time you saw one of the networks show a full speech by the president and then offer honest, thoughtful analysis? Honest question. If you have an example from CNN, MSNBC or Fox (lol, I know) I would like to hear about it.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that President Obama and the Congressional Democrats (and Republicans, for that matter) will be judged by the political middle based on their perception of the economic benefits of The Compromise. I'm not saying STFU, but I am saying that we need to have an honest discussion about this without the knee-jerk calls for a primary every single time the President practices that forgotten art of compromise.

Originally posted to Casual Wednesday on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:13 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Woohoo! Sane, informed analysis! (5+ / 0-)

    On DKos! Who'd a thunk?

  •  Had to stop to T &R halfway through (7+ / 0-)

    just so you know someone is reading and appreciates the effort.

    Be back in a few after I read the whole thing.

    FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
    RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

    by smileycreek on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:19:24 PM PST

  •  Calm, cogent, balanced (5+ / 0-)

    This is the best diary that I've read in the Obama political vein.  Thank you.

    "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." MLK

    by jmaier on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:19:52 PM PST

  •  You don't seem to understand... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smileycreek

    The political middle is a myth. That shit doesn't exist. Just because someone calls him/herself a centrist doesn't mean that's what they are. It's just a way for them to hide what they truly believe in.

    •  Simply untrue (6+ / 0-)

      i've been there all my life ( and it's crowded here ).  But the middle isn't defined so much by a list of specific positions though I could give youma pretty long list of min as if it mattered to you..

      "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." MLK

      by jmaier on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:25:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually its very true. it would require one (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grollen

        to have been paying attention to politics long enough to know. Centrism didn't come about until Clinton decided with the DLC to triangulate. Its essential quality is to peg itself against whatever someone else defines as the right by saying it is not to the left of that right. The more bat shit crazy the GOP becomes, the more batshit crazy the centrist becomes because  its about pegging oneself to the left of the batshit crazy right.

        I have a degree in politics. One of the central tenets of politics is that its about a battle for definitions. In fact, large parts of studying politics is about different groups throughout history fighting to define things. So, when you start off Simplly untrue, that alone tells me you have no idea what you are talking about.

        You are full of shit if you think where you are (which is likely conservative) is the middle. You are represent according to long term studies on the subject roughly 30 percent. Liberals 20 percent. The left even less. Most people outside of that don't have any real pull either way or are independent can mean anything from really far left such as communism to big L libertarian, etc.

        The very definition of centrism (to find the center) depends on the definitions of others. As such, you are subject to their whims. That's why the president is not able to negotiate. Its the fundamental flaw of his political ideological structure. He waits to see where the Gop pegs itself. BUT, the GOP knows this. So the GOP pegs itself to the furtherest right, and even further.

        In fact, tonight after the big give, do you know what the GOP smartly did (as in political smarts not as in I like it) they said of some aspects of the "deal" well we aren't quite convinced of it yet. They were trying to move it further right.

        Finally, this tactic on their part as far as negotiation theory, a separate subject goes, also makes sense. Always seem hestitant so that even if its  deal you like the other side thinks they are winning something. its a great psychological trick against people like you.

    •  Oh, the naïveté...it burnz... (5+ / 0-)

      Get off the computer and get out of the house more.

      the first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind --Borlaug

      by mem from somerville on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:28:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Never mind. I'll remain polite (0+ / 0-)

        but I'll note that is the most passionate true believers who seem most sure of everyone else's motivations.  All you know about me is that I seem to disagree with you so it's okay to be insulting.

        "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." MLK

        by jmaier on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:45:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You're spending too much time here. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mll, Casual Wednesday

      "A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

      by psilocynic on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:29:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The National Election study (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mll, gchaucer2, thebluecrayon

      The standard in political opinion research show that, in the 2008 election cycle, 22 percent self identified in the middle. The only group with a higher number was "don't know/never thought about it.

      And that middle of the road number has only dropped five points since 1952.

      Source.

      ICYMI: On Dec. 2, 2010 the House Republicans voted to raise taxes on the middle class.

      by Casual Wednesday on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:31:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Its a meaningless term that others define (0+ / 0-)

        Its like saying values voters. In 2004, pundits defined it as they wanted without regard to what people actually believe.

        And the middle has nothing to do with centrism. You , I suppose, mean moderate. Theya re not the same animal.

        A moderate is someone like my friend who picks from column A and column B. A moderate is not a centrist who seeks peg him or herself against whatever the bat shit right is doing,b ut only move slightly left of it.

        What Obama is doing is classic clinton triangulation. The problem is that he's in a bad economy and is not very good at it.

        Honeslty, clinton wasn't ast good at it as he thought because he was living off good economic times.

        Also, to everyone else, beware of people on here when they cite only one poll.

        •  I see above that you have a degree in politics (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ETF, smileycreek

          So do I. Paid a lot for it, too.

          So I assume you know about the NES. Here are the numbers from 2008.

          Very Liberal 3%
          Liberal 10&
          Slightly Liberal 9%
          Moderate, Middle of Road 22%
          Slightly Conservative 12%
          Conservative 17%
          Very Conservative 3%
          Don't know/Haven't thought about it 25%

          The University of Michigan has been doing the same survey with different samples but the same seven point scale for decades with similar results. And this is a straight self-identification question and not someone else's interpretation.

          But if you want to take issue with the absolute gold standard in American political polling, that's not something I can argue.

          And if you want to define centrism as moving slightly to the right or left of what is currently going on, the slightly left and right numbers have been consistent as well.

          ICYMI: On Dec. 2, 2010 the House Republicans voted to raise taxes on the middle class.

          by Casual Wednesday on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:50:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You will note what I said above (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Casual Wednesday

            Those numbers don't change my analysis.

            Most of those people in the center, if you do futher research, don't care about issues.

            The people here claiming to be the "center" are nothing like those people in the research.

            The qualitative analysis, that gets at who are the independent moderates are done by men like Weston (who is really only saying shit I learned 25 years ago in my degree).

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

            The funny thing is I know many conservatives exactly as Weston destribes. Your analysis would never pick t hose people up.

            More problematically for you is that we aren't discussing the middle here. We are dicussing far right wing ideas that you and others are labeling the middle although polling data on the actual topic refutes your claim.

            In other words, the entire vague discussion that you try to cover up with unrelated polling data is besides the point. You aren't the middle on these issues because the polling data on the issue of the tax cuts tells us you aren't the middle. This is true of many issues.

            The middle for the American public is not the middle as far as what DC thinks it is. On a non economic front- just to give one example- DADT repeal is supported by 70 percent of the public. It still is likely to not pass this year becuase the DC "middle" is centrist and centrism is about pegging oneself to the left of the bat shit right in dc.

            and I didn't pay a lot for my degree. That what's at a time when neo-libs had not taken over the educational system.

            •  I'll agree on one point (0+ / 0-)

              The people in the middle don't care about the issues. I'll cite Zaller who argues that so many people are in the middle because they don't fully understand complex issues. But by that logic, we might as well say that about half of Americans are somewhere in the middle once you factor in the "Don't know/don't care" faction.

              So my point is that these people who self identify in the middle -- and there are a lot of them -- will vote on 2012 based on how The Compromise shakes out (if they even remember in two years).

              But I am getting your point, now. When you talk about centrists, you are talking about politicians and not voters. Am I right on that? (If so, I think we've been talking past each other.)

              If so, I can start to agree with you. And sadly, with the insane reelection rates to Congress, this fraidy-cat centrism might be here to stay.

              ICYMI: On Dec. 2, 2010 the House Republicans voted to raise taxes on the middle class.

              by Casual Wednesday on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 10:07:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  They do care (0+ / 0-)

                They simply use a different yard stick.

                its like the people who want to peg someone who is anti-plutocratic with being left or right when someone can be anti-plutocratic for different reasons- either from the left or right.

                there yardstick is often character. That's where the president failed tonight. He comes across, all ideological views aside, according to my friends and in accord with weston's research- as weak. Its the John Wayne factor. Many so-called centrist, including who post here, have no idea what they are dealing with so they try to peg them conservative. Yes and no. Some are. Some aren't. I know one who is probably basically a true moderate. He's not really conservative. Probably more left of center. He's not voting for Obama next time. Want to know why/ He says he can't trust him. For him, its a character thing. That's for many voters. That's one of many strategic errors the president has made. Again strickly on a politcal analysis level.

                You are also mixing up I think yet another category- the category of the know-nothings . Some of whom are also my friends. they know nothing abou tpolitics. And don't care. Soem vote. Some don't. You really can't capture their number or howt hey will vote through political battles. They don't care. That's the entire point.

                •  So you are saying (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  DianeNYS, smileycreek

                  that the next election will all come down to whether or not Obama "sticks to his guns" or compromises.

                  This illustrates my problem with the electorate (and gawd that's going to make me sound like some inside the Beltway douchebag). George W. Bush endeared himself to his 2004 supporters by projecting the John Wayne, stick to your principles, never compromise attitude. He learned the lessons of Gingrich well.

                  The point is that too many people -- and I'm guilty of this as well -- confuse/conflate principle with ideologically rigid. And the problem with that is, in a divided government -- and with the Blue Dogs and Senate rules we have one -- compromise is critical. But it is also seen as selling out your principles and going back on your promises. Bush Sr. paid the price after "read my lips."

                  I blame Newt and his boys. They were the ones who brought that attitude to town. Unfortunately, the easy media narrative is "did he go back on a campaign promise" and not "did he do everything he could for the country."

                  ICYMI: On Dec. 2, 2010 the House Republicans voted to raise taxes on the middle class.

                  by Casual Wednesday on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 10:38:29 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  People don't all think the same (0+ / 0-)

                    So your problem with the electorate is kind of irrelevant. If Obama were doing some good, your poiint might actually be a good one. As it is, my point is that even on the political level he's fucking up. So, it makes the policies indefensible since they are also bad policy making decisions. My analysis is me separating what I feel about the policy from what I think the electorate sees. In otehrwords, I am trying to do what others, include the president and his men, seem incapable of doing. Thinking like other voters. They have different motivations. He fails on multiple scales. That's the whole problem WITH HIM.

              •  Some people in the middle care about issues (0+ / 0-)

                And if you look at them closely, you'll find that they actually have extreme positions in all directions. They don't care much for bland wishy-washy lack of leadership, either.

                "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

                by jfern on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 11:19:35 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I agree with that to a point (0+ / 0-)

                  And one thing that bruh1 and I did not address above is the tendency for the real extremists to self-identify as "independents" and moderates.

                  I've met more than a few people who are, in fact, RWNJs. But they self identify as independents. They are Republicans in every sense of the term, but can't accept the label. Rest assured though that they will vote for anyone with an R after their names. It doesn't matter if that name is "Susan Collins" or "Ron Paul."

                  I find this happens with single issue voters. They might care about guns or god or abortion or gays or not paying taxes. Surprise. Only Republicans are extreme enough on their pet issues.

                  As for bland leadership, the Dems have had some strong leaders (FDR, JFK, LBJ) and some real losers (Carter, Wilson). Clinton and Obama both seem to fall between those extremes. We want, probably even need, LBJ or a Bush Jr. of the left. (Clarification: I am only talking about personality and not ideology.) If the electorate will accept another strong personality on the left like a Grayson or Sherrod Brown, that's great. Somehow, the media have convinced us that an extremist on the right is okay, but an strong lefty is teh devil or something.

                  But unless the economy goes to utter and complete shit, calling for a primary challenge in 2012 is probably a lost cause and a waste of time and energy.

                  ICYMI: On Dec. 2, 2010 the House Republicans voted to raise taxes on the middle class.

                  by Casual Wednesday on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 11:51:29 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  What I'm unfamiliar with (9+ / 0-)

    is the complete, stark, abject inability or unwillingness to negotiate aggressively.

    My God, I'm not opposed to a compromise if it makes sense, but this guy's a lawyer and he's bargaining like a rube.  I think he needed to spend a little more time in practice rather than academia.  He's not trying to knock someone off a ballot anymore.  No one is giving out gold stars for demeanor.  The problem with him has long been that he has the heart of a dispassionate and rational pundit when he needs to be able to throw a punch.

    I'll blame all of the people you blame, but he has to make it harder for them to succeed.

    •  I'm going to tip you (5+ / 0-)

      But I would really like to be a fly on the wall in some of those private negotiations before I can agree. I really wonder if Obama has a very different demeanor when the cameras are off.

      ICYMI: On Dec. 2, 2010 the House Republicans voted to raise taxes on the middle class.

      by Casual Wednesday on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:38:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Perhaps his ability to negotiate (9+ / 0-)

      a better deal would have been improved if the tax extension issue had been taken up before the election, as Obama wanted.  It was the Congressional Dem leadership who said no, because they wanted to protect vulnerable Dems from having to vote on tax legislation.

      So instead of being able to negotiate from a position of relative strength, he is now forced to negotiate from a much weaker position - one not of his making.

      It's the Dems in Congress (the Senate particularly) who can be blamed for that.

      This is not a book (Atlas Shrugged) to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown, with great force. - Dorothy Parker

      by edwardssl on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:40:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can agree with that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        edwardssl, princesspat

        If we want to accuse any Democrats of being spineless, it should be the Congressional ones who want to win every election by 20 points rather than campaign on their principles and maybe lose.

        ICYMI: On Dec. 2, 2010 the House Republicans voted to raise taxes on the middle class.

        by Casual Wednesday on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:52:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Slightly off point but the phrase (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Casual Wednesday

        "negotiate from a position of strength" actually was popularized into the political lexicon by Margaret Thatcher. It is a Thatcherite, right wing idea. Those who were against Raygun's START negotiations (Conservatives) used it a lot to try and derail them. They believed that agreeing to mutual disarmament was weakening your negotiating position. It's an irrational negotiating position because it says win first and then enter negotiations. If you have won already then why would you negotiate? This applies vice versa by the way. If you have to all intents lost what's the value of negotiating other than to discuss the terms of your surrender.

        The thing is liberals historically have never taken the position that you have to be in a stronger position in order to negotiate. Liberals believe that negotiating is the only valid way of resolving conflicts. That being the case most liberals abhor pre-conditions to negotiating. If both parties cannot move ahead without a settlement then the only route is to negotiate and without pre-conditions otherwise the party making pre-conditions is not ready to negotiate. The outcome of true negotiations instead of window dressing are never going to completely please every side or everyone. Successful negotiation requires compromise which means giving up something in order to gain something.

        I don't agree that the President was negotiating from  a weaker position. Politically the GOP can't gain anything more than Obama can if taxes of the middle class families go up in January. Both would be blamed and both would be taking risks. The GOP and the Dems had no choice but to negotiate since the Dems can't extend the tax cuts for the middle class without the GOP. That kind of thing is generally referred to as parliamentary Democracy.

        Oh I agree with your comment and mine is not really directed at you per se. I just thought I would muse about the phrase"negotiating from strength"

        scientia potentia est - Francis Bacon "...knowledge itself is power."

        by factPlusContextAlmostTruth on Tue Dec 07, 2010 at 06:33:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Its a central flaw of centrism. Its about (0+ / 0-)

      pegging oneself for definitions based on what the other guy is doing. Its not about negotiation- not in its mechanical form which is how Obama is practicing it.

      The core goal, as I mention above, is to peg oneself against whereever the right is. But, and the centrist will avoid this question- what if the right is moving further and further right because they know you will peg yourself against them?

      That's something that used to be discussed at this site back in 2003/2004 when people were interested in discussing actual strategy.

      We used to say that the DEmocrats, especially centrist, are playing a game of checkers, in a world of chess.

      What this meant is that they were tactical thinkers worried about the next move rather than looking at the entire board for  how all moves fit together.

      I had , or tried to have this attempt to explain this tonight, - Obama just made a serious strategic fuck up. he essentially is tying the Democrats hand that follows him.

      This was a strategic battle that the GOP has been trying to win for the decade. Indeed, its part of the long term strategic battle that Grover Norquist was seeking to push. By cutting revenue (a part of the two sided coin of government action) you cut the government.  By cutting taxes, you cut revenue, and you in term give the war to the GOP.

      Centrists don't get this. Worse yet, they don't get because they aren't strategic thinkers how their moves aren't pragmatic.

      WHen you move, and you don't think several steps downa bout what that will mean in terms of narrative and meaning- you are essentially setting up the next conservative wave.

      That was also something that used to be discussed at this site when it was better. Namely that Clinton begot George Bush because Clinton's centrism allowed Bush the room to com e in to defi ne things as he wanted.

      Obama is allowing the same with the GOP right now.

  •  Reagan compromised all the time because he had (4+ / 0-)

    to work with a democratic congress his entire presidency.

    http://politics.usnews.com/...

    "A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

    by psilocynic on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:28:46 PM PST

    •  And the right thinks he's the bees knees. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mll, ETF, Casual Wednesday

      Funny, that.

      "A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

      by psilocynic on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:31:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And Reagan was in an interesting spot (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mll, psilocynic, ETF

      He got to negotiate with both the traditional northern democrat as well as the still significant Southern Democratic faction.

      And that's really my point. For as much as well all dislike the man, he was a bright point of light compared to Newt Gingrich and his ilk.

      ICYMI: On Dec. 2, 2010 the House Republicans voted to raise taxes on the middle class.

      by Casual Wednesday on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:34:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Reagan undestood himself a part of a greater (0+ / 0-)

      movement that would last beyond him.

      No on ein their right mind can say that of any action being taken by the present president. He's not in a movement.

      If one goes back into Reagan's history- not just his being electd, one can see all of what I just described there. He along with the other movement conservatives staged a coup against the other conservatives and used each successive move to increase power by increasing the narrative in their favor.

      You and others are tactical thinkers. The ideas of several movements being all part of one movement is alien to hyou.

      So you see what Reagan did and you think its the same as Obama. and yet, the question is- in what way is it the same? In what way has Obama changed any long term strategic narrative?

      He hasn't

    •  That's funny, Obama has a Democratic (0+ / 0-)

      Congress too.

      That explains the constantly compromised positions.

      A proletarian is someone who has no power over his life and knows it.

      by absolute beginner on Tue Dec 07, 2010 at 01:25:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is the only Stimulus we'll be getting (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mll, cheforacle, ETF, Casual Wednesday

    I'm betting it passes. While we can scream to high heaven about caving to the GOP, the fact is that Obama did the best he could with the hand he was dealt. The Senate is simply dysfunctional. What Dems wanted couldn't get the votes, even with the cut-off kicked up to $1 million.

    Sometimes you've got to know when to cut your losses. With other things, like DADT, DREAM, START, etc sitting there, I'd rather take this compromise & move on than let the clock run out on everything else, too.

    Obama managed to secure UI extension for 13 months and extend stimulus tax cuts for working Americans. (And the Estate tax, while not perfect, is better than nothing & will offset some cost.) We have to realize that with the GOP in charge of the House, this is the ONLY stimulus we're going to get. Enjoy!

    If you are going to be progressive, then you have to make progress. And that sometimes depends on breaking a few legs. ~ Jennifer Granholm

    by Sandi Behrns on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:31:15 PM PST

    •  They said don't tweet about what David Waldman (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Casual Wednesday

      would write about but that is it: Looking for the 60th vote with the current Rule XXII. Few understand how f'n hard that is because the GOP can just adjourn the Senate if 51 Dems are  not around to answer the quorum call if they get that burr up their arse. I know Casual Wednesday understands that.

      And you are absolutely right about what will be coming out of a Paul Ryan Budget committee: Nothing progressives like.

      Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living~~Mother Jones

      by CA Berkeley WV on Tue Dec 07, 2010 at 10:37:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is one of two good analyses online today (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mll, Casual Wednesday, princesspat

    The other one is The War Inside the Left.

    I had a back and forth with several here on Saturday on the subject of letting all the tax cuts expire.  While I personally think they should all go, it would  be absolute political suicide for Obama after all the times he's insisted on keeping tax cuts for the middle class.  

    I hope you're right and the deal blows up.  Then Obama comes out looking like the reasonable adult.    

    FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
    RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

    by smileycreek on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:34:18 PM PST

  •  Also, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mll, ETF, Casual Wednesday, princesspat

    I found This Comment interesting with its quote from Redstate:

    All of the whining from the Kos-Krowd is meaningless, they’re not going anywhere in 2012 despite this move.  Obama scored big points today with independent voters.  Way to go Republicans. You had Obama cornered and you blinked.

    FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
    RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

    by smileycreek on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:36:49 PM PST

  •  playing 11th dimensional chess (0+ / 0-)

    ...with yourself and losing.  You offer fantasy speculation that somehow magically turns the way of your arguments.

    You gave yourself away with the comment "But the real question we should be asking is whether we care about these bonus tax cuts for the rich because of the deficit or because we would like to fight back in the class war for a change."  

    No really, the deficit caused by the cuts will fuck the country.  You can't even handle that simple fact, and instead deny it to make a typical attack on leftists as being emotionally crippled and not using logic.  You lost all crediblity; your agenda is revealed--support Obama against all attacks by marginalizing his critics using basically right wing themes.  Create fantasy outcomes that prove your point.

    You are offering a world of "pragmatic politics" with no moral basis and founded in utter apologist  fantasy.  Like many Obama supporters there is no moral, nor political line you will not cross.

    Obama's politics have been exposed.  No amount of 11th dimensional chess will bring him back nor cause him to change his ways.

    Wake up.  Your Queen has been taken.

    •  Oh boy, you missed the point (0+ / 0-)

      I have no intention of causing Obama "to change his ways." You don't go into a fight with one knife and wish you had two while the other guy smacks you upside the head with a club.

      As for my statement about the class war, that was a serious question for the community. If you personally are against the tax cuts for the wealthy because of the deficit, great. I've been on about the deficits since I've been on here (and for a long time before that). I'm just asking people to honestly examine their motivations.

      I see this as a put up or shut up moment for the other side. Are the Republicans really ready to bust the budget to give bonuses to their rich buddies when given the chance? As I said in the analysis, I don't expect this to pass. If it does, this might be America's all in moment. It might not matter who we run in 2012.

      ICYMI: On Dec. 2, 2010 the House Republicans voted to raise taxes on the middle class.

      by Casual Wednesday on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 10:20:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure Obama ever tried to make a secret (0+ / 0-)

      of his leanings.

      I always figured he was going to execute as a hawk militarily and a neoliberal economically ... neither of which I am happy with.

      "a lie that can no longer be challenged becomes a form of madness" -Debord

      by grollen on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 10:28:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the interesting analysis. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Casual Wednesday, thebluecrayon

    You really got my attention with the words ...President McConnell....yikes! I was born in 1945, so I know all to well how to survive republican presidents.....I just don't think I could cope with McConnell.

    Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

    by princesspat on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 10:13:07 PM PST

  •  I don't quite agree, but darn your reasonableness (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Casual Wednesday

    I felt compelled to compromise. ^_^

    This was very informed, not screaming-mad and made many good points.  Wait...am I on DKos?  I really do wish we still had actual moderates, like the ones I know in real life, not the ones who seem even more wedded to corporate policies.

    I think most of us don't mind compromise in the end, but just want the Pres. to fight to get the absolute best deal he can.  That way we end up with left of center legislation.  What we got, even the concessions, were mostly tax cuts.  Yes, the repubs didn't want those tax cuts, but this policy is still sell-able to their base.

    The speech Obama gave this afternoon, was a strong one.  It would have been ten times better if he had given it before the negotiations.  He shamed the repub point of view on tax cuts.  That's where he needed to start.  Not with the leak that the WH would agree to a two-year extension, while the Pres. was still overseas, and there was no agreement even to have negotiations.  

    Some in the MSM are saying this deal will enable a vote on Start and DADT, but I will believe it, when and if I see it.  In the end, I think it's the combo of this deal and the push for deficit reduction, at the same time, that gives the average person an impression that no one is looking out for them.  Because of that, all I could think, during the President's speech, was 'and now he's going to cut Social Security and Medicare?!  Please no.'  With the poll numbers on tax cuts, cutting Social Security and cutting Medicare, it doesn't seem this deal is even in the center.

  •  Most Americans do not lie in the middle, it is a (0+ / 0-)

    fallacy. Bush never fell below the mid to low 30's in his approval rating; Obama seems to be a little lower staying around 30% consistently. This is at minimum 60% of the country who will probably never change their political allegiance. Only about 40% of the people are in the middle, and quite a few of those most likely lean heavily one way. The middle is probably about 35% of the population, not the vast majority like people like to claim when they endorse capitulating.

  •  Doesn't Compromise Mean Both Sides Give? (0+ / 0-)

    What exactly did the Republicans give?

    Rep. Boehner said that he'd likely have voted for unemployment extensions under certain conditions.

    They got tax cuts; they already got a federal wage freeze.

    This isn't compromise in any meaningful sense.

    This is the Democrats losing on a winning issue.

    And while we're all celebrating the joy of compromise, the long-term unemployed are as screwed as they ever were.

    No, this is not good politics. This isn't even appeasement. This is collapse.

    A proletarian is someone who has no power over his life and knows it.

    by absolute beginner on Tue Dec 07, 2010 at 01:33:42 AM PST

    •  For one thing, it's awesome that you know (0+ / 0-)

      every internal Republican bargaining position. Seriously, that would have been great information.

      Now back here in reality land, we have to assume from their past behavior that they wanted everything -- continue the eliminate of the estate tax, huge bonus for the wealthy -- but no unemployment extension.

      Obama got the whole UI extension. He actually got more that I expected he would get. He also got some of the estate tax. Remember that the Republicans are in all or nothing mode right now. And we might not like it, but we still have to appeal to that 60th senator. Like it or not, that means finding common ground with Snowe, Collins, Nelson of Neb., Brown of Mass., Lieberman and Voinovich.

      And if you consider this a collapse, hold on to your helmet. The next two years aren't going to be much prettier. Unless Harry Reid manages to eliminate filibuster abuse at the beginning of the next session, the Republicans will effectively control both Houses of Congress.

      That's the reality we are dealing with.

      As for the link with the Boehner comment (the one from Sept. 12), he had his chance on Dec. 2 to vote for middle class tax cuts. It also illustrates what I have been talking about. They are in this all or nothing. The middle class tax cuts are not high on Boehner's agenda. If Obama and the congressional Dems are making one mistake, it's in assuming otherwise.

      ICYMI: On Dec. 2, 2010 the House Republicans voted to raise taxes on the middle class.

      by Casual Wednesday on Tue Dec 07, 2010 at 07:08:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please, Stop Playing the Phony Reality Card (0+ / 0-)

        The reality is that the Democrats lost hugely on an issue with massive public support by failing to cohere around a realistic strategy and by failing to keep the caucus focused.

        The cost of the upper level tax bonuses is several times that of the paltry UI extension. In what reality is that a win? Jeez, call it what it is, an embarrassment.

        Obama got the whole UI extension

        Well, this month according to the Council of Economic Advisors, 4,000,000 are losing UI benefits. By November next, 7,000,000 total. Some damn victory there.

        As for those who've already exhausted their UI, tough damn luck. Complete UI extension: no, it leaves millions uncared for and your vaunted deal is hollow. Hundreds of billions for the upper 2%, which isn't even stimulative. It's a sham.

        Let's throw a fucking party for the awesome, thrilling capacity of the Democrats to fall in line with Republican demands.

        Letting all the tax cuts expire is vastly preferable to this travesty and loads of Democrats think so. Sen. Sanders, Rep. Weiner, and more.

        So, the reality land you seem to think you're living in is, in fact, anything but. It's a colossal shame that the working class is getting shafted and being told to clap harder.

        Unfuckingreal.

        As for Boehner, I never expected him to actually do the right thing. What the article makes clear is that even Boehner saw that the Democrats were in the driver's seat and they drove that car right into a ditch.

        Spin this as victory if you like, but it's an abject defeat by a party that doesn't know how to govern effectively.

        A proletarian is someone who has no power over his life and knows it.

        by absolute beginner on Tue Dec 07, 2010 at 08:01:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So your proposal: (0+ / 0-)

          Letting all the tax cuts expire is vastly preferable to this travesty and loads of Democrats think so.

          The ones who matter, the middle class, should get a hefty tax hike -- in fairness along with the wealthiest who can afford it.

          And I thought the electoral trouncing we took this year was as bad as it could get.

          But who knows. Maybe we get lucky in 2012 and every state will elected Bernie Sanders and every congressional district will elect Anthony Weiner.

          I'm with you on one point, though: the effectiveness of the Democratic Party. It's tough to stand together when you don't enforce party purity. We never really had a majority with the House Blue Dogs an the 60 vote Senate threshhold.

          Maybe I'll just clap louder, pray the whole deal falls through, and the voters will rightly blame the Republicans even as both the left and right spin it as a disaster for the Democrats.

          ICYMI: On Dec. 2, 2010 the House Republicans voted to raise taxes on the middle class.

          by Casual Wednesday on Tue Dec 07, 2010 at 08:57:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I fear that whatever happens (0+ / 0-)

            things are going to get much worse before they get better.

            Even if the deal passes, if the economy isn't humming or jobs at least recovering somewhat, 2012 is going to be grim.

            Krugman's take seems right to me, at this early stage: here, here, and here.

            A proletarian is someone who has no power over his life and knows it.

            by absolute beginner on Tue Dec 07, 2010 at 09:06:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

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