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Congressional Democrats met with President Obama today and asked him would he PLEASE unequivocably stand up for Democratic priorities and for the policy agenda of his party?

WASHINGTON -- Congressional Democrats challenged President Barack Obama to more forcefully use his bully pulpit during their White House meeting Thursday, but Obama signaled he would not change course in upcoming battles with Republicans....

The challenge -- on behalf of the many Democrats who have long complained that Obama is not making enough use of his White House megaphone -- was principally delivered by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)....

But Obama responded that he has to be more careful and more considered than that, and that he is executing an existing plan.....

 "He said, 'There's a difference between me and a member of Congress,'" another lawmaker said, paraphrasing the president as saying: "When I say something the markets react, all of society reacts, other countries react. I've got to be careful with what I say. I can't just say it for brinkmanship. I've got to say it in a way so that I get what I want said, but I don't upset markets and so on."

So Obama thinks he's not free to say or do partisan things. Really? If that were true, why bother electing a president from one party as opposed to another? Why not outlaw party affiliation altogether from holding the presidency if that were true?

Have Republican presidents acted as if they felt constrained that way? Did Bush? Not that I remember.

More...

I think this definitively settles the question of what's going on with President Obama and his preference for bipartisanship over his own agenda. Because his remarks indicate that he still remembers what agenda he ran on and that he still believes in it. He hasn't sold out and he isn't simply cowed by the opposition. He just believes that now that he's president he's no longer free to pursue it.

Weird, or what?

This at least is good:

Attendees said other key meeting topics included raising taxes on the wealthy, new highway and jobs bills, withdrawing from Afghanistan and protecting domestic social programs in ongoing budget talks with the Republicans.

The president offered few specifics on those fronts, but did insist he'd stand by Medicare, which the Republican budget proposal would turn into a more costly system of subsidies for private insurance programs. And Obama allowed that raising revenues was on the table.

"He said Medicare is not negotiable," said Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), who felt the overall discussion was positive...

We can also hang onto hopes that that mysterious "existing plan" he's following is about promoting the mildly progressive agenda he ran on and not just about his own re-election. 11-dimensional chess, anyone?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thats eleventy dimensional chess... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lams712, Aspe4, 207wickedgood

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

    by CTMET on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 05:43:35 PM PDT

  •  "... this the people sense: he is not afraid." (6+ / 0-)

    Said of FDR in a documentary on the Depression I've been watching. I keep posting this around, because it's obviously key to why FDR made change happen.

    Astonishing that providing leadership is not seen as a function. A President says a thing -- and in a Democratic case, you'd think something on the side of the people -- and then things get shaken up, and then they resettle in a new form.

    What's the point of taking a leadership position if you think the job is to not upset anyone? Whatever you do or don't do as a leader is going to upset someone. Why upset the people who elected you, to save your enemies from being displeased?

    Mind-boggling.


    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 05:51:09 PM PDT

    •  Growing Up Just After, EVERYONE Who Lived Those (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim P, Th0rn, Aspe4, Lucy2009

      years remarked on his constant reassurances and exhortations as a big reason he was so revered.

      He'd begun Fireside Chats as NY Guv and began them in the WH the very month he swore in, and carried them on to or near the end.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 06:29:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What Obama said... (7+ / 0-)
    I've got to be careful with what I say.

    What you heard him say...

    He just believes that now that he's president he's no longer free to pursue it.

    (emphasis mine)

    Does something strike you as different between those 2 sentences?

  •  Well this has to be (6+ / 0-)

    the third or fourth version of what happened in this meeting and this does not even come close to what the other said.

    And given that it's HuffPo call me dloubtful that it bears any resemblance to reality or fact.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 05:56:56 PM PDT

  •  i am happy he spelled it out (7+ / 0-)

    let the 100 million other dems use their voices instead of leaning on one person

    were the party  of the people not republican sheep

    Protect Medicare, Win Everywhere!

    by Anton Bursch on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 06:15:48 PM PDT

    •  Very good point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, Lucy2009

      But it wouldn't hurt if the most powerful person in the Democratic Party were also out there visibly throwing his weight around to help promote the things Democrats believe in.

      •  Work out well for the country when (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens

        Bush did it.

        This comment may not be reproduced or excerpted on other sites without my express written permission.

        by psilocynic on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 06:29:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem with (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          207wickedgood

          Bush was that his policies were bad (pretty much all Republican policies are bad) and that his partisanship overstepped legal boundaries, i.e., using the judicial system against political opponents, politicizing the civil service, using war and terrorism threats for his own political advantage. The problem wasn't that he implemented a Republican agenda per se. That's legitimate, as in elections have consequences. Presidents are elected to help enact the policies they run on.

      •  Throwing his weight around? (6+ / 0-)

        I don't understand why people believe that the Bully Pulpit somehow lays waste to oppositional forces like the Ark of the Covenant fries Nazis. It's weird, considering what the term actually means:

        A bully pulpit is a public office or other position of authority of sufficiently high rank that provides the holder with an opportunity to speak out and be listened to on any matter. The bully pulpit can bring issues to the forefront that were not initially in debate, due to the office's stature and publicity.

        This term was coined by President Theodore Roosevelt, who referred to the White House as a "bully pulpit," by which he meant a terrific platform from which to advocate an agenda. Roosevelt famously used the word bully as an adjective meaning "superb" or "wonderful" (a more common expression in his time than it is today).

        The term is not related to the noun bully, i.e. a harasser or someone who intimidates, in an interesting way. The word is related to the Dutch boel, meaning lover, and is also found in the German word Nebenbuhler, meaning a rival for a lady's affection. In English usage around 1700, "bully" apparently passed over into the realm of "pimp," which gives us the connotation of a ruffian.


         

        Motley Moose: Progress Through Politics

        by Fogiv on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 06:46:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What do you do from the pulpit? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aspe4, Fogiv

          You speak from a position of authority, including moral and personal authority. It puts you in a position to be listened to with respect. It puts you in command of an audience that allows you to forward your ideas and convince, convert, and educate your listeners. To open their hearts and minds to a better way of seeing the world. The pulpit part is what's important, not the bully part.

          •  Almost (4+ / 0-)
            It puts you in command of an audience that allows you to forward your ideas and convince, convert, and educate your listeners.

            The Office certainly provides command of an audience, but I'd amend the remainder of your statement to say that it allows you the opportunity to convince, convert, and educate. Don't forget that in today's world 'teh pulpit part' necessarily relies on a sensationalist, profit-driven media culture that is far more concerned with congressional crotch shots than violence in Syria or poverty here at home.  So there's that.

            Besides, to effectively convince, convert, and educate you have to consider your audience -- and you have to be persuasive. I see the point your making, I really do, but ask yourself if you were ever swayed from your convictions or stance on preferred policies by the ideologically aggressive behavior of George W. Bush when he employed the Bully Pulpit. I sure as hell wasn't. Personally, I'd like to see Obama kick the shit out of Karl Rove in a Pay-Per-View cage match (proceeds to the progressive causes, or course), but I know that roughly half of the nation would find that stupid, divisive, and offensive. I kid, but you see what I'm driving at, right?

            Sometimes, when I wish Obama were more a firebrand, I have to remind myself that it's not me (or presumably you) that needs to be convinced, converted, or educated when he pulpits. My view is that if he 'throws his weight around' too much, he risks widening the ideological chasm that has so stultified our politics for the last 30+ years. That just helps ensure the security of the status quo.

            I suspect governing is a more delicate business than we observers often credit it.

            Motley Moose: Progress Through Politics

            by Fogiv on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 08:55:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No one's asking for (0+ / 0-)

              "ideologically aggressive behavior" or kicking the shit out of Karl Rove in a cage match, or for him to start being a firebrand. All we want is for him to make the case for his own ideas, for progressive ideas, for the policies that the people who voted for him wanted to see enacted so that pressure is put on the Republicans to go along with that agenda or at least to stop opposing it or trying to roll it back. He's in a position to explain progressive policies in a way that makes sense instead of the twisted caricature of them that comes from the Right and from the corporate media. He's one of the few people who can change the direction of public discussion by what he says or how he says it or by showing what he thinks or feels about it. And he's refusing to use that power.

              •  No. He is not making a case for your ideas. n/t (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Fogiv, virginislandsguy, pstoller78
              •  and this is where we part ways: (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                virginislandsguy, pstoller78
                And he's refusing to use that power.

                I disagree. He makes the case for his own ideas all the time. His accomplishments thus far are considerable by any rational estimation.

                All we want is for him to make the case for his own ideas, for progressive ideas, for the policies that the people who voted for him wanted to see enacted so that pressure is put on the Republicans to go along with that agenda or at least to stop opposing it or trying to roll it back.

                Who is we? We here in left blogistan don't speak for all of the 66,882,230 people who voted for him.

                You say that you want policies "enacted so that pressure is put on the Republicans to go along with" his agenda. You want him to enact policy via the bully pulpit? How does that work? I'm unfamiliar with the finer details of that legislative maneuver.

                Motley Moose: Progress Through Politics

                by Fogiv on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 11:06:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Please reread my comment (0+ / 0-)

                  I didn't say I want him to enact policy via the bully pulpit. I said I want him to explain and advocate for the policies that he ran on - the policies of his own party. If you don't want him to do that too you're a fool.

                  •  Again, he does this. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    virginislandsguy, pstoller78

                    Consistently. You want him to do it differently, in a manner you fail to specify beyond 'throwing weight around', such that the effect decimates (or at a minimum halts) the various and sundry oppositional forces before him...with the bully pulpit.  You certainly imply that you want him to be more forceful.

                    I'm understanding your comment just fine, I just don't share your opinion that Obama is something other than previously advertised. Quite simply, I think your implication that he doesn't explain or advocate for the policies of his own party is a false premise.

                    Motley Moose: Progress Through Politics

                    by Fogiv on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:04:48 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Tell (0+ / 0-)

                      Henry Waxman, who's a good, solid Democrat. He knows what support he's getting or not, and what he could be getting from this president. He thinks Obama should be advocating more strongly for the policies of his own party and he said so to his face.

                      •  Waxman indicates he wants more support (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        virginislandsguy, pstoller78

                        not that he isn't getting any support, which appears to be your claim. I'm left to believe that your strategy, wrt the bully pulpit, is only as specific as "do whatever Waxman says" because he's good and solid.  Your HuffPo link also includes a quote from Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.):

                        I was very pleased by the firmness the president displayed that defaulting on the debt is absolutely not an option.

                        [snip]

                        "It was a very positive and productive meeting," Welch said.

                        and from Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.):

                        "He said Medicare is not negotiable," said, who felt the overall discussion was positive and appreciated by the members.

                        Welch and Serrano are both members of the Progressive caucus, though I guess by your accounting they must be neither good nor solid Democrats.

                        Motley Moose: Progress Through Politics

                        by Fogiv on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 06:45:05 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Do you want (0+ / 0-)

                          Dems to win in 2012 or not? Get your head out of the sand. They have to step up with some action on the unemployment situation and on the rhetoric that puts them unequivocally on the side of the middle class and protecting SS and Medicare, while the GOP is on the side of destroying them. And Obama has to lead on this. Bipartisanship may be passable for his personal chances for reelection, but it won't do a thing for down ticket and helping win back the House and keeping the Senate.

                          •  What is this? The Stawman Olympics? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            virginislandsguy
                            Dems to win in 2012 or not?

                            Of course. We disagree about strategy, and that means my head is in the sand?  Hilarious.

                            They have to step up with some action on the unemployment situation and on the rhetoric that puts them unequivocally on the side of the middle class and protecting SS and Medicare, while the GOP is on the side of destroying them.

                            What action? I thought we were talking about the bully pulpit? Tell me specifically how Obama is supposed to throw his weight around via the bully pulpit to 'step up action on the unemployment situation'?  Again, be specific: show me a actionable path to an actual job creation program by Obama, you know, talking.  

                            It isn’t that Obama isn't offering job creation proposals — he has been for many months.  And it isn’t that Obama hasn’t signed job creation legislation — he did last December. There are plenty of ideas about job creation, but political realities make legislation and  implementation unlikely. That ship sailed in 2010.  My head is in the sand? SRSLY, you think Obama can bully pulpit his way into a situation where the GOP acquiesces to another stimulus package or some other spending solution to job creation? In this environment? We can wish that an old-fashioned Democratic job creation program were feasible, but it really isn't politically possible right now.  Even if it were (and I seriously doubt it) the public has no will for that. Polling pretty consistently shows that folks generally don’t like the idea of stimulus, or special projects, but are somewhat open to long-term investments to build and secure the future — and that's exactly what Obama has been proposing since, well forever.

                            ...unequivocally on the side of the middle class and protecting SS and Medicare, while the GOP is on the side of destroying them.

                            More bully pulpit? Or better bully pulpit?  Per Medicare, Obama has repeatedly promised to protect the program, calling it "a sacred trust that must be passed on to future generations".  He's been doing that since '09. He's also said (repeatedly) that the Ryan plan will "end Medicare as we know it." His April 13th speech has been described as "the most ambitious defense he may have ever attempted of American liberalism and of what it means to be a Democrat".

                            Obama did draw a hard line on defending Medicare’s core mission, and crucially, he did so while reiterating the speech’s larger message, which was that the Democratic version of the social contract is inviolable.

                            “I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society,” he said. “We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.

                            Sounds like a bully pulpit to me, but you claim he doesn't even advocate his own party platform.  -smh-

                            On social security, direct from the bully pulpit:

                            WASHINGTON – On the 75th anniversary of Social Security being signed into law, President Obama promised that he would protect it from the Republican leaders in Congress who have made privatization a key part of their agenda. Despite the financial crisis, they still believe that gambling Social Security on Wall Street is a good idea.  This President will not let that happen.  For several generations, Social Security has been a promise to America’s seniors – that they will have the chance to retire with dignity – and he will safeguard that promise.

                            Thowing his rhetorical weight around a bit there, no?

                            Obama has to lead on this.

                            It's my contention that he is.  What he needs is for people to listen and to follow (both subjects I've touched on thoughout this discussion). I intend to help him. I'll be canvassing, registering new voters, phone-banking, and taking people to the polls just like I did in 2008. I take every opportunity to express my views on the disasterous ideas and schemes of the GOP — to friends, colleagues, family, people in line at the grocery store, and anyone who's willing to listen.

                            Apart from perpetuating the right's 'Obama is Weak' meme, what are your plans?

                            Motley Moose: Progress Through Politics

                            by Fogiv on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 02:42:55 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  One thing he could (0+ / 0-)

                            and should do is stop talking about deficits and start talking about creating jobs as the priority. Whatever the president chooses to push as a priority in the public discourse becomes a focus of the public discourse. The GOP wants the deficit and the cutting of signature Dem programs to be the priority and that's what they (very successfully) push constantly. The public discourse is what helps create the space for policy actions. The GOP's success at it is why all the air now is taken up by talk of deficits, and job creation has just about completely slipped off the radar.

                            Because it's important to shut up and pretend Obama is perfect and couldn't possibly benefit from pressure to do things any differently.

                            Why don't you just post one of those photos now of Obama saying "I've got this" and leave it at that?

                          •  Gold Medal (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            virginislandsguy
                            Because it's important to shut up and pretend Obama is perfect and couldn't possibly benefit from pressure to do things any differently.

                            Ahhh, so this is the strawman Olympics.

                            This is what, your fifth or sixth response to me, and you have yet to address a single one of my points. At long last, you've at least answered a simple question.  Good for you.

                            The GOP's success at it is why all the air now is taken up by talk of deficits, and job creation has just about completely slipped off the radar.

                            Agreed 100%.  Now let's look at why that is: the GOP has spent more than 30 years beating that drum, and a majority of Americans of all political persuasions now believe that cutting back on federal spending should be a major focus of efforts to reduce the deficit.

                            Given a forced choice, Republicans almost uniformly place blame for the deficit on too much federal spending, rather than a shortage of tax revenue. Majorities of independents and Democrats agree, albeit by somewhat smaller margins.

                            Accordingly, Americans generally favor spending cuts rather than tax increases as the way for Congress to reduce the deficit going forward.

                            There's your 'public discourse' right there. Turn that around and you'll have plenty of space for policy action. You continue to cling to the notion that if Obama says, I dunno, the same goddamned stuff he usually says (except I guess with additional 'weight throwing' -- whatever the fuck that means), that he'll be able to undo more than three decades of Republican propaganda...all by November? I'm afarid you credit his rhetorical prowess with more preternatural power than the most rabid Obamabot. That's pretty funny actually.

                            Your ridiculously simple analysis ignores a number of significant variables (I've directly alluded to some of these already and no response from you). This shit doesn't go down in a vacuum. Albiet awkwardly and vaguely, you sound like your calling for a game of brinksmanship against an opponent who has the ability (and demonstrated will) to default the Nation by preventing a raise of the debt ceiling. Yeah, good call, I'm sure that'll work out well for everyone.

                            Why don't you just post one of those photos now of Obama saying "I've got this" and leave it at that?

                            Because I'm actually interested in your views, even if I don't agree with them. I enjoy having my opinions challenged. Because you either can't or won't address my specific points, I can only assume that you don't.

                            Have fun storming the castle or whatever.  Say 'hello' to Sancho for me.

                            Motley Moose: Progress Through Politics

                            by Fogiv on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 04:20:41 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

  •  One of the best arguments (0+ / 0-)

    for a monarchy and parliament I have heard. Aye, there's the rub as another supporter of monarchy said once.

  •  I just posted this comment which goes to the heart (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fogiv, Larsstephens, pstoller78

    of the misunderstanding many folks have about this 11th Dimensional Chess thing.

    Silly one, 11th dimensional chess is just a more modern name for The Art of War.

    4)    2. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.

    1)    22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

    1)    20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

    4)    16. The consummate leader cultivates the Moral Law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success.

    4)    20. The onrush of a conquering force is like the bursting of pent-up waters into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep. So much for tactical dispositions.

    4)    30. Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy: — this is the art of retaining self-possession.

    5)    13. The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.

    5)    17. Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline; simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.

    11)    60. Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy’s purpose.

    11)    67. Walk in the path defined by rule, and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle.

    So as we can see, Obama is playing it straight by the book.

    It's just that politicos don't read Eastern philosophy or so it seems.

    If anyone hasn't seen this yet, enjoy.

    No one is outside the circle of the heart

    by kafkananda on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 08:54:00 PM PDT

  •  Obama won't take a stand, won't committ (0+ / 0-)

    and that is why the Dems lost the house.


    80% of SUCCESS is

    JUST

    showing up

    by Churchill on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 11:46:09 PM PDT

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