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So opines E. J. Dionne in this Washington Post op ed this morning.  He means that in a specific sense:  

Obama is defending a tradition that sees government as an essential actor in the nation’s economy, a guarantor of fair rules of competition, a countervailing force against excessive private power, a check on the inequalities that capitalism can produce, and an instrument that can open opportunity for those born without great advantages.
 Against this he poses the Republicans as extreme radicals:  Rick Perry promising to make the national government "inconsequential" is but one example.

All of the Republicans tout this election as the most important in history, warning of the dangers Obama supposedly represents to kind of America they seem to think the people want, and which they advocate.  The President counters, agreeing on the importance, as he noted in his speech in Osawatomie, Kansas:  

“This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.”

Please keep reading.

Republicans are increasingly inclined to argue that any redistribution (and Social Security, Medicare, student loans, veterans benefits and food stamps are all redistributive) is but a step down the road to some radically egalitarian dystopia.
  They are thus repeating rhetoric that did not work for them in opposing Social Security and in opposing the Great Society programs.  When they phrase things like this, as Paul Ryan did in a budget that proposed elimination of Medicare, the American people react viscerally, and negatively.

Which leads to Dionne's final paragraph, which summarizes and makes a prediction:  

Obama will thus be the conservative in 2012, in the truest sense of that word. He is the candidate defending the modestly redistributive and regulatory government the country has relied on since the New Deal, and that neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush dismantled. The rhetoric of the 2012 Republicans suggests they want to go far beyond where Reagan or Bush ever went. And here’s the irony: By raising the stakes of 2012 so high, Republicans will be playing into Obama’s hands. The GOP might well win a referendum on the state of the economy. But if this is instead a larger-scale referendum on whether government should be “inconsequential,” Republicans will find the consequences to be very disappointing.

that neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush dismantled -  true, but the current Republican candidates and much of the base of their party would consider both of those conservative Republican presidents as dangerous liberals.

Dionne is right at least in part.  Republicans might be able to run against the government in general:  after all, Reagan gained support by saying that the great lie was that I'm from the government and I'm here to help you. But as soon as you get into specifics - Social Security and Medicare being the prime examples - the pushback from the American people is palpable.

The Republicans have been forced to phrase their attacks as trying to 'save' Social Security and Medicare.  But somehow in their attempts to pander to the most radical parts of their base, they go way too far.  And when they attack benefits for veterans, they galvanize those without whom they have no hope of winning, especially given how few of them or members of their family have any military experience, have ever been put in harm's way.

I know that some will be cynical, and assume the Democrats will still find a way to f&*% it up.  

But consider -  there are now economists who are saying that predictions of stagnation and lack of job creation may be understating what is actually going on in the economy, and that unemployment could well be heading down by mid-summer.  

What if unemployment drops below 8% by September or October?  What if the economy is by summer growing at almost 3%?  How would that change the political dynamics?

Right now Obama has risen in the approval of the American people precisely because they have seen what the alternative represents, especially in the sheer stupidity of the House Republicans in addressing the approaching expiration of the payroll tax cut and the extended unemployment benefits.

Dionne posits an opposition between the state of the economy and the idea whether government should be "inconsequential."  But what if the state of the economy is improving, will the Republican candidate still even have an argument?

I posit another opposition -   between Barack Obama, a president in whom many (including me) are disappointed but who is viewed favorably personally by most of the American people despite 3+ years of Republican attempts to demonize him, and ANY of the Republican candidates, each of whom has something which will, upon closer scrutiny, give Americans further reason to distrust them.

Obama - and the American people - can be grateful in how lucky he is in his opponents, in how they are choosing to run this primary campaign.  May it continue, with all of its nastiness and vitriol, for at least another 4-5 months.  

And yes, in the best sense of the word, of preserving that which works, which matters to the American people, Barack Obama is the true conservative this cycle.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (120+ / 0-)

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 03:21:10 AM PST

  •  well, apparently the title puts people off (10+ / 0-)

    so I will modify very slightly to make clear it is not my statement.  Doubt it will make a difference.  Oh well.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 03:50:50 AM PST

  •  President Obama does benefit from the foibles (29+ / 0-)

    of Repubs, but the country suffers from the lack of a serious opposition with real ideas about how to solve our current economic and employment problems. That's why I don't engage in applauding the latest batshit declaration from Bachmann or the comical flip-flopping of Mitt Romney or the complete and utter hypocrisy of Newt Gingrich. Their lack of viability and serious ideas is embarrassing. I've told family members who consider themselves "moderate Republicans" that the President is the only person in the race representing those values. Just for the record, thats not a good thing from my perspective. And without serious opposition, we remain muddled in an unsustainable and destructive status quo in Washington.

    •  The only way to change this paradigm is to elect.. (14+ / 0-)

      better progressives next November.

      I've told family members who consider themselves "moderate Republicans" that the President is the only person in the race representing those values.

      The current crop of Democrats have enabled this scenario. If the president had encountered more resistance from Congress in the early days of his administration we'd probably be in a different place right now.

      I really think the prolonged healthcare fight and subsequent cave in on the public option and negotiating lower prescription drug prices issue actually set the rightward-drifting tone of the Obama administration.

      Ultimately, a lot of this was the fault of Obama. But you can also thank corporate shills like Rahm Emanuel, Max Baucus and Kent Conrad, among others for that.

      We need to clean our own house out at the same time we bring more progressives into Congress.  

      •  It's a party-wide problem not merely an individual (34+ / 0-)

        problem, as this recent Thomas Edsall column notes.  His depiction of the legislator/lobbyist revolving door isolates one of several symptoms of the disease:

        For Obama and Democratic leaders who are trying to set an election agenda focused on income inequality, wage stagnation, and downward mobility for the middle and lower class, the prominence of Democratic lobbyists has become problematic.
        *
        Jeff Hauser, a spokesman for the A.F.L.-C.I.O., said the role of former Democrats in representing corporate America is one of the reasons that the umbrella labor organization has recently broken its firm allegiance to the Democratic Party. “We can’t be positioned as attached to the Democratic Party because there are elements of the party that have contributed to the 99 percent versus 1 percent division in this country,” he said. Hauser cited a key speech by A.F.L.-C.I.O. president Richard Trumka on May 20 declaring organized labor’s independence from either party:
        *
        With examples like this before them, most incumbent members, as they go about their daily routine of casting votes and attending committee meetings, must have in the back of their minds an awareness that they are likely to go into the influence-peddling business in the future. This knowledge inevitably influences – and arguably corrupts – their votes on legislation crucial to the interests most likely to hire them after they leave the halls of Congress.

        While I'd love to see some serious housecleaning in a party that desperately needs it, I don't see a single Senate primary challenge on the horizon.  We've only attempted 2 of them in the history of this site, and neither one succeeded.  I'd like to see focus on such attempts instead of a focus on Romney's latest flip-flop or other continuing GOP BS.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 06:42:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree. It's tough to wage primary challenges... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sam I Am, Matt Z, ozsea1, elwior

          when we've got to play defense in so many Senate races this year.

          While I'd love to see some serious housecleaning in a party that desperately needs it, I don't see a single Senate primary challenge on the horizon.

          It might be easier to go on offense in the House. We should probably limit our primary challenge targets to a few of the most extreme blue dogs.

        •  Great comment! (13+ / 0-)

          couldn't agree more.  

          Rahm Emanuel hates progressives more that he hates republicans, and he really hates republicans.  And the national democrats are worthless.

          As well as trying to change the makeup of the party, I think we should also focus on state and local elections.  We have seen how much evil republicans can accomplish by just controlling the state houses.  And they went full shock and awe, especially in the midwest.

          So we need to continue with the 50-state strategy.

          oh wait....

          You want my ideas on improving education? Whatever Arne Duncan proposes, do the opposite.

          by Indiana Bob on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 06:55:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Even controlling the House (0+ / 0-)

            at the federal level puts them in power to create gridlock.

            It doesn't really matter if President Obama gets re-elected, IMHO.  Without majorities in both houses of Congress, it will be a lame duck presidency.

            •  still more likely to retake H than keep S (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              high uintas, Jerry J, Ohkwai, elwior

              IF we do keep Senate, hope they have sense to change the rules to cut down on the gridlock

              perhaps Harry Reid will force a couple of actual filibusters this year -  would make for great TV, and would give both our S candidates and the President a powerful political weapon

              "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

              by teacherken on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:44:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Wouldn't change much. (0+ / 0-)

                As long as one third of the equation (House/Senate/Presidency) has a super-majority, we are in perpetual gridlock.

                I laughingly call my conservative friends idiots when I hear them carry on about Boehner not pushing for passage of bills to fulfill the GOP campaign promises of of 2010.  They are in the same boat as the Dems.  Without all three, nothing gets done these days.

            •  Gridlock is the lesser evil (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Matt Z, elwior

              Much as I hate to say this, it could at least keep them from doing worse things until we can get stronger.

            •  Democrats had majorities in both houses. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angstall, slatsg

              Americans got Romney-care, extended Patriot Act, expanded warfare in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and failed to restore Glass-Steagall.

              The real enemy of the good is not the perfect, but the mediocre.

              by Orange County Liberal on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 01:21:46 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Democratic Party House cleaning (8+ / 0-)

          Start by pulling up the curtain on the DLC and its mutant spawn, Third Way.  Let us examine the rotten fruits of High Incrementalism:

          NAFTA
          GATT  
          DADT
          Telecom
          Graham Leach Bliley
          Patriots Acts
          AUMF-Iraq
          Bancruptcy Bill
          TARP
          HCR
          Bush/Obama tax cuts for the rich

          Have these policies help or hindered the Middle Class?  

          Let us further examine the Third Way, Non Democratic position paper on Entitlement Reform.  

          Let us look back to the health care debate and ask who were the ones stomping their feet and until they got their PONY?  Was it these folks?

          Landrieu
          Lieberman
          Nelson
          Baucus
          Conrad
          Lincoln

          IMHO, these folks have done more in the last 25 years to roll back the New Deal than Republicans could dream of.  When will we recongnize that these guys and gals are Non-Democrats.  How long will will let this minority of elected Democrats (so called) run our show?

          IMHO, this steaming pile of increMENTALism is leading us incrementally to irrelavance or extincion as a political party.

          Is very bad to steal jobu's rum...is very bad

          by jobu on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 09:41:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I would say that given the extent of Republican (12+ / 0-)

    political stupidity, we (as Democrats) have every right to expose every ridiculous argument that the GOP makes. We would also be morally obligated to do so.

  •  In the 2012 elections, we will need to fight hard (16+ / 0-)

    to give the President the House and Senate that he so desperately needs to effect meaningful change.  This will be the interesting story of the election in my opinion.  

    Can the Democratic Party deliver this? Will the Democratic base come together and come out and vote to make this happen as well?  

    On another note, economic numbers aside, the president is blessed with a potential opponent that will be so out of touch with the mainstream Americans that it won't even be funny.  It will take some serious P.R. in the President's campaign to tell the truth of just what the alternative is:  This has me worried as the past actions of getting ahead of the media story and winning the messaging wars has been anemic at best.  On a final note, add to this the voter suppression issues, and we have a Wild West show coming up for the 2012 election.

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution, inevitable." - President John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

    by LamontCranston on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 05:05:00 AM PST

    •  Media worm has begun to turn somewhat (11+ / 0-)

      as critical coverage of recent House Republican debacle seems to indicate

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 05:12:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Which is why we must work on the message. NT (4+ / 0-)
    •  My only qualm with this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladyjames, Orange County Liberal

      I agree that we must have a control and any democrat is better than a republican. I'll concede that point even though I question what some consider the definition.

      Let's say we do have a democratically controlled house and senate with true blue progressive ideas. Are we to assume, considering past actions, that this administration would support those ideas. Or would it be more probable that this administration would work on it's own to water down legislation in support of its more conservative stance? It's been very evident that they are more willing to negotiate with the right than the left and have in fact expected the left to accept what they decide "can be" brought to the table.

      So what I'm saying is that yes we need to re-elect the President as the lesser of evils. Yes we have to provide control of both houses but don't we also continue to pull leftward to advance in the correct direction and make that known loud and clear to anyone that might ask for our support in the future?

      ...it is possible in America to govern entirely on the appearance of principle--while changing absolutely nothing~Matt Taibbi

      by LaEscapee on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 10:06:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We need progressive bills/legislation to be able (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LaEscapee

        to pass through their respective committees, and then we shall see how the voting would go in terms of the House, and then eventually on the Senate should they get passed.  What the President does next with his powers of either veto or signing is another story as well.  

        "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution, inevitable." - President John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

        by LamontCranston on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 11:59:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Obama wants to effect meaningful change? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Orange County Liberal
    •  There's a bigger question. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, LaEscapee

      If Democrats do manage to deliver the House and retain the Senate and White House, will they govern in 2013 like they did in 2009?

      The White House had the largest Congressional majority we may see for a generation, and they squandred it. How do you think the Democratic leadership'll do with a slim margin in each house, which is a best case scenario at this point?

      The real enemy of the good is not the perfect, but the mediocre.

      by Orange County Liberal on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 01:27:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are two populations which are (8+ / 0-)

    threatened by effective popular government--petty potentates who claim to rule, rather than serve, and the insurance industry which thrives on potential catastrophe.
    So, one could say that lax legislators and insecurity mongers are working hand in glove to promote their own interests.  Indeed, if we look closely, we see that many a legislator is actually a minion of the insurance industry.

    Insurance, protection and extortion are a package deal.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 05:38:41 AM PST

  •  That's actually how I explain my support of Obama (5+ / 0-)

    most of the time: Obama is a good steward that will tend to national affairs without radically revising them (the public option was especially explicable in these terms: it would put government provision of health care up against private provision, and we could have a little social science lab experiment to see which has the more efficient delivery system)

  •  President Obama is the luckiest president... (7+ / 0-)

    ...in a while. The Pachyderms are running a collection of straight up clowns and he will demolish whoever is left in the clown car that is the Republican primary. The Corporate Media will waste their time playing the horse race game over the next year, but I don't think it'll matter. Obama versus whatever Pachyderm--he'll clobber them.

    As for conservative as Dionne describes it here? Yes, he's right.

    The rule is, "don't be a dick" - kos

    by cybrestrike on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 05:55:01 AM PST

    •  It's almost scary to consider (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LABobsterofAnaheim, Matt Z, ozsea1

      You can lay out various scenarios for the 2012 election, along these lines:

      1. Obama wins
      2. Romney wins
      3. Teabagger wins

      Etc.

      So assume any of those outcomes, and consider the result. They all have serious downsides, potentially. For example, let's just take case 1 (my preference), with Obama winning handily, as he should.

      In this event, the republican party will draw the conclusion that this year's lineup of candidates were all too liberal and socialist by nature, and that a real Teabagger, a true 'conservative' would have won. So they'll lurch further to the right - if that's even possible.

      Now, that would not likely be their route to victory, but it's hard to see them drifting back to a sane center position. And that means that the general narrative, the Overton window, will still get pushed to the right.

      Every day's another chance to stick it to the man. - dls

      by The Raven on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 08:11:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not so sure. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Raven, Matt Z, ozsea1

        You loose enough elections and gather no meaningful victories, the number of true believers will decrease. It's not an immediate happening, but it definitely happens. A few diehards hang on, but most drift away and gradually alter their positions or, considering the age of the teapartiers, simply die off.

        Just look at what happened to the closest America ever got to having a large and vibrant "far left" or whatever you care to call it, back in the late sixties and early seventies. Now, imagine if they were largely elderly.

        Forward to Yesterday -- Reactionary aesthetics and liberal politics (in that order)

        by LABobsterofAnaheim on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 09:50:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  EJ is *this* correct about that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Indiana Bob, Sam I Am, ozsea1

    Ron Paul is the GOP's biggest terror right now, because his polls show that he's a true threat right now.

    Not only that, but he's a real conservative.  He believes in non-interventionism.  He believes in private freedoms.  He really is a true Constitutionalist, which threatens the daylights out of the crony Republicans, and he really might do something about abortion which would obliterate the GOP's most effective wedge issue.

    The entire Republican echo chamber has been beating the drum of anticonservatism for years now, so the last thing they need is an old skool conservative winning the nomination.  The Republican machine needs, instead, a radical extremist to set up a clear contrast to conservative Barack Obama so they can run on a "change" platform.

    Teddy had the Square Deal. FDR had the New Deal. Obama's got the BFD.

    by thenekkidtruth on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 06:16:40 AM PST

  •  A right wing party and a fascist party (21+ / 0-)

    That is the choice our political parties offer us.

    They are with the 1%

  •  He was the conservative in 2008 too. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybrestrike

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 06:19:38 AM PST

  •  Banksters Choice (8+ / 0-)

    Follow the money.  Look at the record of prosecutions of fraud.  Look at the men in the WH.  

  •  There's a larger and more meaningful (8+ / 0-)

    issue at stake for President Obama, and you've touched on it here.  In everything he's written and fought for, the underlying concern is demonizing and destroying effective government. He's done an astonishing job creating the environment that's revealingthe true Republican agenda, despite a hostile press and a profound lack of support from the talking heads of both the Right and the Left.  This will be a campaign for history books, and perhaps our last shot at moving successfully into the 21st Century.

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 06:27:35 AM PST

  •  Define conservatism and GOP ain it (4+ / 0-)

    Caution.

    Atttention to history and in particular precedent.

    Respect for establish traditions.

    Paying one's bills.

    Emphasis on personal responsbility. I had wanted to do all of these without comment, but this one screams for one. the GOP gives lip service to taking responsibility for one's actions, but it's actions are on behalf od allowing bottom feeders to get an extra visit to the trough. The attack on regulation, 30 years ago, was joined with the opiniopn that our system allowed for civil suits and stuff to correct things, which is like relying on an emergency froom for your health care, but when you get down to it they don't like it when civil litigation at all works to punish wrongdoing. All of the things we think of as going wrong with the economy were done as policy bthe anti-responsibility folks.

    Sensibile pursuit of enlightened self-interest.

    Respect for the solemnity of taking a human life.

    Equal justice under the law.

    Every one of those principles is, at essence, conservative. The GOP is against it all. I used to say that its only principle was obedience, but the 2011 House puts the lie to that.

    Have you heard? The vice president's gone mad. - Bob Dylan, 1966

    by textus on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 06:40:22 AM PST

  •  would prefer the repubs to implode & (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miningcityguy, sfbob, Matt Z

    our 2 party system gets made up of democrat conservatives like Obama, Hillary, etc on the right and a true progressive party on the left

    till then, I'm 100% for Obama

  •  What if unemployment drops? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BradyB, OneCharmingBastard, pot

    What if unicorns come from planet zorgon and shit petroleum while eating plastic from the great Pacific garbage patch?

    The two things Teabaggers hate most are: being called racists; and black people.

    "It takes balls to execute an innocent man." -- anonymous GOP focus group member on Rick Perry

    by Punditus Maximus on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:35:32 AM PST

    •  there are serious economists (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BradyB, Sam I Am, Matt Z, SwedishJewfish

      who looking at the data and the trends are predicting that right now.  

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:45:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Most "serious" economists (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cybrestrike, ladyjames, pot

        said that the current crisis was impossible, while looking at the data and the trends.

        The banksters aren't in jail.  The Depression will continue indefinitely, because any time things get a little better, they'll use it to juice up another bubble and then walk away with the profits.   cf: MF Global.

        We will have a Depression until we recreate the regulatory environment that allowed us to escape the previous one.

        The two things Teabaggers hate most are: being called racists; and black people.

        "It takes balls to execute an innocent man." -- anonymous GOP focus group member on Rick Perry

        by Punditus Maximus on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 09:47:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Unemployment drop Or... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Punditus Maximus

        ...the petroleum-shitting unicorns?

        With serious economists - particularly those from Chicago - one never knows!

  •  He's Also a Conservative in the Modern American (8+ / 0-)

    sense of the word as is the Democratic Party.

    Since the days of the Beatles Democratic Administrations and congresses, like those of the Republicans, have always left the people (taken as a whole) with at least a little less opportunity, support and protections and always left the rich and their enterprises with more.

    This one will do the same and so will the next ones of either party.

    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 Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:57:29 AM PST

    •  I thought things boomed under Clinton (0+ / 0-)

      And Obama had a mandate to do things differently, but he just didn't have the clout to pull it off. I new that progressives were in trouble when the Dems decided to keep Lieberman's seniority even after he jumped ship and endorsed McCain.

      "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

      by shmuelman on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 08:52:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am not disappointed in the President. On the (4+ / 0-)

    contrary.  This article, to be fair should also include the fact that many people are proud to support Barack Obama, trust him, and can't wait to work to the best of their ability to reelect him.  To the GOP and their "tactics" of hate, division and undermining the economy to get back in charge, I would say to remember that the end doesn't justify the means, the means will determine the end.  Their embrace of enmity will be their undoing and it has nothing to do with the President's "luck", in my opinion.  

  •  I genuinely believe that the……………… (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    best gift the left can receive in 2012 is a continuing, long and drawn-out Rethug POTUS  primary process.  With all the Rethug candidates pandering to the radical wing-nut, right-wing base across the nation; BHO will appear to the voters in the middle to be adult, sane and presidential.  

    While Mittens and Huntsman don’t pander as much as the remainder of the looney occupants of the Clown Car; if nominated,  neither will be able to excite the Rethug base, specifically southern evangelicals, in the General. In addition, Rethug obstructionism in Congress and ads featuring clips and sound bites from the endless debates; should serve to keep most progressive voters engaged; if out of nothing more than downright fear.

    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--HDT

    by cazcee on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 08:18:30 AM PST

  •  Yes, but (0+ / 0-)

    we already knew this in 2008.

    We're losing the remaining conservative white Democratic voters to 'Independent'/not voting and then the GOP anyway.  That was pretty much the point of the 2010 elections.  And conservative black voters are to appearances only sticking around while Obama holds office.

  •  They are redistributive.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kurt Sperry, cybrestrike, ladyjames

    Republicans are increasingly inclined to argue that any redistribution (and Social Security, Medicare, student loans, veterans benefits and food stamps are all redistributive) is but a step down the road to some radically egalitarian dystopia.

    And so are tax cuts for billionaires, wars, tax abatements for corporations, etc.   Nothing can change without have an impact - good, bad or indifferent.   What these corporate tools want is everything to redistribute UP.  

    I do not approve of Obama, but I have no alternative.   If he had any sane competition, he'd be toast.   We have to elect as many Democrats as possible to make it as impossible as we can for Obama to cut social security, medicare and medicaid.   Maybe if pigs fly, we might even get single pay for the nation.  

    You can't see a new shore unless you let go of the coast.

    by dkmich on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 08:21:51 AM PST

  •  I hate to burst your bubble (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sunspots, cybrestrike

    When the European economy collapses, unemployment will sky rocket in this country. IN addition, the fundamental practices of banking institutions/investors has not changed, and the economy remains gamed.

    But indulge in your fantasies of Obama as a protector of the middle class. You're gonna need fantasies to get throught the next couple of years, unless you're part of the occupy dissent movement.

  •  Dionne is basically correct, of course. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kurt Sperry, Matt Z

    Conservative vs. reactionary in 2012.

    Let us keep in mind that most of the New Deal was essentially a series of conservative programs, adopted in order to stabilize the existing economic system and co-opt the Socialist and Communist parties who were gaining strength at the time.  Likewise the Progressive reforms of the turn of the 20th century, to head off the Socialist/Populist threat of that era.

    Voter suppression laws were passed because of Populist gains, and the Socialists elected hundred of local officials, as well as showing surprising strength for Debs (6%) running for President agains TWO "progressives" and a "stand-pat" Republican

    Perhaps a rough analogy would be the Occupy/99% movements of today.

    We seek to rise WITH the working class, not OUT of it.

    by brae70 on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 08:40:22 AM PST

  •  Great diary Ken (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, kalmoth, Matt Z

    And yes, a belief in small "d" democracy, the common welfare, and effective government are truly conservative values. Just as equality for all and the idea of rising tides lifting all boats. The right wing are riding an extremist crazy train with no regard for their own country.

    "But much to my surprise when I opened my eyes I was the victim of the great compromise." John Prine

    by high uintas on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 08:43:25 AM PST

  •  Obama is a Reagan "conservative". (6+ / 0-)

    Dionne engages in wishful thinking as Obama's words and actions bespeak a solid Reagan "conservative" presidency.

    1. Social Security and Medicare - the key issue and Obama sides with Reagan, stating that SS and Medicare and are in a fiscal "crisis" and have to be "reformed" while proposing and signing real cuts in funding and benefits.  This is dishonest Reaganomics at its worst since SS and Medicare are not in "crisis", have not contributed to national debt, are efficient and necessary programs especially after the Reagaonomics caused Great Recession where deregulated Wall St destroyed trillions in working American's pensions and home investments.

    2. Defense spending - any key Reaganomics issue, massive overspending on military.  Obama will have spent $5T when his term ends next year. In the same period, US "threats" of Russia and China will have spent $1T combined.

    3. Taxes - Reaganomics infinite tax cuts, Obama extending the Bush tax cuts while campaigning on killing them says it all.  Adding $3T in deficit and debt. Failure to propose real tax reform that taxes the top 1% to whom the wealth of nation has been shifted BY TAX and DEREGULATION policy.  Obama's recent fight to defund Social Security with his "payroll tax cut" is the essence of dishonest Reaganomics.

    Their are other issues but these are the keys to the fake conservatism of Reaganomics and on every issue, Obama is following the Reaganomics.  Obama's praise of Reagan as a great president when US troubles begin with Reagan, reversal of Nixon/Carter oil reduction policies, the Middle East oil wars, the deficit and debt, the decade of greed that saw US mfg base destroyed, unions attacked.  Obama's praise of Reagan, Obama's Reagan policies reveal Obama as a true Reagan "conservative".

  •  The columnist is correct... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybrestrike, Escamillo, Byblis, Matt Z

    in defining the Republicans as radical reactionaries.

  •  Dionne is splitting hairs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, ladyjames

    Dionne is splitting hairs and writing for the inside the Beltway.  

    Obama will be judged on his successes v his failures.  

    Obama - and the American people - can be grateful in how lucky he is in his opponents, in how they are choosing to run this primary campaign.

    I respectfully disagree.  We are not lucky.  Nor should we be grateful.  We are most unlucky in that the batshit craziness of the Republicans is causing many to overlook the failures of the Obama administration.  

    I don't happen to think Republican crazy v Democratic incompetence is a good thing for the country.  It is a sad commentary on the current political situation.  

    It is even sadder because the country suffers and can gets kicked down the road.  

    I am not grateful for the abysmal to mediocre scale that is now our political reality.  

    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich: I'm loving it.

    by NyteByrd1954 on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 10:21:10 AM PST

    •  Obama the politician and the party establishment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NyteByrd1954

      are "lucky". In The Village that means "we" are lucky...

      Just as the first class passengers on the Titanic were "lucky" to get the lifeboats... because the steerage class passengers were locked below decks...

      If only donkeys could have elephant balls... Occupy!

      by chuckvw on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 11:51:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This country was founded by conservatives (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nisi Prius

    Today's so-called "conservatives" and not conservatives. They are oligarchic authoritarian reactionary bigots with brains the size of goat droppings. To be a conservative is to proceed carefully and seek to preserve that which works and is good. It does not preclude being a liberal or even progressive too.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 10:21:46 AM PST

    •  Nope. US founders radical leftists in 1700's (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladyjames, Matt Z, pot

      US at it's founding was a the radical left hippie commune of its day.

      •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

        Virtually all were well-educated white landowning males of privilege seeking to protect their property and political rights from the arbitrary encroachments of the king and parliament. Although many of them clearly believed in liberal ideas and the common good, it was nevertheless much more of a libertarian than a liberal revolution, that became much more conservative upon ratification of the constitution. Upon what do you base your conclusion?

        That they were to the left of the king and parliament didn't make them radical far lefties any more so than does Obama's being to the left of today's GOP. You're thinking of exceptions like Franklin and Paine, who wanted universal suffrage and to free all slaves, not the mainstream, represented by property and states rights libertarians like Jefferson or Madison, or conservatives like Washington and Hamilton, who favored the interests of rich businessmen.

        Now the French Revolution, THAT was the far left of its day.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 01:08:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You confuse 1700's with 2100's. (0+ / 0-)
          "Virtually all were well-educated white landowning males of privilege"

          Which allowed them to be radical, leftists of their day.  Wealth and education, then as today, produces many liberal activists.

          "Now the French Revolution, THAT was the far left of its day."

          Taking its inspiration from the leftist revolution of its day, the founding of the democratic American Republic.  US was much more democratic than the French revolutionary governments.

          You take people and events out historical context.

          •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

            Re-read my comments. You're projecting modern conservative labels onto a late 18th century definition of conservatism, just as you're doing with liberal definitions. The real "radical far-lefties" of the late 18th century were calling for universal suffrage, complete abolition and full integration of freed slaves into society, and virtually none of them were represented in the main or even secondary founders groups, except maybe Paine and Franklin.

            Virtually all the founders were against most of these things, except abolition, which some were against and some for, and even then, only some of the pro-abolition founders were for complete integration, most supporting returning freed slaves to Africa. Hell, some of the founders even advocated for a limited US monarchy instead of elected president! That was far-left radicalism?!?

            There were certainly true LW radicals back then, but they weren't major participants in the revolution, which was a conservative revolution led by men of power and means intended to free THEM from British control, akin to an officers' mutiny. They didn't like the subordinate political position they were locked into within the British empire, considering their growing wealth and economic importance in it, and after having futily petitioned for full rights within that empire--for themselves more than for their countrymen--they decided to just break free and start their own country, and eventually empire.

            Wood's take on the American Revolution isn't the only one, you know.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 08:58:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I remember several years ago (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    someone commented that the contemporary Republican party is not 'conservative' in any sense.  They do not wish to conserve the status quo, but rather radically alter it.  They do not wish to 'conserve' the Constitution, or natural resources, or financial resources, or really anything.

    It has fallen to the Democratic party to be both the conservatives and the liberals, while the Republicans are right wing radicals.  

  •  What is Dionne smoking? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scorpiorising

    The democratic congress, including Senator Obama, passed TARP.  Wall St. profits in his first two years as President exceeded the combined profits of the previous 7 years combined.

    The expiring Bush tax cuts were extended by democratic majority and the urging of the President.

    Corporate profits as a share of the GDP are highest since 1960 while workers wages are the lowest as share since '64.

    1 in 5 in the country are living in poverty. 1 out of two are poor or living in poverty.

  •  I love Dionne's article (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CrissieP, Matt Z

    because I agree 100%. One of my great peeves is that word "conservative being used by delusional people. I know that for a faction of lefties, calling Obama conservative is pejorative and will love it as accusation, but that's not what Dionne meant and it's not what I think. I believe I'm conservative, in that, I believe we have to progress deliberately. To many ( who I believe don't consider the real tradition of precarious elections of Democratic presidents) Obama's excruciatingly plodding pace is too much, and they just explode with righteous indignation. I believe that the president is just very keen to how a small misstep can topple his administration, and he smartly acts in line with tradition while shepharding congress and the nation as best as it can be. We are decidedly moving in the right direction on many fronts. To me it is an act of selfishness to become so mired in ones own issues - and being acutely critical of how the president has "failed" on those issues - that you don't see the broad curve that is the real responsibility of a president. I am a conservative. Not by choice, because I would love to demand what I want, but I see all 320 million people and we are all connected whether we like it or not, and I am incredibly impressed by how well this president adheres to his role as it is outlined by the constitution and by tradition, and by how he agitates toward progress on many fronts without tearing the nation apart. He's gonna win again, and things are gonna get better, and chances are we could parlay his well executed 8 years of progress into at least another 4 by anther sane Democrat and not long after that, while were witnessing some Democrat throw away the presidency with some stupid moves, or watching the already Republican president try to dismantle some of the progress, people will start realizing how lucky they were to have this guy.

  •  Multi-level quandary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scorpiorising, CentralMass, venger

    1.  Vote for Obama and reward the Democratic party for moving to the right into Republican territory.

    2.  Not vote for Obama and reward the hideously anti-American behavior of Republicans in Congress.

    3.  Vote at all and in doing so, participate in a corrupt system that will result in a loser for Americans no matter who wins.

    4.  Not vote and further destroy any remnant of a representative government.

    Wow!  What a choice!

    •  i'm sorry, but i've gotta say (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      there is no honest assessment of history that can claim the Democratic party has moved to the right in the way you imply.
      The country, on the other hand, has moved electorally to the right, and many of those who are Democrats - and are not that different from you in what they seek - have had to play the game on the field they've found themselves on. And unquestionably that field is a product of many votes not being counted, via a long tradition of voter suppression, and of an abandoned process by "progressives" too holy to see the grand play. Look, I beg you, at the voter turnout of any Republican victory and witness the scavenged power by Republicans of an election left behind by Nader voters, or abstainers. And yet, regardless of turnout, the narrative the very next day is of a "Republican Revolution," and "the center-right" nature of this country, and not a peep of the abandonment by voters.

      The only way to truly move left is to accept what you are, each of us, beyond our narcissistic love of our oh so astute assessments that "if they would just do this... or that!" and realize we only have one vote. If you use it, for what there is, and secure that place in the electorate then it will move the country where you want to go. But right now there is a president who is obviously liberal, if you can get past the easy pot shots on his actions that are taken knowing you are an unreliable supporter, and if you give him and his allies your support, then the next president will be one election's worth of confidence more committed to moving this behemoth country to the left.

      While you brood, Hamlet, the simple-minded Republican voters are already on line to make their point, even without their preferred candidate.

      •  Oh, my goodness. Such fervor! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CentralMass

        But, ya know, it kind of pisses me off that the fault you find is with me, the brooding Hamlet.

        The president is not "obviously liberal", nor is the Democratic party.

        The problem is not with me being an "unreliable supporter".  The problem is with the Democratic party and its candidates not being worthy of my support.  Period.  

        A pox on both your houses, Democrats and Republicans.  (That's Romeo and Juliet, not Hamlet.)

        •  yeah, i do. (0+ / 0-)

          Blame you, and every other theater critic voter. "oh heavens, the vulgarity of these players..."

          "worthy of my support."

          What arrogance. What fantasy!

          This president is far more liberal than you, and it is proved in the actual moves to the left that he has pragmatically made, while you have done what? complained?

          Get real or get bent. You and the rest of the drama queen left are and have been the flaw that's moved this country Right for the past 30 years.

          •  Whaaa. What a whiny-ass blamer. (0+ / 0-)

            Fuck the Democratic party.

            FYI, Bill Clinton's love of corporate big money turned the party to the right.  A true Democrat would have fought for campaign reform.  But, I suppose you think "lobbyists are people too", just like Hillary.

            •  you're an idiot (0+ / 0-)

              FYI, is no "I" at all. It's just your flippant opinion, made from glancing observation. I could give a fuck about Bill Clinton. He was a smarmy idiot who did more damage than good, and I don't know what a "true Democrat" is, and your advice to them is thinner than a campaign slogan. Oh, yeah, "campaign reform!" Whatever. Meanwhile the world still keeps spinning and elections keep happening and you can't even see that Obama is the best president any liberal is likely to get in this political environment. But you don't want to deal with that. You want to pop in after who knows how many years of not paying attention, and bitch that everything isn't to your satisfaction! Go fucking vote for Nader, or Ron Paul, you fucking tool, since your prissy obnoxiousness can't be slaked by reason or reality.

  •  mainstream (0+ / 0-)

    would be the word that would achieve the same thing and be more to my liking...mostly because it's true...President Obama is mainstream in that he represensts the concerns of mainstream America...unlike the Republicans who are radical extremists, standing up pretty much only for the filth richest one-tenth of one percent. That, in my opinion, is how this election should be framed. And with one key question, the President and other Democrats can help to achieve that:

    Why does my Republican opponent insist on making radical changes to Social Security and Medicare when only relatively minor adjusments are need to ensure their solvency well into the next century?

    That question, for me, encapsulates the difference between the President/Democrats and Republicans.

  •  Tipped and rec'd and hotlisted :) (0+ / 0-)

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 02:15:16 PM PST

  •  The only reason they're now calling him (0+ / 0-)

    a "conservative" is that it's increasingly apparent he's going to win.  Fucking Republican-occupied media and their framing rationalizations.

    A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it. --The First Law of Mentat

    by Troubadour on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 02:27:30 PM PST

    •  What would you call him... (0+ / 0-)

      what about neoliberal? What about traitor to democratic party values?

    •  If you put aside the bit about his record, he's (0+ / 0-)

      not conservative at all.

      Actually he has me fooled.  

      Doing a 180 and voting for the FISA Amendment/Tel-comm Immunity bill. Voting for the TARP Bill. Extending Bush's trickle down tax policy. Adding close to $5 trillion to the national debt in 3 years. Indefinite detentions. Engaging in military action without congressional approval.

      I take it this is a strategy for 2016?

      •  Yeah, I'm sure you can cherry-pick (0+ / 0-)

        decisions you don't like.  Congratulations finding a President who doesn't piss you off in all of history that way.

        A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it. --The First Law of Mentat

        by Troubadour on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 04:15:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Come on. If Bush was given another term we (0+ / 0-)

          wouldn't have seen much of a difference.

          •  don't be so sure (0+ / 0-)

            you'd still be in Iraq for starters and you might have attacked Iran

            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

            by teacherken on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:18:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ken, I was no fan of Bush but the withdrawl was (0+ / 0-)

              due to agreement made and signed during Bush's last year.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/...

              "In 2008, the US and Iraqi government signed the U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement which implments that all US forces would withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009 and that All US Forces would be mandated to withdraw from Iraqi territory by December 31, 2011 under the terms of a bilateral agreement. On December 14, 2008, then-U.S. President George W. Bush signed the security pact with Iraq. In his fourth and final trip to Iraq, the president appeared with Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and said more work is to be done."

              "On February 27, 2009, at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, President Barack Obama announced a deadline for the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. According to the president, by August 31, 2010, after nearly seven and a half years of United States military engagement in Iraq, all but a "transitional force" of 35,000 to 50,000 troops would be withdrawn from the Middle Eastern nation. President Obama defined the task of the transitional force as "training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq".[15] Under this plan, the majority of troops will be withdrawn just a month after the deadline in the signed agreement between former President George W. Bush and Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki where the majority of troops will be withdrawn at one point, and the entirety of troops to be out by December 31, 2011.[16][17][18]"

              •  u r ignoring influence of Cheney (0+ / 0-)

                who would have found excuses NOT to withdraw

                "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                by teacherken on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 05:14:17 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  This administartion did not want to completely (0+ / 0-)

                  withdrawal. The Pentagon was trying to renegotiate the SOFA agreement but were shot down by Nouri al-Maliki.

                  http://www.csmonitor.com/...

                  "Obama’s announcement signals that US officials have been unable to negotiate with Iraq’s leaders a renewal of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) governing the stationing and mission of American troops on Iraqi soil. Pentagon officials in particular, backed by a number of congressional leaders, had called for leaving a force of between 3,000 and 5,000 in Iraq for an extended period."

                  "But Iraqi officials balked at extending the immunity from local laws and prosecution that currently covers US troops in the country – US troops in places like Germany, Japan, and South Korea operate with such immunity – and the Obama administration was unwilling to leave troops in Iraq without that coverage."

          •  Stupidest...comment...ever. (0+ / 0-)

            A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it. --The First Law of Mentat

            by Troubadour on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 09:48:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  An example of intellectual dishonesty.... (0+ / 0-)

    that is also widely practiced on this blog, unfortunately. Lying to yourself will do no good, and not transform this president into something other than what he is: a neoliberal champion of big money interests. It's dissent that's needed, not kiss ass groupie politics.

    •  oh go Cheney yourself (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lost and Found, ozsea1, alkatt

      I am very far from a kiss-ass groupie, and am highly critical of the President

      the diary is on a piece of analysis by a fairly smart guy that I happen to think is offering an interesting perspective

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 03:22:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  not necessary to get after tk (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CentralMass

      I don't think that was the purpose of this diary.

      "..rich people (and the) political class..cannot be rich and do politics without us..They have no skills that we depend on; they have no control of anything except through paper. "To keep you is no benefit; to destroy you is no loss." Visceral

      by ozsea1 on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 03:51:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It makes me sick to support him (0+ / 0-)

    I think the real irony with the Tea Party is they seem to worship to constitution with a nearly religious fervor, but they don't bother to read it frequently. I'm actually pretty fond of what's written in it myself, which is why when I found that President Obama was essentially opposing due process, it made me as disgusted with him as I've ever been.

    Unfortunately, the truth is, that I simply have no choice but to vote for him. This is a two party system, and I am left with the choice of either voting for this "conservative" or voting for a deranged lunatic.

    It doesn't really matter whether it's Romney or someone else. There isn't anybody in that field that would do a better job than Obama, and that is what the two party system gives us a choice. A choice between two.

    It's nice to throw up your hands in disgust and walk away, but all we can do is choose the best candidate we can.

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